Sunday, August 18, 2013

Summer Squash with Tofu and Balsamic Roasted Shallots

New England summer staples

The season:

There’s a lot of “I can’t wait for fall!” giddiness going on this week. What gives? Yes, the cool morning air is refreshing and it’s been nice digging out a few lightweight long sleeved tops for layering, but for the love of god, people, let’s stay focused.

It’s still summer. It’s gorgeous out. Let’s embrace it.

Nothing says summer in New England more than zucchini and summer squash, crayon-colorful and absolutely ubiquitous this time of year. Cook it up with a little EVOO, garlic, red pepper flakes and fresh thyme and you’re in business – add pan-friend tofu with a side of balsamic roasted shallots, and you’ve done your summer staple proud.

The dish:
Roasted shallots add an unexpected touch of sweetness
This easy vegan entree comes together in four simple parts. First, put 1 cup of brown rice on the stove and let cook for about 45 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400 and grab your:

Balsamic Roasted Shallots:
  • 8-10 large shallots, peeled with ends removed
  • 1 TBSP balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp EVOO
  • Salt and pepper
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme

Pan-fried tofu:
  • 1 block extra firm tofu, pressed and cubed
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • Sea salt to taste

Summer squash, zucchini & sliced mushrooms:
  • 3 small summer squash, sliced at ¼ inch thickness
  • 3 small zucchini, sliced at ¼ inch thickness
  • ¾ cup white mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tsp EVOO
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • ½ tsp fresh thyme
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste

Begin by peeling the shallots and trimming the ends. Arrange all shallots on a large cookie sheet and drizzle with balsamic and EVOO. Sprinkle with sea salt and place the thyme evenly across the cookie sheet. Cover with tin foil and roast at 400 for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, remove the tin foil and thyme sprigs, and continue to roast for another 15 minutes, or until the shallots are evenly browned.

While the shallots are roasting to perfection, pan-fry your tofu in 1 TBSP EVOO over medium heat. As tofu begins to brown, after about 5-7 minutes, add the red pepper flakes and garlic, stirring often to make sure the garlic doesn't burn. At the 10 minute mark, add sea salt and cook for another 2-3 minutes, or until desired crispness.

And for the squash, grab a large frying pan and heat the EVOO over medium. Add the squash and mushrooms, stirring often until they start to soften. After about 5 minutes, add your red pepper flakes, sea salt and pepper. If your squash is sticking to the pan at all, add a splash of veggie stock or water. When the squash and mushrooms are soft but still firm, about 8-10 minutes in, add a sprinkling touch of thyme and remove from heat.

Serve over a scoop of brown rice, piling your squash on first, followed by the tofu and shallots. If desired, garnish with fresh thyme. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Avocado Kale Salad

Fresh herbs and a tangy Asian flavor

The Shout out:

Here's another great recipe that I can't take credit for: a crunchy avocado kale salad with a delightful twist of lime and rice wine vinegar. Or, as the authoress over at Cookie + Kate calls it, a Chopped Kale Salad with Edamame, Carrot and Avocado.

What a fabulous salad, folks. Super easy and adaptable, it's a big old bowl of veggies that's perfect for a side dish or entree alike. Truth be told, I had originally whipped it up with the intention of serving it alongside a veggie burger. But as I was in the "testing" phase of the recipe - you know, when you're checking for juuust the right amount of salt, citrus or spice - I just stood there and ate..and ate...and ate.

Dinner without any dishes! Fine by me.

I deviated from the recipe ever so slightly by steaming my kale for about 3 minutes instead of sticking to the 100% raw recipe. I also omitted the edamame altogether because I didn't have any on hand. Go ahead and experiment - I'm even thinking of throwing some sesame tofu into the mix next time around. 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Garlic and Black Pepper Tofu

In your face flavor

The shout out:

No doubt, the internet is alive with vegan recipe inspiration. The ideas I get from Pinterest and Food Gawker alone could keep me in fresh new recipes for life. And then, of course, there are the blogs – which can only be described as profuse.

And thank goodness. What fun!

Garlic and Black Pepper Tofu: serve over udon noodles or brown rice
But then there are those sites that are just plain weird. Unsightly, strange to navigate and seemingly unanchored to an identifiable author or institution. You know, the sites you tend to avoid. With so much beautiful cooking content to sift through in the internet-at-large, why stick around?

