Simplicity can sometimes be the spice of life, and an absolute lifesaver in the kitchen. Though I love to experiment with food, there are times when I just want something quick, easy, and healthy to eat. I make my fair share of salads to get over this particular bump in the food road, but even those can get old after a while. This recipe, though not the most ingenious, is one that I find myself coming back to very often because it covers all the bases: quick, simple, tasty, healthy, and CHEAP. Seriously, you can feed 4 people with this for about $7 and still have a few leftovers. That’s just $1.75 per serving for a dish that’s packed with protein, fiber, vitamins A & C, potassium, and a truckload of other good-for-you stuff. It’s also very low in calories, so your guilt factor plummets way down.
Now I know there are folks out there who are afraid of healthy sounding words like “tofu” and “chard”. It can conjure up crazy ideas of tastelessness and dullness, which are completely unfounded if you know what you’re doing. In fact, whenever I make something like this I am reminded of a former coworker named Dave who just couldn’t understand how I considered vegetables and tofu to be tasty little tidbits, and would tell me he would never eat vegetables because they might mess with his system (which was used to nothing but the hugest burgers known to mankind). If you’re like Dave, try to think outside the box a bit and do not be afraid of the good stuff! Just because it’s good for you doesn’t mean that it tastes bad; that only applies to medications, if you ask me. Though there’s not much to this dish in terms of seasoning, it’s that simplicity of ingredients that brings out the flavors of the vegetables and tofu, allowing your palate to be reminded of what certain foods actually taste like.
I used the frozen mushroom mix that I scored at the Co-op last weekend, but if your store doesn’t carry this type of thing, or if the mix is too expensive, feel free to use regular white mushrooms in this. I usually like to eat this dish by itself, but I also serve it with a side of rice noodles or some brown rice. If you really want to make this recipe stretch to the max, toss the finished stir-fry together with the rice noodles instead of serving them on the side. This could pretty much double your recipe, cutting your cost per serving way down. And though it loses a bit of its aesthetic appeal, it will also keep well in the fridge for a couple of days, so you can use the leftovers for lunch or to augment a future dinner. Other than that, I don’t have much to note, so let’s get on with the show!
Quick & Easy Tofu, Mushroom & Swiss Chard Stir Fry (serves 4; total cost per serving $1.75)
1 10 oz. bag of frozen mixed mushrooms (or about 1 cup sliced white mushrooms)
1 1/2 c chopped Swiss chard, greens and stems
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 T olive oil
1 T granulated garlic
1 t sea salt
1/2 t freshly ground black pepper
1/4 t cayenne pepper
Crushed red chili flakes for garnish
Rinse the Swiss chard well and pat dry. Chop the stems into 1″ pieces and set aside in a bowl, then chop the greens into 1-2″ strips and place in a separate bowl. Dice the tofu into 1/2″ cubes and add to the chopped chard stems. Add the granulated garlic, salt, and both types of pepper to the chard stems & tofu and toss until combined.
Heat the 2 T of olive oil an a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the minced garlic and brown slightly, followed by the chopped chard stems and tofu. Stir fry for about 2-3 minutes, until the chard stems begin to soften. Add the mushrooms and cook for another 3 minutes or so. (Note: If using frozen mushrooms, keep in mind that they will start to release some of their juices so you may need to drain them from the stir fry. Fresh mushrooms will not release as much.) Lastly, add the Swiss chard leaves and cook until just slightly wilted.
Serve by itself over rice or noodles, garnish with some crushed red chili flakes, and enjoy!