Pre-Shopping Day Vegan Pasta Primavera

What do you do when you need to make something quick, easy and nutritious to make for dinner with a fridge full of leftover ingredients? I had no clue but my husband and I have been taking inspiration from the Netflix show, Midnight Diner. It’s a Japanese vignette show centered on a diner where people come up and request whatever they want to eat and the chef will make it, provided he has the ingredients.

It’s been an experiment that’s into the second week now and it’s produced some pretty great results. I think so but maybe I’m biased.

Anyway if you’re unfamiliar, a primavera is a great way to make use of fresh vegetables before they go bad…you know who you are out there.

The easiest way to explain pasta primavera is a pasta dish with fresh veggies, at least as far as I understand it. And after a week of making delicious off-the-cuff dishes, this is what I whipped up when the hubs requested pasta primavera.

The good thing about a dish like this is that it is easy to make vegan and it’s a great dish to make sure you use up every veggie you doled out hard earned cash to buy. For this dish I started with my basics: onion, bell pepper and garlic. Broccoli, crimini mushrooms and smoked tofu rounded out the dish along with this strange mix & mash of pasta that I just couldn’t resist.

I sauteed it the veggies using a little bit of olive oil, adding the mushrooms first so they have plenty of time to get a bit of crisp around the edges and broccoli last so it didn’t get too soft because I like my vegetables with a bit of a bite. I did manage to get a bit of char on the onions and red bell peppers, which only enhanced the flavor of this vegan pasta dish.

The star of any good pasta primavera, in my opinion, is the sauce. I opted for a scampi-style sauce with lemon juice, capers, dijon mustard and nutritional yeast. Instead of dragging the dish down with a heavy cheesy sauce, I sprinkled Parveggio on top as a garnish.

I opted for smoked tofu in this dish because you can’t beat that smoky flavor in a dish like this. I didn’t want to replicate a fishy flavor but I wanted layers of taste and the smoky tofu and smoked paprika helped me accomplish that.

Feel free to add extra like hot chili flakes or fresh greens to garnish, but this was a day before grocery day kind of meal for us and it was an excellent way to clear up the fridge for a new batch of fresh goodies.

 

Food Court Flashback ~ Bourbon Chicken Tofu

Way back in 2004, I was living in Boston working on the 2004 Presidential Election as an eager holder of a Masters in political science and delusions of…something. I had just met my husband, who was one of half a dozen roommates I shared a giant colonial with in Everett. Anyway the office where I worked was right in the Downtown Crossing T stop, which meant there was this great little food court right around the corner. The food was…okay.

But there was this little cart on the way there that had incredible falafels, but that’s for another time. Inside this food court was this tiny hole int he wall that served bourbon chicken. This was back in my meat eating days and I couldn’t get enough of this simple dish that I could eat at my desk without making a mess. The ingredients were pretty simple from what my taste buds could gather and remember, after all this time.

I recently caught up with a friend from Boston and it made me nostalgic for this dish so, of course, I made it.

I’d say this was one of the most straight forward recipes I’ve come up with/recreated in a while.

What you need:

Tofu

Onion

Rice

Broccoli

Brown or coconut sugar

Bourbon (or whiskey)

Ginger

Garlic

Soy sauce

Cornstarch

Water

For this recipe I experimented with the dehydrated soy pieces because I love how you can manipulate the texture by simmering it longer or leaving it sitting in the water longer than recommended. Since this recipe would involve simmering, I chose to get the pieces good and thick so I could get a nice crisp on the outside before adding the sauce.

Stay prepared by making your bourbon sauce first. In a bowl, whisk together bourbon, sugar, grated ginger and garlic, soy sauce, cornstarch and water. Set aside so it’s ready when  you need it.

If you want a bit more flavor, add tomato paste by the teaspoon until you get that yummy umami flavor.

The tofu is the most time-consuming part because you have to simmer it before putting it in the skillet, but it’s well worth it.

For the broccoli I took the lazy cook’s route and chopped it with vegan butter, salt, pepper and garlic before wrapping it in foil and popping it into the oven for 20-25 minutes.

Serve the bourbon tofu over rice and add more spice if needed and voila, you’ve got my favorite fast food meal of 2004 on your table in 30 minutes.

And I enjoyed it with a tall glass of water since there was already 2 ounces of bourbon on the plates!

You can have healthy, delicious vegan meals in no time at all. Believe it!