Thai-ish tofu and green beans with whole wheat pasta

June 6, 2009 at 7:04 am (B_, East and SE Asia, My brain, Pasta, Quick weeknight recipe, Starches, Summer recipes, Tofu)


I threw together this dish for lunch today, with various things I scrounged from the fridge.  I didn’t measure, so all amounts are a guess.  This recipe is similar to one I posted last year for green beans, red peppers, and tofu in a Thai chili paste, but its less fiery, and the addition of pasta and nutritional yeast and sesame seeds makes it taste a bit more co-op pan-Asian and a bit less Thai.

  • 2? Tbs. toasted sesame seeds
  • 2-4? tsp. oil
  • small onion
  • 1/4 – 1/3 pounds very firm tofu
  • salt
  • nutritional yeast
  • black pepper
  • 2 scallions
  • about 3 cups of green beans
  • 1/4? cup white wine
  • 1? Tbs. soy sauce
  • 1/4? cup water
  • 1/2-1? tsp. Thai red curry paste
  • 2 cups of cooked, chunky, whole wheat pasta
  • 1/2 cucumber (with peel), cut into 1-inch chunks
  • a small handful of mint and a small handful of basil, torn into small pieces
  1. Wash and snap green beans.  Slice the onion into rings.  Cube the tofu into 1-inch cubes.
  2. In a medium pan (I used a 3 quart slope-sided pan), toast the sesame seeds over medium-high heat.  When the seeds start to brown and smell fragrant, pour them onto a large plate or bowl.
  3. In the same pan, add enough oil just to lightly coat the bottom.  Heat the oil on medium-high until hot, then add the tofu and onion rings in a single layer.  Sprinkle on salt and nutritional yeast, and let cook until the bottom has browned.  Meanwhile, chop up a few scallions.  Use a metal spatula to scrape up the tofu and stir it around so another side gets browned.  When the tofu is brown enough for your taste, add the chopped scallions and sprinkle on more yeast and some black pepper.  Fry briefly just to wilt the scallions, then remove the tofu and onions to the plate with the sesame seeds.  Use your metal spatula to try to scrape up any cooked on tofu bits, but you won’t be able to get them all.  That’s okay.
  4. Keep the pan on medium-high and add a little more oil to the now-empty pan, and when the oil is hot add the green beans.  Stir-fry the beans briefly, until all the beans are slightly browned.  Then add the Thai red curry paste and the cooked pasta.  Stir to distribute.  Add a little white wine, soy sauce,  and water to deglaze the pan.  Immediately cover the pan and let the green beans steam for a few minutes, until they’re just tender crisp.  Meanwhile, cut up the cucumber and tear the herbs.  Remove the lid and cook on high until almost all of the liquid has evaporated, and all that’s left is a bit of glistening glaze.  Remove the pan from the heat, throw in the tofu and onions and sesame from the plate, the cucumber, and the torn mint and basil leaves.  Stir to coat everything with the glaze.
  5. Serve immediately.

This dish made a very satisfying lunch for two.  The basil was essential I thought.  The mint and basil combo was good, but if you just have basil that would work as well. (Thai basil would be especially good.)  The onion added a little depth and sweetness, and the little bit of curry paste added a nice bit of spice.  I also liked the earthiness that the sesame seeds added.  It might seem odd to add cucumber to a cooked dish like this, but it adds a moistness and crunch that is a nice contrast to the cooked green beans and soft tofu.   If you don’t have cucumbers, radishes or halved cherry tomatoes might also work well. If I make this again, the only thing I might add is a little garlic when I add the green onions.

I wouldn’t make this recipe with white pasta.  It really needs something more hearty.  If you don’t have whole wheat pasta, then maybe just serve it over brown rice or another whole grain.  If you don’t have curry paste probably any chili paste or even dried chili flakes would be fine. If you don’t have white wine then maybe use a little mirin or rice wine vinegar to add a bit of acid.  If you don’t have a very firm tofu, you might want to press some water out of your tofu.  The lack of moisture in the tofu really helps it to brown well.  Otherwise you’ll need to cook the tofu at a lower temperature and allow more time to cook all the water out, so that the tofu can brown.

I removed the tofu and onion from the pan before adding the green beans because I thought that if I didn’t the pan would be too crowded, and the green beans wouldn’t brown, and the tofu and onions would become soggy when I steamed the green beans.

Derek said this dish was delicious.  The vegetables were nice and crisp, the onions added a nice depth of flavor, and the tofu was excellent.  It was the essence of simple, ingredient-oriented cuisine.  “If only I could get this sort of thing at a restaurant in Saarbruecken,” he lamented.  Rating: A-.

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1 Comment

  1. austingardener said,

    Only 1 tsp of chili paste.
    I say 1 tablespoon would be better.
    I just made a new batch with shallots, garlic and peppers from my garden. Yum.

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