I'm not sure if I ever mentioned this in my blog before, but when I was in my early 20s, I decided to eat vegetarian. It lasted for 8 years, and was mostly because I just didn't like meat. I was never a big meat eater growing up, and at 23 I had just had enough.
Now, I wasn't the best vegetarian at first, eating a lot of pasta and not replacing the protein I wasn't getting by not eating meat. The truth is, I wasn't really sure what I needed to do to make sure I was eating a balanced diet. However, I ended up learning a lot over those 8 years, and to this day still enjoy and am satisfied eating vegetarian meals. Also, I think that time period in my life is what got me into cooking - I had to explore and find new things to eat when my family was eating a meat and potatoes meal, so I ended up cooking for myself quite often, and eventually found it to be enjoyable and even therapeutic.
One thing I carry with me today as a former vegetarian is my love of tofu. I wish my husband liked it because tofu is my go-to dinner when I want something quick and easy to prepare, filling, healthy, and that will give me leftovers for another meal or two. I'm trying my hardest to get my 2 year old to eat it! She did a few times when I first gave it to her, but has been turning her nose up at it recently. I will keep trying!
The other night I was craving tofu, had some broccoli to use, and for some reason couldn't get my favorite restaurant, Buddakan, off my mind. The last time I made a dish to remind me of Buddakan was this Sweet and Spicy Asian Chicken with Brussels Sprouts, so I decided to use that recipe as inspiration for this Sweet and Spicy Tofu.
Making this took about 20-25 minutes, and I love using Trader Joe's Frozen Brown Rice. It is ready in just 3 minutes in the microwave - you cook it right in the pouch it comes in. Talk about easy!
Sweet and Spicy Tofu with Broccoli and Carrots
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil, separated
- 1 block of extra firm tofu, water pressed out and cut into cubes (note, when cooking with tofu you always want to press out the extra water/moisture which will allow it to take in more flavors when cooking)
- 10-12 baby carrots, cut diagonally into 1/4 inch rounds
- 3 green onions chopped, and separated into green pieces and white pieces
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 sm head broccoli, cut into small florets
- 1 c vegetable broth
- 1/4 c low sodium soy sauce
- 2 tbsp rice vinegar
- 1 tbsp chili garlic paste OR Sriracha sauce
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tbsp grated ginger
- 1 tsp flour mixed with 2 tbsp broth
- Heat 1.5 tbsp of the vegetable oil in a large saute pan
- Add tofu and cook until browned on all sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
- Wipe pan clean, and then heat remaining oil in the pan
- Add the garlic, carrots, and white parts of the onions; saute 2-3 minutes
- Add broccoli; saute 2-3 minutes
- Mix the broth, soy sauce, rice vinegar, chili garlic paste or Sriracha, brown sugar, and grated ginger. Add to the pan and bring to a low simmer.
- Slowly add the slurry (the flour mixed with the 2 tbsp of broth) and stir. This will help thicken your sauce.
- Return the tofu to the pan and let simmer until warmed through.
- Serve over brown rice topped with the green parts of the green onions.