Sunday, May 20, 2012

Black Pepper and Thyme Crusted Tofu

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The last time I was in Maine, I picked up a bottle of espresso-infused balsamic vinegar at Leroux Kitchen in Portland. Instead of featuring the usual tang of balsamic, this vinegar has a deep and darkly complex quality—and combining that with a sweet and salty element results in a perfect marinade for tofu. (However, you can really use any kind of balsamic vinegar for this dish and it will still taste really good.) Besides looking really pretty and rustic, the finishing touch of dried thyme and freshly cracked black pepper and the end gives this balsamic tofu dish a subtle earthly feel as well as a slight and pleasant kick of heat.


for the tofu
1/2 cup mirin
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 TB raw agave nectar
1 TB soy sauce
1 TB olive oil
1 block of tofu, pressed very well
a few dashes of liquid smoke (optional)
1-2 tsps dried thyme
1/2 tsp coarsely ground pepper

for the couscous
1 cup large-pearl couscous
1 1/2 cup vegetable broth or water
1 tsp salt
1 TB Earth Balance
1 TB olive oil
3-4 shallots, diced
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
7-10 oil-cured olives, depitted and chopped
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped

In a large glass pyrex dish, combine the mirin, balsamic, agave, soy sauce and olive oil. Place the very-well pressed tofu into the dish, flip over once and place into the refrigerator to marinate for a few hours.

When you are ready to prepare the dish, place the couscous, broth or water, salt and Earth Balance into a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and cover. Stir it every five minutes or so.

In a a separate skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add in the shallots and saute for about 10-12 minutes, or until nicely caramelized. Don't stir them during this time to allow a nice caramelization to develop. After 10-12 minutes, stir them around gently. Add the garlic on top of the shallots, so it will soften, but won't burn by making direct contact with the skillet. After 5-7 minutes, give everything a good stir. Add in the olives and parsley and stir to combine, and add this mixture to the cooked couscous, which should be ready by now.

You can now use this same skillet to sear your tofu. Gently place as many pieces as you can into the skillet and saute for 5-7 minutes. Flip the tofu over, and sprinkle with a generous amount of the thyme and black pepper. Continue to saute for 5-7 minutes more. Flip the tofu over again and add a bit more thyme and pepper, then add a few dashes of liquid smoke.

Serve immediately with the couscous and a side of some of the unused marinade.


  1. I love this idea! The tofu looks amazing and so does the couscous!

  2. Looking at this tofu before having breakfast was probably not such a good idea. Now I am starving. it looks really mouthwatering. I have to keep my eyes open if I can find some espresso infused vinegar.

  3. What gorgeous looking tofu!

  4. wow that tofu looks fabulous!! what color!! and the couscous salad -- that looks divine too! thanks for sharing!

  5. Yum, beautiful color on the tofu! The espresso infused balsamic vinegar sounds really good too! :-)

  6. that is the most gorgeous Tofu I have seen in a while. The glaze is so beautiful.

  7. I am not a vegan but I like tofu and I love pepper. Hope to try this soon.

    Would you give me permission to post this recipe on my web site Pepper-Passion>? We would credit you as the authro and include a link back to you werb site. We also offer free bags of pepper to authros who submit recipes.

    1. Bruce, feel free to post on your site, and thanks for asking! : )

  8. i made this tonight and it was AMAZING! Thanks for yet another great recipe.

    1. Thanks for the feedback and so glad you enjoyed it, jenjin! : )

  9. that.... looks.... so..... goood..... omasdfghjkl

  10. Strange, strange! I first made this on 11/13/12 (I date my dinner experiments on Pinterest) and forgot to post on this one too! I love searing the tofu in these marinades.

  11. How many does this recipe feed? Presume as a main course?

    1. Yes, this main course serves 2 ... enjoy!


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