Meatless Monday – Sesame Crusted Tofu

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I’m sorry for going MIA this summer.  A combination of travel without my computer,(Iceland is another coming post)  made blogging (and cooking) difficult and the recent illness and death of my beloved father left me with a void that I am struggling to fill.  He was a kind man. He chose family and a career in education over wealth and prestige. Dare I say it was not the exciting career he probably thought he was going to have. He and my mom fostered dozens of kids and believed in uplifting others, especially those that really needed help the most.  I suppose, his death, following hers three years ago, only reaffirms my growing belief that we should try our best to  leave a gentle footprint on the earth and make a positive difference in the world, no matter how small.  Kindness matters. Voting with your pocketbook matters.  Our choices matter. Speaking up for those that have no voice matters.  I guess a tofu recipe is a good start.

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This is my favorite, quick and easy, protein filled, go-to dish.  I especially like to make it for my meat eating friends who think they don’t like tofu.  I have changed some pretty closed minds with this one.  The tofu is savory and crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside.  I like to serve sesame crusted tofu over pasta or rice to take advantage of the yummy pan drippings.  Surprise! Vegan food can have pan drippings. This time I tossed together some sugar snap peas sauteed with ginger and garlic until they glisten, tender but firm.

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I love the combination of black and white sesame seeds, but if you think they are just a pretty decoration you would be mistaken.  They add a nutty flavor and add to the crunchy texture in this dish, but for their small size, they also provide quite a bit of nutrition. Sesame seeds  are an excellent source of copper, a very good source of manganese, and a good source of calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, vitamin B1, zinc, molybdenum, selenium, and dietary fiber.  Black sesame seeds are unhulled while white seeds are hulled.  Since most of the calcium is in the hulls, black sesame seeds have more calcium.  Otherwise, they are nutritionally similar.

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TIPS:  This time, I served the tofu over thin spaghetti which picks up the sesame seeds and spices easily but angel hair pasta would work well too.  I just stirred the hot, cooked pasta in the same pan I cooked the tofu to evenly coat the strands. I often serve this with brown jasmine or basmati rice.  Just cook with vegetable broth and a 1 inch knob of peeled fresh ginger or teaspoon of ginger paste and drizzle the sesame oil and pan drippings over the rice.  Yum!…  (*smacking lip sound*)

This recipe serves two to four people, depending on appetites.  I can only eat one 4 ounce tofu steak but my husband can eat two.  You can easily double the recipe. I also prefer the 4 oz steaks because I like the crispy edges.

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SESAME CRUSTED TOFU

  • 1 block extra firm tofu
  • 1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup black sesame seeds
  • 1-2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 cup + 1 Tbsn sesame oil, divided
  • 1 Tbsn soy sauce (or gluten free tamari)
  • 2 Tbsn cornstarch
  • 3 scallions, minced (optional garnish)
  • 8 oz thin spaghetti

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  • Drain tofu and slice in half lengthwise into two wide slabs (8 oz. steaks).  You can also cut the slabs half again for four 4 oz. servings.  Arrange in a single layer on double papertowels or a clean dishcloth, cover with more towels and let drain 15 or 20 minutes.  Placing a heavy pan on top might help press the liquid out.
  • Cook spaghetti as directed, drain and set aside

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  • If you are making sugar snap peas, in a cold saute pan, stir together a Tablespoon each of olive oil and sesame oil, 1 teaspoon minced ginger or ginger paste and several cloves of crushed garlic. Remove stems and strings from the peas, rinse and stir them into the garlic mixture.  They can sit until you are ready. Cook for about 5 minutes on medium heat just before you cook the tofu.

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  • Place cornstarch in a shallow pie pan or plate

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  • Stir together 1 Tablespoon sesame oil and 1 Tablespoon soy sauce

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  • Combine sesame seeds, red pepper flakes, garlic and onion powders in a shallow pie pan

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  • Heat a heavy fry pan (cast iron if you have) on medium heat and add remaining sesame oil while you prepare your tofu.
  • Dredge tofu on all sides in cornstarch

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  • Dip tofu in soy/sesame mixture, all sides

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  • Press tofu into sesame seed mixture making sure to coat all sides. Repeat with remaining pieces.

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  • Cook in hot sesame oil several minutes on each side, or until crispy and golden brown.  Lower heat if the oil starts to smoke.

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  • Remove tofu from pan and set aside. Turn heat to low.

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  • Toss cooked spaghetti in hot pan used for cooking the tofu until sesame seeds and oil are evenly distributed.  Add any remaining seeds and spices or a drizzle of sesame oil, if desired.

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  • Serve tofu topped with tofu steaks and sugar snap peas, garnish with scallions, if desired.

 

 

 

 

Sesame Crusted Tofu

  • Servings: 2 - 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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  • 1 block extra firm tofu
  • 1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup black sesame seeds
  • 1-2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 cup + 1 Tbsn sesame oil, divided
  • 1 Tbsn soy sauce (or gluten free tamari)
  • 2 Tbsn cornstarch
  • 3 scallions, minced (optional garnish)
  • 8 oz thin spaghetti
  1. Drain tofu and slice in half lengthwise into two wide slabs (steaks).  You can also cut the slabs half again for four servings.  Arrange in a single layer on double papertowels or a clean dishcloth, cover with more towels and let drain 15 or 20 minutes.  Placing a heavy pan on top might help press the liquid out.
  2. Cook spaghetti as directed, drain and set aside
  3. If you are making sugar snap peas, in a cold saute pan, stir together a Tablespoon each of olive oil and sesame oil, 1 teaspoon minced ginger or ginger paste and several cloves of crushed garlic. Remove stems and strings from the peas, rinse and stir them into the garlic mixture. They can sit until you are ready.  Cook for about 5 minutes on medium heat just before you cook the tofu.
  4. Place cornstarch in a shallow pie pan
  5. Stir together 1 Tablespoon sesame oil and 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
  6. Combine sesame seeds, red pepper flakes, garlic and onion powders in a shallow pie pan
  7. Heat a heavy fry pan (cast iron if you have) on medium high heat and add remaining sesame oil
  8. Dredge tofu on all sides in cornstarch
  9. Dip tofu in soy/sesame mixture, all sides
  10. Press tofu into sesame seed mixture making sure to coat all sides
  11. Cook in hot sesame oil several minutes on each side, or until crispy and golden brown.  Lower heat to medium if the oil starts to smoke.
  12. Remove tofu from pan and set aside
  13. Toss cooked spaghetti in hot pan used for cooking the tofu until sesame seeds and oil are evenly distributed.  Add any remaining seeds and spices or a drizzle of sesame oil, if desired.
  14. Serve tofu topped with tofu steaks and garnish with scallions, if desired.

 

 

Meatless Monday -Thai Red Curry Soup

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So you might have noticed that I am still on a soup kick.  It may have something to do with the constant deluge of rain blown sideways by strong gusts of wind.  This soup, in particular, is designed to use winter veggies like sweet potato, squash and mushrooms with fresh ginger  in a deliciously spicy red curry, coconut milk broth. I added tofu for extra protein and millet, brown rice ramen noodles to make a pretty hearty meal in a bowl.

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I love the spicy but comforting flavors of this soup. It’s loaded with vegetables that make it a nutritional feast but also provide interest.  Each spoonful is a different culinary adventure, from the creaminess of the sweet potato, to the earthy mushrooms and the just tender bok choy all swimming in a yummy coconut curry broth.

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What really makes it though, is the garnishes of sliced red onion and fresh cilantro (or parsley if you’re not a cilantro lover), so don’t skip this step. You can use whatever vegetables you prefer or have on hand.  Japanese eggplant would be a good choice.  Just keep in mind that some veggies take longer than others to cook.

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TIPS: I used whole grain ramen noodles which I was trying for the first time.  They had a good flavor and texture but broke into small pieces which made it easier to eat but not quite as pretty as intended.  Rice vermicelli or spaghetti would hold it’s shape better.

This recipe calls for several Thai spices which are easy to find in my grocery stores. I’ll admit that the list of ingredients is pretty long but each adds an important flavor to the mix.  If you don’t have the ingredients or can’t be bothered to buy them, you may be lucky enough to find a curry soup base in your market.  Just add the fresh ingredients and you’re done.

Draining the tofu isn’t absolutely necessary, especially if you are pressed for time, since it’s going into a liquid base, but I prefer to squeeze out the water it was packed in to allow the flavors of the broth to be absorbed.  It makes the tofu more flavorful.

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THAI RED CURRY SOUP

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 2-3 Tbsn Thai red curry paste
  • 2 tsp red chili paste (optional)
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 13oz. can coconut milk
  • 2 Tbsn fish sauce or Bragg’s liquid aminos (GF)
  • 1 Tbsn lime juice
  • 2 Tbsn brown or white sugar
  • 1 block extra firm tofu, drained and diced
  • 1 small sweet potato, peeled and sliced or diced
  • 1 cup winter squash or zucchini, sliced or diced
  • 4-5 shitake or criminy mushrooms, sliced
  • 2-3 sliced baby bok choy, 1 cup shredded Napa cabbage or 1 cup shredded leafy greens
  • 6 oz. whole grain ramen noodles or rice vermicelli noodles (GF)
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 red onion

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  • Drain tofu on papertowels, cover with papertowels and gently press water out by hand or with a heavy pan.  Let sit while you prepare the other ingredients. Add garlic, ginger, red curry paste, red pepper paste, vegetable broth, coconut milk fish sauce and half of sugar to a large soup pot and bring almost to boiling. Reduce to a simmer. Taste and add rest of sugar if desired and more

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  • Add sweet potato, tofu and squash (If you are using zucchini, add with the bok choy) and simmer for about 10 minutes.

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  • Add bok choy, mushrooms and noodles and cook another five minutes.

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  • Serve topped with sliced red onion, chopped fresh cilantro and maybe a drizzle of sriracha.

