[A visitor, July 2012.]
It was sort of nice having the 4th of July holiday in the middle of the week this year. Three-day weekends are nice, of course (essential, really), but when one presents itself I have a tendency to schedule a trip out of town or pack it full of activities. A mid-week day off created a forced rest of sorts, one which we firmly decided would consist of: sleeping in; a long and leisurely breakfast with strong coffee; a picnic in the SF Botanical Gardens with books and pillows.
[Pre-picnic, July 2012.]
And so it was. I slept ’til nearly 8:30 and lingered over tea. Then I scrambled eggs with Parmesan and herbs, fried some fakin’ bacon, toasted leftover corn muffins from the weekend and spread them with butter and honey (vegan month is decidedly over). I packed up a bag and we dug out an old, soft blanket and set off through the sunny, breezy day for Golden Gate Park. I’d brought a baguette, some cheeses, lots of water, fruit, tahini cookies … and pita sandwiches stuffed with tofu salad, spinach, and avocado.
This is going to be a new summer staple, I can feel it. Egg salad kind of icks me out, though it definitely can have its moments, especially if it’s going to be left unrefrigerated for awhile (i.e. on a picnic). Plus, it’s so egg-y. I have a funny relationship with eggs: of course I rely upon them as a good source of protein, and they are quick to prepare when one is starving and isn’t feeling particularly creative. A plate of good scrambled eggs in the morning can last me for hours. But I don’t like to eat eggs every day; sometimes I can even go a few weeks without partaking. Enter tofu salad.
It’s vegan (!), simple to prepare, and remarkably satisfying. There’s a little turmeric here, a little nutritional yeast, a good amount of vegan mayo, sunflower seeds, some apple cider vinegar to bring all the flavors together. I haven’t eaten a scoop on toast for breakfast but that’s on my agenda for this weekend, perhaps sandwiched between a trip to the farmers’ market for radishes and lettuce and summer squash and a swim up the street at USF.
Though I – not unhappily – missed the fireworks this year I could hear them thumping away down by the waterfront as I read my book (another essential to day-off enjoyment) and switched out the light early. Back to the grind the next day, but at least there were leftovers for lunch.
I initially was surprised at how good this salad is – I adapted it from several recipes I looked up online, tasting as I went along to match my own particular taste – but then I stopped caring and focused on devouring. I love the scallions here, though you could probably swap chopped chives, and the sunflower seeds are a must for a bit of crunch (almonds or walnuts might be nice, instead). I filled halved, whole wheat pita with generous scoops of salad, and stuffed fresh baby spinach leaves and slices of avocado in, too. I don’t mean to suggest this is in any way a substitute for egg salad — but I do mean to suggest that it’s better.
Makes about 8 servings.
For the dressing:
1/2 cup vegan mayo
1/3 cup mustard
2 tablespoona apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
optional: 1 teaspoon nutritional yeast
Zest of one lemon
1 block extra firm tofu
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1 bunch scallions, roughly chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large bowl, whisk together all the dressing ingredients. Using your hands, crumble the tofu into pieces; add to dressing. Add the sunflower seeds and scallion, and stir well to coat with the dressing. Salt and pepper to taste.