Berry and Avocado Summer Salad with Barbecued Tofu

berry avocado salad

I have been making this salad everyday for a couple of weeks now. It has all the perfect components for a summer dinner. The seasonal ingredients, the sweet and savory flavors, the cold ingredients easily thrown together in the kitchen, the hot ingredients cooked outside on the grill to keep your house cool, the bright happy colors- It’s summer in a bowl! If you don’t think you like tofu, you might not have tried it barbecued. I wouldn’t even say that it particularly tastes like barbecue sauce or feels like tofu. The sugar in the sauce caramelizes to a savory taste and the tofu firms up for a satisfyingly chewier texture. I like it better than tofu prepared any other way. This is an easy salad to throw together when you are having people over for dinner because it’s quick and looks so pretty. It is also packed with protein and  many healthy nutrients!

Berry and Avocado Summer Salad with Barbecued Tofu

Serves 2

6 oz of organic super firm tofu

1/4 cup barbecue sauce of your choice, or try this recipe if you want to make it from scratch!

3 cups baby arugula

6 fresh basil leaves, finely chopped

1 sprig of dill, finely chopped

2 green onions, finely chopped

1/3 red bell pepper, very finely chopped

5 strawberries, sliced

1/2 cup blueberries

1 avocado, pitted, peeled, and thinly sliced

1/3 cup raw walnuts

1/4 cup balsamic reduction (you can buy this at the store- usually labeled balsamic glaze- or make it by simmering balsamic vinegar over low heat until it thickens, about 15 minutes)

Optional: 1/4 cup olive oil (I found that the fat from the avocados and walnuts was enough fat for me but to each her own!)

 

If you have bought a block of tofu, slice off two 1/2″ thick slabs, and slather them in the barbecue sauce. Heat up the grill to medium high heat and grease it with a little oil. Once the grill is piping hot, lay the tofu slabs on there and grill for about 10 minutes per side, or until you get those nice dark grill marks.  If you don’t have a grill, you can put them in a preheated oven at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, turning once halfway through. I even make these in my toaster oven to keep the heat in the kitchen to a minimum.

While the tofu is cooking, get a big serving plate and spread out the arugula. On top of the arugula, sprinkle the basil, dill, green onions, and bell pepper evenly. Then, layer the strawberries and blue berries evenly. Do the same for the avocado and walnuts. I like to make a nice pattern and space everything out in an even, radial design. But, if you are not crazy like me and just throw everything on there, it will still be just as pretty, haha.

Finally, drizzle with the balsamic reduction and serve with the barbecued tofu slab on top. If you want you can slice the tofu up, which is what I did after taking the picture.

Happy Summer!

 

berry avocado summer salad (1)

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Chimichurri Sauce

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I really love sauces. I think everyone in the world could be a happier plant-eater if only they would explore the magic of homemade sauces, dips, marinades, dressings, and spreads. The right sauce can turn a measly little carrot into a succulent morsel of the gods. It makes all the difference. Chimichurri sauce (one of my favorites) is a fantastically aromatic Argentinian sauce that is traditionally used as a marinade for steak. But of course, it is a mind-blowing condiment for veggies as well! Typically, it is bright and green and spicy, but there are also deep red variations with tomato and peppers. Everybody makes it a little differently and it’s the kind of sauce that you just cannot mess up. It’s delicious to sop up with a hunk of crusty bread, or brushed onto some roasted potatoes hot out of the oven. I also love tossing a pile of brightly colored veggies in a bowl of chimichurri, then threading them onto skewers and barbecuing until they reach a fragrant charred perfection.Give them another quick brush of the sauce right when they come off the grill. It even makes a bright and tangy salad dressing.

Chimichurri Sauce

makes about 1 cup

1/2 cup packed flat leaf parsley

1/2 cup packed cilantro

4 cloves garlic

1 cup first cold pressed olive oil

1 tsp fresh oregano

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp red chili flakes

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1 small shallot, roughly chopped

Throw everything in a blender and blend until well combined.

Of course eggplants seem to be having a moment in my kitchen this month, so I just had to make some super delicious baked chimichurri eggplant fries. chop an eggplant into thick fry-like sticks and toss them in the chimichurri sauce. Bake in a 400 degree oven for about 25 minutes, flipping halfway through. Give them another brush of sauce after you flip them. They should get crispy and charred when they are ready to come out. I seriously just ate an entire eggplant all by myself, it was too good.

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Classic Tomato Soup

Classic Tomato Soup

My mom’s garden (or as I call it, her micro-farm) is overflowing with tomatoes right now. She gave me a huge bushel of them and I wanted to put them to good use while they were perfectly ripe. I also got a delivery from this company that shops the farmer’s market for you and delivers a big box of organic produce to your door. It came with some gorgeous yellow onions, little carrots, and giant basil leaves, so this was some seriously locavore/farm-to-table-style soup! I took a pretty simple Martha Stewart recipe and mixed it up a bit with the fresh ingredients instead of store bought ones, because I think that is really the key to great soup. (Her recipe also called for a half cup of butter– hey, whoa there Martha, some of us have bikinis to wear.) So I used fresh tomatoes instead of canned, homemade stock instead of canned, and fresh herbs instead of dried. It came out with so much flavor and as one taster put it, it’s a very light and summery soup!

Classic Tomato Soup

Makes 6 servings

24 ounces fresh tomatoes (about 4 cups)

4 cups water

1 tbs olive oil

2 carrots, roughly chopped

1 yellow onion, roughly chopped

4 cloves garlic, smashed

Assorted fresh herbs (basil, rosemary, thyme, sage, oregano)

3 tsp salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tbs olive oil

2 medium yellow onions, chopped

5 cloves garlic, chopped

5 basil leaves, chopped

2 teaspoons sea salt

a couple more grinds of fresh black pepper

 

Pour 4 cups water into a pot and bring to a boil on high heat.

Add the tomatoes into the boiling water for about a minute, then pull them out with tongs and dunk them in a bowl of ice water.

With the leftover tomato-boiling water, add the 1 tbs olive oil, carrots, onions, garlic and herbs. You can add other veg scraps if you want, this was just what I had handy. Cover, reduce heat, and let simmer for 1 hour ( or if you have a pressure cooker, bring it up to full pressure and cook for 10 minutes, much easier!) You want to have 3 cups of stock by the time it’s done.

Strain the stock with a sieve and set the liquid aside.

Once the tomatoes have cooled, peel them and cut out any tough center part along with the stem. The peels should practically fall off. They are going to be very juicy so do this in a bowl where you can keep all the juices.

In a large, deep saucepan, heat the 2 tb olive oil on medium low and sauté the onions and garlic for 15 min. stirring often.

Add the stock, tomatoes, and basil to the pan and cook for about 20 min on  medium low heat.

Then pour everything into a blender and blend really well. Be careful with the steam!

Add salt and pepper if you think it needs it.

Voila! I served it with a green salad dressed in a mustard vinaigrette.