Vegan Staples: Tofu, Scrambled

Orange rectangle with the white VeganMoFo fist logo and the text "Vegan Staples: tofu."

Somehow, I’ve totally neglected tofu so far in my Vegan Staples series. A travesty! Tofu is definitely one of my staple foods. I don’t usually eat it more than once a week, but it’s so versatile that I just can’t help but add it to many meals. Last night, I used it in dish that’s really a bedrock of vegan cookery – tofu scramble.

Shallow plate of tofu scramble with visible red peppers and avocado. In the background is a plate of pumpkin French toast.

Scrambled!

Tofu scramble is probably the easiest tofu-based dish to make. As long as you add ample spices and don’t make it too watery, you really can’t mess it up. For this batch, I used a locally made tofu, and it had the perfect texture after a stint in the Tofu Xpress. I added canned diced tomatoes, chopped mushrooms, lots of onion, garlic, red Bell peppers, and all sorts of spices – turmeric, cumin, coriander, chili powder, freshly ground black pepper, salt, and a spray or two of Bragg’s. I topped it with diced avocado, which really takes a scramble over the top. I completed my breakfast-for-dinner theme by using some stale French bread in pumpkin French toast. Both dishes were super simple to whip up, yet S called them, collectively, the best dinner I’ve made in a while. If only I’d known it was so easy! :)

What are your go-to tofu scramble ingredients?

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Friday Favorite: Cheater Pad Thai

White MoFo fist logo on an orange background with the text "Friday Favorites: Cheater Pad Thai."

White MoFo fist logo on an orange background with the text "Vegan Staples: Noodles!"

Like it was on the first Friday of MoFo, this week’s Friday Favorite is also a vegan staple. I guess that means that the recipes I repeat most often are simple ones that feature pantry staples. Makes sense, right?

This week’s favorite is a dish I make on a nearly monthly basis. It usually starts with S requesting “peanut noodles” for dinner, after which I clarify that he is indeed talking about this dish. From there, it’s a quick twenty minutes till dinner is on the table. And what’s dinner? It’s the Cheater Pad Thai from the Happy Herbivore Cookbook.

Top-down view of a white dish with wide rice noodles, broccoli, peanut sauce, and a drizzle of sriracha.

Peanutty!

Lindsay calls this “cheater” pad thai because it uses peanut butter (which goes against her no-added-fat approach), but I call it a cheater recipe because it’s so damn easy yet tastes so good. The recipe is incredibly versatile – you can add any veggies you have on hand. I usually go with broccoli, like I did this week. Snow peas are also a fine choice. The recipe does call for bean sprouts, but I occasionally omit them if I don’t feel like making a trip to the store before cooking dinner. I always add a sprinkle of fresh lime juice, though, and I always use way more than a single tablespoon of peanut butter in the sauce. ;)

What’s your go-to noodle recipe? Which Happy Herbivore recipes do you love?

Vegan Staples: Rice & Beans, Lazy Burrito Bowl Style

Bright orange banner with the VeganMoFo fist logo and the text: "Vegan Staples: rice & beans"

When I introduced my Pantry Staples series, I joked about rice and beans being so much more than just “dumping plain white rice and canned black beans into a bowl and calling it dinner.” Cough. Well. Um. I can’t lie – what I’m about to share with you is really little more than that. But hear me out; I promise it’s justified.

It’s justified because sometimes you just can’t find it in you to do much more than heat up canned foods. Sometimes the thought of breaking out a knife and chopping veggies is just too much to handle. Maybe you worked late and came home and are really hungry and also exhausted and you have a headache and it’s already seven thirty and you’re angry and tired. Maybe you had a really exhausting day of truly back-breaking labor. Or maybe you’re just lazy. That’s okay. I won’t judge. It happens to the best of us. Whatever your reasons, here’s one way to use little more than pantry staples to create an easy, tasty, and filling dinner.

Red-orange plate with a bed of white rice topped with refried beans, pico de gallo, avocado slices, and cilantro.

An uninspiring photo, I know.

In all honesty, this is really your basic burrito bowl… on a plate. It’s just rice, canned refried beans (go for the low-sodium option!), store-bought pico de gallo, fresh cilantro, and sliced avocado. It’s simple, easy, and tasty. It’s not gourmet, but let’s get real – even those of us who could happily talk for hours about complex, multi-step meals sometimes resort to white rice and canned refried beans for dinner. And you can too. It’s okay. Avocado makes anything 35% more delicious (it’s Science!), and pico de gallo adds a pleasant, cool freshness to an otherwise warm meal.

A note on rice – I am a believer in brown rice. I love its complex, nutty flavor and its elevated nutritional profile. But S and I are working through a giant Costco-sized burlap sack of white basmati rice that S had before we moved in together, so we often resort to relatively quick-cooking white rice for dinner. You do what you can.

Because, really, that’s what being vegan is all about – doing what you can. We know that we can’t save every single animal, but by eschewing animal products and pushing corporations to provide us with cruelty-free options, we do make a difference and we do save some animals. And some is a better amount than none.

So do what you can, and when you can’t, don’t worry about it. Don’t try to craft three-layer vegan lasagnas with homemade tofu ricotta and pine nut crema for every single meal. Instead, when you’re feeling beat, enjoy a lazy meal while watching 30 Rock on Netflix and cuddling with your loved ones. You’ll be happier for it. I promise.

What’s your lazy meal of choice?

Vegan Staples: Rice & Beans, Costa Rican Style

Bright orange banner with the VeganMoFo fist logo and the text: "Vegan Staples: rice & beans"

This post is part of my Vegan Staples theme, where I’ll show you how to take stereotypical vegan foods and make them dishes worth serving to even the staunchest omnivores. 

Ah, rice and beans. Its name is boring and evokes images of the blandest meals imaginable. It’s the quintessential veg*n meal, the refuge of the creativity-drained plant-eater. And now one half of its equation has those pesky potential arsenic issues to combat.

But I firmly believe that rice and beans is unjustly derided, that it can be a truly inspiring meal when done right. And how does one do rice and beans right? You consult an expert. And by “consult an expert,” I mean “browse Terry Hope Romero’s Viva Vegan! for the most delicious-looking beans and rice recipe you can find.” And find it I did, on page 92. Terry’s Costa Rican Refried Rice and Beans (aka Gallo Pinto, or “Painted Rooster”) doesn’t require anything too fancy, but by using a cast-iron pan, freshly cooked beans (and their liquid!), and lots of bright flavors, this dish cooks up to be a beautiful and satisfying meal.

Close-up of a cast-iron pan with a rice and beans mixture cooking. It has lots of visible diced veggies and spices.

Gallo Pinto in the pan.

It looks a bit like confetti, doesn’t it? What you’re seeing is long-grain white rice, small red Central American beans, peppers, onions, and lots of other spices. I substituted a bit of Braggs for the vegan Worcestershire sauce, since I didn’t have any at the time, and I reduced the amount of liquid smoke because liquid smoke and I don’t always get along. After a good fry in the pan (they’re not technically refried!) I scooped the mixture into little mounds and served up a lovely meal.

White plate with a small mound of rice and beans next to a sprig of cilantro and a few slices of tomato. In the background is another plate of rice and beans and a jar of hot sauce.

Plated.

Served with a side of fresh tomatoes, extra cilantro, and hot sauce for topping, this dish would make even the most skeptical rice and beans eaters ask for ¡más, más!

What’s your favorite way to eat rice and beans? Which meals from Viva Vegan! have you cooked?