Monday, February 15, 2010

Fun(!) Vegetarian Dinner

If it hasn't become abundantly clear over the past year and a half of posts, I'll admit here and now that I am a hardcore carnivore. Technically, I'm a hardcore omnivore, but (in a sheepish voice) I love meat to the point of feeling as though a meal is incomplete without it. My husband enjoys it but frequently, gently, expresses a desire for vegetarian meals to break up what he sees as the monotony of meat-centric dinners. I try, but, short of a few exceptions, those meals just don't have the excitement of one which includes even a small serving of meat.

We had plans to eat with friends tonight, but since the kids and I all have nasty colds, we sadly declined and decided to stay home. As I had already planned the week's meals, we were without dinner. So, with a slight detour to the grocery store, we used a lot of things in the cupboards, fridge, and freezer and ate a yummy, vegetarian, filling dinner that provided something for everyone.

The whole meal includes baked tofu, vegetarian sushi, edamame, and a watercress salad. It serves 4 adults. I served the sushi and cut avocado and cucumber on a cutting board, with the other three dishes in small bowls across the table. Served on small plates, it was easy to go back for seconds or fifths for the things each person liked best.

Sushi

4 sheets sushi nori
1 cup sushi rice, cooked according to package instructions; when cooked, toss with 1/4 cup mirin and let cool
1 avocado, sliced thin
1 cucumber, peeled, deseeded, and sliced thin

Spread one sheet nori out on a cutting board and starting 1 inch from the bottom edge, spread 1/4 of the rice out in a 3 inch swath going across the entire sheet. There will be about 2 to 3 inches not covered in rice at the top. Press down firmly on rice. In the middle of the rice section, lay four or five slices of avocado or cucumber across (looking at the nori overhead, you will see in stripes top to bottom: 2-3 inches of nori, 3 inches of rice with a veggie strip halfway down the rice, then 1 inch of nori).

Lightly wet the top 1/2 inch or so of the nori and, from the bottom, roll the whole thing up into a cylinder. The wet part of the nori will be at the very end and will seal it together. Slice the roll into 6 or 8 pieces.

Repeat with the remaining 3 sheets of nori. Any leftover avocado and cucumber can be sliced up and served with the sushi.


Baked Tofu

This is inspired by an Eating Well recipe but I added honey and reduced the oil for a slightly sweeter marinade. I also added cooking time, which makes it slightly crisper.

2 lbs tofu, cut into 3/4 inch cubes
Place tofu in a bowl or tupperware with a lid.

Tofu marinade:
1/2 cup lime juice
1/2 cup tamari or soy sauce
3 TBSP toasted sesame oil
1/4 cup honey

Warm marinade in a small pan over low heat until honey is melted.  Pour over tofu, cover with top and rotate very gently to get all tofu covered. Refrigerate for an hour, rotating container halfway through to recover tofu with marinade.

Preheat oven to 450. Bake for 30 minutes, turning halfway through.


Edamame 

Follow cooking instructions on bag. If it's fresh (a treat in late summer), put into boiling water for 5 minutes. Drain and sprinkle with salt.


Watercress Salad

1 small bunch watercress
1/4 bunch cilantro, large stems removed
1/2 cup loosely packed mint leaves
1 TBSP olive oil
1 TBSP lemon juice
1/2 teas. pepper
1/4 teas. salt

Very coarsely chop the watercress, cilantro, and mint. Put in a bowl. 

Mix together olive oil, lemon, and salt and pepper and drizzle over greens. Toss well.


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