So my friend @Nightblooms and I got on the subject of tofu one fine night on Twitter when she told me about this amazing tofu/tomato sauce she made for her family.
Never one to pass down the opportunity to let others do my work for me, I begged her to do a guest post on BlogWellDone.com. She graciously accepted with the vaguest promise of a post from me in the near future (more on that later.) But without further ado…
Creamy Tofu-Enhanced Tomato Sauce
Contributed by Marie Oliver
Food as medicine is a practice that is easily taken for granted growing up with restaurateur parents. Living away from home for the first time as a young adult was when the ingrained habit revealed itself. I found myself grocery shopping for sometimes obscure foods and spices that supposedly improved health when consumed as a beverage or used as an ingredient in foods.
There is nothing obscure about the tomato, but did you know it was once considered poisonous? The tomato is among a wide range of plants that are a part of the deadly nightshade family, avoided due to their toxicity. Eggplant, peppers and potatoes are among the nightshade plants we relish as dietary staples.
The health benefits of tomatoes are numerous, whether eaten raw or cooked. There was a fascinating study initiated by a couple of Harvard scientists over 20 years ago that examined the effects of tomato products on prostate cancer in about 48,000 participants. Data was gathered and reviewed over a 12 year timeframe. Although they claimed the study to be inconclusive, in the same breath it was asserted that there was a definitive reduction in the risk of prostate cancer in men who consumed tomatoes – about 45%.
The red pigment found in tomatoes is lycopene, an antioxidant or cell damage neutralizer. Lycopene has also been said to inhibit growth of breast, lung and endometrial cancer cells. However, for some who are allergic, tomatoes may be a health hazard. If you suffer from hives, headaches or asthma symptoms after consuming tomato products, then step away from the fruit. Tomatoes also contain the chemical salicylate, which is an active ingredient in aspirin. So, if you have an aspirin allergy, talk with your physician about whether you should avoid food salicylates as well.
Tomato Loverâ€™s Pasta Sauce
If you enjoy intense tomato flavor and want a versatile sauce base from which you can boldly venture forth and experiment, then this is for you. You will own this recipe after youâ€™ve made it once. Itâ€™s that easy.
As most sauces go, it can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to three days. Use on the third day for best results. The variations add interest. Try the suggestions below or create your own to suit your palate. Be sure to keep track of your experiments because when you find that perfect flavor profile, youâ€™ll want to be able to recreate it to share with others.
My favorite brand of canned tomato products is Muir Glen, an organic collection. Buy the best you can afford and try not to mix and match brands, unless you have tried and tested the results for flavor consistency. The tofu provides a protein boost and dairy-free creaminess. A protein-rich family favorite is three cheese tortellini paired with this sauce.
28 oz can diced tomatoes
11 oz Silken soft tofu
10 sun dried tomato halves
1 heaping tablespoon tomato paste
2 large cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ tsp salt
Herbs and spice to taste (oregano, basil, paprika, chili powder, pepper)
Large cooking spoon
1. Lay out all of your tools on the counter before you start so you do not have to hunt for anything.
2. Combine the tofu with ½ can of the diced tomatoes and puree. Pour into sauce pan or large bowl if making ahead.
3. Combine remaining can of diced tomatoes, sun dried tomatoes, tomato paste, garlic, salt an spices with splash of olive oil. Puree. Pour into bowl or pan with tofu/tomato sauce mixture and stir.
4. If you plan to serve immediately, pour into saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to simmer, cover and simmer for about 30 minutes prior to pouring onto pasta. Also makes a great addition to any baked pasta dishes.
Tomato-based recipes are particularly versatile because they can please the most diverse palates: gluten free, raw, vegan, vegetarian, and carnivorous. Try these variations to spice up the basic recipe.
Texture: Modify basic recipe by reserving the diced tomatoes. Puree the tofu with 6 oz tomato sauce, tomato paste, and half of the sun dried tomatoes, garlic and seasonings to taste. Chop the remaining sun dried tomato halves. Add the diced tomatoes without blending for chunkier texture. Mix together and cook as desired.
Sautee: Chop 1 medium red onion, ½ tsp dried oregano in 2 tablespoons olive oil, or enough oil to coat the bottom of the frying pan. Add pureed tomato sauce to this and simmer for 30 minutes. Cooking tomatoes with a bit of fat, such as olive oil releases the healing lycopene.
Raw: When tomatoes are in season, this recipe makes a great no cook pasta sauce. Combine 3-4 large vine-ripened tomatoes, with 10 sun-dried tomato halves as in the original recipe, one stick of celery, a handful of mushrooms, 1 large garlic clove, fresh parsley, basil, and other seasonings to taste. Finely chop in food processor. If using a blender, avoid the puree setting. Experiment by adding a small shredded carrot, summer squash or zucchini.
Liquid Adjustments: If the sauce is too thick, adjust with white wine, unflavored sake (Japanese rice wine) or stock.