Every once and awhile, I hit upon a recipe that David raves about. He tries to be pretty honest about the dishes I come up with, letting me know what parts work well, where they could use a little more work. It helps ensure less-than-stellar recipes get more revisions before being finalized and posted (or trashed), and I appreciate the honest feedback. First bites are often thoughtful and contemplative. But with this recipe, it was “wow” right off the bat. It was such a success that I made it again just a week or two after its debut, when David and I hosted a few friends for dinner before a show. One of our friends (who is training for a marathon) asked for the recipe to make again as fuel before heading out on her twenty-mile runs.
In addition to having fantastic flavor, it’s relatively quick and easy to put together, and it’s very healthy. With a base of whole-grain brown rice, quickly pan-seared tofu as the protein, and loaded with vegetables, it hits a lot of key components of a healthy recipe. When I first made this dish, I used a baked tofu from Whole Foods that had a pineapple marinade (the “Aloha” flavor); if you can find it, use it! I’ve since returned to the store many times looking for this same tofu, but I’ve only been able to get the teriyaki marinade, which, while good, doesn’t quite hit the nail on the head the way the pineapple does (I think the tropical fruit pairing of pineapple + mango was what did it).
I can’t take credit for the peanut sauce; it came from one of my favorite blogs, Cookie and Kate, and is based on her recipe for mango-cabbage wraps with peanut sauce. It’s definitely a site that’s worth visiting. Over the past few years, I’ve found my blog-reading habits shifting a bit, and I’ve been slowly moving away from some long-time favorites in search of new reads that are both well written and inspiring in terms of realistic dinner ideas. One of my fall ambitions is to develop a new page or series on sites and books I’m reading and enjoying, but I wanted to mention Cookie and Kate sooner rather than later because I keep going back to her site and trying her (vegetarian) recipes.
Stir-Fried Rice with Tofu and Peanut-Mango Sauce
1 Tablespoon peanut oil
12 ounces baked tofu
1/2 pound snow peas, roughly chopped
2 red or yellow bell peppers, seeds/stem/core removed and sliced into 1-inch pieces
2 Tablespoons of grated or minced fresh ginger
3 garlic cloves, minced or crushed
2 mangoes, diced
1/3 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
1 lime, juiced
1/3 cup peanuts, roughly chopped
2/3 cup peanut butter
4 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 Tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 lime, juiced
2 garlic cloves, minced or crushed
3 Tablespoons maple syrup
1. Heat 1 teaspoon of the peanut oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the tofu and cook about 4-5 minutes, stirring halfway through to ensure several sides become well browned (but not burnt). With a spatula or slotted spoon, remove the tofu to a separate bowl and set aside.
2. While the tofu is cooking, combine the mangoes, cilantro, and lime juice together in a bowl. Set aside.
3. To make the peanut sauce, stir together the peanut butter, soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, lime juice, garlic, and maple syrup. Stir carefully to ensure nothing spills but all ingredients are mixed thoroughly.
4. Be sure the other components of the dish are ready to go before moving forward with the stir fry, as things move quickly from here. When the peanut sauce and mangoes are prepped, stir fry the vegetables: Add another teaspoon of peanut oil to the large skillet and allow to heat through. Add the snow peas and bell peppers and cook 3 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and cook another 2 minutes. Move the vegetables to the outside of the skillet, making room in the center of the pan to stir fry the rice. Add the final teaspoon of peanut oil, allow to warm through, then add the rice, stirring briskly. Cook the rice until it begins to crisp a bit. Incorporate the vegetables from the side of the skillet. Serve topped with the peanut sauce and mango mixture.