Sweet Habanero Tofu Salad

The journey begins. She rolls forward without hesitation, a new experience lying in wait, a prowling tiger ready to pounce and capture her in the thrilling jaws of the new, the unknown. Daunting though it is, there’s definitely excitement and joy in setting up a new home in a new locality with new resources and a new pursuit. But then the cavalry arrives, charging past like a drove of raving dogs. If she looks hard enough she can see the saliva dripping from the growls of each unnecessarily raging engine. Sigh. Perhaps this is a generalization (a very loose one) but the typical San Diego driver is INSANE. These astounding people blow the speed limit out of the galaxy everywhere I go, and then come to screeching halts at the very obviously looming red lights beyond. Maybe I just like to save my gas, my sanity, my life, but I can’t understand why everyone has to fly on wheels, especially when the roads are splattered with cracks, potholes, unevenness, and just about every bane of your tires’ existence. Why torture your car? Why? tell me. Why, why do it?

Ok my rant of the day is done, I can move on now having relieved my mind of that. I’m sure there are San Diegans who will revolt to this assessment but I speak with my eyes and my nerves. I know you aren’t all bad, just … a lot of you. But I’m done.

As you can see, I’ve set up the home base now, and am actually acclimating myself to the experience of graduate school at this moment (meaning I’m sitting outside with my laptop counting down the minutes until my next class commences while looking ruefully at my Literary Theory text and worrying about when I have to decide between writing a thesis or developing a portfolio). It’s only the first day! Yikes!

So instead, I return to my beloved baby, my comfort, my responsibility and my joy and am writing up this blog post for you all. It’s been a bit of a culture shock moving here, I won’t lie, and if it weren’t for the awesome program and all its promises, and the cool breeze that juuuust hit me as a blessing amidst the sun-spitting heat, I’d high-tail it back to MD, back into my uber-sheltered cocoon. But life is unfolding in an exquisite array of colors, the myriad of which I will enjoy witnessing. And despite feeling a bit out of place and more than a little overwhelmed, the husband and I are carving out the paths (least-trafficky ones at that) which lead to good living and of course good food. Case in point, organic markets and farmers markets abound here. In fact, if I wanted to drive, I could come across at least four farmers markets every day within a 30 minute radius of my home. Naturally I’ll stick to the one closest to home but the existence of such possibilities warms me. So for the first week I scoured food sources ad nauseum, and came across gorgeous produce like the largest and softest okra I had ever seen as well as the silkiest super firm tofu my eyes and mouth ever tasted. Not to mention the freshly ground and richly aromatic spices at my fingertips. And the SPICIEST jam ever. Good stuff. I’m happy.And that’s how the upcoming recipes arose: from a distinct need to break in my kitchen (just please don’t make me dwell on the demotion to an electric stove top–my one greatest sadness!) and get my proverbial feet wet with the goodies I picked up.

So for Round One, I bring you the Sweet Habanero Tofu Salad!


  • 1 box extra firm tofu, cubed (I used Morinaga silken tofu, so good!)
  • 3 tbsp Light Sodium Soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 tsp Strawberry Habanero Jam (bought at the farmers market. I’ve had spicy jams before but this was the first one that actually made my mouth steam up. Amazing! Can be found at Grandmas Favorites. The site doesn’t look updated but she told me she uses it so people can contact her. Feel free to order!)
  • 2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Romaine Salad chopped
  • 1/2 bartlett pear, very thinly sliced
  • toasted ramen noodles


  • 2 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 generous tsp Strawberry Habanero Jam
  • 1/4 tsp Lemon Vinegar (or rice vinegar if you can’t find this)
  • Fresh ground black pepper (optional)

Preheat your oven to 400 F. Combine the soy sauce, jam, and 2 tbsp EVOO in a bowl. Spread the cubed tofu in a lightly greased (with olive oil spray) pan and then pour the mixture on top, lightly tossing so all is coated but the tofu doesn’t break.

Bake for about 30 minutes, tossing once or twice to make sure all sides become golden and hopefully slightly crisp. (I took mine out a little earlier than preferred because I had to run out for a moment)

Combine the dressing ingredients and set aside. In a large serving bowl, layer the salad, pears and baked tofu. Drizzle the dressing all around, sprinkling black pepper on top. Lastly garnish with the toasted noodles and serve!

The olive oil tames the habanero heat quite a bit, just leaving the spice factor without too much fire. I recommend trying this with any kind of spicy jam you can find.



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