Friday, August 14, 2009

Veganizing The Art of French Cooking (Tofu Salad a la Julia)

tofu salad sandwich

As I mentioned, Megan and I went to see Julie and Julia on its opening night. And, as I also mentioned, I was super excited to see the movie because I enjoyed both of the books it was based on, especially Julia Child's My Life In France. I had never, of course, tried any of Ms. Child's recipes. Because she loves meat. And butter. And milk. And a variety of other very non-vegan and largely non-vegetarian things. Still, it's kind of sad to enjoy someone's writing and, well, spirit so much and not be able to even try some of their creations. Which is why I set about Veganizing The Art of French Cooking.

I started small. This tofu salad is a vegan version of Julia's chicken salad. She suggests serving it with a garnish of hardboiled eggs. I say, gross! So we had ours in whole wheat pita pockets stuffed with lettuce from the garden. Delicious.

This recipe wasn't hard to alter. A good first try. Perhaps in the future I will be more ambitious and try something a little crazier. Or perhaps I will remain satisfied with this, one simple tribute to one complicated chef.


Tofu Salad a la Julia

1 block (usually 1 pound) of firm tofu, cubed
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp olive oil
a few shakes of white pepper and salt
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 tsp dried tarragon
1 cup celery stalks, diced
2 small shallots, minced
3 tbsp vegan mayonnaise (I used Vegannaise)
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
lettuce and bread for serving

Heat olive oil over medium high heat and add tofu cubes, lemon juice, and salt and pepper. Saute for 3-5 minutes until tofu starts to brown slightly.

Place tofu in a bowl and let cool while you prep other ingredients.

When tofu is cool, add herbs and walnuts and mix all ingredients together, Let sit for five minutes.

Add celery and mayonnaise, season to taste with more salt and pepper, if necessary.

Serve on its own or in sandwiches. Even better the next day.

Some Notes:

-Julia says to use freshly ground white pepper, but the slightly crappy grocery store where I got these ingredients didn't have white pepper corns so I used pre-ground white pepper. It smells weird, but tastes very nice.

-The shallots were quite strong and got stronger when I ate this for lunch the day after I made it. I had to beg my coworkers for some breath freshening gum.

-Truthfully, the movie didn't blow me away. Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci were the best part and the scenes of France were lovely (I'll be in Paris in exactly four months! Hooray!). I think the script was good, but there was no way that one film could capture the full impact of Julia's life story. Once again, I highly recommend that everyone read her book, especially if you liked the movie. It will be like the super-great expanded version of the movie!



Cyn said...

Oooh, I'm totally going to make this. I just finished reading Julia's autobiography, and it was so good. It kind of made me want to get Mastering the art of French Cooking, even though I know there would be nothing I could cook from it.

•¦Amy¦• said...

I'm am so going to have to try this out.
Over the past few weeks I've been kind of emmersed in this Julie & Julia thing. I'm listening to "Julie & Julia" in audiobook form on my mp3 player and reading my mother's original copy of "Mastering The Art Of French Cooking", in hopes to prepare myself for the movie? Or maybe because I just love food? haha.
Anyway, this seems like a wonderful way to make the recipe healthier always good for a dancer :)

T said...

I've been thinking about reading that book. I find that I enjoy cookbooks/ food writing regardless of the meat involved. There is a shared spirit among people who "live to eat" rather than "eat to live" and there are always things to learn like geniuses like Julia Child!

I think I'll definitely see the movie too, although I heard the same thing about Meryl Streep dominating.

sweetpea said...

This looks yummy! I don't like any kind of mayo (vegan or not) but usually enjoy substituting it with some avocado, so maybe I'll try that

Robyn said...

Great blog, and thanks for sharing this recipe! I actually tried it out today, and thought I'd leave you some feedback:

- the shallots were indeed super strong! I'd probably just use the scallions that were originally called for in the recipe - much milder.
- i added a little bit of dijon mustard for kick
- cilantro works nicely too, instead of parsley