You need to make these tonight. Spicy peanut sauce coats zucchini noodles stuffed inside sweet roasted capsicums for a vegan, gluten free dinner that tastes sinful, but is secretly healthy – and super easy!I love peanut sauce dishes. You can just put another notch in the ‘Things Amy loves that contain Peanuts’ list that I’m sure everyone is keeping. Basically the list reads: everything. If there is a way to add peanut butter to a dish I will find it. This dish is no exception. The peanut sauce that coats the zucchini noodles is everything a peanut sauce should be: deeply peanutty with a hint of sweetness, a dash of astringency, and a good dose of spice. I have so many memories of a peanut satay sauce that my sister and I were both in love with during high school. I don’t think either Mum or Dad were particularly fond of it, but they let us ride out our teenage cravings. Plus, they were getting dinner cooked for them, so I guess that was a win on their behalf 😉Fast forward to today and I’d much rather create my own sauces than get them from a bottle – it’s all about customisation, and avoiding any unnecessary additives, right? And making your own spicy peanut sauce is easier than getting the ‘safety plastic’ off a shop bought bottle. Anyone else unable to get that stuff off? Just me? Moving on.
These roasted capsicums are fancy enough to serve to company, but easy enough for everyday, and while the peanut sauce is decadent, they are actually quite healthy! Rather than using noodles I made zucchini ‘noodles’ and coated them in the peanut butter sauce then stuffed them inside the roasted capsicums. Result: delicious and healthy.The spicy, savoury peanut sauce coated noodles are a great contrast to the sweet roasted capsicums. And the capsicums act as perfect containment for every single drip of peanut sauce. You can’t let that deliciousness escape!This dish comes together in six simple steps:
Cut capsicums in half and remove seeds.
Prepare noodles and sauce and mix.
For those six simple steps you are rewarded with layers of flavour in every single bite. To take this to the next level I couldn’t help but garnish it with extra salted peanuts and some chopped spring onions for a little extra crunch. Every bite is a mouthful of molten sweet roasted capsicum, spicy peanut sauce soaked zucchini noodles, crispy spring onions and salty-crunchy peanuts. It’s everything a Wednesday night needs without being so heavy you want to hibernate for the rest of the week. Bonus: your kitchen will smell like the best Asian restaurant in town as these flavours mingle in the oven.
Midweek comfort is a weekly requirement in our house, but instead of turning to the takeaway menu I dig around in our vegetable drawer for stir-fry inspiration. This is my latest favourite full of big fresh flavours. It’s nourishing comfort. Comfort food you can feel good about.
One of our favourite family take-away choices (B.G.F. that is, before gluten free) was Chinese food from the local shop. My sister and I went to school with the owner’s children, and we followed them when they moved stores and expanded into two locations. The China Rose has long been a mainstay at the family table, and they will certainly never forget us after one memorable night… A little background: no-one in the TNL family (save for my BIL Trent) is known for their balance and co-ordination. We are the experts of forgetting that we have things like elbows and hipbones, trying to singe or stab ourselves at nearly every meal, and walking into things… One fine night Mum and Dad went to collect some takeaway, and my Mama decided to walk at full speed into their new, shiny, plate glass window. Down she went like a stunned bird, and home she came with a nearly broken nose and two black eyes instead of the large special fried rice and beef in black bean sauce. Poor Mama. Impressions of the incident may not have helped matters…
Today’s dish takes its cues from those China Rose nights. Flavours that are perfect for those nights when you crave comfort, but with a Thoroughly Nourished Life twist to make them a little kinder to your waistline. These are sucker-punch strong flavours and the sauce is so good I could have eaten it by itself. Bright, fresh broccoli (my favourite vegetable) is stir-fried briefly and then paired with chewy baked tofu and they all get a generous coating of a crazy flavoursome spicy honey, orange, and ginger sauce. Seriously, I want this sauce on everything. Just a few easy to find ingredients can make all the difference to a simple mixture of vegetables and tofu. Make sure you serve it on a bed of rice to enjoy every morsel of sauce. And, if you aren’t that into tofu, this also works wonderfully with chicken (this herbivore hearts her omnivorous friends too).
