Creamy Sweet Rice Salad (formerly known as Rosa Marina Salad)

I promised a short series on breakfasts several months ago…and then I dropped off the face of the planet again.  Sorry.  Life has changed once again and I should be posting more often now.

Preparing fun breakfasts has kinda dropped off around here, too.  I loved eating them, perhaps too much, because I gained weight!  Eating great breakfasts was supposed to help balance the rest of the day and help me eat less, but, apparently, I just love food so much that it didn’t work that way for me.  So, I’ve gone back to a nutrient-packed green smoothie most mornings and save the special breakfasts for special treats.

Rosa MarinaThis salad certainly works for a breakfast treat, or for a healthy dessert!  My preparation of it has changed over the years.  When I first made it, we were vegetarian, but not necessarily healthy ones ~ and it contained eggs, Cool Whip, white sugar, maraschino cherries….obviously, things were going to have to change in the salad when we became vegan and also gave up so many chemicals in our foods!  I finally nailed a tasty version of the salad without maraschino cherries (one of my childhood favorites.)  It still did contain the very small pasta called rosa marina or orzo, which helped the dressing to firm up into a nice, thick creamy dream.

Then…dun, dun, dun…enter gluten issues for me.  This salad was just one of the many casualties of my new way of eating.  It broke my heart (all of the situation, not just losing this salad.)  I tried and tried to come up with suitable replacements, but everything I replaced just failed.  Quinoa was too chewy; long-grained rice’s texture was off; the creamy dressing never set up.  It was very disappointing.  And my family was starting to make disparaging comments about the versions I created, because nothing was as good to them as the orzo!  (Never mind that white flour pasta isn’t good for you and nobody seems to make whole grain orzo.)

This time, I succeeded.  I adjusted the dressing to have less liquid.  I used short grain brown rice to give a better texture and since it is somewhat sticky, it allowed the creamy dressing to thicken properly.  Granted, my family still is a little on the fence about it, because they remember the pasta version and textures are a big deal to them.  Personally, I love it and am so happy to have it back in my life that I fix it despite their opinions.

I’ve been known to add sliced strawberries, fresh or frozen cherries, or blueberries to change things up a bit ~ although they can really change the color of the cream.  (I can guarantee the whole salad to myself this way, because of my fussy eaters, so adding it to individual bowls may work better.)  I have also been toying with the idea of using fresh pineapple, but I’m wondering if that would curdle the cream.  Let me know what adaptations you come up with to try!

Creamy Sweet Rice Salad

  • 1 c. short brown rice
  • 3/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 3/4 c. water (or according to rice package)
  • 2 20-oz cans unsweetened pineapple tidbits, drained (reserve 1 c. of the juice!)
  • 3 11-oz. cans of mandarin orange segments, drained (do NOT reserve the liquid)
  • 1 12-oz pkg. Morinu extra-firm tofu
  • 3/4 c. raw cashews (soak these for 4 hours or so if you don’t have a strong blender)
  • 1 c. reserved pineapple juice
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/3 c. evaporated cane juice crystals OR 1/4 tsp.+ pure stevia OR other equivalent dry sweetener

Cook rice according to package directions, but make sure it is quite well done so that it isn’t too chewy.  Meanwhile, place fruit into a large mixing bowl.  Blend the last 6 ingredients until very smooth and pour over the fruit.  When the rice is ready, mix it into the fruit and cream.  Refrigerate until cold and the cream sets up nicely.

Spicy Vegan Frittata

Spicy Vegan Frittata 005I wish this page was aromatic so that you could get a sense of what this dish is like.  (Because the picture doesn’t do it justice!  I shall have to make another one and take the pictures during the daytime.)  The taste is explosive and the texture creamy, making an unforgettable pairing.  I ate 2 pieces the night I fixed it ~ and truth be told, really wanted more, but didn’t want to look like a total pig.  The next morning, we finished off the leftovers with breakfast.

