Have you ever been drawn to a particular ingredient or appliance based on a recipe?
I do it all the time. Do you need chaat masala to make the Malai Kofta? Of course not, but I wanted to see what it tasted like with it. I remember my sister-in-law searching out maple sugar just to make Kevin’s Blueberry Maple Pecan Cinnamon Buns. (For the record, I don’t think it was worth it).
I first spotted this Tofu, Tempeh and Squash Peanut Mole a few years ago. Certainly not fat-free with the peanut butter, I knew that if Susan from Fat Free Vegan found it worthwhile sharing, then it must be special. Joanne loved it, too.
Problem: I had no slow cooker. So I stalled on the dish. I had tofu frozen for the longest time until I figured out how to make it sans slow cooker. I also needed to get over my fear of the chipotle chiles in adobo.
Then, I moved and my landlords graciously lent me their slow cooker.
It still took me a nearly a year to finally make it. Getting the boot from our home and leaving the slow cooker, was my impetuous for making this. Rather, highly suggesting Rob make it, as he likes spicy moles and in a slow cooker it couldn’t be any easier, right?
Wrong! The recipe was deceiving. Rob thought this was way too much work with all the blending and grinding prior to using the slow cooker. He ended up forgetting to use the chipotle chiles and the bread (nevermind the bread, it was thick enough).
We both tasted it and thought it was just ok. Not worth repeating. Not worth searching out a slow cooker.
In fact, the majority of the stuff I made in the slow cooker were beans, but I prefer them on the stove top so I can keep my eye on them. The problem with freshly dried beans (ie from Rancho Gordo) is that they can easily be overcooked! Rob’s slow cooker brisket was probably the biggest recipe winner. Our year with the slow cooker has taught us that we definitely do not need a slow cooker.
Perhaps a pressure cooker instead? Quicker beans, please!! ;)
Tofu, Tempeh and Squash Peanut Mole
Adapted from Fat Free Vegan
1 dried Ancho chile pepper
1 1/2 cups hot vegetable broth
3 black peppercorns (or 1/8 tsp ground pepper)
3 allspice berries (or 1/4 tsp ground allspice)
1 cinnamon stick, broken into pieces (or 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon)
3 cloves (or 1/8 tsp ground cloves)
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup diced tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ancho chile powder *(optional–use if New Mexico chile is used above)
1/3 cup natural peanut butter
10 oz tofu, cubed, frozen for at least 24 hours and defrosted
8 oz tempeh, cut in 1-cm cubes
1 pound kabocha (or butternut) squash, peeled and cut in 3/4″ cubes
1. Slice the dried pepper lengthwise and remove the seeds and stem. Chop it into small pieces and place in a bowl with 1/2 cup of hot vegetable broth. Allow to soften for around 30 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, if needed, grind all spices in a spice grinder.
3. In a small skillet over medium heat, saute the onion until it begins to brown, around 5 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for one minute more. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
4. Transfer the onion-garlic mixture to a blender or food processor. Add the ground spices, chile pepper and its broth, tomatoes, remaining broth, salt, ancho chile powder (optional), and peanut butter. This may be too much volume for a small food processor, so work in batches. Blend until the mixture is nearly smooth.
5. Cut the thawed tofu into 1-cm cubes. Squeeze until the water is removed.
6. Lightly spray the bottom of the slow cooker with non-stick spray, or drizzle with oil. Place the tofu, tempeh, and squash on the bottom of the cooker. Pour your sauce overtop, stirring to cover all of the tofu/tempeh/squash. Cover tightly and cook on low for 3-6 hours, until sauce is thick and squash is tender.
7. Add sugar and season with salt, to taste. Serve with rice or with tortillas.