Poutineville, a restaurant review

If you are outside of Quebec, Poutine might not rhyme with delicious, yet caloric, potatoes and gravy. And cheese. Yes. As a vegan, I was very disappointed to say goodbye to poutine.

That is until I heard about Poutineville during Montreal’s poutine week. You see, unlike most poutine places, this restaurant gives you a pre-made menu, but also the option of making your own mix, and they even have vegan cheese (of the Daiya family, I suspect) and gravy. Yes!

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I was very intrigued by the crushed potatoes as poutine is usually made with fries. Well, crushed potatoes are amazing! They were deliciously seasoned and oh-so-crispy! As for the vegetable add-ons, they are a way of making me feel better about eating this very, very, very comforting dish, but they also bring a nice variety to the mix.

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I tried this with the pepper gravy, which is vegan and gluten-free. This sauce was rich, had a great taste and was at the perfect temperature to melt the cheese. This last component of the poutine was really the weakest: the cheese has a very artificial taste, which I expected as vegan cheese often have a slight after-taste.

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Still, the potatoes were really amazing! I just can’t get over how crispy and flavourful they were.

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I will definitively go back to Poutineville as I loved making my own unique poutine. If you are in the Montreal area, give it a try!

Corn Bread!

Corn bread has one of my favourite flavours: rich and corny I find it perfect with a warm cup of tea.

It is also so ridiculously easy to make.

Here’s what you need:

  • 2 cups of corn meal (the texture and amount of liquid added will change with the size of the corn meal)
  • 1.5 – 2 cups of plant milk (I used almond)
  • 2 tbs of ground flax seeds + 6 tbs water
  • 2 tbs sugar
  • 2 pinches of salt
  • 1 tbs baking powder

Here’s what you do:

  1. In a small bowl, mix the flax seeds with the water and mix well. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, mix in the corn meal, sugar, salt and milk. Stir well.
  3. Add the flax mixture and stir until well combined.
  4. Let this sit for 20 to 30 minutes. This will help the corn meal absorb the liquids and make your bread softer.
  5. Mix well to see if your it needs some liquid: you want your mixture to have mostly absorbed the milk, but you don’t want dry patches. In doubt, add a few tablespoons.
  6. Mix in the baking powder.
  7. Oil your pan and preheat the oven to 400F.
  8. Pour in the bather and let cook for 30 minutes.
  9. Let cool before removing from the pan.

That’s it! It really is that simple, and the authentic corn flavour is just delicious. I really like using stone ground meal for this as it adds a crunchy texture to the bread, but this recipe also works with finer corn meal.

Of course, you could add hot peppers, nuts or chocolate chips to the mix, but I like the simplicity and unique flavour of this. Let me know if you try it out!

Christmas Series: Hot Pot Dinner!

I am so excited to share this recipe with you! I had a lot of fun planning, cooking and eating it!

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As I was looking for a fun recipe for a Christmas dinner party, I wanted to stay away from fake turkeys, or any traditional food. I wanted something refreshing, original and shareable. When I imagined it, I wanted people to have to talk to each other, have fun and share something good. To me, this is what Christmas is about.

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While browsing my cookbooks, I stumbled upon Isa’s mushroom hot pot. This was it! I really wanted to modify this recipe to make it more like a Chinese fondue where people cook their own food in a rich broth.

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So I grabbed my boyfriend and we went on a mission to the Asian supermarket. I really wanted to find fun vegetables, mushrooms and fragrant herbs to make this hot pot exceptional, while still paying a reasonable price for everything. I really suggest investing your local Asian store as they often have a great selection of vegetables, mushrooms and herbs for a fraction of the price you’d pay in a regular supermarket.

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Needless to say, we were not disappointed. This is so exciting! It was a lot of fun to try out, and everyone around the table was full and happy.

