A piping hot bowl of vegan Mushroom Bourguignon and Steamed Tofu with Ramen Noodles is a fun but heady melange of flavors, textures and cuisines, and it makes for the perfect weeknight meal.
I cooked up this one-bowl meal, with all of its various elements, in under an hour on Sunday night so I could be all done and curled up on the couch with a bottle of wine and my leading man, by the time the Oscars started. And with this bowl for company, I was definitely one of the winners.
Bourguignon, traditionally made with beef in France, used to be a favorite at one time. Its rich textures and flavors, accentuated usually by burgundy wine and a mix of veggies, is to die for. A vegetarian version that’s just as good is not hard to achieve, especially if you have some flavorful, meaty mushrooms to add chewy texture and tons of nutrition.
You can serve this Mushroom Bourguignon with a flat, broad pasta (it is usually served with egg noodles), but this time I decided to go with a favorite that’s almost always in my pantry these days: ramen noodles. Ramen noodles get a bad rap for being unhealthy, but the unhealthy part really is in those flavor packets which are loaded with sodium. Just toss them out and the noodles are cooked and ready to eat in under five minutes.
To add some protein muscle to the bowl, I steamed up some tofu. I usually bake tofu or stir-fry it, and steaming is a technique I tried for the first time, but I must say I loved it. The tofu remains silky and soft and absorbs the flavors of the marinade, and all of it also happens in just minutes, which is perfect for a weeknight (or Oscar night!).
There are many things I love about this somewhat kitschy combination, but chief among them are:
-the multitude of flavors and textures, with the deep-brown richness of the Mushroom Bourguignon, the nuttily delicious noodles, and the sweet-salty tofu.
-the ease of preparation
-the overall healthfulness of this bowl. This is a low-fat dish that you can make free of any added fats by sauteeing the onions and the veggies for the bourguignon in water instead of the 1 tsp of oil I used. There is of course fat in the tofu and in a two tablespoons of cashews that add creaminess to the bourguignon, but that’s all healthy, good-for-you fat. Besides, it gets divvied up into four servings, making this dish a health superstar overall.
Now for the recipe.
- 1 pound mushrooms, sliced. Use a mix if possible of shiitake and crimini, but one kind is fine too.
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1 large carrot, finely diced
- 1 medium onion, finely diced
- 1 stick celery, finely diced
- 1 tsp dry thyme (sub with 1 1/2 tbsp if using fresh)
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup brandy (red wine is more traditional, but I love the brandy here. If you prefer red wine, use by all means)
- 2 tsp tomato paste
- 1 cup vegetable stock
- 2 tbsp tamari
- 2 tbsp raw cashews, soaked for 30 minutes
- 2 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
- Salt and ground black pepper to taste
- 2 packs ramen noodles (Nissin Top Ramen has two vegan noodles -- oriental and chili. It doesn't matter which you'll use since you're discarding the flavor packets, but I usually get the oriental flavor.)
- 1 1/2 cups water
Heat the oil. Add the onions, celery, and carrots. Season with salt and ground black pepper and saute until the onions start to brown.
Add the thyme and garlic and saute another two minutes. Add the mushrooms. Add the brandy and let the alcohol cook off. When the mixture gets dry, add the tomato paste and mix well.
Add the vegetable stock and the tamari. Stir well to mix. Bring to a boil and cook for another five minutes on medium heat or until the mushrooms are cooked but still chewy.
Drain the soaked cashews and blend them with 1/2 cup water into a very smooth paste. Add to the Bourguignon. Stir to mix.
Check seasoning and add more salt and ground black pepper if needed. Stir in the parsley. Turn off the heat.
In a saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Add the noodle blocks, broken into four pieces, bring back to a boil, and cook for two minutes. Cover and let it stand until all the water has been absorbed, about five minutes.
Mix the tamari, mirin, maple syrup and chili garlic sauce in a small bowl. Place the tofu in a bowl or a deep dish and pour the marinade over it. Silken tofu is delicate -- handle carefully so you do not break it. Let the tofu stand for between five and 30 minutes.
In a saucepan deep enough to hold a steamer basket, bring an inch of water to a boil. Place the tofu inside the steamer, lifting it carefully with a wide spatula, and steam for six minutes. Make sure the tofu is not touching the water.
Remove the tofu carefully from the steamer and pour any remaining marinade over it. To serve, slice into cubes
Assemble the bowl by layering the bourguignon over the ramen and topping with the tofu cubes.
Try this ramen bowl:
This and That
I have been catching up on some books and movies and television shows I’ve been wanting to for a while, including:
“The Crown”: the idea of a monarchy makes my socialist heart queasy, but “The Crown” is so impeccable, with flawless acting, especially by Claire Foy as the young queen and John Lithgow as Churchill, that one cannot help but get hooked into this Netflix series. Like I was telling Desi today, for the first time in my life, I see the British queen as a person and not as a stone cold monument, which is quite a feat.
The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series: I am late coming to this delightful series of books by Alexander McCall Smith, and I was skeptical at first, but just three pages into the mind of the intrepid and kind Mma Ramotswe I was hooked for good. I’ve already breezed through half the books, and I can’t wait to read the rest.
“Two Days, One Night”: This was one of the most revealing and sensitive slice-of-life movies I’ve ever seen, and Desi and I, who are hopelessly addicted to indies of this genre, have seen quite a few. Marion Cotillard, as a woman just recovered from depression and fighting to save her job, proves why she’s one of the greatest actresses of our times. The ending is probably one of my most favorite ever, but if you haven’t watched this movie, you’ll have to do so to find out. 🙂
And how about the Oscars, the big gaffe and all? I love that Viola Davis finally got one of the bald guys — I have always loved her since I saw her as a cold-blooded school security guard in an episode of “Law and Order SVU” years ago when she was relatively unknown. And yet her performance was so powerful, I have never forgotten it. I haven’t yet watched “Fences” but I can only imagine she’s stunning.