The other night for dinner I decided to harvest some of the mesclun mix that is ready to eat. I'd just bought some gorgeous looking strawberries and decided to incorporate the two into a salad. Balsamic vinegar is a natural accompaniment to both salad and strawberries, so I mixed up a makeshift "balsamic vinaigrette" out of balsamic vinegar, olive oil, a little lemon juice, salt, and freshly ground black pepper.
I really would have loved to add some fresh basil, but as you can see in the picture, that plant is not quite ready for consumption! So instead I settled for a little mint.
The salad was pretty, but nutritionally was not offering much as a dinner. Enter the tofu croutons! To turn my block of extra firm tofu into crispy croutons, I followed the following steps (note that from start to finish this is a solid hour-and-a-half, so plan accordingly):
- Open and drain a package of Extra Firm Tofu
- Place between two plates with a heavy object on top (I used our juicer, since it was sitting on the counter anyway). Leave for about 30 minutes -- this will press out any extra liquid and allow the tofu to better absorb the marinade.
- Cut tofu into chunks (mine were about 3/4 inch cubes).
- Toss the tofu in either your own or store-bought balsamic vinaigrette dressing. Allow to sit in a shallow pan or baking dish for another 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Spray a baking sheet with some type of non-stick cooking spray (I used olive oil spray)
- Scatter tofu pieces on the sheet, and bake for 20 minutes on middle or upper rack.
- After twenty minutes, check for crispness. At this point, the "croutons" are cooked, but mine were still soft so I returned to the oven for another 20 minutes. I like them very crisp on the outside. You may want to set your timer in 5- or 10-minute intervals to be on the safe side.
- When they meet your established level of crispy-ness, remove from oven and allow to cool slightly. Enjoy as a snack, on a salad, or in a stir fry. I've also added them to soup.
When in doubt, Google "tofu marinade" for inspiration!