After a brief hiatus, I’m back! This time of the year at work is incredibly, incredibly busy for me and in between long days and long sessions at the gym I’ve not found the time to blog (for shame!). I’ve been formulating a couple of posts in my head which will go up in the next couple of days, but for tonight I’ve got an awesome recipe which I’d love to share with you!
Now, first thing’s first: I’m no food blogger. I read the beautifully crafted posts by the ladies behind my favourite healthy living blogs such as Emily at the Daily Garnish, Caitlin at Healthy Tipping Point, Meghann at Meals And Miles and my friend Angharad over at Eating for England, and I wonder how on earth they can put together and blog about such aesthetically appealing dishes, whilst keep their kitchens so neat and maintaining their sanity and inspiration! Mad props to them and everyone else on my blogroll who writes about food as creating this one post has taken over my entire evening. Anyway; the long and short of it is – my kitchen’s a tip, my presentation is nothing special and the photos are a bit dodge; but the recipe’s a cracker so give it a shot!
So – what are we making tonight? Well it’s a recipe from my tried-and-tested, failsafe post-workout refuel menu. I go to the gym/fitness classes/for a run straight after work and usually end up back home around 7.30pm; close to 12 hours after I leave the house in the morning. When I get in I am always starving, but since it’s late in the evening for eating on a week night (I usually hit the hay around 10pm) I like to eat a fast, nutritious meal that’s going to refuel my aching muscles but doesn’t consist of anything too heavy. I’m talking about grains, pulses, nuts, steamed vegetables, tofu, faux-meat products etc etc – usually all in a bowl. I like eating out of a bowl, I find it oddly comforting.
I don’t have a name for this creation, but I announced it on Facebook last night as ‘Amazing Vegan Power Dinner’ much to the amusement of my carnivorous friends who stated the name itself was a contradiction in terms. Vegan? Power dinner? In the same sentence? Well have a read of this and the nutritional information at the bottom and maybe I’ll prove you wrong!
First here’s me in the kitchen after a typical sweat-fest in the gym, repping my Alma Mater on my t-shirt. The first thing I do is get my drink on – I absolutely love chilled sparkling flavoured water after the gym – 0 calories, none of the chemicals of fizzy drinks and very cheap!
First can I suggest you put some tunes on while you gather your ingredients? I recommend Planet Rock if you have a DAB.
This is what you need to get (right to left):
- 200g firm tofu (Cauldron is good – I use half a pack)
- Olive oil (2tbsp)
- Soy Sauce (2tbsp)
- Oyster mushrooms (half a box)
- Black pepper (to taste)
- Black Beans (1/2 a can)
- 1/2 an onion
- Bag of baby spinach
- Minced garlic (1tsp) Or use fresh stuff if you’re so inclined and have the time.
- Minced ginger (1tsp) As above.
- Large red chilli
- BBQ sauce/marinade (a good squirt – I like Maxchup brand, found in Chinese/Thai supermarkets)
- Tikka masala powder.
- Chopped walnuts (missing from picture! Oops)
Whilst rocking out to some ageing rock music, the first thing you need to do is press your tofu. I learned this from the blogging world – I could never work out why my tofu fell to bits when I cooked it!
Grab your whole lump of drained tofu and a clean, dry glass cloth.
Wrap that little bad boy up like a parcel and find yourself a heavy tome. I find that the Littlewoods catalogue works wonders. Also, my cocktail bible which is suffering from a lack of use recently due to No-Booze-January. (I’m doing well by the way – 18 days! But more on that later)
Balance your books on top of the tofu and leave it whilst you continue to rock out and prepare your feast.
Next – get your olive oil in the wok on the hob at a very high temperature. You’ll know when the oil is really hot and ready when it’s smoking. Also – chop up your onion nice and small. Next? The chilli.
Now – I’m really not interested in any noise about missing the chilli out as you don’t like hot food, or you’re scared of chillis or any of that rubbish. Look at this beautiful thing; vivacious, red and ripe, and ready to give your dish a wonderful kick. Relax – it’s not going to kill you. The hotness calms the longer you cook its flesh so stick it in at the start if you’re a wuss – or just sear it in the pan at the end if you’re real hot head like me.
Chop it like so – take the top and tails off and cut neatly down one side. Open it up like a book and give it a good smell; pause a second and respect the chilli – have you ever seen a more beautiful shade of red? Now with a sharp knife gently remove the white flesh and the seeds from inside.
