Vegetarian Chao Mian (Chow Mein) and Gai Lan

I’ve been craving a lot of Chinese food recently. I think it’s because I miss home and my mom’s delicious home-cooking. However, Chinese New Year just happened, so I took advantage of some of the sales at the Asian market and picked up some ingredients for some of my favorite comfort foods. Then I got a coupon for a discount off my next purchase so obviously I had to go back… Anyway, this is one of the meals I cooked for myself recently, and it’s been the perfect comfort food for the dreary and drizzly week we’ve been having here in Seattle.

I decided to make chao mian, then add a side of gai lan (Chinese broccoli) to have a little more green on my plate. I’ve never made gai lan, but it turns out, it’s super easy and fast! You just boil some water, drop the gai lan in, cook for a few minutes, and then remove it and you’re done! Drizzle a little oyster sauce on top and it’s just like off a dim sum cart.

As for the chao mian, I prefer the thicker noodles, so that’s what I used, but you can use whatever kind of stir fry noodles you’d like. You can also change up the vegetables to be whatever you’d like, this is just the combination I had on hand. I didn’t follow any specific recipe for the sauce, this is just the blend of flavors I always use and like, and it’s a combination of the Chinese sauces we keep in the fridge at home. I also don’t really use exact measurements, I just add sauces, mix it up, and taste it until I like what I taste.

So here’s my version of Chinese comfort food!

Chao Mian

Makes 6-8 servings

Ingredients

½ block of high protein tofu, sliced into thin rectangles

2 tsp olive oil

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

3-4 green onions, sliced

8-10 shiitake mushrooms, sliced

1 large carrot or about ¾ cup baby carrots, sliced thin

2 tsp canola oil

32 oz package noodles (I used miki noodles, a thick Shanghai stir fry noodle)

½ head of napa cabbage, sliced

Sauce (approximate measurements, I just pour sauces in and mix until the flavor is good)

3 tbsp soy sauce

2 tbsp hoisin sauce

1 tbsp oyster sauce

1 tbsp sesame oil

3 slices of ginger

1 tbsp marsala wine/cooking sherry

Directions

Mix up the sauce ingredients in a bowl or measuring cup. Slice the tofu and add to the sauce to allow it to marinate.

Chop the garlic, green onions, mushrooms, and carrots. Heat a deep skillet or wok over medium heat, then add the olive oil. Cook the garlic and green onions until fragrant, then add the mushrooms and carrots. Cook until slightly tender the mushrooms start to release their juices. Make a well in the middle of the vegetables and turn up the heat to medium-high. Heat the canola oil. Add the tofu to the skillet in the canola oil and allow to brown, stirring every couple minutes. Reserve the marinating sauce to add later.

Once the tofu is browned to your liking, add the noodles and the remaining sauce. Cover and allow to steam-cook for a few minutes to warm and soften the noodles. While you are waiting for the noodles to cook, chop the napa cabbage crosswise. Add the cabbage to the skillet and stir to incorporate the sauce. Reduce heat to medium or medium low and cook until the cabbage is as soft as you prefer. Stir the noodles to distribute the toppings, and serve warm. Enjoy!

Gai Lan

Makes 6 servings

Ingredients

2 bunches gai lan

Oyster sauce

Directions

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Drop in the gai lan and blanch for 2-3 minutes, longer if you want it softer. Remove from the water and drain.

In a small saucepan, thin the oyster sauce with a little water and cook over medium heat for a minute or so. Drizzle over the gai lan. Enjoy!

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Tofu Quinoa Buddha Bowl

Happy Friday! I’m super stoked to be heading to our first ultimate frisbee tournament of the season this weekend! Before I go, I want to leave you with this delicious, healthy recipe I made last weekend, and have been enjoying all week for lunches and dinners. I was inspired by this post over at Queen of Quinoa and decided to make a Buddha Bowl of my own. The idea is basically some kind of grain base, with veggies and toppings, and a sauce. I picked quinoa as my base, since I have an entire Costco bag of it sitting on my pantry shelf. I added some of my favorite roasted vegetables, added some teriyaki tofu, and topped the whole thing with fresh avocado slices. Drizzle some teriyaki sauce or sesame-ginger dressing on top and you have a meal!

