bella terra : preparation

We had perfect weather in Virginia this weekend.  75*, sunny, a light breeze.  The kind of weather that makes you believe that Spring may finally be here, that leads to lovely outdoor runs and white wine on the deck.  The same weather that in years past has caused you to put your cold-sensitive plants outside because “they’d like a little sunshine” only to have them frozen by a freak late-March storm (not this year my friends…I won’t be fooled again.)  It was the kind of weather that got me thinking about our vegetable garden, and how the time for sowing seeds is just around the corner and I still hadn’t amended the beds with fresh compost.  


It was perfect weather for wandering around the local garden center, picking up spring-harvest seeds and dreaming about how, if only I had my own cold-frame set up in the backyard, I could already have baby lettuce peeking out of the soil.  Hmm…maybe next year.

This will be our third year with the garden, and over the last two we’ve started to sort out which veggies work and which don’t.  There were disappointments last year…the Virginia heat was too much for the brussels sprouts to handle and the squirrels got 75% of the corn.  We unearthed the secret to keeping flea bugs off of the eggplant and had an abundant harvest, only to discover that there are really only two eggplant recipes that we like and the farmer’s market can more than provide the fruit needed for those.  No need to take up valuable garden space. 


On Saturday I bought lettuce and spinach, beets, peas and broccoli, all seeds that can go in the ground in the next couple of weeks and provide a harvest in as few as 45 days.  In May, after danger of Virginia frost, I’ll be sowing green beans and okra seeds to be harvested in July.  Baby tomato, cucumber, bell pepper and squash plants will go into their assigned beds and parsley, basil and dill will join the perennial chives, thyme and oregano already starting to show some green.


I think I am most looking forward to growing our own broccoli, although each veggie has a special place in my heart and becomes my instant favorite the minute it is ripe.  But broccoli…it gave us trouble last year, or at least the squash bugs that enjoyed most of the harvest gave us trouble.  And I enjoy a challenge.  We will persevere with broccoli this spring and when we do we will make it this way, at least once.


There are a few things about this recipe that I need to share, things I will do differently when I make it again.  First, I used whole coriander but will definitely use ground next time.  Biting into the occasional coriander seed was an intense, unpleasant experience for me.  If you love coriander feel free to use whole seeds, but I think spreading the flavor more evenly by using ground would be more enjoyable.


Second, the tofu needs to go in the oven first.  I put the tofu and broccoli in at 425* together, and the broccoli was done well before the tofu.  To speed things up I wound up removing the tofu from the oven and quickly pan-frying it, but I think it  would be really good roasted.  I’ve specified in the recipe below to put the tofu in first and roast it until golden brown on one side before flipping it and adding the broccoli for the last 20 minutes.


Roasted Broccoli with Glazed Tofu

inspired by the wednesday chef, via orangette

serves 2, with a portion leftover for lunch the next day


  • 2 pounds broccoli, cut into bite-size florets
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds (or 1/2 teaspoon ground…i’ll use ground next time)
  • 1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds (or 1/2 teaspoon ground…i used ground)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1/8 teaspoon hot chili powder
  • 12 oz firm tofu
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons lemon zest (from 1 large lemon)
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • lemon wedges, for serving


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Slice tofu into eight 1/2″ slices, then slice again on the diagonal to make 16 pieces total.  Place on paper towels and press for 10 minutes.
  3. In a large bowl, toss broccoli with 2 tablespoons oil, coriander, cumin, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and chili powder. In a separate bowl combine remaining 2 tablespoons oil, lemon zest, honey, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and remaining 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and whisk together.
  4. Individually rub each piece of tofu with the oil/lemon/honey mixture.  Place on a baking sheet and bake until top is golden brown.  Pull baking sheet from oven and flip tofu.  Add broccoli to baking sheet, spreading in a single layer.  Put pan back in oven and roast for 10 additional minutes.  Stir broccoli and roast for another 10 minutes.
  5. Serve over rice, with fresh-squeezed lemon juice.


