Pan-Seared Tofu with Harissa Chickpeas


I think this month’s Bon Appétit Magazine may be one of my favorites. They focused on healthful foods this  month. Page after page, I was just blown away and inspired by the ideas and photos. Their cover photo inspired my recent miso soup. When I paged through and landed on their Pan-Roasted Chicken with Harissa Chickpeas, my mouth began to water some more. Harissa. I love the spice paste and I have always wanted to make it myself. I knew right then that I had to veganize this dish. I also knew that I wasn’t going to use store-bought harissa. I had to make it my own.

Harissa is a North African chili paste. It’s spicy and fragrant – so full of flavor. I often buy it to spread on challah for Shabbat, or I sometimes spread it on fish. I knew from past research that Harissa uses freshly toasted spices and would be the perfect opportunity to break out my new mortar and pestle.

The amazing folks at Core Bamboo recently sent me a beautiful mortar and pestle that would be perfect for this Harissa job. Core Bamboo is also amazingly generous and sponsoring a giveaway for a mortar and pestle just like mine. So check out the end of this blog post if you are interested in winning a set for your own kitchen. Core Bamboo produces an amazing array of kitchen products. I think I have a cutting board addiction, and several in my collection are made by Core, as are several of my bowls. I may also hoard serving bowls. I’m a kitchen stuff hoarder. Plain and simple.

Anyhow, back to the dish.

First, I made the Harissa. I soaked some dried chile peppers in boiling water.


While the peppers soaked, I toasted the spices in a hot pan. I then ground up the toasted spices in my mortar and pestle.


Once the peppers were soft, I seeded and stemmed them and then I transferred everything to my Cuisinart food processor and blended the mixture. Everything came together quickly.


Once the harissa is ready, transfer the mixture to a clean jar and add some extra olive oil to cover the paste.


I then set out to make the rest of the meal.

Next, I sliced my tofu and spiced it with salt, pepper and cumin. I seared the sliced tofu in a hot pan and then transferred the tofu to a plate.

I sautéed some onion, garlic and additional spices. I added my chickpeas to the pan, along with some harissa, tomato paste and vegetable broth.  I let the mixture cook for a few minutes. I then added the tofu back to the pan so that it gets coated with the Harissa.


I served the tofu and chickpeas with some lemon wedges.


Dinner was amazing. It was super easy to make and everyone walked away with full, happy bellies. I hope you enjoy!

Don’t forget to enter the amazing giveaway for a Core Bamboo Mortar & Pestle!

Pan-Seared Tofu with Harissa Chickpeas
  • ½ tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 lb extra-firm tofu, drained and sliced
  • 1-2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp. cumin
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 3 cups cooked or canned chickpeas
  • ⅓ cup Harissa (see recipe below) or use store-bought
  • ½ cup vegetable broth
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • ¼ chopped parsley
  • Lemon wedges, for serving
  1. Heat oil in a large pan over medium high heat.
  2. Season the tofu slices with the salt, pepper and cumin and sear the tofu until browned on both sides. Transfer to a plate when done.
  3. Add onion and garlic to the pan and saute for a few minutes until softened.
  4. Stir in the tomato paste and add in the chickpeas and the harissa.
  5. Stir in the vegetable broth and let the mixture simmer.
  6. Let it cook for about 5-10 minutes and then add the tofu back to the pan. Ensure that the tofu is coated with the harissa mixture.
  7. Serve the dish with lemon wedges for squeezing over the dish. You may also like rice along side the dish.
  8. Enjoy!

Homemade Harissa
Adapted from Saveur
Recipe type: sauce, dip, paste
Cuisine: Moroccan, Tunisian
  • 6 Dried Guajillo Chiles
  • 3 Dried Pasilla Chiles
  • 2 Dried Chiles de Arbol
  • 1⁄2 tsp. Caraway seeds
  • 1⁄4 tsp. Coriander seeds
  • 1⁄4 tsp. Cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp. Dried Mint Leaves
  • 3 tbsp. Extra-Virgin Olive Oil, plus more as needed
  • 1 1⁄2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp. tomato paste
  1. Put the chilies in a bowl and pour bowling water over the chiles to allow them to soften. Let them sit for about 20-30 minutes.
  2. In a dry pan, toast the caraway, coriander and cumin seeds over medium heat. Toast them for a few minutes until they begin to become fragrant.
  3. Transfer the spices to a mortar and pestle and grind them so that they become a powder.
  4. Drain the chiles and remove the stems and the seeds. Transfer them to your food processor.
  5. Add the rest of the ingredients to the food processor, including the ground spices, and puree until everything is well integrated and smooth.
  6. Store the mixture in a sterile glass jar. Add some olive oil to the top of the harissa paste and seal the jar. Store in the fridge for up to a few weeks.


