Spring Salad Season: Crunchy Thai Tofu Salad

Crunchy Chopped Thai Peanut Tofu Salad Vertical

Spring is here, the nights are warmer and longer, and I’m in full-on SALAD MODE. Watch out, world.

This Crunchy Thai Tofu Salad is somewhat similar to some of my other recipes for sure. I throw together slaws and salads like this a lot, but the one I made tonight turned out especially well if I do say so myself. (I’m not alone, Rob also thought it was a step above my usual big salads.) What’s different? There’s no quinoa or grains here, just ALL CRUNCH, utilizing as many fresh vegetables as possible. I’ve added tofu for some more protein and texture, and incorporated yet more delicious, fiber-filled vegetables. Plus the addition of curry paste to my dressing really amped things up.

Crunchy Thai Peanut Tofu Salad

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Thai-Inspired Kale and Carrot Salad

Thai Kale Salad

Last week, I participated as a featured food blogger (woo!) in a kale-centric event at kor180, an indoor cycling and pilates studio in downtown Austin. It was a blast! I demo-ed one of my recipes, met a ton of awesome members of the Austin fitness and cooking community, and generally had a great time.

Obviously I was jazzed to attend a party ALL ABOUT KALE, and also unsurprisingly, I put an Asian twist on my salad recipe. What can I say? Sometimes I’m pretty predictable. In this case it was a good thing, as my recipe turned out really well, if I do say so myself. It’s crunchy, salty, sour, a little sweet, and a little spicy. Plus it’s veeeerrry easy to make and totally good for you. What’s not to love?!

Thai-Inspired Kale and Carrot Salad

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Japanese Quinoa Salad

I know quinoa has been somewhat of a divisive subject here on the ol’ Simmer, but that only makes me want to write about it more. So, here’s this! A recipe that my roommate Dayna actually whipped up and I have stolen from her, because it is sooooo good. Healthy, light, and packed with protein (edamame plus tofu plus yep, quinoa), this has become one of my favorite post-workout snacks and a lunch-on-the-go staple. It’s super easy to throw together and keeps well in the fridge for up to about a week.

JapaneseQuinoaSalad

Japanese Quinoa Salad

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Taking EDF to the Next Level

As you may have noticed from my various posts on the subject, I am in a constant state of eating down the fridge and/or cabinets.  One key to doing this successfully, I have found, is to keep a few interesting ingredients on hand, lest eating down the fridge become an exercise in tedium.  The ideal add-ins are shelf-stable, or at least will stay good in the fridge for six months or so.  A well-stocked spice rack is a good first step.  I am realizing, though, that there is a whole other category of these add-ins, a top shelf, if you will.  A jar of  capers or sundried tomatoes in oil, for example.

One way I have identified some of these premio foods-to-have-on-hand is by checking out some favorite food blogs and cookbooks and noting things that seem to pop up again and again.  The latest addition to the fridge door is  white miso paste, purchased at Korean Korner.  My new go-to food blog, Everybody Likes Sandwiches, features it often, in everything from tofu glaze to coleslaw.

Also, once you have miso paste, making miso soup is about as hard as boiling water.

Easy Miso Soup

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This Week at the Farmers Market: Savory Citrus Roasted Asparagus with Tofu

This tender spring veggie is celebrated in festivals across the country this time of year, but even if you can’t attend one of the many super exciting events honoring these green stalks, you can buy some really fresh right now at most farmers markets and have your own party. Asparagus is made up of vitamins E, A, and C, folate for a healthy heart and cell regeneration, and potassium, which can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol. Plus, fresh and locally grown asparagus just tastes way better than store-bought, although with the price of sand. Smart Tip: Genius neo-chef and farmer Dan Barber warns that you should blanch your farmers market asparagus before using to get it fully clean.

Just so happened my mom was having a vegan dinner party this weekend, so I offered up this dish — my tribute to the asparagus gods — and it was a hit.

