I always strive to bring balance to every aspect of my life whether it’s in thinking about how I approach my career or in how to build flavor in a dish. Unfortunately, in reality it doesn’t always work out that way. Lately things have been a bit chaotic in the work department. A quick turnaround assignment came in and it’s been throwing my life for a loop. The Sundays which I would normally spend menu planning and cooking leisurely have been instead sucked up by survey writing and PowerPoint creating.
So that’s where easy go-to recipes come in. I will admit when I hear the words easy and recipe together in a sentence I cringe a little. It’s not that I don’t believe that simple food can be good food, I do it’s just that sometimes easy recipes sacrifice flavor for convenience, something I am not willing to do. Food being a passion for me, everything has to deliver on my high expectations, quick or not. Thankfully, this pasta salad is one recipe that does. It’s relatively quick, flavorful, and packs up easily for weekday lunches. There is a bit of time involved in roasting the tofu, but thankfully it is non-active time so you can easily take care of this step while you’re getting something else done.
And the results are well worth it. The creamy herby honey mustard dressing plays well with the crunchy and nutty cashews, the vegetal bell peppers and the chewy on the outside, soft in the middle tofu. It’s great for a picnic side or a main dish.
Adapted from a recipe in the Penzey’s Catalogue
-1 container extra firm tofu, drained and cubed
-1 tablespoon olive oil
-3 tablespoons Penzey’s Buttermilk Ranch Dressing Base, divided
-1/2 cup light mayonnaise
-1 cup low fat buttermilk
-3 tablespoons honey
-1 tablespoon yellow mustard
-1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
-1 16 ounce box pasta, cooked (I used farfalle)
-1 bell pepper, diced
-1/2 cup shredded carrots
-1/4 cup minced chives
-1/2 cup cashews, chopped
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Toss cubed tofu with olive oil and one tablespoon of the Buttermilk Ranch Dressing Base. Spread tofu on a baking sheet and bake until golden on all sides, turning once during the baking process, about 30-40 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, mix together the remaining Buttermilk Ranch Dressing Base with the mayonnaise, buttermilk, honey, yellow mustard, and black pepper. Pour it over the cooked pasta. Add the chopped bell peppers, shredded carrots, and tofu. Refrigerate for one hour.
Remove from the pasta just before serving and add the chives and cashews.