Spicy Tofu Crumbles with Quick Pickled Cabbage

For the first 5 weeks leading up to the holiday season, we celebrate at least one family member's birthday a week. This includes dinners and brunches and and cake filled celebrations all of which roll on into more festive gatherings and heavy eating for the Holidays.  So, to counter all of this delectable debauchery and to stay friends with my non-elastic waisted pants,  I try my best to eat breakfasts and lunches are light and nourishing, which for me is mostly plants.    

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In order to actually make this happen, I have get organized, otherwise I'll just grab whatever is easy (i.e. cheese and bread).  So I make up batches of green smoothies and homemade vanilla almond milk to soak my oats in for breakfast.  For lunch, I make hearty veggie stews and soups that I can eat for a week or chuck in the freezer in individual servings,  or I gather up the ingredients for a big satisfying Grain Bowl a.k.a. Dragon Bowl a.k.a. Buddha Bowl. Whatever I end up eating, it has to be sufficient and satisfying, or I will inevitably end up raiding the stash of kid snacks before dinner, which post-Halloween is particularly dangerous.  

Sometime last year, during a similar healthy lunch kick this Bon Appetit feature came up in one of my feeds about How to Make a Week's worth of Healthy Meals in Two Hours. (I think the internet might be reading my mind!)  Included in the mix, was a recipe for Spicy Tofu Crumbles made with mirin, soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger and gochujang, a Korean hot pepper paste I buy at PAT, a well known Korean grocery store here in Toronto. (BA says you can also sub Sriracha).   At the time, as is often my way with cabbage, I had purposeless, leftover cabbage kicking around, because one cabbage can provide a little too much cabbage eating for my family.   So, inspired by a few recipes I’d recently seen in whole foods blogs and books, I whipped up a batch of quick pickled red cabbage to go with the tofu crumbles, both of which could last in my fridge for up to 5 days - a perfect match.  I steamed up some quinoa and broccoli for added flavour and texture, et voila I had my very own week’s worth of healthy meals. 

This combination was so intensely flavourful, fresh and satisfying that I’ve repeated it many times since, with some variation depending on the season and what’s in my fridge.  It’s a perfect balance of tangy, spicy and crunchy and I swear these tofu crumbles could convert even the biggest tofu-hater.  You can stack it in a mason jar and take it to work, or pile it up in a big bowl at home.  I usually garnish it with some seeds and a few slices of avocado for added richness. 

As a bonus, both the tofu crumbles and the cabbage work in many other ways, together or separate - in tacos, on salads, in stir-fry or even in guacamole. So if you’re also looking to cram in a week of wholesome meals in before the Holidays while also committing to an entire beautiful purple cabbage while it’s in season, this is a great way to go.   

SPICY TOFU CRUMBLES
1 lb extra-firm tofu, sliced ¾ inch thick
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
3 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 Tbsp. mirin
2 Tbsp. Sriracha or gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste)
2 Tbsp. unseasoned rice vinegar
2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
1 tsp. finely grated fresh ginger
2 Tbsp. neutral flavoured oil

Press slices of tofu with a paper towel to dry.  Heat oil in a medium pan and then fry the tofu slices on both sides until golden brown, around 5 to 7 minutes total.  Whisk together remaining ingredients.  Once tofu slices are cool enough to handle, crumble into the spice mixture and toss to combine.  Store in a jar or glass container for up to 5 days in the fridge.  Makes 1.5 cups or around 4 servings.  

QUICK PICKLED CABBAGE
1/2 of a red cabbage, or around 4 cups, shredded or sliced thin
2 Tbs. apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. sea salt
Massage vinegar and salt into the cabbage until soft, around 2 minutes.  Store in a glass jar in the fridge for up to 5 days.  Makes 4 cups.  

SPICY TOFU & PICKLED CABBAGE GRAIN BOWL
Rinse 1 cup of quinoa and then add it to a pot with 1.75 cups of broth (I like better than bouillon) or water.  Bring to a boil and then simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until it "pops".   

Steam 1 head of broccoli, chopped into florets for 3 minutes, until bright green and still crisp.

To assemble take 1 cup of cooked quinoa and top with generous handfuls of spicy tofu, pickled cabbage and broccoli.  Garnish with preferred seeds and avocado slices.

The quantities here will give you 3 to 4 hearty bowls depending on appetite size and other add ins.  Everything should last up to 5 days in the fridge.  

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