“Yeah, brown rice.”
“Oh, it’s okay, I guess. I don’t really make it that much…”
“Well, at Trader Joe’s you can buy frozen brown rice. It’s good. Have you ever made rice?”
“Like, from scratch — from the bag and all? Yeah.”
Apparently PT Paul (a self-described “opportunitarian” — one who eats whatever is put before him) has never cooked rice before. I don’t know if that’s because he was a big fan of the Minute Rice variety, packed home all he could when he ordered take out, or simply never needed rice, until now, that is.
“Would you teach me how to cook it?” Of course, the answer was “yes,” but accompanied with the quizzically raised eyebrow as I thought, “you really don’t know how easy this is…” And after I poured water in the pot, equivalent to the instructions on the back of the package, brought it to a boil and let it simmer, covered and undisturbed for 45 minutes, he said, “really, is that it?” Indeed, it is.
I suppose a rice cooker is even easier, but that requires acquiring the rice cooker and taking it in and out of the cupboard, which for some unexplained and irrational reason, to me seems to negate the “ease” of the whole machine.
And, so we were on the hunt for a use for this fluffy brown rice. I’m just not a huge fan of rice these days — it doesn’t seem to have that much nutritional value and is mainly filler, but everything has its place in a healthy diet (or perhaps in a deliciously creamy and smooth rice pudding…). I wanted to find a recipe that was heavy on the colorful veggies and protein but not heavy on needless calories of rice and oil.
I was first inspired by a recipe on a cooking blog I follow but there didn’t seem to be enough sauce or seasoning for me to “complement” the kale and the tofu. After a quick recipe search online I came up with a plan of attack.
2 Tbsp of canola or sesame oil
1/4 lb of baby bello mushrooms, sliced
4 oz of sun dried tomatoes, cut in quarters
1/2 lb of kale, chopped **
5-6 cloves of crushed garlic
1 lb block of firm tofu, cut into 1/2 in thick rectangles, and then into
1 cup of your favorite Asian marinade, such as ginger lime or teriyaki sauce
1-2 cups of cooked brown rice
Combine tofu and marinade and let marinate for 1 to 2 hours. Feel free to
enhance the marinade with additional garlic, soy sauce, pepper, etc. To give me an idea of what I can add, I generally refer to the ingredients of the marinade itself and add what I have in the house. Garlic is always a good idea, in my opinion.
Preheat broiler and spray baking pan with non-stick cooking spray. Spread tofu in one layer on the tray. Broil for 8 minutes and then turn over for another 6 or 8. Be careful — I wasn’t watching because I was too concerned with the kale — that it doesn’t get too broiled, i.e. burned. Reserve the marinade for sauce over the finished rice bowl later.
Meanwhile, heat canola oil or sesame oil. Saute over medium heat the onions until brown, about 6 or 7 minutes. Add sun dried tomatoes and garlic and saute another minute more. Add kale – watch it cook down quickly! – and cook for about 90 seconds to a minute. It will be a lovely, vivid, bright green.
To assemble the bowl, place a cup of rice (warm it up if you need to) and add the vegetables and a generous portion of the tofu. Use the remaining marinade as a dressing and bring all the flavors together.
** You can de-vein the kale by folding the leaf in half lengthwise and cutting just to the side of the central stalk. Or, you can simply use your hands and pluck off sections of the kale from the vein. As for the weight, this is an estimate I simply used one bunch of kale bought at Fred Meyer.