You stick around because, with patience, recipes with unprecedented elegance – i.e. Garlic andBlack Pepper Tofu – emerge from the clutter.

Elegance, here, comes as freshly cracked black pepper marries minced cilantro root as if they’re the most passionate and compatible of lovers. Coming together in a powerful sauce (not for the weak of heart) of garlic, tamari and cane sugar, this recipe, which lives in a most inconspicuous corner of the internet, deserves a standing ovation.

If you’re into your cilantro, you must try this truly original, Thai-inspired spin – and where the recipe calls for red bell peppers and green beans, don’t be afraid to experiment. I’ve added veggies from mushrooms to kale with great success! The sauce is so good, you'll want to double this recipe to ensure you have enough.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Sweet Potato Chili

Who said chili had to be meaty?

The veggie:

Growing up, my mom would always have baked sweet potatoes on hand, ready to serve at almost any meal. And you know what? She was onto something. There’s very little in this world that a sweet potato won’t complement. 

Plus, busy as you are, it's a great way to pack more veggies into your routine. Simply prepare a few baked sweet potatoes at the beginning of the week. If you don’t use them for dinner, there are plenty of to-die-for dessert options to explore.

And we all know sweet potatoes are something of a superfood. From the ClevelandClinic on down, they enjoy a revered reputation, topping almost every health food list ever published. High in vitamins B6 and C, plus iron, magnesium and fiber, sweeties (we’re on intimate terms) are a vegan dream – as good for you as they are delicious, and super versatile and filling too.

With the mild August evenings we’ve been having here in Boston, last night was perfect for a simmering pot of vegan chili. Loaded with hearty sweet potato chunks, zucchini, bell peppers and crisp corn – plus a kick of cayenne – my vegan Sweet Potato Chili is equally sweet and spicy, and pairs perfectly with a salty tortilla chip.

The chili:

Get your Tupperware ready, because you’re about to have delicious leftover lunches all week with the 6+ servings this recipe yields! You’ll also need:

  • 1 sweet onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 zucchini, diced
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • ¾ tsp cayenne
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, diced
  • 2 28 oz cans tomatoes, crushed or diced
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 1 14 oz can kidney beans
  • 1 14 oz can chickpeas
  • 1 cup corn, fresh or frozen
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 green onions, sliced
  • Tortilla chips for serving

Begin by heating the EVOO over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until translucent, about 4-5 minutes. Add the red and green bell peppers and zucchini and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Stir often as vegetables cook for 7-8 minutes. Next, add your spices – cumin, chili powder, cayenne and garlic and stir to thoroughly incorporate.

Now add the sweet potato, tomato and vegetable stock and bring to a simmer. All your veggies should be “swimming” in a delicious tomato-y pool – add more veggie stock (or water) if needed to bring to a simmer. Stirring often, let simmer for 20-25 minutes, until your potatoes soften.

Once the potatoes are fork-soft, add the kidney beans, chick pea and corn and let cook for 10 minutes. Finally, start your taste-testing – add cayenne, cumin, chili powder and salt and pepper to taste. Serve with freshly sliced green onions and a bowl of salty tortilla chips.

And as you’re spooning a steaming portion of vegan sweet potato chili into your bowl, pause for a moment and congratulate yourself. For you, my friend, will be eating like a king all week.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Pineapple Fried Rice

Sweet and salty on a Sunday night 
The Sunday:

Sunday usually calls for a take-your-time recipe. Something challenging or never-before-attempted. Some new vegan inspiration you can put together at your leisure, learning along the way.
Make your own Pineapple Fried Rice! It'll be amazing.

Well, most Sundays go this way. But not all.

If you’re frantically planning your own wedding (like me, omg), the notion of overpriced takeout delivered to your doorstep takes on a whole new allure…even on the most sacred of stay-at-home cooking days. 

But no, no! Sunday kitchen time, you will be mine. And so will you, Pineapple Fried Rice, aka Takeout 2.0.

The Recipe:

This dish is such a treat – juicy pineapple, salty cashews, and loads of vegan color from carrots, peppers and peas. It’s a feast for the eyes as much as the belly.

And it’s so simple! Sometimes it’s intimidating to attempt restaurant recreations – we feel we’ll be downgrading a dish, creating a lesser version of professional kitchen classics.

