This is a recipe for Minnesota in early June, the time of year when weekly farmer's markets are up and running but most of the vendors haven't made an appearance yet. There are stalls selling cookies, and salsa, and handmade soap, but not much in the way of local produce. The growing season is brief in Minnesota, thanks to severe winters and springs punctuated by the occasional snowstorm. Asparagus is one of the early birds, finally making an appearance in late May along with green onions and rhubarb. But as much as I love linguine with asparagus and pine nuts, spaghetti with asparagus, chickpeas, and eggs, asparagus sauteed in olive oil, and smoke-tinged asparagus cooked on our little charcoal grill, there is a limit to how much asparagus I can handle. This week, after eating my third bunch of asparagus singlehandedly--Mike's vegetable tolerance is far lower than mine--I finally had to branch out to other vegetables.
Hence, frozen broccoli. I know that frozen vegetables are less than inspiring this time of year, when you're craving something fresh and crisp. That's why the broccoli is roasted, instead of simply steamed: the florets develop little satisfying crispy bits around the edges, sort of like the top of a potato gratin. And the one perk of a cool Minnesota June evening? You can comfortably run your oven.
Besides the roasted broccoli, the other key to this recipe is the sriracha sauce. In general, sriracha isn't really my thing. I use it to flavor some soups, and in the occasional salad dressing, but it's not my go-to condiment and the initial version of this recipe left it out. While the tofu was perfectly seared, the broccoli was delectable roasted, and the cashews added a satisfying crunch, there was something missing. It tasted too earnest, like the bowl of bran cereal you eat solely because it's good for you. But a drizzle of sriracha makes everything pop. The tofu gets the flavor boost it needs, and the spicy sauce plays well with the barley and broccoli.
- 1 cup uncooked pearled barley
- (16 ounce) package frozen broccoli florets
- 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- (12 ounce) package extra firm tofu, cut into 1/2 inch slices
- 1/4 cup cashews, chopped
- sriracha sauce
Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Prepare barley according to package directions.
Meanwhile, spread the frozen broccoli in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, remove from oven, and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Stir until broccoli is evenly coated, return to oven, and bake until the broccoli is starting to brown, about 15 minutes. Stir in the minced garlic, reduce heat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and bake for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add remaining 1/2 tablespoon olive oil and tilt to evenly coat. Add the tofu and cook until golden, about 4 minutes on each side.
Serve the roasted broccoli and seared tofu over the prepared barley. Garnish with cashews and season with sriracha sauce to taste.