14 ounces firm or extra-firm tofu
1 tablespoon olive oil
2-inch piece fresh ginger root, peeled and grated
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 cup pearled barley, briefly rinsed
2 cups no-salt-added vegetable broth
2 tablespoons water
¼ cup white or yellow miso
¼ cup mirin (Japanese cooking wine)
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1 bunch broccolini
1 small avocado, peeled, pitted and sliced
2 cups lightly packed baby spinach leaves
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted (see note)
Drain the tofu, wrap it in paper towels and set it on a rimmed plate. Top with a second plate, then put a can of tomatoes or beans or another heavy object on top, and press it for about 30 minutes to remove extra liquid. Unwrap and pat the tofu dry.
Pour the oil into a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the ginger and garlic; cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the barley and cook, stirring, until well coated, then add the broth. Once the mixture begins to boil, reduce the heat to low so the mixture is barely bubbling around the edges. Cook, uncovered, until the barley is al dente, about 25 minutes. Drain and transfer to a large mixing bowl. Cover to keep warm, if desired.
Whisk together the water, miso, mirin, vinegar and sugar in a small bowl to form a dressing.
Position an oven rack 4-6 inches from the broiler element; heat to broil.
Cut the drained, pressed tofu block into ½-inch slabs. Arrange them on a large rimmed baking sheet, along with the broccolini. Brush the tofu lightly with the miso dressing. Broil the tofu and broccolini until both are browned, 5 minutes, then transfer the broccolini to a cutting board, chop it and transfer it to the mixing bowl with the barley. Turn the tofu slabs over, brush with more of the miso dressing, and continue broiling until browned on the second side, 5 minutes.
Transfer the broiled tofu to the cutting board; let it cool slightly, then cut each slab into ½-inch-wide strips. Add the tofu, avocado, baby spinach and the remaining miso dressing to the barley in the mixing bowl; toss gently to combine. Divide among individual bowls or plates; sprinkle with the sesame seeds. Serve warm, at room temperature or cold.
Cook's note: Toast the sesame seeds in a small, dry skillet over medium-low heat until fragrant and lightly browned, shaking the pan a few times to avoid scorching. Cool completely before using.
Nutrition values per serving: 510 calories, 20 g fat (3 g saturated), 65 g carbohydrates, 15 g fiber, 10 g sugar, 26 g protein, 0 cholesterol, 850 mg sodium.
Joe Yonan, adapted from "Supergrains: Cook Your Way to Great Health" by Chrissy Freer (Murdoch Books, 2013)