Coconut Pesto Cream Rice With Pan Seared Tofu

As I have mentioned before, I am a big proponent of using leftovers however you can! No reason to waste all the goodies you paid for in your fridge. However, I also grew up being very picky about not wanting the exact same thing for days in a row.

I never thought when I was younger that we could use our leftovers to create entirely new dishes.  Like this coconut pesto cream rice for example. I had a leftover 1/4 of a can of coconut milk, a container of brown rice, and a small amount of pesto from last nights pizza. I knew that there was not enough pesto to stretch over a meal on its own. But, there was just enough to mix with the container of leftover coconut milk  I had in the fridge.

I knew that this would be the perfect combo to bring some much needed life to my plain brown rice. Why not take it one step further and add seared tofu and sautéed veggies as well? I mean let’s go full on HGTV “Flip or Flop” on these leftovers! (Real Talk: If I’m not cooking or thinking about cooking, I am watching HGTV and imagining all of the restoration projects I could be doing…)

Since this was made with my real life leftovers, feel free to add any leftovers you may find rolling around in your fridge. Cooking should always be fun and new, so don’t be scared to get inventive and courageous. If it doesn’t work, who cares? It was all leftovers anyways 🙂


  • about 1 cup of cooked brown rice
  • 2 tablespoons of leftover pesto
  • 1/3 cup of canned coconut milk (can use bottled if desired)
  • 1/2 of a container of extra firm tofu (I use one side of the twin-pack by Nasoya) , sliced as desired
  • 1/2 of a zucchini, sliced thinly
  • 4 baby bella mushrooms, sliced thinly
  • about 6 grape tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 cup of fresh spinach

In a large skillet, pour 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and turn the burner to medium/high. Then add in your sliced firm tofu. Try your best to let it sit and brown for 2-3 minutes on each side without moving it. Repeat as needed until you get a nice brown on all sides of the tofu. Then remove from the skillet and set aside.

In the same skillet, add a teaspoon more of olive oil (if needed) and begin to saute your vegetables. Put your zucchini and mushrooms into the skillet and allow them to brown. They will take about 2-3 minutes to cook. When the zucchini and mushrooms are browned, add in your grape tomatoes and spinach. Let the spinach wilt down into the veggies.

While the spinach is wilting down, slightly warm the cup of brown rice in the microwave and place it into your sautéed veggies. If you are making rice specifically for this, then just take about a cup of your warm cooked rice and place it into the skillet with your veggies.

Then pour in your pesto and coconut milk. The pesto and coconut milk will begin to coat the rice and veggies and turn everything a beautiful vibrant green. Once your rice is fully mixed in and everything is nice and hot, you can remove the skillet from the heat.

Place your pan seared tofu on top of the rice and it is ready to be served. You can serve it directly in the skillet or if you prefer, you can place it on a platter or in a bowl.


***If you are like me, you will want to keep some crushed red pepper flakes on the table to add a little bit of heat to this dish.

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