Vietnamese Tofu and Veggie Bowl {with lots of herbs and a tangy dressing}

I have always stayed away from cooking with tofu, partially because of the questionable texture and drab color of tofu, and partially because there is so much negativity and mixed messaging around consuming soy. But lately, I have been experimenting with tofu as a way of eating more vegetarian meals. This recipe is full of fresh vegetables and herbs, and topped with a delicious tangy Vietnamese dressing, making it a perfect springtime meal.


INGREDIENTS:

Dressing
1/4 cup rice vinegar
3 tablespoons lime juice
3 tablespoons sugar (I used brown sugar)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons grated lemongrass
1 tablespoon fresh ginger
1 clove garlic, grated
1 to 2 red chilies, sliced (optional)
1 tablespoon water

Fresh Ingredients
8 ounces thin rice noodles (vermicelli-style) or rice, prepared according to package directions
2 carrots, julienned
1 large bell pepper (I used 1/2 green and 1/2 red), thinly sliced
1 cup English cucumber half moons
1 cup cilantro
1 cup basil
1 cup mint
1 cup chopped peanuts or cashews
1/4 cup green onions, chopped
Lime wedges for serving (optional)

Tofu
1 tablespoon olive oil or grapeseed oil
14 ounces firm tofu, sliced into bite-sized squares
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon sugar (I used brown sugar)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Whisk the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl. Set aside to allow the flavors to meld.
  2. Cook the noodles or rice according to package directions, and prep all of the vegetables and herbs.
  3. For the tofu, heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the tofu, and fry until golden brown (about 5-10 minutes a side). While the tofu is frying, mix together the soy sauce, sesame oil, and sugar. Once the tofu is browned, pour this mixture into the pan. Allow the sauce to cook in the pan for 1 to 2 minutes, until it begins to thicken. Flip the tofu to ensure the sauce coats and sticks to each side. Cook for another minute or so, until the tofu is caramelized and sticky.
  4. Split rice noodles or rice between four bowls, and top with vegetables, herbs, peanuts, and the caramelized tofu. Drizzle the dressing over top and serve immediately.

recipe adapted from The Wanderlust Kitchen

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