A colourful mix of crunchy veggies along with baked tofu are smothered in a sweet and spicy sauce, and finished with a hit of lime and toasted peanuts. This makes a flavourful vegetarian (and easily made vegan) addition to your weekly meal plan. Bonus… most of the fresh and nutritious veggies can be found at your local farmers market.
As we make our way into spring, our once per week winter market has come to an end, while multiple weekly farmers markets seem have sprung up overnight. The market, for me, isn’t a place I go to socialize or to enjoy an afternoon stroll. I can never understand why people make the effort to go to the farmers market, and come away with one pint of berries and a bag of spinach.
As I make my way to my favourite vendors I can barely carry the bounty of goods I procure. With bags of local organic food dangling from my limbs, I must look like some sort of pack mule, a rather comical sight I’m sure. If I’m making the effort to go to the market, I’m surely going to make use of the opportunity… It’s where I go to buy the bulk of my groceries for the week, taking advantage of what’s in season, with beautiful produce that was picked that morning!
*** Warning I’m going to rant now, so if you want to skip down to the recipe I completely understand ***
While I enjoy going to the market, mainly due to the vibrant tasty food, I have to admit it is not an experience I look forward to. I know the idea of shopping at the farmers market can be overrun with romantic notions of a wicker baskets filled with produce and fresh bread, long flowy dresses and sun hats, fresh coffee and and and… Where I live the markets have become incredibly busy (which overall I suppose is a good thing, showing the growing interest in locally grown farm fresh food). However between waiting in lines, feeling rushed to get out of the vendor stalls without even a moment to ask the farmer a question between them taking your money and moving on to the next person in line (and then realizing I forgot to buy the bok choi or bag of arugula that was hiding at one end of the table), getting tangled in dog leashes and trying not to step on children, it can be an overwhelming experience. Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful to have access to markets at all, and I appreciate the amazing work our local farmers do… but I just can’t help but daydream about owning our own piece of land so I can start growing food again as my balcony space is currently at it’s limits in terms of the number of planters I can squeeze onto it.
Are all markets like this? When we lived in Nova Scotia the farmers markets started at 8am, which was the absolute best. The early start seemed to spread out market shoppers… and I guess we were living in a town with a fraction of the population of our current location. Even so, I could go first thing in the morning, come home and enjoy a cup of coffee while I whipped up a breakfast with some of our farmers market haul, and then get on with my day. On the west coast, however, the markets all start at 9 or 10, which might not sound all that different from 8am… but I would argue that it certainly makes a difference.
I don’t mean to sound like a whiny unappreciative monster… humph… who knew I had such repressed emotions towards my local markets. We truly are fortunate to live in such a beautiful and bountiful place.
*** Rant over, recipe below ***
- 1/4 cup Tomato Paste
- 1/4 cup Tamari (gluten free if preferred), or soy sauce
- 1/4 cup Water
- 2 Tbsp. Unsulphured Molasses
- 1 Tbsp. Maple Syrup
- 1 Tbsp. Sriracha
- 1/2 tsp. Vegan Worcestershire (gluten free if preferred)
- 1 pkg. Organic Firm Tofu
- 1/2 lb. Sugar Snap Peas (about 2 pints), remove tops and thinly slice
- 1/2 lb. Carrots (3-4 medium), julienne or grate
- 1 Bell Pepper (I used 1/2 red and 1/2 yellow), thinly slice
- 1 bunch Radishes (tops removed), thinly slice
- 1/2 lb. (226g) Flat Rice Noodles
- 1 Tbsp. Oil (I used olive oil)
- 6 cloves Garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp. Red Pepper Flakes
- 3 Organic Eggs, lightly beat in small bowl (omit if vegan)
- 1 cup Peanuts or Cashews (if raw, place on baking tray and bake for 15 minutes while baking tofu), roughly chop (you can pulse in food processor) or crush with mortar and pestle
- 1 bunch Cilantro, roughly chop
- 1 bunch Scallions (green onions), thinly slice
- 2-4 Limes, cut into wedges
Make sauce: whisk ingredients together.
Bake tofu: preheat oven to 350°F. Cut tofu into 2″ x 1/2″ sticks and toss with 2 Tablespoons of sauce. Place tofu on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes, flipping half way.
Cook Noodles: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Place noodles in boiling water and stir a few times to separate noodles and prevent from sticking together. Drain, rinse thoroughly with cold water and set aside until ready to use.
Cook eggs and assemble: Heat oil in a large pan over medium. Add garlic and red pepper flakes, cook stirring continuously until starting to turn golden brown, about 1 minute. Add beaten eggs and scramble. Add cooked rice noodles and stir until well combined (it can take a few minutes for noodles to loosen so if they are sticking together keep mixing).
Add tofu, vegetables and sauce to pan. Continue cooking, stirring to mix ingredients together and heat through, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in half of cilantro and green onions.
Serve: top with green onions, cilantro, chopped peanuts / cashews and a squeeze of lime.