Real Food. Real Stories. Oh Yeah.

Posts tagged ‘carrots’

Panang Curry with Tofu and Vegetables

It’s never too hot for a good curry!

Panang Curry with Tofu and Vegetables

I really enjoy Thai food, especially a good Panang curry. My boyfriend also absolutely loves Thai; and we’ve gotten many a dinner together at the plethora of Thai places in the DMV area. While I enjoy these restaurants thoroughly, I wanted to try my hand at making my own curry at home. So, I decided to start with my favorite – a simple panang. I found this recipe for panang curry, and while it calls for chicken and fish oil, it seemed not only simple to prepare, but easy enough to modify into a vegetarian dish.

To start, I did some advance prep by cooking up some rice and making some coconut milk. As I mentioned last week, I’ve started making a lot of my own grocery store staples, such as bread and nondairy milk. In the book How it All Vegan, I found a really easy recipe for homemade coconut milk, and decided to give it a try. I am now a convert to homemade coconut milk! Basically, you take 1/2 a cup of shredded coconut (I used dry shredded, which I usually keep around the apartment for baking), add 1 cup of boiling water, blend them together until smooth, and then strain out the coconut bits. That’s it. Really. Why was I spending money on cans again?

The recipe yields about 1 cup of coconut milk. If you measure it out and have less than one cup, add a little water

I kept both the coconut milk and the rice in the fridge until I made my curry that night (the coconut milk will separate when chilled; just shake it up before using).

To start the curry, I first cut up half a block of tofu into small triangles, then fried them in olive oil for about 10 minutes; or the duration of time that it took to make the curry sauce. I’d recommend doing this in both a deep skillet and one with a lid, since the oil will fly up during frying and might hit you! I mostly left the tofu alone while making my curry sauce, with the exception of flipping the triangles over about halfway through. This allowed them to get really nice and crispy on both sides.

Fried triangles of goodness

Up next was the easy part – the sauce. I brought my coconut milk (though the recipe calls for a 14 oz can, I yielded plenty of sauce with the one cup I prepared) to a gentle boil, then added some garlic and red curry paste (as opposed to Panang curry paste), stirring to make a rich sauce. I then added some chopped onion, which I chopped finely as opposed to slicing into strips like the recipe suggests. While the onions simmered in the sauce, I prepped my other veggies and flipped the tofu triangles. After about three minutes, I added sugar, peanut butter (instead of roasted peanuts), sliced carrots, cubed tomato, and dried red pepper flakes (about 1/4 tsp), stirring to get the peanut butter good and incorporated into the sauce. Rather than add the tofu triangles to the sauce, as instructed, I drained the excess oil from my skillet, returned the tofu, and then added the sauce to the warm skillet, keeping the heat on low and allowing the curry to simmer. I’d recommend simmering for at least 5-10 minutes so that it can get nice and flavorful.

This recipe was relatively simple and cheap to prepare, two things I always like when it comes to homemade! Next time I want to add broccoli to the mix, as well as other vegetables. This curry was very delicious on a bed of brown rice. Definitely try making it at home, and save yourself a little money in the process! The recipe yielded about three servings, so you’ll even have leftovers.

Lazy Peanut Noodles with Broccoli and Carrots

Who wants noodles?

Lazy Peanut Noodles with Broccoli and Carrots

Noodles (and pasta in general) are one of my favorite foods. However, they are especially high in carbohydrates! Now, I’m not an anti-carb person. I still can’t believe the Atkins Diet (and its ilk) has any merit in our society, and they’re great for an exercise boost. However, with their being light in fat, even complex, whole wheat carbs can be easily overeaten; especially if you fall into one of two traps: 1) everything else I’m eating is healthy now that I’m vegetarian, so I can eat loads of pasta and it won’t affect me, and 2) one serving of pasta has an okay amount of protein – imagine if I had two (or more) servings!

Well, unless you run marathons or bike up 100-mile mountain trails everyday, pasta is best enjoyed as a single serving, and in moderation. Most restaurants give you at least 3-4 servings of pasta in a single dish, which I can easily devour; and while this is fine every now and then, pasta at home should be monitored more carefully. On the flipside, though, a single serving of pasta or noodles is not all that filling on its own. Adding a sauce might help, but what I’ve found is that ultimately, the pasta should be either equal to or less than the amount of veggies it goes with. Rethinking the noodles as a side or portion of the meal, as opposed to the entire meal, definitely helps!

