My Buddha Bowl a/k/a Deconstructed Vietnamese spring rolls

buddhabowlSometimes I have lunch at a little Viet-Thai restaurant with my work team. The restaurant makes killer fresh vegetable spring  rolls served with a spicy peanut dipping sauce.

I’m not particularly adept at rolling things – burritos, sleeping bags, you name it. So I recreated those glorious spring rolls by deconstructing them and turning them into a Buddha bowl of sorts. This may not be the usual Buddha bowl, but you will reach nirvana when you eat it.

My Buddha bowl is made up of: leaf lettuce, carrots, cucumber, radishes, roasted tofu and mung bean (also known as glass) noodles. I eat it like a salad with spicy peanut sauce.

Do not be deterred by the long list of ingredients and steps. This dish is easy and worthy! And there are really three recipes in one here since the baked tofu and spicy peanut sauce have multiple uses.

You do need to plan ahead a bit. You need at least 2 hours to make the baked tofu – one hour for marinating, 30 minutes to bake  and then your prep and cooling time. Everything else comes together in 15 minutes. I promise.

This recipe makes 2 ENORMOUS Buddha bowls.

Baked tofu – you can even make this a day ahead  

12 oz block firm tofu

2 Tbsp cooking sherry or cheap red wine

2 Tbsp soya sauce or tamari

1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil.

Slice the tofu into 8 slices. Put the slices flat between clean paper towels or kitchen towels and press down with the heel of your hands to squeeze out as much moisture as possible without squishing or flattening the slices. You want dry tofu!

Arrange the tofu in a single layer on a baking sheet.

In a small bowl or glass, mix the sherry or wine, soya sauce or tamari and sesame oil. Pour over the tofu and let the tofu marinade for at least one hour and up to 4 hours (not longer – the tofu can get bitter) in the fridge. You can turn the tofu once if you want, but it’s not necessary – it’ll sop up all the flavour it needs.

Bake the tofu at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Let cool. I slice the tofu into strips for the Buddha bowl, but also use this baked tofu in sandwiches or on its own as a delicious snack.

the Buddha bowl veggies

1 – 2 carrots sliced into long strips (or cut in coins or diced)

½ English cucumber cut into long strips

5 – 6 radishes sliced

1 head leaf lettuce washed and cut into bite size pieces

2 bundles of mung bean noodles or rice vermicelli or similar (all packages of these noodles that I’ve ever seen come in little nests or bundles of about 1-2 oz each)

Prepare the noodles according to package directions which typically involves putting the noodles in a heatproof bowl or measuring cup and pouring boiling water over them. They will “cook” in about 10 minutes… enough time to prep your salad and the chili sauce. Once they are cooked, drain well in a mesh strainer.

Audrey’s spicy peanut sauce

2 green onions sliced

2 cloves garlic minced

1/3 cup vegetable broth or water

Juice of 1 lime

3 Tbsp peanut butter (just peanuts peanut butter – no icing sugar and weird oil and stuff)

3 Tbsp soya sauce or tamari

2 Tbsp toasted sesame oil

2 tsp chili powder

½ tsp powdered ginger

½ tsp cumin

1 tsp chili paste (I use sambal oelek)

Put all the ingredients in a small sauce pan and heat so the peanut butter melts and everything blends together. Let cool and pour over your Buddha bowl. This sauce is also excellent tossed with noodles and veggies for a quick pasta dish and makes an excellent dipping sauce.

Arrange the vegetables two very large bowls along with the sliced roasted tofu and the cooked, cooled noodles. You can add toasted sesame seeds and spicy pickled vegetables (shown) for garnish. Serve with the spicy peanut sauce over top. Eat and enjoy!

 

Tomato and basil pasta – easy, fast and fresh!

Tomatopasta

Whatcha going to do with all those beautiful, rosy tomatoes in the garden?? This is one of my longstanding, favourite pasta dishes. Before I went vegan, I ate it with feta or parmesan cheese. Now, I sprinkle it with my vegan version of parmesan. The beauty of this dish is it’s ridiculously easy to make, super fast, and taste like summer time. Using fresh, good quality tomatoes and fresh basil is key.

Tomato basil pasta

2-3 ripe tomatoes chopped (use more or less depending on their size and how much you love tomatoes)

1 small jar or can of artichokes (about a cup). Cut roughly

2/3 cup fresh basil torn or cut

1/3 cup sliced olives (or more – I love olives)

1 Tbsp good olive oil

2-3 cloves garlic minced

9-10 ounces spaghetti or spaghettini

Cook the pasta according to directions. While it’s cooking, chop the tomatoes, artichokes and basil and put in a large bowl. Add the olives, olive oil, minced garlic and toss. When the pasta is done, drain and add to the bowl and toss well. Serve immediately.

My mother would actually eat this dish the next day cold as a salad and add cucumbers to it. You could give that a go too.

Serve with a good grind of fresh pepper and vegan parmesan.

Makes 3 huge or 4 generous servings.

Vegan parmesan

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/3 cup nutritional yeast

1/3 cup raw almonds (no skins)

1/3 cup toasted sesame seeds (I toast mine on a sheet of tin foil in the toaster oven at 400 degrees for 4 minutes)

Grind everything together in a blender or food processor and store in the fridge in a sealed container. It’ll keep for 2-3 weeks.

Linguini with spicy peanut sauce, kale and tempeh

linguiniTempehKale

If you had told me even a year ago that I’d eat kale and tempeh and like it, I would have laughed at you. But this saucy number changed everything.

The original recipe is from The Thug Kitchen. This is my lazy-ass thug version.

Noodles with peanut sauce, kale and tempeh

10 oz linguine (or other pasta)

8 oz tempeh

1 bunch kale (about 6-8 cups once you’ve torn and washed it)

For the sauce

1/3 cup peanut butter (NOT the stuff with extra chemicals and sugar – just peanuts peanut butter)

1/3 cup vegetable broth

2 tsp chili paste (I used sambal oelek)

1 green onion sliced

2 cloves garlic minced

2 tsp grated ginger (or if you’re feeling super lazy, use ½ tsp ground ginger)

1 ½ Tbsp dark sesame oil

Juice of ½ lime

1 ½ Tbsp rice vinegar

2 Tbsp soya sauce or tamari

Cook the linguini according to package instructions. Use a big pot because you’ll be adding the kale and tempeh.

Wash and tear the kale into bite-size pieces. Do not worry about drying the kale. It’s going in the pot.

Cut the tempeh into dice-sized cubes.

When the noodles are done, turn off the heat. Add the kale and tempeh. Doing this blanches the kale quickly and perfectly preps the tempeh, which can have a sour aftertaste if it’s not cooked/steamed.

As soon as you have everything in the pot, drain the water. Put it in a big bowl, awaiting sauce.

For the sauce – in a sauce pan, mix all the sauce ingredients over medium heat until they are blended. Pour over the noodles/kale/tempeh and toss together.

Enjoy!! Makes 4 delicious servings.