Wait I’m confused… what season is it? Watermelon is still front and centre at my local grocer and yet it’s snowing (oh, how I wish I was kidding). As I edit this post, I’m enjoying a glass of crisp rosé in a poncho and fuzzy slippers — and I finally have to cave and turn the heat on! While the weather in Calgary has been less than desirable, late summer harvest has been kind to us with local tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuces popping up everywhere — and I’m taking full advantage. If you, too are in the mood for some healthy comfort food to weather the storm, you’ve come to the right place! Today I’m elated to continue my partnership with Inspired Greens and bring you my Vegan Fiesta Buffalo Tofu Bowls with Tahini Lime Crema — the meal that kept us nourished during our paint-a-thon this summer. I literally came up with this recipe by throwing what we had on hand into a big salad bowl, mixing it up and serving it. Upon first bite, I knew I’d be publishing it — after all, unusual circumstances typically lead to some of my most inventive recipe ideas!
My Vegan Fiesta Buffalo Tofu Bowls with Tahini Lime Crema are a healthy, plant based, 30-minute meal alternative to the pub food that my delicate stomach can absolutely not handle anymore. Seriously though — if chicken wings, a plate of loaded nachos and a burrito had a vegan love child, this would be it! These festive, protein rich bowls are brimming with Alberta grown, seasonal produce including Inspired Greens Red Butter Lettuce — remixed with JustineCelina kitchen staples like quinoa, black beans, olives, Buffalo Tofu (a completely addictive, plant based alternative to hot wings!) and Tahini Lime Crema — a versatile sauce we always have in our fridge that’s good on just about anything. This, my friends, is the ultimate vegan comfort food with a fresh, early autumn spin!
VEGAN FIESTA BUFFALO TOFU BOWLS WITH TAHINI LIME CREMA
When I asked Adam what my favourite food was, he replied “Anything with lots of vegetables that you can put in a big bowl and mix up with sauces”. Well, he’s not wrong! Nourishing, plant based bowls and entree salads are definitely my favourite thing to eat (hence the endless supply of those recipes I’ve published over the years). But this one, it’s different. It’s actually inspired by pub food!
Back in my younger days, we used to frequent a local pub for 25¢ wings. As someone who’s never really been much of a meat eater (and who’s always had trouble eating around bones), chicken wings were my one weakness and something I would make an exception for. But as I grew older, frequented pubs less and embarked on my journey to plant based eating (read more about that here, if you’re interested) I found myself still craving chicken wings but having absolutely no desire to pop down to said local pub and subject my body to the deep fried, calorie laden hot wings I once loved.
Although this recipe for Buffalo Tofu is my own, the idea is not. I was perusing my friend Dana’s blog when I stumbled on her recipe for Buffalo Tofu Bites back in December of last year. Say what?!?!?! A healthy, vegan alternative to my beloved chicken wings from years past?! I tried the recipe one evening and have been totally hooked ever since. You know how you make something over and over again — and eventually it becomes your own? That’s what happened with this Buffalo Tofu. For awhile there I was eating it every week with my Tahini Lime Crema or Lemon Tahini Sauce (hint: they’re almost the same recipe!) which are major staples for us — I typically make a big batch at the start of the week and always have some on hand. So although my Buffalo Tofu recipe is different from Dana’s, her post is definitely what inspired 2017’s Buffalo Tofu craze, which then trickled into this recipe. The woman is a genius (not to mention, just a really awesome person) and if you’re not familiar with Killing Thyme, I highly suggest you stop over!
Anyway — onto this recipe! It was one of those serendipitous creations that came together out of my desire to feed my painting crew a nourishing meal, quickly, without having to resort to take out. So, I combined some staples I had on hand into a big bowl — golden quinoa (which I often make in large batches at the start of the week), Buffalo Tofu (we had it leftover from the night before) and some Tahini Lime Crema (it’s exactly the same recipe as my Lemon Tahini Sauce, just with a different citrus base that I switch up depending on what we have kicking around!), green olives (another item always in our fridge), local cherry tomatoes and cucumbers, black beans (canned pulses are a pantry staple around here!), some arugula for a bit of peppery spice and Inspired Greens Red Butter Living Lettuce — which is all I’ve been using lettuce wise since discovering them earlier this summer (Inspired Greens now holds a permanent spot in our crisper). These Vegan Fiesta Buffalo Tofu Bowls with Tahini Lime Crema taste like a lightened up hot wing / loaded nacho / burrito hybrid — in the absolutely best way possible! It’s also extremely inexpensive if you’re looking for a nourishing early autumn meal to feed a crowd on a budget (a package of tofu is about $2.50 and I stock up on canned pulses when they’re on sale for $1 per can!).
