Normally I don’t get too excited over green beans, but lately I’ve been rather fond of them. I grew up having them from cans or boiled to mush. When bought fresh and steamed or roasted just until soft, however, they are worth getting excited about. Frozen green beans are a good stand-in if you don’t have fresh on hand – just be sure not to overcook them. I’ve tried them with almonds, garlic, and toasted pine nuts (all of which are quite tasty) but I think my favorite has to be Spicy Green Beans. It’s a great non-meat dish that can be a main or a side, and it's flavorful and hearty. Make the beans, rice, and tofu separately, and then layer them in a casserole dish. You can make this recipe ahead of time and then re-heat it in the oven at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. Otherwise, just layer and serve. I eyeball all of these measurements, so don't worry about getting out the measuring spoons. The recipe was inspired by a former co-worker named Liza.
Spicy Green Beans
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 pounds green beans
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh ginger (or 1/4 powdered)
1/2 tablespoon crushed red pepper
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon lemon
4-6 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons chopped basil (or 1 teaspoon dried)
1 block extra-firm tofu
1 cup brown rice
2 cups water
1) Cook rice in a rice maker, or combine rice and water in a pan. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to low. Simmer until water is fully absorbed, about 30-40 minutes.
2) Drain tofu and slice lengthwise into 4 flat pieces. Lay one end of a thin, lint-free towel over a plate. Place tofu in a single layer over the towel. Fold remaining half of towel over top of the tofu. Place another plate on top. Place something heavy on top of the plate to squeeze out excess liquid from tofu. Let sit at least 15 minutes.
3) Steam green beans until almost tender, but still a little crunchy, about 2-3 minutes.
4) Heat olive oil in large, deep skillet over medium heat. Add tofu and saute until golden brown. Remove from pan and set aside.
5) Using same pan, add more olive oil and garlic and sauté until tender, about 1-2 minutes. Add green beans and all remaining ingredients. Stir-fry together for 2 minutes until flavors meld.
6) Layer everything in a square casserole dish starting with rice, then beans, then tofu.
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