Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Eat More Vegetables

One goal I’m continually working on (I don’t like making New Year’s resolutions) is to 
eat more vegetables.  So I’m starting off 2012 with a tasty vegetable packed salad.
I've been making some form of this Asian style pasta salad for about a year now.  Each time I make the dish I tweak it here and there, gathering up ideas from various recipes.  In this version I was inspired after discovering Lauren Ulm's great blog and her recently published book, both called Vegan Yum Yum. The tofu and dressing are based on the "Soy-Mirin With Snow Peas and Peanut Sauce" recipe found on page 75.  Her cookbook is stuffed with her great photos and clear instructions, my favorite type of cookbook. 
This dish has 3 components; the dressing, the tofu, the fresh vegetables and pasta.  Make the dressing first, then prep your veggies, followed by cooking the tofu. Finish with cooking the pasta (I use either rice noodles or soba noodles), following the package directions.  I find the rice pasta tends to stick together and makes it hard to toss with the vegetables.  So I'll dress the pasta and vegetables separately and then layer the ingredients either in a serving bowl or directly onto individual plates.

I often double the peanut-dressing recipe so I never have to worry that I won’t have enough to toss with the salad.

Peanut Dressing:
¼ cup rice vinegar
¼ cup water (or coconut milk if you have it)
2-4 tablespoons peanut butter (depending on how strong a peanut flavor you like)
1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger or ¼ teaspoon powdered ginger
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon garlic chili sauce
Juice from 1/2 of a lime
1 clove of garlic

Add all of the ingredients to a jar with a lid and shake well every so often.  Let the dressing sit for at least 20 minutes to absorb some of the garlic flavor.  Dressing can be made ahead and kept in the refrigerator.

Soy-Mirin Tofu
1 Block Extra Firm Tofu, pressed, cut into small squares
1 tablespoon Canola or Peanut Oil
2 teaspoon Soy Sauce
2 teaspoon Mirin  (A Japanese low-alcohol, sweet, wine made from rice)
1 bunch of Kale chopped into pieces with ribs removed and
sautéd with 2 tablespoons Canola Oil and 2 teaspoons Soy Sauce

Pan fry the tofu in the oil over high heat in a cast iron or non-stick skillet until browned on at least two sides sides.   Turn off the heat and drain off any excess oil.  Mix soy sauce and mirin together and pour over tofu, mixing well.  It will bubble up and form a light glaze.  Add the kale and gently toss with the tofu.
Ingredient suggestions for the salad:
Rice noodles, or soba noodles, 
sugar snap peas
peanuts or pumpkin seeds
seasame seeds
pea sprouts

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