I love the rich and savory flavor that comes out when cooking with red wine. The full, round notes beg the eater to slow down and savor each bite. That’s why one of my favorite dishes to make is my own Red Wine Marinated Tofu.
It is perfect served over barley cooked to chewy perfection in vegetable broth and a side of steamed kale topped with raw shredded carrots. It’s also lovely with roasted Brussels sprouts and mashed potatoes with caramelized onions.
For a meal worthy of dinner guests, serve it with roasted squash, sautéed spinach, and steamed broccoli.
If your dinner guests are new to tofu, break down the mystery by letting them know that the process of making tofu is similar to making cow’s milk cheese.
Soybeans are boiled and made into soy milk. Then a coagulant is added like calcium sulfate. Depending on the coagulant, the texture of the tofu will be softer or firmer. After that, it’s pressed into blocks.
Speaking of cow’s milk cheese, it’s interesting to note that the coagulant most often used in making dairy cheese is rennet, which is an enzyme taken from a calf’s stomach.
Biologically speaking, rennet is an enzyme that helps a calf digest her/his mother’s milk. All ruminant animals produce a specific kind of rennet to digest their mother’s milk.
Cheese-makers take advantage of this fact, and so when goat cheese is made, makers use rennet from a baby goat. When sheep’s milk cheese, like feta, is made, the rennet comes from a lamb.
Because rennet comes from baby animals who have been killed, cheeses with animal rennet aren’t considered “vegetarian.” It is very poignant and sad, I think, that for a mother’s milk to be made into cheese, often an element of a baby’s body is used for that cheese to form.
(Of course, it should come as no surprise that there’s so much more to animal-based cheeses than meets the eye.)
Depending on the type and purpose, tofu can be used in a myriad of ways.
The most common variety of tofu comes packed in water and can be found in the refrigerated section of the grocery store. This inexpensive protein source generally runs from $1.00-$1.50 per 14 oz. package.
Dump the water out that it’s soaked in, wrap it in a kitchen towel, and press it under something heavy like a book and stack it with a can of beans or a kettlebell (my personal favorite). Press it for thirty minutes to an hour in your refrigerator.
After it’s pressed, it’s ready to soak in your favorite marinade. Tofu acts like a sponge, and with the excess liquid gone, it will soak up the delicious marinade of your choice.
Then the tofu can be taken out of the marinade and baked or fried.
For a chewier texture, freeze the tofu first while it is still inside of its water-packed package. After it is completely frozen, let it thaw for at least 24 hours.
After it has thawed, open the package, take out the tofu, and give it a healthy squeeze. The water comes out as if you were squeezing a sponge.
After that, continue as before by putting it in your favorite marinade.
Finally, there is also silken tofu, which is often shelf stable and comes in aseptic packages. It can be used in desserts or as a replacement for chicken’s eggs in recipes.
For this recipe of Wine Marinated Tofu, use the water-packed extra-firm tofu. Drain and press according to the directions above.
I highly recommend always buying organic soy foods (i.e. edamame, soy milk, tofu, and tempeh), because soybeans are one of the most commonly genetically modified crops. When food is labeled “organic,” that means by definition that it can’t be genetically modified.