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Toasted Tofu Alfredo

National Alfredo Day is February 7th, so when Bertolli asked me if I wanted to experiment with some of their sauces, the obvious answer was, of course, yes. My daughter absolutely loves pasta with Alfredo sauce, so it's typically something that is in my cooking repertoire, and I've also enjoyed making vegan versions of it in recent years using cashew cream. Because I'm particularly interested in the idea of pairing dairy products with tofu (something which many people think is a no-no, but I beg to differ!), I decided to consider how I could use Bertolli Alfredo Sauce with it, thinking that the creaminess of the sauce would offer a nice counterpoint to extra-firm tofu, which has a texture similar to a boneless chicken breast or halloumi.

While the tofu could certainly be a substitute for the chicken in a chicken Alfredo, I started thinking about one of my favorite comfort foods, Welsh rarebit, which blends sharp cheddar cheese, mustard, and spices into a béchamel sauce that is then poured over a thick slice of toasted bread. Sometimes you'll find that ale is blended into the sauce, or even tomatoes or wine. The result, no matter which variation, is creamy and rich and homey — perfect for a chilly winter night.

For this version, I decided to marinate slices of extra firm tofu in lemon juice, olive oil, and smoked garlic, to infuse a savory, citrusy flavor that would balance out the richness of the sauce. For the sauce itself, I simply added in a little Dijon mustard and a couple of dashes of cayenne pepper. Thick slices of toasted sourdough bread added a crusty base for soaking up the sauce; include a crisp green or tomato salad on the side and you've got a complete meal!

Toasted Tofu Alfredo

Serves 4

1 14-ounce block of extra-firm tofu, drained and patted dry

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (about 1 large lemon)

1/4 cup olive oil

2 cloves of smoked garlic (regular garlic is fine too), smashed and minced fine

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 cup Alfredo sauce (you can use a prepared sauce like Bertolli or your own dairy or vegan version)

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

3/4 cup all purpose flour

Vegetable or canola oil for frying

4 slices sourdough bread, about 1/2" thick

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup minced parsley, for garnish

Cut the tofu into eight equal slices and place them flat in a 9" x 13" baking dish. Whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, and black pepper, then pour over the tofu, making sure that each slice has the marinade on it. Allow to marinate at room temperature for an hour, turning the slices occasionally.

Whisk together the Alfredo sauce, mustard, and cayenne pepper and refrigerate until ready to use.

After the tofu has marinated, shake off the excess marinade and dredge each slice lightly in the flour, again shaking off any excess. Heat two or three tablespoons of oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat and fry the tofu slices for a few minutes on each side until golden brown. Allow to drain on paper towels.

Toast the sourdough bread for a few minutes under the broiler, until lightly browned on each side. Place the toasted bread on a baking sheet, top each piece of bread with two pieces of the tofu, then pour a couple of tablespoons of the sauce over the top of the tofu and sprinkle a teaspoon or so of Parmesan cheese over the sauce. Place under the broiler for a few minutes, until the sauce is bubbling and starting to become golden and lightly toasted. Garnish with parsley and serve immediately.

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