May 10, 2015

Insane Whole Grain Lo Mein

During last year's round of Sibling Secret Santa, Scott and I connived to discover who the entire family was buying for. Our kitchen became the situation room, where we penned a list of names, some crossed-out, others connected with arrows. We figured out who everyone was assigned, and taunted them all, cryptically, for several weeks. Then Christmas arrived, and it turned out we had been completely wrong.

In my hubris leading up to Christmas, I'd planted the seed of wanting this pan in the mind of my sister-in-law. The seed had drifted here and there and finally landed like a little dandelion tuft with my brother-in-law in California, who'd actually been given my name. And he bought it for me, from afar, and had it shipped, because he is a very sweet person. Thank you, and sorry, to all parties involved.

The thing is a behemoth of a pan, deep like something's stomped footprint, its arced handle extra-long. Its official home is on top of the refrigerator, and when I want to get it down, I have to recruit my baby-hefting upper arms.

I can melt down an entire leafy bunch of greens in this pan, simmer a double-batch of Giada's Bolognese with grass-fed beef, and saute cups upon cups of veggies en route to a casserole dish. I can sizzle cutlets and make fried rice, and if I happen to catch sight of a greasy takeout carton of lo mein, and fall under the irresistible spell of needing to make lo mein at home, well, I can do that with my mondo pan.

With more vegetables.

And whole wheat noodles.

And splashy love.

We have two kids now and often feel kind of butt-kicked by dinner time (the idea of courses becomes unbearable), so the pile-everything-into-one pan approach has been working well. Our lo mein, loosely inspired by this one from Damn Delicious, boasts a lot of goodness: an insanely colorful variety of vegetables in a slightly sweet, gingery sauce; whole wheat noodles; and plant-based protein.

We all adore it, sitting across from one another with noodles cascading from our mouths (CUT the pasta with your teeth, Darwin!) And I figure if word-of-mouth got me this great pan, it's only fair that I pass along news of the delicious things that come out of it.


Insane Whole Grain Lo Mein
Serves 4

8 oz 100% whole wheat spaghetti
1 pound firm tofu
2 carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks
1 small red bell pepper, cut into strips
1 cup raw snow peas
2 celery stalks, sliced
8 oz button mushrooms, sliced
1 big handful fresh spinach
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbls. EVOO, or a big swirl

1/4  cup tamari or soy sauce
2 tsp. sesame oil
1 Tbls. + 1 tsp. real maple syrup
1 tsp. ground ginger
2 green onions, finely sliced, plus more for garnish

Drain tofu, cut it into cubes, and blot the cubes dry with a flour sack towel or paper towel. Set aside.

Boil water, and set pasta to cook according to instructions.

Meanwhile, whisk together sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.

In a deep-sided 5-quart pan or wok pan over medium-high heat, fry mushrooms together with carrots, celery, and bell pepper for 3-5 minutes, stirring constantly.

Add garlic, tofu, snow peas, and spinach, and fry for 2-3 more minutes, until spinach has just wilted, and peas are bright green and crisp.

Drain cooked pasta, and add it to the pan, pouring the sauce over the top of the pasta and vegetables. Use tongs to toss the lo mein until the sauce has completely incorporated, with none pooling in the bottom of the pan.

Serve and garnish with extra chopped green onions, and Sriracha, if you like.

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