Every so often, the old vegan in me or Michael kicks us and says, hey, guys, what about me? It’s hard for me to help it: I am much more passionate about vegetables than I am about pretty much any meat (my exceptions: grass-fed steak; salmon; bacon). I understand vegetables. I know how to cook them and how to season them and most importantly, I know what I like about them. Meat is almost always a shot in the dark for me. I couldn’t fry a piece of chicken to save my life. But I can fry tofu.
Enter this meal. A brick of tofu, an assortment of vegetables, a peanut butter and coconut milk based sauce. It’s not the lowest carbohydrate meal or the highest protein meal but it is packed with vegetables and flavor and texture. It is also free of any animal products, which can be a welcome change of pace.
Pan-Fried Tofu and Vegetables with Peanut Sauce
6 tablespoons Natural Peanut Butter, creamy
1/4 cup Coconut Milk, full fat
1/3 cup water to thin the sauce (you may need more)
Sweetener equivalent to 2-3 tablespoons Sugar. I used liquid splenda.
Juice of half a lime
1 tablespoon Soy Sauce
1 teaspoon Sesame Oil
1 1/2 tablespoons Ginger Garlic Paste (or you could do two teaspoons each of minced garlic and grated ginger)
1/4 teaspoon of Sriracha (if you have it on hand)
Crushed Red Pepper, to taste
Brick extra firm tofu, drained and pressed
Vegetables of your choosing, at least 4 cups. We used 1 cup broccoli; 4 oz snow peas; 2 cups bok choy (it cooked down a LOT); 8 oz mushrooms and one green bell pepper. I did not use any onion to keep the carb count low.
Avocado, lime and cilantro for garnish.
Oil – we used canola and sesame oil to fry the tofu and cook the vegetables. Probably a tablespoon of canola and maybe 1-2 teaspoons sesame oil.
Mix all the sauce ingredients together in a bowl until smooth and set aside. I like my sauce to be pretty sweet and spicy, since the vegetables won’t be seasoned. Drain the tofu – I also press mine. I happen to have a tofu press (which looks an awful lot like flower presses I used to use back in the day) but you can also wrap the tofu in a kitchen towel, place it between two plates and weigh the top plate with a can or something and let it be for at least half an hour. While you’re doing that you can prep your vegetables. I steamed my broccoli ahead of time, and also cleaned, trimmed and chopped the bok choy, mushrooms, snow peas and bell pepper. The white parts of the bok choy, the mushrooms and the pepper I set aside in one bowl and then the greens of the bok choy, the snow peas and the steamed and drained broccoli I put in another container.
Once the tofu has pressed for at least half an hour, chop it into 1/2 inch cubes. My cubes were bigger and harder to fry evenly. Set a pan on medium-high heat and add a tablespoon canola oil and maybe a teaspoon of sesame oil. Once the oil is heated, add your tofu. Stir it as you cook it to brown each side. The browned tofu will be crispy on the outside and creamy and almost airy on the inside (this is especially aided by the pressing beforehand). Once the tofu is done, take it out of the pan and set it aside. There should be some oil left in the pan – if not add some additional sesame oil and throw the tougher vegetables in: the whites of the bok choy, the pepper and the mushrooms. Keep stirring your vegetables for a few minutes then add the broccoli, snow peas and and the greens from the bok choy. Cook an additional 2-3 minutes, until the greens of the bok choy have wilted. Add the peanut sauce to the pan and continue stirring. Serve with lime slices, chopped cilantro and avocado as garnish.
This made four servings. I didn’t include garnishes in the nutrition information below, but we each ate half an avocado as garnish (a not insignificant quantity of tasty fat and fiber, but it also added 2 grams carbohydrate to our meal.)
Nutrition Information (per serving):
Calories: 392 kcal
Total Fat: 28 g
Saturated Fat: 5.5 g
Total Carbohydrate: 15.5 g
Fiber: 5 g
Protein: 19 g
Net Carbohydrate: 10.5 g