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Here is what you need (for 4-5 people):

For the broth:

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 cubes of vegetable broth
  • 8 cups of boiling water
  • 2 tsp corn starch
  • 1 onion
  • 1 red pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 lemongrass stalk
  • 1 inch fresh ginger root
  • 3 whole star anise pods
  • 1.5 cinnamon stick
  • 5 lemon leaves
  • 3 tbs tamari sauce
  • 1/2 tsp ground white pepper
  • 1 can (8.5 oz) coconut milk
  • 4 fresh or dried shiitake mushrooms (if you use dried, soak them overnight)
  • 1/2 red bell pepper
  • 1/2 bunch of cilantro with the stalks (around 1 cup)

For the vegetables (These are the ones I used, but feel free to change them to what you have, like and find.)

  • 8 fresh shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 cup fresh oyster mushrooms
  • 8 king oyster mushrooms
  • 1 bunch of enoki mushrooms
  • 1 bunch shimeji mushrooms
  • 1/2 red bell pepper
  • 1 small broccoli head
  • 1 small chinese or zucchini squash
  • bamboo shoots (I bought a small head in an air sealed pack, but canned would work too)
  • 1 can of slices water chestnuts
  • 1 can of baby corn
  • 10 mini bok choys
  • 1 bunch of chinese broccoli or mixed greens
  • kelp noodles
  • fake meat of your choice (we used textured vegetable protein,or TVP)
  • fried tofu (you can buy this ready-made in Asian supermarkets)
  • lime slices (to serve)

Here is what you do:

  1. In a large pot, place the oil, chopped onion, chopped garlic cloves and minced ginger root. Cook on medium heat until fragrant. Add the salt and saute until the onions are translucent.
  2. While the onions are cooking, dissolve the vegetable broth cubes in 2 cups of boiling water and add the corn starch. Mix until completely dissolved.
  3. Slice the 4 shiitake mushrooms thinly (including the feet) and add them to the onions. Also slice up the red bell pepper (1/2) and add it to the pot. Continue to stir until the red bell pepper is softened.
  4. Take your vegetable broth and add it to the onion mix. Stir a little.
  5. To your broth, add the cinnamon stick, star anise pods, and lemon leaves. Stir until fragrant and add the rest of the water (6 cups).
  6. As the broth is cooking, start cutting your vegetables and display them on a plate. If you feel like you have too much of something, add it to the broth. This will give more flavour to your broth and will also make ‘fishing’ possible during the meal. I ended up adding about 1/3 of the vegetables to the broth while it was cooking. I find that the assortment of mushrooms really create a rich flavour. If you are using TVP, it would be a good idea to soak it in water now, just remember to squeeze the extra water out before serving. You can also drain and rince the kelp noodles.
  7. Taste the broth and add the soy sauce and pepper accordingly.
  8. Let the broth simmer.
  9. Once you are done cutting all your vegetables and are ready to serve, add the coconut milk and cilantro, and bring back to a simmer.
  10. Take your lemongrass stalk, and cut a few centimeters off both extremities. Then, cut the stalk in 3 or 4 parts. With a pestle or heavy cup, crush the lemongrass and add it to the broth. Adding it at the end really helps keep the flavour as it is quite volatile.

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To serve, make sure every one has a skewer stick or a little metal basket. Each person will pick and choose whatever they want cooked, put it in their basket and cook it in the broth. If you want, you can add lime juice to your own bowl, but I find that unnecessary. Still, it’s nice to have that option. We used a portable cook top to keep the broth simmering throughout dinner.

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The broth was thick, savoury and full of wonderful flavours. It was very filling even if we just ate it as is without rice or noodles. The kelp noodles have a very crunchy texture which is interesting, but you don’t need to plan a full portion per person. They are just a nice add-on I find.

The TVP really is great in this recipe as it takes on all the broth flavours and really gives the chewy texture of meat.

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It was a lot of fun to eat this with my family this week-end. I had a great time preparing the vegetables with my mom, and the men enjoyed the richness of the broth… which was consumed entirely!

This is truly a must try, so let me know how it turns out!

Christmas Menu: The Soup

We have now arrived to the most exiting part of the Christmas series: The food!