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Thai Red Curry Soup

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 2-3 Tbsn Thai red curry paste
  • 2 tsp red chili paste (optional)
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 13.5 oz. can coconut milk
  • 2 Tbsn fish sauce or Bragg’s liquid aminos
  • 1 Tbsn lime juice
  • 2 Tbsn brown or white sugar
  • 1 block extra firm tofu, drained and diced
  • 1 small sweet potato, peeled and sliced or diced
  • 1 cup winter squash or zucchini, sliced or diced
  • 4-5 shitake or criminy mushrooms, sliced
  • 2-3 sliced baby bok choy, 1 cup shredded Napa cabbage or 1 cup shredded leafy greens
  • 6 oz. whole grain ramen noodles or rice vermicelli noodles
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 red onion
  1. Drain tofu on papertowels, cover with papertowels and gently press water out by hand or with a heavy pan.  Let sit while you prepare the other ingredients. Add garlic, ginger, red curry paste, red pepper paste, vegetable broth, coconut milk fish sauce and half of sugar to a large soup pot and bring almost to boiling. Reduce to a simmer. Taste and add rest of sugar if desired and more
  2. Add sweet potato and squash (If you are using zucchini, add with the bok choy) and simmer for about 10 minutes.
  3. Add bok choy, mushrooms and noodles and cook another five minutes.
  4. Serve topped with sliced red onion, chopped fresh cilantro and maybe a drizzle of sriracha.

 

Meatless Monday -Breakfast Tacos

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I was tired of toast for breakfast, so decided to ratchet it up a notch with breakfast tacos.  I love Mexican food so this was a no brainer, and even though these tacos are vegetarian, they even satisfied my husband who went back for thirds. Warm corn tortillas loaded with Mexican Chipotle ‘vegan sausage’, scrambled eggs (or tofu), jalapenos, black olives, tomatoes and shredded cheese were a great way to start the day. I’m pretty sure you will like them too. We had them for Sunday morning breakfast but I would eat them for dinner too…

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Those that follow me know that I’m not a fan of fake foods, i.e. fake ‘meat’.  I usually prefer to make my own substitutions, or just not eat it at all, so I have pretty much stayed away from store bought ‘meat’.  Luckily for me (and vegetarians everywhere), our choices are getting better all the time and I decided to give the Field Roast Grain Meat ‘sausages’ a try. I chose the Mexican Chipotle because I thought the flavors would be great in a taco. Well, I loved it.  My husband loved it. I will definitely be trying the other flavors too.

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For those like me that don’t know, grain meat is a combination of grains and vegetables that are ground up like a traditional sausage.  The links are encased in plastic, which must be removed before cooking, in contrast to natural casings which are made from animal intestines. Sausage is sometimes enclosed in artificial casings made of cellulose, collagen or synthetic materials, so know what you are buying.

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I have 12 chickens, most of whom have been rescued from  factory farms so I am lucky enough to have plentiful and beautiful eggs from happy hens who have been given a second chance at life.  If you don’t have access to eggs from your own backyard or a farmers market, look for Pasture Raised eggs in your supermarket.  All the other labels like Cage Free and Organic are misleading.  I have written about this before so won’t repeat myself.  For those that haven’t read my egg rant or are still confused about egg labeling, click  HERE for more info on how to decipher egg labels. They are designed to keep people from making informed decisions. (i.e. organic may not mean what you think it does).  The bottom line is DON’T BUY CHEAP EGGS. My chickens, ambassadors for factory farmed animals, have their own Facebook page,  Mrs Vs Rescue Chickens .Check them out. They love new followers.

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*If you are vegan or don’t eat eggs, tofu makes a good scramble.  You can buy boxed tofu scramble or you can make your own using extra firm tofu.  Click HERE for a Basic Tofu Scramble Recipe.

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BREAKFAST BURRITOS

  • 2 Field Roast Mexican Chipotle Sausages (vegan)
  • 1/2 block firm tofu or 3 pasture raised eggs*
  • 1 Tbsn olive oil
  • 1 tsp vegan butter or butter
  • 6 corn tortillas

Suggested Toppings:

  • 1 small tomato, chopped (or several cherry tomatoes cut in quarters)
  • 1/2 avocado, chopped
  • Sliced black olives
  • Sliced or chopped jalapeno peppers
  • Shredded Cheddar or Monterey Jack Cheese (vegan options available)
  • Sriracha or other hot pepper sauce

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  • Remove the plastic casing from the sausages and break into pieces with a spatula or fingers (it’s a bit messy).  Saute in olive oil on medium for about 5 minutes.  Reduce to low. (The sausage can get too crispy if overcooked)

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  • While sausage is cooking, prepare your toppings. You don’t need very many.

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  • If using tofu, follow suggested recipe* or your own.  If using eggs, add 1 teaspoon cold water and scramble in butter until done and remove from heat.

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  • Heat tortillas. My favorite way is to wrap in papertowels and microwave about 30 seconds.  Keep warm in foil or a cloth, or a tortilla warmer if you have one.

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  • Fill tortillas with a spoonful of sausage and egg

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  • Add the toppings of your choice.  Top with hot sauce, if desired.  Goes well with fruit.

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Breakfast Tacos

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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  • 2 Field Roast Mexican Chipotle Sausages (vegan)
  • 1/2 block tofu or 3 pasture raised eggs*
  • 1 Tbsn olive oil
  • 1 tsp vegan butter or butter
  • 6 corn tortillas

Suggested Toppings:

  • 1 small tomato, chopped (or several cherry tomatoes cut in quarters)
  • 1/2 avocado, chopped
  • Sliced black olives
  • Sliced or chopped jalapeno peppers
  • Shredded Cheddar or Monterey Jack Cheese (vegan options available)
  • Sriracha or other hot pepper sauce
  1. Remove the plastic casing from the sausages and break into pieces with a knife or fingers (it’s a bit messy).  Saute in olive oil on medium for about 5 minutes.  Reduce to low. (The sausage can get hard if overcooked)
  2. While sausage is cooking,
  3. If using tofu, follow suggested recipe* or your own.  If using eggs, add 1 teaspoon cold water and scramble in butter until done and remove from heat.
  4. Heat tortillas. My favorite way is to wrap in papertowels and microwave about 30 seconds.  Keep warm in foil or a cloth.
  5. Fill tortillas with a spoonful of sausage and egg and the toppings of your choice.  Top with hot sauce, if desired.  Goes well with fruit.

Meatless Monday – Hot and Sour Soup

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If hot soup equals a warm belly, what about hot soup that is also hot-spicy? As you can see, I’m still on my hot soup bender – and judging by the forecast for seven days of rain next week, it’s not ending any time soon. My husband is in bed with the sniffles so I decided that Hot and Sour Soup would be the perfect antidote. I am a true believer in the medicinal power of soup.  I used to rely on chicken soup but now I’m looking for vegetarian options and it looks like this one will do the trick.  Hot and Sour Soup contains anti inflammatory aromatics, like red chile and ginger, lending some truth to the old saying, that ‘soup is medicine in a bowl.’

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This soup has all the healing properties you need to fight infections, help digestion and boost both your immune system and your metabolism.  It’s also a great way to warm up on a cold winter’s day. The soup’s warm and silky texture feels great on a sore throat, and its hot and sour flavors help clear a stuffy nose and sweat out toxins. Plus the combination of mushrooms, tofu and bamboo shoots swimming in a flavorful broth that tickles your tastebuds is reason enough to enjoy this satisfying dish.

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Photo Credit:  Wikimedia.org

 

Here’s your fun fact of the day:  Bamboo Shoots are not just an empty filler only found in Chinese food.  They are rich in dietary fiber, vitamins (including B vitamins) and minerals, especially copper and iron which are used to produce red blood cells and potassium, important for healthy heart and blood pressure. They also contain 2.5 grams of protein per 100 g serving for the low price of 27 calories. Not bad for such an innocuous little veggie…  The photo above is of a young bamboo shoot just peeking above the ground.  I decided to look it up because I didn’t know what they look like in nature.  You’re welcome.

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I have made this soup once before but this time I’m perfecting it.  It is based on a Tyler Florence recipe which I veganized and added a bit more spice (because I love it). Here is the original Food Network Recipe which was my inspiration. Don’t forget to try a few drops of sesame oil on the top. Mmmm…

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TIPS:  Most Hot and Sour recipes call for Chinese mushrooms like wood ear or cloud ear which are easier to find dried than fresh.  However, any kind of mushroom can be used.  I used a combination of fresh criminy and maitake which provides good flavor and texture. If you use dried mushrooms, pour boiling water over them and let sit for about a half hour to reconstitute, then slice.  The scallions, cilantro and sesame oil are optional garnishes but I think they add a lot.  I liked the sesame oil so much that next time I may add it right to the pot.

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HOT AND SOUR SOUP

  • 2 Tbsn light oil (avocado or canola)
  • 1 Tbsn fresh ginger, finely grated (or ginger paste)
  • 2 Tbsn red chili paste
  • 1 4 oz can bamboo shoots
  • 2 cups criminy mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 small clump maitake mushrooms(optional)
  • 1  block extra firm tofu, cubed
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce (or liquid aminos for GF)
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 quarts vegetable broth
  • 3 Tbsn cornstarch + 1/4 cup water
  • 1 large egg, room temperature (optional)
  • scallions, chopped (optional)
  • cilantro, chopped (optional)
  • sesame oil (optional)

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  • If you are using dried mushrooms, put them in a small bowl and cover with boiling water. Let stand for 30 minutes to reconstitute. Drain and rinse and discard any hard clusters in the centers.  Wipe fresh mushrooms clean with a paper towel and slice.  Pull apart Maitake mushrooms.

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  • Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high flame. Add the ginger, chili paste, mushrooms and bamboo shoots; cook and stir for 1 minute to infuse the flavor.

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  • Combine the soy sauce, vinegar, salt, pepper, and sugar in a small bowl and add it to the mushroom mixture.  Gently stir in the tofu taking care not to break the cubes apart.

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  • Add the vegetable broth and simmer for 10 minutes. Dissolve the cornstarch in the water and stir until smooth. Slowly pour it into the soup and continue to simmer until the soup thickens.

