Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Eating Well Summer Salads

Just wanted to point out that Eating Well has a bunch of summer salads and slaws. I like their stuff and their criteria for "healthy" is pretty good. Find the recipes here.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Another Saturday Salad with Tofu

Saturday lunches are really great this time of year. I go to the farmer's market in the morning and we have wonderful veggies and fruit and fresh Pekara bread. How much better does it get?

This week we had mixed greens with snap peas, red onion, red bell pepper and grated raw beets (and of course, our choice of salad dressings prepared earlier in the week). I think it was either Mark Bittman or Martha Rose Schulman who first introduced me to grating raw beets into a salad and I have been doing it ever since. Beautiful and tasty!

We also had crispy tofu cubes in this salad. Easy to make and I love having them on hand, though we like them so much they are hard to keep around. I buy extra firm tofu (not silken), cut it into chunks and freeze the pieces on a cookie sheet. When they are thoroughly frozen, I pop them into a freezer container and they are ready to pull out whenever I need them.

Don't be alarmed when your frozen tofu cubes look yellow -- it's not harmful, and the color returns to normal when the tofu thaws. I thaw the cubes in the microwave on high. It takes a couple minutes or so, depending on how big the pieces are and how many you have. Then squeeze (gently) the water out. Freezing releases the water and makes the tofu chewy and absorbent. It will quickly absorb whatever marinade you put it into. There's no need to let it sit in the marinade for a long time, I cook it immediately.

The marinade is your choice. My default is 1/4 cup reduced sodium soy sauce per pound of tofu, with a little Chinese sesame oil added for good measure. If you use more soy sauce than that, it will be ultra salty. You can always add a little water (remember that you lost a lot of water when you squeezed the tofu) to make the marinade go further. I add the tofu to the marinade all at once and toss quickly so it absorbs evenly. Spread on a foil lined cookie sheet sprayed with cooking spray and bake, turning once part way through. You can use most any temp from 350 to 425 degrees, and the time varies accordingly. I cooked mine at 425 for 20 minutes, turning at 10 minutes. So good!

You can also cut the tofu into slabs (I do about 10 per pound) and cook those the same way. Great for sandwiches.

Mango and Black Bean Salad

I went to the grocery store yesterday not knowing exactly what salad I wanted to make, but knowing it would have three key ingredients: peppery arugula, crisp-tender asparagus, and fresh figs or Medjool dates. My grocery store, however, had other plans—none of those ingredients were in stock. (The produce section is decimated on Sunday afternoons.) But I noticed ripe avocados and mangoes, two things that are hard to find out here, so I decided to take my salad in a different direction.

Mango and Black Bean Salad

1 mango, peeled and diced
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 orange bell pepper, seeded and diced
1/2 avocado, diced
olive oil
lime juice
chili powder
mixed greens

Mix the first four ingredients together. Add a dash of olive oil, a much larger dash of lime juice, then chili powder, cumin, and salt to taste. (I used a lot of chili powder, slightly less cumin, and still less salt.) Serve on top mixed greens. Makes about 4 servings.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Roasted Asparagus Salad

Roasted asparagus sprinkled with a bit of herbs -- so good! But I now have two jars of salad dressing in the fridge, so I thought I would try a roasted asparagus salad tonight to go with our pasta e ceci supper. To keep the dressings from mixing, I divided the asparagus between two plates and then discovered it's really hard to take a photo of two plates that shows them both well. Please forgive.

The plate on the left has the Miso Tahini Dressing and the one on the right has Rolf's Mother's Chinese Salad Dressing. Both were good (I had a slight preference for the miso one, Brian for the Chinese one), but neither went particularly well with pasta e ceci. And neither compared to my all time favorite of roasted asparagus with the tiniest drizzle of garlic or lemon olive oil and herbs. At this point I'll quit trying to make a good -- make that great -- thing better and instead I'll try some salads that don't mess with my asparagus.

Out to lunch today with friends, and then dinner out tonight with Brian to celebrate our anniversary, so no homemade salad today.