mr mr cote

Educational, Investigative, and Absurd Writings by M. R. Côté

Vegan Bajan Tomato Sauce

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This isn’t a traditional recipe or anything, just something I put together one day. When we visit Barbados, we usually find a place with a kitchen, for various reasons: I like cooking, eating out every night is expensive (particularly in Barbados) and, now that I have a child with an early bedtime, getting out is a little tricky. But since we only stay for a week or two, buying all the spices I would normally use in tomato sauce is wasteful, and I never think to bring some with me. Hence one night my wife suggested using Bajan seasoning—a blend of shallots, garlic, hot peppers, and various herbs and spices. It’s a different taste, but quite delicious!

I use Delish Bajan seasoning, but I also found a recipe that I might try if I ever crave this recipe back home (although I will of course use a vegetarian Worcestershire sauce, such as The Wizard’s, athough it’s probably fine to leave it out, since I haven’t seen other recipes call for it). Bonus: that page has a recipe for hot sauce created by Barbados’s first Prime Minister, Errol Barrow!

The quantities below will serve about 3 people, but just double everything to serve 6.

  • olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 5 fresh tomatoes, chopped according to preference (I like small dice)
  • 1 tbsp Bajan seasoning
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/3 package tofu

Optional:

  • 1 scotch bonnet pepper, finely chopped (or to taste—and I find the heat levels of fresh peppers can vary quite a bit here)
  • fresh or frozen spinach
  • black pepper
  • red wine
  • Bajan rum (for the chef, not the sauce)

Sauté the onion in the olive oil for a few minutes, until translucent. Add the garlic and sauté for another minute or so. Add tomatoes, Bajan seasoning, salt, and any optional ingredients. Mix well, bring to low boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover pot and let cook for at least 15 minutes (longer is better, which gives a softer, velvety taste).

Meanwhile, steam the tofu. An easy way to do this is to put it in a bowl, add a teaspoon of water, cover, and microwave for 2-4 minutes (depending on your microwave). This dries out the tofu a little bit. You can also freeze and thaw tofu in advance for a similar effect. Fry it in some olive oil for 5 minutes or so, until it gets a bit chewy. I find (from vague recollection) that it can approximate the texture of ground beef. Add to sauce and mix well.

Serve over pasta of your choice.

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