Tofu Kale Salad with Coconut Peanut Dressing

Well, my friends. New salad obsession over here. To follow up my Buffalo Cauliflower Kale Salad, I’ve got a Tofu Kale Salad with Coconut Peanut Dressing that’s now a front-runner on my favourite salad list. This one is right up there for it’s sweet and spicy, creamy coconut peanut dressing but the crispy tofu, steamed broccoli and grated carrot are all winners too. The salad is easy to make as you can prep the veggies and dressing while the tofu crisps in a pan. You’ll love the crisped, garlic tofu paired with loads of fresh veggies and the delicious peanut sauce.

How to Make Oil-Free Crispy Tofu

There are a few different ways you can make perfect crispy tofu. I either bake it or dry-fry it in a pan. For best results, you can press it first but it’s not necessary and more of then not, I don’t bother with pressing. Pressing tofu involves placing something heavy on a block of tofu and letting it sit for 30 minutes or so to squeeze out the excess water. This is particularly effective if you plan on marinating or flavouring your tofu with sauce.

For this basic, dry-fried tofu, the only flavouring I used was garlic powder and a bit of sea salt so I wasn’t too worried about pressing it. To dry-fry tofu, simply cut a block of firm or extra-firm tofu into cubes, triangles or slabs and cook in pan, dry with no oil, until browned and crispy. I usually let mine brown for about 10-15 minutes or so, shaking every couple of minutes until all sides are browned.

Another method for quick and easy, crisp, oil-free tofu is to bake it. You can check out my Black Pepper Garlic Tofu or Curried Tofu for more details on how to bake tofu for best results.

Coconut Peanut Dressing

This coconut peanut dressing is made with a base of light coconut milk and peanut butter. If you prefer, you can ditch the coconut milk and use water but it won’t be as creamy or have any coconut flavour. If you don’t have coconut milk on hand, you can use a plant-based milk of choice, such as unsweetened almond milk.

I make all kinds of peanut sauce variations in my kitchen. Here are the main ingredients I use to make peanut sauces, in various combinations and amounts:

  • soy sauce or tamari
  • rice wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
  • lime juice
  • sweetener: I usually use maple syrup or stevia but brown sugar also works well, you can also use agave, raw honey or any other sweetener of choice
  • peanut butter, almond butter, sunflower seed butter or powdered peanut butter for a low-fat peanut sauce
  • garlic
  • fresh ginger or ground ginger
  • if you like a bit of spice: sriracha, sweet chili sauce or red pepper flakes 
  • liquid options: water, coconut milk, vegetable stock

Once you get the hang of making it, you can eyeball the ingredients to quickly whip up delicious peanut dressings and sauces. Check out these peanut sauce recipes for more ideas:

  • Low-Fat Peanut Sauce
  • Sweet and Spicy Almond Lime Dressing
  • Spicy Peanut Lime Sauce

Make it Cilantro Coconut Peanut Dressing

I’ve made this peanut dressing a couple times with a handful of cilantro blended in. I didn’t add this to the recipe below since I know not everyone loves cilantro but if you do like it, I definitely recommend giving this a try! It’s really good and and adds a whole other layer of flavour to the sauce.

Crispy Tofu Kale Salad with Creamy Coconut Peanut Dressing | Vegan and Gluten-free | Running on Real Food

 

To Make the Tofu Kale Salad

Alright, to whip up the base of this salad, I used raw kale, julienned red bell pepper, grated carrot, steamed broccoli and green onion and then topped it with fresh cilantro and peanuts. You could also use cashews to top it. Sesame seeds would be good too. The veggies aren’t set in stone, so feel free to use whatever you have on hand.

For the raw kale, tear the leaves from the stems and rip into very small pieces. You can use your hands or a knife to chop it up. I massaged the the kale with a tiny drizzle of olive oil and a spritz of fresh lime juice to help soften it up a bit. I’d recommend doing the same so it’s not so rough however that step is not totally necessary.

The base of the salad is just a guideline to create your own beautiful tofu kale salad. You can follow my recipe exactly or get creative and see what combination you can come up with.

Some other ingredient options and variations might be:

  • a scoop of edamame
  • a scoop of pickled turnips, onion or cabbage
  • diced green or yellow bell pepper
  •  finely sliced purple cabbage
  • spinach or greens instead of kale
  • almonds, cashews or sesame seeds
  • add chopped radish
  • roasted sweet potato
  • a scoop of rice or quinoa
  • try the veggies and sauce over noodles or zucchini noodles instead of kale

 

Tofu Kale Salad with Coconut Peanut Dressing

 

This tofu kale salad is just asking to be topped with sweet and spicy, creamy coconut peanut dressing. The crisped, browned, warm garlic tofu is perfect with fresh, crunchy veggies and the creamy peanut sauce. This salad is vegan, gluten-free, high in protein and packed with nutrition.

Ingredients

For The Coconut Peanut Sauce

1/2 cup (125 mL) light coconut milk
1/4 cup (75 g) natural peanut butter
2.5 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp sriracha sauce
2 tsp rice wine vinegar
4 tsp pure maple syrup
5 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp sea salt

For the Tofu Kale Salad

1 package firm or extra-firm tofu
raw kale (a few big handfuls per person/serving)
red pepper (use about 1/2 per person/serving)
steamed broccoli (a handful per person/serving)
finely grated carrot (half a carrot per person/serving)
chopped green onion
fresh cilantro, for topping
peanuts, cashews or almonds, for topping

Instructions

To make the Crispy Garlic Tofu

Heat a non-stick pan over medium-high heat.
Cut the tofu into cubes, triangles or slabs and add to the pan.
Generously sprinkle with garlic powder and then add a pinch of sea salt.
“Dry-fry” for about 10 minutes, shaking the pan often, until the tofu is browned and crisped.

To make the Coconut Peanut Sauce

Add all ingredients to a blender of food processor, or use an immersion blender in a container, and mix until smooth and creamy.

To Make the Tofu Kale Salad

Tear the kale leaves from the stems and tear into bite-size pieces. Place in a bowl. Optional: massage the kale with a tiny drizzle of olive oil and a spirtz of fresh lime juice to help soften it up.
Top the kale with steamed broccoli, grated carrot, julienned red pepper and green onion.
Once the tofu is ready, add 1/4 of it to each serving of salad.
Top the salad with a generous amount of the coconut peanut sauce
Finish with fresh cilantro and a small handful of peanuts, cashews or almonds.

Notes

The peanut dressing recipe makes enough sauce for about 3-4 salads. Store any extra in the fridge in a container for later use.
Adjust the amount of salad ingredients needed for however many people you’re serving.
One package of tofu contains 4 servings.

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