This is not just a Salad! This is an explosion for your taste buds and an incredible pleasure for all your senses! Surely not an everyday dish, I suggest making this decadent colorful composition for a special occasion, to treat yourself, or as a surprise meal for your better half. Nothing better on a Valentine’s or an anniversary day than a treat that is pretty, nutritious, and extremely delicious!
The elements of this beautiful plate are inspired by the Mediterranean, Moroccan, and American cuisines. Grilled eggplants are a famous side dish throughout the Middle East, North Africa, and the Southern European regions. Chickpeas are one of the earliest cultivated plants. Remains of chickpeas from the Middle East have been found that are around 7500 years old. Other samples have been found in Neolithic pottery in Hacilar, Turkey, and appear throughout history in Greece, France, and other areas of Europe.
American BBQ culture inspired me to make chicken nuggets with marinated tofu. Extra-firm pressed tofu will ensure the best result (Check my recipe Rainbow Plate with Grilled Tofu for instructions on how to press tofu). Tahini as an ingredient for the dressing, sesame seeds, and red beet as superfood toppings add more sensation and nutritional value to your taste experience. This veggie royalty is not only a pleasure to look at and eat, but it is also full of beneficial nutrients.
Cutting and rubbing the eggplants with the marinade first and set them aside will allow the slices to soak in all the good flavors.
Cut one and a half of the two pressed Tofu packs in uneven pieces, like chicken nuggets or bites (you will need half of one pack for the dressing). Sprinkle them with chili flakes and the marinade.
Now Bake the tofu bites for approximately 10 minutes and take them out of the oven. On a second baking sheet bake the eggplant slices. Use Baking paper for both. Don’t forget to check and turn the slices to evenly brown on both sides. Can you already smell how delicious they are going to taste?
Apply BBQ sauce with a rubber brush and bake another 10-15 minutes or until crispy brown. At this point, you are going to be a little impatient, especially if you are hungry. But, wait! It is worth it!
While the nuggets are baking prepare the greens and the dressing to have them ready when the eggplant and the nuggets are done.
I am very certain that you will love this plate. Should you still have leftovers don’t worry! You can make another dish with them. Here is my tip: if you have tortilla wraps (regular/soft taco size) you can make delicious wraps. Add some avocado slices, hot sauce, voila! Another dish to put on the table or take to work!
- 2 packs of tofu extra firm
- 2 eggplants medium size
- 1 can of chickpeas
- 1 bag of organic mixed greens
- 2 medium size carrots
- 1 medium size cucumber
- 3-4 green onions
- BBQ sauce for the tofu bites
- For the marinade:
- 1/2 a bunch of cilantro
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp chili flakes
- 1 tsp lemon-garlic seasoning
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- For the dressing:
- the leftover tofu pieces
- 1 Tbsp of the marinade
- 1/2 cup soy milk (or any other unsweetened, unflavored plant milk)
- 1 Tbsp tahin
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 Tbsp vinegar
- Salt and pepper to taste
- For the topping:
- 1 red beet (cut in small squares)
- 2 Tbsp sesame seeds
Drain and press the tofu using a tofu press, or place a cookie cooling rack over a plate, place the tofu on the rack, and another plate on top of the tofu. Put something on the plate to have more pressure on the tofu (a cutting board or a book). Let the tofu sit for around an hour to drain as much liquid as possible.
While the tofu is in the press, prepare the marinade:
Chop the cilantro and the garlic. Mix both in a bowl, add the rest of the marinade ingredients, and set aside.
Cut carrots, green onions, mix with the organic mixed greens, and set aside. Cut the red beet into small squares and set aside. Drain the chickpeas and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 392°F/200°C
Cut the eggplants into slices and rub with half of the marinade. Put the slices on a baking sheet with baking paper and set aside.
Take the pressed tofu and cut in squares of approximately half an inch thickness and one and a half inches length. Carve the edges to make them a bit oval and uneven and keep the cuttings for the dressing. Sprinkle the tofu bites with the chili flakes, the marinade (keep one tablespoon for the dressing!). Place the bites on another baking sheet with baking paper and bake the bites and the eggplant slices for around 10 minutes.
In the meantime, prepare the dressing:
Place the leftover tofu cuttings with the other dressing ingredients in a blender and blend for approximately one minute. Pour the dressing in a dressing bottle or a small Mason jar.
After 10 minutes of baking, take the tofu bites out and set the baking sheet aside. Check on the eggplant slices and turn them for evenly baking. Still on the baking sheet, generously brush BBQ sauce on the tofu bites and place the baking sheet back into the oven to continue baking.
When the eggplant slices are golden brown, take them out of the oven. Take the tofu bites out of the oven when browned and crispy. Arrange the ingredients on individual plates or on a large serving plate.
Top the greens with the red beet squares, the dressing, and sesame seeds.
I am very certain that you will love this plate. Should you still have leftovers don't worry! You can make another dish with them. Here is my tip: if you have tortilla wraps (regular/soft taco size) you can make delicious wraps. Add some avocado slices, hot sauce, voila! Another dish to put on the table or take to work!