We’ve never claimed to be on the cutting edge of any particular food trends. In fact, the trendier something is, the more we tend to side-eye it, like a goth kid at a unicorn-themed prom. But you know what? Sometimes dishes we love just happen to also be eminently hashtaggable, as is the case with this bowl of charred broccoli and spicy baked tofu – topped with a vegan miso-kimchi dressing so luscious, we want to drizzle it on just about everything we make from this day forward. So go ahead and call this a Buddha Bowl, a Grain Bowl or a Rice Bowl; it doesn’t matter when dinner is this delicious.
Making the Tastiest Broccoli
We seem to go through vegetable phases in this house, and for the last year we’ve been all about Brussels sprouts, broccoli rabe, chard and escarole. But good old regular broccoli looked amazing at the market this week and now that we remember how delicious it is, we can’t get enough of it.
The key to making the tastiest broccoli happens to be the same method we use for brussels sprouts: roasted in a very hot oven until the edges are crisp and charred, leaving the centers tender and green. That hot and fast cooking turns the broccoli nutty and sweet, instead of the dreaded mushy texture and sulfurous smell that happens when cruciferous vegetables are cooked for too long at too low a temperature. In fact, if we weren’t baking tofu at the same time, we’d probably crank the heat even higher, say 450ºF instead of 400ºF.
The technique is simple: cut the broccoli into large-ish bite-sized florets, and use a vegetable peeler to trim up any tough, fibrous stems. Toss the broccoli with olive oil and a good sprinkling of salt and pepper. Lay it on a sheet pan in a single layer and roast it until the broccoli becomes tender and their bottoms become nice and brown. Flip them once if you want, though we sometimes don’t even bother.
For the spicy baked tofu, you’ll want to press out some of the liquid from a block of firm or extra-firm tofu. Cut it into bite-sized cubes, and lay the cubes in a single layer on a clean kitchen towel or paper towels. Put another towel on top of them and place a cutting board on top, weighed down with something (we use a cast iron pan or a few of cans of beans). Let it press for at least 20 minutes, though you can leave it for a few hours if you want. Then toss the tofu with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper, along with a good sprinkling of your favorite chili flakes. We use Korean gochugaro (the same chili we use to make our Kimchi), but red pepper flakes or an Aleppo-style pepper work well too. Add them to the sheet pan on the other side of the broccoli (or use a second tray), and bake them until they puff and crisp up, turning them once or twice.
Making the dressing
Now onto the best part – the dressing. This is based on a recipe by Bon Appetit and it is really spectacular — we use any leftovers on salads, or drizzled over a stir-fry. White (shiro) miso and kimchi are two ingredients that we try to have on hand on a continual basis – both are fermented and will last almost indefinitely in the fridge provided they’re sealed well. Because of that fermentation, miso and kimchi are great ways to add complex, layered flavors to a dish, and they pack all the health benefits associated with live-culture foods. You should be able to find both at good groceries, but you can often find better and cheaper selections from an Asian speciality market. (You can of course make your own kimchi — if you’ve never tried it and are curious, here is our recipe.) The dressing includes an extra helping of tofu — this time the soft variety — helping create a creamy consistency without using any dairy or eggs: it’s a great go-to vegan dressing that will go with many assertively-flavored recipes. (If you’re vegetarian and looking at store-bought kimchi, just make sure that it doesn’t contain shrimp paste, since some brands do.)
The recipe is also gluten-free, but you’ll want to check the variety of miso you buy: soy itself contains no gluten, but miso is often made using additional grains like wheat or barley. The Kitchn has some alternative miso recommendations.
Finally, we served the tofu, broccoli, shredded veggies and dressing over jasmine rice, but if you prefer a less refined grain, there’s no reason not to use brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, or farro. Bear in mind that some whole grains cook better after a long soak, so check packet directions.
Incidentally, our fellow Hudson Valley blogger, Nicki Sizemore, author of the blog FromScratchFast, wrote a really good in-depth book on grain bowls last year. It’s called Build-a-Bowl, and we recommend you check it out!
Tofu and Charred Broccoli Bowls with Kimchi–Miso Dressing
For the dressing:
- 1/4 cup kimchi coarsely chopped*
- 3 tablespoons white miso*
- ½ cup silken tofu or use mayonnaise
- 7 tablespoons vegetable oil or grapeseed oil
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 2 teaspoons sugar or honey
For the rice bowl:
- 1 box firm tofu drained and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 pound fresh broccoli
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil divided
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt divided
- 1 teaspoon gochugaro or 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 3 cups cooked rice or any grain of your choice
- Shredded carrots
- Thinly sliced purple cabbage
- Toasted sesame seeds
- Lay the tofu cubes on a clean kitchen towel or a few layers of paper towels and fold over the top. Place something flat on top, like a cutting board weigh it down with something heavy, like a cast iron pan or a couple of cans of beans. Let it sit for at least 20 minutes, up to 2 hours.
- For the dressing: Combine the kimchi, miso, tofu, vegetable and sesame oil, vinegar and sugar in a blender and purée until smooth; season with salt, if needed. Refrigerate the dressing until ready to use; thin it with a little water if it seems too thick. The dressing can be made 4 days ahead and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F (220°C) and set a rack in the middle.
- Rinse the broccoli and pat dry. Trim the dry ends and peel any tough skin from the stems and slice straight through the broccoli to break it into several large florets. Add the broccoli to one side of a baking sheet and toss it with 2 tablespoons of the oil, and half the kosher salt and gochugaro.
- In a medium bowl, gently toss the tofu with 1 tablespoon of the oil, and half the other half of the salt and gochugaro. Lay the tofu in a single layer on the other side of the baking sheet from the broccoli. Roast for 20 minutes, then flip both the broccoli and tofu. Roast for another 10 to 15 minutes, until broccoli is brown in spots and the tofu is crisp and puffed.
- Divide the rice between 4 bowls and top with broccoli, tofu and some carrots and cabbage, if you’re using it. Drizzle over some of the Miso-Kimchi Dressing and serve.