We had a snow week last week, here in Seattle. For those of you who live elsewhere, let me explain. Mostly it just rains here in the winter. Chilly and dark to be sure, but not exactly extreme. We might get the occasional dusting of snow, but once every year or two it just keeps going and really snows, often with some freezing rain for good measure, and the city grinds to a stop for a time. We’re just not equipped for this and it can quickly turn from fun to a real drag if you actually have to leave the house.
So as the snow week ground on, I concentrated all of my energy on continually shoveling the damned driveway (and I was cursing, believe me), getting to work safely, doing my job, then making the return trek without being snuffed by out of control SUVs. No spontaneous stops at the grocery store, because it just wasn’t worth the effort to pull into a parking lot choked with six or seven inches of churned-up ice and snow and full of cars scattered every which way, as if a tornado had parked people’s their cars for them, like the world’s worst valet. No after work activities because everything was cancelled, closed, or inaccessible without crampons and an ice axe, maybe some sherpas.
I spent the first few evenings in a pleasurable hibernation mode, with a crackling fire in the fireplace, and decadent dinners composed of cheese and olives. The last few evenings were all about cabin fever, watching the cat stalk to his cat door, stick his nose out, and retreat with a grumpy expression and his angriest meow. Over and over. I knew just how he felt.
But in the middle of the week, I managed to rally enough to get in the kitchen and actually cook something healthful and delicious to sustain me for the duration. I cook a lot of stir fry, but this is more of a hybrid of stir fried and roasted vegetables, which makes it more satisfying and hearty on a cold winter’s day. And instead of the usual Asian additions of soy sauce or sesame oil, Tahini gives it a Mediterranean flavor. I use baked tofu a lot, as I like the simple, chewy texture. But bits of chicken or shrimp would work equally well. The important thing is the variety of tastes and textures; crisp, smooth, meaty, tangy.
This week we were back to rain, and I’ve been enjoying the luxury of simple freedom again, to just get in the car and go to yoga class, or the library, or out to dinner with a friend. The lingering patches of snow in my yard are still retreating, but the sun is shining sweetly, a rare winter treat.
Roasted Delicata Squash and Tofu with Broccoli
- 16 oz firm tofu, cubed
- 1 delicata squash, sliced and seeded
- 1-2 tbsp oil
- 1 head broccoli florets
- 1 cup chopped cabbage
- 1 cup sliced shiitake mushrooms
- ½ cup onion, diced
- salt and pepper to taste
- ½ cup cilantro, minced
- ¼ cup tahini
- ½ cup water
- 1 tsp garlic
- ½ tsp salt
Combine ingredients for Tahini Sauce and stir until smooth.
Preheat oven to 400F. Lightly brush or spray two baking sheets with oil. Arrange cubed tofu on one baking sheet and place on bottom rack of oven. Lay squash rings on the other sheet and place on middle rack of oven. After about 15 minutes, or when starting to brown on bottom, flip tofu cubes and squash with a spatula and return to oven for about 10 more minutes.
In a large skillet or wok over high heat, heat 1-2 tbsp oil and quickly sauté cabbage, mushrooms, and onion until crisp-tender—just a few minutes. Add broccoli and a splash of water. Cover and steam for another few minutes.
Remove tofu and squash from oven when tofu is a toasty golden color and squash is tender. Add to vegetable mixture in wok and toss to combine, salt and pepper lightly.
Serve drizzled with Tahini sauce and sprinkled with cilantro.