#VeganMoFo Day 1: Enter the Bowl

I have a hard time playing favorites. Favorite band? Favorite TV show? Favorite movie? Don’t make me choose, But food is the hardest of all. Indian food? Tacos? Thai? Vietnamese? Korean? Ethiopian? Falafel? Artisanal, creative, farm-to-table masterpieces? Bread and (cashew) cheese? Almost anything with sugar? I mean. I love food, period. Making it, eating it, thinking about it, talking about it, shopping for it, reading about it.

But if I have to choose, I choose a choice that’s trying to have it both ways–well, several ways: California-style health food. It’s a goddamn catch-all for anything involving kale, quinoa, and tofu that takes inspiration or steals liberally from all of the above. It’s my true north of home cooking. And what’s more health-foody right now than the almighty bowl? This bowl has everything: Rainbow quinoa. Braised greens and purple cabbage. Baked tofu. Roasted squash. Tahini-lemon sauce with plenty of garlic. I eat this ALL THE TIME. I will try to avoid repeating myself this month…

For the purpose of making a prettier picture, I tweaked the process a little bit. It’s usually a bit simpler.

The quinoa is just quinoa. I cook it in a VitaClay multicooker, which I love. It turns out perfect without any effort. Done.

I usually start the tofu right after I get the quinoa going because I like to bake it for 20 minutes on each side. It’s coated simply and gently in a little olive oil and soy sauce. This gives it a nice, brown, chewy skin. Typically I just cut it into four slices, which fit in a little glass baking dish in my toaster oven, so no pre-heating and easy timing, but today I cubed it and baked it in the oven since I was also cooking some squash. Cubing it, cook time was reduced to about 15 minutes on each side.

Squash isn’t a STANDARD part of this for me, but I’ll use it when I have it. Today I had the top half of a butternut squash, and for funsies, I chopped it at strange angles so it’d have interesting facets. It got a little olive oil and a pinch of salt and roasted for about 20 minutes.

Next I started on the greens. The most basic iteration of this dish is just wilted chopped kale; today I had half a red onion leftover from breakfast, a bunch of collard greens, and some nice purple cabbage, so I threw ‘em all in. The onions were thinly sliced then sauteed in olive oil, then I added a pinch of salt and a generous pour of low-sodium vegetable stock and brought it to a boil before adding the greens. I ended up having to add a little bit more broth to get it cooking (pan was pretty crowded), and also threw in a couple cloves of microplaned garlic for good measure.

Finally, the tahini sauce. I did not diverge from my usual, go-to, reliable recipe one bit: ~¼ cup of tahini (I use the Whole Foods store brand, which pours easily and doesn’t get thick and chalky if you stir it well), a few drops of our favorite hot sauce, one microplaned clove of garlic, juice of one lemon, ~2 Tbsp nutritional yeast, and water as needed. I add all this directly to an OXO dressing shaker and give it several good swings and it’s done.

The black sesame seeds I added just for looks. When you drizzle a beige sauce on your bowl, you kinda lose the colorful veggies, after all.

Happy MoFo!

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