Vegetarian Tomato Gravy

Has your market or garden been overflowing with greens lately? Mine has, and I have really enjoyed trying out all the varieties that are fresh and locally available this time of year.

Check out this beautiful red Swiss chard.

This bunch was begging to be sauteed and served with some comfort food.

I immediately thought of the delicious rice bowls we had at Rosetta’s Kitchen in Asheville, NC.

Then I thought of the tomato gravy I had on the same trip at Early Girl Eatery.

And the first of many Asheville-inspired dinners was born. Balsamic baked tofu with sauteed chard and tomato gravy is short on prep time and long on flavor. The dish is comprised of four separate components that you throw together at the end.

  • Brown rice, which requires a very hands-off preparation
  • Baked tofu, which also takes care of itself
  • Swiss chard, which just calls for a stir every minute after it hits the pan
  • Tomato gravy, which is the most hands-on component, but really very easy

When I finished cooking and tasted the tomato gravy, I was surprised at how awesome it was, considering the minimal effort it took to prepare. I immediately wanted to put tomato gravy on everything. I can’t say that I feel the same about a lot of the things I cook, like honey wheat sandwich bread (really not that quick and easy).

Doesn’t that look like a whole plate of comfort? Yum.

Part 1: Brown Rice

Get your rice cooking first because it takes 45 minutes to an hour. Cook according to package instructions and then keep warm without drying out.

Part 2: Balsamic Baked Tofu

Drain and press a block of extra firm tofu (I used the fine herb variety from Twin Oaks). Cut the tofu into 1/2″ to 1″ cubes and toss in a bowl with enough balsamic vinaigrette to coat. Marinate for 20 minutes. Lightly oil a baking sheet and preheat your broiler. Drain the tofu cubes and reserve the leftover marinade for the greens. Spread out the tofu cubes in a single layer on the baking sheet and sprinkle the tops with olive oil. Place under broiler for 4-5 minutes, then turn the to onto the other side and broil for 4-5 minutes more until the edges are crisp and brown. Keep warm.

Part 3: Sauteed Swiss Chard

Wash and dry the greens in a salad spinner. Stack the leaves and cut them crosswise into strips, chopping perpendicular to the stems. Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a large pan and add the greens to the pan, along with 2 cloves of chopped fresh garlic. Saute until wilted, and then toss with the leftover marinade from the tofu. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Part 4: Vegetarian Tomato Gravy

I adapted this recipe from the original from the Vegan Food blog. Feel free to make your own substitutions as you see fit.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tsp raw granulated cane sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • pinch ground cayenne
  • 15 oz. can diced tomatoes, with juice

Preparation

  1. Heat the butter over medium heat in a medium pan. Stir in the flour with a whisk until no lumps remain. Let simmer for half a minute to toast the flourand then remove from heat.
  2. Slowly stir in the milk while whisking the mixture.
  3. Return pan to heat, stir and bring to a boil. The mixture will thicken over a few minutes. Turn heat down to low.
  4. Add the sugar, salt, and pepper. While stirring, add the juice from the tomatoes. Return to a simmer.
  5. In a shallow bowl, mash the tomatoes with a fork or potato masher until they are choppy or shredded, in juice. Make sure you keep some tomato lumps and do not over-mash the tomatoes.
  6. When the gravy has returned to a simmer, add the tomatoes. Turn the heat up to medium-low and stir while cooking for 3-5 minutes or until the gravy thickens.

Combine parts 1-4 on one plate, and you get this.

A taste of the Southeast in your own kitchen.

Now go buy some greens before they’re all gone!

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