It’s getting warm out, which sets off my cravings for Southern-style food!
I lived in North Carolina for eight years before moving to DC, and I learned quickly that a warm, sticky day was always made better by roasted corn, cooked greens, and a warm, seasoned protein. While I wasn’t much for pulled BBQ or BBQ chicken even before I went veg, I strangely developed a liking for barbecue after giving up meat. Maybe it was the chicken and pork I disliked as opposed to the sauce! But all the same, as I walked around downtown DC through what felt more like an early summer day in Carolina, I developed a hankering for some BBQ tofu and grilled corn on the cob.
For the tofu, I used Mark Bittman’s Fast Down-Home Barbeque Sauce from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. This is a really simple recipe that just involves mixing ketchup, wine or water, red wine or rice vinegar, onion, garlic, and chili powder in a small saucepan and heating it on low for 10 minutes. However, I used the Bourbon Barbeque variation, which replaces the wine with bourbon. My bourbon of choice was Jack Daniels, always good in saucy recipes like BBQ sauce or chili.
I also used the Broiled Tofu method which appears in Bittman’s book, and offers instructions on broiling with the BBQ sauce. I didn’t have frozen tofu nor had time to press it, so I improvised with tofu which I patted dry as best I could. This still worked out well but it likely altered my cooking times, so take note. Anyhoo, I cut half a block of tofu into four pieces and broiled them for five minutes, which seemed sufficient for light browning (Bittman’s book does not specify cooking time beyond stating that you shouldn’t have to cook for more than ten minutes).
I then brushed the barbeque sauce on each slab, but just the tops and sides, and broiled for 2 1/2 minutes. Then I took them out, flipped, brushed with more sauce, then broiled one final time for five minutes. Voila! Barbeque tofu that’s great for a summer day.
Now, the sides. I’m a fan of grilled corn on the cob in the husk, but alas, I do not own a grill. However, I found a great recipe for roasting corn in the oven, which helps to replicate the experience. It was as simple as putting the corn in the oven for 30 minutes, then peeling away the husk for some golden goodness. I decided to jazz it up by adding the Chipotle Lime Butter from Vegetarian Times, using Earth Balance margarine in place of butter. I scooped out a tablespoon and added lime juice, chili powder, and cracked black pepper.
When you’re roasting corn and broiling tofu, your tiny kitchen can get rather hot. I took advantage of this and allowed the butter to melt into the seasonings and juice while cooking the other sides. The result was a nice melty spread which I brushed onto the corn after it was done roasting. Yum yum!
Finally, I kept my second side simple by boiling some frozen spinach with one thinly sliced clove of garlic. Normally I don’t like boiling veggies because they get mushy, but I don’t mind doing so with frozen greens because they tend to be mushy anyway, no matter how you cook them.
The result? A tasty and satisfying Southern-style meal, without the heaviness felt by their non-veg counterparts! In the future I may try roasting the corn with the butter at least part of the time, and also serving up some green beans in place of spinach. I also wouldn’t mind a slice of cornbread or two on the side. But fortunately I have the whole Spring and Summer ahead to experiment!