It’s a busy time of year at our house. The kids are starting school, and Mom has started teaching. In addition the G-mans’s garden is in full harvest mode with tomatoes, peppers, greens, carrots, beans, and more. That means early mornings for everyone, busy and fun days, and a tired family at night. It also means we are in need simple but yummy dinners that use lots of fresh veggies and don’t heat up the house too much (since it’s still warm out there!) Enter our three-layer bowls. This could be seen as a traditional stir-fry (well, it is) but the kiddos have found it way more fun to have choices about what they put on their plates, and this dinner allows them to do just that. Full disclosure: the measurements are approximate since I do a lot of this quickly and without measuring most of the time, but I did try measuring it out for you dear readers, and the results were just as yummy! But feel free to adjust the portions and options to taste.
Flexible and Flavorful Three-layer Bowls
1 cup of uncooked brown rice
16 oz block of tofu, drained and cubed
2 TB canola oil or peanut oil (divided)
4 cups of raw veggies. Some of our favorites are broccoli, green beans, summer squash, carrots, mushrooms and peppers. But feel free to use any combination
3-4 TB tamari (or soy sauce)
2 tsp grated fresh ginger (optional)
2 tsp minced garlic (optional)
Siracha or Hosin or Peanut sauce (optional)
Stage 1: Cook the rice.
You can either use a rice cooker, or follow these instructions for cooking the rice with water in a pot.
Stage 2: Saute the tofu.
- Heat up a wok or large skillet over medium high heat
- Add 1 TB of oil (I usually use canola) to the pan. Add in the tofu and stir it around until it is coated with oil and spread out evenly.
- Leave it alone for a few minutes (2-4 depending on the heat of your pan). Then use a spatula to stir it around so that the other sides can get browned. You are aiming for golden brown sides and the tofu not sticking to the pan too much. But I have different luck with this every time depending in the brand of tofu, how patient I am, etc. If at least some of your tofu is getting golden brown, and most if it isn’t sticking, you are good. If it is sticking too much, use the spatula to scrape up the stuck bits and add a bit more oil.
- After cooking the tofu for about 10 minutes (stirring it up once or twice) sprinkle 1 TB of tamari over it. Cook for 2-3 more minutes and then put the tofu onto a plate
Stage 3: Veggies
- Add 1 more tablespoon of oil to the wok or large skillet you just used for the tofu. Add the veggies that take the longest to cook (such as carrots, bok choy stems, broccoli, squash). Stir-fry until the veggies are heated through and starting to sear. (5-10 minutes depending on the heat and how fine the veggies are chopped).
- Add the rest of your veggies: the ones that cook a bit more quickly, such as mushrooms, greens, cabbage, etc. Stir-fry until cooked through (again, 5-7 minutes, depending on the heat and how fine the veggies are chopped
Stage 4: Sauce
There are multiple sauce options for this meal. You could make a peanut sauce or use a water-down some hoisin sauce with about 2 parts hoisin and 1 part water. We like to just use put some tamari and Siracha sauce on the table. The kids get to sprinkle tamari on their bowls (after them fill them with their own ration of rice, tofu, and veggies) and the grown-ups get to add Siracha to their hearts content!
To serve simply have your meal-eaters fill their bowls with rice, tofu, and veggies and top with sauce.