You can easily do this salad with chicken if tofu isn't your thing. The green beans with herb butter were leftovers I added on a whim, as were the marinated olives from the olive salad I made earlier in the week. Black olives would be just as nice, or none at all if you prefer. It is a salad, not a nuclear bomb-you can change things up without serious consequences.
You Will Need:
1 lb. (about, more or less) extra firm tofu (not the silken type)
1 cube vegetable bouillon or about a teaspoon soup base
1/4 cup boiling water
3 tablespoons corn oil (or whatever you prefer)
1 teaspoon thyme
1 tablespoon malt vinegar
1 teaspoon honey or golden syrup (optional) more for colour than taste
Black pepper to taste
Slice the tofu into fourths. Lay flat on a kitchen towel, and cover with another towel. Weight under a plate and a couple tins until it soaks the towels. Repeat as needed until the tofu is mostly free of water (you won't completely rid it of moisture, and that's okay).
In a non-reactive baking dish (I use my old Pyrex) combine the veggie cube and water. Stir until mostly dissolved. Add the rest, stir and add the tofu slices, turning once to make sure they're coated. You can do this up to 24 hours ahead, chilling it until needed. You can also cook it immediately. Most of the mixture is absorbed in the cooking so I'm not convinced the long marinating period adds much. Do as you see fit.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Bake the tofu 30 minutes, then carefully turn it ( a couple forks work better than a flat turner) taking care to avoid splashing yourself with hot oil (learn from my mistakes) and bake another 30 minutes, or until golden and the edges look carmelised. Cool, then chill until ready to finish making the salad. Cut into bite-sized pieces, or slices. The tofu will keep several days, and this technique is good for all sorts of things from skewers with vegetables, to "Coronation Tofu" (Yes, I know it is wrong, but it is such good picnic fare for the vegetarians in your life). You can also treat it in a similar fashion to make faux salt beef by adding pickling spices and a bit of food colouring, swapping out the veggie cube for an imitation beef flavoured one. My point is, one baked tofu method has endless possibilities.
For the salad:
Mixed salad green, chilled ahead of time on a plate.
2-4 cups cooked, hot jasmine rice
2 teaspoons cumin seed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium red onion, sliced thinly
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (you can of course use a chopped hot chilli if you have them to hand)
1 teaspoon ancho chilli powder (omit if using fresh chillies)
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (or lime if you prefer-they're both ace with chillies)
A bit more oil to dress the salad, olives, and cucumbers if you wish
Optional coriander leaves at the table.
In a large dry pan, toast the cumin until fragrant. Remove and set aside. Heat the oil over medium heat, and add the onions. Cook them until they have softened, but not browned. Add the garlic, cumin seeds, chilli flakes, chilli powder, and paprika, Cook stirring for about a minute. Add the tofu and cook until it is coated with spices. Add 1/4 cup water and cook a few minutes longer until it forms a sauce. Remove from heat, and stir in the lemon or lime juice.
Assemble the salad with the warm rice over the cold green. Scatter some olives and cucumbers around the edge of the plate and then top the rice with the warm tofu mixture. If you need extra oil for the salad, add it now. I offer the coriander leaves at the table as so many people feel strongly about it, I find it best to let them decide for themselves. Life is too damn short to argue about coriander.
We'll be doing plenty of salads this week as we're in a heat-wave through Monday evening. 100 degree temps with high humidity isn't my idea of fun, and at that point the pool just feels like bathwater. Danny helped me make raspberry syrup today to serve with chilled mint-infused water. That's my secret survival tip from my years on the farm without central air conditioning.
So much for my complaining we'd never get summer.