Broccoli with tofu and peanuts.

To be honest, I only started eating broccoli recently. There are only a few things I have decided there’s no getting over, and I really thought broccoli would be one of them. But when you compare it to actually gross things like green peppers (why not just choose red?), raw bananas (potassium mush phallus), or even – ick! – raisins (most of which are probably dead flies, and there’s no arguing with me on this one), it’s not so bad. It’s actually kind of okay. And you don’t even have to drown it in cheese sauce, though if you did it certainly wouldn’t ruin anything.

So how did broccoli, with its tendency to taste like damp socks that’ve been festering inside rubber boots all day, manage to make the cut?

Well. Let me tell you: It doesn’t have to taste like damp socks festering in rubber galoshes. The secret is to not cook it to death. It must not lose its texture or brilliant green colour; it must not turn to putrid swamp mush. Kept tender-crisp and bright, it’s actually (and I never thought I’d say this) DELICIOUS. And with peanuts? Well, well. It’s (and I never thought I’d say this) DINNER.

And so we have another Meatless Monday recipe. Check out the blog carnival over at Midnight Maniac for other meatless recipes!

Broccoli with tofu and peanuts

(Serves four.)

  • 1 cup unsalted peanuts
  • 1 1/2 lbs. broccoli
  • 2 tbsp. peanut or vegetable oil
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp. minced fresh ginger
  • 1 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 1 350 g/12 oz. package firm tofu, cubed
  • 1/2 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp. sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp. sriracha (or your favourite hot sauce, to taste)
  • 1 to 2 tbsp. dark brown sugar (if you’re using conventional peanut butter, you may not need this; taste before adding the second tablespoon)
  • 1 tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • Fresh ground pepper

First, toast your peanuts in a pan over medium heat. Watch them. Diligently. When they start to smell like roasted peanuts, turn golden, and sweat, remove them from heat and set them aside. Divide into two piles, and chop one pile.

Blanch chopped broccoli by plunging it into boiling water, boiling for two minutes, and removing immediately to ice water, where it should sit for a minute. Save 1/2 cup of the blanching water. Set aside.

In a large pan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add shallot, garlic, and ginger, and sauté until just golden.

Meanwhile, mix peanut butter, soy sauce, sesame oil, sriracha, one tablespoon of sugar, and lime juice. Taste. If it needs more sugar, add more. Add pepper. Taste again. If it needs to be spicier, add more sriracha.

Add red peppers to the pan, and tofu. Stir one third of the peanut sauce into the pan, and add a quarter cup of the blanching water to thin. Cook until peppers have softened, about two minutes. Add broccoli, and then remaining peanut sauce. Stir to coat, then toss in whole peanuts.

Serve over rice, sprinkled with remaining peanuts. Taste. See? It’s good. Broccoli is good. Amazing.