Sunday, April 3, 2011

Baked Fennel with Green Olives

I have a confession to make: I stole this idea. Yes, stolen, point-blank, from an especially lovely German family who had me over to dinner shortly before I left Germany. I'm back in Australia, soaking up lovely weather and sunshine, and as soon as I get myself settled, I'll be making this dish again. I'm still barely cooking; I've been home for just over a week, after a lovely visit to Singapore, and I've been eating at friends' houses on a regular occasion. So, needless to say, this blog has been sorely neglected. But that's okay; I'll get back into cooking very shortly.

This dish is incredibly easy; it does take some oven time, but it's simple and delicious. I like it on its own, though I'd recommend some crusty bread to soak up the extra juices. It would probably also be delicious over pasta, rice, risoni, polenta, semolina or couscous. Name your carb of choice, really. I'll be trying it as a pizza topping when I next decide to make pizza dough from scratch; I think the slices will need to be thinner, but the flavours are unbeatable.

A note on the olives: I recommend using marinated. I mean, the extra flavour isn't going to hurt! I liked the extra large green olives from a stall at the Dom Markt; marinated in masses of garlic, some parsley and stuffed with whole blanched almonds, those olives were to die for. Of course, you could always use plain green olives, or black olives, but go by the basic rule: if you don't want to snack on 49825749857 olives while you're making this recipe, then don't bother using them.

Baked Fennel with Green Olives

olive oil
5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 x 15cm spring rosemary
1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
1 cup water
2 fennel bulbs
about 10 green olives, halved lengthwise, possibly marinated*

Preheat your oven to about 200 degrees; this is a guess, because my German oven was so unreliable. Take a guess.
Slice fennel into halves and then thin slices, keeping them joined at the base so that the segments hold together. I slice mine so that they're about 1cm at the thickest point. Arrange in a large baking dish; you want them to fit closely but to avoid too much overlap.
In a cold pan, add a splash of olive oil and the garlic slices. Sautee until the garlic is fragrant, then add the rosemary leaves, which have been separated from the stem. When the garlic is starting to colour just a little, add the tomatoes and water. Season to taste with salt and pepper (and a little dried savoury or thyme, if you like).
Carefully spoon the tomato mixture over the fennel, so that it's evenly covered. (If you like things saucy, I recommend doubling the volume of sauce.) Scatter with olives.
Bake for about 45 minutes, until fennel is very tender. Scatter with fresh parsley, if desired. Eat eat eat!

*I use extra large green olives, marinated in masses of garlic, and some herbs. I recommend olives stuffed with almonds, too.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

My apologies.

I realise I haven't been around as much lately; both here and as a commenter on other people's blogs. I'd like to simply blame the Winter Blues for keeping my camera out of the kitchen (my hands are wrapped around a hot cup of tea at all times, which makes it difficult to multi-task!) but sadly, I'm not able to write it off so easily. There are other stresses involved in my life, and while all of them appear to be overcome (fingers crossed!) there's still a lot of organising to be done.

Today is my one-year anniversary of arriving in Germany. In 13 days, I fly home to Australia.

Aside from the obvious stresses of shipping suitcases home, packing up my room, finding friends to take clothes/shoes/bed linen etc, and closing bank accounts, there are the immediate worries: finding time to say goodbye to everyone before I go. Making good on all the times I told people that we'd catch up soon. Eating all the food that I keep in the pantry... that's no mean feat. And, of course, uni.

My entire year here has been working towards one goal: the DSH Exam. It's what enables foreign students to study at German Universities in German language... and it's the exam that I'll be sitting on Friday. I'm confident that I'll pass it; I get some of the best marks in my class, and secretly (well, not anymore) have hopes that I might be able to reach DSH-3, which is the top level, and one higher than the DSH-2 needed for most courses. (DSH-1 doesn't let you study much of anything; Paderborn Uni doesn't accept it. DSH-3 means they'd let you study Medicine or Law in German.) It's a long shot, but it's worth a try.At the same time, I've been organising for people to buy the books and readers that I need for my courses at Flinders University, back home in Adelaide. My Dad has been scanning my readings for me and uploading them to my Mediafire account so that I can read them here. Said courses have already started, so my days are filled with German mornings and English afternoons. It's all a bit much sometimes; especially knowing that instead of celebrating the end of the German course, I'll be writing assignments to hand up before I even get back into the country. It's anti-climactic.

