Monday, June 9, 2014

California Walnut's Virtual Salad Party!! #VirtualSaladParty

 I was invited again to participate this year in California Walnuts Virtual Salad Party! I can't say no to a summertime salad celebration. Especially, since today it got up to 100 degrees! It is going to be a hot summer. We were asked to make a dish from the following three chefs: Aida Mollenkamp, Joanne Weir, or Mollie Katzen. Last year I made Aida's Farro with Carrots and Shallot-Walnut Gremolata and loved the recipe. It was my first time cooking Farro, and doing this post reminds me I need to use it more often!

I love my all of my Mollie Katzen cookbooks, so this time I decided on one of Mollie's recipes. I chose to make her Watercress Salad With Browned, Pan-Marinated Tofu Strips, Shallots, And Walnuts. This salad was so yummy and the flavors were very refreshing.

What did I enjoy most about making this dish? I really enjoyed the way that you prepare the tofu. By using the method of pan-marinating, you really do get a nice chewy texture.

Was the recipe difficult to make? The only semi-difficult part was cooking the tofu. I'm still learning how to use my gas stove-top and the Med. heat was a little too hot at first so the tofu began to stick. However, once I turned it down slightly it was fine and continued to brown and release from the pan.

The only thing I did to change the recipe was to add Feta cheese at the end, which I think really added to all of the other fresh flavors.

This really is a fantastic recipe and I think it would be great for people who don't like or have never really tried tofu. I love the way Mollie Katzen describes her recipes too using words like "compelling" and "irresistibly yummy" Also, I found organic watercress at Whole Foods but they said I was lucky to find it because they don't always carry it. I guess you could always substitute the salad with arugula, spinach, kale or maybe dandelion greens? I guess I will have to make it again and try it with one of those greens!

Don't like tofu, no problem! I think you could easily adapt this recipe to make it with chicken or steak strips. We ate ours with a delicious loaf of rosemary & sea salt Cibatta bread. Who knew a tofu salad with a nice loaf of bread could be a filling, fresh summer Italian meal! (We knew because we eat salad and bread all the time for dinners!)

Watercress Salad With Browned, Pan-Marinated Tofu Strips, Shallots, And Walnuts

  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil or extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 large shallots, cut into thin rings (rings separated with your fingers)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ pound very firm tofu, cut into matchsticks
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 to 3 large bunches watercress, trimmed of the largest stems, and in a medium-large bowl
  • Very ripe and sweet cherry tomatoes – whole (if tiny) or halved (if larger) – optional

Crumbled Feta Cheese to sprinkle on individual salad servings


  1. Place a large, wide skillet over medium heat and wait about a minute. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil, and swirl to coat the pan. Add the shallot rings and ¼ teaspoon of the salt, and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, for about 3 minutes, or until the shallots become very soft. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  2. In the same pan add another tablespoon of oil, stir to distribute, and then add the tofu strips. Sprinkle in another ¼ teaspoon salt, stir to combine, and then spread out the tofu in a shallow layer. Let it sit over the heat without stirring for a few minutes – until the tofu browns lightly on the bottom. Stir to redistribute, and let it sit again to brown and firm up further. Add another ¼ teaspoon salt, and do this yet again. The tofu will become chewy and compelling.
  3. Stir in the walnuts, and the remaining salt. Spread it out again a couple of times, cooking and redistributing the mixture until it is fairly uniformly golden. Return the shallots to the pan and stir them in. When it looks irresistibly yummy, add the vinegar one tablespoon at a time (it will sizzle on contact), stirring to combine after each addition. Turn off the heat and let it sit to absorb for another minute or so.
  4. Add the tofu-walnut mixture to the waiting watercress, and toss to combine. Serve right away, topped with a scattering of cherry tomatoes, if desired.

 I hope you get a chance to try this salad out! Check out the Califonia Walnuts website too. Other participants posts will be linked and they have such amazing recipes on there as well. I was looking at it the other day and wanted to make every single recipe!




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