Lemon Cucumber Tofu Salad

Lemon Cucumber Tofu Salad Recipe

The other night I found myself standing in front of a 6-foot by 4-foot display of summer squash. Standing, staring, thinking about what I might need for the week. An older gentleman came up beside me carrying a handful of lemon cucumbers. They were beautiful. The size of baseballs, pale with vibrant yellow marks. With a twinkle in his eye, he started telling me how much he'd enjoyed the cucumbers he'd purchased the previous week. Well, two lemon cucumbers came home with me that evening. I eventually made a simple tofu salad with them. I marinated the cucumbers and some chopped dill in lemon juice and olive oil, then tossed that mixture with tofu, pine nuts, and avocado. Not my idea at all - the inspiration came when I posted a note on Twitter: Two lemon cucumbers - seeking inspiration. Any ideas?

Lemon Cucumber Tofu Salad Recipe

A bunch of you replied with really great ideas. @carstenknoch sent me this: lemon cucumbers, capers, dill, light vinegar & olive oil. Maybe avocado? Feta or tofu cubes. Toasted nuts of some kind.

Lemon Cucumber Tofu Salad Recipe

I had everything but the capers, and went for it. It's a salad I suspect I'll make again and again. The cool cucumber works nicely with the lemony marinade, dill, and creamy avocado. The toastiness of the pine nuts worked as an important counter-balance. I served the salad over some leftover mung beans I had in the refrigerator, but as I mention in the head notes below, you might serve it on its own, or over any number of grains, greens, or noodles.

For those of you who have never encountered a lemon cucumber, you can see a picture of one up above. They don't taste like lemon, they taste richly of cucumber. Another thing you might notice is how fragrant they are when sliced. I look for lemon cucumbers with good skin - because I rarely peel them. And although they may seem to have seeds that are larger than conventional cucumber, I eat the seeds too.

Thanks to all of you who provided ideas. We'll have to do this again more often!

Lemon Cucumber Tofu Salad Recipe

I served this over a platter of cooked mung beans (which I love), but I imagine it would be delicious over salad greens, brown rice or soba noodles as well. And if you can't find lemon cucumbers, you can substitute regular cucumbers, no problem.

2 lemon cucumbers, quartered then sliced into 1/4 inch thick slices
1 handful of fresh dill (about 2/3 cup loosely packed)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 big pinches of salt
8 ounces nigari extra firm tofu
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/2 of a large, ripe avocado

Toss the cucumbers, dill, olive oil, lemon juice and salt together in a medium bowl. Let sit for at least 20 minutes tossing gently once or twice along the way.

In the meantime, cook the tofu. Cook the tofu and a pinch of salt in well-seasoned skillet (I've been trying to stay away from non-stick) over medium-high heat for a few minutes, until the pieces are browned on one side. Toss gently once or twice, then continue cooking for another minute or so, until the tofu is firm, golden, and bouncy. Set aside.

Just before serving cut the avocado into cubes.

Spoon the cucumbers out of the lemon-olive oil mixture into a large salad bowl. Add half of the remaining dressing, the tofu, and half of the pine nuts. Gently toss. Taste. Add more dressing or salt if you like. Sprinkle the avocado across the top of the salad and gently toss once or twice to distribute it throughout the salad. Serve topped with the remaining pine nuts.

Serves 2 - 3.

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

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Comments

  • This looks lovely, just perfect for summer. I'm curious, though - why are you trying to stay away from non-stick pans?

    Jenn
  • I'm definitely going to have to try this! I have a large block of feta cheese sitting in my fridge so I think I'm going to go the feta route rather than the tofu this time. Can't wait to try!

    Sarah (Coffee Beans and Curry Leaves)
  • I had the same thing happen to me the other day - inspiration from twitter friends. I love it!

    Katerina
  • Absolutely love your idea of serving this over soba noodles. It's perfectly fresh and clean food - gorgeous!

    Christie @ Fig & Cherry
  • Absolutely love your idea of serving this over soba noodles. It's perfectly fresh and clean food - gorgeous!

    Christie @ Fig & Cherry
  • This looks so good I want to cry, I can imagine eating it mixed with quinoa in a kind of bastardized tabbouleh/pasta salad way. I want to leave work and go make it right now!

    Alex
  • What a lovely summer recipe. This is a really nice combination of flavours and textures--a definite must-try.

    Anna
  • Looks like a wonderful summer salad...sans the pinenuts. I'm suffering from a now week-long severe altering of my taste buds due to eating some pinenuts I purchased in the bulk section of a health food store. Beware the Chinese pinenut! Google "bitter taste pinenuts". Crazy, and incredibly annoying!

    Erin
  • Perfect! Doing a cleanse this week (basically vegan diet plus no wheat, sugar, caffeine or alcohol--I am cheating only slightly with one coffee in the morning or I'm not sure I could stay awake in class). This fits right in and looks incredible. Thanks again, Heidi. p.s. your book has become my staple birthday present for my (many) vegetarian friends this year. Always a hit!

    Elana
  • looks great & very healthy as always!! marinating the cucumber is a good idea never seen a lemon cucumber though not sure they grow in France?!

    est
  • the salad looks fresh and yummy with multiple layers into it....i like having this kind of salads n make them often but i have never used tofu with it........have some homemade tofu lying in my fridge n going to try this salad. lemon cucumbers are not very common here but i know they taste very fresh n crunchy, they are called 'phoot' in this part of the world, and are eaten in the ripe form too.

    sangeeta khanna
  • All of these beautiful, unusual varieties are one of the loveliest pleasures of shopping at the market. This salad looks perfect for a hot summery day with the cooling cucumber and avocado. I wish I'd planted some cucumbers in my garden now - they're definitely on my list for next year.

    Sophie
  • Ok, i know what's for dinner tomorrow, except I think I'll put it on brown or red rice. (That is if I can break my tofu curse and cook it without it sticking to the pan.) This may be the first (and only) useful thing Twitter has every spawned. :D

    Wren
  • Ok, I see the lemon cucumbers, the tofu, the pine nuts and the avocado, but all that is in a bed of some kind of gran, what grain is that?

    Aline Gaino
  • I don't think they have lemon cucumbers here, but I definitely want to make something similar with regular cucumbers. Since soba is my obsession of the moment, I know what I'll be using for the base!

    Cate
  • I have never seen lemon cucumbers before, and I don't need anything else to add to my cucumber obsession. Now, of course, I will have to seek them out. At minimum, this salad begs to be made with regular ones at least. Great inspiration from Twitter!

    Haley J.
  • That sounds really good even though I'm not a vegetarian. It will be a perfect dinner for hot day like tomorrow. :)

    Kitchen M
  • This looks delicious. I might try this using lentils...

    CariStereo
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