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  • Remove the soup from the heat and stir in 1 direction to get a current going, then stop stirring. Slowly pour in the beaten egg in a steady stream. It should feather and spread out in the broth.

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  • Serve with chopped green onions and cilantro, and drizzle with a few drops of sesame oil, if desired.

Hot and Sour Soup

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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  • 2 Tbsn light oil (avocado or canola)
  • 1 Tbsn fresh ginger, finely grated (or ginger paste)
  • 2 Tbsn red chili paste
  • 1 4 oz can bamboo shoots
  • 2 cups criminy mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 small clump maitake mushrooms(optional)
  • 1  block extra firm tofu, cubed
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce (or liquid aminos for GF)
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 quarts vegetable broth
  • 3 Tbsn cornstarch + 1/4 cup water
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • scallions, chopped (optional)
  • cilantro, chopped (optional)
  • sesame oil (optional)
  • If you are using dried mushrooms, put them in a small bowl and cover with boiling water. Let stand for 30 minutes to reconstitute. Drain and rinse and discard any hard clusters in the centers.  Wipe fresh mushrooms clean with a paper towel and slice.  Pull apart Maitake mushrooms.
  • Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high flame. Add the ginger, chili paste, mushrooms and bamboo shoots; cook and stir for 1 minute to infuse the flavor.
  • Combine the soy sauce, vinegar, salt, pepper, and sugar in a small bowl and add it to the mushroom mixture.  Gently stir in the tofu taking care not to break the cubes apart.
  • Add the vegetable broth and simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Dissolve the cornstarch in the water and stir until smooth. Slowly pour it into the soup and continue to simmer until the soup thickens.
  • Remove the soup from the heat and stir in 1 direction to get a current going, then stop stirring. Slowly pour in the beaten egg in a steady stream. It should feather and spread out in the broth.
  • Serve with chopped green onions and cilantro, and drizzle with a few drops of sesame oil, if desired.

Meatless Monday – Veggie Tofu Spring Rolls with Asian Dipping Sauce

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If you’re looking for a new take on salad, these spring rolls are far from boring and the dipping sauce made with almondbutter is so good you might find yourself using it on everything! I took advantage of the gorgeous colors of the season with striped Chiogga beets and pink radish, which are surprisingly sweet raw when thinly sliced. They also create a fun splash of color on your plate.  Shredded carrot and purple cabbage and sliced avocado add more crazy color and texture.  I added crispy tofu for a protein boost and to make them worthy of a main course, but you can make them all veggie or add rice noodles if you prefer.  Best of all, they can be tailored for personal tastes.

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I saw a version of these Psychedelic Spring Rolls on Pinterest by @erinireland and couldn’t wait to give them a whirl, of course with my own spin. I love their vibrant and crazy colors which border on the unnatural but is actually the complete opposite, as all ingredients are fresh and organic.  If you use seasonal veggies, the wonderful colors and flavors will be different throughout the year depending on what is available.

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I have never used rice wrappers before and I must admit that it takes a few tries to perfect the technique.  The nice thing about them though, is that they are a fun alternative to tortillas or bread and they are gluten and cholesterol free and low calorie to boot. In addition, they are clear so they really showcase your yummy fillings.

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TIPS:  Have all ingredients ready before immersing the rice wrappers in hot water to soften.  Practice on one or two to perfect the wrapping technique and make sure to fold in the sides before the top and bottom.  They will feel sticky at first but that will go away as they dry. If you are using shredded veggies, make sure they are going in the same directions (up and down) instead of crosswise to prevent them from poking out or ripping the wrapper.  Add additional hot pepper sauce for a spicier sauce. Be creative!

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VEGGIE TOFU SPRING ROLLS WITH ASIAN DIPPING SAUCE

8 rice paper wraps
1 block organic extra firm tofu
1 cup purple cabbage, shredded
2 large carrots, shredded
1-2 avocados, sliced lengthwise
1 Chiogga beet, thinly sliced
1 radish, thinly sliced
small handful fresh mint and/or parsley, chopped (optional)

ASIAN DIPPING SAUCE
1/4 cup almond butter (or creamy peanut butter)
2 Tbsn water
2 Tbsn rice vinegar
2 Tbsn soy sauce (or gluten free aminos)
1-2 tsp hot sesame oil(or regular)
1/4-1/2 tsp grated ginger or ginger paste

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  • Cut tofu in half to make 2 flatter rectangular pieces, then cut into 8 equal sticks.
  • Place in a single layer on a double layer of paper towels, cover with more paper towels and put a heavy pan on top (to help remove excess liquid) Let sit 10 minutes.

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  • Prepare veggies using a mandolin or a sharp knife.

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  • Arrange prepared veggies on a workspace.

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  • Combine all sauce ingredients in a bowl and stir into a smooth sauce. Add additional water if necessary to thin.

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  • Heat 2 Tbsn olive or avocado oil in a heavy pan.  Season tofu with salt and pepper and saute on medium high heat until golden brown on all four sides. Let cool on a paper towel.

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  • Dip rice wrapper in hot water until soft (10 seconds) Remove from water and spread flat on a plate. Arrange vegetables, herbs and tofu in the center with your ‘star’ veggie on the bottom (that is the one that will show).

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  • Fold sides inward, then fold bottom and top inward.  Roll as tightly as possible.

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  • Place on a serving platter seam side down and make remaining 7 rolls.

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  • Serve with Asian Dipping Sauce

Veggie Tofu Spring Rolls

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
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8 rice paper wraps
1 block organic extra firm tofu
1 cup purple cabbage, shredded
2 large carrots, shredded
1-2 avocados, sliced lengthwise
1 Chiogga beet, thinly sliced
1 radish, thinly sliced
small handful fresh mint and/or parsley, chopped (optional)

ASIAN DIPPING SAUCE
1/4 cup almond butter (or creamy peanut butter)
2 Tbsn water
2 Tbsn rice vinegar
2 Tbsn soy sauce (or gluten free aminos)
1-2 tsp hot sesame oil(or regular)
1/4-1/2 tsp grated ginger or ginger paste

  • Cut tofu in half to make 2 flatter rectangular pieces, then cut into 8 equal sticks.
  • Place in a single layer on a double layer of paper towels, cover with more paper towels and put a heavy pan on top (to help remove excess liquid)
  • Prepare veggies using a mandolin or a sharp knife.
  • Arrange prepared veggies on a workspace.
  • Combine all sauce ingredients in a bowl and stir into a smooth sauce. Add additional water if necessary to thin.
  • Heat 2 Tbsn olive or avocado oil in a heavy pan.  Season tofu with salt and pepper and saute on medium high heat until golden brown on all four sides. Let cool on a paper towel.
  • Dip rice wrapper in hot water until soft (10 seconds) Remove from water and spread flat on a plate. Arrange vegetables, herbs and tofu in the center with your ‘star’ veggie on the bottom (that is the one that will show).
  • Fold sides inward, then fold bottom and top inward.  Roll as tightly as possible.
  • Place on a serving platter seam side down and make remaining 7 rolls.
  • Serve with almond sauce

 

 

Meatless Monday – Grilled Tofu with Jalapeno Pesto

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If summertime means throwing something on the grill for dinner, but you are trying to eat less meat for whatever reason, well this one is for you and ready in less than 30 minutes!  This tofu is grilled to crispy perfection on the outside but creamy on the inside and topped with a spicy, savory jalapeno pesto that will become your new favorite. Trust me, you will want to put it on everything! The first time I made this for an omnivorous crowd, I had to defend the platter from my meat eating friends to make sure there was something left for the vegetarians.  The next time I made a double portion and  it still disappeared…20160702_164054

I happen to be a big fan of tofu, and it’s an obvious and easy meat substitute, however many people think it’s boring-or even unhealthy.  90% of soy is GMO (genetically modified and pesticide laden) and most of that is processed to make soy bean oil.  What remains after the oil has been extracted is called soybean meal, much of which is fed to livestock (read meat) or turned into processed foods as soy protein. (both soybean oil and most soy protein should be avoided) Unlike soy protein, tofu is minimally processed and usually made from organic soybeans . Tofu is a great source of protein that is free from unhealthy animal fats. Best of all, it’s bland flavor allows flavors to be absorbed making it quite an adaptable food. It can be stewed, fried, grilled, baked, blended into sauces or even as a pizza topping. (Stay tuned for next week’s Barbecued Tofu Pizza which was also a fan favorite).-Joyce

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GRILLED TOFU WITH JALAPENO PESTO

1 block extra firm tofu
1/4 cup olive oil
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 lemon, zest and juice
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper

JALAPENO PESTO
1 cup cilantro or parsley
1 cup fresh basil leaves
1-2 jalapeno or red chili peppers
1 lemon, zest and juice
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup grated parmesan
1/2 cup pine nuts or pistachios

  •  Drain tofu and slice in half horizontally, then slice in half again, leaving 4 thick rectangular pieces.  You can cut those in half or leave as is. Place tofu slices in a single layer on a double layer of paper towels. Cover with another double layer and place a heavy object on top to help press the water out of the tofu. Let sit for at least 10 minutes or more.

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  • In a large ziplock bag, place olive oil, garlic and spices and shake to combine. Carefully arrange tofu in a single layer to the bag, seal and allow marinade to cover all sides. Set aside.

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  • Seed jalapenos and pulse them in a food processor until minced.  Add remaining ingredients, except for olive oil and pulse until if forms a paste. While running, pour in olive oil and pulse until combine. Spoon into a serving dish and set aside.

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  • Preheat oiled grill until smoking hot, about 550 degrees. Grill tofu in a single layer about 5 minutes per side.  Grill marks should be visible.

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  • Remove tofu to a serving platter and serve with jalapeno pesto.