Savory Citrus Roasted Asparagus with Tofu

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America’s Top 10 New Sandwiches — Veganized

Our recent article on America’s Top 10 New Sandwiches has caused quite a stir in the blogosphere, but no one was more riled up  than a group of spunky vegan bloggers. Their de facto leader, Namely Marly, explains:

We read this article with great curiosity but it didn’t take long until the curiosity faded and was replaced with something else. OK. We were grossed out. Particularly at one sandwich that referred to an ingredient called suckling pig. We hoped this was a reference to something other than the obvious, but it appears it is exactly as it sounds. Only one of the 10 sandwiches appeared to be vegetarian. We felt like a cross between Stan Laurel and Rodney Dangerfield, scratching our heads with a half whimper and half scowl thinking, “Why don’t we vegans get any respect?”

So they decided to demand their own respect, teaming together to create tasty and healthy versions of each cholesterol-laden entry on the list of America’s Top 10 New Sandwiches. Hence, America’s Top 10 New Sandwiches — Veganized. Here are all ten of ’em. Follow the links for recipes.

10. The Vegan Spuckie

We called this olive-carrot-mortadella goodness from Cutty’s in Boston “the one sandwich that most successfully merges the old-school method of overdoing it on Italian meats with the new world of artisan, veggie-centric goodness.” Drop the meat part and it’s still drool-worthy. Trina Jaconi Biery of Your Vegan Mom made her own meat-free mortadella, featured here on a ciabatta roll topped with vegan mozzarella and a sweet carrot-olive salad.

Recipe: The Vegan Spuckie

(Photo: Trina Jaconi Biery)

9. Vegan Bulgogi Steak Sandwich

When Allyson Kramer of Manifest Vegan learned there was a Bulgogi Steak Sandwich (from Koja in Philly) on the list, she jumped at the chance to veganize it. As a child she used to eat bulgogi steak sometimes twice a week. Now a vegan, she’s been hankering to try a veggie-friendly version. Served on a hoagie roll (Allyson even provided a recipe for gluten-free hoagie if that’s to your liking), marinated tofu is topped with caramelized peppers and onions, chili garlic sauce, and melted vegan mozz.

Recipe: Tofu Bulgogi Steak Sandwich

(Photo: Allyson Kramer)

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Labels are for Soup Cans

It is a question I’ve had to answer again and again.  If it doesn’t come up the first time meeting me (what tipped you off — the obviously thrift store jeans or the decrepit Earth shoes?) I know it still dwells in my new friend’s/coworker’s/grocery store checker’s mind. Maybe they open my fridge for another beer and encounter a meat drawer full of cheese. Perhaps they suspiciously eye my container of leftover tofu pad Thai.  Whatever sparks it, I always know it’s lurking below the surface like Jaws, if Jaws ate black beans instead of people.  “Are you a vegetarian?”

The answer, strictly speaking, is no. The answer, compared to most Americans, is basically, yes. I first heard the term flexitarian a few years back, and I actually suppressed a gag reflex.  Sorry ES, I know they once received a nomination for eater of the year, but I am not ready to unite my eating habits with the soy hemp pomegranate latte crowd. At a recent foodie gala thing, I overheard someone say, “I don’t know what I’m going to eat when I go home because this is my first Thanksgiving as a pescatarian.”  Cue aforementioned gag reflex, and accompanying eye roll.  I mean, come on, you could practically cut the sanctimony with a fillet knife.  Blech.

So, my answer, like most real ones, is, it’s complicated.  I like happy meat from happy cows and you likely won’t find any animal parts in my fridge unless my husband has a hankering for sausage on his homemade deep dish pizza.  One coworker dubbed all of my leftovers “nut-berry casserole.” But…I believe in hospitality, both giving and receiving, so I will eat (and enjoy) any lovingly prepared food, animal or otherwise.  Don’t knock the West Virginia pickled hot dog ‘til you’ve tried it.  And if the only place to watch the Illini game is Buffalo Wild Wings, bring on the hot and spicy wing platter.

I don’t think telling you how great vegetarianism is will convert you any more than telling you how often I go to church is going to make you a Christian.  But St. Camillus does have a fabulous 10:30 mass if you ever care to join me, and if you come for lunch afterward, I dare you to leave any nut-berry casserole, I mean Gado Gado, on your plate.

Gado Gado (A dish so nice they named it twice)

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