This recipe for my childhood favourite Vegan Tomato Stir Fry Salad
is sponsored by Ontario Vegetable Greenhouse Growers! <3
It’s amazing how vivid memories can be when you relive them through food. This dish is something I ate all the time growing up, but I especially remember when I was 13, the tense year my mom and I left my dad for the first time. My mom spent a lot of time working to support the two of us, but anytime she got home from work early enough, we’d manage to make some dinner together and watch Columbo and Murder, She Wrote. At the time I never really paused to think about how lucky I was that my mom took the time to hang out with me and share her own nostalgic food with me.
Fast forward 15 years later, I called my mom asking her for Vietnamese tomato-based dishes I hadn’t already made before. She described this salad but didn’t know the Vietnamese name (honestly I still don’t really either), but we landed on on Salad trộn cà chua, which roughly translates to tomato stirred salad. What it really is, is a tomato and soy curl stir fry over some lettuce leaves, but we haven’t quite figured out the proper name for this dish, so stir fry salad it is. Before I even made the dish I was already transported back to my angsty teen years and the murder mystery shows, laughing at how stubborn mystery writer & amateur detective, Jessica Fletcher, was at pursuing justice.
You may think having soy curls simmered with tomato wedges over a bed of torn red leaf lettuce is an odd combination, but it is a really refreshing and satisfying dinner. The crunch of the lettuce leaves melts into the savoury stir fry; enough flavourful bite to satisfy but light enough that it wouldn’t weigh you down. Onions, garlic, a bit of soy sauce and mushroom broth powder give this dish the light seasoning it needs to bring out the tomato goodness.
You have to soak the soy curls in a bit of mushroom broth powder with the water (but vegetable broth would work too), to impart a bit of extra flavour and mask that classic funky TVP flavour. Soy curls tend to have a magical, torn texture that few other TVP products have, but you could easily do this with TVP chunks as well. This dish is typically made with sliced beef, but seeing as I’m vegan, these rehydrated soy curls are an easy and tasty alternative.
Ontario greenhouse grown tomatoes do the heavy lifting for flavour in this recipe as it adds moisture, sweetness, and tenderness to this dish. I mention in the video below that we’re wildly fortunate to have locally grown tomatoes from February to December. This year, I’ve really taken the time to appreciate all the food that Canada grows and has access to all year round, and I am grateful that we have fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, and sweet peppers available to us for the majority of the year. I’ve been focusing a lot of reducing food waste and being more sustainable in the way we eat, and buying more locally and eating through the food we have ties into that.
Sauté the aromatics in a drizzle of oil over a sizzling pan to caramelize and bring out the flavours. Both cooking onion and scallions are used in this dish to add that savoury sweetness to the tomatoes.
Squeeze out the liquid from the soy curls so that they have the space to soak up the juices of cooked tomato mingled with soy sauce.
Let the tomatoes simmer, allowing for the flavours to mingle together. There’s something magical about cooked tomatoes that gives this dish a burst of fresh flavour.
Roughly cut scallion tops speckle this dish with freshness and green to give both the eye and palate a zing to cut through the sweet savouriness. As my mom says, you can add a squeeze of lime for some extra flavour, but it’s not necessary.
I nerd out possibly a little too much about the industrial/agricultural side of Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers in this video, but please have a quick watch if you are interested! This dish is an incredibly simple one but it is teeming with flavour and refreshing crunch. The perfect spring and summer meal!
For the soy curls
- 115 g (2 cups) dried soy curls
- 2.5 g (1 tsp) mushroom broth powder (any kind of vegetable broth powder would work fine)
- 750 mL (2.5 cups) boiled water
For the stir fry
- 15 mL (1 tbsp) sunflower oil
- 1 small onion, sliced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 sprigs green onion, whites finely chopped and greens chopped in 1 inch pieces
- 30 mL (2 tbsp) soy sauce*
- 4 greenhouse grown vine tomatoes, sliced into wedges (hard core by stem removed)
- ½ tsp ground black pepper
- 1 g (½ tsp) mushroom broth powder (vegetable broth powder or salt would work here)
- Red or Green leaf lettuce, washed, drained and torn into bite size pieces
- Combine soy curls, mushroom broth powder, and boiled water in a large bowl to let the soy curls rehydrate for about 10 minutes while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
- In a large pan, preheat over medium heat, then cook sliced onion in sunflower oil until lightly browned. Add minced garlic and finely chopped whites of green onion. Stir to cook until fragrant (about 1 minute).
- Strain soy curls of their liquid and squeeze to get rid of as much liquid as you can. Add rehydrated soy curls to the pan. Add 2 tbsp soy sauce and stir to coat and combine.
- Once heated through, add tomato wedge pieces and stir well. Let tomatoes cook down and release their juices. Add black pepper and mushroom broth powder (or salt) and stir well. Taste for salt and adjust.
- To serve, spoon hot stir fried mixture over a bed of torn, prepared lettuce and enjoy!
*use a gluten-free tamari to keep this recipe gluten-free