Grilled Sesame-Ginger Tofu over Vegetable Orzo

Guess I’m practicing for being in China, where my diet will consist of what I believe will be dumplings and porridge for breakfast and vegetable stir-fries with tofu and/or meat for lunch and dinner for 3 1/2 weeks. Actually… I sort of doubt that orzo will make an appearance. What can I say? We were out of rice…

Conclusion? Orzo or rice, I think I’ll be fine with the food.

Grilled Sesame-Ginger Tofu over Vegetable Orzo

Adapted from The Vegan Grill and my own concoction

Tofu: Serves 4

1 package of firm tofu (1 block)
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon champagne vinegar (what I had on hand… originally called for rice vinegar)
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
2 pressed cloves of garlic or 1 tablespoon pre-chopped garlic

Drain tofu and rinse with water. Fold up paper towels in quarters, making two soaking-up apparati and place on a cutting board. Put tofu on one, place other on top, and then put something heavy on top of that to press the remaining liquid out of the tofu. You may have to replace the paper towels after a time. I think I allowed them to press for a few hours.

Mix marinade ingredients.

Once pressed, slice tofu in half to get two equal slices about 1/2 an inch thick and then cut how you like–I made triangles.

Coat each piece in marinade and put into an airtight container to sit for 30 minutes or more.

Heat up a grill pan with some olive oil; have a large oil-spatter mesh cover at the ready. Place each marinade-soaked piece on grill and grill about 3 minutes per side.

Orzo:

1 box orzo
1 head broccoli
3 carrots
Onion, chopped roughly
Olive oil

Cook orzo according to package directions.

Chop up broccoli and carrots into small pieces. Heat up oil in a large nonstick pan and add onion, cook about 4 minutes until translucent. Add other veggies, stir and cover, cook until they are fork-soft and tender. (5-10 minutes). Toss with orzo.

To serve, place a bed of orzo on a plate, and topped with two tofu steaks.

This was so yummy! The grilled tofu wasn’t tough like I’ve had in the past (at school)–maybe because I used firm, not extra-firm tofu. It was very soft and easy to cut, which I liked. The broccoli and carrots were great counterpoints to the savory tofu, and the orzo base was delicious as well. All this needed was a dressing or sauce of some sort. Any ideas? I didn’t want to drown out the flavor of the tofu, but I also didn’t want to amp up the salt consumption by adding more soy sauce to the orzo. Maybe a peanut sauce?

Anyway, this made a delicious lunch! Totally going to be grilling more tofu in the future.

Chickpea Pot Pie (vegan)

Yes, you read that right. Chickpea pot pie!

Carrots, sweet potatoes, peas and chickpeas all kept piping hot under a delicious cornbread crust.

Chickpea Pot Pie

Adapted from Eats Well With Others

2 cups chopped sweet potatoes (I used 5 small)
1/2 cup chopped carrots (2 medium/large)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1/4 cup white flour
2 cups vegetable broth
2 cups cooked chickpeas (1 can, rinsed)
1/2 cup frozen baby peas
1 tsp kosher salt
cracked pepper
3/4 cup cornmeal
3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 1/2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup unsweetened soymilk
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tablespoon ground flax mixed with 3 tablespoons warm water and allowed to soak for a few minutes (or 1 egg yolk)
Instructions

Boil the potatoes and carrots until tender, set aside. Grease 1 small casserole pan and two smaller ramekins with cooking spray or earth balance.

Heat a large nonstick saucepan and then cook onions in olive oil until soft (5 min, ish). Sprinkle in 1/4 cup of white flour and mix; slowly whisk in veggie stock (it should thicken up as you pour). Cook over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Add the veggies, salt, and pepper and cook about 3 minutes or until nice and heated through. Spoon evenly into the dishes.

Combine the cornmeal, 3/4 cup flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a bowl; in a smaller bowl combine the milk, oil and flax mixture and mix with the dry ingredients until just mixed. Spoon batter on top of each filled ramekin and spread evenly. Bake until golden brown, about 22-25 minutes for a larger casserole and 10-12 minutes for the smaller ramekins.

This came out so delicious! Ultimate comfort food. The veggies were all cooked perfectly, and the cornmeal crust had a lovely crisp surface and was nutty and tender inside. The flax added both visual interest and further flavor. Cornbread complements pot pie filling so much better than pastry crust. To add to the delectability, this meal is completely vegan and whole wheat. Let’s just say the chicken (or turkey, or beef) was NOT missed. Nor was the frozen-slash-”boiling-lava-hot”-excitement of microwaveable pot pies I consumed back in the day (quote by Jim Gaffigan).

I fed this to me and two others and we devoured almost the entire recipe for dinner (along with a side of cranberry sauce, which has tartness that contrasts perfectly with the creamy sweetness of the pot pie). We scarfed it down. It’s pretty easy too–the majority of ingredients are all items that are in your pantry or freezer. All you need is an open mind and willingness to try something new.

Red Quinoa Sliders with Lemon Zest Greek Yogurt Sauce

I’ve been eyeing this recipe for a while (by which I mean about 2 days) and decided they were just too cute not to make.

