I want to get excited about this dish. It’s got so many colors, so many veggies, and a number of different tastes. It was in the June 2008 issue of Vegetarian Times as part of a feature on cooking and food photography. This orange-chipotle glazed tofu with confetti rice salad was paired with the take-home message that building your dishes up vertically adds visual interest to the composition of photographs. And much like the photography tips, I think this dish was built around adding subtle layers of flavor, from the cumin and lime in the rice to the fresh veggies to the orange, chipotle, and maple syrup in the tofu marinade. But just because something has a lot of flavors going on doesn’t mean it’s better than something simple (as any Top Chef fan knows). For all its ingredients and all of its layers of subtle tastes, this dish was no more than okay. We dutifully ate it for dinner and lunch several times (it makes a large batch), but never with any particular enthusiasm. I tried to turn it into a stuffing for burritos and even then it was sort of ho-hum. In the future, I’ll stick to simpler tofu dishes with bolder, brighter flavors. Lesson learned.
Confetti rice salad (serves 6)
1 cup long-grain white rice
1 tsp whole cumin seeds
1 clove garlic, crushed and peeled
1/2 tsp salt
1 small orange bell pepper, finely chopped
1 15-oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 large tomato, chopped (1 1/2 cups)
1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
2/3 cup chopped green onions (one bunch)
1/4 cup lime juice
3 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup sunflower seeds (optional)
1/2 avocado, diced, optional
1. Combine rice, cumin, and 2 cups of water in saucepan. Add garlic and salt, cover, and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook 15 minutes or until rice is tender and most of water is absorbed. Remove from heat, sprinkle bell pepper on top, cover, and cool rice in pan.
2. Transfer rice to large bowl, and remove garlic clove. Stir in beans, tomato, corn, green onions, lime juice, and oil. Season with salt and pepper. Fold in sunflower seeds and avocado, if using. Serve at room temperature.
Orange-chipotle glazed tofu (serves 6)
1 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tbsp rice or cider vinegar
2 tsp minced seeded chipotle chile in adobo sauce, drained, plus 2 tsp adobo sauce
1/4 tsp salt
2 14-oz packages extra-firm tofu, drained and patted dry
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1. Whisk together orange juice, maple syrup, vinegar, chipotle chile, adobo sauce, and salt in a small bowl. Cover and chill.
2. Cut each piece of tofu crosswise into 8 slices, each about 1/2-inch thick. Place tofu in a large shallow glass dish. Add 1/2 cup orange juice mixture and oil to tofu, and turn to coat. Cover, and refrigerate at least 30 minutes or up to 8 hours, turning from time to time. Reserve remaining OJ mixture, covered, in refrigerator.
3. Preheat broiler. Line large baking sheet with foil and coat with cooking spray. Place tofu on prepared baking sheet. Combine marinade and reserved orange juice mixture in small saucepan. Bring to a simmer. Cook over medium heat 12 to 15 minutes, or until syrupy. Keep warm.
4. Broil tofu 6 to 8 minutes per side, or until golden, basting occasionally with OJ mixture. Serve over rice with remaining sauce.