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Gluten Free Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Caramel Cookie Bars


Did you know that Pillsbury has recently come out with a line of gluten free doughs? I recently came across their new line of doughs in the supermarket. I’m so glad that companies like Pillsbury have expanded to the gluten free market and their products are widely available.

Thanks to Pillsbury, I have just had the opportunity to try some of their Chocolate Chip Gluten Free Cookie Dough. I was so excited to try it! I knew that I couldn’t just roll them in to balls and pop them in to the oven. I had to do something fun with this new product.

My favorite kind of cookie is a cookie bar. Something about them just allows for more amazing things to happen. You can layer them. You can stuff them. You can add all sorts of yummy stuff to them. A cookie bar is always the way to go. My favorite cookie is typically an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie. I knew I had to do some sort of mash-up. That lightbulb moment happened where I decided to make a layered oatmeal chocolate chip cookie bar. Right away, I knew what would go in the middle of the two gluten free cookie doughs. The only option in my mind was caramel. Gooey and creamy caramel. My mouth is watering thinking about it!

I first mixed up my favorite oatmeal chocolate chip cookie dough. I used gluten free oats along with a gluten free flour blend. I slightly adapted the recipe that is on the Quaker Oats canister.


I pressed the mixture in to a sprayed 9×13 baking pan.


Next, I melted caramel bits along with a few tablespoons of heavy cream. I love the caramel bits because they melt faster than the squares and there is no unwrapping to do.


I poured the caramel over the oatmeal chocolate chip cookie dough mixture.


Next, I used my cookie dough scoop to spoon out even balls of the Pillsbury chocolate chip cookie dough. I placed them over the caramel.


I then baked everything at 350 for around 26-27 minutes. I kept my eye on the cookie bars for even browning. The cookie bars couldn’t cool fast enough. I let them cool completely before cutting.


Holy moly. These cookies bars are amazing. They are the perfect indulgent dessert for a crowd. I hope you enjoy!

**This article is sponsored by Pillsbury. The recipe and content is my own. To check out some other gluten free recipes featuring the line of Pillsbury doughs, go here!

Gluten Free Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Caramel Cookie Bars
Recipe type: Drinks
Cuisine: gluten free
Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Layer - slightly adapted from Quaker Oats
  • 1 stick plus 6 Tbsp. softened butter
  • ¾ cup brown sugar, packed
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1.5 cups Gluten Free Flour Blend (use one that includes xanthan gum in the ingredients)
  • 1 tsp. gluten free Baking Soda
  • 2 tsp. Cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 3 cups Gluten Free oats
  • 1 cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
Caramel Layer
  • 1.5 cups Caramel Bits
  • 3 Tbsp. Heavy Cream
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
Chocolate Chip Cookie Layer
  • 1 tub of Pillsbury Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
  1. Heat oven to 350.
Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Layer
  1. In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugars together. Bean in the eggs and vanilla.
  2. In a smaller bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt together.
  3. Add the dry ingredients to the creamed butter.
  4. Stir in the chocolate chips and the oats until well incorporated.
  5. Spray a 9x13 pan and press the oatmeal chocolate chip mixture in to the pan.
Caramel and Cookie Layers
  1. Place the caramel bits and the heavy cream in a small sauce pan. Heat the pan to medium-high and stir frequently until well melted.
  2. Once everything is melted and mix well, remove from heat.
  3. Pour the caramel over the oatmeal chocolate chip mixture.
  4. Using a cookie scoop, spoon the chocolate chip cookie dough over the caramel layer.
  5. Bake in oven for around 27 minutes, until the top has an even brown tone.
  6. Cool completely before cutting. The bars will be gooey from the caramel.
  7. Enjoy!