Overall, my hubby prefers potatoes to any cooked grains and complains that I “never” fix them for him.  Since I’m usually trying to fill the hollow legs of teenaged boys, I tend to opt for the easier/quicker fix of tossing some rice, quinoa, or such into a pan with water and being able to walk away from it for many minutes to fix the rest of the meal.  In comparison, peeling/dicing/mashing enough potatoes to suffice takes a long time.  Since the boys were going to be away at a Super Bowl party on Sunday night, I grabbed a couple of large potatoes to see what I could come up with for just the two of us.  I’ve always wanted to try making a frittata and figured it might be a good time to experiment.  I thought the finished product was a perfect blend of potatoes vs. custardy tofu-ness, however, darling Mr. Potato still thought it needed more potatoes.  🙂  I didn’t try to explain that the ratio needed to be close to the way it was, or it wouldn’t hold together in a “pie” form, because it wouldn’t have changed his mind.  Maybe I should have just made him fried potatoes!  lol  As an added thought, I wouldn’t be afraid to substitute some of the potatoes for other items, such as mushrooms, eggplant, peppers, zucchini, asparagus, or whatever veggies you think sound good.  Let me know what you come up with or if you think I should have added more potatoes.  😀

Spicy Vegan Frittata 001If you are not a fan of spicy food, you should cut the amount of soy chorizo in half, but I wouldn’t totally eliminate it, or you will lose the marvelous blend of spices that it brings to the dish.  You could use some other kinds of faux meat, such as burger crumbles, but you would need to add some extra seasonings to the tofu mix to make up for the missing pizzazz.

Spicy Vegan Frittata

  • 2 large potatoes (don’t use russets here for the best texture), peeled and diced into 3/4″ pieces
  • 2 medium onions, diced/chopped
  • 1-3 T. oil (I used half extra virgin olive oil for flavor and half virgin coconut oil for crispiness and firmness of the outside)
  • 1/2 a package of soy chorizo (1/4 pkg. for less spicy heat)
  • salt
  • 14-16 oz. extra-firm tofu (water packed)
  • 2 T. Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
  • 3 T. chicken-style seasoning
  • 1 garlic clove, sliced
  • plain non-dairy milk – enough to blend into a sour cream consistency
  • 1 c. chopped frozen spinach
  • 1 c. mozzarella-style Daiya cheese (cheddar would work, too)

Preheat oven to 400° F.  In an oven-safe frying pan, saute potatoes and onions in oil(s), salting them moderately.  (If you don’t have a frying pan that can go in the oven, transfer the sauteed veggies into a very large pie pan or round casserole dish before you add the blended mixture, stirring them around in it to distribute the oil thoroughly to the sides of the pan.)  Add chorizo after about 10-15 minutes.  Blend the tofu, Bragg’s, chicken-style seasoning, garlic, and enough non-dairy milk until smooth and the texture of thick and creamy sour cream.  When the potatoes are slightly tender, but not completely cooked through, taste them to see if more salt is needed for your tastes – add it at this time if needed.  Turn off the heat and stir the tofu mixture into the potatoes.  Toss in the spinach and cheese and stir to evenly distribute.  Smooth the top of the mixture.

Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until the middle is set.  Cut and serve.

Sweet and Sour Bok Choy and Tofu

I love sweet and sour stir-fries.  Half of my children do, too.  The other half and hubby, however, do not…or should I say DO NOT.  If I’m going to make it, I do it for lunch for myself and anybody who might be interested.

This week I found some organic bok choy and knew it was time to experiment.  This is just a simple little dish, but it makes a very satisfying lunch.  I didn’t have time to cook any rice and had none leftover, either, so we ate it plain for a late “noon” meal.  It was delicious.  I would have liked more of the greens from the bok choy for eye-appeal, though.  Some sweet red pepper pieces would have helped with the colorfulness, too.  For a better view of the picture below, click on it.  It looks tastier that way.  🙂

Sweet and Sour Bok Choy and Tofu

  • approximately 2-3 T. virgin coconut oil, decrease if desired
  • 1 small onion, quartered and sliced
  • 1 small bunch bok choy, chopped into separate pieces of stem and leaves
  • 1/4 lb. of frozen diced pineapple pieces, or to taste
  • 1 T. minced ginger, or more
  • 1 lb. extra-firm tofu, diced
  • 1 1/2 T. chicken-style seasoning
  • Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
  • 1/4 c. demerara sugar, or brown sugar
  • 1 T. (loose) cornstarch
  • 2 T. water

Melt the coconut oil in a large skillet.  Toss in onion, bok choy stem pieces, pineapple, ginger, and tofu.  Squirt Bragg’s back and forth over pan, stirring to distribute.  Begin cooking on medium high heat.  Sprinkle the chicken-style seasoning over all and stir well.  Cook for 5 minutes or so.  Add bok choy leafy pieces and demerara or brown sugar.  Cook until bok choy is as tender as desired.  Stir together cornstarch and water and pour it into the skillet, stirring constantly.  Add more Bragg’s as desired for flavor and saltiness.  Serve plain or over rice.

