Don’t you agree that home-cooked meals are so much better than cafeteria or restaurant food? It’s about the loving vibes, the pure content, the flavor we want, and of course the $$ savings. Sometimes making lunch for hubby and I every day seems like more than I have energy for. I cook at night when I get home from work and pack up quart-sized containers with whatever’s on the menu.
The challenge is keeping a nice variety, avoiding long prep time, and still coming up with delicious, vibrant, nourishing meals. Over time I’ve come up with some easy-to-prep standards that are simple to vary with seasoning or whatever veggies or grains I’m using.
One of my regulars is the triple combo of veggies – tofu/tempeh – grains. One week I might make my quick Country Style Saag with tofu cubes and a basmati-pea pilau and next time whip up a batch of fried rice, quinoa, or soba noodles with ginger, scallions, tofu or tempeh, and veggies all together. Usually the item taking the longest to prepare is the grain. Thus, I either get that started first, or make a big batch in advance and have enough for 2-3 meals.
Last night, I decided to put together some stir fries and tofu scramble with brown rice. Number one thing to do, since I didn’t have anything prepped in advance, was to get the brown basmati rice cooking and start my tofu soaking in lemon juice. I thought I’d throw in some wild rice too, so measured about 1 cup of basmati and a half cup of wild rice, rinsed them off, and popped them in my rice cooker along with twice the amount of water; enough for at least two meals. That would take an hour or so to cook, and no more of my attention. One less thing to think about!
To help your tofu stay fresh longer, after purchasing place it in a clean container and cover with fresh water. Then put on the lid and store in your fridge, changing the water every day or at least every other day until use. But, you may ask, why add lemon juice? Soaking tofu with fresh lemon juice for several hours or overnight helps to accelerate a little bit of fermentation and makes the soy easier to digest. Yogi Bhajan recommended this to us years ago. This will never equal the quality of tempeh or other fermented soy products, but is a help, and also adds superb tang and taste.
You can squeeze your fresh lemon directly onto slices of tofu, or put your sliced/cubed tofu in a glass or plastic container with enough water to cover and add the juice of at least one lemon. If you like, toss in some crushed garlic, tamari sauce and a handful of chopped fresh herbs for an easy marinade.
My lemon tree is still hanging on to some gorgeous fruit, and I had my choice of big ones! Easiest way to squeeze a lemon by hand is to cut it in half, hold it in your (clean) palm with the cut side facing up, squeeze tight, and let the juice fall between your fingers and onto your food. In this way minimal seeds can escape and hopefully none will fall with the juice.
Rinsing off and chopping up a half bunch of green onions and 6 ounces of mushrooms was an easy task. I also grabbed a chunk of ginger out of the fridge and a frozen roasted jalapeno. I peeled and chopped the ginger into small dice and sliced off as much jalapeno as needed, then popped the rest back into the freezer.
I heated up my 13-inch iron skillet on high flame with a little coconut oil and added the mushrooms.
You’ve probably heard “don’t crowd the mushrooms,” and that’s important if you want your mushrooms to get browned (such great flavor); thus the big skillet. When they were getting nicely golden, in flew the chopped ginger and a little turmeric.
Looking good, yes? A small sprinkling of cumin seeds and coarsely ground coriander seeds will give a nice flavor accent.
Next comes the tofu, fresh from its lemony bath, the chopped jalapeno, green onions, and a few dashes of Braggs Liquid Aminos (you can use tamari, salt, more lemon, or any other seasoning you like). With a few grinds of my pepper mill I proclaimed it done. Total time for the tofu? Less than 15 minutes, including stopping to take photos.
At this point the rice was barely getting started. I should have made plain white basmati which cooks faster, but was in the mood for brown. Ah well! Pulling out my lovely stainless steel wok, I heated up a couple tablespoons of oil and added a few cloves of chopped garlic and dash of crush red chiles to get them a little toasty.
Then I added my Asian Vegetable Stir Fry mix, stirred and fried it for a few minutes, added a bit of water, covered, and let it steam for another 5 minutes while I started uploading photos to WordPress. I had another 30 minutes or so til the rice was done. When I opened the rice cooker, expecting to see a lovely medley of brown basmati and wild rice, I saw all the rice looked black! Only then I realized I’d tossed in some Thai black rice instead of wild rice. Fyi, black rice is very black, and even though I had used at least twice as much brown rice as the black rice, the black rice had permeated everything. It actually came out fantastic! I packed our containers and added a little drizzle of sriracha sauce. Simply perfect!
Tofu Mushroom Scramble
Yield: 3-4 Servings
Great with stir-fries or steams for a simple, deelish, and satisfying meal, or a wonderful savory breakfast served with your favorite toasted whole grain bread. If you don’t have time to soak your tofu in lemon juice, be sure to squeeze some lemon into your dish before serving, it adds such great flavor.
1 package of firm or extra firm tofu
2-3 tablespoons ghee or coconut oil
6 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, either in tiny dice or short matchsticks
1 scant teaspoon turmeric
1/2 scant teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 bunch green onions, chopped
1/4 jalapeno chile, roasted or raw, chopped
1/2 roasted red or green bellpepper, chopped (if you have, I didn’t)
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
Drain tofu and cut into cubes or slices. Place in clean container and add just enough water to cover. Add juice of 1 lemon. Let this soak/marinate for a few hours or overnight.
Have fresh ingredients prepped and ready. Heat oil in large skillet over high flame. Add sliced mushrooms and fry until lightly golden. Add turmeric and chopped ginger. Stir a minute or two. Add a little water or more oil if necessary. Add other spices and stir for about 30 seconds. Drain tofu and add to pan (either cut into bite-size cubes, or you can mash with spoon or fork for “scrambled” style), along with green onions, chopped jalapeno, bellpepper, and green onions. Heat thoroughly. Add Braggs, tamari, or other seasoning as desired. Garnish with finely chopped cilantro.