Garden-Fresh Green Beans and Garlicky Tofu | VeganMoFo 2019 Day Seven

After work today, I opened the front door to head into the garden and found myself face to face with a hummingbird. Well — practically face to face. We were maybe four feet apart, and it was magical. There were two of them at first, flitting around one another, but one flew off as soon as I stepped out. The other remained for a good five seconds, seeming to stare right at me, before taking off for the safety of a nearby branch.

I love that we’ve creating a safe environment for wildlife by filling our yard with native plants. We do supplement with a hummingbird feeder, but our fast-moving friends also love to sip from bee balm and swamp milkweed, too. Steven has a little “office” in the corner of the living room right by two windows, and he’s constantly sending me photos and videos of the critters he spots throughout the day. We see both ruby-throated and rufous hummingbirds (the only two found here in Maryland!), and I’ve identified a particular branch where one of them likes to perch between feeding sessions. More often than not, if I look out the window and toward that branch, I’ll see a little one resting there. So sweet.

We had another heavy rainstorm this afternoon, and apparently it was strong enough to knock over my tomato cages — I had to fix up two of them. Yikes! I harvested a nice haul of green beans and a handful of cherry tomatoes while managing to avoid being absolutely savaged by the mosquitoes. (I think I only got bitten once.) It’s funny; I have terrible luck with full-size tomatoes, even though I plant plenty of them every year. There are a few growing now, but they’re still green and it’ll be a meager harvest. But my cherry tomatoes (of various types!) go bananas every year, and I had tons of volunteers this spring. I won’t complain; fresh tomatoes of any size are orders of magnitude tastier than any you can get at the grocery store. Eating them warm from the vine is one of summer’s greatest pleasures.

Those green beans went right into the dinner pot, metaphorically speaking. Well, I guess literally speaking, too — I cooked them in the same pot as the rice noodles I was making, for efficiency’s sake. I also lightly pan-fried a block of tofu and served it all with this fantastic garlicky black pepper sauce. I’ve been digging sweet and spicy sauces this summer, and this one’s a winner. I used Earth Balance rather than olive oil, reduced the soy sauce a bit, and substituted a large shallot for the red onion. I also used a bulb of fresh garlic (harvested from my garden last week!) rather than the 10 cloves called for because fresh, uncured garlic tends to have more of a kick than what you can buy at the grocery store. Delicious and surprisingly filling.

I’d love to hear your go-to sauce for simple meals; please share if you’ve got one! I like this one, too.

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Simple Spicy Green Beans and Tofu

Two  months ago, Steven and I bought a house. We’d been looking for for something old, with lots of character, in the country(ish).

We bought an early ’70s midcentury-inspired, contemporary-as-all-heck house in the suburbs. And we love it.

What I love perhaps most of all is having a beautiful backyard where I can garden and my pups can hang out. My wonderful parents came down to help us move, and my dad built us two raised garden beds. He also brought plants galore and taught me all about the best ways to transplant various little plantlings. (It pays to have a master gardener who spends most of his free time at a greenhouse for a dad!) We planted relatively late in the season and had a little deer-eating-all-the-baby-tomatoes incident, but things are finally starting to pick up out there. I have more basil than I know what to do with, and everything is coming in beautifully. I love it. Just look at these sweet filius blue peppers — aren’t they cute?!

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Cutest lil peppers that you ever did see.

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I also love living a mile from a wonderful weekend farmers’ market. On Saturday mornings, I walk over to the market to stock up on lush fresh veg and fruit, then treat myself to a cold-brew coffee from Brewing Good Coffee Co., a local craft coffee roaster that just happens to be run by vegans. (Their motto is “Drink coffee. Save animals.” Done.) By the time I get home, I’m extra sweaty from being weighed down by all that veggie goodness, but at least I’m caffeinated!

This Saturday, I picked up a big ol’ carton of green beans and knew I had to gobble them up right away. They starred in a spicy dish alongside some tofu and hot peppers from the garden (not the ones in the photo above). I finished everything off with a nice spicy sauce and served over brown rice. Yes, this recipe is super simple — in fact, it’s barely a recipe at all. But this time of year, when all this gorgeous produce is in its prime, I like meals that are simple enough to let the veggies shine. Plus, who wants to spend hours in the kitchen when the sun is shining and you’ve got a backyard calling your name?! :)

Green beans and tofu star in this simple, spicy vegan dinner.

Simple Spicy Green Beans & Tofu
Serves 2-3

  • 1 T coconut oil
  • 1 T freshly grated ginger
  • 2-3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 small purple cayenne hot peppers, diced OR 1-2 t dried red pepper flakes*
  • 2 T low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 T brown sugar
  • 1 tsp seasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 lb extra firm tofu, cubed
  • 1 lb green beans, chopped or snapped into roughly 1″ pieces

Melt the coconut oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat, then add the ginger, garlic, and pepper/pepper flakes. Cook for about 3 minutes, or until the garlic starts to brown, then add the tofu.

Cook the tofu over medium-low for 7-10 minutes, turning every few minutes, until the cubes start to get crispy and golden. Keep the heat on medium-low so the tofu doesn’t burn.

Add the green beans to the saucepan and cover. Cook for another 3-4 minutes.

Remove the lid and pour in the sauce. Stir to coat, and cook for another minute or two until the sauce is absorbed. Serve immediately over brown rice.

*You can really use any fresh hot pepper you’d like — I just happened to have two of these little guys ripe and ready to go.

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What’s your favorite easy summer veg-forward dinner?

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