Welcome to the first Sunday in August! It’s been an awesome month so far, mainly because only 5 days have gone by. But those 5 days matter, because it means there are now that many fewer days left of summer. Boo! The transition from summer to fall also means its time for me to start thinking about swapping out my summer recipes for fall ones. Usually, that means replacing my go-to salads with warm, hearty bowls of vegetarian chili and soups. But this D.C. weather has me all out of sorts! One day it’s rainy and cold, the next day it’s 90 degrees! Sometimes I have no idea whether to make a summer meal or a winter meal. Which is why today, I’m sharing the recipe for a Coffee Crusted Tofu Salad with Ginger Turmeric Vinaigrette. This salad is the perfect “I have no clue what season it is” meal option, because it can work in any weather. Read below to find out more!
Let’s get one thing out of the way first — I detest coffee. HATE IT in fact. I think the last time I tried coffee was in middle school and I could only manage to take one sip before I spat it back out! There’s just something about the smell of brewed coffee that is very unappealing to me. My distaste for coffee is very unfortunate, not only because I miss out on the serious dose of caffeine that I always seem to be in desperate need of at 3 PM every day, but also because coffee is quite abundant in the Caribbean, much of the African continent, and all across South America. The warm, humid climate of the Caribbean is like ground zero for amazing coffee…or so I’ve heard. My parents both swear by Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee (side note: how did their love for coffee love skip me?!)
To every one who has given up on this recipe after hearing that I don’t like coffee, hear me out. I may not like drinking freshly brewed coffee, but I LOVE cooking with ground coffee. Two totally different things. The reason (or, what I tell myself) is that ground coffee is a perfect ingredient in savory cooking. Though not from the same source, ground coffee is very similar to cacao – both have a deep chocolatey flavor (yes, that’s a thing), and are very aromatic. Translation: ground coffee makes a perfect crust for meats and meat-ish things like tofu and tempeh.
By itself, ground coffee can be bitter, so it’s important to pair it with the right flavors. I chose to go with cacao and cinnamon, which have the same earthy vibe as coffee but have a milder flavor. For some much needed sweetness, I added molasses (a staple in every Southern and Caribbean pantry), and brown sugar. The brown sugar is actually pretty important here because brown sugar has molasses in it, and therefore compliments all the other ingredients. Look at us learning how to compliment flavors!
So how does this coffee-crusted tofu come together? It’s literally a two step process ya’ll. First, I mixed freshly ground Caribbean coffee with unsweetened cacao, cinnamon, and other warm spices to create a seasoning. Then, I pan seared tofu that I marinated in the seasoning until the seasoning forms a beautiful dark caramel-colored coffee crust. That’s it. Two steps. TWO! This simple dish is full of flavor, suitable for any season, and is extremely versatile!
I made a quick salad that included brown rice, kale, and a bunch of topping to go along with my coffee-crusted tofu. I also whipped up a quick ginger turmeric vinaigrette to go along with the salad. I know the coffee crusted tofu is supposed to be the star of this dish but this vinaigrette is a-m-a-z-i-n-g! It’s still earthy (turmeric) but the ginger is such a great compliment to the chocolatey flavors of the tofu. I repeat: Look at us learning how to compliment flavors. We’re creating food magic!
Depending on the weather (or your mood!), you can skip the salad and make a rice bowl, a wrap, or some tacos. No matter which direction you go in, this (former?) coffee skeptic guarantees that it will be YUM!
Try this recipe and let me know what you think. I’m excited to see if I’ve convinced my coffee-lovers (and coffee haters) that you can do more than just drink coffee. Tag #SweetandSorrel!
P.S. I may do a version of this recipe with Milo or Ovaltine in the future! For those who don’t know what either of those things are… stay tuned!
- 15 oz package of extra firm tofu
- 2 tbsp freshly ground coffee
- 2 tsp unsweetened cacao powder
- 1 tsp molasses
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce (or soy sauce)
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 tbsp olive oil (for cooking)
- optional garnishes (carrots, radishes, avocado, sprouts, etc)
TURMERIC GINGER VINAIGRETTE
- 1/4 cup of olive oil
- 1 tsp freshly grated ginger
- 1 tsp honey
- 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
- juice of one lemon
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Drain the tofu and cut into 3 long slabs, length wise. Cover the slabs in paper towels and put a heavy pan on top of the tofu for at least 10 minutes. This will press out the moisture and make for a crispier tofu. Once the tofu is drained, cut into cubes and place in a medium sized bowl.
- Whisk together the remaining ingredients for the coffee crust and pour the mixture over the tofu. Place in the fridge and let the tofu marinate in the mixture for 1 hour.
- Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a cast iron skillet on medium heat. Drain the tofu (but save the marinate!) and pan sear the tofu, about 3 minutes on each side. Once the tofu is seared, add the reserve marinade to the pot and cook until a crust forms, about two minutes. Remove from heat.
- If you are making a salad, prepare the turmeric ginger vinaigrette by combining all the ingredients for the dressing in a mason jar. Firmly seal the jar and shake vigorously until combined. Assemble your salad. Top with your choice of garnishes + ginger turmeric vinaigrette and enjoy!
makes 4-5 servings