I’m baaacckkk! I know you all missed me, so lets just skip over the pleasantries and get cooking!
A few weeks ago a friend of mine asked me if I ever cook with tofu. I said yes, because I’m certainly not opposed to it. However, after I said that I realized that I can count my encounters with tofu on one hand – I’ve tried it in smoothies a few times and put it in a stir-fry another time, but that has basically been it. Speaking of tofu in smoothies, I’d like to just clear the air and reveal to all of you who insist that you cannot taste the tofu in a smoothie, YES YOU CAN!!! Let’s just stop pretending that it magically disappears, ok? I do not buy for one second the belief that one cannot detect coagulated soy milk in their smoothies. Kudos to those of you who have been brainwashed cannot tell, I’m just not part of that camp. Mind you, I put spinach in my smoothies so I suppose I’m hardly the one to talk.
Wait a minute! This is MY blog and I can talk about whatever I want!!! Mwah ha ha…
So back to the salad. The other day I was flipping through an old Cooking Light magazine – circa 2005 or 2006 I think – and I stumbled upon a recipe for a quinoa salad with tofu, beans, and a basil vinaigrette. It jumped out at me because (a) it contains quinoa, which I love, (b) it contains tofu, which means I could blog about my adventures conquering the soy block that often has me tremouring in fear, and (c) it would keep in the fridge for a few days, which would mean less cooking on a daily basis. How could I go wrong?
(Please don’t answer that, or ask to see the scars on my hands from knife slippage. I’m sensitive.)
Time to round up the troops!
Let’s see…that would be some quinoa (be honest – how many of you so that one coming?!?!), a carrot, a lemon, some green onions, garlic, tomatoes (grown in my garden, as proven by their stickers), tofu, basil, Dijon mustard, black beans, edamame, olive oil, sugar, salt, and pepper.
First things first: we must cook the quinoa. Wait – scratch that – we must talk about what quinoa actually is! I could give you the long and drawn out answer, but my guess is that your Google skills are as good as mine and if you are truly curious you won’t pay any attention to what I say because you’ll be Googling like it’s your job. If you’re not familiar with it, all you need to know is that it is a delicious grain that is a complete protein source. It’s light and fluffy when it’s cooked – similar to couscous but 100x more nutritious. Oh yes, and in case you’re wondering, it is pronounced Keen-Wah, not Quin-Oh-A. Got that?
Some quinoa needs to be rinsed; mine didn’t. I suggest you read the package on yours before following my lead and ruining your salad.
Is it even possible to ruin salad?!?!?
Sometimes I make no sense. I’m ok with that. Hope you are too.
Dump about 1.5 c of quinoa and 3 c of liquid into a pot and bring it to a boil. You can use water, chicken stock, or vegetable stock. Or – this option is only for the truly adventurous – a combination of the three.
Once it’s come to a boil, stick a lid on the pot, reduce the heat, and let it simmer for about 15 minutes. While you’re at it, stick another pot of water on to boil – we’ll need it for the edamame.
Next, we shall conquer tofu. Together.
I bought the extra-firm tofu for this salad, and you should too. Do not – I repeat, do not – purchase or use soft tofu. The moisture content is too high, and it won’t fry up properly and would just be plain gross. Even though I’m using the extra-firm kind, I still wanted to drain it. So I did. It’s just how I roll.
To drain tofu, unwrap it from its package and place on a few layers of paper towels.
Place a few more layers of paper towels on top, and then weigh the whole thing down.
Can you imagine if we were using soft tofu? We’d all be witnesses to tofu being splattered everywhere…think tofuicide. **Shudder** I’m sorry for that mental picture. If you can’t sleep tonight, you can call me and I’ll talk you through it.
Moving on…to the onions!
Green onions, more specifically. Chop some up – 1/2 c or so, depending on your taste buds and preferences.
I think we need some carrots too, for colour if for nothing else. Once again, a 1/2 c of so should be sufficient.
And tomatoes…3-4, depending on what you feel like. Remember to remove those pesky homegrown stickers prior to cutting the tomato, unless you are particularly skilled at puzzles.
Throw everything into a large container along with one can of black beans (drained and rinsed please):
Set the veggies aside, and take the opportunity to dump a bag of frozen shelled edamame into that pot of boiling water you put on at the same time as the quinoa. Cooking Light suggested lima beans, but I figured since I was using tofu I might as well go big or go home in the soy department. No quitting at half-time as far as this salad is concerned!
Quick! We only have 3.5 minutes before the edamame is done, and we need to make a vinaigrette pronto. You know what that means? Are you thinking what I’m thinking?
Oh ya baby…it’s time for the one and only Magic Bullet.
Disclosure #1: the folks at Magic Bullet land have no idea who I am, nor did they pay me to endorse their product. I just like it.
Disclosure #2: writing about the Magic Bullet just made me crave a frappuccino, so I just made one. Would you be interested in a post exclusively on Magic Bullets? I’ll let you get back to me on that one.
Here’s what went into the bullet…
About a cup of fresh basil, 2 cloves of garlic, the juice of 1 lemon, about 2 T of olive oil, 1/2 t of sugar, about 2-3 t Dijon mustard, and some salt and pepper.
After a few pulses (courtesy of my 4 yr old sous chef), here’s what came out!
If you don’t have a Magic Bullet, have no fear. Just use your blender or food processor, or chop up your basil and whisk everything together. No biggie. I’m just too lazy to do that when there is a perfectly good appliance at my disposal.
I have a nagging feeling I’m forgetting something…
Oh yes! The tofu! Remove it from its drainage station (official culinary term, for those of you wanting to know), and dice it up. I diced it pretty small, because the thought of eating a large cube of tofu is completely unappetizing to me I’m new to the tofu game, but if you’re more experienced than me please feel free to keep the pieces larger. Encourage your sous chef to dialogue with you about what it feels, looks and smells like, and then hide your shock when he pops a cube into their mouth. No clue where he got that idea!
Heat up a drizzle of oil and saute the tofu for a few minutes until it gets nice and golden brown. Don’t forget to season with salt and pepper while it’s cooking – tofu needs all the help it can get in the flavour department.
While the tofu is doing its thing, drain the edamame and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process and help keep it bright green.
Want to see the cooked quinoa? I know you do, so here it is!
All light and fluffy, just the way I like it. And the way its supposed to be, unless you’re into sprouting raw quinoa but that’s another post for another time.
Time to mix everything together…
We’ve got the (cooled) quinoa, the edamame, and the dressing…
…and then everything else that I’ve talked about but forgot to take a picture of!
Once it was all mixed together, here’s what it looked like:
Hmmm…it’s colourful, full of protein and complex carbohydrates, and interesting enough for my palate. I feel healthier just looking at this, so in my books that makes Green Goddess Salad a good thing. Let me know if you agree!
P.S. Cooking Light Magazine called this salad something else, but I think they should have consulted me – Green Goddess Salad feels more appropriate. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Over and out.