Tofu Ricotta (and Hope)

This post…this post has food in it (the picture above is proof of that), but it also has a lot of me in it. Sometimes it feels like I’m missing from this blog, even though I’m pretty much always talking about food in real life as well.  And while I want the food to shine and to connect people, because in my experience that’s what food is supposed to do, sometimes I think I get lost in the process.

There’s been a string of blog posts recently, a relay actually, talking about hope and what it means to each blogger.  Bloggers share their thoughts and experiences and connect to each other through this greater conversation.  I think this is exactly what blogging is about – reaching out and sharing with others, no matter how far away they are.  I’m actually quite moved by this trend.  I often find it difficult to open up to others, and reading the words of bloggers who share so much of themselves (and so willingly) on their sites is inspiring.  Now I’ve been invited to join the conversation by Heather from Sunday Morning Banana Pancakes.  So….let’s talk about hope.

I have a ring that I wear every day.  It’s a ring that I bought at the end of what has so far been the most formative year of my life.  It was a year full of good people, close friends, and wonderful experiences, and it followed closely behind a year that was exactly the opposite of that.  To remind me of how much joy and delight there is in the world, I bought this ring.  To me, it is the most valuable thing I own.

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On the inside of this ring is an inscription in Hebrew which roughly translates to “don’t forget hope.”  I think, if nothing else, this was the most important lesson I learned during that wonderful year.  Even when everything looks bleak, when you can’t even fathom an end to whatever is troubling you, there is always hope. Hope is what gets us through the roughest days and what makes the bright ones seem so much more wonderful.  You just have to remember that it’s there, waiting for you to give it a nudge.

I’ve relied on this message that I (literally) keep so close to me several times since I got this ring.  I’ve relied on it through difficult relationships, unhappy jobs, and a general feeling of being lost in life.  More recently, I was…well the only way I can think to describe it is to say that I was struggling with my body for a little while.  It wasn’t until the beginning of this year that I had concrete reasons for why I was feeling the way I did.  One of those reasons led to reconstructive surgery on my wrist in March, something I am still healing from and coping with.  It’s amazing how much you don’t appreciate something as simple as a wrist until you can no longer depend on it to do what it’s been doing your whole life.

Having this message of hope nearby at all times helps remind me that there is something else, something to work towards, something that lets you know it will be ok.  Whether it’s a fight with a friend, a bad breakup, or a pain-killer induced pity party, all I have to do is remember to hope, and I can get through it.

I’d like to continue this relay and pass the baton to a few bloggers and I hope to read their own thoughts on hope (though there is absolutely no pressure to ramble on the way I did here):

Julie @ Tastefully Julie
Colleen @ Smart Cookie Cook
Willow @ Will Cook for Friends
Kaitlin @ The Garden Grazer

Now, let’s talk about food again.  Food is a safe place for me, a place where I can always go if I need to be productive, need to be comforted, or need to get out of my own head.  In a kitchen, I can just be.  Today, I’m busy “being” with a light and simple recipe.  Remember that time I said I hadn’t done a real tofu recipe yet, then I posted one?  Well, here’s another one! I’m totally on a roll with this tofu stuff.

This is a super easy tofu recipe, requires no marinating, and comes out exactly the right taste and texture, no matter how much you stir.  My dad, who has been attempting a vegan diet this summer,  tried some of this tofu ricotta plain, and said “that tastes like cheese!”  This exclamation was enough for me to know I was doing something right.

This recipe is bright and tasty, utilizes fresh herbs, and can be very easily adapted.  You can use it in any recipe that would normally call for ricotta cheese – lasagna, manicotti, stuffed pasta shells – anything!  It’s best when eaten the day it’s been made, but if you’re making it before hand, you might need to add another squeeze of lemon juice before you use it to brighten it up a bit.

Tofu Ricotta

1 block firm or extra firm tofu
1 clove garlic
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lemon
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, packed
1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves, packed
1 packaged frozen spinach (optional), thawed, excess water squeezed out
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Press your tofu.  I find the easiest (read: laziest) way to do this is to place the full block in a colander or sieve and position it over a sink. Next place a plate on top of the tofu block and put something heavy on top of the plate, like a jar or can or two.  Now walk away and let gravity do its work for a few minutes.

2. While the tofu is being pressed, get some of the other ingredients together in a medium sized bowl.  Finely slice the oregano and basil leaves (or whatever herbs you’ve chosen to use here), zest the lemon, and finely chop the garlic clove.  Mix these ingredients together.  If you are adding spinach, take the time now to squeeze out the excess water using a cheese cloth (feel free to save this liquid to add to a soup or stock later).

3. Place the block of pressed tofu in the bowl and rake it with a fork to break up.  When the block has been reduced to crumbles, add in the lemon juice, nutritional yeast, and spinach.  Mix until everything is incorporated and add salt and pepper to taste.

Use this ricotta to stuff pasta shells, make lasagna or manicotti, or simply spread it on some toast and call it a meal.


8 Responses to Tofu Ricotta (and Hope)

  1. SarahG says:

    Hi, is the nutritional yeast in flakes or paste (marmite-like)? Thanks :)))

  2. Courtney J says:

    Beautiful post. I agree. As much as we food bloggers love to chat about food in our posts, sometimes it’s really nice to share something a bit more personal and connect on a different level. Lovely story about hope.

    Awesome recipe too! 🙂

  3. Love the ring! What a fantastic recipe!

  4. that is a beautiful ring and message. that recipe looks amazing!

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