Discover more from Sattva
Sattva: Issue 28
Mouldy bread, Mac and Tofu recipe, Powerhouse ingredient
Hello! If you are new to my newsletter, a warm welcome.
Sattva (सत्त्व) is a beautiful Sanskrit word that has many meanings—spirit, true essence, good sense, wisdom, quality of purity, energy, consciousness and mind, among other things.
Through this fortnightly newsletter, I want to bring to you all things good, which will make your life better. My focus will be on topics such as mindfulness, productivity, slow living and sustainability, accompanied by genuinely useful recommendations of products, books, music, links to read, and of course food and recipes. Through these, I hope to instil some Sattva in your life.
How safe is the clean part of mouldy bread?
Good old sliced Wibs or Modern bread used to be bought at home once in a while, when I was growing up. Bread is a staple at home these days. It is something we reach out for to make a quick breakfast or snack or lunchbox for our kids.
That’s reason enough to focus on buying better quality bread without any additives or preservatives. Artisanal sourdough bread and home-baked loaves, while they are great for the zero additives, zero preservative and better-tasting food experience, they also catch mould very quickly. More so in the monsoon months. I have a Mumbai monsoon joke that I can’t resist sharing here. (I would often say that during the monsoons if anyone in Mumbai stood in one place for 2-3 hours without moving, they would catch mould.)
Most of us hate to throw away or waste food. It is a dilemma when you spot mould on the surface of the bread. Should we throw away the whole loaf or can we cut out the part including a safety margin and eat the rest of the bread?
As per an article in IFLscience, fungi or mould develops roots or hyphae into soft foods like bread easily making the mould spread from the surface to the inside, even though it may be visible only on the outermost surface. The spores and hyphae are invisible to the naked but they have already invaded your bread. It is why discarding the outer slices of a loaf and salvaging the slices that look clean is not a good idea.
Mould releases a kind of mycotoxin, that when ingested has been linked to ill effects such as immune deficiency and a trigger for some cancers. There are hundreds of known strains of mycotoxins out of which around a dozen have been studied in-depth due to their common occurrence in food and severe ill effects on our health. Inhaling the spores can trigger an allergy in some people. While most of the population has eaten mouldy bread at some point, be it out of poor lighting in the kitchen or plain laziness, and has come out unscathed, it is a pointless risk to take.
Mould on cheeses or dry-cured meats is safe to eat though.
Youtube comment gold: Truth is that every mould is edible, some only once.
Examine the fruits, veg and bread before you add them to your shopping cart. If you buy online, check the products on delivery and return anything that looks like it has mould on it or has soft patches. Most online grocery stores have a no-questions-asked return policy.
Keep foods at the right temperature- bread in the freezer, vegetables in the crisper drawer etc.
If you are against plastic wrap, use beeswax wrap to tightly wrap up cut pieces of vegetables or bread and store them in the fridge or freezer as the case may be.
Mac and Tofu - a 15-minute recipe
From the unappetising topic of bread mould, let’s move to something more appetising.
I rarely ever make an ‘authentic’ pasta recipe. Pasta has been my son’s favourite since always which is why I ensure I add some protein to pasta every single time. Either hard-boiled eggs, hard cheese, beans (white beans are my favourite to add to pasta), chickpeas or Mexican-style beans and pasta.
My current favourite addition to pasta is tofu. Instead of mac and cheese, try mac and tofu. To start this recipe, drain the water from the tofu by pressing it in between clean cotton towels and keeping a weight on it (like a heavy pan), for 30 minutes to an hour. This is the most important step to making tofu taste delicious.
Mac and Tofu - Serves 2
1 cup macaroni (or any short pasta)
1-2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, sliced
200 g tofu block
Salt, crushed black pepper, dried herbs
2 tbsp tomato paste
3-4 tbsp grated cheddar cheese (omit to make vegan)
Cook the macaroni as per pack instructions (with salt).
Heat the olive oil in a flat pan. Saute the garlic for a few seconds.
Make sure you press out all the water from the tofu as described earlier. Cut into large pieces. This makes the pan-frying process easier.
To the oil in the pan, add the tofu pieces. Season with salt, pepper and herbs. Let one side brown for 1-2 minutes on medium flame and then flip over to the other side.
Add the tomato paste and 1-2 spoons of pasta cooking water. Stir on high heat until the tomato paste coats the tofu well.
Drain the pasta and add it to the pan.
Toss everything together gently so that you don’t break up the tofu pieces.
Divide between two bowls. Top with grated cheese and some extra black pepper.
Try this out for a quick weeknight dinner and tag me @saffrontrail if you post it on your ‘gram :D
Also, try the two tofu recipes from my latest column in Mint Lounge (link in resources).
My secret powerhouse ingredient
The above recipe is incomplete without telling you a bit about tomato paste and why it is one of my favourite ingredients.
Tomato paste is not the same as tomato puree. Raw tomatoes are pulped, the skins and seeds discarded, and this mixture is heated to get a concentrated tomato paste.
It is usually three times thicker than puree, as the name suggests, of a paste consistency while the puree has more water content. The paste can stand in for the puree by adding some hot water and whisking action, but the puree cannot be used instead of the paste. To get one cup of tomato puree, whisk together 1/3 cup tomato paste with 2/3 cup of warm water.
Tomato paste has an intensely concentrated tomato flavour that comes from the long cooking process. A small quantity packs a big punch. It is the best way to add a savoury tomato flavour to any dish without adding any extra moisture. Tomato paste is also less sour than puree. Tomato paste also has a longer fridge life once opened as compared to tomato puree. A few Italian brands are available in tubes which make it very convenient to use and store.
I’ve been using this local brand of tomato paste for quite some years in all kinds of dishes. It has no added sugar, salt, preservatives or artificial colours or flavours.
Mix a spoonful of tomato paste with olive oil, herbs and salt and make an instant pizza sauce.
Add a bit of tomato paste to dal water, along with rasam powder to make tomato rasam.
Add a spoonful of tomato paste to your basic onion-tomato gravy base for curries or dal for a rich tomato flavour.
Tomato paste mixed with a bit of water and added to idli/dosa batter or to upma gives a lovely colour and flavour to our everyday breakfasts.
New stuff elsewhere
Blog | Keoti dal - a recipe for a hearty dal from Western UP
Food from scratch - my piece in Deccan Herald
This video I loved making for Bhava Coffee
I made ratatouille for dinner last weekend.
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Never eat the clean part of mouldy bread | Science Insider
On kitchen experiments with tofu and other stories - My Mint Lounge column
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