What to make for dinner was another thing entirely. I knew I wanted to make something different while still keeping the whimsical “heart” theme that I try to do each year. Looking in my pantry for inspiration, I noticed a jar of hot red pepper jelly — as eye-catching and ruby-red as it was the day I bought it at the farmer’s market last summer. With the spicy-sweet pepper jelly as the catalyst for inspiration, I decided to make a sauce combining the jelly with sherry vinegar and soy sauce. The flavor reminded me of a tofu dish I had in a Thai restaurant once. I thought the spicy sweet-and-sour sauce would also go great with sautéed cabbage.
Now, I realize tofu and cabbage aren’t exactly synonymous with Valentine’s Day, but there was no turning back. I sliced a block of tofu horizontally into three slabs, got out my little heart-shaped cutter, and started making adorable little tofu hearts. I made a few out of a slice of seitan, too, and then braised them in the sauce.
In another pan, I braised some red cabbage in the same sauce and cooked up some rice. To serve, I shaped the rice into a heart and surrounded it with red (let’s call it “purple passion”) cabbage. I topped the rice with several of the tofu and seitan hearts for a yummy Technicolor meal. Sure, it’s not the most traditional dinner to serve on Valentine’s Day — that’s why I decided to make it a day early!