When I lived in the Bronx, there was a great but strange Chinese take-out place. Great because they made some really delicious food; strange because the food they made so delicious was Italian while their Chinese food…well…not so much. And I lived in a very Italian neighborhood so there were a lot of authentic places to choose from but I liked ordering from this restaurant.
Now that I think back, one of my favorite Mexican chain restaurants in the neighborhood was owned and run by Chinese cooks and so was this other place that made delicious Chinese food but also made incredible Spanish food. I could order General Tso’s with a side of plantains, Sesame Noodles with Spanish Rice. I guess this just shows some of the great diversity that exists in my beloved Bronx home.
Anyway, one of my favorite dishes that I would order from the Chinese restaurant with the Italian name (sadly, they are no longer there) was Chicken Francaise. And that’s another strange thing because I used to really hate lemon. I couldn’t stand lemon in anything: water, soda, tea, food, etc. The only way I liked lemon flavor was in lollipops. But I loved this dish which is basically fried chicken cutlets dipped in an egg batter and cooked in a white wine lemon sauce.
Today I like lemon which is why I have a rule that I’m not allowed to say I “hate” any food unless I’ve tried it many times in many different forms. I love the taste of lemon in salad, in my Tofu Piccata and still, in lollipops.
So I decided to recreate another of my old favorite dishes in a healthier, more compassionate way. The tofu (not chicken) is battered without eggs but it looks and almost tastes like it is. The sauce is a bright combination of lemon and white wine. It tastes delicious served over linguine or rice. (If you choose to make it without pasta or rice, cut the amount of white wine and broth in half to make less sauce).
My Tofu Francaise with Linguine makes a perfect dish to serve at a family gathering or any special dinner. And if like me, you miss the Bronx, you can eat it with chopsticks.
Tofu Francaise with Linguine
1 lb. gluten-free linguine
1 block tofu, pressed and drained
1/3 cup chickpea flour
2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. dried parsley
½ tsp. Kosher salt
¼ tsp. ground black pepper
½ cup almond milk
2 Tbs. arrowroot
2 Tbs. ground flaxseed
1 Tbs. nutritional yeast
2 tsp. grated vegan parmesan
½ tsp. turmeric
2 Tbs. safflower oil
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
2 Tbs. vegan butter
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
2 Tbs. capers
Lemon slices, for garnish (optional)
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the linguine according to the package directions. Drain and set aside.
Cut the tofu into 8 slices. On a shallow plate, mix the flour, dried spices, salt and black pepper. In a bowl, mix the almond milk, arrowroot, ground flaxseed, nutritional yeast, grated parmesan and turmeric until you have a thick batter.
Preheat oven to 200 degrees. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Dredge the tofu in the flour, shake off the excess and then coat in the batter. Pan-fry the tofu until both sides are browned and crisp, about 4 minutes per side. You may have to do this in batches. Transfer the tofu to a platter and keep warm in the oven.
In the same skillet, add the white wine (do this with the pan off the heat) and let cook until most of the wine has evaporated, about 3 minutes. Add the broth and cook until it reduces to half. Mix the vegan butter into the sauce. Add the lemon zest and juice, parsley and capers. Stir and remove from the heat.
Place the tofu over a bed of linguine. Pour the sauce over the tofu slices. Serve immediately with extra lemon slices for garnish. Lemon slices, for garnish (optional). Enjoy!
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I know this sounds crazy, but I don’t cook with tofu, but what kind of tofu are you using? Firm, silken etc…
Hi Cindy, it’s not crazy. It took me over a year to like tofu and learn how to cook it properly. I always use extra-firm tofu for everything I make. My favorite brands are Woodstock Foods, Trader Joe’s and Nasoya. I get the firmest so I can do the most with it and not have it break.
It’s important to press the water out of the tofu. You can use paper towels, plates and heavy cans or you can buy a tofu press like Tofu Xpress. I love that gadget. You can also freeze tofu and then press it after thawing it. That makes it even firmer. The only recipes I don’t press tofu for are tofu scrambles because I like them a little moist.
I never buy silken tofu but if I did it would be to make dressings, dips, etc. Some people like it for scrambles but I’m extra-firm all the way.
My tricks for cooking tofu:
Season it. I don’t always marinate it because I never plan dinner in advance but if I’m frying it up, I do cover it lightly in some seasoned flour: my fave seasonings are salt, pepper, garlic powder, oregano and paprika but of course, it depends on what you’re making.
Cook it! So many dishes have the tofu almost raw. It looks raw, it tastes raw. Yuck! If I am making cutlets like for the Francaise or cubes for a Chinese dish, I cook it until it’s kind of crispy. Especially if you are going to pour a hot sauce over it which will soften it up again. When you fry it like this, it’s delicious.
But if you have time, marinate it. When I make Tofu Scallops, I cut circles of tofu with a biscuit cutter, slice an “X” into each disc so the flavor can get in there, and then marinate it for at least half an hour but more is better. Then dab it dry before you try to cook it (if you’re frying it).
Practice makes perfect so don’t give up if you’re not thrilled the first time. This recipe is one of my favorites. Good luck!!
wow that looks really delicious! i recently convinced my boyfriend to try smoked tofu and he liked it (in spite of all protests to the contrary) so this is on the cards next. thanks for sharing all your wonderful recipes!
I don’t usually state servings since it depends how much you eat. Tom and I can eat the whole block of tofu. Or if you eat more “normal” portions, it could feed 3 or 4.
Sounds yummy. I’m planning to make this for a client I cook for. Can you tell me how many it serves? THANKS!
I realy love light sauces that use lemon. This looks so good, and another great way to use tofu.
That looks delicious, and I’ve been craving tofu lately- I’ll have to give this recipe a try!