Variations:  Add sliced/diced mushrooms, celery, and/or bell peppers.  You may need to increase ginger, seasonings, and sweeteners, depending on how much you add.

Southwestern Skillet

If you are a new vegan, you may not have heard the question very often, “Where do you get your protein?”  (Well, just wait…you will.  For some reason, folks think if you don’t chew on an animal part or drink cow’s milk that there is no protein available to you.  Unfortunately, they forget that cows, pigs, and, yes, even gigantic elephants get their protein from…wait for it…plant food.)

As I was throwing this and that into this dish, I realized that it was going to be stacked with protein.  I was tempted to call it “Southwestern So-Where-Do-You-Get-Your-Protein Skillet,” but that seemed a bit cumbersome.  ;D  While I have pictured this served over rice, if you instead served it over quinoa, you would ramp up the protein even more (and it would be more authentic to the Southwest, for that matter.)  But seriously, it isn’t necessary to do that.  There’s plenty here without it.

This is a great dish to make when you get home from the grocery store and realize that either you missed just how ripe those tomatoes were that you bought, or the bag-boy/girl packed them in the bag next to the canned goods and they are smooshed and must be used right now, or be thrown away.  (Not that I’m bitter…)

I also noticed as I was putting this together that it appeared I was writing a commercial for Trader Joe’s!  It wasn’t meant that way, it just happened.  Since not everyone has access to one of those marvelous stores, I wrote the recipe non-brand-specific, but mentioned some of the products that I used.

This is also very tasty without the beans, but they really add a nice note to the dish.  If you are not a spicy-food fan, I would suggest cutting the chorizo in half.  If you like burn-your-mouth-off spicy, then cut down on the tofu.  If you don’t have some of the veggies on hand, throw in a jar of salsa instead – it won’t be quite as tasty, but in a pinch, sometimes you have to make due.  Also, if at all possible, use organic products for the best flavor.

Southwestern Skillet

  • 1 lg. onion, chopped
  • 8 oz. of frozen tri-colored bell pepper pieces/strips (half of the Trader Joe’s bag)
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • 12 oz. soy chorizo (Trader Joe’s has a brand of this, and Tofurkey just brought one out, though I haven’t tried it yet)
  • 1 pkg. 14-16 oz. extra-firm water-packed tofu, rinsed, drained, and gently squeezed out
  • Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
  • 1/4-1/3 of a pound-bag of frozen sweet corn (Trader Joe’s white sweet corn is unparalleled for flavor)
  • 2 small or medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 can black beans, drained

Place the onion and peppers in a large skillet with some olive oil to saute.  Open the chorizo (there is no good way to do this, except maybe slit the casing up the entire side and scoop it out) and add it to the skillet.  When the onions are softening a little, crumble the tofu into the pan and squirt it in a few zig-zags of Bragg’s over it.  Stir.  When everything is bubbling, stir in the corn, tomatoes, and beans.  Cook just long enough to warm the last few ingredients.

Serve over brown rice or quinoa, with optional vegan cheese, soy sour cream, and/or avocado.

Sun-Dried Tomato Tofu Spread

My husband isn’t a fan of sandwiches.  Actually, there are a number of food things of which he isn’t a fan.  It can make preparing food difficult if I cater to his tastes.  Thankfully, he’s not demanding about it and will quietly eat whatever is set in front of him (unlike my fussy eater…who should know better at almost 15.)  This was his favorite spread of the 3 that I made last week.

