Entrée, Salad, Spring, Summer

CRUNCHY TOFU CHOP

I rocked Cleo for a solid hour in that stained, suede chair. Nursing on either side of that just to try to calm her down while she screamed at me. She screamed even more at boobie-less Hugh. Pecking at his collar bone searching for one anyway while refusing to take a pacifier. Baby cries may not have a ton of gusto to them yet, but man can they grate on you. They make you empathetic for a little while but progressively become really frustrating. So I made cookies at 10pm because the only other sweet around here were date-coconut ball things and I needed something more serious than that. I didn't measure anything, I just eyeballed and trusted my experience to come up with something close. I referenced a recipe for how much baking soda or powder to use because it's the one piece of a cookie recipe I can't seem to log to memory. I added crisp rice cereal per Tara's instagram post and cut up a chocolate bar with scissors so I didn't have to wash a cutting board. We baked off a large one in the toaster oven to share as a late night snack and Cleo started crying again before it cooled. I know emotional eating is a real thing and that our relationship with food can greatly affect our long term health but sometimes, cooking for what you need in that moment, can be just the thing. Maybe it's cookies, but the next day, in light of a fresh start, I chopped up the vegetable drawer to make this easy lunch. You wore me down last night, little girl, but today is mine! That is how I felt as I stood over my largest salad bowl, eating this with a serving spoon. If food didn't connect us to things, to see the ebb and flow of what happens in our own kitchens, cooking would be nothing but a responsibility. The cookie nights versus the salad days, the big enough pots of pasta that I can treat someone to a last minute dinner delivery or share bits of "toddler food" with a friend who isn't sure what to feed her son. It's more than a responsibility. It's a gateway to so much more when you stand back.
I know at first glance it may look like a lot of ingredients here, but I think you'll find they are mostly pantry staples and it's more chopping and less cooking. When I asked a few months back what you all were looking for here, many of you requested easy, week-night, real-life sort of stuff and this is that for us. It's an even quicker version of this if you have rice leftover. I know I should probably just be cheerleading for salads here, but if a cookie is what you need, I hope you find that too. The sweetest spot is right in the middle.

CRUNCHY TOFU CHOP

I resisted avocado here because I wanted it to stay crunchy in the fridge but use one if you have it and may be eating this immediately. This could also be wrapped in a tortilla if you are going for a handheld situation. I used leftover rice, but quinoa could be a quicker cooking option. Most of the work here is the chopping as listed in the ingredients. Otherwise, it comes together in minutes. 

Serves 4

1 14 oz. pack extra firm tofu
1 heaping Tbsp. coconut oil
1 Tbsp. sesame oil
sea salt and pepper, to taste
2 large carrots, grated
3/4 cup cooked and cooled brown rice (or quinoa)
1 small hothouse cucumber, seeded and diced
1 bell pepper, seeded and diced
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1 small bunch cilantro
2 Tbsp. toasted sesame seeds
1/2 cup toasted cashews, roughly chopped

// dressing //

1 minced garlic clove
1 Tbsp. agave nectar
2 tsp. sriracha
1 tsp. tamari
juice of one lime
2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

Drain the tofu and pat dry with a paper towel. Cut it into small cubes. 

Preheat a large cast iron skillet over medium heat. Warm the coconut and sesame oil and once they are hot, add the tofu. Season generously with salt and pepper. Saute for 5-8 minutes until the outsides are just browned. The longer you cook it, the drier/crunchier the tofu cubes get so time it to taste. Set aside to cool.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the carrots, cooked rice, cucumber, bell pepper and onions. Very roughly chop the cilantro and add it to the mixture. 

In another bowl, whisk all the dressing ingredients together and toss desired amount with the salad to mix. Season to taste. Add the sesames and cashews. The salad may be kept dressed in the fridge for 2-3 days, slowly loosing some of it's crunch but still enjoyable.