So, this is a plea for you to go easy on me these next few weeks, while I get all the necessary preparations underway. I have every intention of getting back to Adelaide and being able to hit the ground running; I'll even be going to uni on the same day day that I fly back in, jet-lagged and sleep deprived. So when all my recipes are based on the same cake mix, or another vege stir-fry, or when I don't post for a couple of weeks, just trust me: when my life finally settles down again, I'll be back with more recipes, ingredients that I couldn't access here (tempeh!!!) and prettier photos, I promise.

In the meantime, everyone stay safe, and I hope to stay in touch by reading your blogs, even if I'm too slack to comment. ;) xoxo

Goodbye, Kitchen. You've (mostly) been nice to me.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Marinated Mushrooms

This is a really easy way to brighten up a simple salad. Take 250g mushrooms, toss in 2 Tbsp balsamic, a little salt and pepper, a finely chopped garlic clove and a handful of chopped herbs, and leave to marinate for a few hours. They were still fresh and firm inside, with a tangy balsamic outer, and went perfectly with cherry tomatoes and avocado. If you want soft mushrooms, slice them really thinly, up the balsamic and leave them overnight. Then use the balsamic and mushroom-moisture pond that they'll be soaking in as salad dressing. Little ways to make the day a little brighter...

Speaking of things that are making my day a little brighter, tomorrow I'll be heading to the North Sea for the weekend, with my lovely housemate. Keep your fingers crossed that I don't freeze! :)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Cabbage and Orange Slaw

This is something incredibly basic and yet also incredibly tasty, which rates it pretty highly, in my humble opinion. Finely shredded red cabbage, mixed with little chunks of orange and a light dressing. Really, you can't go wrong. My only recommendations are that a) you use a food processor or mandolin to slice the cabbage, because I found it a little thick when I did it by hand, and b) leave it overnight to marinate. Yes, a marinated salad. I'm serious. The flavour develops and the orange juice seeps into the cabbage, softening it just a touch, without taking away too much crunch. To make simple into pretty, just scatter with a handful of toasted pistachios or cashews before serving.

Cabbage and Orange Slaw
1/4 head small red cabbage, finely shredded
2 large oranges, peeled and cubed*
salt & pepper
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 Tbsp olive oil
(1 tsp wholegrain mustard, optional)

Mix dressing ingredients together in a jar, and shake until emulsified. Pour over cabbage and orange, and mix well to combine. Sit overnight in the fridge, and serve the next day, as a side dish or on your favourite burger.

*When you peel the oranges, squeeze any extra juice from your peel into the dressing.

Sunday, February 13, 2011


You know what's awesome? Olives marinated in chillies. It's only a pity that these weren't half as spicy as they look. Must have been adapted for the local tastebuds... :(

Cornbread Muffins

Aren't these pretty? Golden yellow cornbreads, just waiting to be nibbled up... which is precisely what happened, and the reason why there's only 4 left. I confess to having eaten half, and the housemate had another two, so it's not all my fault. What is, however, entirely my fault, is the use of cupcake papers. Don't do it. You might think you're saving yourself the trouble of washing the pans, but really, you're just going to end up with near-impossible to remove papers. Don't waste those precious crumbs of cornbread! Just grease your tins. This recipe speaks for itself; dead easy, pretty quick to bake, and delicious. I had a couple with vegemite, but my housemate recommends them with syrup.

Cornbread Muffins
(makes 12 small muffins)

1/2 cup plain flour
1tsp baking powder
1 cup coarse polenta
1 tsp rosemary or thyme, optional
1/4 cup olive oil
1 scant cup soymilk
1 Tbsp syrup (I used maple, but agave would also be great)

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees. Grease your muffin moulds of choice.
Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. It will seem quite liquid, but don't stress.
Allow to rest for 10 minutes, so that the polenta can soak up some liquid. It'll be thicker when you come back to it.
Distribute evenly within 12 small muffin cups and bake, 20-25 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean.
Eat with your favourite Southern fixings, or better, with Vegemite. ;)

Friday, February 11, 2011

Kitchen Tales.

