Monday, September 19, 2011

Tofu "Chicken" Salad

Creating an healthy inspired lunch can feel as if Im trying to sleep on jello; exhausting, funny, but mostly confusing. I am having a serious no salad phase, for no good reason besides I have no desire to eat one. Or the energy to make a good one. Salads come and go with me, there are months I can't get enough, and then large chunks of time where I barely want to look at one. I long for the time in my life where I crave salad every day, where my hunger for rabbit food overrides my desire for bread and cheese. Probably referring to salad as rabbit food doesn't help my cause. Dammit.

What I am currently craving is chicken salad. ALL. THE. TIME. I think once a day I have a food day dream about it. As we all know, thats not the really the type of salad that makes for a healthy body. Its not the gross kind at a regular supermarket, but they light mayo rotisserie chicken salad at our organic markets that barely have anything but mayo, herbs and chicken. Dammit. Now I want one, thanks ME.

As always Jeanne Lemlin, author of my favorite Vegetarian cookbooks, to the rescue. I swear if I ever
meet her I will need for hugging and crying on a perfect stranger to be ok. I just want to hug her while she makes me food and stokes my hair. Lets all be honest, we all feel that way about her. It can't just be my Mom and I, right?

I had seen a Tofu "chicken" salad recipe that I had been wanting to try for a while, and finally did. Welcome to one of my new favorite staples. The damn tofu does taste pretty freakin close to chicken. Obviously not exactly, but the way you prepare it is clever, simple and makes a damn good fake chicken base. Then you can add the ingredients you love in your traditional chicken salad as you usually would, though next time I will probably try to make it more asian themed. The chicken is flavored with Braggs aka soy sauce, so I'm thinkin sliced orange, toasted sesame seeds, some food that is good at math would really make this salad sing. I like grapes and and any fresh herbs in my chicken salad, but everyone seems to have a a different favorite type of chicken salad. You must mix in what you feel is right FOR YOU :)

Actual in the kitchen time is only about 15 minutes, but you do need to let your tofu chill for at least an hour. If you try to make it warm it will turn out gross, so if you like gross stuff, then you shouldn't let it sit. The salad tasted best the first day I made it, but kept tasty for at least 3 days. I'm not sure how long it keeps, as always the sooner you eat something the better. Actually that is not always true, but it is for this, so there.

I planned to make my own mayo but simply ran out of time. Of course I only add enough mayo to hold the salad together, so its better to make your own, but not essential. Or maybe I'm just lazy. Serve on bread, or lettuce. I cannot say enough about how easy and tasty this was.

Be sure to get organic tofu without GMOs. GMO's are bad bad bad. Bad for the environment, bad for bodies, bad for land, they are evil and there is no law in the US requiring companies to label foods that contain GMOS. Here is site you can read all about them: NO TO GMOS!  Look for products that state they do not use GMOs especially products that use soy beans. Braggs liquid Amino Acids is a wonderful soy sauce equivalent for many reasons, including they do not use GMOs. I never use soy sauce any more, Im a Braggs girl through and through.

Tofu "Chicken" Salad
So yummy!
The Goods: Makes about 2 cups
1 package extra firm tofu, organic
1 tablespoon Braggs liquid Amino Acids (or Soy Sauce)
2-3 tablespoons mayo
1/4 cup grapes, quartered
3-4 scallions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon basil, chiffonade
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil (vegetable or canola is fine)

The Deal: 
1. Drain your tofu. Place your tofu in a kitchen towel (or paper towels) between two plates. Press out as much liquid as possible. The dryer the better. Once dry, place tofu on cutting board and finely chop into pieces about the size of small peas.

2. Heat oil in a large non-stick skillet over high heat until hot but not smoking. Add tofu and shake pan to evenly coat and prevent from sticking. Then using a spatula move it around until it is evenly browned, which should take 8-10 minutes. The pan may start to smoke, that's fine, but keep the heat high and stir frequently.
Just starting to brown
Browned and coated in Braggs
3. When tofu is golden brown, drop the tofu in a bowl and drizzle soy sauce over tofu, making sure to toss well. Let cool for 10 minutes. Then refrigerate until cold, at least 1 hour.

4. Stir in remaining ingredients and keep covered until ready to serve.

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