Today I came across an article about Michael Pollans new book, Second Nature . The book explores the lesson we can learn about life through gardening and cooking our own food. His approach to industrial farming, food, and health goes far deeper then just providing sustenance, it transends the human need to eat into something that I can only describe as spiritual. When I was cooking this meal I was thinking about where my ingredients came from, how they were grown, the enviormental impact and the nourishment it would provide my body. It was a really beautiful reminder about the moral aspect of eating, and the cause and effect that our choices have.
So on to the bowl of goodness- This dish is relatively quick, satisfying and full of flavor. I absolutely love brown rice with a little (vegan) butter, garlic and fresh herbs- It really takes the rice to the next level so I highly encourage you to make the rice a little fancy. The spice rub for the vegetables would also be delicious on tofu (or meat if you are a meat eater), and had I had some in the fridge at the time I most certainly would have marinated the tofu, put it on skewers and tossed it on the grill. My trick for grilling tofu is to fold your pieces up in paper towl to remove as much moisture as possible before grilling- it really makes for a firmer piece of tofu.
If you can — grill everything, but this would be just as good prepared on the stove, or baked in the oven. Enjoy!
What you need
Sprice Rub for Veggies (and Firm Tofu if you have it)
1 red pepper, cut into fourths
3 zucchini, sliced into 1/2 inch rounds
1 bunch asparagus – trimmed
1/4 cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced or grated
1/2 tspn onion powder
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1 1/2 cups short grain brown rice
water as needed – (read the rice package)
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
1 tbsp vegan butter
2 avocados, mashed
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced or grated
salt + pepper, to taste
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup walnuts, toasted
1/2 cup vegan cheese, (optional)
Pre-heat the grill to medium high.
In a large bowl combine the olive oil, garlic, onion powder, pepper, smoked paprika, oregano, parsley and basil. Add the vegetables and toss well. Set in the fridge. You could also combine in a plastic bag, add the veggies and give it a good shake before letting it set in the fridge to further marinate.
Make the rice according to the package. Once cooked- drain the rice, fluff with a fork, add the butter, the chopped parsley and mix well. Season with pink salt and pepper to taste.
While the rice is cooking, grill your vegatables for about 1-2 minutes on each side. You can also use a grill pan for this- I would aim for total cook time of about 5 minutes to prevent over cooking of the vegatables. If you have tofu- I would put it on skewers, and grill for 2-3 minutes on each side. (marinate this in the same mixture, if using)
Remove everything from the grill and let cool 5 minutes, then red peppers into strips.
(Once you are finished grilling, and slicing- the rice will be about ready for you to remove from the heat, fluff, and mix with the butter and herbs as stated above) If not, move on to the avocado step discussed below.
Add the mashed avocados to a bowl. Stir in the lemon juice, ramaining 1/2 cup parsley, garlic and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well.
Layer rice on the bottom, grilled peppers, asparagus and zucchini, (then tofu if you used it). Add a large dollop of the avocados mixture and then add the fresh tomatoes and toasted walnuts. Sprinkle with vegan or real cheese if desired and serve!
YUM- this is such a wonderful spring/summer dish!