Monday, January 12, 2009

Pasta and Potatoes with Tofu Pancetta

We still had half a loaf of ciabatta to finish, so it was more Italian food tonight. I leafed through The Sopranos Family Cookbook and veganized this recipe. I'm pretty sure the tofu tastes nothing like pancetta, but it does provide a burst of smoky and salty flavour with a chewy texture. Actual pancetta is not smoked (it is salted pork belly which is hung and left to go moldy), so I guess this is more like bacon. I think it would taste good in a BLT.

Tofu Pancetta
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 tsp seasoned salt
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/4 tsp thyme
- 1/2 tsp rosemary
- 1/2 tsp liquid smoke
- 1/3 pkg extra firm tofu, sliced (see pic below)
- 1-2 tbsp oil

1. Place all ingredients except the tofu and oil in a small pot and bring to boiling. Simmer for 10 mins.
2. While that stuff is simmering, place tofu slices in a non-stick frying pan and place over med-hi heat. Once it starts to sizzle, strain liquid into the pan. Let liquid reduce down, gently turning tofu to coat.
3. Once liquid has completely reduced, add 1 tbsp of oil (more if needed). Fry 3-4 mins per side, until crispy and browned. Reduce heat a bit, if tofu is browning too much. Remove from heat and set aside.
Pasta and Potatoes
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 carrot, chopped
- 1 rib of celery, chopped
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 garlic clove, chopped
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
- 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and chopped
- 6 cups water
- 1 small can tomato paste
- salt and pepper to taste
- 12 oz dried macaroni
- 2 cups boiling water
- 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
- 1 recipe tofu pancetta

1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Saute carrot, celery, onion, garlic, and parsley for 5-7 mins, until softened. Add potatoes, water, and tomato paste. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring to bubbling, then reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 mins, until potatoes are softened.
2. Add macaroni and boiling water and cook, stirring frequently, until pasta is cooked and sauce is absorbed. Add more water, if needed.
3. Add nutritional yeast and tofu pancetta and mix well. Serve.