Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Tofu, veggies, rice and peanut sauce: Yum!

Serve with a small greeen salad, and enjoy!

I thought I'd blog about a yummy dinner I made little while ago. I've made variations of this recipe over the years, and my kids (and my husband and I) always love it! For the meal I recently made, I served broccoli, carrots, and sauteed tofu cubes over brown rice, then added a homemade peanut sauce over everything. So yummy! (You can also use a similar sauce and the same ingredients, but change out the rice for linguine, toss it all together, and it's good, too.) Can anything using peanut butter NOT be delicious?

I make a simple peanut sauce that I've adapted from various recipes over the years. I throw it together without any measuring and judge when it's done by how it tastes. Why don't I use a recipe? I'm lazy sometimes! I like being able to just whip something up without measuring or reading and have a good, simple meal at the end. When I first went vegan, I could rarely do this. It has taken me some time and practice to know what spices something needs, and how to get something to turn out how I'd like it to. So, when I write in the blog, I'll sometimes post rough recipes and directions, and hope you can experiment to make the recipe your own. Here's one such recipe:

Tofu, veggies and rice with peanut sauce

Tofu cubes:

1 package firm or super firm tofu (about 16 oz), cut into 1-inch cubes
2-3 cloves of garlic, pressed or minced
small pinch red chile pepper flakes, optional
canola oil

Peanut sauce:

water or vegetable broth, probably between 3/4 to 1 cup to start
2 vegetable bouillon cubes (if using water; omit if using veg. broth)
peanut butter, probably 1/2 cup or more!
tamari, about 1/4 to 1/2 cup
juice of one lemon and/or rice wine vinegar
dash of cayenne pepper, optional
arrowroot powder or cornstarch to thicken, if needed

carrots, about 2-3 small to medium, sliced
broccoli, 1 medium head cut into bite-sized florets
1 1/2 to 2 cups uncooked brown rice, cooked according to package directions

chopped peanuts for garnish

chopped cilantro for garnish, optional


Start rice cooking in a medium pot. Steam carrots and broccoli, checking doneness after 8-10 minutes. Veggies should be able to be pierced with a fork, but still be crispy. When done, turn off heat and leave lid askew until needed.

Heat about 1 tablespoon canola oil in a large pot. When hot, add small pinch of chile pepper flakes and warm for about 30 seconds. Then add minced garlic and cook until golden, about 30-45 seconds. Add tofu cubes, tossing to coat in oil. Saute over medium-low heat. Turn cubes when side of tofu touching pan is a golden brown, turning down heat if getting too dark. If tofu sticks, add a little more oil or a little bit of water (1 tbl or less). Continue browning tofu until most of the sides are browned and tofu is nice and crispy. Empty tofu into a large bowl and set aside, covering to keep tofu warm if desired.

Using same pot, add water and crumbled bouillon cubes OR vegetable broth and warm over medium heat. Stir in peanut butter, using a small whisk to help it blend until semi-creamy. Add tamari, starting with 1/4 cup, and add about 1 or 2 tablespoons of rice wine vinegar or lemon juice. Stir until smooth, and taste. I like the sauce to taste like sweet and peanut buttery, but also tangy like the tamari, vinegar and/ot lemon juice. If it needs a kick, stir in a teeny dash of cayenne (or more if your kids are up for spiciness). You may need to add more tamari or lemon juice or wine vinegar to get it to be a little tangy. If the sauce is too thin or lacks the peanut buttery taste, add more PB. I like the sauce to be thick enough to pour over rice, tofu and veggies, but not too think as to congeal.

If the sauce is still thin and you don't want to add more peanut butter, take 2/3 cup of sauce out and add to small bowl. Stir in about 2 tbl cornstarch or arrowroot to thicken the extracted sauce. When smooth, return to pot and stir over heat until pot of sauce thickens. Repeat if necessary. It's hard to mess up this sauce, so adjust thickness and taste until you get a taste and consistency you like. Season with salt if desired.

Time to assemble! Layer cooked rice, carrots and broccoli and tofu cubes in individual bowls or plates. Ladle peanut sauce over all, and garnish with crushed peanuts and cilantro, if using. Enjoy!


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