Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Watermelon Radish, Tofu, and Snap Pea Salad

This Watermelon Radish, Tofu, and Snap Pea Salad defines summer to a T. Featuring farmers market fresh ingredients, crisp, cool raw vegetables, and a peppery crunch with every bite; this salad will satiate your appetite while keeping your body temp in check on even the hottest days. You know those +90 degree days where the heat is so oppressive, your appetite basically disappears? (Aka today?) This is the type of meal you want.

I stumbled across the recipe after purchasing radishes and fresh snap peas from the Greenmarket on a whim. Wanting something new and different, I googled both veggies for some recipe inspiration, and came upon a similar recipe from Saveur that swapped my tofu for Ahi tuna. (Both proteins are excellent options, I just had the more wallet-friendly tofu on hand.) After adjusting the recipe for a healthier take by eliminating most of the oil, I set to work. I was so pleased with the result: aesthetically enchanting was a given with the magenta hue of the radishes* against the emerald green snap peas, but the taste was just as amiable. The Asian inspired dressing is flavorful yet light, evoking a Japanese style ginger dressing that packs a bit more of a peppery punch.  When plating the tofu, make sure to layer each piece slightly on-top of one another, like a carefully cut fillet sliced to display the inside flesh: it yields quite the impressive plate.

*As evidenced by the photos, I did not use watermelon radishes. If you can though you should—they are beautiful! Fun fact: Watermelon radishes are technically heirloom Chinese Daikon radishes. A member of the mustard family along with arugula, broccoli and turnips, and generally larger than a regular radish, their exterior is creamy white with greenish hues—only the interior flesh is radiantly pink.

Watermelon Radish, Tofu, and Snap Pea Salad (adapted from Saveur)
Serves 2

1 tbsp. soy sauce
1½ tsp. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. honey
½ tsp. Dijon mustard
½ tsp. toasted sesame oil
1½ tsp. white sesame seeds, lightly toasted
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1 (2”) piece ginger, peeled, grated and minced
1 tbsp. coarsely ground black pepper, plus more to taste
2 tbsp canola oil, divided
7 oz extra firm tofu
8 oz. sugar snap peas
3 tbsp fresh mint leaves
1 tsp. black sesame seeds, lightly toasted (optional)
2 watermelon or 3 large regular red radishes
Shredded green cabbage (optional)

1. Combine soy sauce, vinegar, honey, mustard, sesame oil, ½ tsp of white sesame seeds, the garlic, ginger, pepper, and 1 tbsp canola oil in a small bowl. (For a smooth consistency, puree in a blender.)

2. Drain tofu, and then further remove excess water by microwaving tofu block, wrapped loosely in a paper towel, for 1 minute. Cut into 1 x 2 inch pieces, and set aside in a large shallow bowl.

3. Pour 2 tbsp of dressing over the tofu. Let marinate, turning once, while you assemble the rest of the salad.

4. Chop the vegetables: Cut snap peas crosswise into 1” pieces, removing stems first; halve and thinly slice the radishes; roughly chop the mint. Place chopped veggies in a large bowl. Pour reserved dressing over veggies, mix thoroughly.

5. Heat remaining 1 tbsp oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Place tofu squares in pan, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook for 2-3 minutes, turn, and cook on other side for another 2-3 minutes. (To prevent burning, add the remaining marinade to the pan before flipping over). Remove from heat when tofu is golden brown.

6. Plate salad: on a bed of shredded green cabbage (optional) place a generous portion of radish and snap pea mixture. Top with tofu squares. Sprinkle plate with remaining sesame seeds, salt, and pepper. 

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