Mediterranean Baked Tofu and Crazy Sexy Quinoa Salad

Keeping with the theme of evening meals and my regular eats, I thought I'd do a quick post about last nights dinner. I love nothing better than to come up with my own recipes but sometimes I do enjoy following someone else's, either from a blog or from a cookbook. I'm currently enthralled by everything Kris Carr has to say and I just love the Crazy Sexy Diet book she wrote, which is not only inspiring and informative but has a small but superb selection of recipes at the back. Most of the recipes are the brainchild of awesome raw chef Chad Sarno and if you know anything about raw food you'll know that means they're rockin'.

I had the privilege to take a raw cookery class at Saf in Shoreditch with David Bailey who was instructed by Chad himself. It was a wonderful day full of outrageous food, interesting conversation and I couldn't think of a better way to spend my 30th birthday.

This recipe isn'tentirely raw although there are many raw elements. I teamed it with some baked tofu because it's a wee bit healthier cooked this way and lately I've been frying most of my tofu so I wanted to shake things up a bit. I was so in love with this marinade and I know I'll be making it again - the red onion almost caramelized and goes beautifully soft whilst the tofu soaks up the marinade in the oven and becomes wonderfully infused with the flavours. Truly, it was lip smackingly good and in my opinion a dish to convert all those tofu haters out there.

I never quite got the whole tofu hating thing myself. I mean, it's fantastically versatile - you can have it baked, fried, deep fried, crumbled, cold, hot etc etc. It holds flavour much better than chicken and its texture is as varied as any ingredient I know. There isn't just one type of tofu, there are lots and they are used in different ways for different purposes. For example, if I were to make a 'cheesecake' I'd go down the silken tofu route but if I want to fry it, I'd buy firm, rinse it, press it to ensure it's not retaining excess water, coat it in flour or polenta, season and fry. For an extra crispy exterior, chewier interior; freeze it, thaw it, toss it in flour and et voila, crispy beancurd on yo plate!

f.y.i. If you're ever in Porthleven, hit up the Moonflower for some seriously awesome deep fried sweet and sour bean curd.

It may be a lost cause me trying to get some peeps to like tofu but you can't say I don't try.

If the baked tofu wasn't brilliant enough, I went and made the Mediterranean Quinoa Salad from that book I keep banging on about (just buy it already!).... that's right, say it with me now, 'The Crazy Sexy Diet'. Doesn't that title just make you smile and feel all liberated and stuff? It does to me anyway. Books like these have helped me regain a connection with my body - what goes in it and what I get out of it. Make sense? No, I'm not perfect, I have lumps and bumps like most gals and my rear end has been my nemesis for most of my life. It doesn't help when you have to be measured more frequently than most (cons of the job) only for people to be amazed how anyone can have a 26" waist and a 41" hip width. Thankfully since going vegan I've whittled that down to 37" but I've come to terms with my shape and the fact I will always be pear shaped - bottom heavy, boohoo, watcha gonna do.

Not that weightloss or hip measurements were in any way a factor in me going vegan. It was all about the health, baby! Best. Decision. I. Ever. Made. Okay, maybe marrying my Hubbie was the best decision I ever made but it's up there. Speaking of Hubbie, yesterday he went and surprised me with the most awesome gift - an acme made bowling bag camera case, eek!! I've been wanting one of these ever since I first spied them in the local camera shop. It's just too cute for it's own good and it's RED! Me loves red looooong time.

Oh yes, the quinoa salad. Lush. I changed a few things. I usually do. The essence of the recipe remains intact.

Another thing (yes, majorly rambling today - apologies), I've re-discovered this incredible blog. When I said rediscovered it's because I chanced upon it a while back and foolishly didn't put it on my blog roll and subsequently forgot about it - there are so many great blogs out there I lose track. I'm so glad I found this one again though because there is masses of pregnancy information on there, as well as recipes, fashion and photos of very cute vegan babies:) This lady also recently wrote a comprehensive vegan pregnancy guide- so buying this! Don't  panic (Mother, I know you're reading!), I am not pregnant but I want to be up to date and 100% informed when the time eventually comes - which is a while off yet, so STOP PANICKING MOTHER!

If it's not obvious I'll point out how inspired I'm feeling right now. All these amazing people get me super excited and less depressed about the state of the planet, our collective health and all the horrible, nasty happenings in the world (too many to even list and plus I don't want to bring the mood down). It's exhilarating. With pioneering people like these there is hope. It's not a lost cause and we might just have a chance of saving ourselves from well, um, ourselves. What I'm trying to say is, it's not all doom and gloom.

Now go take a walk, smell a flower and when you get back, treat yourself to a dish of love (any vegan recipe on my blog should fit the bill). You deserve it. Be the difference. Namaste.

mediterranean baked tofu (original recipe here)

1 280g block of firm tofu/bean curd

1/2 red onion

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp white wine vinegar

1 tbsp wholegrain mustard

1 tbsp malt syrup or agave nectar

2 tbsp finely chopped dill

sea salt and pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees celsius/390 degrees fahrenheit.

Drain, rinse and press the tofu. Slice into four rectangular sized pieces and place in a baking dish.

Finely slice the red onion. Put all the marinade ingredients into a bowl and mix. Add the red onion and thoroughly coat.

Pour the marinade over the tofu ensuring it is completely covered. Bake in oven for 45 minutes or until dry and the onions are completely soft and caramelizing.

crazy sexy quinoa salad

1 cup quinoa

2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 tbsp capers

zest of 1 lemon

juice of 1 lemon

1 or 2 garlic cloves

1/4 cup pine nuts

1/3 large cucumber

1 celery stick

3 tbsp chopped dill

sea salt and pepper

Cover the 1 cup of quinoa with 2 cups of water. Clamp a lid on, bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook until all the water has absorbed - about 10mins. Take off the heat and leave to cool with the lid on. This salad will be warm.

Peel, halve and deseed the cucumber. Quarter each piece and cut into small pieces. Wash and peel the celery and cut into very small pieces.

Roughly mince the capers. Crush the garlic using a garlic press (I normally prefer to mince by hand using a knife but the press is better in this instance).

Zest and juice the lemon. Finely chop the dill.

Heat a skillet/frying pan and lightly toast the pine nuts - a few minutes, give them a frequent shake and keep an eye on them. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Transfer the quinoa into a large bowl. Toss all the ingredients together including the olive oil and seasoning (a good grinding of salt and pepper). Taste, season further is necessary and serve warm alongside the tofu and some broccoli.

I had loads leftover so I ate a huge bowl for my lunch along with some avocado toast - hell yeah!