Asian style Caesar Salad with Chilli Tofu Croutons and Tofu Dressing

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With my new low carb lifestyle, I have been incorporating tofu into my diet a lot. I have so many tofu recipes in archives and could post one every week. ūüôā With summer upon us, or so it seemed for the past week in Seattle, I have switched from eating soups and stir fries to a lot of salads. This is one such very light and protein rich salad that has become a recent favorite – inspired by one of the pins I made to my ‘Tofu’ Board on Pinterest. The salad itself is not your regular caesar salad, but is rich in nutrients, as well as beautiful to behold, with its different flavors, colors and textures. I have included all my favorite ingredients in this salad, as how a salad should be. Feel free to add/subtract ingredients for the salad according to your liking and your availability.

Ingredients:
Salad:
3 hearts of romaine, chopped
1 cucumber, sliced
1/2 red onion, chopped
1/2 red pepper, sliced thin
1 cup of cooked/canned chickpeas
1/2 cup of cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup sliced, olives
1/2 cup cilantro sprigs, clipped to 1 inch length
2 -3 tbsp sesame seeds(optional)

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Chilli Tofu Croutons:
2 tbsp canola oil
2 tsp red chilly flakes
1 16 oz carton firm tofu – cubed to resemble croutons(reserve 2/3 cups of this tofu for dressing)
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt

Tofu Dressing
2/3 cup, packed chopped firm tofu
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar(substitute with apple cider vinegar or lime juice, if you don’t have this)
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp toasted sesame oil(optional, if you like the flavor)
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp salt

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Method:
To make Chilli Tofu Croutons:
First, make the croutons by heating 1 tbsp canola oil in a wok or frying pan, over medium heat. Add 1 tsp red chilly flakes to the oil and let it infuse the oil. Add half the tofu cubes to the pan, in a single layer and let it cook over low heat, until it crisps up. Turn the tofu so that it crisps up on all sides. Drain onto paper towels. Repeat with the remaining oil, red chilly flakes and tofu. While the tofu cooks, mix the garlic powder and salt in a small bowl. As soon as you remove the tofu from the hot oil, sprinkle it with this seasoning salt. It adds an amazing flavor, so don’t skip this step.

To make the Tofu Dressing:
Place all the ingredients called for the dressing, except the canola oil in a blender and blend until creamy and homogenous. With the blender running, slowly pour in the canola oil in a steady stream – emulsifying the mixture. You can also place this in a bowl and use a hand blender to puree everything together. Taste test! If the dressing appears too thick, you can thin it with a few tablespoons of water. The dressing can be stored in an airtight container for upto a week.

To assemble the salad:
In a large salad bowl, combine all the ingredients for the salad together. This makes about 4 – 6 main dish salads. Remove a serving(s) that you want to use, toss with the dressing and top with the chilli tofu croutons, sprinkle with sesame seeds if using.

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Verdict: A very light and refreshing salad, with varied textures and flavors. I was a bit skeptical about trying the raw tofu dressing at first, but now I am converted. The dressing is tangy and thick and very much resembles a regular caesar salad dressing. In fact, if you don’t say anything, it will be presumed as the regular stuff. Needless to say that the dressing here not only packs a flavor punch, but also is rich in protein with the addition of the tofu. And, the great thing about salads is that they can be modified to suit anybody’s liking.¬†

Sending this delicious salad to:
– Jagruti’s My Bowl of Salad
Healthy Salads, event series by Priya.
MLLA #59
Priya‘s May 2013 edition of Healthy me and Healthy Us event hosted by Jayanthi.

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