Quinoa, carrots, chickpeas, sesame seeds, spices, egg to hold it together, with a creamy, cool dipping sauce.

Paired with a little glass of wine (I am a twenty-something undergrad… no worries… cough) and arranged on cucumber slices, this was as fun to assemble as it was to eat.

Quinoa Sliders with Lemon Zest Greek Yogurt Sauce

Adapted from Sprouted Kitchen (please go check it out… the photos are gorgeous)

1/2 cup red quinoa
1 cup chopped carrot
1 small shallot, sliced
1 tablespoon dried parsley (3 tablespoons fresh)
15 ounces (1 can) chickpeas
2 eggs
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (1/4 a lemon)
1 teaspoon cumin
2 teaspoons coriander
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds (Convection oven @ 375 F, bake sesame seeds in a single layer for 2 minutes, shaking and rotating pan midway)
2 cloves garlic
dash salt
sprinkle pepper

olive oil for pan

1 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
1/4 peanut butter (use tahini if you have it… I used crunchy natural peanut butter and enjoyed the texture)
1 tablespoon lemon zest
Fresh Chives to taste (if you have. I didn’t, so I sprinkled more parsley on top)
dash salt
sprinkle pepper

1 English Cucumber, sliced into long sticks for presentation (and dipping!)

In a small saucepan, bring 1 cup water to boil. Add quinoa, cover, and reduce heat to low, cook about 12 minutes to allow water to be absorbed. Note: I usually add the quinoa to the cold water and bring it up to a boil together… if not sure, just follow the directions on the package. Also, turn off the heat even if it looks like the quinoa could adsorb a little more–the water will be adsorbed just from sitting there. Let cool.

Stir together yogurt, peanut butter, lemon zest, and salt and pepper to taste (and the chives; reserve a few chives for sprinkling later). Cover and chill.

Pulse carrots and parsley (dried or fresh) in a food processor. Add shallot, chickpeas, toasted sesame seeds, lemon juice, eggs, garlic cloves, coriander, and cumin, salt and pepper. Pulse until combined. Add quinoa, pulse a few more times. Taste-test, if you aren’t all that concerned about raw egg. (I’m not.) Let set in the fridge for 1 hour or overnight.

Form two-tablespoon’s worth of quinoa mixture into small, thick patties.

Over medium heat, drizzle a bit of oil in a nonstick pan to cover the surface. Sear the patties about 3 minutes on each side, flattening them out with the back of a spatula in the pan or until golden brown on each side. For each batch, use some new oil. Also, turn on your fan and crack the window as your fire alarm may go off because if you’re like me, something’s burning at some point or another.

Serve warm, on top of the cucumbers, with the yogurt sauce.

Sprouted Kitchen suggests putting them into mini pitas for a vegetarian appy.

Yum!

These were good. The ones I took outside to photograph got pretty cold, pretty fast, which is how we learned they taste better warm.

They were really yummy, though. A nice browned crust formed on each side, and the burgers themselves held together pretty well (something I have had trouble with in the past). If I had not been too lazy to go get fresh herbs, they would have been quite amazing. The yogurt sauce was especially good. Thick, from the Greek-ness; uber creamy from the Greek-ness and from the peanut butter running through; yet light-tasting from the lemon zest. My dad later heated the sliders in the microwave for about a minute and declared them delicious. I need to eat more quinoa and home-made food in general; these definitely hit the spot.

Carrot Ginger Apple Soup

Notice my reflection in the spoon... heehee

After seeing variants of this recipe floating around, I decided to try it out too.

Result? Deliciousness that didn’t last for leftovers.

Carrot Apple Ginger Soup

Ultimately adapted from Joy the Baker but also seen at Oh She Glows

Some olive oil (a few tablespoons; eyeball)

1 small yellow onion, sliced (I used 1/4 of a huge Costco vidalia onion)

1 clove garlic, minced

2 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and grated (I had to use ground ginger. About a tablespoon. It was good but more would not have hurt. Then again I do love ginger.)

1 small apple, peeled and sliced

4 to 5 cups sliced, peeled carrots (about 1 1/2 pounds)

4 cups vegetable broth (I used 3 and then thinned it out with water at the end)

pinch of nutmeg

salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions and cook about 5 minutes or until soft.  I mixed the ground ginger with the minced garlic and then added and cooked for about a minute.  Add sliced apples and diced carrots and cook for 3 minutes.

Turn flame to medium-high and add vegetable broth.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce flame to low and simmer, uncovered,  until carrots and apples are softened, about 30 minutes.  Remove pan from the flame and let rest for 10 minutes.

Blend the soup until smooth. My favorite way to do this is to yell, “Hey Dad, want to immersion blend something?” and then he comes running because immersion blending is his favorite thing to do in the kitchen.

Add some water while your dad is immersion blending to thin it out to your desired consistency. I personally like thicker rather than brothy soups.

Add a pinch of nutmeg, salt, pepper to taste.

Serve with a drizzle of quality olive oil, some pepper, and another tiny pinch of nutmeg.

Apparently the soup freezes well but you’d never know… because it shall be devoured. Definitely double this recipe for good sized portions. Wow, that’s a lot of carrots.