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May 19, 2016

Banh Mi Salad w/ Baked Lime and Bragg Tofu

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This vegan Banh Mi Salad w/ Baked Lime and Bragg Tofu has become our favorite dinner salad lately. It's salty, crunchy, tangy, spicy, umami, sweet - basically it's everything our palates love. Have you ever enjoyed an actual banh mi? You know that bright, piquant, and invigorating Vietnamese sandwich that is usually stuffed with some ingredient of substance, lots of veggies, house-made pickles, and freshness? If so, you're going to adore this salad. If not, then you're really going to adore this salad.

Don't be fooled by its possibly new-to-you ingredients. This salad is easy to buy for, easy to make, and easy to love.

Speaking of things that are easy to love, how is it already almost June? I feel like I'm constantly surprised by the passage of time. Wasn't it just Valentine's Day? Weren't we just eating Groundhog Day Cupcakes? How can it already almost be June?

How can this be the last week of the 2015/2016 school year?

How is July 4th six weeks away?

How am I going to be 30 in 4 weeks?

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Call me dramatic, but this 30th birthday has been looming over me like an obnoxious aunt reminding me of all the things that freak me out about aging.

I thought I'd be a millionaire/chef/writer/actress/ren-fest fairy by the time I was 30. I'm only like two of those things, and millionaire isn't one of them. 

This upcoming birthday has been on my mind since January, and it's really forced me to push myself. For instance, did you know that I participated in Mortified earlier this month? It was amazing.

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I also recently signed up for a big fitness competition later this year. I've always wanted to be the type of person who does things like that, and I work out regularly anyway so why not? Might as well make some vegan gainz, right?

I've lived my whole life in a fixed mindset of what I can and can't do. I spent my 20s trying to grow within the confines of that mindset, and I've learned that it's impossible. 

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This salad also refuses to live within the confines of a fixed mindset. If I can throw myself into a crazy fitness competition then who's to say that a delicious sandwich can't be a salad?

This salad doesn't contain any complicated ingredients, but there are two things to know before going in.

1. I don't ever truly press my tofu. I use salt water to remove the tofu's moisture while simultaneously seasoning it. That is the process that I use in this recipe so be prepared for a different way to do 'fu.

2. This recipe calls for pickled carrots and daikon. I always make my own using this recipe. If you've never seen daikon it might just be because you weren't looking for it. My local grocery store carries it in produce. 

Are you ready for a new favorite salad? Because I'm pretty sure you
just found it. 

Banh Mi Salad w/ Baked Lime and Bragg Tofu
makes 2 salads
Ingredients:
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 12-14.5 ounce package extra firm tofu, sliced into eight equal pieces
  • 1/2 cup Bragg Liquid Aminos (plus more for dressing)
  • 1 whole scallion, thinly sliced
  • zest and juice from 1 medium sized lime
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 8 cups of salad greens
  • 1 cup of pickled carrots and daikon
  • 1 large cucumber, sliced
  • 1/4 cup dry roasted peanuts, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • Sriracha
  • 1 fresh jalapeño, deseeded if necessary, thinly sliced (optional)
Directions:
1. Combine the salt and water in a large pot over hight heat, and bring the salted water to a boil. When the water reaches a boil remove the pot from the heat, and add the tofu. Let the tofu soak for 15 minutes.

2. While the tofu soaks combine the liquid aminos, scallion, lime zest and lime juice, and garlic powder in a shallow bowl or baking dish. 

3. When the tofu is done soaking drain the salt water from the pot. Carefully transfer the tofu pieces to one half of a clean kitchen towel. Fold the other half of the towel over the tofu, and give it a light squeeze with your hands to remove a little bit of its moisture.

4. Place the tofu in the marinade, and let it marinate for 2-4 hours, flipping the tofu over halfway through the marinating time.

5. When the tofu is done marinating pre-heat your oven to 375°F, and lightly grease a baking sheet. Bake the tofu on the prepared baking sheet for 25 minutes, flipping the tofu over halfway through baking.

6. While the tofu bakes begin assembling the salads. Start by evenly dividing the salad greens between to large salad bowls. Evenly distribute the pickled carrots and daikon, cucumber, peanuts, and cilantro among the bowls of greens. Place the salads in the refrigerator until the tofu is ready.

7. When the tofu is done cooking, remove it from the oven, and allow it to cool for about 10 minutes (or until it doesn't burn your hands on contact). When it's cool enough to handle, cut the tofu into 1 inch pieces.

8. Remove the salads from the fridge, and evenly distribute the tofu between the two bowls. Dress your Banh Mi Salads with liquid aminos and sriracha, and garnish with the sliced jalapeño if using.


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