Thursday, January 1, 2009

Tofu "Chicken" Salad Sandwiches

This is the time of year we all "start over." Eating right, exercising and all that good stuff. I've jumped aboard the Lose 20 Pound Train too, so I'll try to keep recipes on the lighter side for the time being.

One sure fire way to lessen your fat and cholesterol INTAKE is to limit or omit the amount of meat you are eating. And to that end, meet my latest take on an "un-chicken" salad. Not that chicken was ever a "bad" protein in the first place. This is more to show you the flexibility of tofu -- an ingredient that I just love and I think more people would love if they just knew what on earth to do with it.

This is a simple, no-cook recipe, except for toasting the bread, so it's something the kids can do for an after school snack. Feel free to mix and match ingredients to fit your tastes. Tofu is a blank slate, it has a very mild flavor, so you can go as tame or wild as you desire. Have fun playing with your food!

Tofu "Chicken" Salad Sandwiches
1/2 lb firm tofu (half of one block)
2-3 leaves of red or green kale, chiffonade (which means thinly sliced)
1 tsp spicy brown mustard
1 Tbsp flax seed oil
1-2 Tbsp mayonnaise (depending on how creamy you want it)
1 tsp toasted pecan pieces
3 Tbsp cooked brown rice (great use for leftover rice)
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp paprika
salt and pepper to taste

2 ciabatta bread rolls, split and lightly toasted
lettuce leaves, for garnish
sliced tomato, for garnish

Place firm tofu in a mixing bowl and break up with a fork until it's in chunks reminiscent of chicken salad texture. Add remaining ingredients, except bread, lettuce and tomato, and mix gently so as not to turn the tofu to mush. Place mixture onto bottom half of the ciabatta rolls, top with lettuce and tomato and remaining half of the roll. Serve with a nice citrus salad on the side.

Arugula and Artichoke Salad

I've been craving arugula. It's not in season right now but I was happy to find some at the grocery store that was grown in Florida. For me, that's semi-regional since it's the next state south. Arugula has a fantastic peppery flavor and contributes to salads, sandwiches and wraps that just blows lettuce right out of the water!

This is a great take along salad. I made it for an hors d'oeuvre party for New Years Eve and it was well received. If you are going take it somewhere, don't add the lemon juice and feta cheese until you've arrived at your destination. Also put all of the other ingredients in your bowl or container except for the arugula, which you'll want to simply lay on top since you won't be tossing the salad until you get where you're going. Composing the salad at the last minute will keep the arugula crisp and the salad "un-muddy" and ensure the salad can sit out for a while on the buffet without wilting.

Arugula and Artichoke Salad
6 oz. jar marinated artichoke hearts, medium dice
2 Tbsp roasted red pepper, small dice
1/2 parsley leaves, chopped
1 Tbsp capers
2 cups baby arugula leaves
juice from 1/2 a lemon
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
crumbled feta cheese
salt and pepper

Compose ingredients in a salad bowl. Drizzle with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Toss to distribute flavors and top with feta cheese crumbles. Serve immediately.