Combine leftover pot roast with tofu with seasoning to make a quick dinner that doesn’t taste at all like leftovers!
So I, like almost everyone writing about Easy Meals, often suggest the Cook Once, Eat Often sorts of dishes. You have the obvious ones like chili, that we all know you’ll just reheat as is, but we also blithely point out that a roast or pot roast gives you plenty of cooked meat to use in other quick recipes.
And once in a while we even remember to give you those recipes, calling for that cooked meat – but…
Last week I made a Swiss Steak, which is essentially a form of pot roast. And we ate some that night, and froze some of the meat for later, and I reheated some in the leftover sauce a few nights later, and…
Then there was the night when I had two small slices of meat left – not enough for two people.
Now, there are all kinds of things I could do with that – dice it and add it to almost any bean recipe, chop it up and add it to an omelet, or a salad with beans and hard cooked eggs, or… eat it in a sandwich for lunch and leave Rich to figure out something for himself… (or give it to him, and find something else for me!) But I was in a rush, and needed Quick and Easy.
At the same time, I had half a package of tofu in the fridge. I’ve found that my body seems to like it best when I combine small amounts of animal protein with soy or beans, in that Protein Flip I wrote about last year. And that is, of course, the way most traditional cultures have done it – from pea soup and cassoulet in Europe through the Chinese meals that include several dishes, each of which separately combine small amounts of meat and tofu. So… here was the obvious place to do that. And one of my old posts using harissa had just come up again on Twitter and drawn some interest, and reminded me that I had some on hand.
Tofu in the US is frequently (but not always) sold in sealed packages of 14-16 ounces. I use a fifteen ounce package of Extra Firm – so this was roughly seven and a half ounces? I am not going to tell you to go measuring half ounces of tofu… depending on your packaging, I’d say anything that gives you between six and eight ounces of firm tofu will work. Equally, my two slices of pot roast turned out to be a hair over three ounces. (I did weigh that, so I could tell you.) Let’s say you need three to four ounces of cooked meat… but the goal is to use what you have.
Take your tofu, slice it, and wrap it in towels. (I use a thin cotton dish towel, but paper towels will do.) This helps pull water out of it so it will then better absorb flavor, and it firms the texture. Now, if you can do this half an hour ahead of time, that’s great – if you can’t, press it gently with your hands (which doesn’t work quite as well, but does help.)
Heat a frying pan, and then heat some oil in it. Cut the tofu into small pieces (I opted for very small cubes, to get plenty of surface to take up the seasoning) and add them to the pan. Let them sit undisturbed for a few minutes, to brown slightly (they may stick if you try to stir them too soon) then stir them around to start browning the other sides. For this, you don’t need to brown them evenly – and for that matter, the word “brown” isn’t quite right – you want a light golden color.)
Meanwhile, cut the meat into pieces of approximately the same size, Add it to the pan, with half a cup of water, one tablespoon of tomato paste, and one teaspoon of harissa. Stir that all in to blend the pastes with the water, bring to a boil, and let simmer gently for about five minutes. The tofu and meat will absorb the sauce as it thickens slightly.
Taste for seasoning – this is fairly mild, some may want more harissa – and then serve. I served it over brown rice, with vegetables on the side.
A really successful meal with leftovers doesn’t seem, well, left over, or an afterthought, and this did not. You could certainly make it with any cooked meat – or indeed, raw, though you’d need to add steps and time to brown and cook the meat. But as is, I have another recipe to get a good meal on the table in almost no time… and we all need them.
Yields 2 servings
Combine leftover pot roast with tofu with seasoning to make a quick dinner that doesn't taste at all like leftovers!
10 minPrep Time
10 minCook Time
20 minTotal Time
- 8 oz. firm tofu (approximately)
- 3-4 oz leftover cooked beef
- oil for pan
- 1 T tomato paste
- 1 t harissa (or to taste)
- Slice tofu, wrap it in towels to dry.
- Cut meat into bite sized pieces, Cut drained tofu into bite sized pieces.
- Heat oil in a fry pan. Add tofu cubes, cook a few minutes until browned, stir to cook other sides.
- Add 1/2 c water, tomato paste and harissa. Stir to distribute the pastes in the water.
- Bring to a boil, and simmer 5 minutes, until the sauce has thickened a little, and been absorbed by the meat and tofu.
- Taste for seasoning, adjust if needed.
- Serve at once.