Easter is a funny time of year. It is a holiday that is supposed to mark the coming of spring and yet the weather invariably is not dissimilar to Christmas -cool, damp and unpredictable. Because of this, I feel warming meals are still very much required, albeit with a bit of freshness. My friend Arianna made an amazing stew that formed the basis of this recipe. The surprise ingredient, braised tofu makes an impressive alternative to beef. Combined with fresh vegetables, pearl barley and a hint of spice, this makes a crowd-pleasing stew for Easter Monday or any other trans-seasonal meal.
I’ve been able to find braised tofu, sold in little tins by Marigold, quite easily in independent health food shops, but you could also use seitan if that is more readily available for you. Serve with mashed potatoes and spring greens or cabbage for a hearty meal.
- 1 large onion
- 3 large carrots
- 1 head of celery / 6 celery sticks
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp dried coriander
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 tins braised tofu (about 500g)
- 100g / 1/2 cup pearl barley
- 1 ltr vegetable stock
- 1 tbsp apple cider or white wine vinegar
- Fresh parsley
- Olive or rapeseed oil
- Roughly chop the onion, carrots and celery.
- Heat a large pan over a medium heat and add a tablespoon of oil.
- Add the onion and cook for 5-10 minutes until translucent.
- Next add the bay leaf and garlic and cook for another minute, stirring to avoid the garlic browning.
- Cook the cumin and coriander with the onion mix until fragrant, then add the celery and carrots.
- Stir in the tomato paste and deglaze the pan with the wine.
- If you have a slow cooker, transfer the ingredients to this now.
- Drain and lightly break up the tofu, adding it to the rest of the ingredients. Stir in the pearl barley and stock.
- If using a slow cooker, turn the temperature up high and leave for a couple of hours. If using the pan, turn the hob down low for an hour, and stir occasionally. Alternatively, pop it into a hot oven.
- When the vegetables are fully cooked, adjust the seasoning to taste and add the vinegar.
- Serve with a garnish of finely chopped parsley.
- Whilst the stew cooks, prepare any side dishes or vegetables to accompany the stew. I recommend mashed potato and Savoy cabbage flash fried with caraway seeds.
I’m not usually one for meat substitutes but I really was impressed at how much this emulates the heartiness of beef. A big thank you to Arianna for thinking of putting braised tofu into such a British dish. Let me. know if you give it a try!