Sunday, April 27, 2014

Creamy Kale Salad with Blackened Tofu Croutons

Admittedly, there are probably a zillion kale salad recipes out there. Here's my own spin on this old favorite, one that's easy to make and is a real crowd-pleaser. It's another one of those recipes that can be changed to suit your tastes or accommodate what you have on hand. I had these veggies on hand and needed to use them up, but feel free to play around with it and find a balance of ingredients that works for you.

If you don't have a lot of time or experience with stemming and chopping kale, most grocery stores sell the bagged version pre-shredded for you. It usually has carrot and other stuff already in it and can be a time-saver when you need it.

The blackened tofu adds a nice punch to this dish. You can also use this recipe for other dishes that might be good with blackened tofu. It's certainly the star of this salad. A blackened tofu sandwich would be good, come to think of it. Hmmm...

2 bunches kale, stemmed and chopped
1/2 cup shredded carrot
1 small can sliced black olives
1 large tomato, diced
1 avocado, halved and diced

For the tofu:
1 package extra-firm tofu, drained and pressed
1 tbsp ground smoked paprika
2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tbsp Ener-G Egg Replacer (Bob's Red Mill works, too)
4 tbsp water
1/2 tsp maple syrup or agave nectar

For the dressing:
1/4 cup sesame tahini
1/4 cup water
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tbsp maple syrup or agave nectar
2 tsp whole grain mustard
1/4 tsp salt

Combine all the dressing ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Make the tofu: In a large, shallow dish, combine the seasonings and set aside. Take the pressed tofu and turn it on its side. Slice the long, narrow end of the block of tofu right down the middle, so you have two thinner blocks. Then, stack them flat and slice them twice length-wise. Rotate them and slice them four times the other way so you have nicely-sized cubes.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the water, egg replacer and maple syrup/agave. Dip the cubes in the liquid mixture a few at a time and then toss them in the seasoning, making sure that all sides are covered. As you finish, just put them in a single layer on the baking sheet. Bake the tofu for 25 minutes, tossing it around a little about halfway through.

Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat and then put the baked tofu in. Stir it around and ensure all sides are being cooked. The outer seasoning will harden a bit and form a crust. It'll also blacken a bit. This shouldn't take more than 3 minutes or so. Have a plate line with paper towels standing by for when they're done.

In a large bowl, toss the salad ingredients together a bit at a time to combine.

Add the tofu and dressing as you go. Once it's done, everything should be coated and the tofu should be distributed enough to get a "crouton" in every bite.