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30 April 2016

Zahtar Tofu Salad With Cashew Tzatziki


I've often said that herbs and spices are the essence of good cooking; they're what set dishes apart from one another and when used correctly are the most wonderful addition to recipes, so it's important that they're of high quality too. Spices can degrade in both taste and aroma with age, and some spices are simply stronger than others according to variety and manufacturing methods, so remember when purchasing, not all spices are created equal! The awesome people over at absolute spice have sent me some goodies to cook with and review and I couldn't be more excited! Absolute spice is a London based spice company who supply to some of the top restaurants, their spices are available to order online here!


My first recipe is a zahtar crusted tofu and bulgur wheat salad with some vegan cashew tzatziki. Zahtar, or za'atar is a mixture of middle eastern herbs consisting of thyme, sumac, sesame seeds and a pinch of salt; it's delicious in savoury dishes such as salads and on flat breads, with it's herby-fresh , almost lemon-like flavour. The spice also has some folk tradition to it; it is said that it helps to clear the mind and in some countries it is consumed before exams to help thought clarity, whether proven or not, this spice mix is full of anti-inflammatory properties and tastes simply amazing!



The salad is made up of seasoned bulgur wheat, tomatoes, cucumber and rocket and is a perfect bed for the zahtar crusted baked tofu. The flavours are then all brought together with some fresh vegan tzatziki. Tzatziki is a greek sauce usually made up of greek yogurt, grated cucumber, garlic, dill, mint and some lemon juice. In the absence of a vegan greek yogurt on the shop shelves (come on manufacturers!), I opted for the trusty cashew nut to deliver the creamy-thickness needed. I blended them up with some garlic, water, lemon juice and apple cider vinegar to replicate the slight sourness of greek yogurt, then mixed with cucumber, dill, mint and a pinch of salt for that traditional freshness. The dip is creamy, thick, fresh, everything you want a tzatziki to be and compliments the zahtar crusted tofu amazingly!


So, the verdict...The zahtar added a wonderful fresh and herby flavour to the tofu, I added a pinch more salt as it wasn't too prominent in the recipe, but I think that's a good thing as it allows for personal preference. The tofu was an excellent vehicle to test the spice on as it takes on the flavours it's paired with and really let you taste the seasoning; it paired so well with the salad and the tzatziki, adding a real, authentic middle eastern taste to the dish and will definitely be a welcome addition to my kitchen from now on!  


The Zahtar is available for purchase from absolute spice here!


Zahtar Tofu Salad With Cashew Tzatziki | Serves: 4 | Time: 35 mins

You'll need

  • Chopping board
  • Knife
  • Baking tray 
  • Grease-proof paper
  • Large bowl
  • Food processor/high speed blender
  • Spatula
  • Grater
  • Measuring cups + spoons

Ingredients

Tofu:
  • 1 block firm tofu
  • 3-4 tbsp zahtar
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • Pinch salt
Salad:
  • 1 cup bulgur wheat
  • 1 3/4 cups hot veggie stock
  • 1 bag rocket
  • 1/2 unwaxed cucumber
  • 4 large tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped mint
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped dill
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp Absolute Spice zahtar
Tzatziki:
  • 1/2 cup cashew nuts 
  • 1/2 clove garlic
  • 1.5 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 4-5 tbsp water
  • 1/2 unwaxed cucumber
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped dill
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped mint
  • salt

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C and line a baking tray with grease-proof paper.
  2. Drain the tofu and press some of the water out, then cut into 8 pieces and lay out on the baking tray, spoon the zahtar on the top of the tofu, sprinkle with salt and a drizzle of oil then bake for 25-30 minutes. 
  3. To cook the bulgur wheat, place in a bowl, cover with boiling hot veggie stock and leave to absorb whilst the tofu is cooking, it should take about 20-30 minutes to tenderize.
  4. To make the tzatziki blend up the cashew nuts with the garlic, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar and 3 tbsp of water, add more water as needed, until the mixture is smooth and thick. Then peel a cucumber and grate, sprinkle with salt and leave for 2 minutes, then squeeze out all the excess liquid and add to the cashew mixture along with the dill and mint. Taste and add more salt if needed. 
  5. Chop up the tomatoes and cucumber and add to the tender bulgur wheat along with 1 tbsp lemon juice, dill and mint. 
  6. Serve the bulgur wheat on a bed of rocket, with the crusted tofu on top and the tzatziki on the side. Sprinkle the salad with some more zahtar before serving and enjoy!
Cassidy xx

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