So I’ve landed back in Amsterdam to start up a new project; a cafe which will help to rehabilitate victims of human trafficking. The cafe will have a dedicated training kitchen to allow victims to gain the skills they require to enter the normal workforce (hospitality sector). At the cafe they will recieve formal training sessions, beginning with learning some basic kitchen skills and hopefully progress to a point where they can join me in the commercial cafe kitchen. An exciting project! At the moment, I’m only up to designing the kitchen layout and what equipment is needed, and have partly written the menu…. eek! But exciting things to come never-the-less.
My senses are indeed feeling messy; a combination of jetlag and clash of a beautiful summer just had in New Zealand with the bitter cold of Amsterdam (please warm up!) So I’m still inspired to cook something light & vibrant with a punch of flavour despite being in the colder northern hemisphere!
Over the years there has been a lot of controversy surrounding Tofu and in particular Soy. From a nutrition perspective it is an excellent source of protein & calcium, a vegetarian staple which is usually well tolerated (even if you have irritable bowel syndrome). Per 100g, tofu has more than twice the amount of protein & calcium as quinoa or kidney beans. In terms of iron content, quinoa does win; but lets be realistic here… it is much easier to eat 100g of tofu than it is to eat 100g of quinoa!
I usually choose a firm tofu as I find this is the most versatile & it holds it’s shape well. Making tofu delicious requires a bit of love. It absorbs flavour well and it is important to remember that a piece of tofu is as good as the accompaniments you match it with. Traditionally capers are used in Sauce Vierge however I used chopped caperberries today to add a bit of extra bite and texture against the creamy texture of the tofu. I hope you enjoy it!
(makes 6 small cakes/patties (2 portions). Can be easily doubled to make 4 portions.
100g firm tofu
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
1 handful chopped italian parsley
1 cup shredded zucchini
1/4 red onion
1/2 medium garlic clove
To dust on patties prior to frying:
1 tsp dried garlic or celery salt,
1/2 tsp each whole coriander seeds, ground cumin
Salt and pepper to season
Olive oil for frying
1 roma tomato, roughly diced
1/2 cup picked and shredded basil leaves
1/4 cup shredded italian parsley
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup caperberries, stems removed and thinly sliced
salt and pepper to season
Rocket leaves & whole caperberries to serve.
To begin, toss the shredded zucchini with a few pinches of salt. Set aside for 10 minutes.
To make the patties, blend all the ingredients together (except the zucchini). A handblender is particularly useful. Taste a small amount of the mixture and season as required.
Squeeze any liquid out of the zucchini and combine well with the tofu mixture.
Divide the mixture into 6 equal portions and roll into balls. Flatten slightly into desired shape. The mixture should be wet and easily form balls.
At this point you can coat the patties in your favourite spice mixture (Today I used dried garlic & toasted coriander seeds).
Over a medium heat, fry the patties in a little olive oil until golden brown on each side.
While the patties are cooking, you can make the Sauce Vierge. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and season well.
When the patties are cooked through, assemble on a bed of rocket leaves, dollop the sauce on top and allow the juices of the tomato & herbs to run down over the patties.
Serve immediately for the most delicious result.
Irritable bowel syndrome: Omit the onion and garlic. Jam pack the tofu mix with fresh herbs and the green part only from a spring onion. If you are sensitive to wheat, swap standard breadcrumbs for gluten free, or substitute rolled oats or rice flakes in place of breadcrumbs.
Salicylate intolerance: Swap the red onion for the green part of the spring onion. These cakes are better enjoyed with a herby greek yoghurt rather than Sauce Vierge to minimise your symptoms. Zuchinni contains moderate levels of salicylate therefore if you are particulary sensitive you could swap this for choko or chickpeas to add texture.
Gluten free: Swap the breadcrumbs for a gluten free option or use rice flakes.