These are the tulips that I bought for my incredibly lovely housemate while she was writing her final paper. She was stressing out, and we'd just discussed how much we loved tulips, and then at the markets, I decided to do my good deed for the day. As luck would have it, a lovely flower stall had an amazing offer: 20 tulips for just 5 euro. I know, phenomenal! Flowers here are so much cheaper than at home; I imagine that relies on two factors: a) People give flowers here more frequently than at home, and b) It's probably a hell of a lot easier to keep flowers alive when the weather is so cold. Practical, but true. Ever tried to keep flowers from wilting when it's 30 degrees outside, even if you're only outside for 5 minutes while you get them home? More difficult than it sounds. Loose bunches you can hold upside down, but arrangements... sigh.

I'll point out that the lovely housemate also found a great supermarket special with giant pots of herbs (in terracotta! how cute!) for just 2 Euro each. So we now own rosemary, thyme, savoury and sage. The parsley in the corner of the photo is the lovely stuff that I buy from my favourite market lady. I buy two bunches every week! Who'd have ever thought I relied so heavily on parsley? I suppose the giant plants that I had at my old house probably didn't get enough use, but rest assured, next time I grow parsley, I intend to make full use of it! Helloooo, tabbouli.

So, this post is a tribute to the little things that make life so much happier. Herbs and tulips and my quiet Saturday mornings, market trips and hanging out in the kitchen cooking breakfast. When I go home to Australia, I won't miss the weather, but I hope I've gained a new-found appreciation for those occasional rays of sunshine that bring warmth and light to my kitchen... :)

Saag Channa

I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "Megan, why are you posting pictures of ugly food again?" But hear me out on this one, please. I once saw an ex order a version of this when we ate Indian food for dinner. I saw a gloop of spinach puree (and this was back when I hated spinach), filled with cubes of curd cheese (I will ALWAYS hate each and every cheese, vegan or not) and wanted to throw up. Can anyone think of anything more disgusting? And then all of a sudden, I was faced with greens that needed using, a stomach that needed filling, and a strange craving for some spice. Uh-oh. This was about to get serious.

Now, I'm kicking myself that this has taken me so long. Usually I'm pretty reasonable, and I come around to things relatively quickly. (Me, stubborn? Never!) But when I made this, and hesitantly tried a spoonful, I realised that I've been an idiot for the last 8 years. I'm sorry, tastebuds, that you've been deprived. My version was made with a mix of spinach and kale, a hefty sprinkling of spices, just enough chilli to have my lips tingling, and freshly-cooked chickpeas. Served over quinoa, a comfort food if ever there was one (creamy? check. grainy? check. Bases covered.) this was an amazing dinner, and an eye-opening experience. Saag, I'm sorry that I ignored you for so long. I promise to make it up to you in future... even if you are ugly.

Saag Channa

1 head kale or 1 huge bunch spinach (or a mix!) finely chopped
2 large spring onions (or 1 small onion), finely chopped
1x 4cm piece ginger, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 Tbsp chilli puree (sambal oelek is fine!)
400g tin chickpeas (or 1 & 1/2 cups home-cooked; not sure what that is dry, sorry!)
1 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp coriander seed powder
salt and pepper, to taste

In a large pot sautee garlic, ginger, onion, chilli, and spices in a tiny splash of oil, until fragrant. The garlic and onion should be transparent. Add the greens, and mix well, allowing the greens to wilt evenly.
As soon as the greens are wilted, transfer the entire mix to your blender. Blend carefully - remember that this is hot, and accordingly, I always remove the plastic insert in the lid of our blender, so that it won't explode with the steam pressure. You want the mix to be as smooth as humanly possible.
Return the mix to your pot and add the chickpeas. Season to taste with salt and pepper, allowing it just long enough to warm the chickpeas. Best served over grains; basmati rice or quinoa are my recommendations.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Garlic Spinach with Polenta

This is one of those staples-meals that I've been falling back on a lot recently. Over my busy last few weeks, I've wanted quick and easy food that still has good nutritional content. And I can't even begin to tell you how much I craved green vegetables. The craving is finally subsiding, so I must have fulfiled whatever vitamin/mineral deficiency that was (personally I think it's a reaction to a lack of sunlight, but meh, can't fight the weather gods). Irrespective of your cravings, creamy polenta and sauteed garlic spinach are a guaranteed winner.

