Vegan Asian-Style Quinoa with Tofu

This has got to be low carb too, yes?

Yes.  Let’s just go with it. 

Quinoa in a bowl

This is delicious, kids.  Yesterday after I introduced the whole vegan-week thing (thanks for the lovely response to that!), I got to thinking about what I could make vegan.  It was HARD.  My go-to flavor components are cheese and butter so…YEAH.  About that.

The more I pondered, the more I realized that a LOT of Asian-style dishes are already vegan, or very close to it.  There isn’t a ton of random animal-derived junk to contend with replacing, and minus a few fish-based ingredients which can be eliminated easily, there are TONS of major flavors in Asian-style cooking that are totally plant based. 

So, that’s what’s up first.  Asian-style quinoa with raw veggies and crispy tofu.

I KNOW.  It doesn’t sound contrived.  It sounds just like….something I would already eat?  That’s the point – not to fake out anyone, not to hide crap and call it meat when it’s really…not…but to eat real, fresh food that tastes GREAT and just happens to be vegan. 

You’re going to love this one.  It’s quick and easy and can be eaten warm, cold, or at room temperature.  So….yeah.  ALSO.  You know that thing that happens with mayo-based salads where APPARENTLY you can get deathly ill if they sit outside at a picnic for too long? 

This doesn’t have mayo so….perfect for 95 degree picnics in a few months!

You need quinoa, cabbage, carrots, green onion, water chestnuts, tofu, sesame seeds, sesame oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and hot sauce – whatever kind you like. Ingredients 1/2 cup of quinoa and 1/2 brick of tofu makes 4 nice servings, but you can double the recipe if you 1. need more food or 2. don’t want a random half brick of tofu in your fridge.  I won’t judge you.  This is great for lunches or even snacks – way healthier than most things you’ve probably got in your cabinets!  Unless you’re healthy.  Then it’s not healthier.  

Ignore me.

ANYWAY.  Basically we make the dressing/prep veggies while the quinoa cooks while the tofu crisps.  You can do all of those things separately, or in advance, or whatever, but this is REALLY quick if you do them at the same time!

So first, grab the tofu and make a sexy press for it by putting it between two plates with a can of something on top of it.  NICE. Press tofu quickly

Then, cook the quinoa however the box says to – usually 2 to 1 ratio, in water, like rice.  Make it happen, then let it sit and cool slightly. Cook quinoa until done

While the quinoa is cooking, make the dressing!   Add the soy sauce, rice vinegar, sriracha, and sesame oil to a bowl.Add sesame oil to dressing

Whisk it together, and taste it.  YUM!  Add more sriracha if you’d like. Whisk dressing together

Now, the veggies.  I used baby carrots, but one regular carrot would be, you know, THE SAME DAMN THING.  Choices, people.  I like to cut the cabbage into 1/2 inch or so pieces, and chop the carrot finely.  

Finely chop carrot

Drain the water chestnuts too, for 5 minutes or so so that the quinoa doesn’t get too watery.  If you aren’t into water chestnuts don’t worry, you can leave them out or replace them with anything else.  Chopped bell pepper, bamboo shoots, canned or fresh bean sprouts….anything!Chop and drain all veggies

Now, add the water chestnuts, carrots, and cabbage to the dressing.  Let ’em sit while you prep the tofu.Add veggies to dressing

For the tofu, heat a skillet with cooking spray or some oil to medium heat, and cut the tofu (discarding any liquid from the press setup) into small cubes.  Cube Tofu

Add the tofu to the pan while it’s still heating up – this will help the tofu dry out gently and crisp nicely!Start tofu gently in a hot pan

Toss the tofu around for 10 minutes or so until lightly golden all over.Toss tofu until crispy

Then, drip in a bit more soy sauce!  Not a ton, just a little extra flavor for the tofu. Drip soy sauce on tofu after griling

Onto the scallion!  It’s spring, and my store had these massive guys, so one was plenty.  If you have regular pencil-ish scallions use two or three. Only use one scallion if big Slice them on a bias, and we’re done with our prep.  Quinoa, tofu, dressing, and veggies all set to go.Thinly slice scallions on an angle

Add the tofu, quinoa, and scallion to the veggie/dressing mixture.Add quinoa scallion tofu to dressing

Stir everything together, and taste!  Yum.  If you’d like, add more soy sauce and/or sriracha until this tastes right to you.Stir all ingredients together

AND THE SESAME SEEDS!! Don’t forget the sesame seeds.  You can add them earlier if you aren’t a crackhead like me. Add sesame seeds to salad and then taste

That’s it, kids!  A whole meal in a bowl with a lovely, flavorful dressing. Quinoa in a bowl

Enjoy this – it’s really lovely and easy, and quinoa lasts for awhile in the fridge, which means that the fact that I made 81091 servings of this won’t matter because Jay can eat it on Friday, and Saturday, and Sunday…when he gets back from working in California.Bowl of quinoa with hashi

He’s a lucky man, that Jay. 

ALSO.  A note on this whole vegan thing.  Call me out if I flounder, ok?  Seriously.  I can just SEE me saying something like “now, add the cream, and BAM!  Vegan pasta…”  I won’t be offended, I promise.  I’m still training my brain to know the difference between vegan and vegetarian, and some random ingredients that SHOULD be vegan simply aren’t.  So, help me on this journey please and thank you.Eat with chopsticks if you can

The end. 


Asian-Style Quinoa with Tofu
Serves 4
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
15 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
15 min
  1. 1/2 cup quinoa, cooked to package directions
  2. 1/2 brick tofu, drained and pressed for 30 minutes or so
  3. 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  4. 2 tablespoons soy sauce, plus 1 teaspoon
  5. 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  6. 1 teaspoon sriracha, plus more to taste
  7. 1/4 small head cabbage, roughly chopped
  8. 1 small carrot, finely chopped (or a handful of baby carrots)
  9. 1 large or 3 small green onions, thinly sliced on an angle
  10. 1 small can diced water chestnuts, drained
  11. 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
  1. Combine the rice vinegar, 2 tablespoons of the soy sauce, sesame oil, and sriracha in a bowl. Taste, and add more sriracha if you'd like. Add the chopped water chestnuts, cabbage, and carrots to marinate slightly.
  2. Meanwhile, heat a pan with a drizzle of oil or cooking spray to medium heat. Cut the tofu into small cubes, and toast lightly in the pan for 10 minutes or so, shaking every once in awhile. When the tofu is browned on all sides (give or take, don't obsess too much), drip in the remaining teaspoon of soy sauce. Toss to combine.
  3. To the veggie/dressing mixture, add the cooked quinoa, tofu, scallions, and sesame seeds. Stir together, and taste: add more soy sauce if you'd like.
  4. Serve as a complete meal or with your favorite Asian veggie side dishes. Enjoy!
 Shared with my weekend potluck peeps!


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