A few notes:

First, my cousin Kelly (Meghann’s sister) was in a scary accident this evening while riding her bike.  Thankfully she was wearing a helmet and is going to be ok.  I’ll let Meghann give us details if she wishes, but I do want to stress how important it is to wear a helmet.  Kelly’s may very well have saved her life.

Second, I’m going to make bella terra posts a regular occurrence, to share with you all the happenings in the garden and recipes to go along with harvests. I don’t yet know the frequency, but I hope that by this summer they will be weekly.  I’d love any feedback you have or suggestions for content.  What would you like to see?

Third, thank you all for your continued support!  I’m so pleased with the feedback I’ve received regarding the new format and am so happy that you all seem to be open to whatever direction I go.  I will say that I’ve enjoyed my week of recipe-based posts and would like to continue with them, although I wouldn’t be surprised if a food diary post pops up every once in awhile.  I just can’t help but to take pictures of my daily food, and I still have overwhelming urges to share them with you.  So I think that I’m not going to set any rules, not limit the blog in any way.  I’m going to let the day and life and food inspire me and see where it goes, and I hope you’ll all continue to follow.

I welcome all constructive feedback and would love to hear more from you.  Have a great Monday!  🙂


49 responses to “bella terra : preparation

  1. Those pictures of the glazed tofu and roasted broccoli look delicious!

    I think it’s awesome that you grow your own veggies in the summer. I’m not that brave!

  2. I’d love to to my own garden at some point but I inherited my mom’e black thumb!

  3. Mmmm that recipe sounds great! Glad to hear that your cousin is OK!

  4. Thanks for your comments tonight! I can’t believe we’re such twins!

    I love the recipe-based posts because you’re a great chef and I’m excited to try them myself! I’ve been wondering how to roast tofu and now I know! It looks dee-lish. I can’t wait to see how your garden turns out…it makes me excited for the day we have a yard. 🙂

  5. I love your posts! Yummy looking recipe as usual!

  6. so glad she is ok! Love the dinner dear:)

  7. dinner looks beyond fabulous, I need to follow those exact steps so my tofu looks like yours! and I am super looking forward to more bella terra posts. I’m glad your cousin is going to be ok,

  8. Lovely looking tofu – I need to try out that sometime. Prayers & good thoughts for Kelly – glad to hear she will be ok.

  9. Wow, I am so jealous of your weather! I love that you have your own vegetable garden, it must be so nice in the summer!

  10. I love roasting broccoli too! Have you ever tried tossing it in some balsalmic, evoo, and salt and pepper? It’s delicious.

    I would love to see more posts of your garden. I am starting my first vegetable garden this sping, so I will be so grateful for all of the tips and ideas.
    Thanks! Have a great day!

  11. I’m sorry to hear about your cousin – but glad to know that she’s OK.

    I love your idea for “bella terra” posts and look forward to seeing your blossoming garden!

  12. I’m keeping your cousin and the rest of the family in my thoughts and prayers.

    LOVELY GARDEN PREP!!! I will be doing the same when the weather here ACTUALLY heats up a bit.

  13. The garden sounds lovely! My mom has always wanted one and now I’m starting to like the idea now that I actually eat more veggies haha

    BLEH! I hate biting into Coriander seeds too! It’s the only kind I have (Must.Buy.Ground.) and I dread having to grind them up. The tofu looks really good though!

    I will be keeping you and your family in my thoughts.

  14. I love that you have your own garden! So lovely. Maybe if I ever move away from the city…

  15. love the glazed tofu, the garden sounds beautiful,i love gardening and planting veggies:)

  16. Oh I love gardening! But I am stuck in containers for now. Any of your experiements find a plant (other than tomatoes and herbs) that would work in containers? Your beds look great! And I hope your cousin gets better soon.

