HEALTHY THAI

The Hamilton Spectator - - GO - MELISSA D’ARA­BIAN

If you aren’t a tofu fan, lis­ten up.

This just might be the recipe that turns it all around for you, like it did for my hus­band and daugh­ter.

I toss ex­tra firm tofu cubes in a lightly spicy (or not; your call) peanut sauce and then roast it un­til the edges are golden and lightly caramelized. These slightly sweet, peanutty cubes sit atop a bowl filled with enough veg­gies to load up on an ar­ray of vi­ta­mins, in­clud­ing some makeshift, noodle­like zuc­chini and car­rot rib­bons.

To make this a sat­is­fy­ing meal, I add brown rice, which is more filling than the more tra­di­tional rice noo­dles, and more filling than just stick­ing with the “veg­gie noo­dles.”

I love the com­bi­na­tion of cold veg­gies paired with warm rice and just-cooked tofu, but this dish works per­fectly as a brown-bag op­tion, served cold or at room tem­per­a­ture. Plus, it’s pretty, with the ar­ray of veg­etable colours, so it will brighten up your lunch, even if you are work­ing through it, eat­ing at your desk.

If you haven’t con­sid­ered in­clud­ing tofu even oc­ca­sion­ally into your meal ro­ta­tion, this in­gre­di­ent is worth a sec­ond look. A 3-ounce-serv­ing has about 10 grams of pro­tein, and offers one-quar­ter of the day’s cal­cium, plus a nice smat­ter­ing of other min­er­als — all for about 90 calo­ries.

Tofu can be a di­vi­sive in­gre­di­ent, I re­al­ize, so feel free swap it for chicken or shrimp, a hand­ful of cooked white beans, or even leave it off en­tirely.

Thai Peanut Veg­gie Bowls MAKES 4 SERV­INGS

2 ta­ble­spoons peanut but­ter (smooth or chunky) 1 tbsp honey 2 tbsp lime juice, plus 1 ad­di­tional tbsp 2 tbsp rice wine vine­gar ¼ cup re­duced sodium soy sauce 1 tbsp olive oil Pinch dried red pep­per flakes (op­tional) 1-4 tbsp wa­ter, depend­ing on tex­ture 1 12-ounce block of or­ganic ex­tra firm tofu, blot­ted dry, cut into large cubes 4 cups baby spinach 1 cup shred­ded red cab­bage 2 medium zuc­chini 2 medium car­rots, peeled ½ red pep­per, cut into small sticks 1 1/3 cups cooked brown rice, warm 1 green onion, chopped ¼ cup chopped fresh herbs: cilantro, mint, basil (or mixed) Salt and pep­per, if needed

Start to fin­ish: 20 min­utes Pre­heat the oven to 400 F and line a baking tray with parch­ment pa­per. In a medium bowl, place the peanut but­ter and honey and mi­crowave long enough to soften, about 10 sec­onds. Whisk un­til smooth.

Add in the lime juice, vine­gar, soy sauce, olive oil and red pep­per flakes (if using) and whisk un­til smooth. Add wa­ter, 1 ta­ble­spoon at a time un­til thick, but pourable sauce is cre­ated. Re­move half of the sauce to a small bowl and set aside.

Toss the tofu cubes in the re­main­ing peanut sauce in the medium bowl un­til coated. Place on the parch­ment pa­per and bake un­til edges be­gin to caramelize, about 20 min­utes, turn­ing half­way through bake time.

Mean­while make the zuc­chini and car­rot rib­bons by using a veg­etable peeler to make as many long, wide strips as you can from each veg­etable. Layer in four in­di­vid­ual bowls (or to-go con­tain­ers if mak­ing brown bag lunches): spinach leaves, cab­bage, red pep­per, warm rice, car­rot and zuc­chini rib­bons, green onion and fresh herbs. Top with hot peanut-roasted tofu. Add the fi­nal ta­ble­spoon of lime juice to the re­served peanut sauce and driz­zle over the bowls and serve, adding salt and pep­per if de­sired.

Chef ’s note: Chicken ten­ders or shrimp could be used instead of tofu; ad­just the cook time ac­cord­ingly. Or skip the roast­ing, and just top the bowl with pre-cooked chicken, shrimp or white beans.

Per serv­ing: 316 calo­ries (116 from fat); 13 grams fat (2 g sat­u­rated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mil­ligrams choles­terol; 508 mg sodium; 36 g car­bo­hy­drate; 7 g fi­bre; 13 g su­gar; 17 g pro­tein.

MELISSA D’ARA­BIAN, THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

If you haven’t con­sid­ered in­clud­ing tofu even oc­ca­sion­ally into your meal ro­ta­tion, this in­gre­di­ent is worth a sec­ond look.

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