Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Good and Quick: Gardein Chick'n Filets with Lemon-Garlic White Wine Sauce

I am a huge fan of the Gardein line of products - they are a great source of protein and they have a great variety of offerings, all flavorful and with a pleasantly "meaty" texture. They are convincing faux-meats, convincing enough I think even for veg-skeptics, but not so convincing that vegans would be grossed out. Plus, they're delightfully easy to prepare, especially on nights where you get home late from work because at exactly 6:00pm, just as you're about to walk away from your desk, somebody comes with a ridiculous demand for something that they need by noon the next day. But let's not talk about that.

I came up with this recipe on the fly and I am happy to say that it was a big hit. It's garlicky, lemony, it has wine in it - what more do you need? I will definitely be making this again and I think it would be a great dish to make for company as well.

Gardein Chick'n Filets with Lemon-Garlic White Wine Sauce
serves 2

1 7 oz. package Gardein Chick'n Filets (4 pieces)
1/2 cup unbleached organic all-purpose flour (for dredging)
1/2 tsp. fresh thyme
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup good-quality white wine
juice from one lemon
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. Earth Balance or other non-dairy butter

1. Combine flour and fresh thyme in a shallow dish. Dredge each piece of chick'n in the flour, making sure that all sides are evenly coated.

2. Heat olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Place chick'n filets in pan and cook 2-3 minutes, until golden brown on the bottom.

3. Once filets have browned, turn them over. After they have all been turned over, add butter to middle of pan, and the minced garlic on top of the butter. Saute garlic in butter until it begins to turn a light golden brown (this will happen quickly).

4. As soon as garlic begins to brown,  pour in white wine and lemon juice. Let this mixture cook down for 2-3 minutes. Sauce will thicken slightly.

Serve over buttery mashed potatoes with grilled asparagus or other green of your choice. Enjoy!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Vegan Banana French Toast A La Mode!

I forgot to post this picture last night. I had a few slices of the Banana French toast leftover, as well as some of the blueberry sauce, so I reheated the toast, drizzled some Ah!Laska organic chocolate syrup on a plate, and then topped the toast slices with the rewarmed blueberry sauce and a scoop of our absolute favorite non-dairy ice cream: Purely Decadent's Coconut Milk-based Vanilla Bean. If you haven't tried this yet, it is the smoothest, creamiest, vanilla-est ice cream around. It's so good! And the banana/chocolate/blueberry/vanilla combo... I'll just say that we literally licked our plates clean.

Good and Quick: Snobby Joes & Cole Slaw

I had so much success with Isa Moskowitz's French toast recipe this weekend, I was inspired to try another one of her recipes, this time out of the vegan recipe bible, otherwise known as Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook. We wanted something good & quick, and kind of comforty. This recipe for Snobby Joes (they're snobby because they know they're better than all the others, because they don't have any meat) caught my eye because I knew I had a bag of dried lentils in the pantry. I also liked that it was bean-based instead of using some faux-ground beef or something similar. Believe me, I love the mock meats, but I know that they're not the healthiest things in the world to eat.

These were super easy to make, but you need to allow about 20 minutes for the lentils to cook. I boiled one cup of lentils in four cups of water. While the lentils are cooking, you saute one onion with a couple cloves of garlic and one bell pepper. (I wanted a green one, but my sucky grocery store was all out of them. I had to get a yellow one. Have you ever heard of a grocery store running out of green peppers?)

Then you add the drained, cooked lentils and mix in some chile powder, oregano, then an 8 oz. can of tomato sauce and 1/4 cup tomato paste. You cook this together for about 10 minutes.

After that cooks, you add 2-3 Tbsp. of maple syrup and one Tbsp. of yellow mustard. I tasted the mixture before adding the syrup and mustard, and it was good, but after adding them, it tasted really amazing. Syrup and mustard, man, they really do the trick.

These made me totally nostalgic for the Sloppy Joes that my parents used to make, but unlike those Joes, these are actually good for you. They're mildly spicy, sweet, and tangy and I highly recommend serving them on some good squishy wheat buns. You need the squishy buns to hold it all in and to soak up the good sauce, although these aren't as saucy (i.e. sloppy) as the Sloppy Joes that you may be used to making. At any rate, get squishy buns, if only for the nostalgia factor.