One of my favorite sauces to prepare for noodles is a peanut sauce, and most recipes I’ve encountered are fast and reasonably easy to prepare. However, after I’ve done some aerobics and walked home from the gym, I want food now; and even my go-to recipe for peanut noodles seems really long and complicated (mostly because it involves heat). So, I came up with a lazy version that provides the basic flavors of peanut noodles with a lot less work. Efficiency!

To start, mix together all-natural peanut butter (one made with JUST peanuts and salt maximum – no sugar, no trans fatty acids, no palm oil, no nothing), agave nectar, lime juice, Bragg’s liquid aminos or soy sauce, and cayenne in a small bowl until well-mixed; the sauce will darken to a light molasses color when it’s done. The all-natural PB that I use is very liquidy, even when stirred (such PB tends to separate); but this will work to your advantage when stirring your sauce, as it will already be mostly smooth anyway! More reasons to ditch non-natural peanut butter.

The PB I buy (Whole Foods All-Natural Creamy Peanut Butter) also has flakes of peanut in it, giving a nice texture

The sauce can just relax while you prepare everything else. For the noodles, I used buckwheat yaki soba, though angel hair pasta or another thin noodle will do in a pinch. Buckwheat yaki soba is loaded with protein, but it also has a TON of carbs! One bundle (some packages bundle the noodles into individual servings about the diameter of a half dollar) has over 60 grams! Again, fine for that triathlon in the Rockies, but not for everyday consumption. However, because of the protein and buckwheat, yaki soba is very dense and so you can divide this serving in half easily. They’re also easy to prepare – once the water is at a boil, you drop the noodles in and they’re basically done within a few minutes.

Sometimes folks like to have peanut noodles alone or with some small vegetables like peas and corn; but I like adding a lot of vegetables and sometimes tofu. However, with power houses like broccoli and carrots in this dish, plus the peanuts, a protein like tofu wasn’t even necessary. I sauteed the veggies with ginger-infused olive oil, garlic, and onion; if you don’t have the ginger olive oil, you can add some fresh minced ginger root. The veggies only need to saute for a few minutes, so everything can be done in less than 30 minutes, which is key when you’re hungry! After everything is prepared, you strain the pasta, combine with the vegetables, then toss everything with the sauce. Instant lunch!

While the noodle serving has been cut in half for individual servings of this dish, there is still a high carb count; as well as a high protein and fat count; so again, I recommend eating this either before or after a workout. It is a power meal and while eating pre/post-workout is not a requirement, just know that it is indeed a full meal despite its small size!

Lazy Peanut Noodles with Broccoli and Carrots (Serves 2)

¼ cup all natural PB

1 TB agave nectar

2 tsp lime juice

1 TB soy sauce

1/8 tsp cayenne (or more if you want it to be extra spicy!)

1 bundle soba noodles

1 TB ginger-infused olive oil, or regular olive oil

1-2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 1/4-inch piece of onion, finely chopped

1-inch piece fresh ginger, diced (if using regular olive oil)

1-2 cups of broccoli florets

2 small carrots, cut into coins

Mix the PB, agave, lime juice, soy sauce, and cayenne in a small bowl until smooth and well-incorporated. Set aside.

Prepare soba noodles according to package instructions in a large saucepan.

In a skillet, heat oil on medium, then saute the garlic, onion, and ginger (if using) for a couple minutes. Add the broccoli and carrots, and cook for no more than 3-5 minutes. You want the color to deepen and the vegetables to heat through, but not to be soft.

Drain the soba noodles and return to the pot. Add the vegetables, then the peanut sauce. Toss until sauce is incorporated. It may “disappear” into the noodles and veggies but the flavor is all intact! Serve hot.

Bowl o’ Happiness (Veggie and Grain Bowl)

How about some happiness for dinner?

