I first put this salad together after a day at work spent craving a stir fry and a salad simultaneously. I adore tofu when it takes on a burnished golden colour and becomes satisfyingly crunchy when you bite into it; in this salad they take on a crouton-like role just by their very tactile nature (in fact, you can cut the cooked tofu into small cubes if you want to.) You could easily add lots of other vegetables or leafy greens to this particular mix – I’ve used grated carrots or beets, grape tomatoes, kale, romaine lettuce, butter lettuce, and lightly steamed broccoli all with great success. This salad makes enough for 2-4 people, but I like to make it for dinner reserving half of the dressing and the avocado to take as a bright pick me up lunch for the next day. In this same line of thinking, I will sometimes cook a whole block of tofu and keep half of it in the fridge for sandwiches, soups, and snacking; when prepared this way it becomes nutty and chewy and altogether addictive. The dressing keeps well in the fridge for up to a week if you have leftovers and makes a sweet-spicy-toasted sesame-flavoured dipping sauce for rice noodle salad rolls.
crunchy golden tofu chopped salad:
1/2 block of extra firm tofu, drained of excess liquid
1 Tbsp. of canola oil
4 cups of spinach
1 cup of sugar snap peas, sliced on the diagonal
1 sweet red pepper, thinly sliced into strips
1 cup of cucumber, sliced into half moons
2 stalks of celery, thinly sliced
3 scallions, cut on the diagonal
1/2 of an avocado, diced or cut lengthwise
A generous handful of cilantro, roughly torn
3 Tbsp. of toasted sesame seeds
soy ginger salad dressing:
About 1 inch off of a knob of fresh ginger, peeled and cut into a few large pieces
1 garlic clove, peeled and cut in half
2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
2 Tbsp. low sodium soy sauce
1 tsp. dark toasted sesame oil
1 Tbsp. sweet garlic chili sauce (I use Thai Kitchen brand)
1. In a large heavy bottomed skillet heat the canola oil over medium high heat while you prepare the tofu (you want to make sure that the pan is REALLY hot so that the tofu doesn’t stick.) Slice the tofu into 4 or 5 slices that are about 1 cm in width and place in the hot oil. Cook each side until a deep golden colour, this usually takes about 4-5 minutes per side but check periodically to gauge the amount of time needed. Once the tofu is cooked transfer to a paper towel lined plate to cool.
2. Combine all of the salad dressing ingredients in a blender and blitz until completely smooth and emulsified.
3. In a large bowl toss together the salad ingredients including the sesame seeds, cilantro, and dressing. Cut the tofu into thin strips and either serve as part of the completed salad or on top as a substantial garnish.
When I need to feel blissed out, which is a lot of the time lately, I turn to Lemon Jelly’s Lost Horizons for some good old downtempo beautiful relaxation. Chopping vegetables into tiny pieces becomes something akin to finding a minute zen moment amidst the grandiosity and rush of the rest of my day.
Lemon Jelly – Space Walk