Vino for Veggies

The food, wine & lifestyle blog for Vegans, Vegetarians, Pescitarians, and other Awesome People.

Deconstructed Sushi Bowl June 21, 2010

Do you love sushi?  Ever think, “I could seriously eat a whole bowl of sushi.”  Here it is!  A soul satisfying bowl o’ sushi that has all the clean flavors of your favorite roll but without the fish.  This recipe is a combination/tweak of Heidi Swanson’s Sushi Bowl with Toasted Nori, Avocado, and Brown Rice (Super Natural Cooking) and Deborah Madison’s Caramelized Golden Tofu (Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone).  It has quite a few components but the combination of flavors is really what makes this dish so satisfying.  It is also a highly recommended main course for a dinner party as the plating is just so impressive.

Contributor’s note:
If you are new to the world of tofu, no worries.  Just contact me at and I will walk you through the tofu preparing process, explain all the different varieties of tofu, and answer any questions you might have.  It is such an amazing food and so easy to work with, so don’t be shy, just drop me a line and I’ll help you out.

Deconstructed Sushi Bowl
1 cup sushi rice
1 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar
1 tsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. black sesame seeds
1 Tbsp. plain sesame seeds
1 sheet of nori (pressed seaweed sheets)

1 package extra firm tofu
1 Tbsp. peanut oil (or vegetable if you don’t have peanut)
1 1/2 Tbsp. dark brown sugar
1/4 cup Braggs Liquid Aminos or low sodium soy sauce
1 1/2 tsp. toasted sesame seed oil
1 Tbsp. chili garlic sauce (optional)

Optional toppings
lightly sautéed vegetables such as bok choy, carrots, snow peas
Raw sliced veggies such as avocado (my personal favorite), cucumber, or bean sprouts
pickled ginger
chopped green onions

Cook sushi rice according to package instructions.  Meanwhile, toast nori in the oven or toaster oven for ~10 minutes @ 250 degrees until crispy.  Toast sesame seeds on the stove top in a dry pan until the plain seeds begin to brown but not burn.  Mix rice wine vinegar and sugar in a small bowl.  When the rice is cooked, transfer to a non-metal bowl.  Toss rice with vinegar-sugar liquid.  Sprinkle and mix in sesame seeds and crumble in nori sheet.  Your rice will be sticky with flecks of sesame and nori.

Drain, press (in a cloth or paper towel for 15 min.), and cube or slice tofu. Heat the peanut oil in a non-stick pan.  Sauté  tofu pieces until they are golden brown.  Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix brown sugar, Braggs/soy sauce, sesame seed oil, and chili garlic sauce.  Once tofu is golden brown, pour the mixture over the tofu.  Continue to cook on medium heat until the liquid is absorbed and the tofu is fully coated.

Assembling the bowl:
Put you sushi rice in the bottom.  Place your optional sautéed or raw veggies on the sides next to the rice.  Top with tofu and sprinkle with extra sesame seeds and green onions.  Place piles of ginger, wasabi, and avocado on the side.  Enjoy!

VanVino’s Wine Pairing Suggestion

When I think of Asian food, especially sushi, I think of Rieslings.  The clean, crisp nature of Rieslings pair perfectly with the clean flavors of sushi.  Also, the residual sugar in Rieslings have a way of cutting through the heat of the wasabi.

I paired our recent deconstructed sushi bowls with the 2007 Weingut Brandl Riesling Zöbinger Heiligenstein.  This is an Austrian Riesling.  The Brandl has a grassy, herbaceous nose that reminds me of a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.  On the palate, there are tart grapefruit flavors upfront transitioning to a grassy, mineral mid-palate.  The wine finishes with a dry crispness and petrol-like mouth feel (in a good way, not that I’ve ever drank petrol).  This wine is a very dry Riesling, not your mom’s sweet stuff from Germany.  I scored the 2007 Weingut Brandl Riesling a 93/100.  It is one of the best Rieslings I’ve ever had.  I’m glad I bought two bottles.

The Wine Stats

WineryWeingut Brandl
Type:  Riesling
Vintage:  2007
Appellation: Kamptal, Austria
Retail Price: $34.99
Available Price: Under $25 (I paid under $20 so there are some deals out there.)

Do you like sushi?  What is your favorite wine to pair with sushi?  We look forward to hearing your impressions of this dish?


Sweet Potato Spinach Quesadillas June 13, 2010

This soul satisfying quesadilla sounds a little unusual but is oh so delicious.  Many moons ago, my girlfriends and I were walking through Whole Foods (a brand new store at the time) and they were offering samples of this quesadillas.  We have since put our own twist on it making it a staple in our homes.

Tip:  use fresh spinach.  While I am not against the frozen, it just doesn’t cut it in this recipe.

Sweet Potato Spinach Quesadillas

2 large sweet potatoes
1 large bunch fresh spinach (~ 4 cups)
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 Tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp. red chili flakes
salt to taste
flour tortillas
cheese such as Monterey jack or cheddar (optional)

Peel, cube, and boil sweet potatoes in a large pot of salted water until tender.  Meanwhile, in a large pan, saute garlic in olive oil until soft but not brown.  Add chili powder and  red chili flakes.  In batches, add spinach until the entire bunch is wilted.  Remove from heat.  Once the sweet potatoes are tender, drain and mash.  Add spinach-chili mixture to sweet potato mash.  Salt to taste.

To assemble quesadillas, lightly butter/oil pan on medium heat.  Lay whole tortilla flat in the pan.  Spread sweet potato-spinach mixture on half the tortilla and sprinkle with cheese.  Fold tortilla in half.  Brown tortilla on one side and then flip.  Once both sides are browned and cheese is melted, slip onto a plate, top with your favorite salsa, jalapenos, and sour cream.  Enjoy!

Wine Pairing from VanVino

We usually pair sweet potato spinach quesadillas with an Argentine Malbec or a Spanish Tempranillo (Rioja or Ribera del Duero).  Both of these wines tend to have softer, yet well structured, tannins as well as some nice oaky smokiness that goes well with the sweet potatoes.  In fact, we served appetizer portions of the quesadillas at our Argentine Malbec tasting party last March.  They were a big hit.

Recently we served the 2007 Viña Alicia Malbec Paso De Piedra with the quesadillas.  This wine had some serious structure.  I didn’t have time to decant the wine so I poured through a Vinturi in order to aerate it before drinking (this softens the tannins and opens the wine).  It had complex aromas of plums, dusty earth, tobacco, and a little iron.  On the palate, the wine  had flavors of plums upfront transitioning to licorice on the mid-palate and finishing with black pepper.  The Viña Alicia displayed solid, smooth tannins and wonderful food friendly acid all the way through.  I scored this wine a 92/100.

The Wine Stats

WineryViña Alicia

Type:  Malbec

Vintage:  2007

Appellation:  Mendoza, Lujan de Cuyo, Argentina

Retail Price: $18.99

Available Price: Under $18 (I know the average purchase price on Cellartracker is about $14.50)

Does this sound like a recipe and pairing you’d like to try?  When you do try it, what were your impressions?  What wines do you typically pair with Tex-Mex foods?