I got a call yesterday saying that there was an urgent need for my blood type and that I should donate the next day. I’ve donated in the past and, somehow, never was told what type I was. Long story short I donated today and the woman told me the usual things: drink lots of fluids, don’t smoke for thirty minutes, and eat a big meal.
Eat a big meal? Alright! Calm down lady, you don’t have to tell me twice.
So I hurried home and pulled out the leftovers from a party I’d had with my best friends, Gabby and Trapper, the other night. Healthy Jerk tofu, coconut rice and peas, and a cabbage salad. I also had a plantain that needed “frying”. So lets get down to these surprisingly non-fattening recipes.
I like it spicy. I like it stupid spicy. If you don’t, cut down on the habanero pepper or use a milder pepper like a jalapeño. The beauty of this is that you can tweak it to your taste. I usually add a tad bit more cinnamon and the olive oil can easily be replace with coconut oil, which is not only healthy but will also give the seasoning a mildly fruity taste.
- 1/4 Cup ground allspice
- 1 Tablespoon minced ginger
- 1 Tablespoon Bragg Liquid Aminos (soy sauce or nama shoyu work too)
- 1 Teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 Teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 Tablespoon of onion
- 2 Habanera peppers
- 3 Garlic cloves
- 1 lime, juiced
- 1 Pinch of salt
- 1 Tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
- 2 Teaspoons thyme
- 2 Packs of Extra Firm Organic Tofu (I used the Whole Foods 365 brand)
1. I hate the texture of tofu so, after hours of online research, this is what I’ve found to solve that issue. Remove the tofu from its shady water bath and set on a large plate. If you have a tofu press use it now. If you don’t have a tofu press…proceed. Put another large plate on top of it face down and put a few books on top of the contraption. Make sure it’s not too heavy or the tofu will break. Leave it like that for at least 30 minutes (I did an hour).
2. Get rid of all of the water that was squeezed from the tofu. Now, cut the block in half horizontally, keeping it together. Then go down the block vertically so that you get the cubes to your desired size. I like mine smaller and thinner because they crisp up better. Dump into a big container with a lid and prepare marinade.
3. Shave skin off of ginger, measure about a thumb-sized amount, and chop off that hunk (no need to mince). Same for the onion, cut off a hunk – no mincing. We’re keeping this simple. Remove the stems from peppers and carefully cut in half. I don’t use gloves when handling habanera peppers but you might want to if you’re an eye rubber. Either way, wash hands thoroughly.
4. Toss all ingredients (not the tofu) into a blender. Pulverize.
5. Pour Jerk marinade into the big container of tofu. Put the lid on and shake gently. Once all of the tofu is coated put the container into the freezer overnight. Yes, the freezer. This helps the tofu taste meatier. This would be a good time to prep that fruit sauce!
6. The next morning take the tofu out of the freezer and put into the ‘fridge. Now it will marinate and defrost all day.
7. When ready to cook preheat oven to 400 degrees and coat pan with olive oil. Spread tofu out and cook for twenty minutes or more, stirring occasionally. I left mine in for about half an hour because I like it crispy. Mmmm.
Rice and Peas:
This one is simple. This one always messes me up. Ugh. I must be simple. Anyway, if you have a friend who is an expert at making stove top rice (ehem, Trapper) then make them do it. If you’re like me, pull out that rice cooker.
- 1 Cup of Brown Rice
- 1 Can of Kidney (Red) Beans
- 1 Can of light coconut milk
- 1-2 Cloves of Garlic
- Salt, pepper
- 1 Habanera Pepper
- A tiny bit of water
1. Mince your garlic and sauté a little in your rice pot.
2. Add coconut milk and water (1/4 cup) to pot and bring to a boil.
3. Add rice, beans, seasonings, and habanera to the pot. Cover and cook for about thirty-five minutes. Done!
When you’re dealing with plantains things are simple and fun and easy. Then again, one slip up and you’re done. So, listen closely, you much never feed a plantain after midnight. Haha, just kidding. Plantains aren’t Gremlins, however, they may taste like one (gross) if you don’t have a ripe one. And though they might look like a banana, yellow does not mean ripe. Pretty black and somewhat smooshy is a ripe plantain and you’ll almost never find a ripe one in the supermarket or farmer’s market (in my experience). So plan ahead!
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Slice Plantain diagonally and toss in olive oil.
3. Coat a pan with olive oil and spread out plantains on top.
4. Put in oven an keep your eye on them until they are browned and the sugar in them turns into delicious crunchiness.
I’ve had a ton of Jamaican/ Caribbean food. I search it out and squee in delight when I find something new. This cabbage salad is new to me. It’s a wonderful way to cool your mouth while you’re eating that spicy jerk and it just adds another dimension to your plate. Plus, it’s too simple!
- 1/2 head of cabbage
- 1 large carrot
- 1/2 cucumber
- 2 large stalks of celery
- 3 tablespoons Vinegar (Apple Cider, Rice, White, blah blah)
- Agave Nectar (to taste)
1. Cut it all up. Slice the cabbage into thin strips. Use a vegetable peeler to shred off thin strips of the carrot. Cut the cucumber into manageable chunks. Cut the celery diagonally. Dump into a bowl with a lid.
2. Boil water.
3. Pour vinegar and desired amount of sweetener into the bowl along with boiling water. Put the lid on top and let it sit for at least twenty-minutes. It gets even better the next couple days.
Speaking of cooling off the mouth, a fruit sauce is always nice. In the past I’ve made it from jams that I would reduce down with some fresh squeezed orange juice but here’s a recipe I didn’t get around to making this time. You’ll want to make it beforehand so it can cool in the fridge.
- Frozen Strawberries
- A Squeeze of lime juice
- Agave Nectar (to taste)
1. Put all ingredients (you determine how much you want) in a pan on a low heat setting. Watch it closely and stir occasionally until it becomes a syrup. Squish the strawberries with the back of your spoon if you need to.
2. If you don’t like chunks you can throw the heated mixture into a food processor. Also, if you want a sweeter, fruitier flavor you can always add other fruits like mango or maybe peach? Get fancy.
And that is it, my friends. My hands hurt and, somehow, my tummy is growling for more jerk! This whole feast is super easy, festive, and fun to make. I promise your guests/family will love it! Remember, you can substitute tofu for other things – tempeh, meat, fish. Again, this is a very customizable feast. So blast some Bob Marley and take comfort in the fact that you are going to prepare a creative meal with whole grains, healthy fats, protein, veggies, and fruit!