Since this meal comes together in just under 30 minutes, this from-scratch cook took a few short cuts in the seasoning and sauce departments (not even I make everything from scratch all the time — especially when I’m painting or really busy!). I was introduced to Franks RedHot Buffalo Wing Sauce in Dana’s Buffalo Tofu Bite recipe. Sure, you could make your own hot sauce, but on the days I make this Buffalo Tofu I never have the time. The ingredients are actually pretty clean though and I really love the convenience factor (not to mention, it’s absolutely delish)! Second, I fry the tofu in a bit of olive oil and season it with no MSG seasoning salt and garlic power before tossing it in the sauce. It’s a quick way to get crispy, golden brown tofu without my more time consuming method involving corn starch — and it only takes about 10 minutes! So, let’s get cooking, shall we?
Yield: 2 entrée sized bowls
• 1 package extra firm tofu
• 1/2 tsp garlic powder
• 1/2 tbsp no MSG seasoning salt
• 1/3 cup Franks RedHot Buffalo Wing Sauce
VEGAN FIESTA BOWLS
• 1 head Inspired Greens Red Butter Living Lettuce
• 1 cup golden quinoa
• 1 can black beans
• 1 pint cherry tomatoes
• 2 mini cucumbers (or half a full sized cucumber)
• 1/2 cup pitted green olives
• 1 cup baby arugula
• Green onion
TAHINI LIME CREMA
• 1/4 cup tahini
• 1/4 cup water
• Juice from 2 limes
• 1/4 tsp Himalayan pink salt
• 1/8 tsp freshly cracked pepper
• 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
• 1 small garlic clove
• 1 tsp 100% pure Canadian maple syrup
• 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1. Start by preparing your golden quinoa as instructed on the package. Typically, it takes about 15 minutes to cook and we have some of work to do in the meantime!
2. Get the Buffalo Tofu going by heating a large skillet over medium / high heat. Prep your tofu by removing it from the package and pressing the water out between a dish towel. Once the majority of the water has been extracted, cube the tofu into bite sized pieces.
3. Add olive oil to your skillet, along with the cubed tofu. Toss with garlic powder and seasoning salt. Allow tofu cubes to cook for approximately 2 minutes per side, or until golden brown and crispy.
4. Once tofu is cooked, turn the burner off. Add Franks RedHot Buffalo Wing Sauce to the pan, tossing the tofu to coat thoroughly. Set aside.
5. Your quinoa should just about be ready! Meanwhile, start prepping the ingredients for the Vegan Fiesta Bowls. Remove the root from the Inspired Greens Red Butter Lettuce, wash the leaves. Halve cherry tomatoes, cut cucumbers into matchsticks, slice olives, chop green onions and rinse your black beans.
6. While your quinoa is cooling, prepare the Tahini Lime Crema by combining all the ingredients in a Vitamix (or similar) and blending until smooth and creamy.
7. Assemble your Vegan Fiesta Buffalo Tofu Bowls with Tahini Lime Crema by adding 1/2 a cup of quinoa to one side of your bowl, then add Inspired Greens to the other, along the perimeter. Build your bowls in a clockwise format, adding as much of each veggie as you like.
8. Reserve a spot in the middle for your Buffalo Tofu. Top with some extra sauce from the skillet and a drizzle of Tahini Lime Crema.
9. Garnish with arugula and green onions.
10. Enjoy immediately!
STILL HUNGRY? MORE SEASONAL, PLANT BASED BOWLS
Next time you’re craving pub food, I hope you give my Vegan Fiesta Buffalo Tofu Bowls with Tahini Lime Crema (and Inspired Greens!) a go! So many of you have mentioned you’ve spotted Inspired Greens at your local grocer and picked it up (someone even planted a head of lettuce and it started growing new leaves — how cool is that?!). If you try this recipe (or this gorgeous living lettuce), I’d love your feedback!
Leave me a comment, or tag me on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook. You can use the hashtag #justinecelinarecipes in your recreations so I can find them — I love scrolling through the feed and spotting your beautiful recreations! I also have a Pinterest board for my recipes if you’re looking for more plant based culinary inspiration. Enjoy the first weekend of fall, friends!
Disclaimer: Thank you to Inspired Greens for sponsoring this post. JustineCelina uses affiliate and referral links, which allow me to receive a small commission when you make a purchase through one of my links. Thank you for supporting the brands and businesses that support JustineCelina!