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Grilled Tofu Salad with Spicy Peanut Dressing

Makes: 4 servings

Total carbohydrates: 14 grams per serving

Hands-on time: 30 minutes

Total time: around 1 hour 

This salad hits all of our favorite notes: it’s creamy and rich, spicy and herby, tender and crunchy, and it’s filled with smoky flavors from the grilled tofu. Plan to serve it right away, though, since the cabbage and cucumbers will give up a lot of liquid fairly soon after they’re dressed. If you’ll want to wait a bit before serving, toss the vegetables with a teaspoon of salt and leave them to drain in a colander for 5 or 10 minutes; then dry them in a salad spinner or dish towel before assembling the salad.

Ingredients

For the tofu:

1 (12-ounce) package of extra-firm tofu

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons rice vinegar or white vinegar

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

For the dressing:

1 clove of garlic, minced or put through a garlic press

1 tablespoon or so of finely minced or grated fresh ginger

3 tablespoons rice vinegar or white vinegar

3 tablespoons peanut butter

2 tablespoon soy sauce

2 tablespoons warm water

1 teaspoon (or more) of a spicy Asian-style condiment such as chili-garlic sauce, sriracha, or chili oil

For the salad:

1 small head of Napa, white, or green cabbage (or some fraction of a larger head), slivered (around 4 cups)

1 cucumber, peeled, halved, seeded, and sliced

½ an apple, finely chopped or grated on the large holes of a box grater

¼ cup chopped cilantro

¼ cup roasted, salted peanuts, coarsely chopped

2 or 3 scallions, finely slivered

Instructions

  1. Begin by pressing out the extra moisture from the tofu: remove it from its aquarium-like packaging, wrap it in a clean dish towel, and put something heavy on it. (I like to use a baking sheet weighted down with a full tea kettle.) Leave it like this for anywhere from, oh, 5 to 45 minutes. 

  2. Make the marinade: mix the soy sauce, vinegar, and vegetable oil in a dish or zip-locked bag. Cut the pressed tofu into 8 slabs and put it in with the marinade. Leave it to marinate for 30 minutes (on the counter) or up to 48 hours (in the refrigerator), turning it occasionally to get all the surfaces saturated with the marinade. 

  3. Meanwhile, whisk together the dressing ingredients in a large bowl. At first it will look like the peanut butter is curdling and you’ll be totally alarmed, but it will sort itself out and get smooth. Scrape the dressing into a small bowl or measuring cup.

  4. After the tofu has marinated, oil your grill, preheat it on high, and then turn it down to medium (or do whatever the equivalent is, if you’re using charcoal or a fire-breathing dragon). Put the tofu on the grill and cook it, turning it until it’s well browned, but before the grill marks get black (10 to 15 minutes total). Alternately, heat a glug of oil in large, nonstick skillet and fry the tofu over medium heat until it is nice and browned and crisping (around 5 minutes on each side). Once the tofu is slightly cooled, stack four pieces on a cutting board at a time and cut them into sticks.

  5. Put the cabbage, cucumbers, grated apple, and cilantro in the dressing bowl and toss the salad with about half of the dressing. Taste a piece of cabbage. If it needs more dressing, add it. If it simply seems like it needs a bit more soy sauce or vinegar or spice, add that instead. 

  6. Move the salad, if you like, to a clean platter, top it with the tofu, a bit more of the dressing, and the scallions and peanuts. Serve right away.

About Catherine

Catherine loves to write about food and feeding people. In addition to her recipe and parenting blog Ben & Birdy (which has about 15,000 weekly readers), she edits the ChopChop series of mission-driven cooking magazines. This kids’ cooking magazine won the James Beard Publication of the Year award in 2013 – the first non-profit ever to win it – and a Parents’ Choice Gold Award. Her book "How to Be A Person" was published in 2020. She also helped develop Sprout, a WIC version of the magazine for families enrolled in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), as well as Seasoned, their senior version. They distribute over a million magazines annually, through paid subscriptions, doctor’s offices, schools, and hospitals. Their mission started with obesity as its explicit focus – and has shifted, over the years, to a more holistic one, with health, happiness, and real food at its core. That’s the same vibe Catherine brings to the diaTribe column.

[Photo Credit: Catherine Newman]

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