Saturday, June 09, 2007

Tasty Tomato Salad

So...I've moved. I've got (most of) the furniture where it goes and (most of) the boxes unpacked. I've found the grocery store(s), the Trader Joe's, the farmer's market (more on that later), the local SnB, and about a billion other necessary things. (Like the library -- not as cool as the one back home -- and the only vegan restaurant in the STL.) Still getting lost every time that I turn around, but whatever, it happens. Oh, and I "found" Forest Park (pdf map) -- it is huge and gorgeous and I know that I'm going to miss it a lot when I go back to Ohio.

But yeah, the farmer's market. I bought 3 lb of kale, 3 lb of apricots, 2 pints of blueberries, 1 lb of green beans, and 2 big bunches of lovely asparagus. And a kale plant and a basil plant. And a weakness. All of this on top of the strawberries and cherries and basil and gai lan and tomatoes that I'd bought recently. And it's superwarm (eleventybillion degrees according to the local free paper) so I haven't wanted to turn on the stove. (Gas stove, yay!) So today's recipe (with the exception of one step) is stove-free.

There's 2 versions of this recipe -- the lazy one (which I make) and the prettier-looking one reserved for special guests. Lazy version first (so that all of us lazy people don't have to read extra words) and then the complicated steps if you so choose.
Step 1: (This one's a pain, but it's necessary, and makes leftovers for next time. Idea courtesy of Mollie Katzen.) Pour 1 cup of balsamic vinegar into a small saucepan. Open kitchen window, and bring the vinegar to a boil. (Boiling vinegar gives off nasty fumes.) Reduce heat, and simmer uncovered until volume of vinegar is reduced by about half, between 20 and 30 minutes. Pour into a small glass bowl or bottle -- vinegar will thicken and become syrupy as it cools.
Step 2: Chop a few Roma tomatoes and put them on a plate. Sprinkle very lightly with salt.
Step 3: Take about a half a package of water-packed firm tofu and cube it. Put the cubes on top of the chopped tomato.
Step 4: Rip up some fresh basil leaves and sprinkle them over the tofu.
Step 5: Drizzle with a little bit of the balsamic syrup (maybe a tablespoon?) and grind some black pepper over the top.
You can substitute thinly sliced green onions for the basil -- it'll be a totally different flavor but it will still be wonderful.
If you want to make it more complicated, you can slice the tomatoes (rather than chopping them), press the tofu (line a rimmed baking sheet with cotton towels or paper towels, slice the tofu about 1/2" thick and place the slices on the baking sheet, cover with a second baking sheet and then place a weight on top -- a book or some cans -- then wait about an hour), and chiffonade the basil (stack the leaves on top of one another, roll them lengthwise, and slice the roll thinly to get basil confetti). And then do nifty overlapping layers of tofu and tomato, drizzled with balsamic syrup and sprinkled with the chiffonade. And it will be beautiful.


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