Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Quinoa Salad with Beets, Cucumber, Tomatoes and Tofu

Since my Miso Soup post, I have been purchasing more tofu to feed my family. I would like tofu to be part of our diet because it is a new protein source that would add variety to our menus (in addition to the fact that it's also much cheaper than meat and fish.) However, my first attempts at offering more tofu were not a real success. A little bit disappointed but knowing that I have two good young eaters, I knew that I would manage, one way or another, to make them not only eat it but actually enjoy it.
I faced three challenges when feeding tofu to my family. First, it's not an ingredient I have purchased a lot in the past, hence the lack of exposure my children have had to tofu. They are not against trying something new in general, but because of this lack of exposure when they were very young, combined with the other two challenges, they were reluctant to eat it at first. The second challenge is texture: tofu is a new texture to them. There is nothing really comparable in our diet... fresh mozzarella or just crème au caramel might be the closest (or not?). My daughter loves both but my son, like many toddlers, has something against this soft-chewy-but-not-so-chewy texture. Yet again, like everybody most toddlers, when hungry, in a good mood (i.e., rested), in good company (i.e., with all of us at the table), and entertained, he is able to eat fresh mozzarella (crème au caramel is never an issue though!)... so I never gave up on feeding him tofu. The third challenge is maybe the toughest one : it's my husband's attitude towards tofu.
He does not like it (for the same first two reasons: he has never been exposed to it for the first 35 years of his life and he is not a big fan of its texture). That would not be an issue en soi because we can all have different tastes (and that's actually a rule we have in our family to respect the other's like-and-don't like : les goûts et les couleurs ne se discutent pas.)... but the problem is that he likes telling us how much he does not like it and how much "c'est pas bon" (that drives me mad!!). And with children, as you all know too well, repetition works! So if papa n'aime pas le tofu and says that "c'est pas bon", it makes it harder for me to sell tofu to my children (what happened to marriage solidarity???)  So, in order to serve more tofu to my children, I followed my friend's Minh's advice and mixed it within other ingredients I knew they liked. AND, I made sure that I was eating this salad with them on a day when my husband was coming home late from work. Hidden tofu-Hidden husband: Perfect Recipe! Both my children ate the salad and enjoyed it. It worked so well, that my husband, (oui, oui, même lui) found that this salad was vraiment bonne! He had not noticed that it was tofu in it in the first bites he took (yeah, yeah, I had somehow "forgotten" to mention there was tofu, just to see his reaction!).
Since this salad, we all have had other dishes with less-hidden tofu and I can now say that my children eat it. It is definitively not their preferred ingredient but at least I know I can serve it and we'll all enjoy it. If I want to make sure that they'll eat it better, I still eat it with a hidden husband or I serve this salad again! If you have your own food challenges in your home, don't give up! Change your strategy but don't give up! Bon Appétit!

- Quinoa: cooked and cooled (you'll need about 1/2 cup dry)
- 1 large beet, cooked and cooled

- Firm tofu : cut in dices
- 1/2 a cucumber, pealed, seeded and cut into chunks
- Fresh tomatoes, diced
- Fresh basil (a few leaves)
- Pine nuts (optional)

- 1 ts of Dijon Mustard
-  1Tb Balsamic Vinegar
-  3-4 Tb Olive Oil
- Salt and Black pepper to taste

  • In a bowl, mix all ingredients except for the beets and tofu and basil
  • Make the vinaigrette
  • Cut the basil and add it to the salad
  • Add the beets and tofu, pour in the vinaigrette and serve immediately.
My Personal Comments:
  •  I generally cook 1 cup of dry quinoa and use whatever amount I feel right for the salad. I keep the rest in the fridge and use it as a side dish for another meal.
  • The beets will taint the quinoa and tofu so if you have to have white tofu on the salad, add it at the last minute, after you tossed the salad.
  • You can modify the quantity according to your liking.
  • I like my vinaigrette with balsamic vinegar when there is no green salad involved. However, I like it with a lot of mustard so you might want to adapt the recipe to your liking as well. If you want to read a funny post on Vinaigrette, I recommend David Lebovitz's post. I make my vinaigrette "au pif" (ie I don't measure much... I just adjust the taste)


  1. Je découvre ton blog par l'intermédiaire de ceux de Flo que je suis assidûment. J'adore! J'ai aussi 30 et qqs années, 2 enfants à qui j'essaie de faire manger les plats les plus sains possibles. C'est mon combat de tous les jours et j'avoue que je suis fière d'eux et de moi (ils acceptent de goûter à tout).
    Bravo et continue

  2. You have raised an important point about exposing children to food with various textures as well as flavours. My elder son hates avocados and peanut butter all because of the texture. Trying to do better with the second son. Je suis tout à fait en d'accord with ton mari. Moi, je n'aime pas du tout le tofu. Shhh I said it in French so that the kids won't hear me:-) Good reminder that I need to expose them to this.

  3. Bonjour Gaelle, un petit coucou en passant du Sud Californie...je viens de decouvrir ton blog par hasard. J'ai de la chance mes enfants 5 ans, adorent. le tofu, quinoa, epinards...j'espere que cela va rester longtempts comme cela.
    A bientot