Sunday, we decided to walk over to one of the local farmers' markets a few blocks over from our house. We actually have several farmers' markets around town. I'll admit that we don't frequent them as often as we used to though.
But this past Sunday, the Bernice Gardens Farmers' Market was having a tomato festival, so we decided to stop by and check it out. It's not a large space. Most definitely local vendors, but a unique little variety none the less.
We quickly spotted some Purple Cherokee Heirloom Tomatoes that we snagged up. I should back up and admit that I'm not really a tomato fan. What? Why go to a tomato festival you ask?
While I don't just love and crave tomatoes, I have found that I can enjoy a really goooood tomato. I like the smaller tomatoes, almost always cooked, but that's progress (trust me). Last year, I randomly bought some Purple Cherokee Heirloom Tomato plants and discovered that, while larger, I still really enjoyed the flavor.
I later learned that my grandmother used to plant those in her garden. Seems fairly perfect that I'd like them right? So when we saw them at the market, we grabbed up a container as mine have not started producing fruit just yet.
We had no plans for them exactly. We just knew we liked them. This is par for the course for many of my concoctions though. I just take what I have, what I like and toss it all together. Taste, re-season, add something more, and so forth.
Quinoa Heirloom Tomato Basil Salad
1 cup red quinoa (you can use any color you prefer)
2 cups water
Large handfuls of fresh basil - use approximately half for dressing then mince remainder for salad
1-2 cloves garlic
1/3 cup - 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1-2 Tbsp olive oil
2-3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
Honey or agave, to taste
Salt, to taste
1 block tofu, pressed
2 Purple Cherokee Heirloom tomatoes (or your favorite tomato)
Fresh spinach (to liking, I used half small package)
Optional: feta (we also purchased a locally made feta)
Combine water and quinoa and cook per package directions.
In a blender or food processor, combine basil, garlic, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, salt and honey or agave. Puree until smooth.
Cut tofu into fourths then marinate with half of the dressing for an hour or more. Once marinated, bake at 400-425 for approximately 15-20 minutes, flip and continue to bake 15-20 minutes or until extra firm to the touch.
In a large mixing bowl, toss spinach, remaining basil, quinoa, tomatoes, tofu and remaining dressing. Re-season as needed.
Note: Wet ingredients are mostly to desired consistency and the flavor profile you prefer.
This turned out fantastic. It's a perfect spring or summer dish that you can make ahead for a get together, meal prep for lunches or just enjoy for dinner with some freshly made ciabatta on the side (which is what we did).
Are you a recipe follower or do you tend to just make things up as you go?