Jerk Tofu or Chicken

This is a jerk you want to invite over for dinner!  “Jerk” technically refers to a way that a meat or vegetable or fruit is seasoned and cooked – slow and over a fire.   It’s a deeply rooted spicy Caribbean seasoning that originated in Jamaica.  Jerk departs a lively, aromatic and uniquely Caribbean flavor to meats, vegetables and even tofu.

Traditional jerk mixes uses the squat “scotch bonnet” pepper, native to Jamaica (as opposed to a Mexican habanero which many Americans are familiar with) as well as allspice and cinnamon, creating a warmth to the heat.

Here a habanero sauce stands in for that fiery element and pairs well with fruits like pineapple, especially when the fruit is slightly caramelized on the grill.

4 Servings
Tofu drinks up full flavored jerk sauce and pairs wonderfully with the sweetness of baked pineapple.

• 1 lb extra firm tofu, pressed to remove water and cut into 1- to 2-inch cubes
• 1 lb fresh pineapple, cut into 1- to 2-inch cubes
• 1 red pepper, cut into 1- to 2-inch cubes
• 6 metal or bamboo skewers (soak bamboo skewers in water before using)

Jerk Sauce
• 1/4 c fresh lime juice
• 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
• 2 Tbsp tamari soy sauce
• 1 Tbsp brown sugar
• 1 Tbsp hot sauce or habañero sauce
• 2 Tbsp fresh chives, minced (reserve 1 tablespoon for garnish)
• 1 Tbsp dried thyme
• 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
• 1 tsp ground allspice
• Pinch of salt and pepper To press tofu: wrap it in a clean, lint-free towel or place it between two plates, then add a 2 to 3 pound weight on top (a cookbook works well) and let it sit for 15 minutes or more to remove excess water.

In medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the jerk sauce ingredients. Reserve 4 tablespoons of the sauce for dressing the tofu when cooked.  Marinate the pressed, cubed tofu in the jerk sauce for 30-60 minutes or overnight.

Prepare and preheat the grill.

Thread the fruit, peppers and tofu onto skewers and place them on a rimmed sheet pan. Brush the fruit and peppers with some of the marinade.

When the grill is hot, put the skewers on and grill on each side for 3-4 minutes, glazing the fruit with more marinade every couple of minutes.

Remove from skewers and toss the pineapple and tofu together. Drizzle with the remaining 4 tablespoons of jerk sauce and garnish with chives and diced red pepper. Serve over a bed of greens or crisp lettuce and along a pot of rice.

Serving Suggestions
• Use leftovers in a wrap with shredded cabbage and carrots.
• Save extra marinade (since it didn’t marinate meat it’s ok to reuse it) and drizzle over an omelet or steamed veggies.
• Substitute chicken for the tofu.

Nutritional Information Calories: 149, Fat: 4 g, Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 362 mg, Carbohydrate: 23 g, Dietary Fiber: 3 g, Protein: 10 g

Recipe developed by National Co+op Grocers, Stronger Together, a business services cooperative for natural food co-ops and provided by Wheatsfield Co-op, your community-owned full service natural foods grocery store.  For information about classes at the co-op, check out the schedule at Wheatsfield Cooperative’s Facebook page.  Everyone can shop. 413 Northwestern (just off Main St), Open daily 7am-9pm.