My Contribution to 32 Poems’ 20-minute Recipes for Poets

As I mentioned a while back, the folks at 32 Poems had a brilliant idea: writers sharing their healthy, 20-minute recipes as a way to share time-saving tips that make time for writing. Today, I’m sharing my contribution to the recipe pool with one of my favorite quick meals, Chili-Glazed Vegetable Tofu over Rice.

Okay. You’ve seen the word “tofu” here. A word about tofu: anyone who says he or she doesn’t like tofu hasn’t had the real deal. The weird, anemic looking block of whiteness that comes swimming in a plastic container full of water? Skip it. A trip to your local Asian market is more than worth it for the real thing, fresh from the producer. Fresh tofu should be firm to the touch, closer to eggshell than white in color, and should come wrapped simply in a piece of plastic–no strange tub of water needed. Here in the Seattle area, we’re lucky to have the famous Uwajimaya market, where the brand Chuminh tofu, which locally produced, is readily available all year.

This dish is a mainstay at the Davio house, because it’s not only quick to make and packed with nutrition, but it’s also delicious–our idea of comfort food.

Chili-Glazed Vegetable Tofu over Rice

Serves 4

For the rice:

1 cup basmati rice

2 cups water

For the tofu and veggies:

1 block of fresh tofu (or, if you must a block of extra firm tofu, well drained and patted dry) cut into 1-inch cubes

2 large red or yellow bell peppers, sliced into thin strips

1 bunch of scallions, cut into 1-inch pieces

4 large handfuls of fresh spinach leaves

1 to 2 tablespoons of sriracha (depending on how hot you like your dish)

3 tablespoons of olive oil

3 tablespoons of low-sodium soy sauce

3 large garlic cloves

one 3-inch piece of ginger, peeled

Juice of half a large lemon

1/4 teaspoon of crushed red pepper

cornstarch (for dusting tofu)

Boil the two cups of water in a small pot, then add rice, cover, and turn to a low simmer. Then walk away–the key to perfect rice is to leave it alone, with no stirring, poking, prodding or even lifting the pot’s lid. Left alone at a low heat, the basmati will be cooked to perfection (all water absorbed, the grains slightly curling at the edges) in about 20 minutes.

Place the garlic and peeled ginger in the workbowl of a food processor and pulse until finely chopped.

Mix the chili sauce, crushed pepper, and soy sauce in a bowl.

Using a pastry brush, dust each piece of tofu with cornstarch on all sides.

Heat oil in a large saucepan (nonstick is best for this application). Add the peppers and scallions and stir, approximately 3 minutes (peppers should deepen in color, but should not be fully cooked at this stage. Add the garlic and ginger and continue to stir another two minutes. Add the dusted tofu, then add the soy sauce mixture and toss gently, taking care not to break the tofu apart, one to two minutes. Add the spinach all at once, and toss again, working the spinach into the mixture until it is just lightly wilted, about 2 minutes.

Remove from heat and serve over rice.

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