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As a mixed child with one fork in French culture and one chopstick in Vietnamese culture, I can’t say that my family has any particular “Christmas” foods. Every year we eat delicious food depending on our inspiration all together with no specific dish reserved for Christmas.

This is why I bring you a slightly nontraditional Christmas menu. You won’t find any fake turkey or meatballs. You will, however, find delicious, spicy, and fun to share food.

As a start, let me present you the Indian style Kabocha soup. This is a perfect winter soup as the squash is in season, and the spices will warm you up. This is quite simple to make, but will impress your guests with the smoothest texture and most exciting flavours around.

Kabocha squash or Japanese pumpkin is very nutty and smooth which makes it perfect for soups. If you haven’t tried it yet, I suggest you run to your local Asian market as it is perfect not only for savory but also sweet recipes.

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Here is what you need:

  • 1 Kabocha squash, seeds removed
  • 2 zucchini squashes
  • 2 medium sized sweet potatoes
  • 2 inch piece of ginger, cut in half
  • 1 tbs of curry powder
  • 1 tsp of coriander seeds
  • 1 tbs of marmite (the British seasoning) or one cube of vegetable stock
  • 1 tsp of turmeric powder
  • 1 garlic clove
  • salt to taste

Here is what you do:

  1. Cut all the vegetables in cubes. If you want your soup to be very orange and extremely smooth, peel them. I kept the skins of mine on because I like the extra nutrients they brings.
  2. In a large cauldron, put all your vegetables, ginger and garlic, and cover them with water. I added around 2.5 liters.
  3. Cover and let come to a boil on maximum heat. Then, bring down the heat to a medium, and let simmer uncovered until the vegetables are easily poked through with a fork.
  4. Turn off the heat and add the spices, marmite and salt. Mix well and adjust to your taste. It is a good idea to mix the marmite or vegetable stock cube in a separate bowl with a few spoonfuls of the cooking water before adding it to the soup. This will ensure that everything is well mixed in.
  5. Mix with a hand mixer until all the vegetables are smooth.
  6. Serve with toasted bread and garnish with pumpkin seeds.

This is extremely simple to make and can do its own thing while you are tending more complicated dishes. The spices really make this soup special, and the ginger makes it perfect for winter.

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Let me know if you try it out and what you thought of it! Come back too for the rest of my Christmas menu.

 

Quick, Versatile Pasta with Parmesan Cheese

For the last couple weeks, Sunday night has been roasting night where I cut a bunch of vegetables, stick them in my oven and then box them for the week.

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This has really helped me during the week because it makes cooking way easier and faster, which is great! I can also experiment with different flavours, or just repeat things that are comfortable and yummy! Special mention to rice and sriracha as vegetables best friends… no, we didn’t eat this for a week (but really, it was awesome!).

So for tonight, I wanted to spice things up and find a new used to my recent new love: sriracha! I feel like I have kept this at arms-length for a long time, but now that I have tried it, I really understand the hype around this product.

Two versions: pasta and quinoa. Both delicious!

Two versions: pasta and quinoa. Both delicious!

I also wanted to try to make something similar to Parmesan cheese because it is one of my boyfriend’s favourite cheeses, and he grew up always putting Parmesan cheese on his pastas. So, I wanted to make him something reminiscent of this. Keeping in mind that I don’t really like Parmesan and never had some at home (there might be a link here), I tried my best! All I can say is that it certainly looks like Parmesan a lot (and is really good too; way better than the real stuff if you ask me!).

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Anyways, here is what you’ll need:

Pasta sauce:

  • One can of mixed beans (or your own mix, but a can is a lot faster)
  • 4 cups of roasted pumpkin chunks (I roasted mine with a little of salt and olive oil)
  • 1 small bottle of tomato sauce (I used a 400ml one, so a little less than 2 cups)
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbs sriracha hot sauce
  • salt to taste

Parmesan cheese:

  • 1/2 cup cashew nuts (I used raw and unsalted)
  • 1/3 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp salt (or to your taste)

What you need to do:

  1. Cook your (gluten-free) pasta or quinoa according to your taste.
  2. In a non-stick pan set on medium heat, toss your beans and pumpkin. Let them mingle a little, until they are warmed up.
  3. Add the tomato sauce and spices.
  4. Mix well.
  5. That’s it!

