April 24, 2013

Variation on a Theme

If you're not put off by dirtying tons of dishes, this is a simple meal to prepare. It's power packed with delicious flavor and it's vegan to boot.
OK, OK. Full disclosure. In my mind this is a simple meal to prepare. I mean, each of the steps is super easy and fairly quick. But really, a meal that requires 4 pans on the stove at the same time? Plus dirties both a rice cooker and a food processor? In my book, this is not the definition of simple. Regardless, suspend disbelief and bear with me. Can you do that?

Here's how to make it simple. Make everything except the scrambled tofu ahead of time. The components are green rice, sauteed veggies, sweet-spicy sauce, and the tofu.

The green rice is from a recipe in Moosewood Restaurant Simple Suppers. Start with 1 & 1/2 cups of uncooked rice. Any rice will do, my go to is brown jasmine rice. Cook it however you prefer. I am lucky to have inherited a rice cooker from dear friends when they moved house across the Atlantic. All I do is put in rice and water, plug the thing in, set the timer, come back later to perfectly cooked rice.
To make it green, lightly sautee about 1/4 cup chopped green onions and a few generous handfuls of spinach. Sprinkle with salt & pepper to taste. Puree the green stuff in a blender or food processor. Mix the green glop into the rice. Done. Refrigerate until dinner time. Dish up individual servings onto plates and heat in the microwave.
You could probably saute the veggies with the tofu to save dirtying another pan, but I cook the tofu at such high heat I prefer to cook the veggies separately. For this dish I finely chopped half a fist sized onion, half a red bell pepper and half an orange bell pepper. Use whatever you like in whatever amounts you wish. Saute ahead of time and then warm up for dinner by throwing it all in to the tofu pan when the tofu is almost done.

Also from Simple Suppers is the inspiration for the sauce. The book calls for simmering a mix of raspberry jam, minced chipotle peppers, and water. All I do is mix water and strawberry jalapeno preserves from Jungle Jim's. Hot and sweet. Proportions aren't really fussy. If it's too runny for your taste, simmer on the stove to steam off water. If it's too thick, add more water. I'm not convinced simmering is even necessary. If you've got sweet & hot preserves, just stir in hot water. Done. This can also be prepared ahead and refrigerated. When it gets cold, the sauce will thicken back to a jelly-like consistency. Just pop it in the microwave for a few seconds to un-gel the sauce.
See? Everything is already made and all the dishes are washed. Now, all that's left to pull dinner together is the scrambled tofu. My technique is described here. I used Spike seasoning and mild chili powder for this batch. When the tofu is just about done, add your pre-cooked veggie mix, stir often until everything is heated through. Dish up the tofu scramble on top of the reheated rice and drizzle with your sauce. Enjoy!

This amount of food fed two adults dinner and provided strategically planned leftovers. The leftover tofu scramble will become at least two breakfasts and the leftover rice will become part of a bean salad. The remaining halves of the 2 bell peppers that went into the veggie mix are going into the bean salad along with fresh corn, cilantro, onions and beans, of course.

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