I’m working a combination of nights, days, and on-call shifts for my new job, so my cooking schedule is a little different than it used to be. On days that I work, I have less time to prep ingredients and cook meals, so I’ve been relying on things that are both easy and fast to cook. Usually this means some sort of pasta dish, like this ratatouille pasta topped with pan-seared seitan I made a couple days ago:

This morning, after a restless night and mere 4 hours of sleep, I woke up and felt like actually doing some awesome things in the kitchen. I’m on-call until tonight, so I knew it had to be something quick. I had some potatoes that were getting old, so I made the curry stir-fried potatoes from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, using a combination of russet and sweet potatoes. They were sooo good, sauteed with garam masala, curry powder, and cayenne.

I also had some kale, and since I haven’t ate any leafy greens lately, I cooked some in my usual fashion: sauteed with oil (in this case basil oil), soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, stone-ground mustard, and chili flakes.

For some protein, I made some baked tofu, loosely based on an old PETA recipe I’ve had for years that apparently isn’t online anymore. I used basil oil instead of the olive oil, and I think it’s what made this tofu so unbelievably delicious. Basil oil is really easy to make. You take 2 packed cups of fresh basil leaves and blanch them. Then blend (I used my immersion blender, which made this super easy) the basil with 1/2 cup canola oil and 1/2 cup olive oil until it’s smooth. Add salt and pepper, or any other herbs (or even nooch) to it and refrigerate. The reason I use half canola and half olive oil is because olive oil is pretty expensive, and it also has a pretty strong flavor. The neutral-tasting canola oil balances it out very nicely.

Basil Oil

To make the tofu, just press it and then cut it into rectangles, or “steaks.” Preheat the oven to 450. While the oven is heating, mix the juice of 1/2 a lemon, a dash of apple cider vinegar, 2 Tbs good quality soy sauce, 2 Tbs (or more) of basil oil, 1 tsp rosemary, and salt and pepper to taste. Bake for 40 minutes, turning once. See how easy that is?

In total, I spent about an hour in the kitchen, including prep time. I pressed the tofu first, and made the basil oil as that was happening. Then I threw the tofu in the oven with the liquid ingredients. While the tofu was baking, I started the potatoes, and once they were cooking, I did the kale. Everything was done at the same time.

I high encourage making herb oil. It’s delicious.