For the Parmesan cheese:

  1. Put all the ingredients in your blender or food processor (I used my magic bullet) and blend until you have a yummy slightly yellow powder.

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I served this with some chopped arugula, but this is completely optional. If you serve it with quinoa, it might remind you of couscous. The Parmesan cheese adds a savory kick to this dish and makes this dish fun to prepare. My boyfriend enjoyed this and was really surprised to see that the texture was quite similar to the real thing. Yay! 🙂

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Let me know if you try this out!

 

Iron Fish’s Apple Sauce

Since my last post, I have been very impatient and excited to try my Lucky Iron Fish. I had been thinking about what recipe I would cook with it first. Originally, my plan was to try it out in vegetable soup, but as we are getting tired of soups, I crossed it out. Then I thought of incorporating it to cooking water for pastas. However, after some thought, I’m not sure this is the most efficient way to use it as most of the water is thrown away.

Comforting apple sauce for a long correction filled evening...

Comforting apple sauce for a long correction filled evening…

As I was pondering all this, I noticed that we only had access to three of our kitchen chairs because the fourth one was occupied by our remaining apples from a really nice apple picking outing and a bag of oranges. And there you go!

Apple sauce it is!

Here is what you will need:

  • 20 apples (I used medium sized McIntosh and Cortland apples)
  • 1 liter of water
  • juice of one lemon
  • 1 tsp of ground cinnamon or one cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • pinch of ground coriander seeds

Here is what you will do:

  1. Peel, core and roughly chop your apples and put them aside.
  2. Clean your iron fish.
  3. Place the water in a big pot and add your lucky iron fish.
  4. Add the lemon juice.
  5. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 10 minutes.
  6. Using thongs, remove the iron fish and BE CAREFUL: this little guy is hot hot hot!
  7. Add the apples and put the heat to medium-high.
  8. Let reduce for around 15 minutes.
  9. Mix: the apples should start to break down as you are stirring.
  10. Add the spices and maple syrup and mix well.
  11. Let cook for another 30 minutes, or until the apples have completely broke down and you like the texture.

Now, the important information: Does it taste any different than iron-fish-free apple sauce? Well, the honest answer is yes. Especially while cooking this, I felt like the metallic taste was a little bit overwhelming. However, after adding the spices (especially the cinnamon) this robotic taste disappears and becomes an after taste.

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I really like the way maple syrup gives recipes a nice glossy look. What do you think?

Is this really an issue? For me, not really. Now, if I were to serve this apple sauce to the Queen of England, or any member of Downton Abbey, yes probably. But since I’m not waiting for any one royal any time soon, it’s not really an issue here.

Coriander really gives this apple sauce a special flavour that is quite refreshing.

Coriander really gives this apple sauce a special flavour that is quite refreshing.

I’m really curious to see how the iron fish does in other dishes and what spices help cover up the taste better. I’ll keep you posted, and share your thoughts in the comments!

 

One-Pan Rice Dish (for lazy days and cooks)

Autumn really is setting in, and with the cold weather, I have been craving comfort food… or deep fried anything. Of course, I could resort to vegan poutines, cakes, or chips (I’m making myself hungry now!), but as I try to keep on the healthier side of food, this is what I cooked tonight.

Yum! So comforting!

Yum! So comforting!

I usually do a simpler version of this rice dish to go with tofu scrambles, or anything else really, because it is such a nice side dish. The simpler version only includes spinach and cashew nuts. However, as I was walking home today, I stopped at my local organic food store and got inspired.

