Entrée Salad with Crispy-fried Tofu and BBQ’d Veggies

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Fire up the barbeque!  This salad has it all.  The quinoa and tofu provide protein, the mushrooms and corn add a nice smoky-savory element, and the raw veggies and dressing make the whole thing taste so fresh and amazing!  It’s also really filling… I couldn’t finish mine, which is something that almost never happens.  Preparing this salad involves some multi-tasking, but it’s well worth it.  More than half of the ingredients are pantry staples, so don’t be daunted by the list.  This recipe makes two entrée salads.

  • 1 romaine lettuce heart, washed and chopped
  • 2 ears of corn, shucked but for one layer of leaves
  • 2 large portobello mushrooms, chopped into large rectangles (about 1×2 inches)
  • Olive oil
  • ½ cup quinoa (dry measure), cooked according to package directions
  • 1 large beefsteak tomato, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2-3 green onions, sliced
  • For the tofu:
  • Half-block extra-firm tofu
  • ½ cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • Canola oil
  • For the dressing:
  • 1-2 tablespoons lime juice
  • Big handful of cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon agave nectar or maple syrup (or more if you like a sweet dressing)

(Note: I recommended cooking the corn and mushrooms on the BBQ, using a grill basket for the mushrooms.  If this isn’t convenient for you, you can boil the corn and roast or sauté the mushrooms.)

The corn can be placed directly on the grill over medium-high heat.  Toss the mushrooms in a bit of olive oil and pour them into the grill basket over medium heat.  Every few minutes, turn the corn and stir the mushrooms.  The corn is done when it’s bright yellow and has a bit of char, and the mushrooms are done when tender and juicy.  After cooling it for a few minutes, cut the corn off the cobs using a sharp knife.

While the corn and mushrooms are cooking, get going on the tofu.  Preheat a skillet over medium heat and add a generous amount of cooking oil such as canola. Slice the tofu into ¾ inch-thick slices, then cut the slices diagonally into triangles.  Mix the dry ingredients in a small bowl and dredge the tofu triangles to coat.

Carefully place the tofu triangles into the pan and swirl the pan a bit to ensure they are all sitting in a nice oily bath.  Flip them when they are nicely browned on the bottom, after about 3 minutes.  I like to cook crispy tofu quite well so that it dries out a bit and has a nice chewy texture…. So give them a few minutes on the other side until they look like perfect, crispy, golden wedges of yumminess.  (This tofu recipe is adapted from Fresh Restaurant’s crispy tofu cubes recipe, from their Refresh cookbook, which I highly recommend!)

Place all the of the dressing ingredients in a blender, food processor, or nutri-bullet, or use an immersion blender… just make sure all that yumminess is nicely pureed into a glowing green elixir.

Time to assemble!  Divide the lettuce between two large plates, and arrange in rows the green onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, quinoa, tofu, and corn.  Drizzle the whole thing with the cilantro dressing, and put any remaining dressing on the table, because you’ll probably want to add more.  Enjoy!

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