An “Original Vegan” Dish | VeganMoFo 2017 Day Seven

VeganMoFo 2017

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.

Simple, veggie-rich bowlSo 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

Serves 2

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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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.

A post shared by Kelly (@kelmishka) on

 

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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