After many wonderful experiences eating buffalo mozzarella drizzled with olive oil, fresh basil and summer tomatoes, I had to come up with something as equally divine when I found out that gluten and dairy were no longer a part of my diet. Tofu, the substitute for mozzarella, coated in a herbed gluten-free flour, keeps the texture real and exciting. At first daunting, but soon relatively easy (once I learned the tricks of working with it), tofu has the additional benefit of containing a great plant based protein. Add in summer garden fresh or farmers’ market tomatoes, and the masterpiece is complete. Once plated, this dish brings up visions of summer days, enjoyed Al Fresco. Mangia!
This is a great dish to get kids mixing gluten free flour with spices and salt, as well as coating thin slices of tofu. Great for sensory input on kids hands too! Presentation is also fun for all, as placing tomatoes, basil and tofu on a plate can easily turn into an art project. My daughter loved the idea of drizzling olive oil too. I think it was the fancy word “drizzle” that made her think she was a true culinary grown up!
1 package of extra firm tofu
Gluten-free all-purpose flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt
Canola oil or other high heat oil (so it doesn’t hydrogenate in the pan)
3-4 large fresh tomatoes
chopped fresh basil to garnish
sea salt to garnish (optional)
On a towel or towels as needed, press the tofu to release the water. Get as much water out as possible without crushing the tofu square.
Coat a large pan with canola oil, 1/8 of an inch and place it on the burner with the most uniform heat for the pan size. This part, and all stove top portions, should be completed by an adult.
Combine flour, spices and salt and mix thoroughly in a bowl large enough to dip tofu strips.
To begin, slice the drained tofu square into 12 or so similar sized strips. Heat the pan of oil on medium to high heat and let the oil warm. Once the oil is hot, dip the tofu into the flour mixture and coat. Place the coated tofu into the pan. Work quickly to ensure the tofu strips are all in the pan at relatively the same time. Let them cook until they are lightly crisped, about 2-3 minutes. Lower the heat to medium and let them cook slowly till the texture on the cooked side is fully crisped and browned. Flip the strips to the other side and let them cook on medium heat until that side is crisped and browned as well. Medium heat will take a bit longer to make them lightly browned and crispy but it will allow the tofu inside the strip to cook.
Arrange the strips on a beautiful plate, placing tomatoes around the strips, covering with chopped fresh basil and drizzle with a good quality olive oil.
Makes: Two servings. Make more for a great appetizer.
Recommendation: Make this when you want to eat it, the fresher the better.