Spun, Bagged & Packed: Salad days are here again

Strawberry Salad
Hey FHCSA! Enjoying your arrangements of arugula, sides of spinach, bundles of Boston lettuce?

All that green stuff really is exciting, but occasionally the question “how am I going to eat all of this before it turns into a puddle?” arises as I fight to shove a lettuce head the size of a baby walrus into the crisper bin.

With that in mind I present three products I find indispensable for helping me keep up the pace with the flash mob of green leafy things we’ll be seeing in our veggie boxes. And my current favorite salad, a tangy fruity remix great for both kids and salad-doubting adults with a sweet tooth.

If you find your dedication to daily salads wilting faster than the last baby greens delivery, green bags–those TV infomercial darlings–actually deliver what they promise. They’ve kept everything from my strawberries to the kale looking nearly as good as last week’s delivery. I reuse mine like crazy too, hand washing and completely air drying a batch and stashing them in my veggie tote ready for Tuesday’s veggie pick up. Do I feel a little crazy tending to plastic bags the way some people do their best blouses? A little, but for our vegetables a little laundry is no big thing.

Another way I increase my salad consumption, and perhaps many of you do this already, is to assign weekday lunches as the default salad time. When heading into the office I’ve brought for lunch a (lovingly- referred-to-as) “salad trough”; a big overflowing bowl of greens, veggies, a protein and a decadent add in such as avocado or toasted nuts. One of my favorite containers for the “trough” has been my Go-To-Wear two layer lunch box. Tough and sleekly stainless steel, I love this tiffin-style container for keeping  dry washed greens separated from moist add ins such as fruit or tofu. My version of the container is an older model, but newer ones come with a cool matching salad dressing container too. Just store your dressing on the side and your salad will be fresh and tasty no matter if lunch is at 11am or 4pm.

One last thing: you do have a salad spinner, don’t you? If not run out and get one right now. Or run to your computer.  Any way you spin it, it’s a device I use every day for washing not just greens but baby tomatoes, berries, string beans, even tiny new potatoes.

Now for the good stuff, the actual salad! The dressing is intensely fruity due to a secret ingredient: orange juice concentrate. Just as the name says, it adds zesty orange flavor without watering down the dressing, plus a touch of minced shallots and poppy seeds adds additional depth. I love using this dressing as a marinade for baked tofu (or whatever desired protein you like), so make a double batch of the dressing for now or later.

Strawberry Spinach Salad with Orange Poppy Seed Dressing
serves 4 as a starter salad, 2 as a entree salad

The poppy seed dressing does double duty; a light fruity vinaigrette and as a marinade for a grilled protein for an entree salad. If you prefer to skip making the tofu, you can substitute purchased flavored, baked tofu. Tempeh can be substituted for tofu, or use any protein food as desired.

Make ahead tip:
The dressing can be made and stored in the fridge up to 4 days in advance, along with the tofu.
Store washed, spun dry greens in a green bag for up to a week.

Dressing, double if using as a marinade
3 tablespoons orange juice concentrate, semi-thawed
3 tablespoons olive oil or grape seed oil
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar, rice vinegar or lime juice
2 tablespoons agave nectar or maple syrup
1 teaspoon prepared Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon sea salt or to taste
Freshly cracked pepper to taste
2 teaspoons poppy seeds
1 shallot, peeled and finely minced

Baked Poppyseed Tofu
1 lb extra firm tofu, sliced into 8 horizontal slices
2 tablespoons soy sauce
Poppy seed dressing, half of doubled recipe (above)
Additional oil for brushing

8 cups salad greens such as: spinach, baby mixed greens, arugula, red leaf lettuce, Boston lettuce, butter lettuce, etc.
3 cups of a mix of the following: Sliced strawberries, bite sized pineapple pieces, blueberries, papaya, apples
1 medium red onion, peeled, sliced in half and sliced into paper-thin half circles
¾ cup toasted pecan pieces or walnuts

For the dressing whisk together all of the ingredients in a large glass measuring cup until well blended. If doubling the dressing, reserve half of the dressing for the salad and set aside the other half for the tofu.

If preparing the tofu, press it first for half an hour to remove excess moisture. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and lightly oil a 9 x 7 ceramic baking pan. Slice each piece of tofu diagonally to form triangles, then layer in the pan and sprinkle with soy sauce. Pour marinade over and let sit for 15 minutes, then bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, flip tofu over and brush any marinade from the pan on top of tofu. Return to oven and bake another 20 minutes. Turn oven off, remove from oven and flip tofu one more time. Let cool as you prepare the rest of the salad. Wash, spin dry and tear the greens into bite sized pieces. Place in a large mixing bowl, add the fruit, onion slices, pecans and warm tofu triangles. Pour on dressing and use tongs to toss everything and coat evenly with dressing. Serve immediately.

-Terry Hope Romero, veganlatina.com