Here is what you will need:

  • 1/2 cup rice
  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 1/2 cup buckwheat groats
  • 1/3 cup raw cashew nuts
  • 1/3 cup unsalted almonds
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 3 cups of sliced mushrooms
  • a big bunch of spinach (around 4 cups of frozen spinach works too)
  • 1/3 cup fresh cranberries (I suspect you could use dried too)
  • 2 cups of sliced asparagus (I had cooked asparagus a few days ago, but you can use fresh as well)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Here is what you will do:

  1. Combine the rice, quinoa and buckwheat in your rice cooker and add water according to your rice preference. If you do not have a rice cooker, cook in a saucepan as if you were using only rice. Start working on the rest as your rice is cooking.
  2. In a large sauté pan, put one tablespoon of olive oil and turn the heat to medium.
  3. Mince the garlic and sauté in the pan until fragrant and golden.
  4. Add the sliced mushrooms and stir. Put the heat to medium-high, and stir. Increasing the heat should help your mushroom lose their water. You know they are ready when all the water is gone. When this happens, place the cooked mushrooms aside.
  5. Add one tablespoon of olive oil to the pan, and mince the second clove of garlic. Let brown a little.
  6. Add in the nuts, and stir around until cashews have a nice golden color.
  7. Add the fresh cranberries (keep the dried ones for latter) and the asparagus (if you are using raw). Toss around until the asparagus has soften.
  8. Add the spinach, asparagus (if you are using cooked), cranberries (if you are using dried ones), cooked mushrooms, and stir until the spinach has wilted. Turn off the heat and put aside.
  9. When rice is ready, use a rice paddle to mix it in with the vegetables. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  10. Enjoy!
Cranberries really make this dish pop!

Cranberries really make this dish pop!

I discovered fresh cranberries this fall, and I have to say they are quite amazing! Their tartness is the perfect addition to this savory dish. They also add a nice pop of colour and make this dish really stand out. I bought a few bags of these and put them in the freezer. They are so cute and pretty!

I really hope you try out this recipe and personalize it to match your tastes and your frige’s contents. Let me know how you like it and what you put in!

Delicata Squash Spaguetti sauce

Hello everyone!

Delicata Squash Sauce

 

Another week, another delicata squash recipe! This is one of my very own completely invented recipes. This all happened last February when I realized that I still had two perfectly good delicata squashes that I had bought in September. Isn’t that amazing! They stayed perfect and cute looking for 6 months! I didn’t to push my luck though so here what I came up with.

Here is what you will need:

  • 2 delicata squashes
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 cup raw cashew nuts (soaked or not)
  • Plant based milk (about a cup, but the amount might vary according to your standards of creaminess)
  • 2-3 tablespoons of nutritional yeast
  • 1 pinch of nutmeg
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • cayenne pepper to taste

Here is what you need to do:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F or 180C.
  2. Peel and empty the squashes and cut them in chunks.
  3. Peel and remove the foot from the cloves of garlic.
  4. Put the squash and garlic in a line baking dish with a little bit of olive oil (or water), salt and pepper and let cook in the oven for 20 minutes or until the squash is tender.
  5. In your food processor or blender, put the cooked squash and garlic and keep the baking dish on hand.
  6. Process the squash and add the rest of the ingredients.
  7. Leave the machine do its thing until everything is creamy and smooth and perfect.
  8. In your oven dish, place your noodles or zoodles or courgetti and pour half of the sauce on top. Add a little bit of cayenne pepper.
  9. Put this back in the oven for 10 minutes to let the zoodles get tender and for the sauce to really mix and flavour the noodles.
  10. Before you serve, add the rest of the sauce and mix until well coated. Sprinkle a little bit of cayenne pepper to make it pretty and exciting. Enjoy!

I really hope you try this recipe out and tell me what you think! This is so yummy, comforting and perfect for the cold weather. Let me know what is your favourite thing to cook with delicata squashes or any squash. Remember to have fun!

Delicata Squash Curry

Hello beautiful people,

After a very relaxing, sunny, and perfect long week-end, I really craved curry! After a hiking Saturday, I made a big bucket of soup… which was really good, but that’s what we ate for the past 2 days. So tonight I thought I would cook something a little bit more consistent. This is what I came up with!

