Food & Drink

Killer dressing makes it on an easy grain bowl

Roasted Chile Lime Tofu Bowls.
Roasted Chile Lime Tofu Bowls. Deb Lindsey/The Washington Post

Sometimes it feels like I’m running a fast-casual restaurant out of my home, with a nightly clientele of just two. What grain would we like for the base of our bowls? What protein? What vegetable? What dressing, and what crunchy topping(s)?

That’s when things are working the way I’ve planned, and I’ve got all of the above – in multiple choices, sometimes! – waiting in the refrigerator or freezer.

It’s clearly the way blogger Laura Wright eats as well. In her first cookbook, “The First Mess” (Avery, 2017), she writes about just the same type of strategy: “Most nights, dinner is an amalgamation of several parts nestled into a big bowl at my house.”

It might seem strange to suggest just such a strategy while also recommending Wright’s recipe for one particular bowl, but consider it inspiration for the types of things you can combine when you get into the right mind-set.

My favorite part of her recipe for Roasted Chile Lime Tofu Bowls is the dressing/marinade and its spicy-tart punch. You toss extra-firm tofu (patted dry but not pressed) in it quickly, then roast for a bit, add broccoli florets to the baking sheet and roast some more, and then serve both over brown rice with sprouts and sunflower seeds. You chop up basil, toss it in the remaining marinade and spoon that over the bowls before serving.

My only regret: I wasn’t left with any extra dressing. Next time, I’ll double or triple that part – or perhaps every other element, too, and get my kitchen ready for the next few fast-casual nights.

Roasted Chile Lime Tofu Bowls

Adapted from “The First Mess Cookbook: Vibrant Plant-Based Recipes to Eat Well Through the Seasons,” by Laura Wright (Avery, 2017).

1 (14-ounce) block extra-firm tofu

2 teaspoons freshly grated lime zest plus 2 tablespoons lime juice (from 1 lime), or more juice as needed

2 tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral oil, or more as needed

1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic (garlic powder)

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more as needed

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

About 6 ounces broccoli florets (about (3 cups)

1/4 cup lightly packed chopped fresh basil leaves

Water (optional)

2 cups cooked brown rice, warmed

1/2 cup fresh sunflower sprouts (may substitute another sprout of your choice)

1/4 cup raw, hulled, unsalted sunflower seeds, toasted

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Drain the tofu of its packing liquid and pat dry with a kitchen towel. Cut into 1-inch cubes.

Whisk together the lime zest and juice, oil, garlic powder, crushed red pepper flakes, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Taste and add more salt as needed. Gently toss the tofu in the dressing. Transfer the coated tofu cubes to the baking sheet, gently shaking off as much of the marinade as possible back into the bowl.

Roast (middle rack) for 15 minutes, until the tofu is lightly browned on the bottom. Remove from the oven and gently flip the cubes over. Toss the broccoli florets in the dressing/marinade, then arrange them on the same the baking sheet with the tofu. Roast for 10 to 15 minutes, until all the edges are lightly browned. Taste, and sprinkle with a little salt, as needed.

Whisk the chopped basil into the remaining marinade to form a dressing. If it is too thick, add a little water, more lime juice and/or more oil.

Serve the roasted tofu and broccoli hot over bowls of brown rice. Add the sprouts, toasted sunflower seeds and drizzles of the basil-flecked dressing.

Per serving (using 3/4 teaspoon salt): 320 calories, 14 g protein, 31 g carbohydrates, 17 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 430 mg sodium, 4 g dietary fiber, 1 g sugar

Yield: 4 servings.