I served with a scoop of homemade cole slaw. I don't really have a recipe for cole slaw, I mix it up differently every time depending on what I have on hand. This time I whisked some vegan mayo together with Annie's Horseradish Mustard, a couple Tbsp. of soy milk, apple cider vinegar, and dried dill, then tossed it all together with shredded cabbage and carrots. Sorry that's not a real recipe, but I think that cole slaw, like most salads, is better when improvised. Also good and improvised: a little of the cole slaw on top of the Snobby Joe mixture - it was like a good BBQ sammich. Did I just say "sammich"? Please punch me if I start saying "Yum-O!"

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Vegan Banana French Toast with Blueberry Topping

It's freezing again in NY. Last Saturday, the weather was in the mid-70's and we were riding bikes in short sleeves and no jackets. This morning, however, when we got up to take Bella to the park, it was only 29 degrees out. So after freezing ourselves to death so that our dog could run and play freely, we were ready for a hearty, warm breakfast. We were ready for Banana French Toast!

I used the recipe for "Banana Rabanada" or Brazilian French Toast, from Isa Chandra Moskowitz's Vegan Brunch. Isa never ceases to amaze me with her vegan recipe brilliance. Instead of soaking the bread in an egg mixture, this recipe calls for you to blend two ripe bananas with 1 1/2 cups of almond milk, 2 Tbsp. cornstarch, and 1 tsp. vanilla extract, then pour that mixture over one baguette cut into inch-thick slices, and soak about 10 minutes on each side. Regular French toast always kind of freaked me out, soaking your bread in that raw egg goop. You can enjoy the wonderful smell of this banana batter as much as you can enjoy the fact that it is salmonella-free.

After the bread had finished soaking, I fried it up in a pan with just a little Earth Balance until it was golden brown on both sides. I can't tell you how good and banana-y this smells when it's cooking.

Strange light happening in my kitchen this morning.

To go with the Banana French Toast, I made a simple blueberry topping by mixing a 16 oz. package of organic frozen blueberries (any type of berry, or mixture of berries would work) with 1/2 cup sugar, 1 Tbsp. arrowroot powder and 2 Tbsp. cold water. You just bring the mixture to a boil and cook it several minutes until it gets thick and the berries start to break down a bit. The recipe for this Whole Berry Sauce can also be found in Vegan Brunch.

To serve, I buttered the toast with some Earth Balance, spooned the blueberry sauce over the top, then sprinkled with a dusting of powdered sugar mixed with cinnamon. Ok, and then I topped it with some maple syrup too. And I also had some vegan sausage on the side, but I was going to leave that part out so I wouldn't sound like such a pig. Anyway, this French toast recipe was truly amazing. The appearance and texture was exactly like "real" or non-vegan French toast, except better! It got nice and golden-crisped on the outside, and the inside was still soft, almost custardy, but not in that eggy (i.e. salmonella-ridden) way. It actually brought to mind a really good banana bread pudding I once had, which made me think that this could easily be served as a dessert with a dollop of non-dairy whipped cream on top. Now I know what to do with those leftover slices!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Death by chocolate is not the way I want to go...

I took the day off from work today to hone my chocolate dessert making skills at the I.C.E., where a couple of months ago I took a Vegetarian Casseroles class. The Modern Vegan Chocolate Desserts class was taught by Fran Costigan, also known as the "Diva of Dairy-Free Desserts," and author of More Great Good Dairy-Free Desserts.

We learned how to make an Opera Cake, which is composed of layers of almond sheet cake filled with chocolate ganache and a chocolate-espresso cream filling, served with coffee syrup and candied almonds; a chocolate torte with a "surprise" chocolate filling (the surprise is avocado!) and cocoa fudge icing; a bittersweet chocolate cake with cocoa sauce, served with a dark chocolate sorbet; and eclairs filled with chocolate pudding. Yum!

Fran was an excellent teacher and very enthusiastic about dairy-free baking, organic ingredients, and high-quality chocolates. The "surprise" chocolate filling truly was surprising - the avocado made it rich and creamy, almost buttery. I suggest you only tell vegan-skeptics that there's avocado in their chocolate cake after they eat it and rave about it. My only disappointment was that the eclair recipe wasn't for traditional eclairs (this was the one thing I was most looking forward to learning how to make). They more closely resembled the vegan twinkies, which you know I love, but I was expecting the traditional choux pastry variety. Instead these were very cakey, then split in half and filled with a chocolate pudding. They were totally delicious in their own right, but they were "eclairs," not real eclairs.