3 heads young spinach (or one bunch spinach), thoroughly washed, chopped
3 cloves garlic
olive oil
salt, pepper
1 cup coarse polenta
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/2 tsp fresh thyme or savoury
water or vege stock

To prepare the polenta: Put the polenta into a small pot. Add boiling water (or hot vege stock), stirring continuously, in a slow but steady stream. Allow the polenta to be about as runny as cake batter. Cook until the polenta has softened into a mashed-potato like consistency, adding more water or stock, as required. Mix through the herbs, plus salt and pepper to taste, and keep warm.
To prepare the spinach: Heat a touch of olive oil in a pan. Add the garlic, allowing to just turn transparent, before adding the spinach. Fold the spinach over continuously, so that it cooks evenly. When done to your liking (I like mine to still have some bite, so the second that none of it looks raw) remove it from the heat. Season with salt and pepper, and serve over the polenta.

Raw Vegetable Wraps.

I felt like eating healthy today. I'd bought carrots with the intention of making the felafel from the Choosing Raw website, not because they were raw, but simply because I though they looked delicious. I had every intention of eating mine warm, though! But when I got back from the markets, I wasn't half as cold as I'd expected. The weather here in Paderborn was a balmy seven degrees (windchill notwithstanding) and, to be completely honest, I was feeling lazy.

However, I still felt like something a little spicy. Enter carrots; mine were finely grated, which took about five times as long as when I grate them normally, and were spiced with cumin, coriander seed, and finely ground black pepper. What did they taste of? Felafel. I'd managed to use the same spices. Well, I guess once I have something in my head, it's rather hard to get rid of!

To go with the carrot salad (which is easily moulded, by the way! In case I do ever make hot felafel balls out of it) I made a quick parsley salad, similar to the one you've already seen here, but without chickpeas. To go with all of this, I sliced some lovely cherry tomatoes, washed some salad leaves (to wrap; I recommend you find larger leaves, but I only had oakleaf lettuce!) and even got into a jar of olive tapenade. In the end, I liked

Raw Vegetable Wraps

2 carrots, finely grated, wrung free of juice (drink juice immediately. delicious!)
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/4 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp black pepper, finely ground
1 tsp finely diced spring onion (I used the green)
chilli powder, to taste
1 cup cherry toms (or a large tomato), sliced
1 large bunch parsley, finely sliced
10-ish lettuce leaves, washed
salt, to taste

For the carrots: mix together carrots, spring onion, cumin, coriander, pepper, chilli and salt to taste, until the carrots are evenly spiced.
For the parsley: mix chopped parsley with a little chopped tomato and season with salt and pepper. Lemon juice is also nice.
To assemble: Pick up a lettuce leaf. Add a spoonful of carrot, a spoonful of parsley salad, a few pieces of tomato, a sprinkle of salt (or just salt your tomatoes beforehand) and pepper, and fold over the leaf so that it encloses the filling.
Eat! Crunch crunch crunch...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Greens Pie

You know, I've been feeling really good lately. I've been running again, eating incredibly healthy food (lots of greens, owing to my lack of sunshine, and heaps of raw foods too) and generally feeling pretty positive. I've been rediscovering bands I love, doing quite well in my classes, keeping up with the lectures I give at the uni, and even found the time to start proof-reading my housemate's final paper. Everything is coming up Milhouse.

So, to celebrate, I broke out the unhealthy food! Ha, not really. I broke out two small sheets of puff pastry, the olive oil, soymilk, vege stock and the bunch of Mangelwurzel leaves that I had sitting in the fridge. Normally I'd use spinach, or maybe even coloured silverbeet (because I used to have huge and profuse plants growing in my garden) but I saw the Mangelwurzel at the Dom Markt and made the purchase. If you're not familiar with it, it's related to silverbeet (chard). Mixed in with a creamy sauce and plenty of seasoning, this was definitely the treat that I deserved! Make it. You're worth it. ;)

Greens Pie

1 large bunch greens (silverbeet, mangelwurzel, whatever!) leaves and stems separated and chopped
3 Tbsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 Tbsp white flour
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
soymilk (sorry, I never measure)
2 tsp vege stock powder
1 tsp dried thyme leaves
1/2 tsp dried rosemary leaves
1/2 tsp pepper
2 Tbsp siracha (optional; only if you like a kick!)
+ sufficient puff pastry to cover.

