Grilled Tofu with Lime Peanut Sauce and Fresh Veggies
I first used this lime peanut sauce or dressing with grilled chicken and tofu in a napa cabbage veggie bowl, but I’ve since discovered it’s good with just about everything (even with leftover black beans and rice!). I decided to make an almost (fish sauce is used) vegan dinner, because a mostly plant-based diet is best and is part of our Ageless Diet Lifestyle ethos. In fact, for you those of you hooked on the idea that you need to eat mostly animal protein to be healthy, strong and lean, good news… you don’t! Kale has more protein calorie for calorie than most meats. Get your protein from wherever you like, no need to be tied to an expensive meat based diet, (a diet of mostly plants is anti-inflammatory and promotes that ageless look and feel we want!) and lose the misconception about plants. Plants have just as much in the way of essential amino acids as animal meat. Your body breaks all protein sources into amino acids so it’s not like that filet is going straight to your six-pack. Plus, you need way more good carbs and starches than protein. The idea that a mostly protein diet is best is a myth. We need good carbs (slow carbs) and starches, like leafy vegetables, berries, legumes, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, spaghetti squash, whole grains, chia, quinoa, black rice, amaranth… the list goes on, because we need fiber. Yes, of course, the body needs protein at every meal, but fiber is key to a healthy, ageless body.
For this dish, I get an organic, non-GMO, extra firm tofu, slice it into thick rectangle slabs and marinate it in chili paste (make sure the chili paste you buy is just chili paste and vinegar – no sugar!), soy sauce like Nama Shoyu or Braggs Liquid Aminos, and a bit of sesame oil. I do the same with mushrooms – shiitake work best but portobello or crimini will do too. And mushrooms are so good for you. (It’s important to eat only organic mushrooms because they absorb and concentrate whatever they grow in – the good or the bad stuff in soil!) “Shiitake mushrooms are an excellent source of three B vitamins (vitamins B2, B5 and B6); a very good source of one additional B vitamin (B2); a very good source of six minerals (manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, copper and zinc); a very good source of dietary fiber; and a good source of protein, magnesium, and vitamin D (in the D2 form). They also provide a wide variety of unique phytonutrients.” Marinate the mushrooms and red bell peppers (and whatever other veggies you want to add to the grill) with the tofu. Grill the tofu and vegetables or saute them or bake them in your oven. And then serve over black rice (forbidden rice) or spaghetti squash and fresh vegetables with plenty of fresh herbs, shallots, and avocado. Spoon the delicious peanut sauce over the whole plate. This dish serves 4 for dinner, or 2, with leftovers for lunch – lucky you! It tastes even better the next day.
Lime Peanut Dressing:
- 3 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
- 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1/2 cup lime juice
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 one-and-a-half inch chunk ginger, peeled and sliced
- 6 tablespoons natural, organic unsalted peanut butter
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- (optional: if you want it spicier add a pinch of cayenne)
Blend all the ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth. This sauce should be the consistency of foamy cream. It will keep for several days. I’ve found it’s great on almost everything I cook. And really handy to have around. It’s very flavorful and rich so you won’t need more than a couple of tablespoons of it on any given dish.
Ingredients for Grilled Tofu & Veggie Bowl:
- 1 package extra-firm tofu, sliced in 1/3 inch rectangles
- 1 package of organic shiitake mushrooms
- 1 shallot, finely sliced in strips
- Tuscan or purple kale (about 2 leaves, cut into strips)
- 1 red bell pepper, sliced in strips
- 3 tablespoons chili paste
- 4 tablespoons sesame seed oil
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce or Braggs Liquid Aminos
- 3 organic celery sticks, diced
- 1 cup fresh herbs (mint, parsley, basil, or just basil)
- 1/2 head of napa cabbage, sliced in very thin strips
- 1 avocado, sliced
- 1 cup black (forbidden) rice, cooked, or cooked spaghetti squash
Marinate tofu, mushrooms and red bell pepper in sesame oil, soy sauce and chili paste for at least 15 minutes. Grill or saute or broil the vegetables for about 7 minutes, the tofu will take longer. Grill or cook until golden brown on each side. You shouldn’t need any extra cooking oil because the marinade has enough sesame oil, use the remaining marinade in the bowl while grilling or cooking the tofu and vegetables, drizzle over them. Serve over rice or the cooked spaghetti squash, layer the tofu and grilled vegetables, top with avocado, celery, and cabbage, spoon a couple of teaspoons of peanut sauce over all of this, top with fresh herbs and thinly sliced shallot, squeeze a little lime juice over the whole thing. Serve more sauce on the side, add as needed. This is such a versatile dish, cook the tofu any way you like – steaming is a great, lower-fat option – with this peanut dressing. And serve with any vegetables that strike your fancy. If you want to stay away from grains, serve over spaghetti squash or a baked sweet potato. Make this dish your own, and I promise you will love it as much as I do.
About the Author: Tania Van Pelt is the creator of Happiness Series. She is a writer and content creator, working in film, tv, and online. She wrote the popular lifestyle book "Ageless Diet," published in late 2015. And she is currently working on her next book. She also developed a sitcom pilot set in the restaurant business called "Employees Only TV" and is developing another web series comedy about Denver.