Thursday, September 16

Tofu, Arugula, and Shiitake Mushroom Saute with Fresh Basil

This dish is light, mild, and comforting. It's delicate flavors and textures manage to be warming and refreshing at the same time, making it a great Fall recipe. Tofu is a cooling food, but by steaming it thoroughly before use we counteract some of that cooling effect. The arugula and basil are both warming, and shiitake mushrooms are detoxifying, so this is a nicely balanced dish that leaves you feeling refreshed and light, but warm and comforted at the same time.

Tofu, Arugula, and Shiitake Saute with Fresh Basil
(serves 3-4 people)

1 14 oz. block of organic, non GMO tofu*
6 cups of washed, loose arugula
2 cups shiitake mushrooms, gently wiped clean and sliced into thin strips
Several leaves fresh basil, cleaned and torn into small pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons miso paste
fresh ground black pepper
1 clove peeled and chopped garlic (optional)

Combine 2 teaspoons miso paste in a cup with a few spoonfuls of water, and mix/mash gently with a spoon until fully diluted into an opaque liquid. Set aside. Drain block of tofu, squeeze excess water out with papertowel, and cut into small cubes. Place tofu cubes in a large covered saute pan or skillet with 1/2 inch of water in the bottom. Bring to a boil, and then turn heat to low and simmer for at least 5 minutes or until water is almost gone. Remove tofu and drain if necessary, set aside. Pour 1 tablespoon olive oil into same saute pan or skillet, and warm over medium-low heat. Do not allow oil to bubble or boil. If opting to use garlic to punch up the flavor of the dish, saute the garlic in the oil at this point over medium-low heat just until fragrant, not brown. Add shiitake mushrooms and basil into the oil with a small splash of water, move around to coat, cover and simmer 5 minutes with heat still at medium-low (mushrooms are very absorbent and will soak up the oil very quickly, hence the adding of a splash of water). Uncover pan, add arugula bit by bit, stirring to allow it to wilt and make room for more. At this point you will probably want to add the other tablespoon of olive oil and/or a small splash more water to create enough cooking liquid. Add tofu back in as arugula is wilting and cooking, but only cook arugula lightly until all is wilted but still bright green. Turn pan down to very very low simmer, and add in the miso liquid from the cup. Stir to warm and combine and all flavors, and finish with a dusting of fresh ground black pepper. Serve this over cooked brown rice, and ideally with chopsticks- the delicate and un-rushed method of eating with chopsticks is perfect for this dish!

*when cooking with tofu or tempeh, both of which are made from soy, make sure to buy organic non GMO (non-genetically modified) versions.

(Note: If you desire to make this into a meat dish, you could saute some strips of organic, all-natural meat during the portion of time assigned to water-sauteing the tofu, and then follow instructions as usual.)

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