Grilled Tofu with Jalapeno Pesto

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

 20160706_101511

1 cup cilantro or parsley
1 cup fresh basil leaves
1-2 jalapeno or red chili peppers
1 lemon, zest and juice
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup grated parmesan
1/2 cup pine nuts or pistachios

  •  Drain tofu and slice in half horizontally, then slice in half again, leaving 4 thick rectangular pieces.  You can cut those in half or leave as is.
  • Place tofu slices in a single layer on a double layer of paper towels. Cover with another double layer and place a heavy object on top to help press the water out of the tofu. Let sit for at least 10 minutes or more.
  • In a large ziplock bag, place olive oil, garlic and spices and shake to combine.
  • Carefully arrange tofu in a single layer to the bag, seal and allow marinade to cover all sides. Set aside.
  • Seed jalapenos and pulse them in a food processor until minced.  Add remaining ingredients, except for olive oil and pulse until if forms a paste. While running, pour in olive oil and pulse until combine.
  • Spoon into a serving dish and set aside.
  • Preheat oiled grill until smoking hot, about 550 degrees. Grill tofu in a single layer about 5 minutes per side.  Grill marks should be visible.
  • Remove tofu to a serving platter and serve with jalapeno pesto.

Meatless Monday – Asian Tofu Lettuce Wraps with Spicy Peanut Sauce

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THIS IS SERIOUSLY GOOD! Low Carbs + High Protein + Spicy Peanut Sauce = #NeedWeSayMore  My family loved this meal! In spite of their lukewarm (at best) love for tofu, they dug in to these wraps and came back for more. Everyone was really polite though and tried not to be the ‘One Who Ate the Last of the Tofu’.  Yes, you heard that right.  My meat loving family was close to fighting over who gets thirds and do we have to leave any for Mom for lunch tomorrow.  The answer to that is always “Yes”.

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The tofu and waterchestnut combination is really flavorful, picking up the garlic and ginger flavors, with the soy adding a pleasant saltiness (you know, umami).  I know people always say that various foods taste like chicken, but in this case, I would say it’s true.  The beauty of tofu is that it is so bland on it’s own that it picks up flavors very easily.  I wasn’t trying to make it taste like chicken but it certainly doesn’t look or taste like tofu, and the texture is really great.  I could eat it on it’s own or over rice with a fork, but when wrapped in a fresh lettuce leaf and topped with veggies, jalapenos and peanut sauce – yum!  I also like setting everything up as a ‘bar’ so that people can design their own plate.

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So what’s the deal with water chestnuts?  They are a staple in many Chinese dishes, and I have always thought of them as filler or meat extender, but are they good for you? It turns out, yes.  Water Chestnuts have zero fat and cholesterol and, at 60 calories per cup, are low in calories and sodium but they provide a wealth of nutrients for such an unassuming vegetable. They contain essential vitamins like Vitamin B-6 which supports healthy brain and immune system function, and thiamin and riboflavin which help your body convert food into energy. They are also a good source of potassium, copper and manganese.  As a bonus, water chestnuts  are a nonstarchy vegetable that helps keep you feeling full longer.  So combining a protein, like tofu, with chopped waterchestnuts goes way beyond increasing the quantity of food. It adds a pleasant texture, increases the nutritional value AND helps keep your belly full and happy.  You may see water chestnuts showing up in more recipes… You’ve been warned.

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TIPS:  I love homemade dressings and sauces.  This is a good homemade peanut sauce which is also fairly easy to make, however, there are many good brands of peanut sauce available in stores if you are pressed for time or you just can’t be bothered to make your own.  Peanut lovers can always add chopped peanuts as an additional topping. Sriracha is another good topping for those that like extra spicy food.  Don’t skip the step of pressing the water out of the tofu.  If the tofu is wet, the garlic and ginger flavors won’t be absorbed.  If you are in a rush, you can squeeze the tofu in several thicknesses of papertowels to get the excess water out.

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ASIAN TOFU LETTUCE WRAPS

1 block extra firm tofu
1 8 oz can waterchestnuts, drained and chopped
2 green onions (scallions)
1/2 cup fresh cilantro (or parsley), chopped
1 small cucumber
1 red bell pepper or carrot
1 head Bibb or red leaf lettuce
1 jalapeno pepper, diced (optional)
1 Tbsn sesame oil
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsn soy sauce (or gluten free liquid amino acids)
2 tsp fresh ginger, minced (or ginger paste)

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  • Crumble tofu and spread it in a single layer on several layers of paper towels and cover with additional paper towels. Let stand 15 or 20 minutes, pressing down occasionally to squeeze out excess water.

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  • Separate whole lettuce leaves and rinse each leaf under cold water, pat with papertowels and let dry.

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  • Slice red peppers, cucumber and green onion into a thin julienne using a grater, mandolin or food processor (or with an old fashioned knife)
  • Heat a large skillet or pan over medium-high heat. Add sesame oil to pan and swirl to coat. Add tofu crumbles, water chestnuts and garlic; sauté for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add soy sauce and ginger and sauté a few minutes. Taste and add more, if needed.  Remove from heat and set aside.
  • To serve, fill a lettuce leaf with a scoop of tofu mixture and top with veggies, cilantro and green onions, as desired, and drizzle with spicy peanut sauce.
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SPICY PEANUT SAUCE

1 tsp olive oil
1 small shallot, minced (or 1/4 onion)
1/2  cup water
3 Tbsn creamy peanut butter
1/2 tsp hoisin sauce (or more to taste)
1 tsp brown sugar (optional)
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (or more to taste)
1 Tbsn lime juice
1-2 tsp Sriracha Saucs (optional)

  • Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add shallot, and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add water, peanut butter, hoisin sauce, sugar and red pepper flakes and stir with a whisk. Bring to a boil; cook a minute or two. Taste and add more hoisin sauce, sugar or red pepper flakes, as desired. Remove from heat and let cool  for about 5 minutes.  Stir in lime juice and pour into a small serving bowl.

Asian Tofu Lettuce Wraps with Spicy Peanut Sauce

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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1 block extra firm tofu
1 8 oz can waterchestnuts, drained and chopped
2 green onions (scallions)
1/2 cup fresh cilantro (or parsley), chopped
1 small cucumber
1 red bell pepper or carrot
1 head Bibb or red leaf lettuce
1 jalapeno pepper, diced (optional)
1 Tbsn sesame oil
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsn soy sauce (or gluten free liquid amino acids)
1 tsp fresh ginger, minced (or ginger paste)

  • Crumble tofu and spread it in a single layer on several layers of paper towels and cover with additional paper towels. Let stand 20 minutes, pressing down occasionally.
  • Separate whole lettuce leaves and rinse each leaf under cold water, pat with papertowels and let dry.
  • Slice red peppers, cucumber and green onion into a thin julienne using a grater, mandolin or food processor (or with an old fashioned knife)
  • Heat a large skillet or pan over medium-high heat. Add sesame oil to pan and swirl to coat. Add tofu crumbles and garlic; sauté for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add soy sauce and ginger and sauté a few minutes. Taste and add more if needed. Remove from heat and set aside.
  • To serve, fill a lettuce leaf with a scoop of tofu mixture and top with veggies, cilantro and green onions, as desired, and drizzle with spicy peanut sauce.

SPICY PEANUT SAUCE

1 tsp olive oil
1 small shallot, minced (or 1/4 onion)
1/2  cup water
3 Tbsn creamy peanut butter
1/2 tsp hoisin sauce (or more to taste)
1 tsp brown sugar (optional)
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (or more to taste)
1 Tbsn lime juice
1-2 tsp Sriracha Sauce (optional)

  • Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add shallot, and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add water, peanut butter, hoisin sauce, sugar and red pepper flakes and stir with a whisk. Bring to a boil; cook a minute or two. Taste and add more hoisin sauce, sugar or red pepper flakes, as desired. Remove from heat and let cool  for about 5 minutes.  Stir in lime juice and pour into a small serving bowl.

 

Wheatless Wednesday – Ginger Miso Tofu Noodle Bowl

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The Japanese have known the health benefits of miso and scallions and have used miso soup to cure the common cold since ancient times, kind of like a vegetarian version of homemade chicken soup. We have all had miso soup in Japanese restaurants, that savory broth with tiny cubes of tofu and thinly sliced scallions  floating on top. Usually, in restaurants we consider it as a small starter before the main courses arrive but in Japan miso soup is a staple and eaten for breakfast and throughout the day loaded with eggs, fish and other garnishes.  So I figure that they must be onto a good thing and decided to create a miso soup that is simple to make but worthy of being a main course for lunch or dinner, and I came up with this Ginger Miso Tofu Noodle Bowl. For more on using miso soup to cure the common cold check out this article:  Miso Soup: An Ancient Remedy for the Common Cold by NJ Acupuncturist Robert Vena

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It is delicious and satisfying and can be made spicy or mild depending on tastes.  I simmered bok choy, carrots, snow peas and cubes of tofu in miso broth and then served them over rice noodles.  I offered a selection of garnishes which, in my opinion, really makes the dish.   Not surprisingly, everyone’s noodle bowl looked different.

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What is miso anyway?  Miso is a Japanese word that means “fermented beans”, which are almost always soybeans, although other grains can be added to achieve certain flavors, resulting in many different varieties of miso available.  I used a white miso, which is lighter in color and milder in flavor, however any kind of miso will work just as well.  Miso is a good source of fiber and protein and a great way to increase your nutrient intake while you think you are just adding flavor.  In fact, adding  two tablespoons of miso to a soup or stir-fry, is the equivalent of approximately one-quarter cup of a legume(like lentils).  Miso is also  a very good source of copper, manganese and a good source of vitamin K, zinc, phosphorus, and omega-3 fatty acids.  It also has naturally occurring pro-biotics, those beneficial bacteria that are so good for our bellies.

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TIPS:  Making miso broth is easy but you can also find miso broths already prepared or in dried form that are pretty tasty too.  When purchasing both tofu and miso, make sure they are labelled organic since a wide majority (90% in the U.S.) of soy based products are made from genetically modified soybeans, those dasterdly GMO’s which are to be avoided at all costs. Miso is generally simmered on medium or medium low to prevent the loss of nutrients, so don’t let your soup boil! One last tip, noodles tend to get soft and mushy if left sitting in broth, so add them to the broth just before serving.

