Ah, July! The first time in a while where I am not rushing off to school early each morning to mold impressionable young minds. As with many other seasonal jobs, with the end of the school year comes staff parties and potluck suppers. I think everyone loves a good summer potluck: good food, good company, and above all else, good beer. The only downside with most potlucks is that they tend to be entirely omnivorous, and by that, I mean that almost every dish tends to involve some kind of meat hidden within. Baked beans with bacon, broccoli salad with bacon, roast potatoes with bacon… I mean, what is it with people and bacon!? Allysia and I knew that we had to help rescue the carnivores from themselves.
We were actually incredibly stumped when it came to figuring out what we should bring to the party. We literally spent an hour or two just sitting around trying to come up with ideas. We had planned to bring one dish at first, but that quickly expanded out to two dishes, and then a third was finally tacked on at the end. We would bring an appetizer, a main course, and a dessert.
The appetizer was fleshed out. Cauliflower chunks, battered and baked in the oven. Tossed with some buffalo sauce (what can I say, I have a weakness…), returned to the oven. Perfecto. The desert was going to be decadent. Really decadent. Chocolate brownies covered in a layer of cheesecake and drizzled with more chocolate. The main course was the final invention. We knew that the hosts were going to be providing pulled pork for everyone at the party (at least it’s not bacon, I guess?) so I decided to make something similar for Allysia and I: tofu “pulled pork” with barbecue sauce!
Tofu Pulled Pork Sandwiches
makes 6 sandwiches
1/2 block pressed tofu (the really firm, pre-pressed stuff works the best)
1/2 cup barbecue sauce, store-bought or home-made*
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup sliced red bell pepper
1/2 cup sliced onion
2 cloves sliced garlic
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
Fresh buns, cut down the middle (we used sourdough)
Fixings (we used tomato, cucumber, kale, pickles, Vegenaise, and a little extra barbecue sauce)
*We used store-bought sauce, but a quick and easy barbecue sauce can be created with garlic powder, onion powder, apple cider vinegar, ketchup, and vegan Worcestershire.
1. The tofu we used was a pre-pressed variety that we have found at a few health food stores. It is significantly more dense than the extra-firm or super-firm tofu found at most grocery stores. If you can find it, I highly recommend it. If not, take some extra firm tofu and place it on your counter top in between two clean kitchen towels. Place some weight on top (I find 20 pounds is a good amount) and let it sit for an hour to remove all moisture. Once your tofu is ready, grate it on the coarse side of a box grater and mix it with the barbeque sauce and vinegar.
2. Heat the oil in a pan and slice your bell pepper, onion, and garlic. Saute the veggies for about ten minutes, then add the tofu to the pan. Continue sauteing for another ten minutes.
3. To assemble the sandwiches, slice your buns and spread on some mayo, barbeque sauce, mustard, ketchup, or whatever else fits your fancy. Layer on some greenery and fresh veggies before finishing with a portion of the tofu mixture.
The pressed tofu gives the sandwich an amazing, meaty feel. I have used the pre-pressed tofu as well as pressed my own, but the pre-pressed definitely has the best texture. Since we were taking our sandwiches to go, we let them cool off a little bit before wrapping to keep the buns from getting soggy. We knew there was going to be at least one more herbivore at the party so we made sure to bring extra.
The party ended up being great fun. There were even some actual salads present! The sandwiches were a huge success among the vegans/vegetarians present, and the buffalo cauliflower was enjoyed by all. We made a huge amount of cauliflower, but they were gobbled up none-the-less – people were mentioning them to us for days afterwards. Unfortunately our pictures of the appetizer went missing, so you guys and gals will have to wait until we make them again to hear about the recipe.
When it comes to food experimentation there is always a risk of failure. Our brownies fell victim to that risk. While still delicious, they were more akin to a thick, chewy pudding than to any kind of baked treat. If you see Allysia in your travels be sure to offer your condolences on the Brownies that Never Were. Oh well, you win some, you lose some. See ya!