Meatless Monday: Sticky Ginger-Glazed Tofu & Stir-fried Vegetables with Star Anise

    There are days when you crave Chinese takeout, but know you’ll feel guilty after indulging in fried everything dipped in sauce. If you want to achieve the flavors of your favorite delivery spot without all the grease give this dish a try. This Meatless Monday recipe features extra firm tofu as the protein but you can also use chicken breasts (about 2 large) on any other day.

    Sticky Ginger-Glazed Tofu & Stir-fried Vegetables with Star Anise

    ½ cup cashews
    2 packages extra firm tofu, pressed gently between paper towels to soak up excess moisture
    2 tablespoons cornstarch
    4 inches fresh ginger, peeled and grated on a microplane, divided
    4 cloves garlic, minced and divided
    1 tablespoon minced jalapeno or Fresno pepper
    ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce, divided
    ¼ cup honey
    2 tablespoons sambal olek
    1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil, divided
    1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons canola or vegetable oil, divided
    1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
    2 scallions, sliced thinly
    2 to 3 star anise pods
    8 ounces broccoli florets
    2 green bell peppers, cut into large dice
    2 stalks celery, sliced very thinly
    4 ounces baby bok choy, sliced crosswise into ½-inch pieces
    4 ounces snow peas
    4 ounces fresh baby spinach
    Salt and pepper to taste

    Preheat an oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

    Arrange the cashews in a single layer on a sheet pan and toast in the oven for 6 minutes.
    Cut the tofu into 1½-inch cubes and place them in a zip top bag or large bowl. Add the cornstarch to the tofu and toss them to coat with the starch.

    Grate the ginger on a microplane and combine three-quarters of the mass in a small bowl with 3 cloves of minced garlic, minced hot chili pepper, ¼ cup soy sauce, honey, and sambal olek. Stir to combine all ingredients then pour into a medium sauce pan. Simmer the sauce over medium heat for 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened and syrupy. Pour in 1 tablespoon of toasted sesame oil and set aside for later.

    Heat the canola oil in a large, non-stick saute pan, set over medium-high heat. Add the tofu cubes and cook for 12 to 15 minutes, turning the cubes every few minutes to brown all sides. Add the sauce and toasted cashews to the saute pan and cook for an additional 5 minutes, stirring frequently to coat the tofu.

    Transfer the tofu to a large, oven-proof serving bowl and garnish with sesame seeds. Keep warm in the oven. When you’re ready to serve, sprinkle with sliced scallion.

    Heat 2 teaspoons of oil in the same pan used to cook the tofu over medium-high heat. Add the star anise pods, broccoli florets, diced bell pepper and sliced celery. Toss frequently for 2 minutes then add the bok choy pieces, snow peas, remaining garlic and ginger, and the last of the soy sauce. Stir-fry the vegetables for 2 to 3 minutes then remove the pan from the heat.

    Stir in the last 1 teaspoon of sesame oil and baby spinach, then toss until wilted. Taste and season with salt and pepper if desired.

    Kerry Stanton
    Kerry Stanton is a recipe writer, culinary instructor, and restaurant consultant. She writes for Dirty Water Media and the Boston Herald.“I will not settle for anything less than exceptional food at every meal. This doesn’t mean that I demand excessive extravagance or prized ingredients for breakfast, lunch and dinner - I just want well-cooked, properly seasoned food, presented beautifully. I think we all deserve this much.”




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