Cooking For Others: Meatless Monday Tofu Pizza

EVENT: Weeknight Dinner
VENUE: Cara’s Apartment, Prospect Heights
TYPE: Vegan Pizza Party!
MENU: Tofu Pizza with Garlic and Rosemary; Romaine Salad; Carrot Raisin Cookies

Happy New Year, readers! We hope you had a celebratory night, and perhaps some vacation. We’re pretty relaxed, and we’re also ready to stop eating holiday food and get back to normal. First up: tofu pizza.

In my version of vegan pizza, tofu is not supposed to replace cheese. Get that idea out of your head immediately. I started making and eating some variation on this pizza far before my dabbles in vegetarianism. I think of it as a delicious dinner in its own right; of course if you don’t eat cheese or you are vegan, you might think of it differently. Either way, it’s filling, and–because this is the first week of January, after all–good for you.

The tofu is flavored with one of the best cheap condiments around: garlic confit. Only, as inspired by Peter Berley‘s version of this pizza, it is flavored additionally with sprigs of rosemary. The pizza can be flavored by nearly anything you’d add to a regular cheese pizza: onions, caramelized or not, are fantastic; extra herbs are excellent; and spoonfuls of basil or sundried tomato pesto are also a welcome addition.

I hadn’t made tofu pizza in a while, but making this batch reminded me of high school, when my mom, my sister Kate, and I kept it on the menu rotation. It was really a team effort. Either my mom would make the pizza dough in the morning and we’d let it slowly rise all day, or Kate and I would make it when we got home from school at 3:30 or 4, so it had enough time to rise before dinner. Then one of us would take on the garlic, another the tofu, another the tomatoes. By the time the pizza was out of the oven, everyone was the chef.

From my kitchen, topping pizza with something healthful, to yours,



Tofu Pizza with Garlic and Rosemary
Serves 3-4

You can make the tofu and garlic and prep the tomatoes in advance, which will streamline the process when you go to eat the pizza.

1 recipe focaccia
1 box firm tofu
1 head garlic, cloves peeled and left whole
2 sprigs rosemary
about 1/2 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
One 28-ounce can whole tomatoes
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
Red pepper flakes

Make the crust according to the directions in this focaccia recipe. After the 1 1/2-hour rise, transfer the dough to a 10 x 15-inch rimmed cookie sheet that has been covered in parchment paper and generously brushed with olive oil. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for another 45-minutes.

While the crust is rising, preheat the oven to 325°F. Put the garlic and rosemary in a small ovenproof dish. Pour olive oil over to completely immerse the cloves, then wrap tightly with foil. Bake for 45 minutes, until the garlic is completely soft. Remove the rosemary.
Prepare the tofu by cutting it into 6 slices. Place the slices on a dish towel, then cover them with another dish towel and a heavy book. Leave to drain for 30 minutes.

Crumble the drained tofu into a large bowl. Add 1/3 cup of the garlic oil, plus about 6-8 cloves, mashing them as you go. Stir together, then add the vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Taste for salt and add more as needed.

Remove the tomatoes from the can. Slice them in thin rounds and set on a paper towel to drain.

Turn the oven to 400°F. Press the crust all the way to the edges and brush it with some of the remaining oil from the garlic confit. Sprinkle with salt. Arrange the sliced tomatoes around the pizza, leaving a 1-inch border as a crust. Evenly press the tofu over the tomatoes. Drizzle with a little more olive oil.

Bake for 25 minutes, until the crust is risen and golden and the tofu has begun to brown. Let cool for a minute, then transfer to a cutting board and cut into rectangles.

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