But not here. Cast off those doubts and create your own Thai-inspired vegan entrée. For your Pineapple Fried Rice, you’ll need:
  • 1 ¼ cup brown Jasmine rice, cooked (& cooled in the fridge if you have time)*
  • 1 leek, sliced (white and light green part only)
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes, to taste
  • ½ tsp ginger, freshly grated
  • 1 ½ tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • ¼ tsp turmeric
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 2 carrots, bias cut
  • ½ cup frozen peas
  • cup pineapple, cubed
  • cup cashews, roasted and salted
  • ¼ cup vegetable stock
  • 2-4 tsp Tamari or soy sauce, to taste
  • 2 scallions, sliced for garnish

In a large frying pan, heat your EVOO on medium and add leeks. Stir leeks for 3-4 minutes, until soft. Add red pepper flakes to taste, ginger, curry, coriander and turmeric. Stir gently to coat the leeks with your spices, 2 minutes. Next, add the red pepper, carrot, peas, pineapple and cashews. Stir to incorporate and then add your vegetable stock. Cook for 5-7 minutes. As veggies soften, add the rice and 2 teaspoons tamari. As you incorporate the rice, taste test for your tamari – adding in small increments until it’s just right. Top with scallions and serve!

If you want some extra sweetness, toss in a handful of raisins with your veggies. My fiance has a raisin-hangup, otherwise, I would have included them here!

*Leftover or cooled rice works wonderfully in fried rice, but freshly cooked rice will be fine, too.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Moroccan Carrot Summer Soup

The perfect pureed soup

The shout out:

After a brutal work week, Friday night called for a fresh and rewarding meal, but nothing too complex. I was looking for a simple vegan soup to throw together in under an hour - something I could quickly whip up, throw on the stove and leave to its own devices while I...

...laid prostrate on the kitchen floor?
Remember that Jewel song "You Were Meant for Me"?
That's how I feel about this vegan carrot soup...

(Really, I work in a Creative department full of beautiful, talented characters. But our 40 hours together this week were trying.)

Thumbing through my recipe library, i.e. my Pinterest page, Moroccan Carrot Summer Soup by Meet the Shannons popped out: the color, the texture, the blessed fact that there are only two main ingredients: carrot and onion. 

And so it was. Not only did I have an excuse to buy a loaf of crusty bread, sprouts and heirloom tomatoes for a little side snack, I got to use my immersion blender, god's gift to soups everywhere.

With under 20 minutes of prep and a few inconsequential minutes of a bubbling pot doing its thang, vegan carrot soup never tasted so good. Be sure to check it out!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Garlicky kale with sesame tofu

Tofu + greens = power team 

The protein:

My highly versatile, hugely yummy sesame tofu
Tofu – it’s pretty polarizing. Meat-eaters mock it and even among vegetarians, there’s not a clear consensus. While some are worried about the alleged health risks associated with soy consumption, other are worried about, well, making it taste good. 

It’s not the easiest to prepare, after all. Making the most of your tofu involves pressing it to remove excess water and then developing a recipe chock-full of flavor for the tofu to absorb. The quality* (i.e. price) of your tofu is also a factor in where your meal registers on the deliciousness continuum.  

Then, of course, there’s your preparation method – baking, frying, stir-frying, steaming. Where to begin? What on earth to do?

You bake it up sesame garlic style, as I did for this epic salad, and then you move on with your life. 

The power:
Yet you’ll surely run up against some follow-up questions, namely: now what? What do I do with a pan of perfectly browned sesame tofu?

When in doubt, my friends, go for garlic + greens. Sautéed kale, spinach, or collards work wonderfully here. Sliced mushrooms bring a mild meaty flavor, where your yellow peppers bring crunch and color.

You’ll need:

  • 1 cup brown rice, cooked
  • 1 large bunch kale, roughly chopped
  • 1 yellow pepper, sliced
  • ¾ cup mushrooms, sliced (white or Crimini variety)
  • 1 small onion, sliced into half moons
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1-2 pinches red pepper flakes, to taste
  • 1.5 TBSP toasted sesame oil
  • Sea salt and pepper, to taste

If you're tofu-ambivalent, try it sesame style over garlic greens!
Heat the EVOO on medium and add the onion. Cook for 4-5 minutes, adding garlic and red pepper flakes once the onion softens. Cook for 1 minute before adding the yellow pepper and mushroom. Stirring often, cook the peppers and mushrooms for about 4 minutes. 