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GINGER MISO TOFU NOODLE BOWL

8 oz medium width rice noodles (or soba)
3-4 Tbsn shiro miso (white fermented-soybean paste)
6 cups vegetable broth (or water)
1 tsp fresh ginger, minced (or ginger paste) or more to taste
1 lb extra firm organic tofu
2 carrots, roughly chopped or sliced
1 cup snowpeas
2 bok choy, sliced in half lengthwise

TOPPINGS (all optional)
3-4 scallions, sliced into rings
3-4 radishes, thinly sliced
1-2 red chili peppers(or sweet mini red peppers), thinly sliced into rings
2 Tbsn cilantro, roughly chopped

 

  • Place miso in a small bowl with hot water and stir until dissolved.

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  • Prepare noodles as directed, rinse with cold water and divide among four bowls

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  • Prepare all soup ingredients. Cut tofu into cubes and let drain on paper towels.

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  • Prepare all toppings.

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  • Pour miso and remaining vegetable broth into a stockpot or wide saucepan. On medium heat, simmer carrots for about a minute, then add bok choy, snowpeas and tofu and simmer about five minutes.  Don’t let it boil or some of the nutrients in the miso will be lost.

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  • Spoon vegetables between the four bowls and pour in the broth.

 

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  • Top with radishes, scallions, chili peppers and cilantro, as desired.  Sriracha is also a great spicy addition.

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Ginger Miso Tofu Noodle Bowl

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

 20160122_135925

8 oz medium width rice noodles (or soba)
3-4 Tbsn shiro miso (white fermented-soybean paste)
6 cups vegetable broth (or water)
1 tsp fresh ginger, minced (or ginger paste) or more to taste
1 lb extra firm organic tofu
2 carrots, roughly chopped
1 cup snowpeas
2 bok choy, sliced in half lengthwise

TOPPINGS (all optional)
3-4 scallions, sliced into rings
3-4 radishes, thinly sliced
1-2 red chili peppers(or sweet mini red peppers), thinly sliced into rings
2 Tbsn cilantro, roughly chopped

  • Place miso in a small bowl with hot water and stir until dissolved.
  • Cut tofu into cubes and let drain on paper towels.
  • Prepare noodles as directed, rinse with cold water and divide among four bowls
  • Prepare all soup ingredients and toppings.
  • Pour miso and remaining vegetable broth into a stockpot or wide saucepan.
  • On medium heat, simmer carrots for about a minute, then add bok choy, snowpeas and tofu and simmer about five minutes
  • Spoon vegetables between the four bowls and pour in the broth.
  • Top with radishes, scallions, chili peppers and cilantro, as desired.  Sriracha is also a great spicy addition.

Meatless Monday – Sesame Orange Tofu

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NEW YEAR, NEW YOU… START YOUR YEAR OFF RIGHT LIGHT!  I’m not talking about making major New Year’s Resolutions, just one small step to a healthier you (and planet Earth too).  How about joining the thousands of people in 36 countries around the world in the Global Meatless Monday Movement? It’s a very do-able goal (dare I say, trendy?) and you might actually like the results.  Here is a tasty recipe to get your new Meatless Monday tradition started in 2016; crispy and delicious Sesame Orange Tofu over a bowl of steaming brown Jasmine rice.  This sauce, which is savory but slightly sweet and slightly spicy, is so good, you will wonder why you ever thought you didn’t like tofu.  You won’t leave the table feeling deprived, for sure…

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I realize that not everyone is ready to give up eating meat, but how about just eating less?  YOU really can make a difference, definitely to our farm animals, but also to the planet we all share!  In his book In Defense of Food, journalist Michael Pollan coined the phrase “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” He has since cited Meatless Monday as a way to reach this goal. So in April 2009 Pollan expressed the need for Americans to reduce meat consumption: “even one meatless day a week—a Meatless Monday, which is what we do in our household—if everybody in America did that, that would be the equivalent of taking 20 million mid-size sedans off the road.”  Then, for all those people who try to make informed choices, Al Gore lists Meatless Monday as one of the Top 12 Things You Can Do Now for a better world. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meatless_Monday)  There are a lot of reasons to eat less meat; health, weight loss, saving the environment, compassion for other sentient beings…just pick one.  Regardless of your reason, take the pledge and give Meatless Monday a try this new year.

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TIPS:  An easy way to mince garlic and onions is to use a small kitchen grinder like this one from Hamilton Beach that I got for Christmas.  It makes mincing a breeze and clean up is easy since the parts all come apart. This dish is slightly spicy but if you want to turn up the heat, add more red chili flakes and/or Sriracha.  I tend to stay away from breaded foods, but if you love an extra crispy coating like that, try dredging the tofu in flour, then egg whites, then panko before frying.  I’ll bet it will pick up the sauce nicely.  Let me know if you try…

Recipe adapted from Crazy Vegan Kitchen

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SESAME ORANGE TOFU

  • 1 14 oz block organic extra firm tofu
  • 2 Tbsn olive, avocado or coconut oil (divided)
  • 1/2 red onion or large shallot, minced
  • 1 tsp garlic, minced
  • ½ red chilli, minced (or 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes)

Sesame Orange Sauce:

  • Zest and Juice of 1 large orange(1/3 – 1/2 cup)
  • 1 Tbsn Sriracha
  • 4 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 1½ tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsn white wine
  • ½ tsp white pepper
  • 4 tsp Tamari (or soy sauce)
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds
  • 2 scallions, sliced (optional garnish)

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  • Drain tofu and cut into four slices.  Place in a single layer on a kitchen towel or double layer of paper towels.  Cover with another towel or paper towels and place something heavy on top to help drain excess moisture.

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  • While tofu is draining, combine all ingredients for orange sauce and whisk to combine. Set aside.

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  • Cut tofu into 1/2 inch cubes.

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  • Heat 1 Tablespoon of oil in a pan and lightly sear your tofu on all sides to create a crispy crust. Don’t crowd.  Do in batches if necessary.

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  • Remove seared tofu from the pan and set aside.

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  • In a large pan, heat 1 tablespoon of oil and sautee garlic, onion and chillis for several minutes.  Pour in orange sauce and stir to combine.

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  • Once sauce thickens, add tofu and stir to coat pieces.

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  • Serve over brown jasmine rice and top with scallions.

Sesame Orange Tofu

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
20151227_183228

 SESAME ORANGE TOFU

  • 1 14 oz block organic extra firm tofu
  • 2 Tbsn olive, avocado or coconut oil (divided)
  • 1/2 red onion or large shallot, minced
  • 1 tsp garlic, minced
  • ½ red chilli, minced (or 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes)

Sesame Orange Sauce:

  • Zest and Juice of 1 large orange(1/3 –  1/2 cup)
  • 1 Tbsn Sriracha
  • 4 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 1½ tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsn white wine
  • ½ tsp white pepper
  • 4 tsp Tamari (or soy sauce)
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds
  • 2 scallions, sliced (optional garnish)
  1. Drain tofu and cut into four slices.  Place in a single layer on a kitchen towel or double layer of paper towels.  Cover with another towel or paper towels and place something heavy on top to help drain excess moisture.
  2. While tofu is draining, combine all ingredients for orange sauce and whisk to combine. Set aside.
  3. Heat 1 Tablespoon of oil in a pan and lightly sear your tofu on all sides to create a crispy crust. Don’t crowd.  Do in batches if necessary.
  4. Remove seared tofu from the pan and set aside.
  5. In a large pan, heat 1 tablespoon of oil and sautee garlic, onion and chillis for several minutes.
  6.  Pour in orange sauce and stir to combine.
  7. Once sauce thickens, add tofu and stir to coat pieces.
  8. Serve over brown jasmine rice and top with scallions.

 

 

 

Meatless Monday – Veggie Kabobs With Chili Cumin Oil

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Grilling is Fun!  That said, can we think outside the veggie burger?  If you are tired of ‘burgers’ and ‘dogs’ being the stars of the grill, rest assured that there are some tasty options available.  Veggie Kabobs are a colorful and tasty alternative that can be adapted to any tastes. I mean, who can resist corn wheels?  You can even set up a ‘Veggie Bar’ and let your guests design their own.  I opted to use sweet corn, summer squash and tomatoes which are still in season, and oh-so-good right now.  I also added potatoes and tofu to help add fullness to the meal and a bit of protein.   Other fun items to round out your skewers would be chunks of crusty sourdough bread, mushrooms, onions and peppers, or even fruit like peaches and mangos.  Don’t be shy.

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Each of these vegetables brings something different to the table in taste, texture and nutritional value, so a combination of ingredients assures a well rounded meal. I tested the recipe on all ingredients mentioned except for the red onion because I didn’t have one (darn!).  I was pleased that each one was enhanced by the chili, cumin marinade but held it’s own once grilled. Charred Grilled bread is surprisingly good (think pizza oven crust with it’s blackened bits) and its a great way to use up day old bread.  Best of all, I guarantee that your meat loving friends will be jealous…  One word of warning; I normally use bamboo skewers but decided to use the longer metal ones this time.  Well, this is probably obvious, but don’t try to turn them with your bare fingers.  You can get away with touching bamboo skewers but metal ones are bleeping hot.    I learned that lesson in a single distacted moment.  I’m holding a cold beverage to my left pointer and index fingers as I type, just FYI. Use tongs!

TIPS:  Make skewers ahead of time and let them rest in marinade until you’re ready to cook, even overnight.  If you have picky eaters (or people who always pick off ‘the good stuff’ and leave the rest) try making some corn, potato or tofu only skewers.  Pile onto a platter and serve.

