Sweet and Spicy Tomato and Kidney Bean Salad

One of the best things about not eating meat is that you can make meals without having to actually cook anything. Just cut, combine and stir. Whether you're in a hurry, feeling lazy or just want that fresh crunch, a plant based diet gives you the freedom to cook without literally cooking. 

Especially as the weather gets warmer, it's convenient to just cut and combine. It's also surprisingly tasty to keep those fresh ingredients in their natural state. 

The textures and flavors are vibrant and exciting. 

A little salt, a little acid, some  fat, a spice or two and you're all set with a delicious meal. 

1 can dark red kidney beans
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 poblano pepper, diced
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 long hot pepper, diced
1 serrano, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbls olive oil
2 1/2 tsps salt
1 1/2 tsps crushed pepper flakes
1 tsp black pepper

Toss all ingredients together in a large bowl. 

That's it. You're done. Enjoy your not so hard work.

Asian Barbecue Tofu Cubes

I watch a lot of cooking shows and whenever they want to make the competitors sad they give them tofu. It's the ingredient no one seems to understand how to use. 

When I see tofu as a main ingredient in a cooking show I get excited. It's awesome. I love it. 

The key to tofu is understanding the different kinds and how each can best be utilized. And also knowing how to manipulate the texture. The reason most people don't enjoy tofu isn't its lack of flavor. Any good cook can add flavor. It's the texture that puts people off. But it's not that difficult to take the inherent properties of tofu and use them to your advantage. 

Silkens... always in a puree or sauce. They are a perfect vegan substitute for the texture of cream or mayo. The firms... dehydrate them and give them chew. 

In this recipe little cubes of extra firm tofu are marinated in a salty and spicy mixture and then cooked off in a cast iron skillet to achieve a smokey flavor and a slightly chewy exterior with a tender inside. 

I actually had to rush to take the photo for this because it was so good that I was afraid I'd eat it all to quickly. 

1 package extra firm tofu
3 tbls soy sauce
3 tbls hot sauce
1 tbl olive oil
2 tsps aleppo pepper flakes
2 tsps garlic powder
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp black pepper

There's no salt in the ingredients list because the soy sauce already has plenty. 

Drain the tofu. Place in an open vessel with a folded over paper towel on the bottom.

Slice it into 1/2 inch slices down the block. Then slice in the other direction in 1/2 inch increments as well. 

Allow to dry out in the fridge at least 4 hours. Overnight is better. 

Whisk together the other ingredients in a small bowl. 

Carefully lay down the tofu slices on their sides and cut into cubes. 

Gently roll each cube in the marinade to coat and them add to a cast iron skillet. 

Cook on the stovetop over medium high heat until the downward facing side begins to crust. Stir and continue to cook 5 more minutes. 

Transfer skillet to center of your oven with the broiler set on high and cook for 10 minutes. 

Turn off oven, but leave the skillet of tofu in the oven for 20 more minutes. 

Store unused portion uncovered in the fridge.