According to a recent article in Time, one of the three things you can do to extend your life is to eat way more plants.
We all like finding articles that support what we believe, so I was pleased to read that “. . . the healthiest diet is the one in which you eat a lot of plants.”
With that thought to inspire me, last night I re-created a well-received salad that I made on Saturday evening for a casual dinner at a friend’s home. Believe it or not, my Thai-inspired vegan salad uses thirteen plant sources, combining vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and legumes.
I also made it to help promote two delicious locally made dressings and marinades by Chef Roy Creations that I found at the Charlotte Regional Farmer’s Market last weekend: Sweet Thai Chili Vinaigrette and Sesame Vinaigrette. Now that Chef Roy is making a vegan version of the Sweet Thai Chili Vinaigrette Drawing & Marinade (the first incarnation contained fish sauce), I’m on the hunt for ways to incorporate it into my recipes.
Instead of using Nasoya Organic Sesame Ginger TofuBaked (which I have to admit is pretty darn convenient when I want to toss some in a salad), I went the old-fashioned route and made my own oven baked tofu with Chef Roy’s Sou Zou Sesame Vinaigrette Dressing & Marinade.
Nothing about baking tofu is complicated – it’s just takes a bit of time. Don’t believe any recipe that tells you that you don’t need to press your tofu – I’ve tried them, and the bottom line is that you really need to take the time to press your tofu slices. I sliced a block of extra firm tofu into 8 even slices, and pressed it between two cutting boards with a triple or quadruple thickness of paper towels on either side. Change those paper towels at least three times, because they will soak up a lot of the moisture in the tofu slices. Taking out the moisture first allows room for the tofu to absorb the marinade and gives you denser, more favorable slices to bake.
I whisk in a little cornstarch into the marinade, which I think helps to crisp up the tofu slices. After marinating the tofu slices for a couple of hours (overnight is even better), I get my oven super hot (500 degrees F), and line my cookie sheet with Reynolds No-Stick Aluminum Foil. Most of the other recipes I see bake the tofu at 350 or 400 degrees – but I think that the higher temperature bakes in the marinade in and crisps up the tofu nicely
Making your own baked tofu has one more distinct advantage . . . cost!
An 8 oz. package of the Nasoya TofuBaked costs roughly 4 bucks, depending on the store. You can buy a pound of organic extra firm tofu for right around $2. So, you can make twice as much baked tofu for half the cost with just a teeny bit of work. Your choice!
Feel free to be flexible with your ingredients.
- Don’t like peppers? Substitute another vegetable you enjoy.
- Can’t abide kale? Just add another leafy green. (BTW, I’ve been getting my greens lately from Spring Lake Family Farms – they are a family owned business and grow all their greens hydroponically, without pesticides or fertilizers. I got the super fresh micro greens, baby lettuce, and sugar snap pea sprouts from them.)
- Organic cashews too pricey? Peanuts or almonds are a lot less expensive and would taste fne.
- Is your produce drawer missing a mango? An avocado or even tangerine segments would probably be delicious too.
Since Chef Roy’s Sou Zou Sweet Thai Chili Dressing or the Sesame Marinade may be hard to find until they get larger distribution channels, the ingredients for each are fairly simple. If you’re clever, I’ll bet you could concoct a decent version yourself with a little trial and error experimentation.
- The Sweet Thai Chili Vinaigrette has chili peppers, garlic, ginger, rice vinegar, canola oil, sugar, white wine, sherry, distilled white vinegar dry mustard, and arrowroot.*
- The Sesame Vinaigrette has sesame seeds, white wine, distilled white vinegar, miring, and canola oil.*
*Both products also have potassium sorbate, but you obviously won’t need that if you’re making your own version!
- 1 lb extra firm organic tofu, sliced and pressed
- ½ cup Sou Zou Sesame Vinaigrette Dressing & Marinade
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch.
- ⅓ cup organic cashews
- ¼ cup pumpkin seeds
- Purple kale, stemmed and torn into small pieces
- Baby spinach
- Micro greens or several types of baby lettuce
- ½ cucumber, peeled quartered, and thinly sliced
- 1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
- 1 carrot, peeled, and thinly sliced or cut into matchsticks
- 2 yellow mini peppers, seeded and cut into small thin strips
- 2 red mini peppers, seeded and cut into small thin strips
- 1 mango, cut into small ¼" pieces
- Sugar snap pea sprouts (small needful)
- ¼ cup Sou Zou Sweet Thai Chili Vinaigrette Dressing & Marinade (vegan)
- Drain the tofu, and slice into 8 even slices. Layer the tofu slices between a triple or quadruple thickness of paper towels between two plastic cutting boards. If the cutting boards aren't fairly heavy, you can put a jar on the top one. Every 15 minutes or so, change the paper towels (at least three times). Once you've completed the third round, place the slices in a Pyrex dish. Mix the Sesame Marinade with the cornstarch (whisk it so there are no lumps!) and covert tofu slices with the Sesame Marinade. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.
- Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Put non-stick aluminum foil on a cookie sheet, and put the slices of marinated tofu on the cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, and then turn them over and bake for another 10 minutes. Let the cookie sheet cool on a wire rack. You can make the baked tofu several hours or even the day before. Refrigerate once it is cool, until you're ready to use it for the salad.
- Taste the cashews until lightly browned or golden (depending on your toasting preference).
- Slice each tofu slice into 6 slices (or cube each slice if you prefer).
- Prep all the other ingredients and combine everything in a pretty bowl. Toss with the Sweet Thai Chil Dressing, and enjoy!
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