14 ounces extra-firm or firm tofu, sliced crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slabs
1/3 cup cornstarch
2 carrots, peeled and shredded
1/2 cucumber, optional (see notes), peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and sliced thin
Zest of 1 lime plus 1 tablespoon juice
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Sriracha sauce
3 tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral oil
48-inch baguettes or sub rolls, split lengthwise
1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves
Spread tofu over paper towel-lined baking sheet, let drain for 20 minutes, then gently press dry with paper towels and season with salt. Spread cornstarch in shallow dish. Dredge tofu in cornstarch and transfer to plate.
Meanwhile, zest the lime into a small bowl. Add the mayonnaise and Sriracha and stir to combine. In a separate bowl, combine carrots, cucumber (if using), lime juice, and fish sauce and let sit for 15 minutes.
Heat oil in 12-inch nonstick (or not) skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add tofu and cook until both sides are crisp and browned, adjusting heat as necessary (I turn it down to medium), about 4 minutes a side. Transfer to paper towel-lined (or not) plate.
Spread mayonnaise mixture evenly over cut sides of each roll. Assemble 4 sandwiches by layering ingredients as follows between prepared rolls: tofu, pickled vegetables (leaving liquid in bowl), and cilantro. Press gently on sandwiches to set. Serve.
15-20 fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped or torn; more for garnish
10 mini fresh mozzarella balls (or 1 cup chopped fresh mozzarella), optional
To make the lemon-dill vinaigrette, place the vinaigrette ingredients in a bowl. Whisk together to combine. Set aside briefly.
In a medium-sized heavy pot, heat two tablespoons of olive oil. Saute the couscous in the olive oil briefly until golden brown. Add 3 cups of boiling water (or the amount instructed on the package), and cook according to package. When ready, drain in a colander. Set aside in a bowl to cool.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the remaining ingredients minus the basil and mozzarella. Then add the couscous and the basil and mix together gently.
Now, give the lemon-dill vinaigrette a quick whisk and add it to the couscous salad. Mix again to combine. Test and adjust salt, if needed.
This spring salad is as simple as it is delightful. The ingredient that drives it is the season’s very best strawberries — plump with juice, deeply ruby-colored and with a perfume that greets you from across the room. Thin slices of English cucumber offer a cool, crisp contrast, and basil leaves provide a soft, fragrant accent. It is dressed with a honey-white wine vinaigrette.
2 tablespoons walnut oil or extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 head butter, Boston or bibb lettuce, leaves torn (about 5 cups, lightly packed)
6 large or 12 small hulled strawberries, quartered if large, halved if small
1/4 English (seedless) cucumber, cut into thin half-moons
2 tablespoons shelled, unsalted pistachios, toasted and coarsely chopped
4 large or 8 medium fresh basil leaves, torn
Whisk together the oil, vinegar, honey, salt and pepper in a medium bowl to form a dressing.
Place the lettuce in a large bowl. Drizzle in about half of the dressing, and toss to coat.
Divide the dressed lettuce among individual salad plates. Arrange the strawberries and cucumber slices on top, then drizzle with the remaining dressing.
Top each portion with 1/2 tablespoon of pistachios and some basil. 4 servings
1 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon sweet pickle relish
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon Tabasco
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3/4 pound asparagus
Two 6-ounce romaine hearts, cut crosswise 1/2 inch thick
One 6-ounce seedless cucumber, thinly sliced or cut into spears
4 large radishes, thinly sliced
4 medium tomatoes, cut into wedges (optional)
4 hard-cooked eggs, cut into wedges
1 pound crabmeat, preferably Dungeness
In a bowl, whisk the mayonnaise with the ketchup, relish, lemon juice, garlic, Tabasco, Worcestershire sauce, paprika and chili powder and season with salt and pepper. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes.
In a medium saucepan of boiling salted water, cook the asparagus until just tender, 3 minutes. Drain and cool.
Arrange the romaine, cucumber, radishes, tomatoes, eggs and asparagus on a platter. Top with large chunks of the crabmeat and serve, passing the dressing at the table.
1 fresh Thai (also sold as “bird’s eye”) chile, minced
8 ounces thin rice noodles (roughly the width of linguine)
3 or 4 napa cabbage leaves, thinly sliced crosswise
1 medium carrot, shredded or cut into matchsticks
1/2 cucumber, halved, seeded, and thinly sliced
1 handful chopped fresh herbs, preferably a combination of basil, cilantro, and mint
8 ounces cooked meat or shrimp, cut or torn into bite-sized pieces
1/2 cup salted peanuts, coarsely chopped
To prepare the dressing, combine the fish sauce, lime juice, 2 tablespoons of the brown sugar, 6 tablespoons of the water, the garlic, and the chile. Whisk well. Taste: if it’s too pungent, add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time. If you’d like more sweetness, add more brown sugar, 1/2 tablespoon at a time. Remember that you’re going to be putting this dressing on unsalted vegetables and noodles: you want the dressing to have a lot of flavor, but it shouldn’t knock you over. Pour into a serving bowl. (Covered and chilled, the dressing will keep for 3 days to a week.)
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the rice noodles, and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, until tender but not mushy. Immediately drain the noodles into a colander, and rinse them well with cold water. Lay out a clean kitchen towel on the countertop, shake the colander to drain away excess water, and then spread the cooked noodles on the towel to drain further.
Divide the noodles between two or three good-sized bowls, depending on the number of diners, and top with the vegetables, herbs, and meat. Scatter the peanuts on top. Allow each person to spoon on dressing to taste. Toss well, and eat. (Alternatively, you can present this salad family-style: Toss the vegetables, herbs, and noodles in a mixing bowl and then mound them on a serving platter. Arrange the meat over the noodles, and top with peanuts. Each diner can scoop their own portion from the platter and dress it as they see fit.)