We’re a family of basil lovers. I’ve found that I can get my daughter to eat just about anything if it tastes like “pesto” (witness the miracle eggplant and squash quinoa from a few days ago). So each year I plant as much basil as I can find room for. This year I have a bumper crop, so don’t be surprised if you see a lot of basil in the next couple of weeks.
One of my favorite non-pesto ways to use basil is in Thai dishes. This one is an adaptation of a Vegetarian Times recipe that uses green beans. I didn’t have green beans, but I did have loads of asparagus since it’s been so inexpensive lately. I was considering substituting it when I just happened upon a Thai recipe that used asparagus and basil, posted by the very creative Barbara at Tigers and Strawberries. Well, that sealed the deal! If Barbara said the combination was delicious, that was good enough for me. And she was right–the asparagus was crisp and tender, and the basil and lime leaves gave it just the right peppery tang. I went easy on the chiles, but for a true Thai taste, add more and really heat it up.
Thai-Style Basil Tofu and Asparagus
- 1 lb. extra-firm tofu, drained, lightly pressed between paper towels, and cut into 1-inch cubes
- sprinkling of soy sauce
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1-2 small red or green chile peppers, seeded and minced
- 4 green onions, sliced thin
- 4 kaffir lime leaves, thinly sliced (If you don’t have lime leaves, use 1 tsp. of grated lime peel and add it with the asparagus)
- 1 tbsp. reduced-sodium soy sauce
- 1 lb. asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch lengths
- 1 small or 1/2 large red bell pepper, sliced into 1-inch lengths
- 1/3 cup fat-free vegetable broth
- 1 cup chopped fresh basil
- Toss the tofu cubes with a sprinkling of low-sodium soy sauce. Brush or spray a large, deep, non-stick skillet with oil or cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat. Place the tofu in the skillet and cook until one side is brown. Carefully turn over the cubes of tofu and brown on the other side.Toss in garlic, chiles, green onion, and lime leaves and stir-fry 1 minute.
- Add soy sauce and mix well. Add asparagus, red bell pepper, and broth; cover and cook just until asparagus is bright green, 3 to 4 minutes. Add basil, and mix thoroughly, cooking until basil is just wilted. Serve hot.
I served this over Coconut-Cashew Quinoa (recipe still in the experimental stage), which added a very sweet taste. It would be equally delicious served over brown jasmine or basmati rice or other whole grain.
Preparation time: 10 minute(s) | Cooking time: 20 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 4
Nutrition (per serving): 119 calories, 21 calories from fat, 2.3g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 234.7mg sodium, 476.7mg potassium, 13.2g carbohydrates, 4.8g fiber, 5.5g sugar, 13.8g protein, 3.4 points.