Monday, June 4, 2007

I'm in love with luscious beets.

Alright, my first official food blog post – kind of scary.

I went for a long 4 months without a kitchen due to renovations. Yes the kitchen looks nice now but the thing I really care about is that I can eat real food again, and bake way too many yummy things! I was eating microwave meals mostly, and it actually drove me crazy a few times. There’s only so much frozen fettuccine alfredo, lasagna alfredo, and macaroni and cheese a person can eat. Anyway, I’ve been trying to bake and cook a lot recently.

Asian Beet and Tofu Salad (Moosewood Restaurant Daily Special)

My favourite thing I’ve made so far (not including the sugar cookies and the pumpkin loaf) was an Asian Beet and Tofu Salad (Moosewood Restaurant Daily Special). It was the second recipe I’ve tried out of the book and definitely one I’ll make again. I’ve always loved beets, and I mean really loved beets, but my experiences with them were only at the random family holiday dinner. Because of this, I thought that for beets to taste the way I knew them to taste, they had to be pickled (a stupid conclusion that kept me from beets for many years...) In the past few months, I’ve had beets in a couple of different restaurants and finally realized that they don’t have to be pickled to taste so incredibly delicious. And now that I’ve cooked beets once, I know that I’ll be eating a ton of them – at least for a while. I seriously can’t believe a vegetable could taste so perfect without adding anything to it. I do enjoy my veggies, but beets really rise above them all. In short, beets are awesome.

I was curious what the health benefit to eating beets was, and found out that they help protect against heart disease, some types of cancer, and birth defects (because they have tons of folic acid). They also have lots of manganese and potassium. (Source: 1, 2) Okay I’ll stop talking about beets (sadly), and now mention the tofu.

When I was in Tofino a month ago, I ate at Raincoast Café. I was a bit disappointed to find out that the only thing they had on the menu as a vegetarian entrée was a Thai marinated tofu steak that came with eggplant (a vegetable I have yet to love, or even like). How wrong I was to be disappointed with my choice. It was the most amazing tofu I’ve ever had – such good tofu that my boyfriend (steak lover and not a big fan of tofu), said that the tofu was better than his steak. The point here is that the tofu in the Moosewood recipe was very similar to the Raincoast Café tofu – so exciting! It’s not exactly the same, but similar enough that I’m sure I could tweak it, marinate the tofu for longer, and have delicious tofu as often as I want.

The tofu turns bright pink when mixed with the beets! Ah, beets.

Asian Beet and Tofu Salad
(Adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Daily Special)

4 fresh beets, roots and stems removed (about 3-inch diameter)
1 cake of tofu (about 16 ounces)
10 ounces of spinach, rinsed and stemmed

1/3 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
4 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 tablespoon grated ginger
1/4 cup chopped green onions

1 green onion, sliced on the extreme diagonal

1. In a covered saucepan, simmer the beets in boiling water to cover for 25 to 35 minutes, until tender and easily pierced with a knife. Meanwhile, place the tofu between two plates, weight the top plate with a heavy object, and press for 20 minutes.

2. In a saucepan, bring about 1/2 inch of water to a boil. Add the spinach, cover, and steam for 3 to 4 minutes, until just wilted but still bright green. Place the spinach in a colander and set aside to drain and cool. Press to remove some liquid and coarsely chop.

3. While the spinach cools, whisk together the marinade ingredients and pour into a large shallow bowl. Cut the pressed tofu into 3/4-inch cubes and add it to the bowl. Stir to coat evenly and set aside for about 10 minutes.

4. When the beets are tender, drain and rinse with cold water until they can be handled comfortably. Remove the skins by gently squeezing the beets under cold running water. Quarter each beet and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices.

5. Set aside the tofu, leaving the marinade in the bowl. Add the beet slices to the marinade, stir well, and set aside for 10 minutes. Transfer the beets from the marinade to the serving dish. Add the chopped spinach to the marinade and toss lightly, then arrange it around the beets. Mound the tofu in the center and top with the sliced green onions. (my note: No reason really to add the beets to the marinade, or even the spinach if you don't feel like it. You can just mix everything up all together (after marinating the tofu for a while, overnight if you can) if you don't care about presentation.)


S said...

I enjoyed this salad, especially the beets. I didn't think they were that naturally sweet. I thought the dressing/marinade was a bit too tart though, and the spinach soaked it up, so I think I would make it with less lemon juice...

melody said...

that looks really good and gave me a craving for beets O_O i love beets too but have never tried cooking with them.

Celine said...

oooh I'll have to try that!

shri said...

i love beets!
my favorite beet salad recipe is with goat cheese, mint, and a bit of vinaigrette

Rick Wargo said...

Sounds great! I'd suggest using the beet greens instead of the spinach. You can saute them - they are absolutely delicious! I'll be trying this one soon.