I love how versatile this dish is, since you can pretty much put whatever you want on it. I just chose a few of my favorites, and some vegetables that were in season, but the choice is yours! This makes a very filling, healthy meal, and flavorful meal. Here’s my recipe!

Tofu Quinoa Buddha Bowl

Makes 6 servings

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups quinoa, uncooked

3 cups water

1 lb brussels sprouts, halved

2 sweet potatoes, halved and sliced

2 zucchini, halved and sliced

1/2 onion, sliced

1 14oz box firm tofu, cubed

Olive oil, for roasting

1/4 cup teriyaki sauce (I used Trader Joe’s Soyaki sauce)

Sesame-ginger dressing

3 avocados, sliced

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400˚F. Toss all the vegetables in the olive oil and spread on baking sheets. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until the vegetables are all fork-tender.

While the veggies roast, prepare the quinoa according to package directions and marinate the tofu in the teriyaki sauce. Once the vegetables are done, pour the tofu and teriyaki marinade into a preheated skillet and saute until the tofu is lightly browned and heated through.

To assemble the bowls, put a layer of quinoa in a bowl, then top with roasted veggies and tofu, and place half of each sliced avocado on top. Drizzle with the desired amount of dressing, or you could use more teriyaki sauce, or even just leave it plain. Enjoy!

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Shared on Kitchen Fun with My 3 Sons

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This tastes delicious plain, with all the sweet and savory flavors of the roasted veggies and marinated tofu

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It also tastes great with some sesame-ginger dressing, or any other dressing of your choice!

Quinoa Salad with Sesame Soy Dressing

Quinoa Salad with Sesame Soy Dressing

I discovered quinoa last summer when I started cooking a lot, and I fell in love with it. It’s a wonderful, nutty, healthy grain which is a complete protein, meaning you can get all the essential amino acids from it. Here’s a random fun fact I learned in one of my Life Science classes at UCLA: you can get all the essential amino acids by eating chips and salsa.

Last summer my favorite recipe with quinoa was this one from Two Peas and Their Pod. This summer, I decided to try another of their quinoa recipes, which popped up on my Facebook feed. I modified some of the ingredients according to what I had on hand and what vegetables I did and didn’t like. The original recipe had cabbage and soybeans, which I switched for broccoli and corn, since I didn’t have cabbage and I don’t like soybeans. The original recipe calls for red bell pepper, but we only had green ones in the garden. However, I do prefer red bell pepper, since it is sweeter. I  added a bit of sugar to the dressing, since when I tasted it it was extremely salty. I also left the cilantro out, since no one in my family likes it. After my modifications, the result was a delicious, refreshing quinoa salad, perfect for a summer night meal. My entire family enjoyed this recipe, and my mom got a break from cooking!

Quinoa Salad with Sesame Soy Dressing

adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod

Ingredients

Salad

1 cup quinoa

1 1/2 cups water

1 tbsp olive oil

1/4 cup water

1 cup broccoli, chopped

2 ears of corn, cut off the cob

1 bell pepper, chopped

2 medium carrots, shredded

1 medium cucumber, diced

Dressing

1/4 cup soy sauce

1 tbsp sesame oil

1 tbsp rice wine vinegar

2 tbsp chopped green onions

2 tsp sugar (or agave, or honey)

1 tbsp sesame seeds

1/4 tsp grated ginger

1/8 tsp red pepper flakes

salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

Cook the quinoa according to the package instructions, adjusting the amount of water if necessary.

In another saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat, then add the broccoli. Add the water and cover to steam the broccoli for about 3-4 minutes, then add the corn and cover again until all the water has been absorbed, stirring occasionally.

While the quinoa, broccoli, and corn are cooking, combine all the ingredients for the dressing. Place the quinoa in a large bowl and add the broccoli, corn, bell pepper, carrots, and cucumber. Pour 2/3 of the dressing on top, mix it up, and taste. This may be all the dressing you need, depending on your preference. If you want more dressing, pour the rest on. Enjoy!

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These are the vegetables I used, but this would be great with several other variations!

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Mmmm, light and refreshing!

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For dinner, we had the quinoa salad as our main dish. I also baked sweet potatoes and made some zucchini fritters, recipe to come soon!