Preheat your oven to 210 degrees C.
Heat the oil in a frying pan and sautee the garlic until fragrant. Add the chopped stems and allow to sautee for a few minutes to soften. Add the dried herbs, pepper and stock powder.
Add the flour to the mix and stir so that the flour isn't clumped. Allow to cook for another minute, to lightly toast the flour and get rid of that raw-floury taste.
Add soymilk, about a cup at first, and then more as you need it. Stir constantly to enable the flour to thicken into a sauce without getting lumps, adding extra soymilk as needed to make a smooth but very thick sauce. (Add siracha here, if you need the spice.)
Fold through the chopped leaves, allowing to wilt, before transferring the mix to an oven-proof dish.
Top with enough puff pastry to cover, and bake for about 10-15 minutes, according to the directions on your pastry box. (My oven is insanely slow, and took 25 minutes.)
Enjoy! The filling will be creamy while it's hot, but can set when you refrigerate your leftovers (what leftovers!?).

This is also pretty good as a side dish, if you cringe at how unhealthy puff pastry is... ;)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

I hope I haven't already posted this...

You know, this is precisely why I'm not into commercial vege burgers. That white layer you see on the outside of the patties? That's fat. And yes, I did mop it up with paper towels as it melted. But seriously, how disgusting is that? This is what I get for buying commercial, frozen vege burgers instead of cooking real meals. In my defense, it was one of the things I ate just before going away, when the contents of the fridge were a touch, um, scarce. What little was in there was condiment-based, plus a few salad items, so I decided to have burgers and salad. Give me a plain salad any day. Or better yet, give me a homemade burger made with items that constitute real food. Sadly, just because it's vegan doesn't mean that it's worth eating. :(

Savoury Vegetable Pancakes

You're probably thinking that the title here is rather obvious. Duh, Megan, of course your pancake with vegetable filling is savoury. But, you shouldn't jump to conclusions just yet; if I ever get around to taking a picture of them before devouring them, my sweet pumpkin pancakes might yet make an appearance... unfortunately, they tend to only appear for a few seconds before they're hidden by my teeth, tongue and digestive system. They're that good. So today, I give you a different breakfast; one inspired by my insatiable green-veg cravings. I think it's the lack of sunlight that has been causing them, but there's only 8 weeks until I leave Germany, so that will all be solved in good time... Am I excited? You better believe it.

So, once again, I'll apologise for the lack of food styling and delicious pictures. You see, at 8am on a Sunday morning (my idea of sleeping late), I'm generally not at my photographic best... plus the sun isn't up yet, so my kitchen is dark. And I'm also not at my best when I was woken at 1am by the pig-squeals of the upstairs neighbour (and her boyfriend) who are up to the eyeballs on god knows what... that's another story for another time. We used to have such a quiet apartment, and I really don't know what happened... However, to get to the point, this isn't the best looking collection of veg in sauce you've seen lately. Normally I'd be making it creamier (see note later) but I'm watching what I eat at the moment, and so it probably looks a little strange. It was originally supposed to have whole baby spinach in it, but then I decided that the spinach was too good to be mixed with other vegetables, and saved it for lunch. Shredded, frozen spinach took its place... but I recommend the baby leaves. They're so much prettier.

Plain pancakes:

1 cup flour (I used half wholemeal spelt and half white; my spelt doesn't hold together as well as it normally does, probably because it's a different brand)
soymilk to bind
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp mixed herbs, optional

Mix dry ingredients together in a bowl. Add soymilk slowly, mixing as you go, until it comes together into a thick but still pourable batter.
Heat a touch of oil in your frying pan, pour in half of the batter, and spread thinly with the back of your spoon or fork.
Fry until one side is golden (generally when it looks fully set on top, you can flip it) and fry on the other side until there is no more raw batter or pale spots.
Repeat with the other half of the batter.

