So an April Fool's Day prank kind of backfired, and now we're aiming to eat vegan and vegetarian meals for the next month (as well as go sugar free!)...
Fortunately, I had a pack of firm tofu in the fridge on the day it happened (April 1st, of course...) so we were able to dive straight in with a tasty vegan dinner that everyone enjoyed! However, I am since discovering that planning and cooking meals for four people who all love their meat, fish and sugar is no easy feat - especially when you take out dairy and eggs for some of the meals too!
As it was so simple and tasty (and healthy!), I thought it would be nice to share it. It's based on the kind of thing I often throw together, but I wrote down the ingredients and quantities as I went for future reference (after all, we might be needing this meal again in the next month!). You can of course substitute any vegetables you fancy, just cook them to your tastes - you could even buy a pack of nice stir fry vegetables (you know, like the ones with tender stem broccoli and squash in) for total convenience!
Serves four, 185 calories per portion for the tofu and vegetable broth. Add 228 calories per serving for a nest of wholewheat noodles (making a total of 412 calories a portion) - or if you're on a fast day you could have zero / magic noodles for only a handful of calories, or make courgette noodles (and maybe substitute the sliced courgette for a different vegetable!).
[Calories in square brackets]
- 1 x 396g pack of firm tofu (my preference is Cauldron organic for this dish) 
- 250g mushrooms (e.g. chestnut) 
- 250g courgettes (zucchini) 
- 4 spring onions (scallions) 
- 1 litre light vegetable stock (e.g. 2 x Knorr stock cubes - you could also use chicken if not cooking vegetarian) 
- 2 tbsp soy sauce (e.g. Kikkoman, or tamari for gluten free) 
- 2 tbsp sake (optional) 
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed 
- 1 inch ginger root, grated 
- 4 tbsp miso paste (red miso, or a medium-coloured brown miso - gluten free miso is available, e.g. Clearspring) 
4 nests / servings of your favourite noodles (e.g. soba, rice, wholewheat, ramen, udon - I used Sainsbury's wholewheat noodles which didn't contain egg) [228 calories per serving for wholewheat]
- Shichimi Togarashi (Japanese 7 spice seasoning, mainly chilli) or chilli flakes and toasted sesame seeds
- Toasted sesame oil [41/tsp]
- Reserved sliced spring onions
1. Firstly - if you only want to use one pan, you can cook the noodles first, rinse, drain and set aside - otherwise cook them in a separate pan according to instructions (I prefer to do this, as I like to go against tradition, and add my noodles hot to my bowl, rather than cold!).
2. Bring the stock, soy and sake (if using) to a gentle simmer into a large pan over a low to medium heat. You can also add a little shichimi togarashi to the stock (or a pinch of chilli flakes) if you want a kick to it.
3. Meanwhile, cut the tofu into bite-sized pieces, trim and quarter the mushrooms, cut the courgettes into 1/2cm slices and finely slice the spring onions (reserve some for garnish if you like).
4. Add the garlic, ginger and mushrooms to the simmering stock and continue to simmer for 3-4 minutes, then add the courgette slices and tofu for another few minutes until the courgettes are cooked to your liking (I like a little bite left).
5. Add the spring onions to the pan, turn the heat off, and take a small bowl and put the miso paste into it. Take a ladle full of stock, and add to the miso paste, and stir it in until no lumps remain. Add the miso to the pan, stir in thoroughly then taste. If it needs it, add a drop more soy. If it's too salty for your tastes, add hot water to dilute it to taste.
6. Divide the noodles between four bowls, top with the vegetables and tofu (I use a slotted spoon), ladle in stock, and then garnish with the reserved spring onions, a shake of shichimi togarashi (or chilli flakes and toasted sesame seeds) if using, and if you're not counting calories, a drizzle of toasted sesame oil. Enjoy!