Anyway, after all that tasting, I think I had a chocolate overdose. It hurt. At one point I thought I was about to get the spins. I needed to lay down. I think this rules out a future career as a pastry chef, because I can't hang. They must be pretty hard core. Everything in moderation, kids.

Please excuse the poor quality of these photos, I was limited to using the camera on my phone, but these were our class creations. My class partner and I made the bittersweet chocolate cake with chocolate sorbet.

On some of the slices, we spread raspberry jam between the layers of bittersweet chocolate cake.

Some other plating variations with our bittersweet chocolate cake.

A terribly out of focus picture of the bittersweet chocolate cake with a scoop of dark chocolate sorbet.

Chocolate Torte with "Surprise" Chocolate Filling and Cocoa Fudge Icing

"Eclairs" filled with choclate pudding

Leftover chocolate pudding from the eclair filling, with a dollop of coconut whipped cream

A slice of the Opera Cake, with coffee syrup and chocolate-dipped almonds

I think my favorite was actually the chocolate sorbet. It was incredibly smooth and creamy, even though it didn't include any type of cream subsitutes, and it was delightfully refreshing, especially compared to all those rich cakes and frostings. As you can see these desserts were all truly decadent and would satisfy the sweetest of sweet tooths. There's no reason why vegans shouldn't be able to indulge like anyone else, and these are great examples to shut up anyone who thinks that vegans must suffer from eating only "rabbit food" and salads.

But the fun didn't stop there. Just a few doors down from the I.C.E. is the recently opened Terri, a casual vegan place serving sandwiches, salads, and smoothies. I got a "Buffalo Chicken" sandwich with vegan chicken, Buffalo sauce, vegan mayo, lettuce, tomato, onion, and celery; and a "Thanksgiving" sandwich with Tofurky slices, cranberry sauce, vegan mayo, celery, and chopped walnuts. I brought these home for dinner and we loved them! They both came on a very tasty grilled foccaccia bread, but the Thanksgiving was my favorite. It really did smell and taste like Thanksgiving. I just love the savory/sweet combo of the turkey and cranberry sauce, and the celery and walnuts gave it a really nice crunch. Some other menu items that caught my eye are their meatball sub with marinara sauce and Daiya cheese; their Chickpea "Tuna Melt" with chickpea salad, Daiya cheddar, tomato, red onions, and vegan mayo; and the "Fat Elvis" - peanut butter with caramelized banana and soy bacon. I know I'll be back soon to try something new!

The Thanksgiving: Tofurky, cranberry sauce, vegan mayo, celery, & walnuts

Buffalo Chicken: vegan chicken breast, Buffalo sauce, vegan mayo, lettuce, tomato, & celery

60 West 23rd St. (between 5th and 6th Ave.)
New York, NY 10010

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Real Men Eat (Vegan) Quiche: Swiss Chard Tofu Quiche & Lemon-Thyme Roasted Potatoes

My favorite meal is Sunday brunch. There's no other meal that encourages you in quite the same way to spend such a long, leisurely time at the table. And what other meal encourages daytime drinking? Breakfast? Hardly! So if my checklist includes eating well and drinking in the daytime, then brunch pretty much can't be beat.

Although I usually like to go out and catch up with friends for Sunday brunch, I decided to make it at home this weekend. I was inspired after seeing the recipe for Red Chard Tofu Quiche in the March/April issue of VegNews. I just happened to pick up some Swiss Chard from the farmer's market, so even though it wasn't the red variety, it was still very good. I actually don't know if there's any difference in taste between the two varieties of chard, all I know is that one has red stems and the other white.

Anyway, the quiche was very easy to make, seeing as I skipped the time-consuming part of making my own crust and used a store-bought one. After sauteeing one chopped yellow onion, two minced cloves of garlic, and some salt and pepper, I added one tsp. of oregano, 1/2 tsp. turmeric, and the bunch of chard that I had thinly sliced and sauteed another minute or two. After turning off the heat I added to this mixture one 16 oz. package of firm tofu that I had blended with 1/3 cup of unsweetened soymilk in the food processor until it was smooth. After the tofu mixture has been folded in, you just pour it all into a pie crust and bake at 350 for 45 minutes.

I've tasted a few vegan quiches that left a lot to be desired. They can often turn out bland/tasting too much like plain tofu, but this one was really good. The chard gives it just the right amount of bitterness, and it is nicely spiced and flavorful. The texture is also very pleasing, it has that eggy/custardy mouthfeel of a regular quiche. With the top nicely browned, I think you could fool a lot of people into thinking this is, in fact, a regular quiche!

