Spicy Tofu Arugula Salad
The great thing about tofu is its ability to take on whatever flavors and spices you wish, making it an easy add to any dish you’re making. Its ability to take on a multitude of flavors adds a layer of complexity to otherwise simple meals. You can cut it in slabs, which are great in sandwiches, as cubes to go in noodles or stir fries, or you can try a fry-cut tofu.
I wanted to try a thin, fry-cut tofu because of its potential for crunchy surface area. I’ve found that baking tofu is the easiest, most hands-off ways to get crispy crunch tofu at home (no fryer needed).
Ingredients (for a single serving)
1/4-1/2 of a block of extra firm tofu
½ cup of coconut almond milk
2 tablespoons of melted peanut butter
1-2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
½ of a pear
1-2 handfuls of arugala
1 tsp lime juice
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp curry
1 tsp sriracha
If you’ve never prepared tofu, it’s important to go through a few steps to get it ready for cooking. When you open the package of tofu, you should drain the liquid from the package and rinse the block with fresh, cold water. Then proceed to cut about a fourth to a half of the block into slices. Continue to slice these slabs into thin, fry shaped pieces. The second important step in preparing tofu for cooking is to press it. Lay the tofu piece on a clean kitchen towel (paper towels also work but I find fabric to be more absorbent), folding over one half of the towel so the tofu is sandwiched in there. Then, I usually use a heavy fry pan or skillet weighted with a heavy object (cans of soup, a bag of sugar) to sit on top of the towel-tofu sandwich. Leave for 20-30 minutes. This process will press the water out of the tofu, leaving it like a sponge for any marinade you decide to use.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
In this recipe, the coconut almond milk is the base of the marinade. In a bowl large enough to fit all of the tofu, mix the peanut butter, sesame seeds, chopped scallion and spices in with the coconut almond milk. Adjust the spiciness to your liking by how much sriracha you add. The sweetness of the peanut butter and crunch of the toasted sesame seeds will make a nice crusty glaze when baked. After the tofu has been pressed, add the tofu to the marinade and let sit for 5 minutes to soak in the flavor.
Next gently pour the tofu and marinade onto a baking sheet. Bake for 25-30 minutes, flipping the tofu halfway through.
While the tofu is baking, chop up half of a pear into spears similar in size to the tofu fries. Toss the pear in with the arugula. To dress this salad, add the lime juice and a small drizzle of olive oil, along with a pinch of salt and pepper. When the tofu is finished baking, add it on top of the arugula salad and enjoy.
Madeline Zappala is a photographer living and working in Boston. She is currently working towards her Masters of Fine Arts at the School at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. She works in an intimate, personal documentary style of photography, exploring interpersonal relationships and what it means to be transitioning into adulthood in this contemporary cultural climate. See more of her work at zappalaphoto.tumblr.com.