Sunday, May 19, 2013

Mesclun Salad with Roasted Tofu

The prep for this salad is a little time consuming, since you have to go through various stages of pressing, roasting, and chilling the tofu, but almost all of it is hands-off time. Here's something I feel almost sheepish I didn't know until today: "Mesclun" is not a specific type of green (like arugula, say, or mizuna), but refers to a blend of young salad greens. In other words, what I've purchased all these years as "gourmet greens" or "spring greens" is also called "mesclun." If you're not a fan of this gourmet lettuce blend, however, try this salad with just romaine.

  • 12 ounces lite firm tofu
  • 2 teaspoons sherry*
  • 2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
  • 8 cups gourmet salad greens
  • 1 cup (1/4-inch thick) sliced and peeled cucumber
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions
  • 2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vegan sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 minced garlic clove
1. To prepare the tofu, cut lengthwise into 4 slices, and place on several layers of paper towels.  Cover with additional paper towels and let stand for 5 minutes.

2. Cut each slice diagonally into 2 triangles (so you have 8 triangles total), and place in a shallow baking dish.

3. Whisk together the sherry, soy sauce, and sesame oil; pour over the tofu.  Refrigerate for 20 minutes.

4. Bake the tofu at 450 degrees for 25 minutes.  Let cool to room temperature (about 20 to 30 minutes), then chill for 30 minutes.

5. To prepare the salad, combine the gourmet greens, cucumber, and green onion.  In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, vinegar, sugar, salt, black pepper, and garlic clove.  Drizzle the lemon juice mixture over the greens mixture and toss to coat.

6. Arrange 2 cups salad on each of 4 plates. 

5. Top each serving with 2 tofu triangles.

Add a baguette and a bowl of minestrone soup to round out the meal. Perfect for taking the chill off a rainy spring afternoon or evening.

*Although I normally don't recommend "cooking wine" (if you wouldn't drink it, don't cook with it, is a good rule of thumb), I make an exception for sherry. That's because very few sherries are vegan, but I know that the cooking sherry from Napa Valley Naturals is. I've also put their cooking Marsala to use, as in my Mushroom and Caramelized-Shallot Strudel.

Nutrition Info:
4 servings (2 cups salad, 2 tofu triangles), Calories 88

Tasting Notes:
The tofu is just fantastic, all I was hoping for. I would use it in numerous applications other than this salad, such as topping off stir-fries or pasta dishes, cutting it into cubes to toss intp other salads, serving with fresh sandwich bread like ciabatta, or just for eating plain. It had great sesame flavor, and that almost "cheesy" texture and flavor that roasted tofu develops on the bottom. The salad was light, and a nice background for the tofu, but there was too much tart lemon in the dressing. Decrease to 1 tablespoon, and offset it with a little more olive oil and vinegar. A "4" for the tofu, but a slightly lower rating for the overall dish.


As I mentioned in the intro, you can try this salad with romaine instead. As a sturdier green, I thought it might stand up to the lemon juice dressing better, so gave it a try.

My hunch was correct, making the overall flavor more pleasing, while the tofu on top stayed just as yummy:

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