Monday, May 2, 2011
Kale and Avocado Salad with Tofu: A little reminder
It was cold.
I had to sleep on a bunk bed – in a cabin, in the woods, up in nature. The air was dry, my skin was cracked, and there was no quinoa or Wifi to be found. Instead, there were 90 other food bloggers, a dozen marketing representatives, and one fearless leader, Patti Londre, an experienced food marketer and PR maven who also writes the food blog, “Worth The Whisk.”
For the 24 hours that I spent up at Camp Blogaway with Sarah, the brains behind TasteSpotting and The Delicious Life (recently nominated as one of the best restaurant blogs in the country at Saveur), I was constantly surrounded by the friendly chatter of other people. We talked about blogging and food, of course, but also about where we were from, about how cute the representative from Wente Vineyards was (one of five males present), and how we wished fascinators had been required attire for all campers.
(The latter might have been just my personal fantasy.)
It was a fun, but draining weekend, and by the time I arrived back to Los Angeles yesterday afternoon, I was relieved to have a moment of silence.
And a hot shower.
After speeding around town to get my weekend errands done (ie. grocery shopping – always priority number one), I returned to my empty apartment with a bit of a hesitant step. As I looked around the space that was completely devoid of noise, fresh mountain air and the constant companionship I’d been treated to the entire weekend, I was met with a pang of loneliness.
Suddenly the silence I’d been craving didn’t seem all that golden any more.
Despite my reservations about dirt and bunk beds, I wanted to cling to the weekend that had already passed by in a 24-hour flash. I couldn’t help texting Sarah, who I’d just spent every waking second with, about finding the Fiji water we’d gulped down up at camp at Trader Joe’s for a relatively reasonable price. I felt compelled to check in to see what my new and old friends were up to on Twitter. And when I started thinking about dinner, I knew that it had to involve the avocado I’d taken back with me courtesy of the California Avocado Commission – one of the many parting gifts we received.
I’d been eying Elf’s Kale and Avocado Salad recipe ever since it was featured in Saveur last year, so decided it was the perfect time to make it to sort of commemorate the weekend. I made several adaptations to the original – lightly braising the kale with minced garlic and red onion rather than just steaming it, using sunflower seeds instead of the optional hemp seeds, and including extra-firm tofu cubes for more bulk and protein.
The final product was the perfect template for my perfectly ripe avocado. The creaminess of the avocado added just the right amount of decadence to the kale, and the citrus dressing chimed in with a subtle touch of sweetness.
When I finished my dinner, I felt a little less lonesome for the community I’d left behind up in Angelus Oaks.
The salad had been a pleasant reminder of my weekend getaway. And the red quinoa I served alongside it was a pleasant reminder that I was home – in an apartment, in LA, with a queen bed that I didn’t have to share with anyone.
Kale and Avocado Salad with Tofu
Adapted from Saveur
¼ cup fresh orange juice
1 ½ tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons minced garlic (feel free to use less if it is your preference)
½ cup red onion, chopped
1 bunch kale, finely chopped
½ avocado, cubed
6 ounces extra-firm tofu, cubed
2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
Whisk together orange juice, lemon juice, honey, soy sauce, 1 teaspoon olive oil and pepper to taste. Set aside.
Heat large nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add 1 teaspoon of olive oil to pan, swirling to coat the base. Add the tofu and sauté over medium heat until browned on all sides. Add 1 tablespoon of the dressing and cook with tofu until liquid has evaporated – approximately 1 minute. Remove tofu, set aside.
Clean out the pan. Reheat over medium-high heat. Add last teaspoon of olive oil, then toss in the garlic and onion, sautéing over medium heat until the onion is slightly translucent – approximately 4-6 minutes. Lower the heat, add the chopped kale to the pan, season with salt, and then cover the pan with a lid. Let kale lightly simmer with the garlic and onion for 5 minutes.
Remove lid, turn off heat, and stir in the dressing, tofu, sunflower seeds, and avocado. Serve immediately. Salad is best when it is at room temperature, so feel free to let it sit for a few minutes before digging in.