And if brunch is my favorite meal, then the hash browns/home fries/roasted potatoes are usually my favorite part of the meal. (Except, of course, for the mimosas. That goes without saying.) I decided to roast the potatoes with some lemon, garlic, and thyme. These turned out great and paired perfectly with the quiche. The lemon juice really brightens up and cuts through the richness of the quiche and potatoes. The only thing missing from this otherwise perfect brunch was my mimosa!

Lemon-Thyme Roasted Potatoes
makes 4 servings

1 1/2 lbs. red-skinned potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
1 1/2 tsp. lemon zest
1 Tbsp. fresh thyme
1 tsp. coarse sea salt
black pepper, to taste
3 Tbsp. olive oil
juice from 1/2 lemon

Preheat oven to 375. Combine everything except lemon juice in a medium bowl, mix well until potatoes are evenly coated. Roast for about 40 minutes, until potatoes are golden brown and crispy.
Squeeze lemon juice over potatoes before serving.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Good and Quick: Penne with Sun-Dried Tomato-Mint Pesto

Aaah...happy Friday. The weather has been glorious in NY, work wasn't too terrible, and I got an awesome package in the mail today (more on that below). And I also tried something completely new, which I now will surely use obsessively: mint in pasta.

I'm sure it's not new to a lot of people, but I don't think I've ever had mint in pasta before, basil being my usual herb of choice. I had a bunch of leftover mint though from when I made the pineapple salsa recently, and I discovered this recipe in my Vegan Italiano cookbook by Donna Klein. It was super easy and you can pretty much make it in the time it takes for the pasta to boil.

All you do is combine the following in a food processor: 1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes (packed in oil but drained), 1/4 cup walnuts, 1/4 cup mint leaves, 2 Tbsp. olive oil, 2 Tbsp. tomato paste, 2 minced cloves of garlic, 1 tsp. coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Process everything until it makes a fairly smooth paste, then toss with warm pasta.

For something so easy to make, this was packed with flavor and really delicious. There is a beautiful alchemy that happens when the mint, tomatoes, and garlic combine. The mint totally transforms into something more complex with an almost licorice flavor (but in a good way, because I say that as someone who hates licorice!). This mint pesto was like an epiphany for me. How have I been missing out on this?!

As if that weren't enough to elate my tastebuds, my order arrived today from Cosmo's Vegan Shoppe, the online emporium of all things vegan.  I had heard that they were selling a vegan version of Cadbury cream eggs, and with Easter around the corner I had to check it out. Sure enough, they have a whole page of Vegan Easter Candy, including these "Good Eggs" by Rescue Chocolate, a company that makes the world a better place by 1) selling chocolate, and 2) donating 100% of their net profits to animal rescue.

I bought a couple of these chocolate creme-filled eggs as well as one of the "Peanut Butter Pit Bull" bars - dark chocolate filled with peanut butter and toasted rice crispies, also from Rescue Chocolate. I bought it because the proceeds go to ending dog fighting and placing pit bulls in loving homes, I swear. It was definitely not because I have no will power in the face of a chocolate-peanut butter combo.

But why stop there? What Easter basket would be complete without these adorable vegan marshmallow Peepers & Skippers by Sweet & Sara? Who needs those flourescent yellow Peeps when you can have these little cuties?

And lastly, for the piece de resistance, I got some Vegan Twinkies by Dulce Vegan. OMG VEGAN TWINKIES.  I remember liking Twinkies as a kid, but I wasn't obsessed with them. These vegan ones on the other hand, these could fuel a serious obsession. The cake is like a very moist poundcake, heavenly fragrant of vanilla, and the creme filling is good, not too sweet, although a bit scant. I wouldn't oppose a bit more creme in there. But truly, these are Twinkies, perfected. They way they should have been made all along.

Now I just wish I had ordered something that stood a chance of lasting until Easter.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

I would not eat green eggs and ham...but I would eat Green Veggies in Thai Green Curry.

...since we're supposed to consume green things today, after all. 

I'm just going to come out and say that I'm not a fan of St. Patrick's Day. I don't know what it's like where you live, but in NY it's a day where the streets are overcrowded with all sorts of people wearing odd green costumes, most of them involving oversized novelty hats, walking around beligerently drunk. Before 10:00am. Now, I'm not necessarily opposed to beligerent drunkenness outright, seeing as I'm no teetotaler myself, but I prefer my beer to not be green, and I prefer my subway rides to not smell like whisky and vomit. And you in the oversized novelty hat - seriously, you look like a jackass.

