Yes, I know what you're probably thinking. Fried tofu sounds weird (though fried goat cheese sounds delicious, at least to me). I've been craving chicken katsu lately, but didn't have any chicken breasts around, and due to my competition with myself to make the grocery bill lower every week, did not feel like shelling out for them. Instead, I decided to cook some tofu katsu-style, which involves dredging it in flour, dipping it in egg, and coating it in panko (Japanese bread crumbs). And because things that are fried are not the healthiest things to be eating, I paired it with a salad (because when you eat healthy things with unhealthy things, they cancel each other out, right?). And lest things get too healthy, I decided to fry the goat cheese as well.
As it turns out, David eats a lot more spinach when he gets something crispy and cheesy in every bite. In my opinion, the salad tastes best when you get a little bit of everything in each forkful. I really liked using the soft tofu for this salad - the crispy outside combined with the custardy inside was delicious - but medium or firm would work well, too. I would avoid using silken tofu, though - it's too fragile to stand up to the coating and frying process.
Strawberry Spinach Salad with Fried Tofu and Goat Cheese
1/2 cup strawberries, hulled and quartered
5 ounces spinach
2 ounces goat cheese (half of a 4-oz log), sliced into 4 rounds
1/4 of a block of soft tofu, cut into 4 squares (about an inch thick)
1/4 cup flour
3/4 cup panko
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, divided
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
Handful of pine nuts, toasted
In a large bowl, combine the strawberries with half a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar. Toss gently to coat evenly, and let sit for 5-10 minutes.
In a small bowl, stir together the other half tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Set aside.
In a medium skillet, heat the other two tablespoons of olive oil. Put the flour, egg, and panko in three separate, shallow bowls. Lightly season the flour with salt and pepper; stir to combine. Lightly whisk the egg. Dredge each square of tofu in flour mixture, dip it in the egg, and coat in the panko. Place the coated tofu in the skillet. Repeat with the goat cheese. Cook the tofu and goat cheese until golden brown on both sides.
While the tofu and goat cheese are cooking, combine the spinach, vinaigrette, and the pine nuts in the bowl with the strawberries. Toss until everything is evenly coated. Distribute onto two plates. Place two tofu squares and two goat cheese rounds on the top of each salad.