Monday, May 27, 2013

Vegan Tofu Shawarma

One of the things I am actively trying to work on is sharing more of myself with other people. Sometimes I feel like the only person who really gets to know me well is my partner. I mean, that makes sense, of course, since we spend nearly all of our free time together, but while some people enjoy sharing their lives with their coworkers and other acquaintances  I've always found myself to be a fairly private person on the inside. For some reason, I'm just not very comfortable being myself around people I haven't known for a very long time! This is something I've been trying to change while at work (where I rarely talk about myself let alone anything that really exemplifies my personality) and here on the lizz delicious blog. I seem to be very "down to business" when it comes to sharing things with my readers, much like how I am when it comes to my job, but I fully intend to broaden my subject matter from here on out, and to give you a fuller, richer, more personal experience with my posts in the future. I feel like you all have opened up more to me, and I should be doing the same thing in return!

I bring this up because the following recipe is an example of my personality coming through on my blog. When the Avengers movie came out last year, I wrote a post with a recipe for Vegan Tofu Shawarma inspired by a discussion some of the characters had during the movie. Had I heard of shawarma before? No. Did I have any other reason for making a vegan recipe for it than the fact that I'm a nerd? Absolutely not! I just couldn't resist. And I'm glad I shared it and a piece of myself with the world as it is a recipe that I receive a lot of search engine traffic from, believe it or not. And with the third Iron Man movie having just come out, visions of tofu shawarma have been flitting through my head. Of all things, right?

And while I liked the original recipe quite a bit, I felt like it had some definite room for improvement. For instance, frying tofu dipped in yogurt takes a considerable amount of time. So, Thursday night, I went back to the recipe and mixed it up a bit, and here is the final result. It is so good, y'all, it's difficult to describe. The spices on the tofu give it a sweet and smoky flavor. Paired with some tabouleh, crunchy lettuce, and fresh cucumber, I was in heaven. The spices used in this recipe are still inspired by a website I found called Shawarma Recipe, as are the recommended toppings. It is in no way "authentic" but it is still DARN tasty. And this version is a lot easier to make than my previous attempt. I hope you like it!

1 14 ounce package extra firm tofu
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon cornstarch
Flatbread or pita pockets
Tabouleh or hummus
Diced cucumber

Drain the tofu and press out the water, using a tofu press (click here to purchase) or by placing it on a place with a heavy baking dish on top. Press for at least 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the salt, spices, and cornstarch in a mixing bowl.

When the water has been pressed from the tofu, cut the block into small cubes (as pictured). Add to the mixing bowl and toss to coat. Make sure each piece gets some of the spices on it!

In a large frying pan, warm 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the tofu and cook on one side for 4-5 minutes. Turn the pieces over to the best of your ability and cook an additional 4-5 minutes. If desired, continue cooking the tofu on each side until perfectly crispy. I usually give it a crust on 3 sides. After that, it smells too enticing and I must consume it!

Warm the pita pockets for 10-30 seconds in your microwave to prevent them from breaking when you fold them up. Place your vegetables and condiments in the middle, top with some tofu, fold, and eat. With a giant smile on your face.

Makes 4 servings.

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