The Unexpected

AriCooks, asian-inspired, Dairy Free, Quick Meals, Salad, Summer, Vegan, vegetarian

Can't stand the heat? This light and nutritious tofu salad is perfect for summertime lunches.

It’s a tried and true fact of living that few things are what you expect them to be and that life is full of surprises. Of course both those things sound like cliches, but we have sayings for a reason, and as the years go by I am more and more struck by the universality of the human experience.

When we decided to leave Boston it was after a long period of frustration with a place that is undeniably cold and (as a matter of perspective) cold-mannered and, in many ways, ambivalent. Having been a part of a largely non-Jewish (and apolitical) dance community for many years in Boston, few people had much to say to me about our upcoming move in terms of choice of location. Unexpectedly however, a friend who is a well known Irish Dancer mentioned that she knew a fiddle player who was moving to Israel at the same time as we were. I was intrigued.

“An Irish fiddle player?” I asked, “Moving to Jerusalem?”

As it turned out the musician in question was married to a journalist who had just accepted the rather overwhelming job of being the Middle East Correspondent for Public Radio, and they would be transplanted to Jerusalem for the next three years.

“How brave…” I murmured, “To be the wife of a journalist in a land that is so foreign to you, to which you have no idealogical or religious connection. And with small children to boot…”

Seeing as we would both be new in town, the Irish dancer offered to connect us.

“You can show her the ropes,” I believe was the general gist of conversation.

Although I suppose I have showed Ellery around a bit since we both arrived in Israel, our friendship has proven to be a lot more complex than simply a half-Israeli helping out a newbie (who, as it turns out, is quite capable of learning the lay of the land with or without a guide). With Ellery, Matt, and the kids so much a part of our lives here in Israel, I am constantly reminded that Boston is a home. We wax poetic about our favorite cafes, markets and restaurants, and trade anecdotes about Somerville and East Boston (our respective old neighborhoods). I also have the opportunity to see Jerusalem through the eyes of someone who neither loathes nor romanticizes this wild place, a truly refreshing opportunity. Ellery is quick-witted, dry and often very funny in her day-to-day assessments of Israeli society as she sees it. For these and many other reasons (such as my having a partner in Cheesecake Factory-bashing), I am thankful that she is here. I look forward to more adventures with her and the whole K-B crew.

E, this tofu salad is for you!

Ellery and Pookie, drinking a beer.

Tofu Salad, Yerushalmi Style

8 oz firm tofu, drained and crumbled

1/2 cup cooked short grain brown rice (or any cooked grain you have avaiblable)

1 Tbs fresh lemon juice

2 Tbs Tamari soy sauce

3 Tbs tahini paste

2 Tbs dijon mustard

1/4 cup mayonaise

3 scallion, green parts only, finely chopped

1 yellow bell pepper, finely chopped

2 small carrots, diced

1 small cucumber, peeled and diced

1/3 cup parsley, finely chopped

a few fresh basil leaves, minced

salt and pepper, to taste

Cook the crumbled tofu in a dry skillet over medium heat, until it loses some of its moisture and shrinks slightly.

Put the tofu into a mixing bowl and add the cooked rice. While the tofu is still hot, swiftly stir in the lemon juice and soy sauce.

Now add the tahini, dijon and mayonnaise and stir everything together. Add the chopped veggies and herbs and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Enjoy on its own, or stuffed into a pita with extra mustard and crisp lettuce leaves.

10 thoughts on “The Unexpected

    1. Nah, give it a try. My mustard is very spicy, but if yours is on the mild side, should be fine. Maybe a little more tachina too…

  1. Would like to make that but I havent seen any tofu here at all. The universality of the human experience – this is so true, not many people here believe it, they think they are unique. Yes they are, the Turks are in a league of thier own along with every other country. Things make areas, countries special but people are roughly the same everywhere. If only people would open thier eyes to acknowledge that things could be better.

    1. Before my Supersol Deal moved the tofu to the Green section, and even before there was a Green section, I could buy tofu there in the dairy section, where they kept the butter, marg and soy yogurts.

    2. Yosefa, I also don’t eat a lot of tofu here (it’s expensive relative to the States), but since we don’t eat meat, protein selection gets a little redundant sometimes! I was surprised to find it even at the regular supermarket (Mr zol and pashut zol).

  2. Hi Ari, recently found you and am so enjoying reading the experiences of a fellow cultural hybrid (as well as your wonderful recipes). It is so rare that I read anything even vaguely resembling my life experience! Hoping to drag my family Artza in a few years but in the meantime here I am raising a small Israeli-American in the States.

    Now I’m dying to hear your friend’s impressions. You’re right, I’ve never met someone who didn’t have a vested interest, one way or the other!

  3. You’re very sweet, Ariella. Thanks for all the local insight and of course food advice. It’s great to have you guys down the road in J-town. And “K-B Crew”… I like it! We might have to think about trademarking that one for our first family hip hop album. Peace and love from Cairo,

  4. I found your blog in a round about way and had bookmarked this recipe to try. I made it this afternoon and found it quite delicious! I am not used to the combination of flavors that you used (I live in Texas after all…. ) and will admit to being just a little apprehensive. I’m glad I kept going because I really enjoyed the salad. Thanks for sharing and I look forward to trying more recipes in the future!

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