Remove the tofu from the freezer and packaging, and place it in a metal sieve over a pot of water on a high heat. Allow it to steam and thaw the tofu. I like to (carefulltear off the tofu bits that have already thawed, squeeze most of the liquid out of them, and then tear them into a bowl. If you’re worried about burning your hands, you can use gloves, or do most of the tearing work once the tofu block has completely thawed. Freezing tofu gives it a mince meat like texture, to tear it up nice and good, and make sure you get most of the moisture out, too.
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large saucepan or skillet over a medium heat. Once it is shimmering, add the finely chopped fennel. The finer you’ve chopped it, the smoother your polpette will be, so take the time and do it right. Stir the fennel to coat, and turn the heat to a low medium. Allow it to cook away until it is soft and caramelised, about 10 -15 minutes. The fennel the texture and aromat-ness of caramelised onion.
While the fennel is cooking, mix together all the remaining ingredients for the ‘mince’ in a small bowl. Stir to combine.
Hopefully your tofu has thawed and is torn up into little mince meat like bits by now. If not, try to wrap that up before the next step. You can take the fennel off the heat if necessary.
Once the fennel is well cooked, pour in the mixture of balsamic et al. It will sizzle and begin to evaporate pretty quickly. I like to use a spatula to move it all around, and also to get the little dregs of nutmeg out of the bowl you put the liquids in.
Once the liquid cooking with the fennel is reasonbly thick, pour in the tofu ‘mince meat.’ Use your spatula to break up the larger pieces, and to coat all the tofu in the sauce. Allow it to cook for 5-10 minutes, turning the heat up a little to get some caramelised ‘meat’ bits.
Once the ‘mince’ is cooked to your liking, remove it from the heat and allow it to cool slightly. Next we’ll be adding hard cheese and eggs, so we don’t want to melt and/or scramble them.
Once the tofu mince is at a comfortable temperature, add the grated cheese, and mix to combine. Follow this with the eggs (lightly beating them in a bowl first avoids a gloopy mesthe olive oil and the gluten free breadcrumbs or almond meal.
Use your hands to get in there and squelch the mixture together. You can break up any larger tofu chunks and make sure the mixture is melded together. No need to be squeamish, it’s just tofu! Add the parsley here if you’re using it.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius or 356 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a large baking tray with baking paper.
Use your hands to create 20-22 little round polpette. You can create smaller or bigger ones according to your taste – for the bake I like a medium meatball, but for spaghetti and meatballs, I’d prefer a small version. Your call.
Once you have created all your polpette, place them in the oven for 20 minutes. One side will be a little flat, but I find that much better than turning them and potentially breaking them halfway through.
Once 20 minutes is up, remove them from the oven and allow to cool slightly.