If I ever write a cookbook, I so want this recipe to be in it. There is a lot going on with this little salad and it’s all super delicious. For starters, I made my own BBQ sauce…without sugar, corn syrup, preservatives, additives, flavoring, coloring or any of the other junky junk that you’ll find on the labels of most store bought barbecue sauces. To sweeten the sauce, I used only a handful of medjool dates and the taste is amazing.
For the croutons, I made homemade vegan/gluten free cornbread that I was a little unsure about and it turned out great. I haven’t done much gluten free baking, but it’s something that I’m curious about. Next, I sauteed cornbread pieces in olive oil until they became crispy. This was such an awesome addition to the salad.
To put it all together, I grilled pressed firm tofu and a bunch of vegetables. I brushed the grilled tofu with the BBQ sauce. I served everything over lightly dressed spinach. Now, making everything from scratch was honestly a lot of work. You can skip the homemade sauce and buy a bottle from the store, just promise me that you will read the label and skip the junky ones. You could also make the cornbread from a mix or buy some already made, but it will probably be hard to find it vegan and gluten free. You decide what works for you.
BBQ Tofu Salad With Cornbread Croutons
1 large bunch of spinach, washed, spun dry and torn into bite size pieces
8 oz extra firm tofu, drained and pressed*
1/2 large sweet onion, sliced
1/2 large red pepper, cut into matchstick slices
1 portobello mushroom, large dice
6-8 stalks asparagus, sliced on the bias
1-2 ears of corn, shucked
1/2 cup BBQ sauce, store bought or recipe follows
Cornbread croutons, recipe follows
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp olive oil
Kosher salt + pepper, to taste
Preheat grill to medium high. Wrap corn in paper towels and microwave for about 2 minutes to precook. Remove paper towel and put corn directly onto grill. Turn until golden brown on all sides. Cut corn kernels from cob.
Slice pressed tofu lengthwise and sprinkle with a little salt. Place directly onto grill grate. Grill about 3-5 minutes and turn over when grill marks appear. Brush tofu with BBQ sauce and repeat on the other side. Place onion, red pepper, mushrooms and asparagus is a grill pan and set over heat. Cook vegetables until softened, about 5-8 minutes.
In a large bowl, whisk 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar, 2 Tbsp olive oil and salt to taste. Add washed spinach, corn and grilled vegetables to the bowl. Toss to coat with dressing.
Place spinach mixture in an individual salad bowl and top with BBQ tofu and cornbread croutons.
*To press tofu, wrap it in paper towel, set it on a small plate, top it with another plate and weigh it all down with a can or something heavy. Let it sit at least 10 minutes to remove excess water.
Date BBQ Sauce
Makes about 2 cups
1 cup organic ketchup
6 medjool dates, pits removed
1 tsp ground allspice
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper or to taste
1 Tbsp smoked paprika
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp granulated garlic
1 tsp onion powder
1 Tbsp Bragg’s Liquid Amino
1/2 cup Irish Whiskey
1/4-1/2 cup filtered water
Place all ingredients in a blender and combine until very smooth. Transfer mixture to a sauce pan set of medium low heat. Bring to a boil and turn down heat to simmer for about 15 minutes. Watch carefully as the sauce may bubble a lot.
Vegan/Gluten Free Cornbread Croutons
Adapted from Post Punk Kitchen
2 cups cornmeal
1 cup gluten free all purpose flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
1 tsp xanthan gum
2 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp maple syrup
2 cups unsweetened almond milk
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
Preheat oven to 350F. Spray bottom of 9×13 baking pan lightly with cooking spray.
In a medium bowl, whisk together almond milk and vinegar and set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together cornmeal, gluten free flour, xanthan gun, baking powder and salt. Add oil and maple syrup to almond milk mixture. Whisk until foamy and bubbly.
Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix together using a wooden spoon or spatula. Transfer batter to prepared baking pan and bake 30-35 minutes until a toothpick in center comes out clean.
Let cool and cut into small, bite size squares.
Heat large saute pan over medium heat. Add enough olive oil to cover bottom of pan. Add cornbread pieces to pan and sprinkle with kosher salt. Saute until golden brown on all sides.