Sunday, September 8, 2013

MoFo Day 8: Peanut butter salad

Today’s cookbook: You Won’t Believe It’s Vegan! by Lacey Sher and Gail Doherty. I checked this book out from the library years ago and made the very first recipe (Apple Crumb Muffins), and they were phenomenal. Looking back, I’m surprised I made them because the recipe calls for 1½ cups of maple syrup. I’m all for whole foods and natural sweeteners, but that’s an expensive batch of muffins! Last year, I noticed the book was really cheap on Amazon and I had a gift card, so I bought it based on my memory of those muffins and a few other recipes I had added to my binder.

This was my first time cooking anything out of it since then. A lot of the recipes sounded good to me – clean, distinct flavors and reasonably healthy – but the ingredient lists always seemed too long. Now that I give the book a closer look, I think it’s mostly layout. The ingredient box is only an inch wide, so most items take up at least two lines, and they’re double-spaced. On one page, a vegetable bullion cube takes up five lines. I guess it’s a good little parable about not judging on first impressions.

Tonight’s choice was Gado Gado (the recipe is visible on Google Books), which the book says is an Indonesian classic. I’d say it’s salad with baked tofu and peanut sauce. The ingredient column spans the full length of the page, but I had all the non-produce items except tamarind paste and brown rice vinegar already. I’ll use any excuse for a trip to the Indian grocery store, and tamarind paste is something I’ll use again. I broke my MoFo rule by substituting regular rice vinegar for the brown rice vinegar. Because ohmigosh vegan cooking requires so many kinds of vinegar! I have an entire shelf of vinegar and I just couldn’t bring myself to add another that’s so similar.


The first step was to bake to the tofu. The recipe refers to a marinade, but it’s really just a coating of olive oil, tamari and liquid smoke you brush on before putting it in the oven. My tofu instincts told me to actually marinate it, but I followed the recipe. I was regretting that choice when I pulled this monstrosity out of the oven:
I don’t think this picture fully conveys what a greasy mess this was. Don’t get me wrong, I like greasy things; I’ve polished off more baskets of fries than I’d like to admit. But baked tofu swimming in pools of olive oil just doesn’t appeal to me. I wiped each one off and drained them on paper towels. I was disappointed that the marinade didn’t impart much of its smoky, salty deliciousness, but when mixed with everything else, I didn’t notice.

The dressing, which is basically peanut sauce, went more smoothly (pun intended). My immersion blender handled the full cup like a champ. While plating, I decided there was too much dressing for the salads, so I ate the leftovers with a spoon. And yes, that’s still an empty beer bottle propping up the window.

After chopping the salad ingredients (and using my salad spinner! 3 gadgets in one recipe!) and dividing the rest, I have lunch for the week.
Overall, this is a solid recipe. There’s no nutrition information in the book, but that’s probably for the best. I will go on blissfully eating peanut butter-coated lettuce and calling it “salad.”

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