Finally, toss in the kale and stir to incorporate. You may want to add a drizzle of EVOO or a few splashes of water or veggie stock to create some stream. As your kale turns bright green, after about 4-5 minutes, add a generous hit of sea salt and pepper. Finish up by turning off the heat and adding a light drizzle of toasted sesame oil. 

Prepare your bowl with couple heaping spoonfuls of rice, a generous layer of steaming kale, and as many pieces of tofu as you deem reasonable. Yes, it’s fantastic, but you don’t have to eat it all in one sitting – it holds up in the fridge just fine. 

* As a Connecticut native, I’m hugely fond of The BridgeTofu, out of Middletown, CT. Living in Boston, I’m lucky to still have access to The Bridge’s handmade tofu, even if it retails at about 2x the price of store-brand varieties.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Summer Basil & Chicken Pasta

A raid-the-fridge weeknight dinner

The herb:

I’m on a basil kick. Last week it was vegan pesto taste testing, and Monday night it was tomato and basil pizza – just some standard marina, thickly layered sliced tomatoes, and a generous sprinkling of fresh basil. Quick, delicious, and oh-so-summery.

Last night, with a bundle of basil leftover in the fridge, Basil Challenge III was upon me. Admittedly, my Summer Basil & Chik’n Pasta was born of a solemn swear to myself that I’d figure out a way to use the basil without making a special trip to the grocery store. If you cook as a vegan, I’m sure you’ve been there, too: the 7th consecutive day of swinging by the store for that one fresh ingredient that you cannot (will not! ought not!) do without.

Enough already! Basil Challenge III: raid the fridge and make it happen.

The innovation:

Employing the go-to formula for a simple, satisfying vegan dish, I reached for a grain, a protein and a veggie. Here’s what I had on hand and how I used it:
  • 2 cups pasta, cooked
  • 1 package chik’n, thinly sliced
  • 2 large tomatoes, diced into large chunks
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 tsp garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 can artichoke hearts, quartered
  • 2-3 cups baby spinach
  • 7-10 large basil leaves, chiffonade(d??)*
  • Sea salt & pepper to taste

Heat the EVOO on medium low and add your onion, garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook for 3-4 minutes and then add the chick’n strips. Increase heat to medium and stir frequently until chik’n begins to brown, 5-7 minutes. Next, incorporate your tomatoes and a generous sprinkling of sea salt. Keep the chick’n and tomato mixture moving, stirring frequently for 5 minutes.

The spinach and artichoke take only
a few minutes to cook. This meal
comes together quickly!
Once your tomatoes are softened and juicy, add the baby spinach and artichokes, cooking for an additional 3-4 minutes. Finally, toss in 75% of your beautiful basil ribbons, saving the rest for garnish. Combine, add salt & pepper to taste, and you’re good to go.

The alterations:

Now, I know I said I wasn’t going to go to the grocery store for this particular dish, but that doesn’t preclude me from thinking about what I’d do differently if I had!

Firstly, I’d use whole wheat pasta. The tri-colored shells were fun, but I think a nutty whole grain flavor would have really rounded out this dish. Additionally, I’d probably opt for a more flavorful chik’n than the Trader Joe’s Chickenless Strips I had on hand. Lightlife Smart Strips are among my favorite.

But as always, this dish is highly adaptable: don’t have artichokes? No prob, forget about them. Want more Vitamin A & C? Double your baby spinach. No fresh tomatoes on hand? Hell, grab a can.

Whatever it takes to save yourself that 8th consecutive trip to the store, amiright?

*I’ll cook dinner for whomever can explain to me how to conjugate chiffonade. Promise!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Vegan Burrito Bowl

Layers to live by

The Inspiration:

Flimsy-ass taco shells. 

Burrito Bowl: debunking the myth that vegans
eat like rabbits

That’s right, this bowl of vegan bliss was inspired by one too many taco shells crumbling in my hand before the first bite. I’ve yet to act on my fantasy of developing a sturdier shell – one durable enough to hold my homemade refried beans and vegan taco meat without buckling – so I’ve been using the next best thing: an easy-peasy already invented bowl.

So lazy, I know! Some over-achiever out there will beat me to it and invent the world’s most robust, crack-proof taco shell. Damn them and the assured fame that will follow.