  17. I am so jealous of your garden.

    I am so glad that Kelly is going to be OK. My heart stopped when the news hit the blogs last night before we knew she would be OK.

    Thanks for sharing the recipe. I really love broccoli and really should get out of the habit of just steaming it.

  18. Oh I’m so jealous of your garden! Based on your seed choices, we have similar tastes (though I probably would have persisted with the eggplant =)

    I’ve been LOVING baked broccoli lately, particularly on pizza, but this has inspired me to try it as a simple side dish. Tofu looks tasty too.

    Glad to hear your cousin is okay. I’ve been in a couple collisions on my bike and know how scary they are. Hope she’s not too shaken up.

  19. So sorry about Kelly 😦

    I love the bella terra addition! We are getting a veggie garden going again this year (after deer ate last year’s!) and could use tons of tips!

  20. I’m so glad your cousin is okay!

    That broccoli/tofu looks so good 🙂

  21. That dinner sounds insanely good! Doesn’t growing your own veggies just make them taste that much better?!

    My thoughts have been with Kelly since I heard – I hope she recovers very quickly!

  22. SO jealous of your garden! That’s wonderful. And the tofu dish looks amazing!

  23. So jealous of your garden. Not much grows in our 110 degree summer weather. I do have a pretty good herb garden, including mint, thyme, basil, rosemary, sage and chives. But, I would LOVE to grow the veggies like you. Good luck and happy harvesting!

  24. I want a garden!!

    That recipe sounds super stellar!

  25. I’m so glad to hear your cousin is going to be ok.

    Also — I love the idea of bella terra posts. I’ve always wanted to get into gardening, but living in a big city with no backyard, I don’t have the opportunity. I’m excited to see how it all works!

  26. the garden looks great!!! i wish i had the time and motivation to do that! i will grow my garden through you.. lol

    your dinner looks fantastic as well!

  27. Glad to hear your cousin is okay. I heard about that on Jenna’s blog too – I have to get a helmet before I ride again!

    I am starting a garden for the first time this year so I am excited to hear about anything related to gardening. I am guessing that your garden is organic?

  28. I saw you made it on to tastespotting today! YAY!

  29. What a wonderful looking dinner!!!

  30. I want a yard…. 😦

    And great looking recipe! I’m saving it for sure!


  31. eatinginbalance

    Your tofu and broccoli look amazing.

    I witnessed and blogged about a bad bicycle accident recently where no one was wearing helmets – it’s so scary. Glad your person is okay. 🙂

  32. Funny that you mention whole coriander seeds… I just had “Chopped” on tv the other day and the contestant wasn’t able to smash the seeds well enough and got “chopped” as a result. The judges hated tasting whole seeds. They just kept complaining about it 🙂
    I’m saving the recipe. Your pictures make everything look so amazing. You need to really tell us how things taste, otherwise I’ll just be replicating everything you eat 😉 This one sounds like a winner!
    Hope Kelly gets better!

  33. Ahhhh gardening- *love* looks like you have some great plans for it!! !:)

  34. Andrea,
    I am so excited about following your gardening adventures. How cool that you guys are growing your own veggies. I’m kind of bummed that there will be no Brussels, but excited you’re giving broccoli another go as that is my favorite green vegetable. I want to try that broccoli shrimp recipe for sure! Thanks for the link.

    PS – So glad to hear that Kelly is going to be okay. That was scary!

  35. I am looking forward to seeing how your garden grows! No garden for me in New Jersey.

    Happy to hear Kelly is doing ok.

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  37. i love your plan to just take things as it comes. also, i had to comment because: I LOVE SCONES! and those look amazing.

  38. I’m going to try my hand at growing veggies again this year. In years past, i have not had any luck- but I’m trying something different this time around!

    Good luck!

  39. My daughter is a vegetarian and loves to help in the kitchen. We will make the Roasted Broccoli and Glazed Tofu together!

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