Bowl o' Happiness

Having spent four years cooking in the dorm and several years cooking in a small kitchen, you learn to embrace the skillet meal. I love stir-fry’s because you can cook everything together, you use relatively-little space, and it cooks vegetables to a nice bite which neither steaming nor boiling can hold a candle too. Plus, you can eat everything in one bowl!

While this recipe/incarnation uses quinoa and specific veggies, it’s really a versatile recipe and can be made with whatever grains and vegetables you prefer. Go crazy! This could almost be called Kitchen Sink Stir-Fry but I like Bowl o’ Happiness better because a) it’s more fun to say, and b) it’s true! All those veggies and whole grains cooked in healthy oils and lightly-seasoned? How can you not be smiling with every bite?

Veggies, glorious veggies!

First off, I cooked up some quinoa, which took about ten minutes since I only prepared a single serving. The recipe is even faster and uses less kitchenware if you use pre-baked quinoa. Tip: I usually keep a tupperware of pre-made brown rice or wheat berries in the fridge since these take longer to cook, and don’t go bad super-quickly (but they can go bad after awhile! Originally this meal was gonna have brown rice but the small amount I had left was in the fridge just a little too long). But quinoa is fast-cooking and doesn’t necessarily need to be pre-made; you can chop veggies and prep your other ingredients while it cooks!

To start the stir-fry, I heated a blend of olive and toasted sesame oils in a skillet on medium, then sauteed some onion and garlic for about a minute or two, until the onions started to become translucent. I then added some frozen spinach (which I thawed under running water) and sliced baby portobello mushrooms.

I added the mushrooms and spinach first because both have a pretty high water content and I wanted to let the water steam out some and allow the mushrooms to reduce in size before adding the other veggies. This helps the rest of the veggies stay more crisp and prevents any seasonings from washing off in the water which is coming from the spinach and especially the mushrooms. However, you don’t have to have the water completely gone before adding the rest of the ingredients, just mostly gone. You don’t have to do much stirring here, so this is a good time to do some dishes or prep more veggies if need be.

This is how the mushrooms looked right when I added the other ingredients, just as a guide/suggestion.

Finally, I added everything else – the quinoa, black-eyed peas (like the quinoa, the choice of bean is not limited to one type), carrots, asparagus, frozen peas, and frozen corn. Mm mm, what a colorful skillet! I sauteed the veggies for awhile, then added a generous drizzle of Bragg’s liquid aminos, a lower-sodium sub for soy sauce (but you can use soy sauce if you like, or even just salt). After stirring in the Bragg’s, I allowed the mixture to cook without stirring for a bit, to give them a chance to heat up before tossing them around. And then it was done! This is a nice, simple stir-fry that doesn’t use a lot of spices or sauces, so it gives the veggies a chance to stand out on their own. Besides, sesame oil has such a great flavor on its own, you really don’t need much else.

Bowl o’ Happiness (Veggie + Grain Bowl) (Serves 2, or 1 if you’re famished)

1/4 cup dry quinoa + 1/2 cup water (or 1/2 cup prepared quinoa or other grain)

2 tsp olive oil

1 tsp toasted sesame oil

1 large clove of garlic, diced

2-3 TB diced yellow onion

1/2 cup frozen spinach, slightly thawed

3-4 baby portobellos, sliced

1 medium carrot, chopped

3 spears asparagus, chopped

1/3 cup frozen peas, slightly thawed under running water

1/4 cup frozen corn kernels, slightly thawed

Bragg’s liquid aminos, to taste

In a small sauce pan, bring the quinoa and water to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10-15 minutes, until the water is absorbed and the quinoa has sprouted (when the swirly white part is visible on the grain).

In a medium or large skillet, heat oils on medium, then add the garlic and onion, sauteeing for a minute or two until the onions start to become translucent. Add the spinach and mushrooms and cook for 5-7 minutes, or until the water from the spinach and mushrooms has reduced greatly and the mushrooms have started to shrink (entirely is not necessary). Add the quinoa, beans, carrot, asparagus, peas, and corn, stirring to incorporate. Cook for about a minute, then add the Bragg’s, stirring it into the veggies and quinoa. Cook for about five minutes more, stirring occasionally. Serve hot in your favorite bowl.