Summer Salad with Spiced Lemon Coffee Vinaigrette
This delicious, summery salad makes good use of fresh, crisp ingredients. I also added red quinoa, avocado, fresh mozzarella cheese, fried tofu and chicken pieces to complete the nutritious salad. To put it over the top, I drizzled the salad with an incredible lemon and coffee-flavored vinaigrette.
I was inspired to make the dressing by our trip to Italy two years ago. While on our vacation, we had the opportunity to try spiced citrus coffee. It was absolutely terrific and fairly commonplace; similar flavor combinations can be seen in many coffee cakes and biscotti cookies. I was able to recreate the flavors found in these Italian dishes using Boyajian coffee vinegar and pure lemon oil. I also added extra lemon zest to brighten the vinaigrette.
The vinaigrette itself would also make an excellent marinade for chicken, steaks or root vegetables.
Yields: 4 servings½ cup red quinoa
1 cup vegetable stock (or store-bought vegetable broth)
2 teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
4 teaspoons granulated sugar, to taste
1½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 lemon, plus extra for garnish
3 tablespoons Boyajian balsamic coffee vinegar
½ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons Boyajian pure lemon oil
½ small white onion, cut into thin wedges
½ English cucumber
6 (3-inch) Ciliegine fresh mozzarella balls, quartered
¼ cup fresh blueberries (optional)
3 tablespoons curly parsley, chopped
¼ cup vegetable oil (or any neutral oil)
1 (16-ounce) package firm tofu
1 cup leftover roasted chicken breast (optional), diced
3 cups mixed greens, store-bought
Making quinoa: Pour the vegetable broth into a saucepan. Add the quinoa and bring to a boil. Cover and lower the heat to medium-low; cook for about 20 minutes until the liquid evaporates. Fluff the quinoa with a fork. Season with salt and pepper. Mix well. Cover and let cool to room temperature.
Making spiced lemon coffee dressing:
Zest the lemon and juice it. Gather 3 tablespoons of juice and reserve the rest for later.
In a blender, combine 1 tablespoon sugar, mustard, 3 tablespoons lemon juice, the lemon zest and 3 tablespoons coffee vinegar. Cover with a lid and pulse until well combined. Open the lid and slowly pour in the olive and lemon oils. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. You'll have approximately ¾ cup of salad dressing.
Pickling the onions: In a small bowl, combine the onions, 1 tablespoon lemon juice and 1 teaspoon sugar. Toss well and let stand for 10 minutes, so the onions become milder in taste. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons salad dressing and toss well. Set aside.
Prepping the avocados: Slice the avocados in half, remove the pits. Using a sharp chef’s knife, cut the avocados into small wedges. Transfer to a plate, removing the peel from each slice (that way the avocado isn't mushy). Drizzle with lemon juice to avoid oxidation.
Prepping the cucumber: Cut the cucumber in half lengthwise. Using a spoon, remove the seeds, which will create a cavity. Slice the cucumber into ¼ to ½-inch slices. Layer a cooling rack on top of a cookie sheet, and place the cucumber slices on top. Sprinkle salt on both sides and let sit for 15 minutes. Pat dry with a kitchen towel. Set aside.
For the mozzarella: In a bowl, combine the mozzarella, 2 tablespoons curly parsley and blueberries. Drizzle with 3 tablespoons salad dressing. Toss well and set aside.
For the fried tofu: Drain any liquid from the tofu. Pat dry with a paper towel. Slice the block of tofu into 1-inch thick pieces. Separate the pieces.
In small saucepan (I used a small one so the tofu could be fried in a high volume of oil without using too much oil), heat the vegetable oil for about 2 minutes. The key to good fried tofu is to get little bubbles when the tofu is in contact with the oil. Don't overheat the oil; otherwise the tofu will get too browned and chewy. Just stick to the slightly jumping bubbles. Add the tofu one piece at a time, making sure the saucepan isn't too over-crowded (I fried the tofu in 4 batches). Lower the heat to medium. Cook for 2 minutes; the tofu will start to pop and increase in volume. Flip each piece and cook about a minute longer. Using wooden chopsticks, pick up each tofu piece with as little oil as possible and immediately dip the tofu into the spiced lemon coffee dressing. The tofu will deflate instantly. Repeat until all the tofu pieces are ready. Transfer the tofu into a large bowl. Add the chicken pieces and toss well. Let cool to room temperature, then add the red quinoa. Mix well.
Add the onions, cucumber and the mozzarella mixture to the tofu and chicken. Toss well.
Layer a bed of mixed greens on a serving platter. Cover with the tofu and chicken mixture. Top with the slices of avocado. Garnish with thin slices of lemon as a reminder of the flavor in the vinaigrette, more parsley and black pepper.
Serve at room temperature.
If you don't have quinoa, you could use semolina (coarsely-ground durum wheat), bulgur (wheat grains that are partly cooked), regular couscous (tiny pasta made from semolina), Israeli couscous or even cooked pasta such as orzo.
When I make cucumber salad, I usually scoop out the seeds as they make the sauce watery. Some people like to peel cucumbers; I usually peel 2-3 strips around the vegetable, using a vegetable peeler. If you use the small variety (such as Persian or Mediterranean cucumbers), it's recommended to peel them entirely as the cucumber skin is waxed to seal in moisture for longer shelf life at the market.
I added blueberries because they resemble coffee beans and don't overwhelm the taste of the fabulous vinaigrette. You could omit them or replace with other mild fruits.
For a vegan version, omit the chicken and mozzarella cheese.Published By: on August 20, 2013.