But just to show that I'm not entirely a spoilsport, and in honor of my favorite Irish-American, I decided to make something green for dinner. Green for St. Patrick's Day. But green curry, because I ain't Irish.

This isn't a "traditional" curry by any stretch of the imagination, so we'll just say that it was inspired by Thai green curry. To be honest, this recipe could totally do without the seitan. I kind of regretted it after I put it in, but I'm posting the recipe as I made it. Leave the seitan in or out, or substitute tofu.

Green Veggies with Thai Green Curry
makes 6 servings 

5 cups broccoli florets
2 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise then cut into 1/2 inch slices
8 oz. seitan
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 1/2 cups fresh English peas
5 Tbsp. Thai green curry paste
2 cans coconut milk
1/2 cup basil leaves
3 Tbsp. palm sugar (if you are substituting regular sugar, you may want to use less)
juice from 1/2 lemon
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil

1. Heat oil in a wok over med-high. Stir-fry broccoli, zucchini, seitan and garlic about five minutes, until vegetables start to soften.

2. Add peas and curry paste, mix well until curry paste has evenly coated the vegetables. Add coconut milk and bring to simmer.

3. Add basil leaves, sugar, salt, and lemon juice. Simmer gently (do not boil) until vegetables have reached desire level of tenderness. Serve over jasmine rice.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Sunday Fiesta: Pineapple Salsa & Tortilla Soup

Last Sunday we went to a friend's fiesta-themed party for her son's first birthday. We had plenty of vegetarian rice and beans, fresh guacamole and salsa, and even vegan margarita-flavored cupcakes. I guess we were still in a fiesta mood this weekend, because I ended up making pineapple salsa and a tortilla soup. They were both just what we needed to perk up our tastebuds on on a rainy, dreary Sunday.

The pineapple salsa is super easy to make. I usually like really hot salsas, but this one is sweet and has just a hint of heat that builds slowly, rather than setting your tongue on fire. I think this would also be good with mango instead of pineapple, or a mixture of both.

Pineapple Salsa
2 cups fresh pineapple, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
1/2 red onion, diced
2 Tbsp. fresh mint, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
juice from 1 lime

Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl and serve with tortilla chips.

I also bought some corn tortillas to make the strips used to garnish this tortilla soup that I made in my slow cooker. It was also an excuse to try out my new immersion blender - soups will be so much easier now without having to transfer portions to the blender or food processor to puree. I used a recipe from 125 Best Vegetarian Slow Cooker Recipes, so I can't reprint the full recipe but I will tell you that the base is one dried ancho chili pepper, cumin, onions, garlic, oregano, and grated lime zest. The cumin and lime zest smell fantastic together. After cooking all of the above ingredients, I added one 14 oz. can of pinto beans, a 28 oz. can of fire-roasted tomatoes, and six cups of No-Chicken Broth. After slow cooking for about four hours, I added about two cups of frozen corn and one 4.5 oz. can of drained green chilies, then cooked another 20 minutes.

In order to make the tortilla strips,  you just cut corn tortillas into 1/2 to 1 inch strips, then brush the strips with vegetable oil on a baking sheet. Bake at 400 for about 4 minutes on each side. When the soup is ready, ladle it into a bowl then top with tortilla strips and chopped avocado.

This tortilla soup recipe has all the good flavors of a veggie chili, but is much lighter. It's not very spicy, but definitely has a nice warming effect. King of a slow build, just like the salsa. My only regret is that I didn't have any non-dairy sour cream - a dollop on top would have been perfect.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Asian Noodle Edition: Wasabi Edamame Salad with Rice Noodles & Peanut-Sesame Green Tea Noodles

I guess we've been eating a lot of noodles lately. I seem to have quite a stock of udon, soba, and rice noodles that are taking up what I think is an unreasonable amount of space in our pantry and my method of spring cleaning seems to be to simply eat everything. It's like a last-minute carbo-load before the weather gets warmer and our diet gets lighter and fresher.

The dish above, though, was very light and fresh due to the one-two combo punch of wasabi and ginger in the sauce. I got the recipe for Wasabi Edamame Salad with Spicy Rice Noodles from my Whole Foods iPhone app while shopping - if you have an iPhone, this app is pretty awesome. You can search by course, category (budget, quick, etc.), and diet (vegan), and it certainly comes in handy when you tend to wander the aisles looking for inspiration, as I do. My only critique is that many of the recipes I have tried so far, like the vegan paella, are great basic recipes but tend to be missing a key ingredient, like a protein. So again, I added some baked tofu to this one, and it turned out to be pretty tasty.

