Southwest Summer Salad

Here is a spicy, savory meal that makes great use of prime summer produce — corn, tomatoes, lettuce, and avocados — in one delicious salad.  This is a crowd pleasing superstar, as it’s dairy and gluten free, vegan, deliciously nutritious, and easy to do much of the prep in advance.

Southwest Summer Salad

This salad uses one of my prior recipes, Spicy Tofu Crumbles.  If you would prefer, you may substitute grilled chicken breast for the tofu crumbles.  The quick to make dressing can be adjusted for spiciness depending on your preference.  (for Hannah & Caleb) Enjoy!

Southwest Summer Salad
(all quantities are dependent on number of servings needed)

romaine lettuce, washed and cut
tomatoes, rough chop large tomatoes, or halve cherry tomatoes
fresh sweet corn – kernels cut off cobs, sauteed briefly in a little olive oil, then cooled to room temp.
avocado, peeled and diced
bell pepper, chopped
fresh cilantro, chopped
pinto beans, cooked and cooled
toasted pepitas
Spicy Tofu Crumbles
Chipotle Lime Dressing (recipe below)

Assemble all ingredients in a large shallow bowl.  Dress the salad just before serving.  Add tortilla chips for extra crunch.

Chipotle Lime Dressing
3 TB fresh squeezed lime juice
6 TB extra virgin olive oil
1/2 to 1 tsp. chipotle powder (depending on how spicy your like dressing)
1/2 tsp. sea salt
2 cloves fresh garlic, pressed

Miso Broth Chicken or Tofu

This rich, brothy dish tastes much richer and more complex than it should, as it takes just 15 minutes to get together.
Miso Broth Chicken
Why?  The umami-bomb flavors of miso, soy, and shitaki create instant depth.  Sauteed onion gives this dish backbone, while fresh grated ginger adds sparkle.  Use sliced chicken breast or tofu for substance, and serve with cooked brown rice for a surprisingly easy yet satisfying meal.  Is it winter where you are (Boston? New York?) and are you on a limited food budget?  Good.  This is the recipe for you!

Miso Broth Chicken
(This is one of those dishes where exact measurements aren’t helpful.  Just aim for a rich, savory broth in which to poach chicken breast or tofu.  Use your best judgement as to how much miso, soy and water to use – just taste the broth and adjust to what your mouth says.  This recipe doubles easily and makes great leftovers.)

2 TB oil
1 medium yellow onion, halved and sliced against the layers
1 cup fresh shitaki mushrooms, sliced into bite size pieces
3 – 4 cups water
miso paste – about 1/3 cup
Soy sauce – to taste
1 TB grated fresh ginger
1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast, sliced into thin bite size pieces
1 tub firm tofu, drained and cut into bite-size pieces
(2 cups baby spinach – optional)

Heat a large sauce pan on high until medium-hot, then add oil and onions.  Saute onions until wilted and beginning to brown.  Then add shitaki mushrooms and saute for another few minutes.  Add water, miso paste and some soy sauce, and fresh ginger.  Bring to a simmer and simmer, covered for 5 minutes.  Add chicken or tofu and bring back to a simmer.  Allow to cook, covered, for another 4 – 5 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.  If desired, through in a the baby spinach now)

Taste for seasoning, and add more miso or soy sauce until the broth tastes just right.  Serve in bowls with spoons for slurping, with rice in a separate bowl.

Spicy Tofu Crumbles

Calling all frugalista foodies:  here is a simple, adaptable recipe to help you spice up your menu.

Spicy Tofu CrumblesAnd for all you vegans, vegetarians, and carnivores alike — take heart:  these toothsome crumbles have flavor.  The key?  your freezer and liberal use of seasoning.  Use these crumbles in tacos, in a salad, in place of ground beef or turkey in chile — wherever you want some spicy little bits of protein-packed tofu goodness.

Spicy Tofu Crumbles

1 package firm tofu*
2 TB olive oil
1 tsp. chipotle powder
2 cloves garlic, crushed
sea salt
juice of one large or two small limes

Remove tofu from package, drain off water, chop into 1 inch chunks, and place in a bowl or plastic container.  Place in the freezer until frozen.  When you’re ready to make the crumbles remove tofu cubes from freezer, and allow to thaw on counter or speed up the process by microwaving the frozen tofu in 30 second intervals until thawed.  Press down lightly on the tofu to remove excess liquid.

Heat frying pan until hot, then add the oil, crushed garlic, and tofu.  Saute and break up the tofu until hot, slightly browned, and broken into the size crumbles you like.  Add the chipotle powder, lime juice and 1/2 tsp. salt.  Taste for seasoning and add more salt to taste.

* You may be able to find extra-firm or super-firm tofu.  If this is the case, you may omit the freezer step.  The freeze/thaw step just helps the tofu to drain more liquid, resulting in a firmer texture.