Sunday, October 19, 2008

VeganMoFo – Sunday Cooking

Every Sunday I prepare my daily lunch salads to take to work for the week. I just use bagged lettuce mixes, then the night before I need them, I add dressing and a bean topping. (I usually make a big pot of homemade pintos or lentils first thing Sunday morning – missed doing that today, though.) I have 2 salad bowls to carry to work, so I fill one 3 times and dump them into bags, then I’m set for the week.

It would cost $10 to eat a salad downtown. I figure I spend $15 making my own for the entire week. That was boring, but for anyone wondering how to cut back on expenses, taking your lunch to work is a HUGE savings.

In trying to make room in my refrigerator, the biggest space taker was a giant bunch of chard and a bunch of spinach. So I put them all in my giant wok and it was filled to over the top.

After a few minutes of steaming….

Amazing. A small bowl of cooked greens takes up so much less space!

Chase is moving again, so I planned on him coming to dinner, but wasn’t really hopeful. He’s also sick, and I figured he wouldn’t even be hungry. Nonetheless, I marinated some tofu I wanted to grill for him, using the VWAV Asian marinade.

And I made an awesome Asian Pesto to go with it.

This recipe is inspired by one I found on Ming Tsai’s website. It’s really tasty and should be great with the grilled tofu.

Asian Pesto

Makes about 1-1/2 cups

1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled
2 t. sucanat
2 t. fresh minced ginger
½ cup roasted peanuts
zest of one lime
¼ cup EVOO
½ cup packed fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
¼ cup packed fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
1 cup packed fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
1 T. tamari
up to ¼ cup more EVOO or water
S&P to taste

Put the jalapeno, garlic, sucanat, ginger, peanuts, zest, and EVOO in a food processor and process until smooth. Add the basil, mint, cilantro, and tamari and blend again until smooth. Slowly drizzle in more oil or water until desired consistency is reached. Taste and add S&P to taste.

For myself, and in keeping with the Asian theme, I made an Adzuki Bean Salad. It turned out really good and I bet it will be even tastier tomorrow. If you like adzuki beans, I think you will really like this salad.

Adzuki Bean Salad

1 can adzuki beans, drained and rinsed
¼ cup white wine
¼ cup water
2 t. fresh minced ginger
2 cloves minced garlic
1 zucchini, chopped
2 small radishes, thinly sliced
1 green onion, thinly sliced
sesame seeds to garnish

1 t. toasted sesame oil
2 teaspoons tamari
1 t. rice vinegar
pinch of sucanat
pinch of kosher salt
½ t. wasabi powder

Put the bean, wine, water, ginger, and garlic in a small pot and simmer for about 5 minutes. Drain and let cool.

While beans are cooling, make the dressing by mixing all ingredients in a small bowl.

Put the beans, zucchini, radish, and onion in a bowl and toss. Stir in dressing. Garnish with sesame seeds. Chill until ready to serve.

Chase stopped by to see me and pick up some things for his apartment, but didn’t stay for dinner. And I was right, he wasn’t hungry. I gave him some money in case he felt like eating later, and I gave him the almond cookies and another treat (to post later) to take with him. We are planning on grilling Tuesday. I took the tofu out of the marinade for fear it would fall apart by the time we grill it, and then saved the marinade in a jar. Is that what you would have done?

Time to make tomorrow’s lunch and pack my gym bag, and visit as many of your blogs as I can.


Sheree' said...

I agree eating downtown would be so expensive. I see some of my work mates going to lunch everyday and sometimes breakfast too. I think to myself are you working just to go out to eat? Crazy!

Yum spinach and chard. YUM!

sorry to hear Chase is sick. Hope he is on the mend soon and yes I would have taken the tofu out of the marinade too. Save it, Oh yeah!

Amey said...

What a sweet mom you are Diann - cooking up so much yumminess for your sick boy! The adzuki salad looks great. I've just recently discovered my fondness for adzuki beans!

Mihl said...

Thank you so much for the lunch ideas! I also take my food with me to work and I guess next time I am having some adzuki bean salad :D

Anonymous said...

I love adzuki beans - they are one of my faves so I will definitely make this. I hope your boy is better soon.

A.M. said...

You bag the lettuce yourself? Does it really stay well for a whole week?

The Asian pesto looks fabulous.

I would have left the tofu in the marinade. There is a recipe in Nonna's Italian Kitchen by Bryanna Clark Grogan called 'breast of tofu' (delicious, btw) and she writes you can leave the tofu in the marinade for up to one week (or two, but I'm not sure).

Anonymous said...

I'm like you re: lunch--would always rather bring it than buy it! And you're just so organized to set up the whole week in advance.

I love the Asian pesto idea--must give that a try. And any excuse to use some of that crazy mint I've got is a good idea! ;)

River (Wing-It Vegan) said...

It's the amazing shrinking greens!
That asian pesto looks so good, and the bean salad looks so colorful and pretty. Thanks for the recipes!
I hope Chase feels better soon :)

Crystal said...

Good for you in bringing your lunch. We have always brought our lunches to work (it's a no-brainer) and buy lunch occasionally if we run out of time.

We're super into salads right now and like you have swiss chard and spinach coming out of our ears!

jessy said...

i hope Chase feels better soon. sadface that he's under the weather.

the pesto looks wonderful, and i would have done the same with the tofu, too - good call! thanks for the adzuki bean recipe, too. adzuki beans are some of my favorites! mmmmmm!

good stuff on making your lunches for the week! we do that, too - it saves sooo much money, and it is a much healthier alternative as well!

allularpunk said...

your asian themed dinner looks so yummy and much more creative than a simple stirfry! that pesto sounds sooo yummy, too. yeah, i think if i wasn't going to eat that tofu for a few days i'd take it out of the marinade, but mostly just so it wouldn't soak up TOO much and get salty.

Jen Treehugger said...

Oh many wonderful things.
That Pesto ROCKS!!
And it will be mine.

Vegan_Noodle said...

Taking your lunch to work is definitely a great cost saving tip. I only wish I was as organized as you in prepping my lunches!
And I love your Asian themed dinner! Too bad Chase wasn't feeling well enough to eat it. I would have gladly stepped up :-)

Liz Ranger (Bubble Tea for Dinner) said...

I know, those 10$ salads just make me cry/laugh/wonder at anyone who would pay that much for lettuce. :/
your salads are way way better anyway!

Bex said...

I'll pay $10 for a salad that I get to make so I can control the yumminess, I don't trust anyone else.
I would love to make salads for the week on my day off but I have the hardest time keeping my greens good. Too dry and they wilt, moisture makes them slime sometimes but not always. I haven't given up hope but it makes me a little sad.

Anonymous said...

I wish I were as organized as you! I take my lunch, too but often make it in the morning with my eyes half closed. My favorite thing is to pack leftovers from dinner into my lunch dishes so I only have to add a piece of fruit in the morning. My second choice is to fill a container with salad greens, add a blob of hummus and a small scoop of tabouli. At work I mix them together. We used to have a Country Life restaurant nearby with a great salad bar. My favorite dressing was the hummus and this reminds me of it.

Anonymous said...

Diann -

Since I'm on a diet, I'm intrigued with your salad idea. I had a friend in FL that did something similar (but she used to dump a cooked frozen dinner on top right at lunch, instead of beans). I'm thinking if I can make up my salads on Sunday, I should be able to pack a pretty decent lunch and stay away from the grill at work. A couple questions though: does the lettuce get brown or wilted? Also, do you put the beans and dressing on the salads the night before or keep them separate until serving - if night before, does it make the salad soggy? Do you heat the beans or eat them cold on the salad?