That being said, his favorite way of eating it wasn’t on a sandwich!  (No surprise there!)  He put it on top of leftover rice and heated it in the microwave.  Then after tasting it he said something about ketchup….*gasp!*  (I’m telling you, having a non-taster destroy finely-tuned “gourmet” dishes can do something to your psyche!  lol) I couldn’t bear it.  I said, “Here, give it to me.”  And disappeared into the kitchen.  There was half a jar of pizza sauce and some vegan mozzarella cheese leftover in the frig.  I topped the whole thing artfully with those items and reheated it all in the microwave.  Now you know why it was his favorite of the fillings ~ because it was more like a pizza casserole!  (Actually, it smelled wonderful heated up even before I embellished it.  It probably would make into patties or meatballs, or into a casserole situation very nicely.)

Nevertheless, this does make a marvelous sandwich spread.  I can say this not only because I like it so much, but because my fussy eater loved it ~ even though it does have sun-dried tomatoes in it!

If you use organic ingredients (as in any recipe), the results will be tastier.

Tofu Spread

  • 1/2 c. pecan meal (or very finely chopped pecans – you can do this in the food processor before you chop any of the other moist ingredients)
  • 1/4 of a large onion
  • 1 7-8″ stalk of celery heart, cut into several chunks
  • 14-16 oz. water-packed extra-firm tofu, rinsed and squeezed out some
  • 1/4 c. sliced or diced sun-dried tomatoes ~ oil packed
  • 1 T. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. basil
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 c. Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
  • 1 T. nutritional yeast

Place pecan meal in a bowl.  Finely chop onion and celery in food processor.  Place in the bowl with the pecan meal.

Process remaining ingredients until sun-dried tomatoes are mostly in small pieces and tofu is not smooth, but evenly textured and well mixed with everything else.  (See picture.)  Scrape out into the bowl with pecan meal, onion, and celery.  Stir everything is evenly combined.  Chill for an hour or so to meld flavors.

Sweet and Savory Walnut-Olive Spread

The weather suddenly decided it’s summer ~ and it’s too hot to cook.  (Hey, going from chilly to very warm in a short time makes me whine about cooking!)  I thought maybe cold sandwiches would work for a change from salads of varying types.  I didn’t want anything typical, boring, or mundane, though, since my crew isn’t marvelously thrilled by sandwiches to begin with ~ except my son-in-law, bless his easy-to-cook-for heart!

Considering the fact that many vegan-spread recipes I already had on hand contained beans and/or bread crumbs (which I needed to avoid this time for allergy-sake), I went searching.  I started looking online (what a marvelous resource!) and found this recipe.  But I didn’t have any limes or fresh parsley.  Rats.  (I did have lemons…does that count?)  I decided to make it anyway and use the lemons to replace the lime juice.  They’re similar, right?

Well…it was kinda plain, even with the lemon juice.  I didn’t want to throw it out ~ and serving it “as is” was tantamount to doing the same thing ~ just a few days later when nobody touches as leftovers.  I started throwing things in that might “fix” it.  Some of them might seem a bit unorthodox, but what emerged was pretty tasty!

This is a thick spread.  It would work well on celery, crackers, or bread ~ or in a lettuce wrap!  My favorite way was on celery.

Stay tuned…there will be 2 more sandwich spreads coming in the next couple of days!

Sweet and Savory Walnut-Olive Spread

  • 1 c. walnuts, soaked 2-4 hours (if for only 2 hours, change the water once or twice to speed the process up a bit)
  • 2/3 c. pitted black olives
  • 1 carrot, finely grated
  • 2 T. minced sweet onion
  • 1 T. dried cranberries
  • 2 T. nutritional yeast
  • 2 T. almond butter
  • 1/4 tsp. dillweed
  • 1 T. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. maple syrup (opt., but it really gives a deep note of flavor)

Place all ingredients in a food processor and process until everything is well combined.  Scrape the sides often to keep things moving, as it’s very thick.  Don’t process so long that the walnuts become walnut butter, but long enough to make the cranberries turn into little pieces or flecks.

Vegan Flat Meatballs or Meatloaf

Sometimes I discover a great dish completely by accident.  Sometimes I even discover two ~ with the same ingredients!  A few weeks ago, I had some packaged vegan “meatballs” from Trader Joe’s that I wanted to use up in spaghetti sauce over pasta.  Hubby and I are avoiding wheat, so I had to find something else for us while the teenage vacuums ate the meatballs and pasta.  I had 6 or 8 small leftover Unburgers in the freezer.  I figured those would work for us as a kind of, well, flat meatball.  I layered them with spaghetti sauce and popped them into the microwave.  We scooped them onto cooked rice ~ and it was unbelievably good!  (Hubby did say he’d prefer not having the sunflower seeds in the Unburgers this way.  I didn’t mind them.)

