Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Bowl of the Week - Sweet Chili Tofu and veggie bowl with pineapple and cashews

This week's bowl is a total cheat bowl. It uses sauce from a jar! 

I have enjoyed watching cooking shows as far back as I can remember.  One show I remember falling in love with was "Semi-Homemade with Sandra Lee".  On Semi-Homemade, Sandra Lee would make a delicious from-scratch pie filling, and then put it in a pre-made crust.  Or prepare a lovely casserole one night, and then keep the leftovers relevant the following night by using them to stuff a pepper or a mushroom. 

I liked the idea of getting more bang for your effort. I still do. 

So, that's why this cheat-bowl makes me super happy.  Normally, I enjoy making my own sauces, marinades and dressings.  It's important to me to know exactly what is in every element of my food.  Bottled and jarred sauces often have undesirable additives, or far more sugar or sodium than I'd like. 

But, there's just always been something about Trader Joe's Sweet Chili Sauce.  For a special treat, and to make life easy, I use it to dress a stir fry every once in a while. 

All your time and effort for this bowl (which won't be much!) will go into chopping veggies and dry-frying tofu; not meticulously measuring spices and other sauce ingredients. 



Sweet Chili Tofu and veggie bowl with pineapple and cashews

1 lb package of extra firm tofu, pressed for at least a half hour (I put my tofu on a plate, cover it with another plate, and then place something super heavy like a cast iron skillet or full teapot on top.) 
1/2 lb asparagus spears, chopped into 1-2" pieces
1 C. Carrots, chopped into large matchstick shapes
2 C. Broccoli florets
1 medium red onion, roughly chopped
1 C. Fresh pineapple, chopped
1/2 C. Raw cashews
1/2 C. Sweet Chili Sauce
Grain of choice, for serving (optional)

Start by toasting your cashews. Preheat a large skillet (cast iron is best!) over medium heat. Toss the cashews around for a few minutes until they start to golden up and smell awesome. Take them off the skillet and set them aside. 

Now we're going to dry fry tofu.  This is probably my favorite way to enjoy tofu. It gets perfectly browned and crispy, without using any oil!

Cut the tofu block in five slices width-wise, then four slices lengthwise.  You can cut them smaller if you want, after they've been cooked. 

Lay the tofu in a single layer on your preheated skillet.  You want them to sizzle when they hit the pan.  Let them set there for three-four minutes. Sprinkle the tops with salt, and use a wide metal spatula to press the tofu down. Hear that sizzle?  That's the money.  Flip one piece to check for golden-brown perfection, and when they're all nice and toasty, flip them all over and repeat on the other side. 

Take the tofu out and set aside.  Throw your veggies in the skillet with a few tablespoons of water and cook over medium-high heat until they've reached your preferred softness (about7-10 minutes).  Add the pineapple, tofu and chili sauce and toss to cover everything with the sauce. 
Serve over brown rice, rice noodles, quinoa- or as is!  Sprinkle with your toasted cashews and enjoy.


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