It feels so good to be home! Finally, we have an oven. And a table. And more than one room.. Aaaand I guess the people are okay too. Just kidding, I’m so happy to see everyone! We missed you guys.
Now that I have a full kitchen again, I have been cooking up a storm and recipe testing and I am loving it. About this latest creation, quinoa on it’s own is pretty boring but dressed up with a few simple ingredients, it can transform into the perfect canvas for a super healthy and delicious meal.
These thai quinoa bowls are wonderfully fresh and flavorful. I’ve made them about 5 times now with different variations and they get better every time! The crunch of the peanuts, freshness from the carrots, crispy tofu and sweet, tangy sauce create the perfect balance of flavors.
Now for all you tofu-haters, I know you’re out there. I understand the struggle, it’s a weird texture and if cooked improperly, it can be unpleasant. However, properly cooked and seasoned tofu can be so, so delicious. My sister typically doesn’t like tofu, but she liked the tofu in this recipe! Follow my tips and give it a shot. There are two main keys to getting it right:
- Buy Extra Firm Tofu, (NOT SILKEN). This can be confusing because “extra firm silken tofu” does exist. Again, this is NOT what you want. The texture is completely different and it is literally impossible to get crispy. Double check your package does not say “silken” anywhere on it. Silken tofu has it’s uses, they are not here.
- You have to use a non-stick pan and you have to leave it alone. You have to just let it sit for a few minutes without touching it so the side touching the pan can get crispy and firm and won’t crumble. So, it just takes a little patience. It can be done without a non-stick pan, it just requires a little more effort (see the recipe).
Once the tofu is crispy, we just toss it in some sesame oil and soy sauce so it can soak up all that delicious flavor and bam, there you have it, crispy on the outside, soft on the inside little bursts of flavor to throw your quinoa bowl over the top.
This comes together really quickly. The tofu and quinoa each take 15-20 min on the stove, and you can knock those out at the same time. Then all you have to do is throw all the sauce ingredients together, and do a little shredding/chopping and you’re done. Easy peasy.
These super healthy and flavorful quinoa bowls are a perfect make-ahead lunch or quick weeknight dinner. crispy tofu + crunchy peanuts + fresh carrots + sweet, tangy sauce = delicious
- 1 cup quinoa
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1 T olive oil
- 15 oz extra firm tofu, cut into 1/2" cubes and patted dry
- 2 T soy sauce
- 1 T sesame oil
- 2 cups shredded carrots
- 6 scallions, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
- 2/3 cup chopped peanuts
- For the sauce:
- 6 T coconut milk
- 3 T natural peanut butter
- 2 T rice vinegar
- 1 T chili garlic sauce or sriracha
- 1 tsp grated ginger
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 2 T brown sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 T apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1. First start the quinoa. Combine 1 cup of coconut milk and 1 cup of water in a pot with the quinoa. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer until there is no more liquid, about 15 minutes.
- 2. While the quinoa cooks, heat a large non-stick pan over medium high heat and add olive oil. When oil is hot, add the cubed tofu and spread them out in a single layer, and don't touch them! After 3-4 minutes, one side should be golden brown. Check one first, then move them around so different surfaces of the cubes are touching the pan. If you are not using a non-stick pan and they stick, you have to be very careful when you stir them. Use a very thin turner to gently detach the cubes from the pan before you stir them, without losing the crispy browned side you just made. The trick is to keep the browned side attached to the tofu, not the pan.
- 3. Once you've stirred the tofu, let it sit for 3-4 min again until another side is browned, and stir again. The longer it cooks, the drier the tofu will get and faster it will brown on each side. By the end, it will only take about a minute. The whole process should only take 15-20 minutes.
- 5. In a large bowl, whisk together sesame oil and soy sauce and set aside. We will toss the tofu in this when it is done.
- 4. While the tofu cooks, combine all of the sauce ingredients in a bowl and whisk them together vigorously or combine them all in a food processor. The food processor is not necessary but results in a smoother sauce.
- 5. You can tell the quinoa is done when you can see tiny spirals separating and curling around the seeds. If you're not sure taste a little bit, it should be soft and fluffy, and there shouldn't be any crunch. If there is, let it cook for a few more minutes. When it's done, take it off the heat, cover and set aside.
- 6. When the tofu is done, transfer it to the bowl with the soy sauce and sesame oil, toss to coat.
- 7. To serve, in a big bowl combine the quinoa, tofu, carrots, scallions, and half the peanuts and cilantro and toss together. Top with the rest of the cilantro and peanuts and serve with sauce on the side. Let each person put as much sauce as desired on their bowl; you may not need all of it.
Adapted from this recipe