Segue to last Friday.  I needed food prepared ahead of time that could be reheated in the oven for after church the next day.  I remembered just how good those Unburgers were as flat meatballs.  I didn’t have enough leftover Unburgers in the freezer (I was down to 1), and I wanted to omit the sunflower seeds this time for hubby’s and an allergic family member’s sake anyway.  So, I whipped up a fresh batch of very large patties (4 1/2-5 inches.)  I thought about trying to form them into balls and baking them, but I didn’t have the energy or time to experiment.  I layered the patties in a 4-qt. dish with spaghetti sauce, filling all the nooks and crannies with sauce, too.  (I had a loaded casserole and only 2 patties leftover.)  I covered the dish with foil and popped them in the frig until the next morning.  I put them in my automatic oven the next day set to bake for an hour along with some smashed potatoes.  Unfortunately, we had car trouble after church and didn’t get home and eat until much later than planned.  The oven had stayed warm for the most part, so I just turned it back on for 15 minutes or so when we got home to make sure everything was hot enough.

Surprise!!  My flat meatballs and sauce destined for topping the smashed potatoes had turned into something completely different!  The Unburgers soaked up all the excess moisture from the spaghetti sauce and became a marvelous super thick meatloaf!  I quickly pulled out some vegan-style “butter” and soy sour cream for the potatoes that were now without their saucy topping.  Everybody ~ all 7 of us ~ loved it!  And that 4-qt. dish?  Well, there was only half of it gone, even after J ate his fill.  Next time I will make a smaller pan and save the other Unburgers in the freezer for an “oh-no!-there’s-nothing-in-the-house-to-eat-fast-and-we-have-to-leave-soon” night.  (Come on…you don’t have those nights?  Then how about an “oh-no!-I’m-too-blasted-tired-to-cook” night?  Uh-huh…I thought so.)

So, now I have 2 recipes ~ sort of.  Wait…actually there are 3 things that can be done with the Unburger ingredients list.  How handy!  This is multi-tasking in triplicate.  😀

If any of you like to experiment, try forming the Unburger batter into meatballs and bake or fry them.  Then let me know how it comes out.

Vegan Flat Meatballs or Meatloaf

  • Leftover Unburgers (or a fresh batch)
  • spaghetti sauce (I used a fairly plain one with mushrooms)
  • rice, pasta, or mashed potatoes

Layer Unburgers with spaghetti sauce (plenty if you want saucy flat meatballs) and either immediately heat up and serve over hot rice, pasta, or mashed potatoes, or cover and refrigerate; heat at 375° for 45-60 minutes the next day and serve as a meatloaf-style dish.

Vegan Mock Meatloaf

This recipe took a few sideways steps over the years.  I grew up eating my mom’s meatloaf – of the cow variety.  When hubby and I became vegetarians, I learned about a mock meatloaf called cottage cheese loaf.  It was tasty – after all, most recipes contained gobs of cottage cheese, eggs, and butter/margarine – but far from healthy.  My very favorite version repeatedly received rave reviews.  But hold the phone! ~ there was another necessary morph coming.  I next needed a vegan version without unhealthy levels of fats.  (Vegan doesn’t necessarily mean healthy, you know…potato chips are vegan.)  We ate some “interesting” concoctions as I played with ingredients trying to get the taste I remembered.  Now I get rave reviews over my vegan version!

