Pan-Seared Tofu with Fennel Garbanzo Blend

Ever time I go to Horizons, I’m in awe at how the restaurant creates tofu-centered entrees that taste like heaven. Growing up on the white stuff, I definitely eat my fair share of tofu. From the simple sandwich to Tofu Edamame Wraps, tofu isn’t really a foreign ingredient in my kitchen. However, I don’t think I ever considered utilizing tofu as if it were a meat, cooking it like a steak and plating up a thick slice for dinner. The thought of doing that prior to Horizons would scare me beyond all belief. However, the restaurant quickly opened my eyes to the multifaceted depths of tofu. I’m convinced that that place can seriously turn even the most meat lovin’, skeptical-of-tofu diners into tofu lovers. And the texture…who knew a squishy block of uncooked tofu could turn into what almost resembles something comparable to a Chilean sea bass…a golden, slightly crispy outside giving way to a perfectly juicy interior.

This Christmas, my sister bought my mom the Horizons cookbook. Finally, all my questions were answered. Inside the book lay instructions of how they get their tofu so darn delicious. Yes!

The following recipe requires a couple steps, which include making a special Horizons-designed tofu rub and creating a sauce to pair with the tofu. I decided on a hummus-like blend utilizing some fennel I had in the fridge. However, when you make the Tofu Spice, double or even triple the recipe, and you’ll have it around to use whenever. Also, the garbanzo blend I created provides leftovers worthy of other uses. You’ll also find that the actual cooking method of the tofu is surprisingly simple. Feel free to whip up the first few steps 1-2 days ahead of time, and then you’ll be able to create this meal in under 5 minutes.

All in all, I can’t say I’ve quite mastered pan-seared tofu quite as good as the tofu masters at Horizons, but their instructions will get you pretty close. The results are sure to satisfy both your meaty and vegan friends. I’ve got tons of extra tofu spice on hand, so expect some more tofu-centered dishes in the future!

Pan-Seared Tofu

(Serves 3)

-1-14 oz. block of firm tofu, drained
-Horizons’ Tofu Spice mix (recipe to follow)
-Olive oil
-1 cup Fennel Garbanzo Blend (recipe below)

Divide block of tofu lengthwise into thirds. Liberally coat one side of each slice with Tofu Spice Mix.

Place a shallow layer of olive oil in a saute pan. Heat until very hot (you’ll see slight ripples, but don’t let it smoke.) Turn off heat and gently lay in the tofu, spice side down. Return to heat, spice the other side, and cook until the bottom side looks golden. Turn off heat and carefully flip tofu slices with a spatula. Turn the heat back on and cook the other side until golden brown.

Heat 1 cup of Fennel Garbanzo Blend until warm. Serve each slice of tofu atop 1/3 cup Fennel Garbanzo Blend.

Horizons’ Tofu Spice

-2 Tbsp. coarse salt (do not grind)
-2 Tbsp. peppercorns
-1 tsp. coriander seeds
-1 tsp. caraway seeds
-1 tsp. fennel seeds
-1 tsp. cumin seeds
-1 tsp. celery seeds (do not grind)

Individually grind the above spices in a coffee mill. Mix all ingredients together. Store in an air-tight container.

Fennel Garbanzo Blend

-2 large cloves garlic
-1 fennel bulb, plus stalks and leaves, ends removed
-1 15.5 oz can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
-1 lemon, hand-squeezed
-1 1/2 tsp. cumin
-1 tsp. paprika
-1/2 tsp. salt
-1/2 tsp. pepper
-2 Tbsp. tahini
-2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

-Parsley and paprika, garnish, optional

Pulse garlic in food processor. Add fennel, and pulse until it turns into a coarse paste. Add remaining ingredients, excluding olive oil. Blend, drizzling in olive oil through top of processor. Remove from food processor, and garnish with a sprig of parsley and a dash of paprika, if desired.


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  • Reply
    January 22, 2011 at 12:17 pm

    I am so excited to try the fennel garbanzo blend. I have been wanting to try fennel and in most recipes I saw to cook the fennel. I really like that it is uncooked in this recipe. Thanks for sharing. The whole meal looks divine!

  • Reply
    January 22, 2011 at 12:43 pm

    Sounds delicious. I know I’m not experimenting enough with tofu… This recipe is going on my “list.”

  • Reply
    January 22, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    Thanks for the recipe. I never would have thought to cook the tofu this way. I’ll have to give it a try.

  • Reply
    January 25, 2011 at 10:57 pm

    This looks awesome! Thanks so much for the recipe 🙂

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