It's Jan. 1, and I'm posting a vegan recipe, but I promise this is no cliche post-holiday diet thing. That would be impossible because I'm plowing through my traditional chocolate-covered cherries and various cookie Christmas gifts and showing no signs of slowing down. This recipe choice is about my deep love of peanut butter and my discovery of a blog written with a terrific voice, pleasing pictures and — come on! — sensational videos. It's Bon Appetempt, and I've been spending all of my spare moments reading through the archives.
I love that this blogger, Amelia, so strictly recreates highly styled photos from food glossies — check out these props! — but that her writing style is so loose and easygoing. I believe I'd like to eat lunch with her. Almond tofu (peanut in my case) with snap peas and soba noodles is the first recipe I've tried from Bon Appetempt, and from here on out baking tofu with sauce to imbue it with flavor is my preferred method. It's the first time I've made tofu that's not just an extra flavorless texture in a dish/not incredibly oily from failed frying. Let me tell you, it is so choice.
In the spirit of the source of inspiration... Bon Appetempt's version:
It wasn't until I went back to Bon Appetempt just now to fetch that tofu/soba photo that I realized how different my version looks, and not just because I added some carrots on top. Looks like I used a lot more snap peas and a lot fewer soba noodles. So Amelia's definitely the winner when it comes to replicating photos. But it's not the proportion of vegetables and noodles that matters most here — this peanut butter-maple syrup-sesame oil sauce could go on nearly anything, and you'd happily call it dinner.
Peanut Tofu with Snap Peas and Soba Noodles
14 ounces extra-firm tofu, drained and sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick
6 tablespoons peanut butter
2 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon sesame oil, plus more as needed
5 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for the baking sheet
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups snow or snap peas, ends trimmed and halved
8 ounces soba noodles
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 carrot, peeled then thinly shaved with a vegetable peeler
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Lay the tofu slices on a well-oiled baking sheet and season with salt. [Alternately, this is a great time to use a silicon baking mat.]
Combine the peanut butter, soy sauce, maple syrup and sesame oil and whisk until smooth. Rub 1/2 teaspoon of the almond butter mixture on each piece. Try not to get the sauce on the pan. Bake for 25 minutes. Flip the pieces and season lightly with salt. Rub the second side of each tofu slice with 1/2 teaspoon of the peanut butter mixture, reserving the extra. Bake for 25 minutes more. Let cool.
Slice the tofu lengthwise into strips. Heat a saute pan over high heat and add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the scallions, cook for 1 minute and add the tofu and ginger. After a minute, add the garlic and 1/2 cup water and stir well while cooking. Spoon in the remaining peanut butter mixture and stir well to combine. Cover.
Put the peas in a colander in the sink. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the noodles and return to a boil, then simmer, uncovered, for 6 minutes, until the noodles are just cooked through. Pour the noodles on top of the peas in the colander and drain out the water. Immediately pour the noodles and peas back into the pot. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil and toss to prevent the noodles from sticking. Stir in the tofu, rice vinegar, cilantro, slivers of carrot and salt to taste.
Serve immediately — with Sriracha if you're bolder than me.