August 11, 2005

your chokin' heart

Originally uploaded by stockholm cindy.
tomatoes, tomato couscous, artichoke hearts, tofu. a recipe, you say?

hm, well, i'll tell you how i made mine; if you're using fresh ingredients for yours i can't convert the proportions and cooking times off the top of my head. i used canned tomatoes because they were already in the pantry (i know that fresh tomatoes in season can make a great dish outfuckingstanding, but i'm pretty impressed with some of the canned tomatoes that are out there). i bought jarred artichoke hearts because... ok, confession time: i'm intimidated by fresh artichokes, i've never cooked one, and they're a little expensive to just experiment with willy-nilly. if you have any advice, bring it on. i'm not too madly in love with the brine that jarred 'chokes come packed in. however, if you're a master chef like MWAH you can write a good hack for any problem, and that's the name of my game.

tomato couscous - 1 1/2 cups (uncooked)
canned tomato (stewed whole san marzano tomatoes, unseasoned) - about 4 cups
artichoke hearts (in oil) - small jar, about 8 oz.
firm tofu - about 12 oz.
dried bay leaves (two)
kosher salt, black pepper, garlic powder, ground red pepper, dried parsley (to taste)

pour the jar of artichokes (brine included) into a ziploc bag. dice the tofu and add it to the bag. seal it up and let the mixture marinate in the refrigerator for approx. 2 hours.

add a tiny bit of canola oil to a large skillet pan (i would have used olive oil but it was smelling kinda rancid and you DON'T wanna use bad oil, trust me on this). just enough to coat the bottom. heat on a low-ish flame.

take the marinade out of the fridge, pour at least 9/10 of the liquid into the sink. no matter how much you pour off, the tofu and artichokes will still retain plenty of liquid.

transfer to the pan, spread it out so everything cooks evenly. let this go for a while, adjusting seasonings along the way. you don't wanna get too neurotic about flavor yet, because we're not done adding ingredients.

give the tofu/chokes about 15-20 minutes on their own, then introduce the tomatoes. put the tomatoes in whole, and mash them gently with a fork. stir so the juice has a chance to coat the other ingredients. continue to simmer uncovered; let the majority of the excess water from the tomatoes evaporate. you can add the dried bay leaves to a remote corner of the pan while you're adding the tomatoes -- just be sure that you don't stir them in, cuz they won't soften and it'll be gross.

while there's still liquid in the pan, slowly fold in the couscous, making sure each pour gets enough heat and water. when all the couscous is in the pan, turn the heat off. leave the couscous alone so it can fluff up and absorb any leftover liquid.

do a final seasoning-adjusting, take out the bay leaves, give the pan about 15 minutes so it can cool and so the flavors have time to mingle.

i served it topped with some fava beans (sadly, no chianti was involved). i thought they tasted sorta funky, so i dunno if i'd use 'em again.


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