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May 4, 2009

Spring Salad with Apricot Glazed Tofu

This weekend I picked up my first CSA delivery of the season, a bag of
radishes, spring onions, and delicate salad greens. The reappearance of
edible plants has me dancing around the kitchen and daydreaming about
salad. This one, light and fruity, highlights the gently-flavored
vegetables you'll find this week at your local farmers' market.

For the tofu-phobic, this salad makes a tempting gateway recipe. It's easy, good-looking, and surprisingly substantial. Humble bean curd, curiously pale and jiggly out of the package, gains density when broiled. Sugars in the apricot glaze caramelize under high heat, giving the tofu a sweet, smoky flavor. Broiled tofu happily accommodates your favorite flavors, and is delicious in sandwiches or as a snack on its own. Here, it makes a meal of crisp local salad greens, sharp radishes, and spring onions.

Spring Salad with Apricot Glazed Tofu

8 cups spring salad greens, washed
6-8 scallions or spring onions, sliced
8 large radishes, sliced
16 apricot glazed tofu triangles (recipe below)
½ cup apricot-sesame salad dressing (recipe below)
Optional: sesame seeds, slivered almonds, or 
sunflower seeds 

Toss vegetables with dressing, and top with tofu and seeds or nuts, if using. 

Serves 4. 

Apricot Glazed Tofu

16 ounces extra-firm tofu

½ cup apricot preserves
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar

Slice the tofu into 16 triangles (if possible, delegate this task to a fourth-grader who is studying fractions): first slice the tofu horizontally through the middle, to get two rectangles half the thickness of the original block. Next, cut each rectangle into four squares. Finally, cut each of these squares in half diagonally. 

In a shallow baking dish, whisk together preserves and cider. Place tofu triangles in the dish, spooning marinade over them. Refrigerate and marinate for 1-2 hours. 

Set oven to broil. Remove tofu from marinade and place on an oiled baking tray. Reserve marinade. 

Broil tofu for 10 minutes, 6-8 inches away from heat. Stay nearby–if errant apricot preserves char and begin to fill your kitchen with smoke, move the oven rack a few inches lower. After 10 minutes, flip the tofu with a spatula and broil for another 5-6 minutes, until browned. 

Remove from oven. Place tofu on a plate and let cool before adding to salad.

Apricot-Sesame Salad Dressing
Reserved apricot marinade (approximately ¼ cup)
¼ cup grapeseed, peanut, or walnut oil
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
Optional: freshly grated ginger

Strain marinade into a small bowl, removing any bits of fruit or tofu. Whisk with oil and ginger, if using.

Mary Lake is a writer, teacher, columnist for MF&L, and vegetarian blogger: Mitten Machen

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