A really comforting curry dish!

Here is what you will need:

  • 1 onion, in chunks
  •  3 bamboo shoot heads thinly chopped (I usually buy the vacuum sealed one of my Asian market, but you could use one can of already chopped up bamboo shoots.)
  •  1 delicata squash thinly sliced (these have a really mild, nutty flavour, but their texture is just dreamy. Very smooth and tender, they are my favourite squash!)
  •  1 red bell pepper, chopped up.
  •  1/2 cup almonds (I soaked mine overnight and removed the skin, but you could use them just soaked, or even switch them for cashew nuts if you prefer.)
  •  1 tbsp tahini pasteIMG_0463
  •  1/4 cup chopped parsley
  •  2 tbsp almond butter
  •  1 tbsp olive oil
  •  2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1 chunk raw ginger finely chopped or pureed (about 1 tbsp)
  • salt to taste
  • rice or mung bean noodles to serve
  • 1 cup water

Here is what you need to do:

1- In a large sauce pan or wok set on medium heat, put the olive oil and let it warm up.

2- Add the onion and toss around until they are translucent.

3- Add the finely chopped ginger, turmeric powder, curry powder, tahini and almond butter and water. Mix until you get a smooth sauce.

4. Add the chopped vegetables (bell pepper, squash and bamboo shoots) and the almonds. As everything is very thinly chopped, it should take about 15-20 minutes to cook. The sauce should cover the vegetables. Let it simmer gently until the squash it tender.

5. In the meantime, cook the noodles according to package instructions. I used Korean mung bean noodles because they add a bit of protein, and I love their texture, but you could use any type of noodle you like, rice, or even pasta.

6. Once everything is cooked, toss in the noodles and parsley, and stir to make sure everything is well coated in sauce.

Serve hot and enjoy! IMG_0467

You could also add red pepper flakes, sriracha or cayenne pepper, but I wanted mine mild for tonight. I really enjoyed this noodle dish. It was very quick and easy to prepare, and I think it looked very sophisticated and impressive. Anyways, my belly is happy!

I hope you give this a try! If you do, please let me know and share some pictures! Also, give me some inspiration and tell me what is your favourite curry dish!

Have a nice week 🙂

Our version of fried rice

We were cold and tired this week, and so logically we were craving comfort food. Here is what we came up with. This recipe is very simple, delicious and comforting.

Here is what you will need:

– 2 onions
– 2 garlic cloves
– 2 zucchini squashes
– Two bell peppers ( we used one green and one red)
– 3 cups of cooked white rice (preferably not too wet)
– 2 tbs of soy sauce
– 1 tbs vegetable oil
– 1/2 cup of Tofurky, chorizo style
– 1 tbs sesame oil
– 1/2 tsp of turmeric powder
– 1/2 tsp paprika powder

Here is what you will do:

1) Dice the vegetables in small pieces.
2) Heat the vegetable oil in a sauce pan. Add the garlic and onion and stir until the onion is slightly transparent.
3) Add the zucchini and bell peppers. Stir until the vegetable are almost cooked.

Stir vegetables! Tons of them!

Stir vegetables! Tons of them!

4) Add the tofurky and spices, and stir well.

Yum yum!

Yum yum!

5) Heat the rice in the microwave until soft. Add to the sauce pan and stir delicately so as not to much it out. Preheating the rice will help as you won’t need to stir it as hard.

6) Add the soy sauce and sesame oil, and stir.

Enjoy!

This recipe is very tasty and nutritious. We felt like it was an hybrid between fried food and paella. Eaten in a bowl, it is the ultimate comfort food!

Adding the tofurky adds a bit of protein which makes it the perfect lunch to bring along your adventures. The sesame oil gives this a very fragrant and tasteful flavor. You could also add some edamame beans or corn, or pretty much any other vegetable you enjoy!

You will have enough for a few lunches :)

You will have enough for a few lunches 🙂

Tell us if you try this out! What’s your favourite comfort food?