You don’t need to be vegan to appreciate tofu

 
 
Spicy peanut noodle salad
Spicy peanut noodle salad
Matthew Mead / AP

Main dish

Spicy Peanut Noodle Salad With Tofu

4 cups broccoli florets

Olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

8-ounce block marinated and baked tofu (check the refrigerated Asian section at the grocer)

6.2-ounce package soba noodles

2/3 cup natural peanut butter

1/4 cup soy sauce

3 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar

1-inch chunk fresh ginger

2 garlic cloves

Hot sauce, to taste

2 scallions, chopped

1/4 cup chopped roasted peanuts

Heat the grill to medium. Check the grates of your grill to see whether the broccoli florets are likely to fall through. If so, line a small baking sheet or metal roasting pan with foil, then mist with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, combine the broccoli florets and about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Toss until evenly coated. Season with salt and pepper.

Place the tofu slabs on the grill. Carefully transfer the broccoli to the grill, either directly on the grates or on the prepared baking sheet or roasting pan. Grill the broccoli for 3 minutes, the tofu for 8 minutes, or until the broccoli is lightly charred and the tofu is nicely seared. Transfer everything to a baking sheet in a single layer. Place in the refrigerator to cool.

While the broccoli and tofu cool, bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the soba noodles and cook for 5 minutes, or until just tender. Drain well, then transfer to the baking sheet in the refrigerator to cool.

Meanwhile, prepare the peanut sauce. In a blender, combine the peanut butter, soy sauce, water, rice vinegar, ginger and garlic. Blend until smooth. Add a splash of hot sauce, blend, taste and adjust with additional hot sauce, if desired.

When the tofu, broccoli and noodles have cooled, transfer the tofu to a cutting board and cut into bite-size chunks. Transfer the noodles to a large bowl and drizzle the peanut sauce over them. Toss to coat evenly. Add the tofu and broccoli and mix gently. Garnish with chopped scallions and peanuts. Makes 6 servings.

Per serving: 420 calories (52 percent from fat), 24 g fat (4 g saturated, 0 trans fats), 0 cholesterol, 37 g carbohydrate, 4 g fiber, 7 g sugar, 21 g protein, 1,330 mg sodium.


Associated Press

I was vegan once. And I was rather fond of my tofu.

That was many years ago. Today I am rather fond of my bacon. And steak. And eggs. And all manner of cheeses.

Still, every now and again it’s worth revisiting the culinary paths we used to walk. I may no longer wish to abstain from animal products, but that doesn’t mean I must abstain from tofu. It is, after all, a healthy, delicious, affordable and versatile protein that’s naturally lighter than meats and seafood and therefor particularly good in warm weather.

Back in the day, I loved cutting tofu into cubes, then tossing them with chilled soba noodles and spicy peanut sauce. It was a robust, yet cool salad for a warm day. And lately I’ve found myself craving it.

But I decided to play around with the concept a bit. I wanted more flavor. And I wanted to make use of the grill to get it. The results were terrific.

One caution. It is important to search out tofu that is already smoked and baked. (It’s widely available in the produce/refrigerated Asian section at mainstream grocers.) Not only is the flavor of this style of tofu better, the texture is superior, as well. It has almost a Cheddar cheese-like density. Conventional tofu is watery and flavorless and can be fussy to grill.

If you need a shortcut for this recipe, you could use bottled peanut sauce, but the flavor won’t be nearly as good. It would be better to make the sauce ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator, where it will keep, tightly covered, for several days.

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