Last evening I was in the mood for a dish with tofu and I had time to drain it, marinate it, and chop the veggies for a stir “fry” which is one of my husband’s favorite things. I also had a bowl of fresh broccoli and broccoli greens that I had just cut from my garden. The greenhouse where I bought the broccoli plants told me that if I’m lucky, I may still be harvesting broccoli into January!
The next step was to drain the tofu. I always use extra firm tofu for this dish and after I drain off the water, I slice it in 1/2 lengthwise, lay it in a colander, cover it with paper towels, put my family flat iron on top and ignore it for the afternoon. When I’m in a hurry I only drain it for 30-60 min, but it absorbs the marinade so much better when it’s well drained and has so much more flavor.
While the tofu is draining, I make the marinade:
1/2 c. low sodium veggie broth
1 TBS lower sodium soy sauce or Bragg’s liquid aminos
1 huge clove of garlic or 2-3 average sized cloves, minced
A 3 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced in a mini chopper or grated with a ceramic grater
1 tsp of sambal oelek or Sriracha sauce if you like some heat
Mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl, cut the tofu into bite sized cubes and place into a shallow dish. Sprinkle Chinese Five Spice over the tofu and then pour the marinade over the tofu. Let the tofu marinate for at least 30 minutes.
While the tofu is marinating, get your other ingredients lined up:
3 carrots, peeled and sliced thinly
1 onion, sliced thinly or several green onions, chopped (white and green parts)
1 red pepper, chopped
½-1 jalapeno pepper, chopped finely
1 lime, cut into 6 wedges
1-2 TBS of fresh Thai basil or cilantro, chopped
Approximately 2-3 cups or more of broccoli, chopped along with the leaves if available.
If no broccoli leaves/greens available, add some chopped cabbage or bok choy
12-16 oz whole grain rice vermicelli or your favorite whole grain pasta (or cooked brown rice, approximately 3 cups)
1 TBS cornstarch mixed with 2-3 TBS water
Preheat the oven or toaster oven to 450 degrees. If you don’t have the veggies in the ingredient list, use the ones you have in your fridge or garden! The possibilities are endless.
Place the tofu cubes on a baking tray lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat, sprinkle with sesame seeds, and bake for 30-40 min until they are nice and brown. You can turn them if you like, but I prefer to leave them alone. Save the marinade!
Using a slotted spoon, remove the remaining ginger and garlic from the marinade and set aside. Add ½ c. veggie broth to reserved marinade.
While the tofu is baking, prepare your rice or pasta and keep warm.
When the tofu is almost done, heat up your wok or a very large skillet.
Add a couple of TBS of veggie broth or water to your pan and when it is hot, and the onions, peppers, garlic, ginger, and cook for a couple of min at high heat until the veggies begin to soften.
Add the carrots, broccoli, and greens and cook for a couple of minutes until they are done to your liking. Add more veggie broth as needed to keep the veggies from sticking and help them to steam.
When the veggies are done, move them to the sides of your wok or pan, and pour the reserved marinade into the center of the wok. Heat the marinade through and add the cornstarch that you mixed with water and let the broth thicken. Mix the sauce and veggies together. Add the Thai basil or cilantro.
Place the rice or pasta in a large serving bowl, add the veggies, and top with the tofu.
- Serve with extra chopped Thai basil or cilantro and the lime wedges. The fresh lime adds a wonderful brightness at the table.
- Add extra Sriracha sauce or sambal oelek at the table as desired for extra kick!
- If you don’t have heart disease, you can add a couple of tablespoons of peanut butter to the reserved marinade.
- Remember this is your dish. Feel free to make changes and substitutions to accommodate your preferences AND what you have in your fridge and your cupboard!
- To save time, use frozen veggies or chopped veggies from the produce section of the grocery store.
I hope you will love the Thai basil as much as we do. It’s aromatic, beautiful, and adds wonderful flavor to stir fry dishes. It also grows with little tending or care in the garden.
Remember to have fun with your food and enjoy!
