Hitting the spot
Life doesn’t need to be a rush, but time saved on cooking is time available to slow down, sit down and really enjoy eating, says Aaron Brunet.
Okay, time for two of my favourite quick meals. They’re as much a part of our life as yoga and the sound of surf in the distance. I bake sourdough bread most Fridays for our Raglan locals and after a long satisfying day with the brick oven these tofu burgers start calling my name. Ani is an expert at making these, she can whip them up in under 15 minutes and I love seeing the pleasure she gets from serving us all such a tasty healthy dinner. Everyone loves a burger and when I’m biting through the layers of crunch, lusciousness and freshness I’m not asking “do I like tofu?", I’m too busy going yum yum yum.
The chili chicken omelette targets that point in the day when you’re looking for something fast, tasty and full of protein (and therefore really satisfying). For me this might be after a run or swim, while for Ani it’s often after she’s taught a couple of morning yoga classes. The key thing is that as little as five minutes after feeling the hunger we can be sitting down to a hot meal that hits the spot. Having a little bit of cooked chicken waiting in the fridge makes this dish really easy to pull off, and for a vegetarian option I’d just replace the chicken with a bit of crumbled tofu.
This is the sort of food I love: simple, quick and full of flavour.
Tofu sourdough burger
½ Tbsp olive oil
4 onions, sliced into thin rings
2 blocks firm tofu, halved into slabs
1-2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp canola oil
4 slices tasty cheese (optional)
1 carrot, grated
1 tsp sweet vinegar (white balsamic or cider with a little honey)
1 tsp canola oil
4 Tbsp crunchy peanut butter
1 Tbsp peanut oil or canola oil (optional)
3 cloves garlic, minced (optional)
¼ cup orange juice (optional)
8 thin slices sourdough bread
4 tsp tomato ketchup (approx.)
4 tsp good mayonnaise (approx.)
8 baby cos lettuce leaves
½ a small beetroot, finely grated
1-2 tomatoes, sliced thinly
- Get the onions going first so they are ready in time. Heat olive oil in a frying pan on medium heat, add onions plus a pinch of salt and cook gently for about 10 minutes, turning heat to low after first 5 minutes.
- Lay the tofu on a plate, poke all over with a fork and sprinkle half the soy sauce on so it can soak in a bit.
- Heat canola oil in a non-stick pan on medium heat and fry tofu for 5 minutes on each side. Just before removing from the heat, splash with a little more soy and allow it to dry, and coat the outside in flavour. If you fancy adding some tasty cheese, now is a good time to pop a slice on each piece of tofu so it can melt a bit.
- Dress the grated carrot by mixing in a pinch of salt, the sweet vinegar and light oil.
- For a quick burger I just use peanut butter, but if you fancy making a peanut sauce, add peanut oil to a hot pan with a sprinkle of black pepper and fry with garlic for 30 seconds. Add orange juice and cook for a minute or two till liquid is mostly evaporated. Remove from heat and allow to cool off for a minute then stir in peanut butter and allow the remaining heat to soften it.
- To make up a burger: I prefer to lightly toast the bread under a grill on one side only, so it has a bit of crisp and a bit of soft going on. Lay two pieces on a plate, toasted side down. Spread peanut butter or peanut sauce on one piece, then tomato ketchup and mayo on the other. Place a piece of tofu on top of the peanut sauce and cover with cooked onion. Next place a couple of lettuce leaves then carrot and beetroot. Top with tomato and a sprinkle of salt and pepper, then top with second slice of bread.
- Ideally, cut these in half with a serrated knife so you can start eating from the juicy middle of the burger. This also makes the filling easier to keep inside, which is a nice bonus.
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Chilli chicken omelette
When I make this omelette I like to get the egg nicely browned on the bottom so the toasty flavour comes out, I find it goes particularly well with the chicken that way. Be generous with the soy and chilli if you want to amp up the flavour intensity, this works well as a bold dish.
1 Tbsp olive oil
½ cup cooked chicken (about 75-100g)
½ tsp ground black pepper
A sprinkle of your favourite chili powder
2 eggs, beaten, with a pinch of salt
1 tsp soy sauce (to taste)
1 tsp lemon juice
1 medium tomato, finely chopped
2 mushrooms, sliced
¼ avocado and 1 small tomato, sliced, to serve
- To make this quickly, start by heating two small non- stick frying pans.
- In the first pan, place ½ tablespoon of the olive oil then the chicken followed by pepper and chilli powder. Stir to mix then let it cook while you get going with the egg.
- In the second pan, add the other ½ tablespoon olive oil then pour in the beaten egg. Tilt the pan so the egg evenly coats the bottom then let it cook and brown on the bottom while you finish the filling. I like to keep the heat fairly high but you need to get a feel for your stove and pan, checking that the egg is browning but not burning.
- Revisit the pan with the chicken in; it should be hot by now. Add the soy sauce, lemon juice, tomato and mushrooms. Cook for a few minutes until soft.
- At this point the egg should be mostly cooked but still a little runny on top. Spread the chicken mix over one half of the egg (the hot chicken will finish cooking the top of the egg), then fold the other half on top of the filling. Sprinkle with a little more pepper and chilli.
- I like to serve this on a plate with a bit of sliced avocado and tomato waiting. Eat while fresh and hot.