Put away that take-out menu and get into the kitchen! The tofu takes the longest amount of time, but in under 45 minutes(mostly hands-off) you can create your own fresh, easy and healthy version of classic comfort food and with less chance of walking into a glass wall (Sorry Mum) and more chance of feeling good about your dinner choices.
Honey, Orange, and Ginger Broccoli and Tofu Stir-Fry
1 tablespoon cornflour (ensure this is gluten free)
1/ teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon Chinese five spice (optional)
1/2 tablespoon rice bran oil (or other flavourless vegetable oil)
Large head of broccoli (about 500 grams)
For the sauce
Juice and zest of 1 large orange
4 cm (~ 1.5 inch) piece of ginger, finely grated
1 tablespoon soy sauce (ensure this is gluten free)
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon honey
2 stalks spring onion, thinly sliced
Slices of orange and rice to serve
Wrap tofu in several layers of paper towel. Place between two plates and weight the top with several cans or a heavy book. This will help to extract the extra moisture from the tofu so that it gets extra crispy in the oven. Leave the tofu to drain for at least 30 minutes.
While the tofu is draining, preheat the oven to 200C (400F) and line a baking sheet with baking paper.
In a medium bowl whisk together cornflour, salt, pepper and Chinese five spice (if using).
Remove tofu and slice into approximately 1.5 cm cubes. Toss tofu cubes in cornflour mixture and spread out on prepared baking tray. Bake for 30 -40 minutes or until the outsides are golden and crispy.
While the tofu is baking chop the broccoli into medium florets. You can chop up the stems too or save them for another use.
Make the sauce: whisk together all ingredients and set aside until required.
When the tofu is finished cooking stir-fry the broccoli. Heat the oil in a medium frying pan over medium-high heat. Add broccoli and saute for 2-3 minutes or until brightening in colour. Add sauce and reduce heat to low. Cook until sauce thickens slightly and broccoli is bright in colour but still firm.
Add tofu to the broccoli mixture and mix through until coated in the sauce.
Remove from the heat and serve with rice, sliced spring onions, and extra wedges of orange.
Recently I met a new friend at the wedding of two other new friends. This last weekend we all gathered in our newly-married mutual friend’s house sharing some wine and talking late into the night, really early into the next morning. This new friend is a busy professional woman and she often doesn’t get home until 8 o’clock at night! That doesn’t leave much time for making and eating dinner before falling into bed. Her dilemma got me thinking, after all, dinner is one of my three favourite meals of the day…
I am lucky in my job that I get home after the gym most days with plenty of time to potter about the kitchen and make dinner for Chris and myself, but there are nights when I get caught up in something and don’t make it home until late. I feel like they become more common in autumn and winter as the days grow shorter and the night gathers her arms around us more quickly. I come home in the dark and still want the comfort of a home-cooked meal but I also want to be curled up on the couch with a book or watching television with Chris. Rather than pulling out the takeaway menu, or settling for beans on toast (which are a totally acceptable comfort food sometimes) I like to have some quick, healthy recipes on hand that I can throw together with barely a thought while I am catching up with Chris and trying to transition my brain from work mode to home mode.
This stir-fry is a recipe for one of those nights.
Anna, this one is also for you. (Thanks for reading my blog)
The chunky-cut mushrooms will provide B vitamins and minerals and fill you up without weighing you down. Easy-to-prepare rice noodles are my favourite way to imitate comforting takeaway without all the mystery ingredients and the sauce coats everything in a spicy sweet splendour. You can make this even easier by using pre-sliced mushrooms and broccoli, or even a stir-fry mix. From start to finish this meal takes about 20 minutes. I served Chris’s with some grilled lamb and mine in its original vegan state.
Spicy Mushroom and Broccoli Stir-Fry
Serves 2 with leftovers | Gluten free | Vegan
If you do not have Gourmet Garden Thai Stir-In Seasoning simply leave it out.
250 gram packet dried rice noodles
500 grams mushrooms (button, Swiss Brown or Cups are perfect)