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Tofu With Apricots, Olives and Almonds

Moroccan-style tofu with apricots, olives and almonds. Photograph by Susan Voisin.

Editor’s Note: Originally published as a recipe for Tu B’Shvat, this dish also makes a delightful vegetarian dish for a festive Hanukkah dinner — the olives nodding to the symbolism of the oil that burned for eight nights.

This flavorful, hearty vegetarian dish serves as a delicious main course any time of year, but is particularly appropriate for Tu B’Shvat. It’s simple to prepare and looks beautiful when fully assembled. I came across the recipe in the “Vegan Holiday Kitchen,” by Nava Atlas, this past fall while searching for a meatless addition to my Rosh Hashanah dinner. I often find tofu bland, but the combination of the spices, the salty olives and the sweetness of the apricots made for a bold, aromatic meal.

With olives and wheat being two of the seven fruits of Israel, the inclusion of olives and couscous makes this recipe a great choice for a Tu B’Shvat seder. Add dried figs to incorporate a third of the seven species. For a non-vegetarian twist, substitute mildlyspiced cooked chicken for the tofu.

Serves 8

3 tablespoons olive oil
Two 8-ounce packages baked tofu (you can find this in most supermarkets)
1 medium onion, quartered and thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
6 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons unbleached white flour
2 cups prepared vegetable broth
1 to 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger, to taste
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Pinch of cinnamon
2 tablespoons lemon juice, or more, to taste
2 tablespoons agave nectar or natural granulated sugar, or to taste
1 cup small green pimiento olives
¾ cup sliced dried apricots
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
3 to 4 cups hot cooked couscous
½ cup slivered almonds, lightly toasted
¼ to ½ cup minced fresh parsley

1) Heat half of the oil in a large skillet. Add the baked tofu and sauté over medium heat until lightly browned on most sides. Remove tofu to a plate and set aside.

2) Heat the remaining oil in the skillet. Add the onion and sauté over medium-low heat until translucent. Add the garlic and white parts of the scallion and continue to sauté until all are golden.

3) Stir in the green parts of the scallion, then sprinkle in the flour, stirring it in quickly.

4) Add the broth and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens.

5) Stir in the ginger, cumin, and cinnamon, followed by the lemon juice and agave nectar.

6) Mix in the tofu, olives, and apricots. Season gently with salt and pepper and stir. Check the sweetness and add more lemon juice and sugar accordingly.

7) To serve, spread the cooked couscous or quinoa on a large serving platter; make a well in the center by pushing the grain off to the perimeter of the platter, then pour the tofu mixture into the center. Sprinkle the almonds and parsley evenly over the top and serve.

This recipe is from Vegan Holiday Kitchen by Nava Atlas.

Jean Hanks is the new food intern at the Forward. Contact her at [email protected]

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