Crispy pan-fried tofu is drenched in lemongrass sauce, caramelized and served over rice with veggies and rich peanut sauce to make these flavor-packed Buddha bowls.
Sometimes I have a hard time coming up with recipe ideas during the summer, which is weird, because my site is a about vegan food, and vegan food involves lots of vegetables, and hello: veggies are super abundant during the summer growing season. But if this site has a theme, or at least one that's more specific than just vegan food, I think it would have to be vegan comfort food. I seem to have settled into this at some point over the past two years, and when I post comfort food recipes, you guys seem to notice.
So therein lies the problem: meatloaf, beef stew and mac & cheese can be a tough sell when it's eight hundred degrees outside. And salads just don't get the kind of response all those hearty, wintry dishes do.
So I spend a lot of time brainstorming on hearty, comforting vegan food that works in the summer. I think I've got it. I think the Buddha bowl might just be the ultimate vegan summer comfort food meal. At least this one is.
This bowl is hearty, delicious, and generally results in a feeling of intense bliss. Seriously, an hour after polishing them off my husband and I sat on the couch watching a movie, every so often telling each other how happy and content we were at having eaten this meal.
The flavors are inspired by this satay recipe I came up with a few years ago. I loved it, and the combination of lemongrass with peanut sauce will forever be a favorite. A bunch of people told me I needed to try my satay sauce with coconut milk, so I did that here. It's awesome, but if you don't feel like cracking open a can for just a few tablespoons, I'm sure water would be fine as a substitute.
Another thing about these bowls: they've got the whole summer produce thing going on. Were just hitting prime cucumber and pepper season, and here they are. You could substitute whatever veggies you've got on hand though — even throw in some greens for more of a (dare I say) salady bowl. Whatever floats your boat! I had a ton of fresh cilantro lying around, and mint is once again taking over my garden, so I threw a bit of both in there. The herbs really make the dish, so don't skimp!
Lemongrass Tofu Buddha Bowls with Peanut Sauce
For the Peanut Sauce
- ⅓ cup creamy natural peanut butter
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 1 ½ tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- About 3 tablespoons coconut milk, from a can
For the Lemongrass Tofu
- 1 4- inch lemongrass stalk, cut into 3-4 pieces
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1- inch piece fresh ginger, peeled
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon sambal oelek
- 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
- 1 14 ounce package extra firm tofu, drained, pressed, and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 4 cups cooked rice
- 1 cucumber, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- ¼ cup chopped peanuts
- Chopped scallions
- Fresh mint leaves
- Fresh cilantro
- Fresh basil
- Red pepper flakes, optional
Begin by making the peanut sauce. Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl, thinning with just as much coconut milk as you need. Taste test and adjust to your liking. Set aside.
To make the tofu, start by placing the lemongrass, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, lime juice, maple syrup, and sambal oelek into a blender. Blend until everything is finely chopped and well mixed. Use a fine mesh strainer to strain the mixture into a bowl, pressing genly with a spoon to draw out as much liquid as possible.
Coat the bottom of a large skillet with coconut oil and place it over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the tofu. Cook for about 12 minutes, flipping once or twice, until the tofu is browned and crispy on multiple sides. Pour the strained liquid into the skillet over the tofu and allow it to simmer until most of the liquid has cooked off and a thin coating remains on the tofu.
Divide the rice into bowls, top with tofu, cucumber, peppers, peanuts, scallions, mint, cilantro and basil. Drizzle with peanut sauce and serve.