a balanced plate with room for dessert

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Thai Tofu and Pineapple Curry

There’s a wonderful restaurant in Madison that serves some seriously awesome curry. I’ve been going to Lao Laan-Xang for years and I always get the same thing – squash curry with tofu. The last time I went, I finally got adventurous and got some pineapple curry. It was just as good as the squash curry, and now I’ve got my eye on another dish I want to try – mango curry.

I decided to try making a version of the pineapple curry at home. I absolutely loved it, but my store-bought curry paste is really no competition to LLX’s. Maybe some day I’ll try my hand at making my own curry paste. Maybe.

I’ll stick a little warning in here because I think I nearly killed Mike with the spice level of this dish. The dried red chiles I used in this dish were from our garden and they are hot. I thought that 2 chiles were the perfect amount of spice, but it was a little much for Mike. I know that all chile peppers are different, but if you’re not a fan of heat, use just one chile or none at all.

Thai Tofu and Pineapple Curry |

Thai Tofu and Pineapple Curry

1 teaspoon canola oil
1 tablespoon minced ginger
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 green onions, thinly sliced, divided
2 dried red chiles, minced (optional)
5 mini bell peppers, sliced
12 ounces extra firm tofu, cubed
2 Roma tomatoes, diced
1 cup pineapple chunks
2 1/2 tablespoons red curry paste
1/2 tablespoon creamy natural peanut butter
1 cup light coconut milk
1/2 lime, juiced

cooked brown rice, for serving
lime wedges, for serving

  1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add ginger, garlic, green onions, and chiles and cook , stirring frequently, for about 1 minute or until fragrant. Add bell peppers and tofu and cook for an additional minute.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together curry paste, peanut butter, and coconut milk. Add sauce, tomatoes and pineapple into pot and stir to combine. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for 10 minutes or until bell peppers are tender. Stir in lime juice.
  3. Serve immediately with brown rice and lime wedges.

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Three Cup Tofu

Once in a while I dream of “san bei ji”, or three cup chicken. It’s a Taiwanese dish I associate strongly with my mom. She gave me her recipe for three cup chicken and I’ve tried to recreate it. Even though I follow her directions exactly, it never tastes right. It’s mystifying – there are so few ingredients. Literally no room for error. I’m not sure what her secret is, but I’ve given up.

Luckily, I can create a little magic of my own. Specifically in the form of three cup tofu. It follows her basic three cup chicken recipe, but with a few adjustments. And folks, this is good. Even if you’re not a tofu fan, you have got to give this a try. I fell in love with the texture of the tofu in this dish – it’s silky, but not mushy. The sauce is rich, but not heavy.

This may be my ultimate comfort food.

three cup tofu |

Three Cup Tofu

14 ounce container firm tofu, drained
2 tablespoons canola oil
3 tablespoons sesame oil
1.5-inch piece of ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
5 cloves of garlic, smashed
3 tablespoon Chinese cooking wine
3 tablespoons dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 cup water
1 teaspoon corn starch dissolved in 1 tablespoon water
1 cup fresh Thai basil leaves, ripped into large pieces

cooked brown rice, for serving

  1. Press tofu with paper towel to soak up excess moisture. Heat oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Fry tofu on both sides until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Place tofu on paper towels to drain.
  2. Reduce heat to low and add in sesame oil. Add ginger and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 3 minutes.
  3. Stir in cooking wine, soy sauce, brown sugar, and water. Increase heat to medium-high and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer sauce for 5 minutes. Stir in corn starch mixture and cook until sauce thickens, about 1 minute.
  4. Gently stir in tofu and Thai basil and cook for 1 more minute.
  5. Serve immediately over brown rice.


adapted from my mother’s three cup chicken recipe 

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Cold Peanut Noodles with Tofu and Bell Peppers

This summery pasta dish is perfect for those nights where it’s just too dang hot to spend hours sweating in the kitchen. Or for those nights where you need something on the table in less than 30 minutes. Or for those nights where you are just really craving tofu.

What? You don’t crave tofu? I do. I also really hate cooking when it’s hot and humid out. So this dish was perfect.

Cold Peanut Noodles with Tofu and Bell Peppers |

Cold Peanut Noodles with Tofu and Bell Peppers
adapted from Food and Wine

3/4 pound cold tofu, cut into 1/2 – 3/4″ cubes
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
1 pound Chinese shan dong noodles or other wide, flat noodle
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
3/4 teaspoon Chinese chile-black bean sauce
1″ piece of ginger, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
3/4 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
2 large bell peppers, thinly sliced
3 large green onions, thinly sliced
cilantro, optional

  1. Toss tofu with 1/3 cup soy sauce in a medium bowl. Let sit for 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add noodles and cook according to package directions until they are al dente. Drain and rinse under cold water. Place into a large bowl.
  3. Combine the remaining soy sauce with peanut butter, broth, vinegar, chile sauce, ginger, garlic and sesame oil. Puree until smooth. Pour over the noodles and toss to combine.
  4. To serve, place noodles into a bowl and top with tofu, bell peppers, and green onions. Serve immediately.

