Autumn Salad

  • Spinach
  • Roasted sugar pumpkin
  • Marinated, baked tofu (apple cider jam, Dijon mustard, Thai red curry paste, Bragg’s liquid amino acids, red wine vinegar)
  • Red onion
  • Pink apple
  • Cilantro
  • Tangerine zest

Dressing:

  • Dried Chile Colorado  (dry skillet toasted & rehydrated)
  • Thai red curry paste
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Tangerine juice
  • Fresh ginger
  • Apple cider jam
  • Dijon mustard
  • Bragg’s liquid amino acids
  • Dried cumin & coriander
  • Salt

Of course, this salad got its start with the first cute little sugar (or pie) pumpkins I saw at the store. Then, I let my mind wander to dressing ideas – I had a few pieces of chile leftover from making salsa the week before and figured that Thai red curry paste, red chile, and roasted pumpkin cubes would be a warming base for a salad to celebrate the arrival of Autumn (at least on the calendar, anyway).

Building off the base of roasted pumpkin,  baked tofu, marinated overnight in the components of the dressing, provide a good toothsome element of protein;  Pink apples from New Zealand offer crunch and a hint sweetness to compliment the heat in the dressing, and red onion gives color and a little “bite” in both sharp flavor and mouthfeel.  Warming the pumpkin cubes, along with the tofu, in the microwave for about 40 seconds before assembling the salad takes the chill off and contributes to the warm, filling feeling a good Autumn salad promises.

I like tangy dressings, so 2 vinegars and fresh squeezed tangerine juice give brightness and pop to the smoldery heat of the chile & curry paste.  Umami comes from the Bragg’s and the Dijon, and the sweet element of the apples is echoed by a dollop of Trader Joe’s apple cider jam.

I regularly prefer the hearty nature of kale for all my salads, and that would have been a better choice here, but time constraints nudged me into using bagged spinach. I think it was too tender a leaf for the hefty weight of both the salad components and the vibrant dressing and the addition of either roasted pepitas or toasted pecans would have given the salad the fifth star for sure.

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