Sunday, June 14, 2015

Greek Salad with Tofu Feta

Like all good (half) Greek girls, I used to love me some feta cheese, although - as with black olives - it took me awhile to come around to appreciating its salty, briny charms. But once converted I was a big fan, and since being vegan, I've tried a few commercial non-dairy versions, in hopes of finding a decent approximation. Unfortunately, there was always something missing: too dry, too bland, too grainy, wrong seasonings, etc. And then one day, while snacking on the fantastic house-cured olives from our local Mediterranean grocery, it occurred to me that the brine might be just the thing for transforming pressed, crumbled tofu into feta.

I gave the notion a shot, and while the results were good, I still felt it needed more oomph, so I mixed and measured and sprinkled and stirred and came up with today's recipe, which I am happy to share with you. This stuff is so simple that I can see it becoming a weekly occurrence, especially now the weather is heating up. We've been mixing tofu feta into green salads like the one below, but it would also be a great addition to tabbouleh or couscous salad, which I'll be trying as we get further into our summer salad days. Because I am not so green in judgment that I don't know a good thing when I've found one!

Tofu Feta
~ 1 14 oz. package extra firm tofu, pressed for at least an hour
~ 2 tbsp. each: red wine vinegar, lemon juice, dill pickle brine
~ 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
~ 1 tsp. each: prepared mustard, vegan Worcestershire sauce
~ 2 cloves crushed garlic (or ½ tsp. garlic powder)
~ 1 tsp. each: salt, oregano, basil, mint
~ ½ tsp. dill

~ Once your tofu is good and pressed, slice or crumble it into roughly 1" cubes
~ Mix all the remaining ingredients thoroughly in a container with a lid, then add the tofu. Put the lid on and give the whole business a few good shakes to make sure all the tofu is coated with the marinade.
~ Refrigerate for at least a day (a few days is better) before using, to let the flavors infuse the tofu.

The Salad
~ 8 cups crunchy salad greens (romaine lettuce is perfect here)
~ 1 cup chopped fresh parsley
~ 1 cup halved grape tomatoes
~ 1 cup cubed cucumber
~ 1 cup cubed bell pepper (yellow looks pretty)
~ ¾ cup quartered black olives
~ Pita chips (homemade or store bought)

~ Transfer the marinated tofu to a colander and allow it to drain for about 10 minutes.
~ In a large bowl, combine everything but the pita chips.
~ Add the drained tofu feta to the salad and mix thoroughly. I like to use a bowl with a fitted lid so I can give everything a few really good shakes.
~ Allow the salad to rest for a few minutes, or refrigerate if you're making it ahead.
~ Serve topped with pita chips.
(NB - many Greek salads call for red onion, but I have an intolerance for any and all uncooked onions and eschew them religiously. Those not similarly afflicted may add a handful if they so choose!)

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