Soltero de Queso Vegan

From Adrienne Weiss

Soltero de Queso, a specialty of the Andean city of Arequipa, is loosely translated as “Bachelor’s Salad,” but would indeed be a healthy, one-dish meal for Mother’s Day, Graduation or any warm, springtime picnic.

Serves: 8
Time: One hour (not including chilling queso)

Ingredients:

For Quick and Easy Tofu Queso Fresco (or substitute any vegan feta or mozzarella-type cheese):

  • 6 ounces extra-firm silken tofu (half a 12.3 ounce tetrapack box such as Mori Nu)
  • 6 ounces firm regular tofu
  • 2 teaspoons agar powder (not flakes)
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

For Spicy Vinaigrette:

  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons Sriracha sauce or hot sauce of choice
  • 1 tablespoon crushed garlic
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

For Salad:

  • 2 cups thin green beans, trimmed
  • 2 cups cooked or canned green shelled fava beans, large lima beans or cooked/shelled edamames (my personal favorite; I use eda-zen, available at the Co-op.)
  • 1 large red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 1/2 cups diced fresh red tomato or halved red grape tomatoes
  • 1 cup pitted black Peruvian Alfonso olives or Kalamata olives, drained
  • 1 recipe prepared Tofu Queso Fresco, cut into small squares and crumbled a bit
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen sweet corn kernels
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 3 medium thin-skinned yellow potatoes, steamed, peeled and cut into small cubes
  • Large romaine lettuce leaves for garnish/lining serving platter or bowl

 

Directions:

For Tofu Queso Fresco: Start a few hours before serving salad.

In food processor, combine tofu, agar powder, water, oil, sugar and salt and blend until very smooth. On stove-top, scoop mixture into 1-quart heavy saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until bubbles and thickens. Whisk lemon juice into cooked mixture last. (Whisking it in sooner interferes with agar jelling process.) Pour mixture into flat storage container, about 6″ square, cover and refrigerate until firms up.

If there’s extra cheese, store cut up in squares, covered with neutral-tasting oil and tightly covered in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks.

For vinaigrette, blend, whisk or shake ingredients together well and set aside.

To assemble salad, cook green beans and corn in boiling water about 3 to 4 minutes, or until just tender. Shock in ice water for minute or two. Drain well.

In a large bowl, mix cooked green beans and corn with remaining ingredients, being gentle with tomatoes. Pour in 1/4 to 1/2 cup vinaigrette and toss to coat. Add cheese, additional vinaigrette to liking and toss gently.

Serve salad heaped on platter or in bowl lined with large romaine lettuce leaves.

Remaining dressing, if any, can be used on many different kinds of salads or vegetables.

If prefer not to make Tofu Queso Fresco, simply substitute any vegan feta or mozzarella-type cheese.