Tofu Kabobs with Roasted Red Pepper-Maple BBQ Sauce

bbq sauceCurious how much of a slacker I am? Check this out: I made the dish you are about to see for the same event that Gaurav made his chhole curry. That recipe was written up and posted long ago, and I’m only just now getting to this one. And it’s not for lack of reminders. One person has been waiting vigilantly for this.

Also, the photo accompanying this post isn’t even kabobs! It’s the  sauce described here but it’s slathering slices of veggie sausage instead of skewered tofu.

Anyway, enough about my slack-a-day tendencies.

Ahem. I now bring you:

 

Tofu Kabobs with Roasted Red Pepper-Maple Barbecue Sauce

The recipes calls for baking the tofu and onion, then putting them on skewers later. It’s kind of cheating, using the kabob idea for presentation rather than preparation. Alternatively, you can make this on your grill. Soak skewers in water beforehand so they don’t burn, then load them up with tofu and onion wedges. Cook on oiled foil or, if you’re daring and don’t mind scraping tofu off your barbecue later, right on the grill. Brush with barbecue sauce partway through the grilling.

The Kabobs

¼-1/2 cup tamari or soy sauce
¼-1/2 cup water
1 Tbs. toasted sesame oil

2-3 lbs. extra firm tofu, cut into ¾ ” cubes
2 medium red onions, sliced into ½” to ¾” wedges
2 red or green bell peppers, cut into ½” or ¾” squares, optional

Oil two 9″x12″ baking sheets with sides and preheat the oven to 350 or so. Whisk together the tamari or soy sauce, water, and sesame oil. Toss the tofu cubes, onions, and optional peppers in this sauce, then spread out in a single layer on the baking sheets. Bake the tofu cubes for 45 minutes or until the tofu is drying out and browning. The timing will depend on the firmness and denseness of the tofu (a very firm brand, like Spring Creek, won’t need as much time. A more watery brand like 365 from Whole Foods will need more. Both claim to be “extra firm,” but one is lying!) If it’s taking a really long time, increase the oven temperature to 400 to speed things up.

Also pay attention to the onions and peppers. If they are getting very soft or burning, remove from the oven and set aside while the tofu continues to bake.

While the tofu and onion is baking, prepare the sauce.

The Sauce

2 Tbs. olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 cup  (6  oz.) bottled roasted red peppers, drained
1 15-oz can diced tomatoes (try fire-roasted tomatoes!), drained
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon chopped canned chipotle chilies in adobo plus 1 teaspoon adobo sauce (from can), or 1/2 teaspoon cayenne, or ½ chopped cayenne pepper
¼ cup ketchup
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
Salt to taste

In a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan, heat the oil and then sauté the onions on medium for a few minutes. If you have the time and want a super tasty barbecue sauce, caramelize them over medium-low heat, letting them cook for a good 30 minutes to get soft and golden and sweet. Or if you’re pressed for time, skip the sautéing and jump to the next step. You can throw the onion into the food processor with the other ingredients.

In a food processor or blender, combine the roasted red peppers, tomatoes, maple syrup, and chipotle chilies (or cayenne)—and the raw onion if desired. Puree and add to the saucepan. Bring the sauce to a simmer and continue simmering, covering partially and stirring occasionally, for 20-40 minutes. Add the ketchup, vinegar, and Worcestershire sauce. Mix thoroughly. Simmer for another 15 minutes or until it reaches the desired thickness. If the sauce is still too thin for your liking, simmer for longer, uncovered, to allow more water to evaporate.

When the tofu has browned, remove from the oven. Separate out the onion and set aside. Toss the tofu with barbecue sauce to coat, and then spread out on the baking trays again (again in a single layer), crank up the heat to 400 or 450, and bake for another 20 minutes or until crispy and barbecued-looking. You can also broil them at this point. Just be sure to keep an eye on them to avoid incinerating your tofu.

Add more sauce to the tofu if desired. You can save the leftover sauce and it keeps quite well in the fridge. Use a jar with a snug-fitting top.

For appetizer-sized servings, break your skewers in half and make mini-kabobs with 3 or 4 chunks of tofu and a few pieces of onion each. For main dish-sized servings, keep your skewers intact.

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