Mock Loaf

  • 1 c. walnuts
  • 4 ½ c. semi-crushed cereal (see note)
  • 1 c. water (if you aren’t trying to eat completely fat-free, I recommend replacing 2 T. of the water with olive oil for better texture)
  • 2 large onions (at least 2 cups worth once it’s chopped)
  • 2 boxes Mori-nu Lite extra-firm tofu, drained
  • 4 ½ T. Ener-G egg replacer powder
  • 3-4 T. “chicken”-style seasoning

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9″ x13″ pan with olive oil.  Chop walnuts in food processor; set aside.  Semi-crush cereal flakes in food processor or with potato masher (depending on which cereal you use); set aside with nuts.  Chop onions in food processor and place in skillet to simmer with 1 c. water until onion is softened – about 5 minutes.  (If you prefer a drier end product, decrease the water by 2-3 T.  My family likes a very moist loaf.)  In large bowl, mash tofu with a potato masher until the consistency of small-curd cottage cheese.  Stir “chicken” seasoning and egg-replacer powder into tofu.  Add the reserved nuts and cereal; mix until evenly distributed.  By this time, the onions should be ready.  Do not drain the water off of the onions, but pour them both into the tofu mixture.  Stir vigorously until everything begins to stick together quite well, as the water and egg replacer powder come together.  Scrape into prepared pan.  Flatten and smooth into corners.  Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour (or if preparing ahead, bake for only 45 minutes, reheating at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes).  This also freezes well.  Thaw before reheating in oven.

NOTE: If you prefer using “Special K” or “Product 19″ cereals you may, but to avoid refined sugars, etc., that they contain, you may use something like Kashi “Good Friends” cereal* or another flake cereal* from the health-food section of your grocery store.

*will most likely need food processor to crush.

Vegetable Tofu Penne

I should probably rename this recipe for the blog, because when I went to reach for my pasta in the cupboard, I discovered it wasn’t penne at all.  It was shells.  It’s not that penne and shells taste differently.  But the texture isn’t quite the same.  And ~ honestly ~ it doesn’t look as interesting with shells.  Oh, well.  Shells it is!

One dish meals are marvelous inventions.  However, if you end up with a crowd to eat this, just put a fresh veggie tray out with colorful produce and it will really make your table pop!

This recipe happened the first time because of what was pouring out of the garden!  Since then nobody wants me to wait until the peak of summer to serve it.  It’s best ~ and amazing ~ when you have fresh tomatoes instead of canned, and fresh basil (!), and raw spinach, and….oh, you get the idea.  Other veggies can show up in this, too.  I’ve used eggplant, broccoli, and asparagus, too.  Any way you fix it, though, it will make your taste buds happy.  Leftovers reheat in the microwave well, or you can eat it as a cold pasta salad if you are like me and my daughter (the guys head for the microwave.)

One note ~ not everyone loves sun-dried tomatoes.  I tried leaving them out, but the flavor wasn’t the same.  Even those who pawn their sun-dried tomatoes off on me after picking them out of their own serving complained that it didn’t taste as good without them.  So…even if you have to pick them out later, don’t leave them out.

Vegetable Tofu Penne

  • 1 lb. penne pasta (or other style)**
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 1 very large onion or several smaller ones
  • 2-3 lg. garlic cloves, sliced
  • 3-4 small zucchini, diced or quartered
  • 16 oz. firm or ex-firm tofu
  • Braggs liquid aminos
  • 2 T. chicken-style seasoning
  • 8 oz. fresh baby spinach leaves, frozen chopped spinach, or leftover cooked spinach
  • 1 can portabella mushroom pieces
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, drained (not petite diced)
  •  ½ c. sundried tomatoes packed in oil, drained
  • 2 T. basil (more if fresh)
  • 1 ½ tsp. Italian seasoning
  • Veggie (soy) Parmesan cheese or mozzarella style
  • salt to taste

In a large non-stick skillet, sauté onion in olive oil until a few pieces of onion are just beginning to brown.  Add zucchini and garlic; stir.  Heat water for the pasta to cook while you continue the next steps (toss in the pasta when you notice it boiling and cook according to directions on box – it should be ready when the vegetables are.)  Drain and then break up or dice the tofu and stir to the zucchini.  Squirt in some Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, zig-zagging quickly back and forth across the skillet a few times.  Sprinkle the chicken-style seasoning across the tofu and stir until well distributed. If you are using fresh or frozen spinach and/or fresh basil, add at this time.  Wait a minute or two before adding the tomatoes and mushrooms, unless you are using leftover spinach. Toss in the rest of seasonings, stir in veggie Parmesan cheese to taste, and turn down the heat.

When the pasta is cooked, drain and combine with the veggies. Serve with extra veggie Parmesan.

