A smoky break from winter. Smoked Tofu Salad. (The Washington Post)

Call it soup-and-stew fatigue. When it’s this cold out, for this long, my taste starts to run in a counterintuitive direction, and I crave the style of foods that are more appropriate, or at least common, in the spring and summer.

Cravings can sometimes be pretty specific, and recently I found myself being consumed by thoughts of tofu salad. Not a salad that includes tofu, but a mashed-up, mayonnaise-y thing I could keep in the fridge and spread on toast for a day or two as a break from all the roasting and braising.

I had all the makings at home, including the star ingredient: a wonderful smoked tofu made by Neopol Savory Smokery of Baltimore that I figured would bring a fresh spark to an old idea.

The other ingredients I started tossing in reflect a mostly Asian aesthetic – scallions, sesame seeds, rice vinegar – but then I veered off that track by adding smoked paprika and dried apricots. With one taste, I knew this mash-up had enough going on that perhaps something blander (and lighter) should be the vehicle.

I put the loaf of multigrain bread back in the freezer and reached for the hearts of romaine. Who says you can’t have lettuce cups in the middle of winter?

Smoked Tofu Salad

4 servings 

12 ounces smoked tofu, torn into bite-size pieces

3 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced

1 medium carrot, scrubbed and finely chopped

1/2 cup chopped dried apricots

2 tablespoons toasted/roasted sesame seeds

3 tablespoons mayonnaise

2 teaspoons rice vinegar, preferably unseasoned

1/2 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika (pimenton), plus more as needed

Water (optional)

Sea salt

Combine the smoked tofu, scallions, carrot, apricots, sesame seeds, mayonnaise, rice vinegar and smoked paprika in a medium mixing bowl; fold to mix thoroughly.

If the mixture seems dry, add water a couple of tablespoons at a time until the mixture is creamy. Taste, and season with salt and/or smoked paprika as needed.

Nutrition  per serving: 310 calories, 18 g protein, 18 g carbohydrates, 19 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 5 mg cholesterol, 490 mg sodium, 3 g dietary fiber, 10 g sugar.

By Joe Yonan - The Washington Post