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If veggie kabobs aren’t for you, check out the following recipes for other vegetarian grilling ideas.  Click on the links for the full recipes:

Grilled Avocado Caprese Salad10

Grilled Avocado Caprese Salad – https://goodmotherdiet.com/2014/07/30/wheatless-wednesday-grilled-avocado-caprese-salad/

 

 

VEGGIE KABOBS WITH CHILI CUMIN OIL

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Choose 5 or more of your favorite ingredients from the list below (or get creative):

8-10 baby (or 5 small potatoes)
2 ears of fresh corn
8-10 criminy mushrooms
1-2 red bell pepper (or 8-10 mini sweet peppers)
2  zucchini squash
2 summer squash
1 red onion
1 dozen cherry tomatoes
1 block extra firm tofu
several thick slices of crusty sourdough or ciabatta bread

MARINADE (If you are using more than five skewer ingredients, you may want to double the recipe)
*Use the larger amount of spice if you like extra flavor.

1/2 cup olive oil
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
1 lemon, zest and juice
1-2 tsp cumin
1-2 tsp chili powder
1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper  (Optional)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

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  • If using bamboo skewers, soak them in water for 2 hours prior to using to reduce charring.  Cut potatoes in half and parboil in salted water until fork tender but still firm (about 5-10 minutes). Let cool and place in a large bowl.

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  • If using tofu, drain and slice into cubes 1 -2 inches thick. (If you cut them too thin, they could fall off the skewer) Press them between double layers of papertowels to remove excess water.

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  • Shuck corn and cut into 1 or 2 inch wheels.

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  • Cut squash into 1 or 2 inch wheels. If using mini peppers, leave them whole.  If using bell peppers, cut them into quarters or eights. Wipe mushrooms with a damp paper towel and cut off any dry stems. Cut onion in half lengthwise and then into wedges, keeping stem end intact.

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  • Place all vegetables  in bowl with potatoes.  Do not add bread or tofu at this time.20150912_155007 - Copy
  • Combine all marinade ingredients in a small bowl and stir to combine.

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  • Place tofu in a small bowl or zip lock baggie and pour 1/4 cup of marinade over the top and gently stir to coat.  Set aside.

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  • Pour the rest of the marinade over vegetables. Let sit for at least 30 minutes or overnight in the refrigerator.

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  • Preheat an outdoor grill to medium heat. Cut bread into 1-2 inch chunks, if using. Brush lightly with marinade. Remove tofu and vegetables from the marinade, reserving marinade. Thread onto skewers.

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  • Cook skewers on grill until vegetables are lightly charred all over, about 10 minutes, basting with reserved marinade and turning occasionally.

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  • Remove skewers to a serving platter and spoon extra sauce over the top.

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Veggie Kabobs With Chili Cumin Oil

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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Choose 5 or more of your favorite ingredients from the list below (or get creative):

1 lb baby or small potatoes (about a dozen)
2-3 ears of fresh corn
8 oz criminy mushrooms
1-2 red bell pepper or mini sweet peppers
1 large or 2 small zucchini squash
1 large or 2 small summer squash
1 red onion
1 dozen cherry tomatoes
1 block extra firm tofu
several thick slices of crusty sourdough bread

MARINADE (If you are using more than five skewer ingredients, you may want to double the recipe)

*Use the larger amount of spice if you like extra flavor.

1/2 cup olive oil
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
1 lemon, zest and juice
1-2 tsp cumin*
1-2 tsp chili powder*
1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper * (Optional)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

  • If using bamboo skewers, soak them in water for 2 hours prior to using to reduce charring.
  • Cut potatoes in half and parboil in salted water until fork tender but still firm (about 5-10 minutes). Let cool and place in a large bowl.
  • If using tofu, drain and slice into cubes 1 -2 inches thick. (If you cut them too thin, they could fall off the skewer)
  • Shuck corn and cut into 1 or 2 inch wheels.
  • Cut squash into 1 or 2 inch wheels
  • If using mini peppers, leave them whole.  If using bell peppers, cut them into quarters or eights.
  • Wipe mushrooms with a damp paper towel and cut off any dry stems.
  • Cut onion in half lengthwise and then into wedges, keeping stem end intact.
  • Place all vegetables in bowl with potatoes.  Do not add bread at this time.
  • Combine all marinade ingredients and stir to combine.
  • Place tofu in a small bowl or zip lock baggie and pour 1/4 cup of marinade over the top and gently stir to coat.  Set aside.
  • Pour the rest of the marinade over vegetables. Let sit for at least 30 minutes or overnight in the refrigerator.
  • Preheat an outdoor grill to medium heat. Cut bread into 1-2 inch chunks, if using. Brush lightly with marinade
  • Remove tofu and vegetables from the marinade, reserving marinade. Thread onto skewers.
  • Cook skewers on grill until vegetables are lightly charred all over, about 10 minutes, basting with reserved marinade and turning occasionally.
  • Remove skewers to a serving platter and spoon sauce over the top.

 

Wheatless Wednesday – Tofu ‘Steaks’ with Chimichurri Sauce

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Is there a place where meat lovers and vegans can co-exist in happiness?  I think I’ve found the holy grail!  Here is a  ‘steak’ a meat lover will find tasty and satisfying while a vegetarian will be in raptures…  Each tofu steak is a hefty seven ounces and my meat loving husband devoured his (I’m talking a full member of the clean plate club) and went back for seconds.  Furthermore, when my 20 year old son walked into the kitchen, he said “It smells so good in here!”  Winning!  The tofu is first brushed with a spicy and savory marinade and then pan seared and topped with a fresh and zesty chimichurri sauce, a South and Latin American condiment that is loaded with chili peppers, fresh herbs and garlic.  I also sauteed broccolini and topped that with a bit of chimichurri for added punch.  Trust me, chimichurri is good on almost anything and it can be made spicy or mild depending on your taste.  No wonder it’s so popular.  Originating in Argentina, it is commonly used to top grilled steak, which is one reason it’s so good on this dish.  Long grained brown basmati rice served as a nice base but these tofu steaks would also be great in a sandwich with crusty bread, some fresh greens and, of course, chimichurri.  I  will definitely be making this again!

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Even though the tofu should be allowed to drain for about 10 minutes, this recipe still takes less than 30 minutes.  Just slice the tofu and let it drain.  While it’s draining, prepare the chimichurri sauce and the marinade.  Brush the tofu with the marinade and let sit while you prepare the rice or other veggies you’re serving.  The tofu only takes about 6 minutes to cook.  Easy, fast, delicious!

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TIPS:  I made dinner for two using one block of extra firm tofu but I knew I had a hearty appetite to consider (my husband), however, you can cut the block into fourths OR buy two blocks.  I loved the thickness (about one inch) of the steaks and my husband loved the size (7 oz each).  Tofu is normally cut into thinner slices or cubes so this is a nice difference. The outside was so flavorful and the inside had a wonderful consistency that you don’t get with thinner pieces.  If you cut one block into fourths, stand the tofu on an end and slice lengthwise through the narrow side into 1 inch thick halves.  Then cut each half in half crosswise, resulting in four smaller one inch thick 3.5 oz. rectangles. (That is the size of my serving).

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TOFU ‘STEAKS’ WITH CHIMICHURRI SAUCE

15 – 16 oz extra firm tofu
1/4 cup avocado oil (or other high heat oil)
1 bunch broccolini(optional)
1 cup brown rice (optional)

Tofu Marinade:
2 Tbsn olive oil
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Chimichurri Sauce:
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (or red wine vinegar)
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup fresh oregano, finely chopped
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1 fresh red chili pepper, seeded and minced (or 1 tsp dried hot pepper flakes-or both)

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  •  Drain tofu and stand it on it’s end and cut in half vertically on the narrow side so you end up with two wide one inch slices.  Place tofu on double thick paper towels and top with another paper towel and place something heavy (like a cast iron pan) on top to help press out the water.  Let sit at least 10 minutes. Tofu can be cut into 7 oz or 3/5 oz ‘steaks’.  See TIPS.

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  • Mix all Chimichurri ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.

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  • Combine tofu marinade ingredients and brush them onto tofu covering top, bottom and all sides.  Marinade should be fairly thick and pasty. Set aside.

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  • If you are serving with rice, get it started.  If you are preparing a vegetable, like baby broccolini, heat 2-3 tablespoons olive oil in a heavy skillet and saute broccolini with some chopped garlic, 8 to 10 minutes.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Remove from pan and tent with foil or cover and use a new pan for the tofu.

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  • Add more oil to the pan if necessary, or use a grill pan or grill, and heat on medium high until almost smoking.  Add tofu and cook 3-4 minutes until golden brown. Turn and cook the other side another 3-4 minutes.

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  • Serve with a big spoonful of chimichurri sauce.

Tofu Steaks with Chimichurri Sauce

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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15 – 16 oz extra firm tofu
1/4 cup avocado oil (or other high heat oil)
1 bunch broccolini(optional)
1 cup brown rice (optional)

Tofu Marinade:
2 Tbsn olive oil
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Chimichurri Sauce:
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (or red wine vinegar)
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup fresh oregano, finely chopped
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1 fresh red chili pepper, seeded and minced (or 1 tsp dried hot pepper flakes-or both)

  •  Drain tofu and stand it on it’s end and cut in half vertically on the narrow side so you end up with two wide one inch slices.  Place tofu on double thick paper towels and top with another paper towel and place something heavy (like a cast iron pan) on top to help press out the water.  Let sit at least 10 minutes.  Tofu can be cut into 7 oz or 3/5 oz ‘steaks’.  See TIPS.
  • Mix all Chimichurri ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.
  • Combine tofu marinade ingredients and brush them onto tofu covering top, bottom and all sides.  Set aside
  • If you are serving with rice, get it started.  If you are preparing a vegetable, like baby broccolini, heat 2-3 tablespoons olive oil in a heavy skillet and saute broccolini with some chopped garlic, 8 to 10 minutes.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Remove from pan and tent with foil or cover and use a new pan for the tofu.
  • Add more oil to the pan if necessary, or use a grill pan or grill, and heat on medium high until almost smoking.  Add tofu and cook 3-4 minutes until golden brown.
  • Turn and cook the other side another 3-4 minutes.
  • Serve with a big spoonful of chimichurri sauce.

