Just as the smell of burning leaves and pumpkin spice triggers a feeling of coziness and warmth at the start of fall, there are specific memories that take over as the weather shifts into spring. I can still remember the smell of the first day of air-conditioning at home after a day at school. At night, before the onslaught of a miserable St. Louis summer, we would crack the windows, letting the cool air marinate with Al Hrabosky’s voice as he narrated a Cardinal’s game on TV (my family’s second religion).
These days spring creeps in slowly, with not-quite-winter-coat-weather and enough sunshine to warrant skipping a few stops on the subway in favor of a walk. And, just as fall weather makes me crave roasted squash and heavy soups, spring weather comes with its own list of cravings: fish tacos, salad, smoothies, and an ice-cold margarita.
With spring on my mind, I made a refreshing salad with an Asian flare. Although this one requires the purchase of miso, I have a feeling my bottle of miso will become a staple in my cooking. I purchased Hikari 10-Minute Miso from Whole Foods; you could also pick-up miso paste at most grocery stores and would likely need to lessen the quantity used in the recipe below (this recipe makes four servings).
Ingredients for Dressing:
2 tbsp of instant miso sauce
2 tsp of rice wine vinegar
1 tsp of minced ginger
2 tsp of granulated sugar (or honey or agave)
1/3 cup of oil
Juice from 1 lime
Optional: Hoisin sauce and/or Sriracha sauce
Ingredients for Salad:
raw kale (8-10 oz), chopped
1 large crown of broccoli, washed and chopped into small florets*
2 1/2 cups of chopped baby carrots
1 package of extra firm tofu, drained and pressed
3 tbsp of sesame seeds
*Steaming the broccoli florets may help a bit with digestion – raw kale and raw broccoli can be tough of the stomach!
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the tofu has been drained and pressed (I usually leave it pressed in the sink for about 30 minutes), slice it into one inch cubes and spread on a baking sheet with foil. No need to add oil or flavoring – simply pop it into the oven and bake until golden.
In the meantime, combine all of the ingredients for the dressing in a small blender or food processor. You could also whisk everything – just make sure you fully dissolve the sugar and the ginger is minced as small as possible.
Remove the tofu from the oven and, after cooling, peel it from the foil and set aside. In a large bowl, add all of your chopped kale, carrots, broccoli, sesame seeds, and tofu. Toss with the dressing, adding it slowly. Mix thoroughly – I found that the dressing looks deceivingly thin, but with a good amount of mixing, it was plenty!