Week One: Changing Vegan Perspectives
Original vegan: Vegan meals that aren’t trying to replicate meat/omni ingredients.
I just love this prompt. My tastes tend to be cyclical; I’ll go through periods where I’m all about veg meats and cheeses, then longer stretches of time when I eschew those in favor of more whole foods. While I mused on this prompt, my mind immediately went to elevated dishes involving unusual takes on typical veg ingredients. Curried kasha, cooked in coconut milk and spices?! An elaborate pasta dish with plenty of roasted tomatoes from my still-abundant garden?!
…but then I took a step back and realized this is the perfect opportunity to highlight a super easy, nourishing, healthy veggie meal. The kind that, truth be told, I rely on most weeknights. Especially this time of year, when it’s getting a little chillier out and I don’t mind turning on the oven, I love featuring roasted veggies in my dinners. It’s not unusual for Steven and I to sit down with a bowl of two or three roasted veggies, maybe a grain, and some tofu or beans for protein. Meals don’t need to be a single cohesive dish to be satisfying; sometimes a bowl with a few simple yet tasty components can be remarkably satisfying.
So I present to you a vegan dinner that is simple, satisfying, terribly healthy, and quite affordable. It lends itself well to scaling up or down, depending on how many diners you’re serving, and can be augmented with additional roasted veggies depending on what you have wilting in your crisper at the moment. I used delicata squash (the first of the season!), spicy marinated tofu, and steamed kale. Roasted sweet potato would also be lovely here. You can swap out the garam masala (which I’ve used on my delicata rings) for another spice blend of choice, but I like the way the sweet spices works with the kickier harissa-spiced tofu. You could certainly fancy this up with a sauce, but I kind of like the simplicity of enjoying each element’s individual flavors. (Pardon my rough recipe; this is not a meal that requires precise measurements! And pardon the rough phone photo; I was hungry!)
Simple Veggie-full Dinner Bowl
1 lb extra-firm tofu, pressed
1-3 tablespoons Harissa paste, to taste
~1 tsp garlic powder
1 delicata squash
Vegetable or olive oil
1-2 tablespoons garam masala
Dash salt (optional)
3-4 roughly chopped handfuls curly kale
Lemon juice (optional)
Preheat oven to 400˚F.
First, prepare the pressed tofu by slicing it into ~1” cubes. Toss it with harissa paste and garlic powder and set aside to marinate.
Trim the ends off the delicata, then slice it in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and stringy bits, then cut each half into ~3/4” half-moon slices (see photo above). Toss with a little oil, garam masala, and salt, if using. Spread onto a baking sheet and pop in the oven, setting the timer for ~15 minutes. (Note: You can flip your rounds at some point to ensure even cooking, but I don’t always do that. #lazy)
When the squash rounds are nearly done (at about 15 minutes), heat a little vegetable oil in a cast-iron skillet or other nonstick pan. Add the tofu cubes to the skillet and cook on medium heat, flipping occasionally, to brown them slightly. When they’re about done and the squash is fork-tender, start boiling water for the kale.
Remove squash from oven and let cool slightly while you steam the kale for ~3 minutes, until bright green and tender but not overdone. You can drizzle the kale with lemon juice at this point if you’d like.
Add a good portion of each component to your bowl and enjoy!
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