Grilled Plum Salad with Basil Tofu Ricotta

This recipe for a grilled plum salad was inspired by the cookbook Plum: Gratifying Vegan Dishes from Seattle’s Plum Bistro by Makini Howell. The original recipe was modified to make it faster to prepare and to eliminate the olive oil, which despite its “healthy” reputation still contains saturated fat, which is good to avoid whenever you can. You won’t miss it in this flavorful and beautiful dish.

Recipe bonus: you will have extra ricotta to enjoy in a variety of ways. Use leftover ricotta as a spread for toast or crackers, topped with sliced tomatoes or grilled vegetables; in eggplant or zucchini rollatini with tomato sauce; or add a dollop to pasta dishes or as a pizza topping.

Plums come in a variety of sizes, colors, and shapes. They are a pitted fruit, categorized as “drupes” along with nectarines, peaches, and apricots. The large purple Santa Rosa plums we often find in the grocery store are round, sweet, juicy, and are clingstone fruits, making the pit somewhat hard to remove. By contrast, the bluish European-type plums tend to be smaller, denser, and less juicy, with freestone pits that are easy to remove by hand. Plums provide Vitamin C and fiber, as well as some potassium. The pigments in plums that make them purple are called anthocyanins, which are potent antioxidants.

4 ripe black or purple plums, halved and with pits removed
4 oz. arugula (or other salad green, if preferred; Boston or butter lettuce and radicchio makes a nice color combination)

Basil Tofu Ricotta
1 14 oz package extra-firm tofu, pressed of water
½ tsp minced garlic (roughly 1 medium clove)
1 tsp dried basil
½ tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp agave syrup
2 Tbsp chopped fresh basil

Lime Drizzle
1 lime, squeezed
2 tsp agave syrup
Salt & pepper


For Ricotta (make in advance and chill)

Drain water from the tofu package and place block of tofu on a plate. Place a second plate upside down on top and then add something heavy on top of the plate: a large can, heavy pot lid, etc. This will help squeeze the excess water from the tofu. You may have to tip the plate to drain water off it a few times. Let sit 10 minutes.

Once the tofu is drained, break it into several large chunks and place it with all ingredients for ricotta EXCEPT THE FRESH BASIL in a food processor. Pulse on/off for a few minutes to blend.

Add the chopped fresh basil and pulse a few more times to incorporate. You want the pieces of basil to still be visible, not totally ground up.

If time allows, put the ricotta in a container and refrigerate for a few hours before assembling the salad. This helps the flavors to blend.

For the Grilled Plum Salad

Turn on outside grill and or begin to heat a stove-top grill pan.

Wash plums and arugula. Dry arugula in the spinner or clean towel. Divide arugula among 4 serving plates, adjusting the quantity to suit your preference.

Make Lime Drizzle by combining all ingredients. Set aside.

Halve plums and remove pits. (A grapefruit knife works well, or a small paring knife.) Sprinkle cut side with a small amount of salt and pepper.

Wipe a small amount of cooking oil on grill or pan grate and place plums cut-side down on the hot grill. Adjust temperature to medium. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes. (Keep track of time! Cooking the plums too long will result in plum jam on your grill.)

Remove plums from the grill and allow to cool a few minutes.

Plating the Grilled Plum Salad

Add a small scoop of ricotta on top of the arugula in the middle of each plate and place two plum halves alongside.

Spoon a small amount of Lime Drizzle over plums and arugula. (The creamy ricotta and juicy plums will also provide dressing/flavor for the salad as it is eaten.)

Serve and enjoy the combination of these well-balanced flavors: sweet (plums), sour (lime juice), bitter (arugula), salty/savory (ricotta).

Serves 4