**Since I wrote this recipe, manufacturers have ceased to fill their pasta boxes with 16 oz.  They now put in 13.25 oz.  The funny thing is that the boxes are still the same size.  So, buy 2 boxes and fill one of them to the top.  That will give you approximately the 1 pound box that the recipe calls for.  Or just use less pasta.  It’s your call.  🙂

General Tso’s Broccoli and Tofu

I have fallen in love with General Tso’s sauce!  Yes, it is bottled, and no, I haven’t figured out how to make it myself.  Which may be part of why I love it so much.  It’s easier.  We all like easier, don’t we?  (Addendum ~ necessity is the mother of invention, so I eventually made my own.  See that recipe here.)

I have 2 brands of General Tso’s sauce that I’ve used and like equally as well ~ Iron Chef’s (15 oz.) and Mikee’s (20 oz.).  Iron Chef’s is probably easier to find in the International section of your grocery store.  I scored major points by finding it in a close-out store at a fabulous price!  I was hooked.  My married daughter and I bought every bottle in the store.  🙂  I kept my eye out for the next kind that might show up – and that’s when I found Mikee’s.  Watch the ingredients label on other brands, because some contain oyster something-or-other and some have corn syrup.

Note:  The picture depicts a double batch with the larger amount of broccoli.  (Remember, folks, I’m feeding two teenaged boys!)

This takes less than an hour from start of rice to completion – and some of that time I spent writing this (and the rest I typed while I ate since everybody else was gone tonight.)  To speed things up even more, you can buy raw broccoli pieces already cut up.

General Tso’s Broccoli and Tofu

  • 2 c. uncooked brown rice
  • 1 lb. water-packed tofu
  • 1 T. oil (I prefer extra virgin olive oil)
  • Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
  • 1 onion (the size of your onion depends on how much you like onion)
  • 6-8 c. (or more!) raw broccoli (2 medium broccoli crowns are about 6 c.) – you can use some cauliflower, as well, but the broccoli makes a more attractive dish
  • 1 T. olive oil (opt.)
  • water
  • General Tso’s sauce (Iron Chef or other brand – at least 15 oz.)

First begin cooking your rice according to package instructions.  (I use about 2 T. less water per cup of rice than most packages call for and less than 1 tsp. of salt per cup of rice.  I always make extra and keep it in the refrigerator or freezer for quick use later in the week.)  If the rice finishes before everything else, just stir it, push it to the side or back of the stove, and leave the lid on until serving time.

Dice tofu into 1″x1″x1/2″ pieces (approximately).  Heat 1 T. oil in a frying pan for a brief time at medium heat.  Toss tofu in the oil until fairly evenly coated.  Zig-zag the Bragg’s across the tofu about 8 passes (each zig and each zag is one pass) across the pan.  Stir the tofu again to distribute the liquid.  Turn the heat up to medium high.  Stir/Turn occasionally until tofu is browned.  (Tofu gets heavier as it browns causing the browned side to want to stay down, so if you see a lot of little white squares of tofu staring up at you after a while, you need to flip them over individually.)

While tofu is cooking, saute the onion and oil in another frying pan or dutch oven (you may use water instead of as much oil, but watch it carefully so that it doesn’t burn, adding more water as necessary.)  Cut up broccoli into bite-sized pieces and toss in with the onion.  If the onion starts to brown, turn the heat off until you are finished cutting up the broccoli.  Drizzle in 1-2 T. more water and cover to steam, stirring often. You may need to add more water as it cooks so that they don’t burn on the bottom – but just enough to steam the veggies, not boil them.

Continue cooking the tofu until lightly browned (a lid will speed the process once the liquid has boiled off) and the broccoli until fork tender.  When the broccoli is near completion, remove the lid to allow the remaining drizzled-in water to escape.  (If left in, it will water down the sauce.  For some reason, the broccoli holds the water hidden until the sauce hits it if you don’t do this step.)  Toss together in largest pan and pour General Tso sauce over it all according to taste.  (I like plenty so that it soaks into the rice some.

Serve rice on individual plates and cover with the vegetable mixture.

Makes a medium frying pan full.  (I can’t gauge serving sizes of this, because of the magnitude of my boys’ appetites!)