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Team Protini

September 26, 1996|LAURIE OCHOA | TIMES FOOD EDITOR

Are toll-free hotlines, slick packaging and new bean curd products enough to push tofu into the mainstream? The advertising and marketing experts we talked to said definitely not. What tofu needs, they said, is a complete make-over.

We decided to take the tofu challenge. First on the agenda: Get rid of the name.

Over the course of several meetings, we came up with a name that we think captures the meatiness of tofu, with a little Italian thrown in, because, heck, it's trendy. Introducing: Protini.

Other names and tofu products we considered and rejected: Le Tofu, Soy Toy, Soy Bueno, Soyfu, Soy Cream, Soy Cheese and the related Bean Cheese, Frosted Mini Soy, Soy Newtons, Soya Lee Cheesecake and, finally, Gee, I Can't Believe It's Not Pork.

Meanwhile, Donna Deane and Mayi Brady in The Times Test Kitchen came up with recipes using regular supermarket tofu that won't embarrass you if you serve them to friends. Art director Tracy Crowe came up with a new label. And we decided to offer Protini in three flavors: Tuscan Herb, Southwest Spice and plain, or as we like to call it, Classic White.

SOUTHWEST TOFU SALAD WITH SALSA VINAIGRETTE

SALSA VINAIGRETTE

1 medium tomato, minced

1 serrano chiles, minced

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 cup oil

2 tablespoons lime juice

1/4 teaspoon salt

Lightly stir together tomato, serrano chile, above garlic, oil, lime juice and salt. Cover and let stand until serving time.

CHILI-RUBBED TOFU

1 (14-ounce) carton firm tofu, drained

2 cloves minced garlic

Salt

3 tablespoons New Mexican chili powder

2 tablespoon oil

1 tablespoon butter

Pat excess water off tofu. Rub garlic over tofu. Cut tofu crosswise into 6 pieces. Cut each of the six pieces into 4 sticks. Season with salt to taste. Roll sticks in chili powder to coat. Heat oil and butter in skillet over medium heat. Quickly saute tofu until lightly browned, being careful not to burn. Remove to paper towel to drain excess oil.

SALAD

48 blue corn tortilla chips

12 cups mixed salad greens

2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained

Chopped cilantro

For each salad, arrange about 8 tortilla chips around outside of plate. Top with 2 cups salad greens. Sprinkle 1/3 cup cheese over top, then about 1/4 cup black beans. Top with sauteed Chili-Rubbed Tofu. Sprinkle with cilantro to garnish and serve with Salsa Vinaigrette.

Makes 6 servings.

Each serving contains about:

596 calories; 461 mg sodium; 45 mg cholesterol; 39 grams fat; 38 grams carbohydrates; 29 grams protein; 3.95 gram fiber.

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