Monday, July 21, 2008

Satisfying Super Salad: Asian Noodle Salad with Tofu and Mango

Asian noodle salad with tofu and mango

Sal ' ad [sal-uh d]: 1. A plate of wimpy greens, topped with a dry carrot stick, a cold cucumber slice, and tasteless non-fat dressing. Guaranteed to leave you hypoglycemic an hour later. 2. A plate of pure fat and carbs on lettuce, considerably worse for you than a burrito supremo.

This is why I hate trying to order a salad. Too often they are either bad for you or just plain bad. Check these out:

Panera Bread
Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad:
560 calories, 34 grams of fat, 1,270 mg sodium

Tomato and Mozzarella Salad (a nice, light summer choice, no?):
890 calories, 47 grams of fat, 1,660 mg sodium

Corner Bakery
Harvest Salad (sounds natural enough) with Balsamic Vinaigrette:
1,100 calories, 81 gm of fat, 2,260 mg of sodium

How about this from the popular Baja Fresh here in SoCal:
Chipotle Glazed Charbroiled Chicken Salad:
590 calories, 22 grams of fat, and 1,110 mg of sodium

So what's a girl to do? Fear not, dear readers, FoodBlogga is actually a Hero: a normal girl with superhuman salad making abilities -- to save humanity (Notice: an NBC series featuring myself creating salads to save people's lives while living an otherwise normal life as a food writer is currently in development. All rights are reserved.)

Here are my secret weapons:
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables packed with vitamins and evil-fighting antioxidants.
  • Vitamin, calcium, and fiber-rich whole grains contain complex carbohydrates, keeping you satiated longer.
  • Lean protein helps build and maintain muscle. It's digested more slowly than carbs, keeping your blood sugar levels steady and your belly full.
  • Fat-fighting fiber is known to aid both digestion and weight loss.
  • "Good" fats in avocados, olive oil, and nuts are high in monounsaturated fat, which can lower your LDL or "bad" cholesterol.
Now for the salad. Asian Noodle Salad with Tofu and Mango is high in protein and fiber yet low in fat and sodium. With chewy noodles, crispy tofu, creamy mango, and a zesty lime, soy, and ginger vinaigrette, you'll be truly satisfied for approximately 450 calories per serving. Plus you'll get an impressive 20 grams of protein, and a mere 5 grams of fat and 500 mg of sodium.

Since a hero's work is never done, look for a weekly installment of these satisfying super salads. Currently, I have 8 episodes ready to air, then I'll have to see if NBC picks me up for a second season.

Asian noodle salad with tofu and mango

Asian Noodle Salad with Tofu and Mango
Makes 4 servings
Print recipe only here.

2 teaspoons sesame oil
12 ounces tofu, thinly sliced

2 large carrots, peeled and julienned**
4 celery stalks, julienned
1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded, and julienned
4 green onions, thinly sliced into long strips
2 small mangoes, thinly sliced into strips

8 ounces rice or soba noodles
2 tablespoons dry roasted, unsalted peanuts, coarsely chopped

6 tablespoons granulated sugar
4 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 teaspoons salt
juice of 1 lime
1/2 teaspoon lime zest
1 1/2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
4 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 minced jalapeno chili, or to taste (the more the seeds, the hotter the flavor)

1-2 tablespoons fresh mint, thinly sliced, for garnish

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm 2 teaspoons sesame oil. Once hot, add tofu and saute until browned and crispy, about 5-7 minutes. Set aside.

Meanwhile, place all other salad ingredients (except noodles and peanuts) in a medium bowl and toss gently. Set aside.

To make the dressing, in a small saucepan over low heat, whisk together sugar, vinegar, and salt until sugar dissolves. Turn off heat, and whisk in remaining ingredients. Set aside.

Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain, and add to the bowl of vegetables. Add cooked tofu and dressing, and toss well to coat. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts and sliced mint. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

**I use an OXO Julienne peeler which makes this a breeze. If you don't have one, then just slice all the ingredients very thinly or use a mandolin.

You might also like:

Bulgur Salad with Chickpeas, Cranberries, and Toasted Almonds

Warm Bulgur Salad with Beets, Fennel, and Oranges

String Beans and Tofu with Thai Peanut Butter Sauce

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