You may remember that last week, I grilled apples in the panini grill. Here in the hinterland, only the most hard core grillers still have their outdoor grills in service. I’ve tried firing a gas grill up in the depths of winter. The poor thing blazed away and never actually got up to 250 degrees inside.
Right now mine is comfortably swaddled in its cover in the garage, waiting to emerge with the crocuses.
So when the urge to throw some food on a hot grate comes along, I can resort to a tabletop appliance. No smoke, no fire, but way easy to use and clean up. If you don’t have a panini press, you can always use a George Foreman, or even a waffle maker to do this. It might take a bit longer, but it will still put a good sear on the tofu and compress an imprint into the soft curd. That imprint is the fun part, creating pockets for sauce, while squashing the tofu into a dense, well-pressed chew.
The grill also does a good job of marking and searing sliced veggies, and makes kale leaves soft, then crunchy in spots, as it cooks the bit of marinade into the leaf surface. If you leave them in for a while, they actually become chip-like.
So, the most important part is to bathe the tofu in a flavorful marinade, which will both coat and flavor the tofu and have enough oil to keep anything from sticking. I made the whole package of tofu into slabs, and saved a few for a sandwich, as well as this lovely quinoa plate.
The simple marinade needs some sweetness to brown nicely in the heat.
Once the tofu is done, griddle some veggies, red onions are lovely. Anything sliced evenly, like zucchini, peppers, eggplant, just slap it in there.
And don’t forget some Tuscan Kale, brushed with some marinade, possibly a little extra sesame oil for extra fabulousness.
And it all come off the grill and topped a lively pile of tri-colored quinoa. Scroll down to see the crave-worthy sandwich I made from a few stray tofu slabs!
Panini-Grilled Tofu with Red Onions and Kale
2 tablespoons tamari
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon organic sugar
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 package organic firm tofu
1 cup quinoa, cooked in 1 1/2 cups water with a pinch of salt (you will not need it all)
1/2 red onion, sliced 1/3 inch thick
6 leaves Tuscan kale
Korean Barbecue Sauce and Sriracha Sauce
In a cup, stir the tamari, vinegar, sugar and sesame oil. Slice the tofu in 8 slices and place them in a large, flat bottomed storage container, then drizzle with the tamari mixture. Let stand for about 30 minutes, then turn the slices to soak the other side. Let stand another 30, or longer in the fridge.
Cook the quinoa.
Heat the grill on high. When hot, drain the extra marinade from the tofu and use it to brush the onion slices, put them on the grill and close it. Cook for 3-5 minutes, til the onions are soft and marked. Transfer the onions to a plate. Brush the kale leaves with remaining marinade (if you run out, drizzle with sesame oil) and grill them, a minute or two, longer if you like really dry chip texture in your kale.
Place the tofu on the grill and close, grill for 5-10 minutes, until the tofu is marked and firm to the touch.
Arrange half of the kale on each of two dinner plates, then scoop quinoa on top, arrange tofu and red onions, and drizzle with sauces as desired.
Panini-Grilled Tofu and Avocado Panini with Gochujang Mayo
3 slabs of tofu, from recipe above
about a tablespoon of Just Mayo or your favorite kind
about a teaspoon of Gochujang or your fave hot sauce
Half an avocado, sliced
a few thin slices of ripe mango
2 slices 100 %whole wheat bread
Heat up the grill.
Smear a teaspoon of mayo on the bread, then turn over on the cutting board (this will be the outside.) On one slice, smear the remaining mayo and the gochujang. Top with tofu slices, then the mango and avocado. Sprinkle a little salt on the avocado, if desired.
Grill the sandwich until the outside is marked and toasted. Eat hot.