Julia Emerges Victoriously!!

I am tired of me and tired of hearing me whine and really tired of this oppressive summer heat!  Gag!!!!!

So, I decided to try something new, because, well, maybe new is good and a change of pace a positive thing?  Who knows?  So, I picked up Family Fun Magazine.  I know, not exactly a “food” oriented magazine, and certainly not a gourmet one.  But, hey, it was closest to me at the time.  Ya gotta start somewhere, right?  Besides, they have wonderful craft ideas every month along with ideas for family activities and, yes, kid friendly recipes.  Admittedly, some of my kids’  favorite menus and craft projects have come from here. 

I was pleasantly surprised to find a set of salad recipes that stretch the palate, and decided to try this one:

My kids’  first response was to turn up their noses, because, “Tofu?? Really Mom??”  The salad turned out beautifully and was quite filling despite the initial protests.  In the end, they both ate and liked it!  So, bonus for me!   I didn’t have any sesame oil left, so I used wok oil instead.  Since it is an infused oil, I’m not so sure it wasn’t a better choice anyway.  It added a bit more flavor than sesame alone would have provided. 

There is a bit of prep, but it was worth it.

Salad:

  • 1 (14-ounce) block extra-firm tofu, drained (see note below)
  • 12 ounces linguine noodles
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced into thin, 2-inch sticks
  • 1 cup sugar snap peas, trimmed and strings removed (I used 2 cups because we love snap peas)
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped (I omitted this since I was out of it.  Plus, that seemed like a LOT of cilantro and I like cilantro.  Also, in my brain, cilantro is a Mexican dish mainstay and seemed out of place in an Asian salad.  I am not a big fan of change, remember?  So, the salad itself was pushing the envelope enough already.)
  • 3 tablespoons lite soy sauce, 1 tablespoon honey, 1 teaspoon rice vinegar

1/4 cup sesame seeds

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil, 1 tablespoon canola oil

Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup lite soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar, (I used Balsamic)
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons peeled and minced fresh ginger
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

 Instructions:

  1. Slice the tofu block equally into four squares.  Slice each square into four rectangles, then turn each slice on its side and cut diagonally into two triangles.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with a double layer of paper towels and arrange the tofu on top in a single layer. Cover the tofu with another double layer of paper towels and place a baking sheet on top face up, along with a weight, such as a heavy pot. Let the tofu drain for at least 10 minutes.   You many change paper towels if yours become saturated.  The firmer tofu you have to start with, the better it will cook up in the end.  (These instructions are my alterations from the recipe you can find on-line, but I like a firmer tofu bite.)
  2. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients for the dressing and set it aside.
  3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook the noodles according to the package directions. Rinse the noodles with cold water, drain them, and toss them with the dressing. Add the carrots, snap peas, scallions, and cilantro, and toss once more. (I added my carrots, along with some cauliflower and broccoli pieces (about 2 cups) to the end of the boil time for my linguine so they were al dente).  After that was drained and rinsed in cold water, I added the dressing and tossed and then I added the snap peas and a small can of  drained water chestnuts for added crunch and tossed again.) I’m really not very good at following directions am I?  Either that, or I just know what I like.  Or, better yet- I’m very creative!  Yes, I think I’ll go with creative!
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, honey, and rice vinegar and set the mixture aside.
  5. Place the sesame seeds on a small plate. Firmly press both sides of each tofu piece into the seeds. Heat the sesame and canola oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the tofu, frying each side until golden brown, about 7 minutes per side. Drizzle the soy mixture onto the tofu and continue cooking 1 minute more.
  6. To serve, fill each bowl with the noodle mixture, then top it with a few pieces of tofu.
Nutritional Information:
Per serving (1/6 of recipe) Calories 378, Total Fat 15 g (24%), Saturated Fat 2 g (12%), Cholesterol 33 mg (12%), Sodium 1,107 mg (46%), Total Carbohydrate 41 g (14%), Fiber 7 g (29%), Sugars 7 g, Protein 19 g (39%), Vitamin A (115%), Iron (27%)
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