Casseroles, tacos and spaghetti are still great staples for feeding a family, but one week you'll be desperate for something different. Here are two great vegetarian dishes to feed you family--or in my case, my single self and three hungry, willing friends.
It's always smart to do two recipes in the same week that require at least one of the same ingredients. In this case, it's brown rice. Cooking rice takes a bit of time, so if you only have to do it once and you can make two meals with it, then that's one less thing to think about.
Many people are either afraid of tofu or have tried it once and didn't like it. Tofu can be prepared in many, many ways, and not all of them will appeal to you. It comes in a different consistencies and can be used in anything from smoothies to faux egg salad to a dish like this. I've had bad tofu dishes and good ones. I find the easiest way to experiment with food is to try a bite of someone else's dish when you're at a restaurant. I'm not a big fan of mushrooms, but I have found many dishes that have changed my mind. I don't always like to be the guinea pig, so when my friends order a mushroom dish, I take a bite.
This tofu dish was a huge hit. The sauce of this dish is like something straight out of a fine dining Asian restaurant and the tofu was perfectly crisp and firm. The second time I made this dish, I adjusted the original recipe and what you see in the photo. The black pepper that was originally added to the sauce is better showcased if the tofu is rolled in it before being fried.
Black Pepper Tofu
Adapted from the book Plenty: Vibrant Recipes from London's Ottolenghi by Yotam Ottolenghi
4 cups cooked brown rice
2 packages extra firm tofu (I like Trader Joe's tofu)
vegetable oil for frying (about 3 cups)
1/4 cup cornstarch
6 tblsp butter
4 small shallots, thinly sliced
3 fresh red chiles, thinly sliced
6 garlic cloves, crushed
1 1/2 tblsp chopped fresh ginger
6 tblsp sweet soy sauce
1 tblsp sugar
2 1/2 tblsp coarsely crushed black peppercorns
2-3 green onions, diced, green part only
Pour enough oil into a large frying pan, wok or electric skillet to come 1/4 inch up the sides and heat. Mix together the cornstarch and black pepper. Cut the tofu into large cubes, about 1x1 inch. Toss tofu in the cornstarch and shake off the excess, then add to the hot oil. You'll need to fry the tofu in a few batches so they don't stew in the pan. Fry, turning them around as you go, until they are golden all over and have a thin crust. As they are cooked, transfer them onto paper towels to remove excess oil.
Remove the oil and any sediment from the pan, then put the butter inside and melt it. Add the shallots, chiles, garlic, and ginger. Saute on low to medium heat for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the ingredients have turned shiny and are totally soft. Net, add the soy sauce, green onions and sugar and stir. Serve hot, with steamed brown rice. Serves four.
Greens with Carrots, Feta Cheese and Brown Rice
From Whole Foods
4 cups cooked brown rice
2 carrots, shredded
2 bunches dark leafy greens (kale, collard greens or Swiss chard), tough stems removed, leaves very thinly sliced
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
2 tblsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 pound feta cheese, crumbled
fresh lemon, to taste
Put carrots, greens, onions, 1/4 cup water, salt and pepper into a large, deep skillet and toss well. Cover and cook over medium heat, stirring once or twice, until greens are wilted and tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Toss with feta cheese and lemon juice and spoon over brown rice. Serve with lemon wedges. Serves 4.
The great thing about this recipe is it is so easily adapted to what you have on hand. Use any cooking greens you like, you could add tomatoes, turnips, radishes...just like a casserole, anything goes. Pull from what you have and presto, dinner.