Browned Tofu with Lemon, Parmesan, and Parsley Risotto

by Libby Jennison

My inspiration for this came together from two different sources.  The first was from a magazine (I forget which) that was highlighting the flavor combination lemon, parmesan, and parsley.  They were showing how one could really adapt it to any dish be it pasta, poultries, seafood, etc.  I for one was partial to the idea of trying this in a risotto.  After mulling over this thought for a moment or two I recollected a similar recipe from Heidi Swanson’s blog  Hers, called Meyer Lemon Risotto, was very similar.  It also called for lemon and parmesan, parmesan being a very typical ingredient in most risottos I’ve experienced.  Through reading her recipe I decided that the white wine she included was a great addition, as it never fails to make your kitchen smell instantly amazing and the food you are cooking instant depth of flavor.  The end result was one of those recipes that deserves guests, really.  I will absolutely think of this for my next dinner party.

However, my version of this dish was a totally casual affair.  I didn’t use Arborio rice that is specifically for risotto, but instead opted for plain old brown rice; I hand it on hand.  And you know what?  It worked beautifully.  My suggestion is to experiment with different kinds of grains and see what your pleasure is.  If I remember correctly, Heidi’s go-to fave is barley.  So one really could go wild here.  I’m thinking of trying wheatberry next.  It seems like a substantial, hearty grain that can stand up to a fair amount of cooking.

To go atop my risotto, I looked again to Heidi.  I typed tofu into her search bar and sifted through recipes until I decided on this one.  I wanted something that wouldn’t have too much competing flavor with the risotto. It was perfect.  I didn’t follow the recipe exactly, but just used it as something to point the way.  I’m not entirely sure if it had more to do with the sugar that is added for the caramelization, or more to do with the fact that I used a seasoned skillet instead of a metal saute pan, but the browning happened without a hitch.  It didn’t stick to the pan!  That’s a first.  Note to self (and anyone who’s reading):  when browning tofu, I shall use a cast iron skillet.