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Mapo Tofu – A Healthier Version

Mapo tofu is delicious. It might be the soft, silky tofu that melts in your moth. It might be the in-your-face kick of Szechuan peppercorn. But, I think the real reason it’s delicious is because it’s traditionally made with very, very fatty ground pork. I was afraid that when I “trimmed down” this recipe by subbing in lean turkey for fatty pork it would lose its great depth of flavor. After all, I’ve tried to make healthier version of various dishes and ended up with not-so-appetizing results (I’m looking at you, rock-hard muffins).

Fortunately, this healthier version of mapo tofu is far from being unappetizing. In fact, I would say that it’s pretty dang stellar. I challenge you tofu  haters to try this. It just might change your mind about tofu. If you still don’t like it, then I guess you can mash it up and pretend like it’s just a huge bowl of ground turkey.

mapo tofu

Healthier Mapo Tofu
serves 6

1 tablespoon Szechuan peppercorns
1 tablespoon corn starch
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon canola oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1.5″ piece of ginger, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
6 green onions, thinly sliced; whites and greens separated
1 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons hot chili bean sauce
14 ounce package soft tofu, drained and cut into 1″ cubes
1 pound extra lean ground turkey
1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
steamed rice, for serving

  1. Toast peppercorns in a small dry skillet over medium-high heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Allow to cool and then grind in a spice grinder.*
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together cornstarch and water until well combined. Set aside.
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add in canola oil and swirl to coat. Add garlic, ginger, and white parts of the scallion and stir fry until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add turkey and cook until meat is no longer pink.
  4. Add in chicken broth, soy sauce, and chili sauce, stirring to combine. Bring to a boil and add corn starch mixture and stir until the sauce becomes thick and clear. Gently stir in tofu and cook until heated through, about 2 – 3 minutes. Stir in Szechuan peppercorns, to taste. Drizzle with sesame oil.
  5. Serve immediately with steamed rice. Garnish with remaining green onions.


*I don’t own a spice grinder. I tossed the cooled peppercorns into a zip-top bag, shut it, and then rolled and lightly pounded it with a large rolling pin. It worked!

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Vietnamese Lemongrass Green Beans and Tofu

I made this mid-summer and never got around to posting it, so I figured I would do it now. I had gone to the farmers’ market and gotten 2 pounds of green beans, with no idea what I wanted to use them for. They sat in my fridge for days before I decided to hit the internet. I scoured it for dishes that contained ingredients that I have never used before and stumbled across this one on Herbivoracious. I decided to give it a try. Mike and I both liked it a lot (he liked it more than I did) but it was just too much work! I don’t think I’ll be making this again any time soon since I simply don’t have the time to do this, but I will probably try it again next summer.

Lemongrass green beans and tofu

Vietnamese Lemongrass Green Beans and Tofu
from Herbivoracious

1 pound extra-firm tofu, patted dry and cut into 1/2″ cubes
1 pound green beans, stem ends trimmed
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
1 tablespoon peeled and finely grated fresh ginger (a microplane is ideal for this)
2 stalks of lemongrass (prepared as described below)
fresh chili peppers of your choice, minced
1 teaspoon soy sauce
black pepper

Chilis, lemon grass, ginger, garlic

  1. In a large skillet or wok over maximum heat, fry the tofu in about half of the oil until it is crispy and brown, stirring occasionally. Remove to paper towels and season with salt and black pepper.
  2. Add the remaining oil to the pan, along with the garlic, ginger, lemongrass and chilis. Fry until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the green beans and toss thoroughly. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until somewhat tender and nice brown spots are developing. If necessary, you can add a bit of water and cover the pan for a couple of minutes to steam them. (Or pre-microwave for 3-4 minutes first – this can be a really helpful technique).
    Green beans
  3. Add the tofu back in, along with the soy sauce and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Stir, taste and make any final seasoning adjustments, and serve.
    Green beans and tofu

To prepare lemongrass:

  1. Remove the tough outer leaves and discard.
  2. Use a sharp, serrated knife to cut off the bulb end and discard.
  3. Make thin slices up the stalk starting from the bulb end, and stopping before you cut the last 1/3. Discard the top of the talk.


Soy-Mirin Tofu Over Rice with Broccoli and Peanut Sauce

I stumbled across this recipe at VeganYumYum and just had to make it. I love tofu and am up for making just about anything that involves it! An added plus – this meal was insanely easy to prepare!

soy mirin tofu

Soy-Mirin Tofu Over Rice with Broccoli and Peanut Sauce
from VeganYumYum

1 block extra firm tofu, pressed and cut into small squares
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons mirin
1 head of broccoli, steamed
1 carrot, peeled and shredded
Peanuts, crushed (optional)
1 cup dry brown rice

Peanut Sauce
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup water (or coconut milk if you have it!)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon seasoned rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon hot chili oil
Pinch of salt

  1. Start cooking your rice. Mix sauce ingredients until smooth and set aside.
  2. Pan fry tofu in the oil over high heat in a non-stick skillet until browned on both sides. Drain and return to hot pan (turn off the heat). Mix soy sauce and mirin together and pour over tofu, mixing well. It will bubble up and form a light glaze.
  3. Plate rice, add broccoli, tofu, carrot, and crushed peanuts. Drizzle with sauce and serve.

Note: if you don’t have mirin, use a combination of cooking wine and sugar.