Vegetable Filling:

1/2 small head of broccoli, sliced small (I quartered my florets so they'd cook quickly)
1/2 red capsicum, sliced thinly
2 generous handfuls of baby spinach leaves
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 cup soymilk
2/3 tsp vege stock powder
1 Tbsp flour
2 tsp vegan margarine, optional*
olive oil
salt and pepper

In a frying pan, heat a touch of olive oil. Sautee the broccoli and capsicum until the broccoli is bright green, 2-3 minutes. Push to one side.
On the other side of the pan, add the margarine and flour, mixing to make a roux. Add soymilk and mix well to make a thick sauce. Mix broccoli and capsicum with sauce and season with stock powder, basil, oregano and plenty of pepper. (Salt only if you've used a really low-salt stock; generally you shouldn't need it.)
Add a touch of water as extra liquid if needed, and fold through the baby spinach. Allow it to wilt for a couple of seconds, and then serve immediately.

To serve: Place 1 pancake on a plate, top with half of the vegetable mix, and fold over to form a taco-like shape. Eat & repeat! ;)

Eat blood oranges for dessert. Yum. Now there's a food that will never be ugly!

*In regards to the creamy sauce: If you're being careful about what you eat, you might like to omit the vege margarine, flour, and half the soymilk, using instead 1 level tsp cornflour dissolved in 1/2 cup water to thicken.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Easy Satay

This comes with a disclaimer: it's not the healthiest meal on this site. Sure, it's a whole lot better than shoving a hunk of beef into your mouth, or loading up on butter. Unless, of course, you're allergic to peanuts, in which case you might like to try this using almond butter instead of peanut. Unless you're also allergic to almonds, in which case, make your own damn recipes. ;)

This is an easy satay sauce, both rich and moreish. I like to serve it with slices of cucumber or a green salad to cut through the richness, and it's fantastic over rice or stirred through hokkien-style noodles. You can use whichever vegetables you have on hand, provided that you keep it colourful. The real reason why I often make this dish (the deliciousness of peanuts aside, here) is that it's great for hiding leftovers, or worse, something that I haven't liked all that much.

You can rest assured that it wasn't the above kale that I disliked. No, siree. My pain was self-inflicted; I stand entirely guilty of purchasing white asparagus out of season (c'mon, 1 euro 11 cents for a huge bunch!) and it was bitter. I'm still a little sensitive to bitter tastes, as much as I'm readily developing an addiction to olives, and have rediscovered the joys of broccoli. And that white asparagus wasn't going to eat itself. So I hid it in a sauce gutsy enough to disguise the bitter overtones, whilst still letting me enjoy the texture. Take that, Asparagus gods!

Yes, that is a giant hunk of peanut butter in the above photo. I'm not joking when I tell you that this sauce is easy. At its most basic, it can be cut down to four ingredients, but trust me when I tell you that it benefits from the addition of fried aromatics... oh, and the vegetables, of course. ;) Generally I make this sauce for chunks of crispy tofu, which I double-coat in spiced cornflour before frying. Unfortunately, I not only lack cooking oil (which is probably a good thing, in retrospect) but I'm also trying to eat healthier, after an overdose of unhealthy while I was away. So I figured that this sauce was naughty enough without involving anything fried in masses of oil. If you want the full deal, however, you know what I'll be recommending!

Easy Satay

2 spring onions, sliced
2 tsp sambal oelek*
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3cm piece ginger, finely chopped
1 zucchini, cubed
4 huge leaves kale or other green, chopped
2 cups sliced button mushrooms (mine were small, therefore just quartered)
1 bunch white asparagus, peeled and cut into 3cm lengths
2/3 cup frozen peas (optional; I was just finishing off the pack)
250g firm tofu, preferably fried until crisp in spiced cornflour coating!
1 x 400g can coconut milk (or coconut cream; make sure it's unsweetened)
1/3 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup sweet chilli sauce
rice, to serve

Sautee the spring onion, garlic, chilli and ginger in a tiny splash of oil until the garlic is cooked. Add vegetables, excluding peas (if using) and asparagus, and sautee for two minutes, or until just beginning to soften.
Add asparagus, peanut butter, coconut milk, soy sauce and sweet chilli sauce. Stirring constantly, allow the sauce to blend together and thicken slightly. Add water if you like a thinner sauce.
Simmer for four to five minutes, or until the asparagus is crisp-tender.
At the last moment, add the frozen peas and fried tofu. (If using plain tofu, add it with the asparagus.) Stir gently, so that the crispy coating doesn't fall from the tofu.
Serve immediately, over a bed of rice or noodles, and eat until you want to explode. :)

*my measurement for the sambal could be wrong, because the particular brand I bought just doesn't seem spicy! :(
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