 

 

Meatless Monday – Spicy Sesame Tofu, Broccoli and Mushrooms

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Winner Winner Tofu Dinner!  Yep, it’s Meatless Monday and we’re going vegan, green and spicy!  As they say, we’ve come a long way, baby!  When my three boys were little it was hard to get them to eat their veggies, (salads, forget it!) except for frozen peas and broccoli.  When I say frozen peas, I mean they liked them best still frozen like little icy pieces of green goodness.  That was a favorite snack for them to nibble on when they were in their high chairs waiting for me to make the rest of their dinner.  They were so cute, curling their fat little fingers around the tiny peas that would roll around on the tray…And trust me, it couldn’t be easier!  Broccoli was also a winner but only acceptable if  steamed and served with a mini dish of soy sauce for dipping.  Done and done!  Now that my youngest is 20, it’s no surprise that we have moved beyond frozen peas and plain veggies. My sons also eat (and enjoy) salads at dinnertime.  Will wonders never cease!  Those of you parents whose kids aren’t there yet, have faith.  It will happen… Meanwhile, frozen peas.

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Well this Broccoli Tofu dish is like a grown up version of the kiddie broccoli dipped in soy sauce, with a lot more flavor and a definite kick.  The tofu provides ample protein, just make sure you buy organic, non-GMO tofu.  Broccoli is rich in fiber and a great source of vitamin C (one cup of cooked broccoli provides as much as an orange) and a host of other essential vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients.  Mushrooms are not only delicious, they are the only fruit or vegetable that naturally provides Vitamin D.  They are also a good source of B vitamins, iron and antioxidants.  So tossed together in one meal, this trio is a nutritional powerhouse.  And sesame seeds they’re not just a decoration. They are rich in protein, vitamins and minerals.  Did I mention the sauce is so tasty, you’ll consider licking your plate?

TIPS:  I have not mastered the art of wok cooking and timing each vegetable to be done at the same time by pushing the veggies up the side, as the darned things always fall back into the center. I actually use a cast iron pan instead of a wok and I prefer to cook each vegetable separately and then toss them all together at the end with a tasty sauce.  If you are better with a wok, feel free to attempt the precision timing thing and disregard the following instructions, however for those that are wok-challenged like me, I swear by my approach.  For added flavor (and pizazz) try using both white and black sesame seeds. The sauce can be adjusted for spiciness by adding more or less red pepper flakes.

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SPICY SESAME TOFU, BROCCOLI AND MUSHROOMS

1 block extra firm tofu (organic)
1 small bunch broccoli
6-8 mushrooms (any kind – criminy, shitake, etc)
1/4 cup avocado, coconut or other high heat oil
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 scallion, thinly sliced
2 tsp toasted sesame seeds (or 1 1/2 tsp white and 1/2 tsp black)
2 Tbsn soy sauce
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp red pepper flakes (more or less to taste)
1 tsp sugar or honey

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  • Remove tofu from container and cut into equal thickness slices, then cut each slice in half and then half again.  Place on papertowels in a single layer, put another layer of papertowels on top and  place a heavy pan on top to press out the water.  Let sit at least 10 minutes.

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  • Combine garlic, scallion, sesame seeds, soy sauce, sesame oil, red pepper flakes and sugar together in a small bowl and set aside.

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  • Cut broccoli into florets.

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  •  If your broccoli has nice thick stems, peel and slice them and cut to similar size as florets

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  • Wipe mushrooms with a damp papertowel and slice.

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  • Heat half of oil in a heavy pan or wok and cook tofu on medium high heat until golden on all four sides.  Remove tofu to a plate and set aside.

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  • Add a bit more oil and saute broccoli on medium heat about 5 minutes or until softened but still bright green.  If the pan gets too dry add water not more oil.  Remove from pan and set aside.

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  • Add last bit of oil to pan and saute mushrooms until they lose their water.

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  • Put broccoli back in with mushrooms and toss to combine. Check broccoli for doneness (to your liking)

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  • Add tofu back into the pan. Pour sauce over the top and gently toss.  Serve over rice, if desired.

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Spicy Sesame Tofu, Broccoli and Mushrooms

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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1 block extra firm tofu (organic)
1 bunch broccoli
8-10 mushrooms (any kind – criminy, shitake, etc)
1/4 cup avocado, coconut or other high heat oil
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 scallion, thinly sliced
2 tsp toasted sesame seeds (or 1 1/2 tsp white and 1/2 tsp black)
2 Tbsn soy sauce
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp red pepper flakes (more or less to taste)
1 tsp sugar or honey

  • Remove tofu from container and cut into equal thickness slices, then cut each slice in half and then half again.  Place on papertowels in a single layer, put another layer of papertowels on top and  place a heavy pan on top to press out the water.  Let sit at least 10 minutes.
  • Combine garlic, scallion, sesame seeds, soy sauce, sesame oil, red pepper flakes and sugar together in a small bowl and set aside.
  • Cut broccoli into florets.  If your broccoli has nice thick stems, peel and slice them and cut to similar size as florets
  • Wipe mushrooms with a damp papertowel and slice.
  • Heat half of oil in a heavy pan or wok and cook tofu on medium high heat until golden on all four sides.  Remove tofu to a plate and set aside.
  • Add a bit more oil and saute broccoli on medium heat about 5 minutes or until softened but still bright green.  If the pan gets too dry add water not more oil.  Remove from pan and set aside.
  • Add last bit of oil to pan and saute mushrooms until they lose their water.
  • Put broccoli back in with mushrooms and toss to combine. Check broccoli for doneness (to your liking)
  • Add tofu and gently combine.
  • Pour sauce over the top and gently toss.
  • Serve over rice, if desired.

Meatless Monday – Spicy Tofu with Sauteed Greens

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Spicy Tofu

Calling all tofu lovers! This one is for you… Even if you’re not a big fan of tofu, this might change your mind. The tofu is crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside, nestling in a bed of gingery greens and topped with a spicy Asian chili sauce. Yum!   I’m still making my way through my CSA box which is proving to be a fun ‘job’.  I wanted to use the beautiful bok choy as well as the gorgeous beet greens that I clipped off of the beets I roasted for yesterday’s salad.  When you buy beets with the greens, it’s kind of like getting two for one (or eating your cake and having it too!). Beet greens are delicious and full of precious vitamins so don’t throw them away! Use the beets for one dish and the beet greens in another.  If you are interested in roasting beets check out this recipe for Roasted Beet Salad with Ripe Peaches and Goat Cheese which gives easy directions for roasting beets.  The salad can be seasonally adjusted or to suite your tastes.

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I remembered making a really delicious Crispy Glazed Tofu and Bok Choy that I was tempted to make again because everyone liked it so much, but in the theme of New Year/New Ideas decided to give it a bit of a makeover using what I have on hand.  My favorite way to cook  =  a little bit from memory + fresh veggies available + pantry magic + weather outside.  I actually think looking out my window determines a lot about what I decide to make for dinner.  These days I’m craving warm, spicy and comfort foods because it’s so chilly outside.  Soon enough, I will be yearning for cooling salads and refreshing drinks on the patio.

TIPS:  If you don’t have beet greens handy, or you don’t like beets, substitute any somewhat bitter green like mustard, kale, chard or collards.  The length of cooking time will be determined by the coarseness of the greens.  Broccolini is a great substitute for bok choy, just check for doneness by slicing a bit of stem off one end to taste before removing from the pan. I like to make my own sauces but it’s not really necessary, as there are really good ones available. The one below uses an Asian Chili Paste, garlic and ginger which I was really happy with but you can play around with what is available in your pantry.

Spicy Tofu

SPICY TOFU WITH SAUTEED GREENS

1 pound firm tofu
3-4 baby bok choy or small bunch baby broccolini
1 bunch bitter greens (like beet greens, chard, kale, collard or mustard)
2-3 Tbsn high heat oil (like avocado or coconut)
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp minced fresh ginger
1/4 cup water
3 scallions, finely chopped
1 Tbsn sesame seeds

SPICY CHILI SAUCE
1 Tbsn Asian chili paste
1 Tbsn fresh ginger, minced (or fresh ginger paste)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

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  • Drain the tofu and slice into 6 rectangles. Then cut each rectangle at a diagonal into 2 triangles. Place in a single layer on a layer of paper towels.  Cover with more papertowels and place a heavy pan on top to press out the water.  Let stand for at least 10 minutes.

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  • Combine sauce ingredients in a small saucepan (except red pepper flakes) and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and let simmer for 3 or 4 minutes or until slightly thickened. Taste for spiciness and add red pepper flakes and a pinch of salt, if desired. Turn off heat and set aside.

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  • Dry toast the sesame seeds (if desired) in a small pan over medium heat for several minutes until golden.  Set aside.

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  • Slice bok choy lengthwise into quarters and rinse.  If using broccolini, just trim the ends and leave whole.

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  • Cut greens into 2 inch strips, keeping any rough stems separate.

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  • Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil and one third of the garlic and ginger over medium heat in a large, heavy nonstick skillet or wok, and saute the greens stems  for several minutes before adding the leaves. Saute until softened but still al dente. Transfer to a serving platter.

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  • Add a bit more oil, if needed, plus a third of the garlic and ginger and the water and saute the bok choy until softened and all the water has evaporated.  Transfer to serving platter.

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  • Add remaining oil to the pan and  increase the heat to medium high and fry the tofu until lightly colored. Flip to brown the other side. Transfer to platter with the greens.

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  • Reheat the sauce and drizzle over the tofu and greens.  Sprinkle with scallions and sesame seeds.

