I couldn’t decide which would be the star of this dish, the star anise tofu or the leaves…still not sure as the chard and mustard greens I picked today on the farm are so full of prana and very tasty too. Tofu is a high protein (33% more than beef!) food but it is heavy and cold in the digestion. It’s best to eat it no more than 2 or max 3 times in a week, and not too soon before bedtime. Star anise is warming and frying the tofu* with a drying brassica oil helps. ‘Star’ is its name, so go with that for a title.
I was alerted to the issue of getting vitamin K in the vegan diet by my farm colleague Dave, who mentioned that spring onions are particularly high in it. We have a lot of spring onions just now (it’s spring, and the variety is ‘Lisbon White’). The yogic diet does not include onions, or any veg from the Allium family (leeks, shallots, chives, garlic etc) but I used 3 tiny ones. Green leafy veg have K in abundance too. A stir-fry is a good way to get fat-soluble vitamins such as K; A and C are particularly abundant in carrots and peppers too. Brown rice has all the B vitamins, and the squeeze of lemon juice enures the iron in the lovely leafy veg available, as well as giving a complementary sour taste that lifts any oiliness and makes the dish extra delicious.
Gluten-free: brown rice and use tamari (not soy sauce).
Anyway, a quickish meal for 4, all in the therapeutic veg chop.
For four people
- 250 – 400g brown rice, depending on how much physical work today
- 200g carrots cut into batons
- 1 medium courgette cut into batons
- 1 red pointy pepper cut into batons
- two nice big handfuls of chard and mustard greens (you can also substitute spinach, kale, tenderstem broccoli or other green leafy veg; good to stick to two maximum for clarity of taste, but not a problem to mix and match)
- four or five ‘petals’ of star anise
- 1.5 tbsp rape seed oil (or sunflower)
- 1 400g block of firm tofu, ideally drained for at least 30 mins (eg Cauldron)
- a thumb of ginger peeled, and finely grated
- 3 spring onions finely sliced
- a small pinch of flaked chili (maybe 8 tiny pieces)
- a couple of glugs of tamari or soy sauce
- half a lemon
- rinse the rice and cook**; it will take 25 – 30 minutes while you make the stirfry
- wash and chop your veg batons; wash leaves and cut out the mid-rib
- cut the tofu into half, and succeeding halves til you have 16 squares
- heat 1tbsp of the oil in a wok and add the petals. Fry quite hard for 45 seconds or so to let the aromatic oils infuse
- add in the tofu and cook, flipping once or twice, for 10 minutes or so
- meanwhile, prepare your ginger and spring onion; roll up your de-mid-ribbed leaves and slice them into ribbons about 1cm wide
- take out the tofu and reserve on a warm plate; discard the petals
- add the other half a tbsp to the wok and heat briefly; sizzle the spring onion and ginger for 15 seconds or so
- add in the carrot, and stir-fry to coat in the oil, ginger and spring onion mix for 4 -5 minutes
- add in the courgette and pepper in stages so as not to drastically drop the temperature in the pan; stir for another 5 minutes or so
- add the tamari and stir, coating all the veg pieces; continue to stir until veg are tender
- add the ribbons of leaves and stir; squeeze the lemon
- Plate up! Some may want to add extra tamari
*alternatively put oil, tamari and anise ‘petals’ in an oven dish, turn the pieces in the marinade then put in the oven at gas mark 5 for 30 minutes. You can also scatter sesame seeds on top for crunchiness.
**1 volume of rice to two volumes of water; pan with a close fitting lid; low heat and do not disturb
Afterwards suggestion: sliced dried figs and fresh bananas, almonds