Call it soup-and-stew fatigue. When it's this cold out, for this long, my taste starts to run in a counterintuitive direction, and I crave the style of foods that are more appropriate, or at least common, in the spring and summer.
Cravings can sometimes be pretty specific, and recently I found myself being consumed by thoughts of tofu salad. Not a salad that includes tofu, but a mashed-up, mayonnaise-y thing I could keep in the fridge and spread on toast for a day or two as a break from all the roasting and braising. I had all the makings at home, including the star ingredient: a wonderful smoked tofu made by Neopol Savory Smokery of Baltimore that I figured would bring a fresh spark to an old idea.
The other ingredients I started tossing in reflect a mostly Asian aesthetic — scallions, sesame seeds, rice vinegar — but then I veered off that track by adding smoked paprika and dried apricots. With one taste, I knew this mash-up had enough going on that perhaps something blander (and lighter) should be the vehicle.
I put the loaf of multigrain bread back in the freezer and reached for the hearts of romaine. Who says you can't have lettuce cups now?
Smoked Tofu Salad
Baked and/or smoked tofu makes a beautiful vegetarian version of chicken salad — especially when given an Asian flair with scallions, mayo and rice vinegar. Smoked paprika pumps up the smoky flavor. Eat on its own, in lettuce cups or spring rolls or tortilla wraps or, of course, on bread. The salad can be refrigerated for up to 1 week. If you can’t find smoked tofu, use another baked/marinated tofu and add more smoked paprika.
12 ounces smoked tofu, torn into bite-size pieces
3 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 medium carrot, scrubbed and finely chopped
½ cup chopped dried apricots
2 tablespoons toasted/roasted sesame seeds
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 teaspoons rice vinegar, preferably unseasoned
½ teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika (pimenton), plus more as needed
Combine the smoked tofu, scallions, carrot, apricots, sesame seeds, mayonnaise, rice vinegar and smoked paprika in a medium mixing bowl; fold to mix thoroughly.
If the mixture seems dry, add water a couple of tablespoons at a time until the mixture is creamy. Taste, and season with salt and/or smoked paprika as needed.
Per serving: 310 calories, 18 g protein, 18 g carbohydrates, 19 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 5 mg cholesterol, 490 mg sodium, 3 g dietary fiber, 10 g sugar