My Favorite Easy Meal

One of my favorite formulas for putting together a reasonably easy, reasonably healthy meal is to combine a grain, a green, and a protein. Around my house, the protein is usually tofu or beans. Really, that’s all you need, so you could stop there.

I love having tons of vegetables on my plate, though, because you get a satisfying amount of volume and nutrition but it doesn’t add up to millions of calories. You can eat a virtual mountain of food and feel quite nutritionally smug (if, you know, feeling smug about nutrition is your thing). At any rate, this meal also has carrots and mushrooms, but it could include any other vegetables you like — I bet roasted bell peppers would be great, eggplant, sweet potato…try whatever.

As an example, tonight I made a different version of this with roasted tomatoes, artichokes, and garbanzo beans, with feta, lemon juice, and kalamata olives as the garnish. It was also really good (but missing something?), and I’ll probably keep working on that variation, too. That said, the version shown below is my favorite:

[132/365] Favorite

Ingredients:

[A little disclaimer: Okay, look, I’m not married to any of these ingredients/amounts. This is really more of a meal concept than a recipe, but I did try to include specifics here in case you want to try it. But know that you can change it up, tweak, and experiment. Whatever you make following this concept should basically be healthy and a great vehicle for peanut sauce, is the main point. So here’s what I do:]

  • 1 block tofu
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • sriracha to taste
  • 1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
  • 2-3 cloves minced fresh garlic
  • 3-4 medium carrots, cut into sticks
  • 1 container mushrooms (any variety), quartered
  • as much kale as you can fit into a big pan
  • quinoa (1/4 cup dry per person)
  • lime wedges
  • cilantro for garnish

First, you’ll need to follow the baked tofu procedure outlined here. The short version: freeze the block overnight, thaw it, thoroughly squeeze/drain the water out, cube it, marinate it, bake at 425-ish for 20-ish minutes.

In this case, I went with a marinade of sesame oil, soy sauce, sriracha, and minced fresh ginger and garlic.  Don’t worry too much about exact quantities or having all the ingredients. Just go with it — this is hard to mess up. If you’re in a hurry or don’t have fresh ginger on hand, for example, leave it out. It’s fine.

So, first, prepare tofu as described/linked above.

Save the marinade bowl from your tofu and toss the cut carrots around in there. They don’t need much to taste good roasted, so don’t worry if there isn’t much left. A lot of it probably soaked into your tofu.

When you put the tofu in to bake, put in a sheet pan with your carrots on it as well — they usually take about the same amount of time (~25 minutes, checking/turning in the middle).

At the same time, put your quinoa in your rice cooker, per the rice cooker’s proportions/directions, and let that do its thing. No rice cooker? (WHY NOT?!) There’s probably a good stovetop method for quinoa, but I don’t know it. This looks fine.

The mushrooms can be quickly sautéed with a little olive oil and just a dash of sesame oil; same with the kale. They’ll both cook pretty quickly, so I start these when the tofu and carrots have been cooking for about 15 minutes.

If you timed it right, everything should be done at the same time.

I build a massive pile on my plate, starting with Kale Mountain, topped with a big scoop of quinoa, and then adding tons of carrots, mushrooms, and tofu. Then, plenty of peanut sauce, fresh cilantro, and a squeeze of lime. Some sriracha, too, because why not?

Peanut Sauce:

  • 1 huge glob crunchy peanut butter (2-4 tbsp? I don’t know. Just glob it.)
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • sriracha to taste
  • 1-4 tbsp of water (to thin to desired consistency)

Mix up everything but the water, then start adding water one tablespoon at a time until you reach the desired consistency. At first, it will look like this mess doesn’t want to come together smoothly, but give it time. It will. And it will be awesome.

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One thought on “My Favorite Easy Meal

  1. runningrosie24 June 11, 2014 / 1:24 pm

    I’m loving the sound of this meal. For some reason, my creative juices are flowing on hyperdrive these days–maybe I’m too well-rested? At any rate, I’m in the mood to try new recipes, and I want to add this one to the list 🙂 (You had me at peanut sauce.)

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