Caesar Wrap with Tofu Croutons and Broccoli
VEGGIE WRAPS AND SANDWICHES: Spicy Crunchy Hummus Wrap; Grilled Swiss and Roasted Fennel Sandwich; Roasted Eggplant Sandwiches with White Bean Spread and Chive Pesto
Salad or sandwich? How about a salad sandwich? Here’s the story:
In Cambridge, Massachusetts, there is a restaurant called Veggie Planet. It’s a hippie place of the best kind. The specialities are vegetarian pizzas with funny names like Dinner for Henry, toppings like goat cheese and roasted squash arranged on a chewy whole wheat crust. In the evenings, folk musicians hold concerts.
When I was in college, I was always searching for satisfying meals, since nothing from the dining halls ever left me feeling like I’d eaten – I mean eaten something proper, soul-satisfying in addition to just plain calories. So, any time I could come up with an excuse, I would trek the couple blocks to Veggie Planet and order a Caesar on a Big Cheesy Crouton to go. In the best case, my roommate would be in the mood for a Caesar, too. But I loved that pizza so much I didn’t mind going alone.
The CBCC (Caesar on a Big Cheesy Crouton) was exactly what it sounded like. Melted Parmesan covered the whole crust. On top, the chefs piled several handfuls of romaine dressed in a Parmesan-laced Caesar and punctuated by just barely cooked broccoli, chopped black olives, and squares of fried tofu. Seriously, satisfying.
Though there are some restaurant meals I will attempt to recreate days after eating them, this one’s taken years. I remember the last time I had a Veggie Planet CBCC. It was the day after graduation, and my roommates and I were packing up our suite to move out. Amid the mess, emotional and physical, we spread our pizza boxes and went at the Caesar and at the Big Cheesy Croutons. Graduation was five years ago–almost exactly. Eek.
So in the name of nostalgia and good salad and cheese-covered pizza crust, I bring you today’s recipe, a wrap that’s a variant on that old favorite, and every bit as satisfying.
From my kitchen, albeit small, to yours,
Cara, THE QUARTER-LIFE COOK
Caesar Wrap with Tofu Croutons and Broccoli
Makes 4 sandwiches
If you’re vegetarian, you’ll obviously want to omit the anchovy from the dressing.
1 box tofu
2-3 tablespoons safflower or canola oil
3 cups broccoli spears from 1 medium head of broccoli
1 large head romaine lettuce, trimmed, washed, and torn into bite-sized pieces
Caesar Dressing (recipe follows)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
4 large whole wheat wraps
Starting at one of the short sides, cut the block of tofu into 6 even rectangles. Arrange several layers of clean dish towels or paper towels on a cutting board and place the tofu in one layer on top. Top with more towels and another cutting board. Weight with some thick cookbooks or a cast iron pan and set aside for at least 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook the broccoli: in the bottom of a pot fitted with a steamer basket, bring a few inches of water to boil. Place the broccoli in the basket and steam the broccoli for 5 minutes, under tender-crisp. Sprinkle with salt and set aside.
When the tofu has drained/pressed, remove the weights and the towels. Cut each rectangle into eight bite-sized squares. Sprinkle them with salt.
Heat the oil in a large nonstick frying pan over medium heat. Add the squares of tofu–only enough so that they cook in one layer with about an inch of space between them–and cook for 5 minutes without disturbing them, until golden brown. Flip the squares with a spatula and cook another 5 minutes, until the second side is golden too. Remove to a paper towel, and repeat with the second batch, adding a little more oil if needed. Sprinkle all the tofu croutons with salt.
Place the romaine in a large mixing bowl with the broccoli and tofu squares. Toss with the Parmesan and about half of the Caesar dressing, adding more dressing to suit your taste. The dressing is thick, so use two big spoons or your hands to coat the vegetables. Taste for salt and pepper, adding more as needed.
Place a whole wheat wrap on a microwave-safe plate covered with a slightly damp paper towel. Microwave for about 20 seconds, until the wrap is pliable. Remove the paper towel and place about a quarter of the salad (make sure to get plenty of broc and tofu) on one half of the wrap. Roll the wrap away from you, tucking in the sides as you go. Make the roll pretty tight.
Repeat with the remaining wraps. Cut each in half and serve.
(adapted from Twenty by Michael Ruhlman)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 clove garlic, coarsely chopped
1-2 anchovies (optional)
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Zest of 1 lemon
1 large egg yolk
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup safflower or other neutral oil
Freshly ground pepper
Combine the salt and garlic in a mini food processor. Pulse to chop the garlic. Add the anchovy and pulse again. Add the lemon juice and egg yolk and pulse again until totally smooth. Add about 1 tablespoon of olive oil and pulse again, the pour in the rest of the olive oil and process to emulsify the dressing. Pour in the safflower oil, and process until creamy. Grind in lots of fresh pepper.
This will keep several days, covered, in the fridge.