"What smells so good?" each child asked as he or she wandered into the kitchen yesterday afternoon. "Tofu," I answered, and my taste testers ran screaming from the room. Well, they didn't actually scream, but they went out to the back yard to play Frisbee after I reassured them that I also had some beef to stir-fry for those who didn't want tofu. The great smell came from the sauce, a combination of soy sauce and barbecue sauce, two condiments I always have on hand.
Aside from the family-friendly sauce, one of the great things about this recipe is that you can make it vegetarian, or you can make it with beef, or you can do both and please everyone at your table. It's up to you.
Another great thing is that you can do lots of preparation ahead of time (like when you're making school lunches in the morning and already have the cutting board out, or when you're in the room as homework helper but aren't needed yet). That way, when dinner time comes, you just need to heat up a pan for the stir-fry and boil some water for noodles or rice, and you'll be good to go.
I did a lot of the chopping in the afternoon, enabling me to sit on the deck with a glass of wine and act as the official Frisbee photographer later on. I don't think I should quit my day job just yet:
Saucy Tofu (or Beef) Stir-Fry Serves 3 - 4
1 package of extra firm tofu, pressed and sliced into 1/2-inch thick slices, and/or1 pound of sirloin steak tips, sliced very thin 2 Tablespoons Canola oil, divided 2 - 3 bell peppers, sliced thin 1 onion, sliced thin 1 bunch broccoli, steamed for 3 minutes 2 - 3 cloves garlic, minced freshly ground black pepper 3 Tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce 1/2 cup barbecue sauce rice or noodles
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 T. oil.
Add the peppers and onions; stir and cook for 6 minute or until crisp tender. Add the broccoli during the last minute of cooking. Remove all the vegetables to a cookie sheet and set aside.
Heat the other tablespoon of oil in the same pan.
If using tofu, place the slices in the skillet and do not move for 5 - 6 minutes. Flip. They should be golden brown. Cook the second side for about 5 more minutes. If using beef as well, remove the tofu and set aside. If not, skip the next paragraph (about cooking the beef) and proceed with the recipe.
If using beef, place the meat in the skillet and cook for about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and black pepper and cook about 1 minute more, until beef has just lost its pink color.
Add the soy sauce to the pan and cook for 30 seconds. Add the barbecue sauce and stir. Add the cooked vegetables back into the mixture and stir together. Serve over rice.
(If you've also cooked tofu, I recommend adding some sauce to the tofu before removing it from the pan, and then tossing some of the cooked vegetables with it.)