Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Peach and Tomato Salad with Tofu

Peach and Tomato Salad with Tofu

Last month's issue of Food & Wine included this wonderful summer salad, an unexpected but pleasing combination of flavors that's as tasty to eat as it is beautiful to look at.

The salad was created by Hugh Acheson, the celebrated Southern chef of Five & Ten in Athens, Georgia, who's a frequent Food & Wine contributor and known for his turns as a judge on Top Chef.

This salad is a wonderful way to showcase tomatoes' versatility, which play well with the sweet peaches and spicy quick-pickled jalapeños, which I substituted for the serrano chiles called for in the original recipe. The quick-pickle method is very easy and produces far tastier chiles than what you can get canned. I'd definitely recommend this for other applications, like tacos and nachos. The crispy-edged fried tofu adds yet another interesting textural element.

I made a slight modification in the recipe below: I used olive oil in the dressing instead of canola oil.

Given how much we're loving our area's new Southern-themed restaurant, Macon Bistro & Larder, I've been wanting to get into more Southern cooking. I'll definitely be on the lookout for other great recipes from Acheson.

Peach and Tomato Salad with Tofu
Adapted from Tomato-and-Peach Salad with Crisp Tofu by Hugh Acheson, Food & Wine

1/2 cup water
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 jalapeño chile, seeds and ribs removed and thinly sliced
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
6 oz. extra-firm tofu, drained well and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 cup baby arugula leaves
2 heirloom tomatoes, sliced into wedges
2 peaches, cut into wedges
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves

2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
1 tbsp. lime juice
1 tbsp. minced fresh ginger
1 tsp. Dijon mustard

1. Combine water, rice vinegar, sugar and salt and bring to a boil in a small saucepan or in a small microwave-safe bowl in the microwave. Cook until the sugar dissolves, then remove from the heat and add the sliced jalapeños. Let the mixture with the chiles stand for 15 minutes, at which point it will cool to around room temperature. Drain off the liquid.

2. Heat the oil in a cast-iron skillet or wide medium-size saucepan over medium to medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the tofu and fry until, turning until crisp, for about 5-6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer tofu to a paper-towel-lined plate.

3. Divide the arugula among the plates. Arrange the tomatoes, peaches, basil, pickled jalapeños and fried tofu on individual plates.

4. Whisk together the dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Drizzle each salad plate with a spoonful of dressing.

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