From the silence on this space it is probably obvious that I have been too busy with other things to post anything here. It wasn't my choice to ignore my blog completely, but with a new job, much longer commute than before, and more traveling that ever before, it was hard to get a lot of things done, and blogging naturally started to fall lower in the priority list.
One thing that now cuts into my available time even more is that I have to pack my lunch, because food options near the workplace are very limited. When I add my parameters of vegetarian, healthy, low-fat, nutritious, fresh, filling, and preferably organic, the options are practically non-existent. So it means I have to pack a good lunch for myself and it has to be built into the routine.
My first choice is usually a good salad with add-ins, dressing on the side, and some seasonal fruit. I can happily eat that on a regular basis. but then, every now and then I need a change. So my next favorite packable lunch is a sandwich that uses a tofu based stuffing. The idea originated from Madhur Jaffrey's 'World Vegetarian'. She calls it 'bean curd salad or spread' in the book, but what I make now has morphed so much that one wouldn't know that that was where it started.
The vegetable combination is all different too. I generally use carrots, broccoli, mushrooms, and spinach, but you can use bell peppers, cauliflower, cabbage, greens, or any of your favorite vegetables, or use it as an opportunity to use up odds and ends. This is a very versatile recipe, but what I usually don't change is the use of walnuts, soy sauce, black pepper, and the bit of sugar. That seems to do the flavor magic.
I use the same recipe two ways. Depending on the type of bread I have, I either chop all ingredients into medium chunks and then quickly pulse the cooked mixture a few times in the food processor, or I finely chop all ingredients to begin with. The roughly processed spread is good to use between slices of hearty bread because it sticks to the bread well and the filling does not fall out while eating. The bhurji-like chunky textured mix is great for filling plump whole wheat pita halves, with the added advantages that you do not have to wash any food processor bowls. Either of the sandwiches are also immensely packable for travel as they don't have any distinctive 'smell'. I have taken them on domestic flights because options at airports or in flight never seem appealing.
Tofu, Vegetable, and Walnut Stuffing for Sandwiches
Makes enough for about 4 sandwiches
Note: All Quantities are approximate
About 8 oz of firm tofu (or enough to yield about 2 cups)
1/2 medium onion (or use scallions)
1-2 small carrots
1-2 cups of broccoli
a big handful of spinach leaves
handful of walnuts
2 Tablespoons oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sesame seeds or sesame oil (optional)
black pepper to taste (about 50 turns of the pepper mill)
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sugar
4-5 Tablespoons chopped cilantro
Press the tofu gently between clean tea towels or paper towels to remove any excess water, and grate it or chop it finely. Chop the onion, and grate the carrots. Chop the other veggies and walnuts small if you want a bhurji, you can keep them large if you are going to whirl it in the food processor at the end.
In a large saute pan, heat the oil. Add the onion, and other veggies, and saute them for a few minutes on medium heat until they start to soften. Add the walnuts and spinach and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the tofu, cilantro, and rest of the ingredients, and stir everything together until the tofu is heated through.
If you want to use it like a spread, wait for the mixture to cool down and then pulse it a few times in a food processor.