I work in a land where splitting hairs is darn near a job title. In academia, people make their living with sometimes vary narrow expertise. Dissertations hinge on factors as small as that guy believed such and such war was a total failure and I believe it is sort of a failure. In saying this, I am not above it. There are plenty of meetings where I am right there in the verbal melee of splitting hairs. Don’t get me started on the history of cotton…
Food culture has its own level of splitting hairs. Anyone ever said I would only ever eat ____. Most of us have something that is seriously anathema (conventional strawberries, jackfruit only if I am in Asia). One of the really fancy splitting hairs contingent are the cultural purists—those who maintain that certain traditional recipes are only right if they follow ancient prescribed formulas. And here I am torn. Professionally I am totally pro-splitting hairs. And personally, I am con-following food rules. Heck, I eat mango with feta and make ramp kimchi.
Last night we had a vegan salad that is clearly a close friend of salade nicoise. Perhaps her hippie cousin? We dressed the whole thing with olive oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, mustard and chopped 'fines herbes' ( parsley, chives, chervil, thyme and tarragon); which is all very kosher in the land of Nice. We avoided lettuce as many a purist suggests (demands?). But, we also avoided anything from the sea and eggs for that matter. For protein sources we went with broiled tofu and tomato braised chickpeas. And, it was delicious.
Vegan Salad Nicoise
First, marinate firm tofu sliced in ½ inch thick pieces:
2 T pomegranate molasses
1t agave nectar
A splash braggs liquid aminos
¼ cup water
2 T red wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic minced
Then, boil small red potatoes, steam asparagus and green beans. When still warm, dress each with olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt, pepper, mustard, minced garlic, and chopped 'fines herbes' ( parsley, chives, chervil, thyme and tarragon). Chill each separately.
When the veggies are chilling, broil the tofu under a high broiler for 12 minutes basting periodically.
At the same time, simmer chickpeas with red onions, 2 T tomato paste, thyme and cayenne.
Quarter some cherry tomatoes. (I didn’t dress them but just because.) Rinse some radishes.
Scour your fridge for some olives. We only had kalamata.
Arrange and then eat.
This was also my One Local Summer dish for the week. Sadly our CSA has had some major problems with their crop but we are still shopping at the local farmers market for our food. The tofu is from Cleveland Tofu Company, the veggies and the garlic in the dressing were bought at North Union market at Chagrin Falls with the exclusion of the tomatoes, olives and the chickpeas. My favorite of the veggies were the radishes from Salash Farm. (This farm has the best spinach too which we bought and used for pizza a few weeks ago.) The herbs for the salad were from our yard. The dinner was paired with bread from On The Rise.