Italy meets China in a vegetarian dish.
Sam loves bell peppers so I cooked one of the most well-loved Italian vegetable stews for her. Peperonata is a dish of stewed peppers and it is often served accompanied by rustic bread. Soft vegetables, crisp bread crust… You know, contrast.
But since Sam was going to have her peperonata with rice, I ditched the bread and served the peppers with crisp-fried tofu instead.
For optimum visual glee, use red, green and yellow peppers.
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 to 3 large bell peppers diced or sliced
- 1 onion thinly sliced
- salt to taste
- pepper to taste
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 2 tomatoes diced
- 2 pinches dried oregano
- 125 grams firm tofu cut into 3/4-inch slices
- Himalayan black salt substitute regular salt if unavailable
- olive oil for frying
- chopped basil or parsley or both, to garnish
Set a thick-bottomed pan on the stove over medium heat. Pour in the 4 tbsps. of olive oil. When hot, add the peppers and onion. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook gently, stirring once or twice, for about a minute.
Add the garlic and tomatoes to the peppers and onion. Sprinkle in the oregano, and a bit more salt and pepper. Stir. Lower the heat, cover the pan and let the vegetables cook in their own juices for about 30 minutes or until soft. Resist the urge to lift the cover and stir. Removing the cover will just release steam which you need to cook the vegetables. And they need no stirring if you keep the heat low so that they are nestled in a shallow pool of the their own juices for the duration of the cooking time.
After the peperonata has been cooking for 20 minutes, prepare the tofu.
Press the tofu slices between kitchen towels to remove excess water.
Sprinkle both sides of the tofu slices with salt.
Heat enough olive oil in a frying pan to reach a depth of about a quarter inch.
Fry the tofu slices, in a single layer, until golden and crisp. Flip for even cooking.
Arrange the tofu slices on a plate. Spoon the peperonata over them. Sprinkle with basil or parsley, or both, and serve.