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June 22, 2018

The Baby Bok Choy Veggie Bowl

by Anne Paddock

A few years ago two middle-aged friends were driving south in a Ford F-150 truck filled with household items for their casita in Mexico. At the US and Mexican border crossing, the customs officer asked them what they had in the truck so they read off a list of items and then jokingly added, “and some baby bok choy.”  That’s all the customs officer had to hear.

The word “baby” to someone trained in trafficking raises a red flag. He demanded they get out of the vehicle and then searched the whole truck looking for who knows what (my friend thought maybe he was looking for a Chinese baby).  They realized the customs officer didn’t know what baby bok choy was so they pointed to the cooler that held the baby bok choy and diffused the situation.

Baby bok choy is not a common ingredient in Mexican cooking so the general public south of the border may not be aware that this Chinese cabbage with smooth dark green “Caribbean fan” leaf blades is simply a yummy vegetable that tastes great when cooked with a few drops of sesame or peanut oil.

Easy to obtain, fresh baby bok choy is available nationwide in most grocery stores. At your next visit, pick up a head or two and make this wonderful Baby Bok Choy Veggie Bowl – a super tasty, plant-based colorful feast. The secret to the flavor is the 1 teaspoon of sesame (or peanut) oil.

Baby Bok Choy Veggie Bowl  (serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • 1 head baby bok choy
  • 1 teaspoon sesame or peanut oil
  • 1 large red beet
  • 1 bunch of broccoli
  • 16-ounce block of organic extra firm tofu (I prefer Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 Haas avocado
  • 1/4 cup of cashews
  • 4 tablespoons teriyaki sauce (I use Edward and Sons available at most grocery stores or through Vitacost online) or your favorite sauté sauce
  • salt and pepper

Directions:

Place the beet in a pot of water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer until the beet is tender (about 20 minutes depending on the size of the beet). Remove the beet and rinse under cold water. Peel the skin off and place the beet on a cutting board and cut into bite-sized pieces.

Cut the bottom 1-2 inches of the bulb of the baby bok choy and rinse the leaves. Cut the leaves in half. Set aside on a paper towel and pat to dry.

Add 1 teaspoon (only a small amount is needed for a lot of flavor) of sesame (or peanut) oil to a non-stick fry pan and turn the heat on medium for 1 minute. Add the baby bok choy and cook for 1-2 minutes until the leaves just start to wilt and brown. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Cut the broccoli (florets and stems) into bite sized pieces. Place in a steamer and cook until the broccoli pieces are tender but still firm. Remove from the heat, rinse, and set aside.

Take the tofu out of the container and dry with the paper towels (the Trader Joe’s brand does not need to be pressed but if you’re using another brand, make sure to press the tofu to get rid of some of the water). Cut (the short way) into 7 slices. Cut each slice into six pieces by first cutting the long way and then cutting into thirds. Set aside. You will have 42 small squares.

Place 3 tablespoons teriyaki sauce in a large non-stick frying pan. Turn the heat on medium. Place the tofu squares in the pan and then drizzle 1 tablespoon of the sauce over the top. Cook the tofu pieces for 3-4 minutes until light brown and then using a regular dinner knife, turn each piece over and brown the other side. Remove from the heat.

Cut the Haas avocado into small bite-sized pieces. Set aside.

Place 1/4 of the beet pieces, the baby bok choy, broccoli florets and stems, and the tofu in each bowl.

Place 1/4 of the avocado pieces in the center of the bowl. Lightly salt and pepper to taste.

Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of cashews over the top and serve.

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