Pesto tofu with green beans, butternut and red pepper

by Christine Knight

Pesto tofu with green beans, butternut and red pepper

This is a colourful warm salad that happens to be vegetarian, high-protein and low-GI. At first glance, it’s the kind of recipe that may only appeal to health-food nuts like me, but please try it before you write it off!

I used a fresh spinach and basil pesto from Pasta with Love, whose pasta kitchen is in Renfrewshire but who have a stall at my local Stockbridge Market. If you’re in Edinburgh or Glasgow, I highly recommend getting hold of some of this pesto, whether for conventional use on pasta, or less orthodox application as here!

The directions below assume that you have a separate oven and grill. If this isn’t the case, allow a little extra time to grill the red pepper before baking the butternut and tofu, or you could prepare the pepper the day before.

Serves 2 hungry people for dinner, or 3-4 as a light lunch

1 large red pepper (capsicum)
½ a butternut squash (I used just the neck of the squash)
400g firm tofu, well-drained and dried
250g fine green beans, trimmed
¼ cup fresh pesto
flaked toasted almonds, to serve
fresh basil leaves, to serve
olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Start by preheating the oven to 220C. Meanwhile, prepare the red pepper. Quarter it, remove the stalk and seeds, and place the quarters skin-side up on a baking tray lined with foil. Place the tray under the grill at its highest setting until the skin is blistered and blackened. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

While the pepper is grilling, cut the butternut lengthwise in half (if it’s not already halved that way), peel, and remove any seeds. Then slice into half-moon shapes 1cm thick. Line a large baking tray with baking paper and lay the butternut slices out in a single layer.

Next slice the tofu block in half lengthways, and then crossways into 1cm slices. Lay these in a single layer next to the butternut. Brush the butternut and tofu with olive oil on both sides, and season with salt and pepper. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the butternut is tender.

While the butternut and tofu are in the oven, peel the skin from the pepper quarters and discard. Tear the flesh into thick strips. Bring a large pot of water to the boil, and cook the beans for 4 minutes. Drain, refresh under plenty of cold running water, and drain well again.

When the butternut and tofu are ready, remove from the oven. Place the tofu pieces in a large flat bowl, add the pesto and toss gently to coat.

Divide the beans between individual serving plates. Layer the butternut on top, followed by the tofu and pesto marinade. Top with the red pepper strips and scatter with the flaked almonds and basil leaves. Finish with a good grinding of black pepper.