Sweet summer eating and vegetarian karma

Summer in coastal SC means great produce and HOT weather. As a result, our meals get just a little bit lighter and I’ll do whatever it takes to avoid turning the oven on after a hot day!

We got some great local corn from our CSA bag last week and found a fantastic pineapple at the grocery store. One of my favorite meals growing up was steak and fresh grilled veggies, and I would be content now to just eat corn and pineapple for dinner, but D is a stickler for balance and protein 😉 We pressed some tofu last weekend and put together a dry rub for a fantastic, easy mid-week dinner.

grill-centric dinner!

grill-centric dinner!

Southwestern Tofu with Grilled Corn and Pineapple

tofu rub (or your favorite taco seasoning packet)

  • smoked paprika
  • chili powder
  • garlic powder
  • cumin

1 block of pressed tofu

1/2 a pineapple- cut into rounds

1 ear of corn per person

1 lime, cut into quarters

Mix the dry rub together and spread on the pressed tofu. Let sit for 6 hours or as long as needed–we had ours sitting for 2-3 days. Heat up a grill (or grill pan, if you’re grilling indoors) and add your tofu, pineapple, and corn. I like grilling corn husk-free because of the char you get on the kernels, but some people prefer grilling in the husk and stripping it off after–it’s a personal preference! We don’t add anything to our corn or pineapple—you just don’t need to if they’re fresh!

Flip the tofu and pineapple once to get a good char on both sides. Roll/rotate the corn until all sides are toasted. Pull off all items when fully cooked — serve with a lime wedge. I love summer corn with some fresh cilantro and lime juice (but our cilantro plant died while we were out of town for July 4!) and the lime really adds a fresh kick to the tofu.

Dry-rubbing tofu like this gives it a lot of depth to the flavor profile, and since you can marinade it as long as needed, it’s a great fall-back dinner option to have in the fridge for last minute meals. Your only prep time for dinner is cutting the pineapple, potentially shucking the corn, and the grilling time– it’s a quick, healthy, and summer-friendly meal for busy nights.

Kale Salad with broiled tempeh

When it’s truly too hot to cook, this is my new favorite meal. Most vegetarians have a reduced iron intake due to the lack of red meat in their diets, I too find it difficult to maintain my iron level-The American Red Cross is probably getting exasperated with my continued attempts to donate blood or platelets, only to find that my levels are just barely too low to be eligible. This salad is a light dinner at the end of a hot day, and when topped with tempeh, gives a great combination of vitamins and protein. It takes no more than 15 minutes to pull together and is filling and satisfying!

Crispy tempeh bites on a crisp and fresh kale bed

Crispy tempeh bites on a crisp and fresh kale bed

Kale dressing:

  • sesame oil
  • soy sauce
  • mirin
  • rice wine vinegar
  • black and white sesame seeds

kale, washed and de-veined

tempeh, cut into thin strips

tempeh ‘sauce’:

  • hoisin
  • lime juice

Rib the kale to remove the tough stems and wash thoroughly. Rip or cut into small pieces, then leave to dry. Mix together the kale dressing and pour over kale– you’ll need to sort of massage the dressing onto the kale in order for the dressing to begin to break down the fibers of the kale and soften it a bit. It feels weird at first, but spend a few minutes working your (clean) fingers around the leaves in the bowl and you’ll start to notice the volume of the kale shrinking down.

Then (or meanwhile, if you’re lucky enough to have a kitchen helper) take your mixture of hoisin and lime juice and brush it on one side of the tempeh slices- see our prior post about these tempeh ‘jerky’ pieces. Broil for a few minutes *we used the toaster oven instead of heating up the real oven) until crispy, then flip, brush the opposite side, and broil again.

Top your lightly-wilted kale with these sweet and slightly crispy tempeh pieces for an easy, light dinner. You could add nuts to the kale, some dried berries, or some sprouts, shredded carrots, or anything else to doctor it up a bit but I like the flavors of these together without anything else. A local favorite, Butcher and Bee, does a fantastic kale salad with benne seeds that was the inspiration for this dish– if you’re anywhere near Charleston definitely check them out! Their menu changes daily and can be found on their Facebook page minutes before they open!

and finally, vegetarian karma: While attending a friend’s wedding this weekend, D and I were a bit nervous- this was the first time we’d attended such a function while vegetarian and didn’t know what to expect. We marked ‘vegetarian’ on our response card, but know that everyone’s version of vegetarian is different–I wasn’t thrilled about the potential of a big bowl of pasta with marinara! We were pleasantly surprised at the cocktail hour and were able to eat everything but 1 item– we feasted on mini bruschetta, stuffed baby portobella caps, lavish cheese plates, fresh fruit, and crustinis. When it came for the dinner, we were greeted by a great green salad with pecans, nectarines, and (what we think were) mangos, served with a balsamic dressing. By dinner things had already surpassed my expectations for my-first-wedding-as-a-vegetarian, but we happened to be seated with a vegan couple (the wonderful Sarah of WhatIVegan) and 2 couples who ordered the steak/fish options for dinner and found that even our meat-eaters at the table preferred the vegetarian option! It was a tower of a portobello mushroom, grilled red pepper, grilled yellow squash, and grilled eggplant over grits and with a side of asparagus–yum! Just goes to show that eating vegetarian doesn’t always mean sacrificing flavor, quality, or a pleasant dining experience— vegetarians have more fun! (can I get a t-shirt made with that?)

D is  out of town this coming week, so let’s see how strong my willpower is to keep creating (and posting) what I’m eating while on bachelorette mode. I have a reputation for living on various iterations of potatoes while single (even before my vegetarian days…I just love potatoes!) so if nothing else, I’ll get ONE post up to prove to D that I can cook for one and that he’s missing out while gone!

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One thought on “Sweet summer eating and vegetarian karma

  1. Thanks for the mention! I had so much fun with you and D! This is the third wedding this year where I’ve been more than pleasantly surprised at the vegan options. Glad your first-wedding-as-a-vegetarian experience was great!

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