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Tofu-veggie bowl satisfies

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    A Thai peanut veggie and tofu bowl turns home lunch into a colorful proposition.

This is the dish that turned my husband and daughter around on the topic on tofu.

I toss extra-firm tofu cubes in a lightly spicy (or not; your call) peanut sauce and then roast them until the edges are golden and lightly caramelized. These slightly sweet, peanutty cubes sit atop a bowl filled with enough veggies to load up on an array of vitamins, including some makeshift zucchini and carrot noodlelike ribbons.

To make this a satisfying meal, I add brown rice, which is more filling than the more traditional rice noodles.

I love the combo of cold veggies paired with warm rice and just-cooked tofu, but this dish works perfectly as a brown-bag option, served cold or at room temperature. Plus, it’s pretty, with the array of vegetable colors, so it will brighten up your lunch, even if you are eating at your desk.

If tofu is a divisive ingredient at your house, feel free to swap it for chicken or shrimp, a handful of cooked white beans or even leave it off entirely — the bowl is filling on its own.

No matter how you prepare it, you’ll want to include this Thai Peanut Veggie Bowl in your repertoire.

Thai Peanut Veggie Bowls

  • 1 (12-ounce) block extra-firm tofu, blotted dry, cut into large cubes
  • 2 medium zucchini
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled
  • 4 cups baby spinach
  • 1 cup shredded red cabbage
  • 1/2 red pepper, cut into small sticks
  • 1-1/3 cups cooked brown rice, warm
  • 1 stalk green onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs: cilantro, mint, basil (or mixed)
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • Salt and pepper, if needed
  • >> Peanut sauce:
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter (smooth or chunky)
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Pinch dried red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1-4 tablespoons water, as needed

Heat oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment.

To make sauce: In a medium bowl, combine peanut butter and honey and microwave long enough to soften, about 10 seconds. Whisk until smooth. Add lime juice, vinegar, soy sauce, olive oil and red pepper flakes (if using) and whisk until smooth. Add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until thick but pourable sauce is created. Remove half of the sauce to a small bowl and set aside.

Toss tofu cubes in remaining peanut sauce until coated. Place on parchment paper and bake until edges begin to caramelize, about 20 minutes, turning halfway through.

Meanwhile, make zucchini and carrot ribbons by using a vegetable peeler to cut as many long, wide strips as you can from each vegetable.

Layer in four individual bowls (or to-go containers if making brown-bag lunches): spinach leaves, cabbage, red pepper, warm rice, carrot and zucchini ribbons, green onion and fresh herbs.

Top with hot peanut-roasted tofu. Add the final tablespoon of lime juice to the reserved peanut sauce and drizzle over the bowls, adding salt and pepper if desired. Serves 4.

Note: Chicken tenders or shrimp could be used instead of tofu; adjust cooking time accordingly. Or skip the roasting and just top the bowl with precooked chicken, shrimp or white beans.

Approximate nutritional information, per serving: 316 calories, 13 g total fat, 2 g fat, no cholesterol, 508 mg sodium, 36 g carbohydrate, 7 g fiber, 13 g sugar, 17 g protein.

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