This is the time of year when we write posts about how tired we are of winter. But I’m not. I’m totally over being tired of winter. I already gave in a few weeks ago to the allure of fresh produce, abandoning the frozen corn, green beans, and zucchini in favor of bean sprouts, cucumbers, and oh my lord grape tomatoes as big as your thumb.
There’s still part of a cabbage in the fridge — my cabbages grow to gigantic proportions, I don’t know why — but the last of fall’s carrots was gone over a month ago and yes, I tired of the old. I wanted the crunch of nutrients I hadn’t had fresh in months.
I abandoned locavore eating. Just until spring, and just once in a while. There’s something about fresh sprouts. They’re a promise. They’re potentiality. They could have become beans, but instead they’re going into my tummy. They’re earthy and new and taste of beginnings.
And this salad. Oh, this salad is all about the decadence, the utter wrongness, so wrong it’s right, of eating things that have been trucked two thousand miles. This is what perked me up, got me looking forward to the herb seeds I planted today, made me impervious to the clutch of the muddy clay that is my yard as I glop through it in winter boots, leaving wet dinosaur footprints that would fossilize when the ground dries, if I weren’t going to seed it with grass this spring.
We’ll be eating local again soon, very soon. And even now, I still take down a jar of pasta sauce made from my tomatoes and onions for supper, and pull 2008 applesauce from the freezer, still tree-fresh. But along with preserved homegrown every few days or so something like this salad pops into my mind, and demands attention.
I think it’s the cucumber seeds up on the shelf, whispering to me that they’re ready, almost ready. Ready to grow.
yes, peanut dressing is the bomb
Indonesian tofu, bean sprout, and cucumber salad with spicy peanut dressing, from Jeanne Lemlin’s Vegetarian Classics, takes simple ingredients and elevates them with this peanut dressing.
It’s to die for. Take tofu roasted in sesame oil and soy sauce, bean sprouts, cucumber, and green onion. Nice ingredients, but who cares?
Peanut dressing cares, that’s who. It’s just got all good stuff in it: peanut butter, soy sauce, brown sugar, lime juice, you know the drill. I’m sure you could find other uses for it beyond just this salad. A regular green salad, for example, or in a quinoa salad. Some kind of cold fried rice?
In any case, if you still suffer the winter blahs, consider breaking the locavore commitment for just a few meals, gather up some sprouts and cucumber, and try this salad.
indonesian tofu, bean sprout, and cucumber salad with spicy peanut dressing
Adapted from Vegetarian Classics by Jeanne Lemlin
servings: 4 as a side salad or very light meal; 2 as a meal
¼ cup natural-style peanut butter
2 tablespoons tamari soy sauce (choose a brand without wheat for going gluten-free)
1 tablespoon lime or lemon juice
2 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar
1 garlic clove, minced
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons water
1 recipe roasted tofu (recipe here)
2 cups mung bean sprouts
1 small English cucumber, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 green onion, very thinly sliced, tops only
To make the spicy peanut dressing, combine all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and beat vigorously with a fork or small whisk until very smooth.
To assemble the salad, spread 1/4 of the bean sprouts on each of 4 salald plates. Layer on 1/4 of the cucumber, followed by 1/4 of the tofu. Drizzle the dressing over each portion and garnish with sliced green onion.