November 1, 2012

Turban Tofu Spice

I've had a turban squash sitting on my kitchen counter for about a week and I've been searching for an "inspiring" recipe that whole time. I didn't come across anything particularly interesting and most of the recipes I did come across involved making it into a soup, similar to how one would use a butternut squash. And that idea seemed completed Blah!! to me! I didn't want to make just another soup or pie. One thing I knew for sure was that I wanted a savory recipe, that didn't involve using maple syrup (I mean ... how predictable is that!! Maple syrup on squash ... duh!).

Turban Tofu Spice
Prep Time: 20 min (with pre-roasted squash)

  1. 1 small/medium turban squash (enough to yield about 3/4 to 1 cup pulp)
  2. 1 medium onion, puréed in a food processor. 
  3. 1 Pk (14 oz) Extra-Firm Tofu (pressed for 15 min)*
  4. 2 tsp Ginger-Garlic paste
  5. 2-3 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice Mix
  6. 2 cups Vegetable Broth**
  7. Salt and Pepper, to taste
  8. Scallions, for garnishing
In advance, roast the turban squash in a 350F oven, for about an hour until a pin inserted into the flesh glides in easily. Bear in mind that the shell is tough so it will take some effort to pierce it. I just put the whole squash in the fridge after it was done roasting. This evening, I used a sharp knife to remove the cap and then used a spoon to scoop out the flesh, making sure to separate the seeds first. When I was done today, all I had left was an empty bowl :)

In a skillet on medium heat saute onions and ginger-garlic paste until fragrant, adding splashes of vegetable broth as needed to prevent the onions from sticking/burning. Then add the squash and mix well with a rubber spatula, pressing any lumps to make a smooth paste. Add pumpkin spice and more broth, cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Finally add the tofu, gently folding it into the squash. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Garnish with freshly cracked black pepper and scallions and serve over brown rice. 

Pressing Tofu: I didn't know this trick until recently and it really does seem to help the tofu in being able to absorb a lot of the flavors of the dish. Place several sheets of paper towels or a kitchen towel under a block of extra-firm tofu, cover with a single layer and place anything heavy you can find (a couple of cans of beans or soup work great!). Let it stand for 10-15 minutes until the towels are soaked and then slice/dice tofu as you normally would.   

Vegetable Broth: I make my own vegetable broth every weekend and freeze it for use during the week (see link here). I simply save my vegetable and fruit scraps in a gallon ziploc bag during the week. Hence, my recipes often use copious amounts of broth. While vegetable broth is definitely more flavorful than water, if you don't have any broth handy, water should work just as well in any of my recipes that ask for broth. 

My Assessment: This works .. I was concerned about using Pumpkin Pie spice in a savory dish as it is traditionally used for pies and breads and all kinds of fall desserts. While I absolutely LOVE pumpkin spice desserts, most of them do have a lot of sugar and calories and I've been trying to avoid those. Of course, as I said at the beginning, I was looking for a savory dish. A close examination of the box revealed that pumpkin pie spice has ingredients very similar to Garam Masala (yup!). Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Ginger and Cloves ... !! No wonder it works!! Although, because the proportions of spices are quite different, and there is no cumin to overpower all the other spices ... this dish did not taste like curry at all. It was great!!! 

... And the lesson learnt today ... in a pinch, use PPS instead of GM with a little bit of Cumin and Coriander added separately. This was a great food night!!!

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