Pan-Roasted Tofu with Leeks over Oven Roasted Sweet Potatoes
I'm all about reinvention these days. In a world that is speeding rapidly forward with new technology bolstered by science-based evidence pulling us inexorably toward an evolved society, I can't help but want to be (in any way I can) a part of that movement. Plant-based diets, like veganism, and changing our approach to food in America to support animal meat alternatives is a large part of that reinvention. The favorable views on plant-based diets have a lot of momentum in the social and political environment swirling across the globe. These ideas and approaches flutter through your social media platforms, are on your news feed, and in the bookstores. Sometimes they land where you least expect them, but are clearly taking root in our homes and our minds. In this revolutionary process for bettering our way of consumerism towards food, we are not moving away from variety or flavor. We are only refining how we approach food and at its core, we are merging our "old" with the thoughts of "better" to make evolution possible.
In this recipe, you will find all the wonderful components of an "old" recipe made "better" through an evolution from the traditional animal-based Pork Roast with Leeks to the plant-based version of Pan-Roasted Tofu with Leeks. The leeks will still become soft and silky, and the lemon and parsley will brighten the dish. The tofu will caramelize in the glaze of the cast iron pan and become coated in flavor from the aromatics combined with the complexity of the vegetable stock. Then, there will be just a touch of decadent with a final swirl of vegan butter. Served atop fluffy vivid orange sweet potato with crunchy skins, this recipe is simply reinvention at its most elemental value as "an action or process through which something is changed so much that it appears to be entirely new."
Sustainability Spotlight: Human history is rife with revolution through invention, and evolution through reinvention. A mature society will have developed past real invention, and will start to refine those inventions for evolution. They will take old ideas and approaches and consider refinement. That refinement can happen quickly or it can happen slowly. The effect is a gloriously rich definition of who we are as humanity. It's also a prelude to where we will go in the future.
Futurists (persons who study the trends of now to make predictions of the future) tend to agree that companies can drive sustainability initiatives. And in fact, Forbes published an article in March this year to discuss the very intersection between sustainability and technology that champions development and adherence to environmentally conscious strategems in the context of futurism. It's not enough, however, to have just the business-minded approach to sustainability since individuals and individual choices comprise business models and would drive the reinvention of the core culture towards sustainability. It all starts (and ends) with how we want to reinvent our present to shape our future. It starts at home, it starts at your workplace, and it lives in your actions and mindset.
Making the change from "old" to "better" is NOT easy and there are ways that reinvention can fail materially. For example, exchanging non-reusable plastic bottles for reusable plastic bottles - it's still plastic. While you will reuse them more, there is still the opportunity for degradation over time of the plastic in the reusable bottle, which is then (hopefully!) recycled. A better reinvention, in this example, is for reusable metal (like stainless steel or aluminum). We can make those changes as consumers by driving company profits to the products and services that we want to be reinvented. Want to do a plant-based diet and "need" some ham in your life? Email, mail, call, request; do whatever you can to get the word out to companies that there are buyers for these products. They.will.reinvent. In the business world, products are created for profitability. Profitability is creating a product that will be sold to the most customers for the best price. Be bold, seek reinvention - the rest will follow and evolve us into a future of sustainability.
2 tbsp avocado oil (divided)
1 large leek (cleaned and sliced)
7-8 thinly sliced garlic cloves (level 1 on handheld mandoline)
1.5 tsp salt (divided)
dash of black pepper
1/2 cup vegetable stock or broth (whatever you have open)
1 block extra firm tofu (pressed, drained and patted dry) - cut into bite size cubes
1 handful parsley (chopped)
1 lemon (juiced)
1 tbsp vegan butter
1 or 2 large sweet potatoes (roasted) - half the sweet potatoes lengthwise into two equal parts. Rub with avocado oil on both sides of the potatoes. Place sweet potatoes flesh side down on a silpat lined pan. Sprinkle skins with flaked (or regular) salt. Roast at 400 degrees F for ~30 minutes until easily pierced by a fork.
Garnishes: hemp seeds and chia seeds
Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat; add 1 tbsp avocado oil to pan, swirl to coat. Once it shimmers, add leaks and garlic with a sprinkle of salt and a dash of black pepper. Saute for ~8-10 minutes until leaks and garlic start to caramelize.
Add 1/2 cup of vegetable stock to deglaze the pan (scrape up the browned bits from the bottom - I use a wooden spatula). and cook another 1-2 minutes.
Add tofu cubes along with the other 1 tbsp of avocado oil, another sprinkle of salt and dash of black pepper. Saute for ~5-7 minutes until tofu has firmed and started to brown.
Next, stir in vegan butter, lemon juice, and another sprinkle of salt (as desired). Remove from heat.
Serve tofu and leek mixture over the roasted sweet potato halves and sprinkle with hemp and chia seeds (if using).
With love & hope for a better future for all of us - Jamie