This, my friends, is the epitome of hipster vegan food. I kind of feel bad contributing to the stereotype that vegans only eat things like tofu and expensive stuff like quinoa but… how could I not show you these wonder bowls, that’s the question!
I’ve been wanting to make more things with birdseye peppers (where peri peri comes from) ever since that time I first went to Nandos three weeks ago and almost died while eating one of their veggie burgers. Not that it was their fault, though I would have greatly appreciated it if someone had told me that the super duper hot marinade was indeed super duper hot.
Like, how hot did I have to be for me to end up not finishing my veggie burger? Giving up on it? Leaving it abandoned in a crowded restaurant???? How could I ever do that??? ??? ?
(Writer’s note: Consuelo never ever ever leaves her food on the plate, let alone a glorious veggie burger)
Fast-forward two days and Consuelo is back in Nandos. Mostly because of the shortage of vegan options which you can find in Belfast (also how funny and sad at the same time is the fact that a CHICKEN restaurant does the best vegan options in town??? ?? ?? I love love love Belfast but they kind of need to step up their vegan food game a bit), but also because I wanted to undo my mistakes, ordering something off the menu which didn’t burn my poor tastebuds. Also, I wanted fries.
Anyway! I did end up getting a mild veggie burger (which, by the way, is not mild-in-a-boring-way at all) and got to leave the restaurant having finished my burger. And my fries. And my spicy rice. Also my mother’s fries. Please don’t ever leave me alone at a Nando’s okay thank you.
Aaaaand I liked the flavour so much that I set the goal to recreate something similar at home. Fast-forward a bunch of days more and there’s me wandering around the streets of Cardiff in the search of birdseye peppers. Found ’em. Cardiff is truly amazing when it comes to cheap vegan nomz and fancy schmancy peppers. I really do need to write a recap about my travels soon!
Again, let’s fast-forward more days and there’s me at home in Spain, trying to see how I can make a peri peri burger that good that it can stand against Nando’s. Spoiler alert: I can’t. I suck at making soy-based burgers. They always crumble apart, just like my dreams of passing maths or having 854 pups at home. When it comes to bean-based patties though? Then I’m the queeeeeeeen. Although, let’s be honest: there’s nothing like those soy-based ones.
So, in order to avoid those seven attempts at soy-based vegan burgers and end up giving up on them while I curse in the middle of a very filthy kitchen, I decided to go for tofu. I know lots of you aren’t fans of tofu (I actually was a hater not too long ago like, if you search on my blog archive I think there’s a blog post where I say mean things about tofu) but it never betrays you. Granted, if your marinade sucks and you’re using plain tofu (aka not the absolute bomb that smoked tofu is OMG I love smoked tofu so much), there’s a high chance that I’m going to say mean things about your tofu. BUT if you have a flawless recipe for a marinade (ahem ahem AHEM) and you don’t forget to drain a bit of the liquid out of that tofu, you’ll sure have a winner.
All that you have to do for this one is blend all the marinade ingredients, cut the tofu into squares, drain a bit of the liquid (you don’t even need a press) and soak the cubes overnight. Easy as cake, my pals! Then you heat some oil (sesame works wonders here) in a pan and lightly fry the stuff. Boom! Best tofu ever!
Then you have some fluffy quinoa which, you could also substitute with some other grain of your choice. I’m partial to white rice as I love that stuff so much, but anything works really. Even potatoes. But then again: when are potatoes a bad choice?
(Writer’s note: never)
And those pickles! Don’t get me started on those pickles!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Tangy, fiery and absolutely delightful. And the best part is that literally all that you have to do is mix a couple of ingredients in a jar and refrigerate overnight. Yes, it’s that easy! And they make such a perfect complement to these buddha bowls I’m telling you!
Then we have the usual greens, avocado and whatever other garnishes float your boat. Cilantro would be lovely, for example. Yes, I’m a cilantro person now SUE ME. Cilantro and tofu? If 2013 circa Consuelo was to see this, she would probably have a heart-attack. Live and learn (to love all that delicious stuff you used to hate).
Anyway! I’m going to leave you know so you can start marinading things. The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll get to buddha bowl heaven. You can thank me later.
- 250 grams tofu
- 4-6 birdseye chillies
- 1/2 a small red bell pepper
- 3 garlic cloves
- juice from 2 lemons
- 2 tbsp. white wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp. agave syrup
- 1 tsp. paprika powder
- 1 tsp. dried oregano
- a handful of fresh parsley
- salt to taste
- 1 cup dry quinoa
- 2 cups salted water
- 3 small picking cucumbers
- white wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp. agave syrup
- a dash of chilli flakes
- Mixed greens
- White onion, sliced
- To make the marinade, add all the ingredients to a blender (if your blender isn't strong enough, you'll need to cut them into smaller pieces before-hand) and pulse until smooth.
- Cut the tofu into cubes and drain the water out of them with a paper towel.
- Soak the cubes into the marinade and chill overnight.
- The day after, heat some oil in a pan and lightly fry until golden.
- For a super spicy dish, add all of the marinade. Only add half of it if you want it to be milder.
- Cut the cucumber into super thin slices and fill half a mason jar with them.
- Fill half of the jar with vinegar, making sure it doesn't cover the cucumbers entirely (the salt will make the pickles release water)
- Add salt, agave and chilli flakes and shake well to combine.
- Chill at least overnight.
- Cook according to package directions.
- Place some cooked quinoa in a bowl.
- Top with the tofu and pickles.
- Add in some greens, sliced onions and avocado.