It took me a long time to understand the purpose of skewering food if you weren’t going to end up eating it on the skewer. I mean, what’s the point? Eating food on the stick always seemed to be preferable to me to just cooking it on the stick, then taking it off to eat. It was a wonder to me that people would go through the trouble of putting a kebab together if they were not going to follow through with the whole stick thing when it came time to eating.
The kid in me still thinks it’s fun to eat things on sticks. Even more fun to me these days, though, is cooking things on sticks, which allows the flavors to meld together perfectly. Add a sweet and salty marinade, which is easily brushed on as a coating, and you have a whole lot of deliciousness married together. Cooked to perfection. On one stick.
Now that I’m older and presumably a bit wiser, I also like the idea of eating things on a stick (have I said “stick” enough yet?), but the key word here is idea. Logistically, it’s much, much easier — and yummier — to remove all the edible components upon eating, and to serve those components over a bed of fluffy quinoa with a side of raw fermented kimchi and just a drizzle of Sriracha. At least, that’s what I did. You do it your way. Heck, even eat this off of the stick if you really want to.
Ok, so I’ve met my quota for typing the word stick in one post. Now, I can get to the more important issues at hand here. First is the fact that this is an easy, healthy meal that can be rounded out well with some simple sides. So, that’s always nice. But perhaps more important is that I did two tests of this recipe: one with oil, and one without. Gennaro and I both agreed that the oil made absolutely no difference — in fact, I actually preferred the version without oil. So, don’t feel compelled to add any. It isn’t necessary. Unless you’re trying to put weight on or add calories to your diet, I would recommend leaving any unnecessary fat out of the equation. Personally, I tend to feel better, lighter and healthier when I’m not cooking with any added oils. I prefer to save the calories for something really special….like the double chocolate chip cookies I made yesterday…to be shared later…
Tofu Teriyaki Skewers (gluten-free, vegan, oil-free):
Serves 2-4 (depending on appetites of who you’re serving)
Note: This dish requires skewers. Can use wooden skewers soaked in water or reusable metal skewers, as pictured. For best results, you will also want parchment paper and a culinary brush for the marinade.
1 pkg. extra firm tofu, drained and pressed with paper towel to get rid of excess water, cut into large cubes*
1 red/yellow/orange bell pepper, cut into large, evenly-sized chunks
1 red onion, cut into large, evenly-sized chunks
1/2 large pineapple (core removed), cut into large, evenly-sized chunks (not too ripe)
1/2 cup gluten-free Tamari soy sauce (or reduced sodium Tamari)
1/3 cup coconut crystals
2 garlic cloves, smashed
2 packed teaspoons freshly grated ginger
2 tablespoons white wine
*Note: pressed tofu tends to work best and gets firmer as it cooks. I press mine while I’m making the marinade by wrapping it in towel and paper towel and putting a few heavy cookbooks on top. Easy!
1. Whisk together marinade ingredients in a large Pyrex mixing cup or bowl. Add tofu to a shallow glass bowl or dish and pour marinade over tofu. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.
2. If using wooden skewers, soak in water for 15-20 minutes.
3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove tofu from refrigerator. Assemble skewers by adding ingredients in any order you wish, but while evenly distributing the tofu throughout four large or several smaller skewers. Keep the marinade to use for brushing. When skewers are assembled, lay flat on a parchment lined baking sheet. Brush on some additional marinade over each skewer.
4. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Remove and turn skewers so that the top part is now on the bottom. Re-brush the top side with additional marinade. Return to oven and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes, or until tofu is nice and browned on the outside. Remove and serve as desired.