I wouldn't ask you to crank up the oven right now if it wasn't worth it.
My AC is struggling to get our apartment to a temperature lower than 75 degrees, but I want you to set the oven to 450 degrees. Just for 20 minutes or so.
Your whole meal will be on the table in less than an hour.
The resulting tofu and vegetable dinner is fresh, fragrant with citrus, and spiced. It's filling but light, which is my preference for most meals during the summer. Once assembled, the dish is beautiful with shades of red, green, and purple, and it is as flavorful as it is colorful. Let it brighten up lunch on a cloudy summer day.
Tofu, like most foods, tastes great when roasted. Its sides brown and the edges crisp up slightly while the inside is warm and custardy. The vibrant marinade made up of lime, garlic, cumin, paprika, and cilantro punches up the flavor. Tofu's taste is inherently neutral, which makes it a great candidate for any bold flavors you want to add. The tofu soaks up the marinade, and the rest of it becomes a sauce to intensify the flavors.
Roasting the onions and peppers softens them and draws out their sweetness. A pretty great reward for roasting.
We enjoyed this served over rice for a late weekend lunch. Crusty bread or warm tortillas would be good, too. You'll need something like that to make the most of the sauce.
Leftovers the next day taste just as good. Reserve the sauce and gently warm everything up in a pan over medium heat (or briefly in a microwave). Don't forget the sauce will taste a lot stronger the next day, and it's best to taste as you go before pouring it all over the tofu and vegetables.
Ileana Morales is a writer who cooks in a small apartment kitchen in Tampa with boyfriend Danny Valentine, an education reporter for the Tampa Bay Times. For more of their kitchen adventures, visit Ileana's blog, alittlesaffron.com. She can be reached at [email protected]