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Spicy Tofu with Sauteed Greens

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Spicy Tofu

1 pound firm tofu
3-4 baby bok choy or small bunch baby broccolini
1 bunch bitter greens (like beet greens, chard, kale or mustard)
2-3 Tbsn high heat oil (like avocado or coconut)
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp minced fresh ginger
1/4 cup water
3 scallions, finely chopped
1 Tbsn sesame seeds

SPICY CHILI SAUCE
1 Tbsn Asian chili paste
1 Tbsn fresh ginger, minced (or fresh ginger paste)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsn soy sauce
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

  • Drain the tofu and slice into 6 rectangles. Then cut each rectangle at a diagonal into 2 triangles. Place in a single layer on a layer of paper towels.  Cover with more papertowels and place a heavy pan on top to press out the water.  Let stand for at least 10 minutes.
  • Combine sauce ingredients (except for red pepper flakes) in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and let simmer for 3 or 4 minutes or until slightly thickened. Taste for spiciness and add red pepper flakes and a pinch of salt, if desired. Turn off heat and set aside.
  • Dry toast the sesame seeds (if desired) in a small pan over medium heat for several minutes until golden.  Set aside.
  • Slice bok choy lengthwise into quarters and rinse.  If using broccolini, just trim the ends and leave whole.
  • Cut greens into 2 inch strips, keeping  rough stems separate.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil and one third of the garlic and ginger over medium heat in a large, heavy nonstick skillet or wok, and saute the greens stems  for several minutes before adding the leaves. Saute until softened but still al dente. Transfer to a serving platter.
  • Add a bit more oil, if needed, plus a third of the garlic and ginger and the water and saute the bok choy until softened and all the water has evaporated.  Transfer to serving platter.
  • Add remaining oil to the pan and  increase the heat to medium high and fry the tofu until lightly colored. Flip to brown the other side. Transfer to platter with the greens.
  • Reheat the sauce and drizzle over the tofu and greens.  Sprinkle with scallions and sesame seeds.

 

Meatless Monday – Chili Lime Grilled Tofu with Avocado &Mango Salsa

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Chili Lime Grilled Tofu is my favorite tofu recipe so far.  It’s taken a few tries but I have finally nailed it. I made this last week and thought it needed something, so this time I topped it with an Avocado Mango salsa with red onions, lime and jalapenos which is a great combination of sweet, savory and spicy.   I also let the tofu marinate overnight which allows the flavors of the marinade to be fully absorbed before cooking.  I just served this dinner to my new future daughter in law (I love saying that) and one of my sons, who I thought wouldn’t even try tofu. Much to my surprise the tofu was a big hit.  I’m just happy there is a bit left for lunch tomorrow…

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The Avocado Mango Salsa is a delight of flavors and would also be great on top of grilled or roasted fish or chicken. I know you’ve heard that Avocados are nutrient dense and a healthy fat but did you know that they also act as a ‘nutrient booster’ by helping the body absorb the nutrients from foods eaten along with it?  Furthermore, Mango is so nutritionally rich it is considered the “King of Fruit”.   Lastly,  Jalapeno Peppers add more than just spice. They are high in nutrients that may help you boost weight loss efforts, improve immunity, promote heart health and fight free radicals from environmental and dietary pollutants.  This recipe calls for one jalapeno pepper without the seeds.  If you like spicy, add another jalapeno or include the seeds, but beware, the seeds are really hot.  If you don’t like spicy, don’t use the jalapeno.  So feel free to load up on this salsa.  It might be the best thing you’ve done for your body today!

TIP:  I served this tofu with brown basmati rice which I cooked in vegetable broth.  A great way to add more flavor to rice is to add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon ginger paste or a one inch piece of peeled ginger root to the broth while cooking.  Just remove the root before serving.

For other tofu recipes, check out:

Crispy Glazed Tofu and Bok Choy

Tofu and Bok Choy1

Green Curry Tofu

Thai Green Curry Tofu

 

Chili Lime Grilled Tofu with Avocado Mango Salsa

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Chili Lime Tofu15
TOFU:
1 (14 ounce) package extra firm tofu
1/4 cup lime juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
5 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
salt and black pepper to taste

SALSA:
1 avocado, diced
1/2 cup mango, diced
1/4 cup red onion, minced
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced (optional)
1 Tbsn lime juice (or more to taste)
1 Tbsn cilantro, chopped
1-2 Tbsn olive or avocado oil
1/2 tsp salt (optional)
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  • Slice the tofu in 1/2 inch slices and place on double papertowels.  You can leave them rectangular or cut into triangle shapes.

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  • Cover with papertowels and put a heavy pan on top to help press out excess water. Should take 20 to 30 minutes.  Don’t skip this step or the tofu won’t absorb the marinade.

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  • Combine all other ingredients and marinate tofu in the refrigerator several hours or overnight.

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  • To make the salsa, slice the mango about a third of the way (avoiding the rather large pit inside).

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  • Using a sharp knife, cut rows horizontally through the flesh but not all the way through the skin.

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  • Turn mango and cut crosswise

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  • Flip the mango slice inside out and slice off chunks.  Place in a bowl.

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  • Cut avocado in half, pit and dice.  Place into bowl with mango.

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  • Using gloves or a papertowel to protect your hands from the pepper oils, seed and mince the jalapeno.  Add to mango mixture.

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  • Chop red onion and add to bowl.

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  • Add chopped cilantro, lime juice and salt.  Gently combine and set aside.

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  • Brush or spray oil on the grill and let it preheat.  Grill tofu several minutes until you see nice grill marks.  Turn and grill the other side.  Remove to a serving platter or individual plates.

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  • Top with salsa mixture.

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  • Serve with rice or some other grain for a well rounded meal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Meatless Monday – Roasted Tofu with Miso Glaze and Black Barley, Fennel & Radish Salad

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    Game of Thrones Season Finale meets Father’s Day meets GoodMotherDiet!  So the long anticipated Game of Thrones Season Finale happened to fall on Father’s Day (No spoilers for those that haven’t seen it yet, except to say that the show did have an interesting Father’s Day theme). In order to honor both of these important events, we decided to create a feast that was Father’s Day worthy as well as authentic to GoT. We were even lucky enough to have “Daenerys, The Mother of Dragons” show up for dinner.

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    For inspiration I went, of course, to the Game of Thrones Food Blog (Yes, there really is such a thing!)  to find many dishes shown, discussed or inspired by the show or books.  As you might expect, much of the food is heavy with meat and not on the Goodmotherdiet,  so my son, Eric, is cooking a more authentic GoT menu including miniature pork pies and leg of lamb.  For the non meat eaters, I thought to attempt a Game of Thrones imagined meal, or rather what would they do with tofu if they had it.

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    I marinated extra firm  tofu in a thick and flavorful sauce overnight and then broiled it on high heat.  I paired it with black barley which was widely consumed in Medieval times, (more on that if you’re interested in the history of medieval barley in my Mushroom Barley Soup Blog Post). We know that GoT is not really set in Medieval times, nor is it even set on this planet or in any time but it seems most similar to Medieval times than any other. In preparing the barley, I tried a recipe for Black Barley, Fennel and Radish Salad from Bon Appetite.  This is a large and hearty salad. Next time I make it I will half the amount of barley (1 cup).  Black Barley is a substantial grain, chewy and flavorful but pearl barley, which is lighter and softer, can be substituted.

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    Roasted Tofu with Miso Glaze

    • Servings: 6
    • Difficulty: easy
    • Print

    2 containers extra firm, organic tofu
    1/4 cup Miso paste
    1/4 cup Mirin (or Rice Wine Vinegar with a bit of sugar or honey added)
    1/8 cup soy sauce (wheat free if necessary)
    1/8 cup water (if needed to mix the paste in)
    1/2 tsp salt
    1/2 tsp sugar
    1 Tbsn fresh ginger
    1/8 tsp chili powder
    1/8 tsp red pepper flakes (or more to taste)
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    • Drain tofu and slice lengthwise into 1 inch rectangles.  Cover with papertowels and place a heavy object on top to help press out the liquid. Let drain 10 minutes or so.
    • Put tofu in a zip lock bag or container with a lid.

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    • Combine all other ingredients and pour over tofu, making sure to coat all sides of every piece.  Refrigerate several hours or overnight.

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    • Place marinated tofu  in a single layer on an oiled baking sheet and broil 5 – 10 minutes, or until browned.  Turn and broil the other side
    • Serve hot or room temperature
     
     

    Black Barley, Fennel and Radish Salad

    • Servings: 8
    • Difficulty: easy
    • Print

    Tofu and Barley4

    2 cups black or pearl barley, rinsed
    Kosher salt
    1 large  or several small fennel bulbs (about 10 ounces), 2 tablespoons fronds set aside, bulb cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch slices
    2 tablespoons plus 1/2 cup olive oil
    Freshly ground black pepper
    1/3 cup fresh orange juice
    1/4 cup fresh lime juice
    1 small shallot, minced
    2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill plus 1/2 cup dills prigs, divided
    1 teaspoon finely grated orange zes4 large radishes, thinly sliced, divided
    1/4 cup oil-cured olives, pitted, halved lengthwise(optional)
    • Place barley in a medium pot and add water to cover by 1 1/2 inches. Season with salt. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer uncovered until barley is tender and water is absorbed. Depending on the type of barley and your taste preferences, this can take anywhere from 45 minutes to a couple of hours.  Add water if necessary. Spread out barley on a large rimmed baking sheet; let cool.
    • While barley is cooking, toss fennel slices and 2 Tbsp. oil in a medium bowl to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Spread fennel slices out in a single layer on another rimmed baking sheet. Roast until fennel is crisp-tender and beginning to brown in spots, about 18 minutes. Let fennel cool on baking sheet.
    • Whisk orange juice, lime juice, shallot, 2 Tbsp. dill, and zest in a medium bowl. Gradually whisk in remaining 1/2 cup oil; season orange vinaigrette with salt and pepper.
    • Transfer barley to a large bowl; add roasted fennel, along with any accumulated juices on baking sheet. Add half of radishes, olives, and 1/4 cup dill sprigs. Drizzle 1/2 cup orange vinaigrette over and toss to coat; season with salt and pepper. Arrange salad on a large platter.
    • Scatter remaining radishes, reserved fennel fronds, and remaining 1/4 cup dill sprigs over salad. Pass remaining orange vinaigrette alongside for drizzling over.

    TIPS:  You can halve the amount of barley for a lighter, smaller dish with more veggies and flavor.  You can also substitute pearl barley if you can’t find black barley or you prefer a softer dish.  If you don’t have dill, the fennel fronds make a good substitute.  Enjoy!