But who knows, maybe there’s some fame in my own future once the world beholds my vegan burrito bowl. A girl can dream!

The Preparation:

First, assemble all your ingredients for easy-access – there are a few moving parts here and you’ll want them all within arm’s reach. Go ahead and grab:

  • 1 cup brown rice, cooked
  • 1 package Smart Ground Mexican by Litelife
  • 1 can refried beans
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1 small bunch kale, coarsely chopped
  • 1-2 TBSP EVOO
  • ½ yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, pressed
  •   tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 8 cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 lime
  • ¼ cup cilantro, roughly chopped
  • Salsa

The kale comes first:

Sautéed kale: totally unexpected,
totally exceptional
Heat the EVOO on medium-low in a large skillet, then add the onion, garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook for 2-3 minutes, then add the yellow bell pepper. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring often. Next, incorporate the kale, adding a few splashes of water to help it cook down. Increase heat to medium and stir often for 4-5 minutes, or until kale is bright green.

Then the vegan meat:

In another skillet, add a few splashes of EVOO and heat your Smart Ground Mexican on medium. Stir often for about 7 minutes. If desired, add a dash or two of water or veggie stock for a moister consistency.

And the refried beans:

Empty your refried beans into a bowl and pop them in the microwave. (Or, if you’re feeling ambitious, go with my hot jalapeno refried beans.)

Then the fun:

Finally, build your bowl! Rice first, followed by a heaping layer of kale, with your Smart Ground Mexican and refried beans sharing the top floor of this towering Mexican mound. Top it all off with your sliced avocado, cilantro sprigs and cherry tomatoes. Add a few scoops of your favorite salsa and a squirt of lime.

…and welcome to your new life. This bowl is like being born again.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Peanut Butter Banana Panini

Five minutes of prep, a lifetime of pleasure

The night:

Returning from an evening with Taylor Swift, my little sis and I were in a state of bliss.

Inspired by Tay’s unending set list of hits, Carly Simon’s surprise on-stage appearance, and the thousands of super-fan tweens we spent the evening screaming alongside, we were in the mood for a seriously celebratory sammy.

The peanut butter banana panini - you'll want seconds!
Trekking back to Boston from Gillette Stadium, which (obvi) offers positively zero vegan fare, I secretly assembled my fantasy sammy: peanut butter, banana, and strawberry jam panini-pressed between thick slices of When Pig’s Fly cinnamon raisin bread.

And when we got home, I laid it on my unsuspecting sis: the hot, the gooey, the sweet, the chewy peanut butter banana panini.

The morning:

More than twelve hours later, we still haven’t recovered from the splendor that is this sandwich. In fact, I think I need to take a moment of silence. It’s all so overwhelming.


You’re gonna want to get on this ASAP. Go get:

  • 2 slices cinnamon raisin bread – crusty, thick bread works best
  • 2-3 TBSP honey-roasted peanut butter, all natural
  • ½ tsp strawberry jam, no HFCS
  • 1 ripe banana
  • ½ tsp Earth Balance vegan butter

Spread a thin coat of Earth Balance over one side of each piece of bread. Add the peanut butter, jam and banana to one piece. On the other piece, spread the remaining peanut butter and then press your sandwich together. Carefully place it on a panini-press and cook for 5-6 minutes on medium.

And yes, I know what you’re thinking: any vegan Nutella-like spread will push this epic sandwich experience over the edge of insanity. Do it if you dare. Try out this homemade chocolate hazelnut recipe by A House in the Hills and let me know how it goes!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Hot Jalapeno Refried Beans

When canned won't cut it

The Game:

I like to play a game called “Has Anyone Ever…”

All you do is come up with a crazy scenario and ask a friend if anyone ever – just once in the history of the world – has experienced the scenario you’re describing. It’s a fun and often outrageous conversation starter.

And so I ask you: has anyone ever gotten giddy over canned refried beans?

I’d bet not.

Canned refried beans, aka meh, hardly get the heart pumping. But here’s what will: my homemade vegan Hot Jalapeno Refried Beans.

