This is a really simple yet elegant dish. If you are a beet hater, this will completely change your mind. Roasting beets introduces a caramelized, chewy texture that resembles nothing of the cold-sliced beets in every salad bar everywhere. To make this, you'll need a ring mold—it will create a perfect circle shape as well as aid in assembly of all the components. In addition to balancing out the tartness of the balsamic, the agave will help give the tofu a nice glazey sear.
1 1/2 pounds of firm tofu, sliced into 6 thin slabs and pressed for at least an hour
12 spears of fresh asparagus
For the marinade
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
2 TB soy sauce
1 TB agave nectar
1 tsp fresh thyme, crushed between your fingers
5 cloves of garlic, grated on a mircoplane grater
2 TB olive oil
salt and pepper
For the beets and couscous
1 cup of fresh beets, skinned and cubed into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 cup red onion, finely diced
3 TB olive oil
salt and pepper
1/2 cup large pearl couscous
1 cup water
Using your circular ring mold, carefully cut out circles in the four pieces of pressed tofu. Set aside. In a large pyrex dish, combine all of the ingredients for the marinade. Place the tofu into the marinade, flipping over once to ensure its well coated. Place in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, flipping again halfway through the marinade time.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Boil 1 1/4 cups water in a small saucepan. Place the cubed beets in the boiling water for about 5 minutes. Transfer the beets with a slotted spoon to a well-greased baking pan, adding 2 TB of the oil to coat. Bake for 25 minutes. Add the diced red onion to the beet mixture with the remaining 1 TB oil and place back into the oven for 25 minutes more, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching. Sprinkle with the white pepper.
Once you've added the red onion to the beets, make your couscous by placing the couscous into the beet infused water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and cover. Simmer over low heat for about 30 minutes.
Once your beets and couscous are done, remove the tofu from the refrigerator and saute over medium high heat in a large skillet until well-browned, about 5-7 minutes on each side. Remove from the heat and add the asparagus to the pan. Saute until bright green, about 6 minutes.
Place the remainder of the marinade into a small saucepan over medium high heat until it slightly thickens and reduces. Remove from heat and let it cool slightly while you plate.
To assemble the tower, place a ring mold onto a plate and add a slice of the tofu. Spoon some of the beet mixture over that, lightly but firmly packing it into place. Add another slice of tofu and then add a layer of the couscous on that, packing it lightly but firmly. Top with another slice of tofu and carefully remove the ring.
Serve with the sauteed asparagus and spoon some of the reduced balsamic marinade over the top.