Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Roasted Tofu & Winter Greens Vermicelli Salad

Woah! I did not intend to be away from the blog for this long. I've missed it!! Though not intended, I'm not surprised. It's usually already the middle of January before I get my act together and do all the things I should have done on the 1st, like writing down my yearly goals and organizing for a fresh new start. I'm lazy and getting my butt of the couch after a few holiday breaks from work is near impossible. Just let me sit with a bag of hot cheetos, a warm blanket and leave me be. But a few "snow days" here in Texas scored me some unexpected days off from work & I took full advantage. Lists have been made, goals have been set, the art/work room is the most organized and functional it's ever been, the pantry received some extra love, and everything is clean and ready for me to mess up all over again!

Even though I was absent from here, I was still busy in the kitchen. I've been nonstop baking. Cakes on cakes on cakes I tell you! Like going to work all day, baking til 3am and then doing it all over again the next day. Which I guess explains why I enjoy eating chips on the couch during my free time so much. I'm tired, yo! But in all seriousness I'm so excited to be this busy and I'm so excited to document more on this here blog. And to add to my excitement, I have a few more cake orders to fulfill in the next coming weeks! 2014 is starting off with a bang & I can't help but feel optimistic about the coming months ahead.

But I don't think I can go without posting for that long again. So no more long breaks for me. This year I promise tons of food, better pictures (forgive me for the photos today. it was dark and rainy. it's been a long time since my iso was that high. boo.), and more terribly awkward/weird writing from yours truly.

Let's start with a simple vermicelli salad.

When I think of a vermicelli bowl, I usually think of it as a spring/summertime meal. Just a nice cold salad to enjoy during the hot summer months. But it's January and salads are my best friend right now... or at least they should be my best friend right now. A vermicelli salad can be a nice addition to your repertoire if you're feeling a little bored with your current list of mixed greens.

I think the real reason I made this is because I'm over the chilly weather and icy roads and my craving for a vermicelli salad was me saying- I'm ready for warmer weather. 

Regardless of my reasoning, this salad can be made using in season (always local if possible!) ingredients and makes one dang good salad. You can use winter greens like kale, collard greens, or chard. Maybe some shredded brussels sprouts or radicchio? Maybe roasted turnips instead of tofu?

Before I go... The most exciting thing happened at the beginning of this year...Austin Chronicle included me in their Top 10 Austin Food Blogs list!!! Made my day week month year!! Thank you Austin Chronicle!

**Notes: If you're trying to stay away from processed sugar- try substituting 1 tbsp of local honey, and then adjusting to your liking. When using honey instead of sugar, I also like to add a dash of hot sauce like sriracha.**

Roasted Tofu Vermicelli Salad
makes five servings

2 tbsp vinegar
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp water
juice of 1/2 a lime
2 tbsp sugar**
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 tsp red pepper
2 green onions, diced-white & green parts separated

1 block tofu, cut into 1" cubes
1 tbs olive oil
salt and pepper
1 bunch curly kale
1 cup chopped swiss chard
olive oil
juice of 1/2 a lime

vermicelli rice noodles

fresh cilantro
crushed peanuts
2 carrots, julienned

In a small bowl, mix together vinegar, soy sauce, water, lime juice, sugar, garlic, red pepper, and white parts of the green onion. Let it sit in the fridge while you prepare the rest of the meal.

Preheat oven to 400. In a large bowl coat tofu cubes with 1 tbsp olive oil and a sprinkle of salt & pepper. Spread tofu onto a parchment lined baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, toss and roast for another 15 minutes. During that time de-stem and chop the kale. In the same bowl used to coat the tofu, toss the kale and chard with a light drizzle of oil. Season lightly with salt and a squeeze of fresh lime juice. If your roasting pan for the tofu is large enough you can remove from the oven and add the kale to roast. If you need to use another prepared baking sheet, spread kale on top and place on the rack below the tofu in the oven to roast for 10 minutes. During the last 2 minutes of roast, remove the pan from the oven and add the peanuts.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Place the vermicelli noodles in large bowl and pour boiling water until noodles are submerged. Let soak for about 5 minutes, stirring with a chopstick every few minutes to loosen the noodles. Taste to make sure they are cooked all the way. Drain and then run cold water over the noodles to stop the cooking process.

Prepare your salad bowl by placing greens on the bottom, then noodles, tofu, and sprinkle with toasted peanuts. Don't forget to top with carrots, cilantro, green onion, and a squeeze of fresh lime juice.  


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