I decided we needed a change this week in our menu. Sometimes we get in a rut of eating our same favorite dishes or going to our favorite restaurants that have plant-based dishes. So yesterday, I sat down with my favorite cookbooks and planned some easy meals that would give us some variety. Tonight I made a dish we have made once before, but I made some small variations that made it even better than the first time we had it. I made Thai Green Curry Rice from “The Starch Solution” by John McDougall MD and his wife Mary McDougall. Even though Dr. McDougall promotes a starch based diet, the dishes we have made from his book have been loaded with wonderful veggies and have been very colorful. The recipe is free online as are many of their recipes, and can be found in his December 2006 newsletter. I will post the full recipe at the end of this post, too.
I started with Jasmine brown rice. It has become one of my favorites as it only takes 20 min to cook, doesn’t clump, and is a whole grain but is fluffy and light.
I prepped all of the veggies and herbs and had them ready to toss into the wok. A lot of the fresh veggies looked kind of sickly in the grocery store yesterday, so I picked up frozen cauliflower and sugar snap peas which also saved time. I added fresh carrots for color, frozen peas, and fresh ginger. You can make this dish with any veggies, fresh or frozen that you have on hand. I think bok choy would be great in this dish, too.
We have an old hand hammered wok that my husband bought from a TV ad over 20 years ago that works great for dishes like this with mounds of veggies and heats up so quickly and easily over the gas flame.
The first set of veggies only had to cook about 5 min, and then the next group cooks again just for a few minutes with the curry paste. I didn’t have green curry paste, so I used tikki paste which is a red/orange paste with ginger. Lastly, the tomatoes, cilantro and Thai basil went in with nondairy milk (I used oat milk) and coconut extract. I was lucky enough to have some Thai basil in the freezer from my garden last summer. When you freeze it, the leaves fall off of the stems and they freeze well and retain their color, flavor, and wonderful aroma. The pictures don’t really do this dish justice, plus you can’t smell the wonderful scents that wafted through the kitchen!
The coconut extract really makes the dish scream of curry and without the fat in coconut milk. Here is a comparison of the oat milk nutrition facts and the coconut milk, which I bought and never used. I keep it for teaching purposes. Note that the serving size of the coconut milk is only 2 oz, so if I had used a full cup I would have been adding 36 gm of added fat and all 36 gm are from saturated fat. Of the 93 calories per serving in the coconut milk, 93 of those calories or 100% of the calories are from fat. By comparison, 8 oz of oat milk has only 130 calories, 2.5 gm of fat and no saturated fat. No contest as far as I’m concerned! I recently read a very commonsense article by Dr. McDougall called, “Nuts come in hard shells- for reasons.”
This dish was very filling due to all of the veggies, satisfying, and delicious! We like spicy, so in my bowl I added chili garlic sauce and my husband added sriracha sauce. The best part is that we also have leftovers for another meal!
Have fun with your food and enjoy!
Thai Green Curry Rice
from The Starch Solution by John A. McDougall MD and Mary McDougall
This rice dish is made with a Thai green curry paste that is sold in Asian markets, natural food stores and some supermarkets. To vary this recipe, try making it with red curry paste instead of the green curry paste.
Preparation Time: 20 minutes (cooked rice needed)
Cooking Time: 12 minutes
1/3 cup vegetable broth
1 onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 tablespoons green curry paste
2 cups chopped Napa cabbage
1 cup broccoli florets
1 cup cauliflower florets
1 cup snap peas
½ cup soy sauce
4 cups cooked long grain brown rice
1 tomato, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh Thai basil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
Place the broth in a large pot along with the onion, bell peppers and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Stir in the curry paste. Add the cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, peas and soy sauce. Mix well, cover and cook for about 5 minutes, until vegetables are tender. Add the remaining ingredients, mix well and cook until heated through, about 2-3 minutes.
Hint: Curry pastes are quite spicy so you may want to start out with the smaller amount and add more to taste. If you can’t find fresh Thai basil, just use the fresh basil found in the produce department of your supermarket.