Meatless Monday: Ode to Georgia O’Keefe & Tofu Florentine
New Mexico, Native Diets and Georgia O’Keefe
Georgia O’Keefe is one of my favorite chefs. Though she was a legendary American painter, she is less well known for her commitment for homegrown, organic fruits and vegetables.
At her Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, New Mexico, she nurtured verdant gardens and preferred simple meals with fresh ingredients. Ms. O’Keefe provided us with a feast for the eyes in her serene and sexy paintings. Her accumulated wisdom about food, nature and nutrition is equally matched by her undiminished sensual delight in cooking and eating her own food.
Ms. O’Keefe had a great love of animals and an appreciation for a balanced diet, influenced by traditional foods of northern New Mexico and the health food proponents of the fifties. She cultivated a particular taste for natural foods grown locally, and even kept a small mill for grinding her own flour. She rarely ate meat because she modeled her diet after those of native cultures who, as a function of their rural/nomadic lifestyles, consumed meat on rare occasions. She shunned processed sugar and iodized table salt in favor of local raw honey and herbed sea salt.
Here’s a recipe inspired by one I first saw in a cookbook by Margaret Wood, who was employed as Ms. O’Keefe’s companion in Abiquiu in the late seventies. She wrote that Ms. O’Keefe could eat spinach three times a day and never tire of it. The original recipe was for Eggs Florentine; however, I’ve veganized it so we can all enjoy Ms. O’Keefe’s favorite vegetable. The French nursery snack of buttered, salted radishes and bread is an inspired accompaniment to this dish, which can easily be served as breakfast, lunch or a light dinner.
Scrambled Tofu Florentine
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon ground paprika
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 bunch of spinach, washed well and chopped
1 pound firm tofu, drained and crumbled
Herbed sea salt, freshly ground pepper, to taste
¼ cup of nutritional yeast
Juice of ½ lemon
4 radishes, sliced
Whole Wheat Toast, as accompaniment
Earth Balance or vegan butter substitute (optional)
Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté the onion until soft. Add the thyme, paprika and turmeric and stir until fragrant. Add the spinach, toss until well coated, and cover for 3 minutes. Remove cover, stir in the crumbled tofu, salt and pepper. Cook at medium heat for 8 minutes. Add the nutritional yeast and lemon and stir well, while taking care to not mash the tofu. You still want it in small crumbles. Taste again for salt and pepper.
Distribute the Scrambled Tofu Florentine among 4 plates. Serve with crisp, sweet radishes, wheat toast and Earth Balance (optional).
There are hundreds of great Scrambled Tofu recipes. Care to share your favorite?
Thankfully, there’s also hundreds of compassionate artists, musicians, actors and writers. Who’s your favorite? (I also like Alicia Silverstone!)