Then slice as you wish – I prefer thin semi-circular slices but whatever. Now – go and wash your hands! I’m serious! Go and do it, now. You can do so much danger to yourself and others with chilli residue on your hands – I got some stuck down the back of my nail last night and it felt like someone had stuck a needle down there all today
Next: the Oyster mushrooms. I prefer these to ordinary mushrooms for stirfries as they have such a lovely velvety texture and add a slightly nutty taste to any dish.
You can just tear the big ones apart and leave the small/medium sized mushrooms as they are. Avoid cutting these up in any dish as you’ll loose their special flavour when you cook them.
Your final vegetable is broccoli – my reigning favourite! Use as much or as little as you like – we’re going to give this a quick steam in the microwave to loosen it up first. I used about half a head of broccoli, but then how big is the head? How long is a piece of string.
So there’s your vegetables prep’d. To steam your broccoli you don’t need anything fancy – I just use an old take away carton with a splash of water, and then cover the top with the lid loosely. Easy.
I steam it for 1min in a 1000W microwave, so adjust accordingly for your machine. Whilst that’s on the go you can fix your tofu. Unwrap it and it should look a bit like this:
Cube it, and then scatter your Tikka Masala curry powder over the top.
Give it a good (gentle) rub with your hands to make sure every surface is covered.
I love this spice mix – it’s such a great time saver and gives a great light curry flavour to many things I cook. I’m a real spice fiend, and as mentioned above; a total hot head. I mean; have you seen my spice rack shelf?
I’m a firm believer in avoiding packet sauces for oriental meals – they are always full of sugar/salt and MSG. I really enjoy creating my own spice blends and finding unusual hot sauces in pokey little international supermarkets. See that bottle of Sriracha on the right with the green lid? You can’t get that in Aberdeen, so the last time I was in Newcastle I took a trip to the Thai supermarket and bought three 750ml catering sized bottles to take home with me. That’s right – a litre and a half of sriracha. That was just under a year ago and it’s about time to stock up again
Anyway – time to stick it all in the pan. The oil should be smoking by now, so chuck in your onions and stir briskly. Then put in the tofu and any leftover masala powder.
Add chopped chilli’s, mushrooms and walnuts and stir for another minute or two.
There should be a little bit of juice going on in the bottom of the pan – to this add a teaspoon each of minced ginger and garlic.
Stir stir stir. Make sure everything is mixed nicely, and then get the steamed broccoli and black beans in as well. Drain the black beans first.
Next comes seasoning.
The assorted flavours of the ingredients themselves prevail in this dish – the nutty mushrooms, the strong onions and tasty broccoli, so you don’t need to add very much at all. At this point I put in a swig of BBQ marinade and a few drops of liquid smoke to give it a lovely hickory flavour (which compliments the chilli wonderfully). Add soy sauce to taste – I use this instead of salt, usually about 2 tablespoons.
The pan should be steaming up a storm now, so it’s time to add the last ingredient; the spinach.
There’s no need to be delicate about it – just bung the whole bag on top of the vegetables. It might look huge but spinach reduces about 1000% once it’s cooked so just fold it in to the mixture until it starts to wilt.
A good grind of black pepper and we’re done!
Served in a noodle bowl of course. I garnished with a swirl of Sriracha as well but that’s perhaps just my taste. Next? sit your tired ass down on the couch and fill your face whilst watching crap telly.
The end result is a myriad of flavour and textures – soft tofu, delicate mushrooms, crunchy nuts and a spicy kick. 5 portions of vegetables and totally vegan. Boom.
Nutritionally what’s the score? According to Dailyplate.com:
Kcal – 692, Fat – 30g, Sodium – 1420mg, Carbs – 62.3g Fibre – 18.4g, Protein – 45.17g, Sugars – 15.2g.
I’m not a nutritionist so I won’t make any wild claims, but the dish packs a hell of a lot of protein – roughly half of the daily recommended intake for an adult female. One of the first “bingos” that vegetarians and vegans have to deal with it “Where do you get your protein?!” which stems from the belief that the best source of protein is meat. This is not the case obviously – a plateful of this packs double the amount of protein in your average steak (23g) and also more than an average chicken breast (36g). It also has zero cholesterol, and the fats come mainly from the walnuts which are packed with essential omega 3 fatty acids and vitamins.
That’s all I’m going to say on the subject of vegetarian/veganism for now – I don’t believe in preaching about my choices, but rather encouraging people to learn about their food and make informed decisions for themselves. Maybe some readers will have learned something about typical vegan food from this post – I only wish I could have let you try it!