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simple is best

February 6, 2010

On busy evenings, simple food is best.  The following recipe can easily be modified to fit what’s in the cabinet and fridge, or modified according to time.  I had a decent amount of time, so I wasn’t opposed to rice, and because I’ve got a handy-dandy rice cooker, dinner was further simplified.

I measured out two rice cooker cups of jasmine rice, filled to the 2 cup line, added salt, and set it to white rice.  One step down.

Next, I flipped through a cookbook or two for a peanut-themed sauce.  I often use the sauce from Heidi Swanson’s Lazy Day Peanut Noodle Salad, but my internet was on the fritz and I’ve got half-a-shelf of decent cookbooks, so I might as well use them, right? (only half a shelf?  Actually, yes.  Most of my recipe hunting is done online or flipping through library-acquired items.  If I really love a cookbook, then I’ll buy a copy.)

Vegan cookbooks always pull through for me: I found a peanut sauce in Vegan with a Vengeance, which Isa Chandra Moskowitz pairs with cold udon noodles and seitan.  I ignored the rest of the recipe because I knew it would make me crave seitan, which I’ve recently discovered is not only delicious but also easy and fun to cook.  I used Moskowitz’s recipe with a few minor substitutions: olive oil instead of peanut, because I’m out of peanut oil, I fried the coriander with the garlic & ginger, I used sugar instead of maple syrup (sorry, but my syrup goes on pancakes), I used 1 tablespoon of lime juice for 1 of the rice vinegar, and I used Thai chili paste for 1 tsp of the chile sauce.  Okay, the list looks long, but those were mostly simple substitutions made of out necessity, honest.

The sauce is delicious and not as thick and raw tasting as the Lazy Day Peanut sauce–though that is excellent for a hot summer’s day.  I didn’t find it spicy enough, so I added chili sauce to my portion when I was eating.  Feel free to adjust the heat in the pot, too.

By the time the sauce was done, my rice cooker was counting down to 10 minutes.  Perfect.  Enough time to throw some vegetables into a pan.

  • healthy glug of olive oil (peanut oil would also be appropriate here)
  • 1 onion, sliced into thin rounds
  • 4 crimini mushrooms, sliced
  • ¼ small head of red cabbage, sliced into ribbons
  • 1 carrot, sliced into round, half moons, and pizza slices (or however you like to slice you carrots)
  • frozen peas, as desired
  • salt to taste

Heat the oil in a large frying pan; add onions when hot.  Salt, if desired.  When onions are heading towards golden, toss in the mushroom slices.  You may need another small glug of olive oil here–mushrooms will absorb the oil left in the pan.

Fry until mushrooms take on that moistened look, then, add red cabbage.  Fry until cabbage is soft.  Salt as necessary.

Just before you’re ready to serve, add carrots and peas.  Stir in and cook until peas are hot.

Top rice with sauce and peas.

Makes enough for two hungry people, with leftovers enough for one lunch.

Okay, someone, somewhere is saying, you’ve thrown this into the “whole enchilada” category, but I don’t see any protein here.  Hi, protein naysayer.  Peanut butter is protein!  Yum.  Also, I had chickpeas for lunch, so no worries on my protein intake.

Bonus points: this meal is VEGAN!

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