August 28, 2013 9:36:26 AM
Many years ago, I was vegan. And I was rather fond of my tofu.
That was many years ago. Today I am rather fond of my bacon. And steak. And eggs. And all manner of cheeses.
Still, every now and again it's worth revisiting the culinary paths we walked before. I may no longer wish to abstain from things meat and dairy, but that doesn't mean I must in turn abstain from tofu. It is, after all, a healthy, delicious, affordable and versatile protein that -- thanks to being naturally lighter than meats and seafood -- is particularly good in summer.
Back in the day, I loved cutting tofu into cubes, then tossing them with chilled soba noodles and spicy peanut sauce. It was a robust, yet cool salad for a warm day. And lately I've found myself craving it.
But I decided to play around with the concept a bit. I wanted more flavor. And I wanted to make use of the grill to get it. The results were terrific.
One caution. It is important to search out tofu that is already smoked and baked. Not only is the flavor of this style of tofu (which are widely available in the produce/refrigerated Asian section at mainstream grocers) better, the texture is superior, as well. It has almost a cheddar cheese-like density. Conventional tofu is watery and flavorless and can be fussy to grill.
If you need a shortcut for this recipe, you could use bottled peanut sauce, but the flavor won't be nearly as good. It would be better to make the sauce ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator, where it will keep (tightly covered) for several days.
SPICY PEANUT NOODLE SALAD WITH TOFU
Start to finish: 40 minutes
Makes 6 servings
4 cups broccoli florets
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
8-ounce block marinated and baked tofu (check the refrigerated Asian section at the grocer)
6.2-ounce package soba noodles
2/3 cup natural peanut butter
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup water
3 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
1-inch chunk fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic
Hot sauce, to taste
2 scallions, chopped
1/4 cup chopped roasted peanuts
Nutrition information per serving: 420 calories; 220 calories from fat (52 percent of total calories); 24 g fat (4 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 37 g carbohydrate; 4 g fiber; 7 g sugar; 21 g protein; 1,330 mg sodium.