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A vegan friend of mine visited from the Bay Area last weekend.  Up for a challenge, I decided to go undercover as a fellow vegan, vegging out on vegetables, while she was here.

The plan was to hit up the plethora of new vegan food carts around town, since I don’t find them particularly appealing otherwise (sorry, guys!).  I didn’t realize that they were almost all vegan fast food (fried things, hamburgers, hotdogs, and the like) and my friend is dedicated to eating low-fat and low-carb meals.  And honestly, if I’m going to have fried or high-calorie snacks, I’m not going to waste the calories on tofu sausage.  (But I have to say the greens and cornbread at Cornbread Café do look good… and I was just informed that there’s a raw food cart in Kesey Plaza called Raw Love that we missed when we did our research online!)

So, we did some cooking.  Many of the side dishes I make are vegan, and it was easy to make a pot of beans, Moroccan carrot purée, some French olive-oil-based potato salad, panzanella, and dried fruit, berries, and hazelnuts for snacks.  I broke out the table grill and made rather yummy miso-marinated grilled tofu and vegetables, too.

Miso Marinade for Grilled Tofu and Vegetables

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup yellow miso
  • 1/4 c. sake
  • 1/4 c. water
  • 1 T. sesame oil

Whisk all ingredients together.

To prepare vegetables: Slice vegetables in large pieces for the most attractive presentation.  Zucchini and yellow summer squash work very well, as would small Japanese eggplants, sliced lengthwise twice, peppers, and sweet onion.  (In our dinner, we used a red pepper, an Anaheim pepper, three small zucchini, and a summer squash.)  Brush half of the marinade on the vegetables.

To prepare tofu: For best results, drain water from a cake of firm tofu by placing it in a colander with a plate on top of it. Place a weight (like a big can of tomatoes) on the plate.  Let sit and drain for 30 minutes or so.  Dab any remaining liquid off with a paper towel.  Then slice the tofu lengthwise in 1-inch thick slices.  Brush the other half of the marinade on tofu.

Marinate vegetables and tofu in separate bowls for about 30 minutes.

Brush grill with oil before placing tofu and vegetables on the hot grill, as they tend to stick.  Avoid turning tofu and vegetables too early.

Note: these measurements are approximate.  Watch for the salt in miso — if you are using watery vegetables, like summer squash, the salt is necessary, but it may be a bit strong if you are only using red peppers.  The saltiness is a must for tofu.

Enjoy these vegetables with a dry rosé.

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