VeganMofo: Product Review – Sol Cuisine Tofu Ribs

As you probably I already know, I love food shopping. I love finding new foods.  Just the other week, I was browsing the frozen foods section at Whole Foods. I came across the line of products by the brand Sol Cuisine. Was happy to see that all of their products are certified kosher. Was also happy to see that the products were priced pretty reasonably.

I decided to pick up some of the Sol Cuisine Tofu Ribs, which are certified kosher and organic, as well as vegan. When browsing the selection, I figured that I have had many veggie burgers in my life, and the tofu ribs sounded good – the box promised lots of good flavor from these tofu nibbles.

Sol Cuisine Tofu Ribs

I decided to serve the tofu ribs with some sauteed veggies and some brown rice – a complete meal.

When I opened the box, I wasn’t sure what to expect. It looked pretty nondescript. Some stuff in some reddish sauce.  I’ll try anything once, right?

Sol Cuisine Tofu Ribs

The directions instructed me to let the package thaw, which I did.

I then heated a fry pan with a drop of oil and placed the thawed “ribs” with the sauce in the pan. I will note that there wasn’t that much sauce. Was expecting more.

Sol Cuisine Tofu Ribs

I let the tofu ribs cook a few minutes on each side.

Before eating with the veggies and rice, I decided to take a bite on its’ own. The tofu wasn’t bad. It has a really nice texture. The sauce is a bit bland and sweet, but not bad. Just not very smoky or spicy. There is a small undertone of heat, which I found very pleasant.

Once, I mixed the tofu in to the rice and veggies, the tofu ribs shone more. The flavor worked.

Sol Cuisine Tofu Ribs

Despite the lack of flavor, I would buy these again. The tofu ribs do work when eaten with an accompaniment  I would definitely recommend them and would encourage people to doctor these riblets up.

I see that Sol Cuisine has many other good products on their website that I am eager to check out.

Enjoy the day!


Tribes-a-Dozen Challah Review and Giveaway!

I was so happy when I saw the an email in my inbox from Leah over at Tribes-a-Dozen. She told me all about this great new product – Voila! Hallah.

For those of you that don’t know, Voila! Hallah is a new product. It’s the first-ever challah mix in a box. You heard that right – a challah mix in a box. So cool, right?! When I first heard about the mix, I wasn’t so sure what to think. I like shortcuts. I don’t always have success with the boxed stuff. This is definitely a better approach than a frozen Kinneret challah though. And perfect for someone who wants to make a small batch of good challah with ease. You can learn more about Voila! Hallah on their website, facebook and tumblr pages!

I’ve had hits and misses with challah baking. I find that my challah never comes out the same twice. I have come a long way from my first challah baking experience. I now have one set recipe I prefer to use, and ever since I got a Bosch mixer, challah baking has been relatively painless. I tend  make a huge 5lb batch of flour in to challah at time. I manage to stretch that challah to around 12 small challahs or so – which will  last a month or more in our house. Still,  I  was intrigued by this box of promising challah.

Leah sent me three boxes. I am testing the regular plain challah as well as the spelt challah. I have one box of whole wheat challah mix to share with one lucky reader of this blog!


I am pleased that the instructions on the box were clear and easy to understand. Like other boxed mixes, you only need to have a few ingredients on hand – eggs, vegetable oil, sugar and optional toppings.

I chose to follow the instructions as stated on the box. If I choose, I can always play with other options for subsequent challah bakings.

Included in the box is a flour mix and a yeast packet.

You start by mixing the flour and yeast mixture with warm water. The you add the egg and oil.


At this point, I wasn’t sure how successful the mix would be. The mixture was sticky – though I was assured by the box, that it would indeed be sticky. I was just used to a different consistency for bread.

You let the dough rest and then you shape it and brush on some egg wash.


After the shaping, you let the braided loafs rise.

In to the oven they go for around 25 minutes.

It smelled so good while it baked. I was excited to pull them out of the oven. Lo and behold – I have two challahs! Perfect for Shabbat! So happy! I did set aside a small challah roll for sampling before shabbat. Verdict is in – it tasted great!


I highly recommend this mix – for the nervous or hesitant baker, or for someone short on time. This mix was easy and it came out perfectly.

Thanks to the kind folks at Tribes-a-Dozen, I have a box of Voila! Hallah to send to one lucky blog reader. Please fill out the raffle form below! Please note that this giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.

Shabbat Shalom!

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