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Vegetable and Tofu Lo Mein

Happy New Year, friends! I’m starting this year’s posts off with one of my favorite things I’ve been making for the past few months — homemade lo mein! I know some people have goals this new year to eat more meals at home, to eat healthier, or to spend less money on takeout, so this is a perfect time to share this recipe — it can take care of all three of those! And flavor-wise, this lo mein is SO wonderful. It tastes amazingly like the lo mein I get from my favorite Chinese take-out places, but brighter, fresher, and lighter. And, for me, there’s something about knowing all the ingredients that went into your meal that make it even more satisfying and delicious.

One great thing about this recipe is how adaptable it is. If you want to make it with a different protein, like shrimp, pork, or chicken, please do! Just keep the amount of protein the same (roughly 1 pound) and you’ll be good to go. The same goes with the vegetables — I used ones that my family and I like the most, but you can change them up highlight the veggies you prefer. Stick to about 7 cups of vegetables to keep the ratio of vegetables to protein to sauce to noodles the same, and you’re all set! Finally, I must say that the leftovers of this lo mein are FANTASTIC. While I love it fresh out of the skillet, it’s just as scrumptious as a quick leftover lunch, and for me, you cannot beat a speedy, homemade, easy-to-reheat lunch. Happy cooking in 2016, friends!

Vegetable and Tofu Lo Mein

serves 4-6, adapted from Allrecipes.com

Ingredients

14 oz. package of extra-firm tofu, pressed for 30 minutes, + cut into thin rectangles
4 teaspoons granulated sugar, divided
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
3/4 cup soy sauce, divided
1 cup vegetable broth
1 cup water
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon cornstarch
8 ounces dry lo mein noodles (can also use dry spaghetti noodles)
3 teaspoons vegetable oil, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced
2″ fresh ginger, peeled + grated
6 green onions, white and light green parts, thinly sliced (reserve the dark green tops for garnish)
1 cup shredded carrots
1 cup shredded cabbage
2 cups broccoli florets
1 cup sugar snap peas, halved
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, diced
1 cup sliced water chestnuts

Directions:

In a medium bowl, combine the pressed/sliced tofu with 2 teaspoons of white sugar, 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar and 1/4 cup soy sauce. Mix this together gently to coat the tofu well. Cover and let marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

In another medium bowl, make the sauce: Combine the remaining 2 teaspoons sugar, remaining 1/2 cup soy sauce, vegetable broth, water, sesame oil and ground black pepper. In a separate small bowl, dissolve the cornstarch with about 2 tablespoons of this sauce mixture and slowly add back to the bulk of the sauce, stirring well. Set the sauce aside.

Meanwhile, heat a large pot of salted water until boiling. Cook the noodles until al dente, drain, and set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the marinated tofu and stir-fry for 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until well-browned. Transfer the tofu and any remaining juices to a warm plate.

Add 2 more tablespoons of vegetable oil to the wok/skillet, and saute garlic, ginger, and green onions for about 2 minutes, until mixture is fragrant. Add the carrots, cabbage, broccoli, sugar snap peas, red bell pepper, and water chestnuts to the pan, and cook on medium-high heat for 4-6 minutes, stirring frequently, until vegetables are crisp-tender.

Add the sauce mixture, cooked pasta, and cooked tofu to the wok/skillet and simmer until the sauce thickens to your desired texture, about 2-5 minutes. Serve immediately, stopped with extra sliced green onions, if desired.