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By Popular Demand: Quick Lo-Mein

By a slim margin, Quick Lo-Mein was voted the recipe from Vegan on the Cheap you’d most like to see. I can’t help but think voters were swayed by this luscious looking photo taken by Tami at Vegan Appetite.  But, in addition to being photogenic, I think this recipe is a good choice because it’s versatile, easy to make, delicious, and, of course, inexpensive  Here are just some of the ways this recipe can help you eat “on the cheap”:

1. It doesn’t call for any exotic ingredients, so you should be able to make it with what’s on hand.

2. It’s a great way to use up leftover spaghetti or linguine, as you only need about 4 cups of cooked pasta for this recipe. (You can even use reconstituted ramen noodle bricks if you have them on hand. Just throw away the seasoning packets, break the bricks into pieces, and place them in a heatproof bowl. Cover them with boiling water and set aside to reconstitute.)

3. You can easily swap out different vegetables according to what you have in the fridge. Instead of (or in addition to) the cabbage, you could use broccoli, snow peas, green beans, etc. If you have leftover steamed veggies, this is a great way to use them.

4. The recipe makes about 4 servings, but can be easily stretched by adding extra noodles or veggies, in which case you’ll want to double the sauce ingredients so there’s enough to coat everything.

5. Instead of tofu, you could instead add seitan or tempeh — or leave them all out in favor of more vegetables.

MORE WAYS TO WIN: There are two more opportunities to win a copy of Vegan on the Cheap. The first is at Savvy Abby, the new VegNews blog with money-saving tips (where I did some guest posting this week). Here’s the link to the giveaway where you will also find some of my Cheap tips and recipes. For yet another chance to win a copy of the book (and see another recipe), visit PETAPrime.

Now, here’s that lo-mein recipe:

Quick Lo-Mein

Recipe from Vegan on the Cheap by Robin Robertson © 2010, John Wiley and Sons.

16 ounces extra-firm tofu, drained and pressed
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons canola or other neutral oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons grated ginger
1 medium carrot, shredded
4 to 5 scallions (green onions), chopped
4 cups shredded green cabbage (or  napa cabbage or bok choy)
1 1/2 cups sliced mushrooms
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
4 cups cooked spaghetti or linguine (or reconstituted ramen)

1. Cut the tofu into 1/2-inch dice. Toss with the cornstarch and 1/4 teaspoon of salt and set aside.
2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the tofu and cook until golden brown all over, about 7 minutes. Remove from the skillet and set aside.
3. Add the remaining oil to the same skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, ginger, carrot, scallions, cabbage, and mushrooms. Season with salt and stir-fry to soften, 4 to 5 minutes.
4. Stir in the soy sauce, rice vinegar, ketchup, and sesame oil. Add the reserved tofu and the cooked noodles. Toss to combine, adding a bit of water (or extra sauce) if the mixture is too dry. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Serve hot.

Note: Enjoy as is, or garnish with regular toasted or black sesame seeds or chopped parsley or cilantro. For a spicy version, add a drizzle of sriracha.