The Players:

If this is your first foray into homemade refried beans, fear not. More than easy, it’s intuitive. You’ll want:
  • 1 can beans, kidney or pinto, rinsed and drained
  • ½ jalapeno, minced, seeds intact
  • 1 lime
  • 1 TBSP garlic, minced
  • ½ sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp EVOO
  • Sea salt & pepper to taste

Onion, garlic and jalapeno pack
a lot of punch in these beans
Begin by heating the EVOO in a skillet on medium-low. Add the onion, garlic and jalapeno and cook for 3-4 minutes, until onion softens and becomes translucent. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Next, stir in your beans and increase the heat to medium. Cook for 6 minutes, stirring often. Add the lime juice and cook for 1 more minute. 

Lastly, turn off the heat and smash up your bean mixture with a potato masher. How smooth or chunky you make it is up to you! Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add the lime juice and mash em' up

The win:

So now: has anyone ever gotten giddy over a hot bowl of Hot Jalapeno Refried Beans?

Absolutely – and here’s why. Hot off the skillet, these babies are a perfect accompaniment to a chips and salsa snack. They’re a hot and spicy add-on to any burrito, taco or Mexican bowl. And, I dare say, if you’re looking for a quick and easy vegan meal, whip these up and throw a heaping spoonful over a bowl of brown rice – add your avocado, salsa and cilantro, and you’re done.  

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Brown Rice & Sesame Tofu Salad

A Heaping Plate of Vegan Grains and Greens

The Dilemma:

Me: “I would love a salad for dinner tonight!”

Fiancé: “………uh huh..”

Don’t get me wrong, my fiancé (aka Jeremy) loves him some vegan cooking. Lord knows he eats enough of it. But sometimes my veggie dreams don’t speak to him so seductively. An occasional meat and prolific cheese eater, my sigo is a sort of convenience vegan, enjoying the meals I prepare but by no means inclined to choose tofu over chicken when left to his own devices.

And his own devices are…ravenous. A salad, usually, will not suffice.

So last night, when I declared myself salad-ready, the silence set in. Nothing…nothing…no comment…and then a polite little “uh huh.”

Little did he know that my signature Brown Rice & Sesame Tofu Salad was in store. Uh huh. That’s right.

The Recipe:

Hello, gorgeous!
I invented this salad in my late college years, right around the time when my sister and I would frequent the Lady Killigrew Café and Bookmill in Montague, MA. It was there that I had my first taste of warm brown rice over crisp greens, a combination so compelling I had to replicate it in my own kitchen. Yes, you have to juggle a few moving parts to pull this salad together, but it’s oh-so-worth it!

For sanity’s sake, approach this recipe in three parts: the rice, the tofu and the veggies.

For the rice, you’ll need:
  • 1 cup sweet brown rice
  • 2 cups water
  • Dash of salt

Place the water, rice and salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down as low as it will go and cover. Cook for approximately 40 minutes or until all the water is absorbed.

As the rice is cooking, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Cut your block of tofu into slices or squares and set pieces into a marinade of:
Flip the tofu slices about halfway through baking
to brown evenly on both sides.
  • 1/4 cup tamari
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 TBSP toasted sesame oil
  • 1 TSP freshly grated ginger
  • 1.5 TSP pressed garlic
  • ½ TSP red pepper flakes
  • 1 TSP sesame seeds

Allow the tofu to marinate for at least 30 minutes and then spread on a cookie sheet. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until browning occurs, flipping each piece at the 15 minute mark.

Now, onto the veggies. While there's tons of room for experimentation here, some of my staple veggies include:

  • ½ yellow bell pepper, sliced into long strips
  • 4 radishes, sliced
  • 1/3 red onion, sliced into thin rings
  • 1 carrot, coarsely grated
  • 5 cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • ½ avocado, sliced
  • 4 cups arugula, loosely packed

The Finale:

Cindy's Kitchen vegan-
friendly dressing
Once your rice and tofu have cooked and your veggies are prepped, simply spread a bed of lettuce and go to town with your toppings.

And no Brown Rice & Sesame Tofu Salad is complete without my all-time favorite dressing: Deeply Roasted Sesame by Cindy’s Kitchen. Not only is Cindy’s Kitchen a local shop, hailing from Brockton, MA, they offer a huge selection of vegan dressings and marinades, all unbelievably fresh and flavorful. If my Brown Rice & Sesame Tofu Salad were on a dessert island, Cindy’s Roasted Sesame dressing would be its singular survival item.

It, like me, can’t do without.