by Ann Gentry, Vegan Family Meals, Real Food for Everyone
This recipe is the embodiment of simplicity, as it is a one-pot meal comprised of colorful vegetables cooked in a fragrant stock. If you have an attractive skillet, use it here for a beautiful stovetop-to-table dish that invites family-style dining. In addition, this recipe allows for a great deal of flexibility, feel free to include any vegetables you might have on hand. The vegetables are arranged individually, and their juices are enhanced by the sweet mirin; even my lads were arguing over who got to finish the last of this delicious stock. The easy cooking method and easy cleanup make this recipe truly family-friendly.
1 medium onion
1 large head broccoli, stems removed and florets cut into bite-size pieces (about 2 cups)
1/2 small butternut squash (about 1 1/4 pounds), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 medium carrots, peeled and roll-cut
1/4 head green cabbage, cored and sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
8 ounces sugar snap peas, trimmed
3 ounces small fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 (5-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled
2/3 cup mirin
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons tamari
1 (14-ounce) container water-packed firm tofu, drained and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1/2 bunch watercress, stems removed (about l 1/2 cups)
Sesame Rice (recipe follows), or soba or udon noodles, cooked according to the package
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 nori sheet, cut into thin strips
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups cooked Short-Grain Brown Rice
1/4 cup sesame seeds, toasted
Quarter the onion through the stem end, then place the whole cut onion in the middle of a large cast-iron skillet, doing your best to keep the onion together. Arrange the broccoli, squash, carrots, cabbage, sugar snap peas, and mushrooms in clusters around the onion, keeping each vegetable separate from the other and arranging the vegetables so that the colors are balanced and attractive. Add just enough water to cover the bottom of the skillet (about 1 cup). Sprinkle the 1/4 teaspoon salt evenly over the vegetables. Cover and turn the heat to high. Bring the vegetables to a boil, then decrease the heat to medium-low and simmer until the squash is crisp-tender, about 12 minutes.
Using a Microplane grater, grate the ginger over a paper towel or sheet of cheesecloth, then squeeze the pulp to extract 2 teaspoons of ginger juice into a small bowl. Mix in the mirin and tamari. Add the tofu and toss to coat.
Spoon the tofu mixture over the vegetables and simmer uncovered until the tofu is hot, about 5 minutes. Add the watercress and simmer until it wilts, about 2 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and set it on a trivet in the middle of the dining table.
Divide the rice among dinner plates or bowls and have each person pick out their vegetables, using chopsticks to place them atop the rice. With a wide spoon, spoon some of the stock over the top of the vegetables on each plate. Serve the sliced scallions and strips of nori alongside to sprinkle on top of the vegetables.
Heat the oil in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and saut