21 February 2016

TJ's Hearty Grains Dinner

It's been far too long since my last post! I've made a number of delicious things in my absence from the blog, so there should be some good new posts coming. I've got one tonight, I'm hopeful to have one later this week (I'm making something delicious for our monthly vegan potluck), and have some fun new recipes coming in the next few ways.

Anyway, this recipe is something that our awesome friends Max and Sara made for us ages ago. The four of us eat together at least three times a month, generally alternating who does the cooking. When they cook, they sometimes choose to cook something from my blog, but other times they feed us delicious new foods that fit our veganness and Shana's food idiosyncrasies. This dish was one of those delicious options. Max and Sara lived close to a Trader Joe's, so they have been able to use some great foods we haven't been able to access (although there are Trader Joe's in many places we used to live, they weren't there when we were living there). If you don't have a Trader Joe's near you, don't worry, you can order a number of Trader Joe's products online. Anyway, without access to a TJs, I didn't know this awesome grain blend existed. With a few added ingredients, it makes an amazing dinner.

TJ's Hearty Grains Dinner
1 pint cherry, grape, or other small tomatoes (see Helpful Hints)
2 T. olive oil
1 block extra firm tofu
2 tsp. powdered VegeBase (or 1 crushed bouillon cube)
1, 16 oz bag of Trader Joe's Harvest Grains Blend
3 1/2 c. water
1 T. Better than Bouillon No Chicken flavor
1 T. vegan butter

1. At least two hours before making dinner - but see Helpful Hints, halve and seed the cherry tomatoes. Oven roast them at 250 degrees until they are dried (start checking after 45 minutes, then every 15 minutes thereafter, removing those that are done).
2. Heat the oil in a skillet, crumble the tofu, and sprinkle it with the VegeBase. Saute it over medium-high heat until it begins to crisp.
3. Prepare the grains as per package directions, putting the No Chicken Bouillon into the water (and eventually adding the vegan butter).
4. When the grains are done, add the dried tomatoes and tofu, stirring well to combine.

Helpful Hints
  • We have a friend who doesn't like the sweet/savory combination that emerges with the dried tomatoes. But, you can certainly use other veggies! Fast cooking veggies, like chopped zucchini, spinich, or small pieces of asparagus could be included. Our friend used zucchini and loved it! You could also stir stir in veggies that have already been cooked (e.g., green beans, mushrooms, squash, etc.). Let your taste buds lead the way.
  • If you don't want to oven dry the tomatoes the day of cooking, you can easily dry them ahead of time and then freeze them. This a great option if you have a lot of small tomatoes in the midsummer peak of the season. For example, we got a pint every week last summer in our CSA share, which is a TON for people who don't eat tomatoes often. I've also successfully dehydrated them using a dehydrator, which makes the kitchen so much less hot than the oven.
  • Sauteing the tofu until crispy is something that seems to take forever. I have to keep reminding myself to walk away from the pan. The more you let the tofu rest, the crispier it will get. 
  • We learned that this meal is totally freezer-friendly. When reheating, I often add a tablespoon or two of water. 
The post "TJ's Hearty Grains Dinner" originally appeared on Maggie's LesVegan Kitchen.

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