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Bodybuilders like salads with protein like this salad with roasted peppers and shrimp or salad of Moscow barber with shrimp, potatoes, eggs and chicken breasts . They also know that after long working hours, home dinners are still essential and not incongruous, or a lifestyle luxury. In other words, they are huge fans of home cooking and they know tricks how to make healthy substitutions in unhealthy recipes.
This recipe has minimal number of ingredients in a somewhat unusual combination – European favorites spinach and asparagus make friendship with Asian tofu and soy sauce. Tofu is one of the most versatile products you can find in Japanese and Chinese markets. Like soy milk and miso, known as “fermented soybean paste” in English, it begins with soaked, steamed, and ground or chopped soy beans. It has plenty of protein and just traces of carbs and fat. I have already published one recipe with tofu here.
As for asparagus, I really think it’s the crown jewel of vegetables that you wait for every spring. In his book Mr. Wilkinson’s Vegetables, Matt Wilkinson, Melbourne-based chef, who is passionate about food in season, gives several recipes where the main ingredient is asparagus. They drew my attention and inspired me to make this salad for lunch. There is also an interesting and new for me information on asparagus which I want to share. It turns out that asparagus is a member of the lily family (and therefor related to the likes of onion, leek and garlic) and originated in the Mediterranean. The Romans were the first who cultivated and domesticated it. It has always been considered the height of elegance and a favorite of kings and emperors. The Egyptians even gave bundles of it as offerings to their gods. It has been restricted for its beauty and elegance for thousands of years.
When cooking asparagus, I prefer a “standing technique” when asparagus is placed into a pot full of boiling water to the level of 1/2 of a stalk. Keep the rubber band around the upper part of the bundle of stalks. This way the bottoms will cook and the tops will steam just enough to leave a pleasant crunchiness in them.
1. Cut off the hard parts of the asparagus and cook the stalks “standing” (follow the guidance above)
2. Cook tofu cubes in oil or cooking spray till golden
3. Wash and dry spinach
4. Mince garlic clove and shred ginger
5. Cut cayenne pepper into wheels
4. In a separate bowl combine sesame seed oil, soy sauce, minced garlic and ginger
5. Mix all the ingredients with salad dressing adding salt and black pepper if needed
You can also add lemon juice into the salad dressing if you like tart dressings.
Some culinary web sites and blogs for further cooking inspirations:
Bon Appétit Magazine
The New York Times Health
America’s Test Kitchen
Food and Wine of the West – Sunset