The ingredient list may look long, but if you cook Asian food frequently, you probably have most if not all of the sauce ingredients already, like soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, garlic, ginger, and wasabi paste. You just whisk all the sauce ingredients together, then soak about 10 oz. of rice sticks in hot water for a few minutes until they soften. Drain the rice noodles and then stir-fry them in 2 Tbsp. of oil and 1 tsp. of red pepper flakes. Add about half of the sauce mixture and cook another minute or so.

I will say that the amount of noodles seemed excessive for this recipe. I think you could easily use half the amount of noodles, and make the rest of the recipe as is, and the proportions would be fine. After you cook the noodles, you remove them from a pan and keep them warm. Next you stir-fry one cup each of chopped green onions, carrots, and red bell pepper together with about half of the remaining sauce. After these have cooked, you arrange them on top of the noodles.

Then lastly, you stir-fry one 16-oz. package of frozen edamame (thawed) with the rest of the remaining sauce. As I mentioned, I added one package of sliced baked tofu (Asian flavor), although it was not called for in the recipe.
Arrange the edamame and tofu on top of the other veggies, sprinkle with some gomasio (black sesame seeds with salt) and serve. If you like wasabi, and that kick that seems to rise from the back to the top of your nose, then you will like this dish.

I also made some Peanut-Tahini Green Tea Noodles the other day after experimenting with my favorite new gadget, a Tofu Xpress. Do you have one of these? All these years of cooking with tofu, I never really bothered to do much more than give a cursory squeeze of the tofu after draining, maybe wrapping some paper towels around it to get a little more liquid out. It never really seemed necessary, and all those instructions about putting the tofu between two pans with a weight on top and so on just seemed like a lot of trouble for no good reason. Anyway, after seeing many ads for it, I decided to get one of these pressers and try it, and at the risk of sounding like I'm on one of those ridiculous infomercials, I can't tell you how amazed I was after using it. It's super easy - you just drop the tofu in and put the lid on top - and it really does make a huge difference in the texture and preparation of tofu.

You can see the liquid squeezing out almost immediately once you put the lid on top. About an hour is enough time to get almost all of it out, and by then your tofu looks about half as thick as when it comes out of the package. The pressed tofu cooks SO much easier, it browns quickly and evenly, with little to no oil in the pan. I never thought it was a problem to cook tofu before, but after seeing how much easier it was after it had been pressed, I am definitely a convert.

The texture is also much firmer, more like restaurant tofu. The Xpress isn't exactly cheap (about $40) but the way it improves the tofu taste and texture makes it really worth it.

But back to the noodles. I was torn between wanting to make some Sesame Green Tea Noodles and remaking the Lime-Peanut noodles that I made a few weeks ago. So I came up with kind of a combination of the two. Maybe not as zippy as the Lime-Peanut noodles, but it was still really good.

Peanut-Sesame Green Tea Noodles
makes 4 servings

For noodles:
7 oz. green tea soba noodles
1 16 oz. package tofu, extra firm, pressed and cut into bite-size cubes or slices
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 bunch kale, stemmed and torn into small pieces
1 Tbsp. spicy sesame oil (regular sesame oil ok too)
1 Tbsp. canola oil

For sauce:
1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup peanut butter (I like crunchy, but smooth is fine)
1 14 oz. can coconut milk
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. palm sugar (or regular sugar)
1 Tbsp. red curry paste
2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced

1. Cook noodles according to package directions. In the meantime, whisk together all sauce ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside.

2. Heat sesame oil over medium-high in wok. Stir-fry tofu cubes until golden brown on all sides. Remove from pan, set aside. Heat canola oil in wok. Add red pepper and stir-fry a few minutes until softened. Then add kale and stir-fry just a minute or two, until wilted but still bright and lively. Remove from pan and set aside.

3. Add drained noodles to wok and cover with sauce, reserving a few tablespoons of sauce in bowl. Stir-fry for 1-2 minutes, until sauce is heated through.

4. Serve by arranging noodles on plate, then top with veggies, then tofu. Spoon some of the remaining sauce over the top.

I love the contrast of the sweetness and nuttiness of the sauce with the slight bitterness of the kale. Enjoy!