Today I'm infusing some creative flavors into a basic plate of quinoa, tofu and veggies. I add the spicy sweet flavors of sumac, ginger, coconut, maple and tamari. Red quinoa is the perfect nutty grain to accent this sublime plate.
I love this plate as a sturdy lunch. Or to accent a hefty dinner salad. Serve with some sumac-speckled hummus dip and lemon olive oil grilled pita bread for a complete, cravable meal. But any way you serve it, this vegan plate is sure to give your taste buds a yum-filled jolt. And you can impress all your foodie friends by telling them you have tried sumac...
The tricky part of any meal is figuring out how to flavor the main ingredients. Tofu, quinoa and veggies would be quite bland on their own. So I needed to infuse some flavor into these healthy foods. And I was feeling adventurous with a brand new tub of "sumac" I just picked up at the store...
Isn't that poisonous? Like poison sumac?
It's awesome!! I think. I hope. Lets find out..
I have been hearing about "sumac" from the foodie scene blogs for a while now. But I first really connected with the idea of using sumac when I read about it in the Dirt Candy blog, from one of my fave veggie chefs (and Dirt Candy owner) Amanda Cohen. Love her blog btw. Hilarious. Informative. Inspiring. Amanda wrote in her 'spices' post:
"Sumac is a berry that’s dried and ground into a powder and it’s got a really interesting bright, acidic, tart citrus taste."
To me, sumac is odd because it looks like a thick chili powder but tastes incredibly zesty and bright. I asked my twitter followers if they had tried it and many folks raved about it! I didn't know sumac had so many fans. So I was excited to give it a whirl.
**Sumac UPDATE: So last night I tried sumac raw, sprinkled right over top my kale and heirloom tomato salad - a little EVOO, olives, mandarins, maple syrup, pepper and shaved sweet onion. SO good. Loved how it dissolved into tiny red droplets on the sweet juicy tomatoes. Give this a try guys! Sumac is yum raw or cooked.**
Red Quinoa. My husband has a thing for red quinoa. The al dente texture, slight chewiness and rustic earthy flavor in each fluffy, nutty bite. Fine by me! There are a few reasons why I don't mind indulging his red quinoa obsession. For one, quinoa is incredibly healthy. This perky ancient grain is gluten-free, rich in protein/amino acids, iron and fiber. Plus it is low in fat and is a lovely change from traditional grains like rice - or wheat products like couscous.
The second thing I love about quinoa is that just like pasta or rice, you can really build your meal around it. For this plate I decided to add some sticky-sweet-spiced tofu planks, oyster mushrooms and broccoli.
Dinner Salad? Make this plate into a bowl .. a hefty dinner salad bowl: pile handfuls of raw greens into a bowl - a drizzle of your fave sweetish salad dressing (maybe a sweet Dijon mustard dressing, or tangy sweet pomegranate) - add a sprinkle of zesty sumac - top salad with scoops of the red quinoa, tofu, broccoli and oyster mushrooms. Maybe some mandarin oranges too. Dinner salad served.
A few things I'd add to this meal - it would be a bean hummus style dip or sauce to accent. Something like my lemon thyme hummus. Just to bind the quinoa to the tofu and veggies .. and some warm grilled pita bread. Yes! Now your meal is totally complete..
Sumac Ginger Tofu with Coconut Ginger Red Quinoa, Broccoli, Oyster Mushrooms
2 cups broccoli florets
2 cups oyster mushrooms
2-4 Tbsp safflower oil for pan-saute
7 one-inch rectangle planks of firm tofu, pressed and patted dry
2 Tbsp sumac
3 Tbsp tamari
3 Tbsp minced ginger - paste product (I used Ginger People brand)
1/2 tsp fine black pepper
2 tsp chili powder
2 Tbsp maple syrup
added salt/pepper to taste
additional sumac for finishing veggies
Coconut Ginger Red Quinoa:
2 cups cooked red quinoa (how-to cook quinoa here)
2 Tbsp coconut milk
3 Tbsp inced ginger paste
1/2 cup golden raisins
salt to taste
garnish: 1 small orange, sliced
1. Press and dry your tofu. Slice into planks.
2. Mix together your tofu marinade. Soak your tofu in the marinade for at least 30 minutes.
3. Turn your stove to high heat and add a few tablespoons of safflower oil to pan. Add your tofu. Allow to cook for a few minutes - then flip. You may want to add some of the leftover marinade to keep the saute pan moist.
4. As the tofu cooks, you can add in the broccoli. The broccoli will begin to absorb the leftover marinade so that the tofu can firm up a bit and finish cooking. Lastly, add in the oyster shrooms. You don't want to over cook the veggies - just let them char and steam in the leftover tofu marinade sauce. You should eventually use up all the marinade.
5. When the tofu and veggies are cooked to your desired preferences, remove and set aside. I sprinkle over a few pinches of sumac right on top of the tofu.
6. Toss the red quinoa with the coconut milk, golden raisins and ginger - salt to taste.
7. Plate the red quinoa with the tofu and veggies however you'd like. Add garnish of fresh orange slices to play up the zestiness of the plate.
Serve with: hummus and pita bread if you'd like.