This tofu salad recipe is a crunchy, tasty, and healthy bowl that is perfect for lunch or dinner. You can make this all-year-round recipe with seasonal greens and veggies.
Tofu's remarkable ability to get flavorful and crisp makes it the ideal protein choice for this wholesome and delicious meal.
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Tofu salad is a quick, healthy, colorful, and delicious meal with three main components.
1) Fresh, colorful, and crunchy veggies. You can go local and seasonal for the best taste and nutrition.
2) Crispy and tasty pan-fried tofu. We make it on a pan with some seasoning and heart-healthy olive oil.
3) A creamy and nutritious tahini dressing (you can easily swap for a zesty honey mustard dressing if you want something more refreshing).
Tofu is an excellent protein choice because it is affordable, versatile, nutritious, healthy, and more sustainable for the environment than meat.
Take this recipe as a guideline and customize it based on the season, where you live, and what you have available. When mixing veggies, keep two things in mind:
- Colors: pick bright, colorful veggies and make up a rainbow. Colors in fruit and vegetables are the phytonutrients, also known as antioxidants, which benefit human health. The more colors, the more antioxidant variety you are going to eat.
- Texture: a great salad should combine different textures. Pick crips, tender, soft, and creamy veggies to make the best tofu salad.
We use Romaine lettuce but feel free to replace it with your favorite variety.
You can use butter lettuce, watercress, lamb's lettuce, Batavia lettuce, curly endive, spring mix, little gem, iceberg lettuce, radicchio, and arugula if you are into more tangy, slightly bitter flavors.
In winter, you can substitute chopped kale or spinach for lettuce. You can also add sliced red cabbage, green cabbage, and beets.
We generally use English or American cucumber.
You can replace them with other varieties, such as smaller Persian cucumbers, snack cucumbers, and Kirby cucumbers.
Pick fresh ones so that they are crunchy and sweet. Old cucumbers are flaccid and slightly bitter.
For cucumber, substitute thinly sliced zucchini, fennel, radishes, or chopped broccoli florets.
We like to use small plum tomatoes or cherry tomatoes. Replace them with any other type of tomato as long as they are ripe.
Grape tomatoes, red cocktail tomatoes, Roma tomatoes, Heirloom tomatoes, and vine tomatoes are all excellent options.
If you choose larger tomatoes, you might want to cut them into wedges. If you choose small tomatoes, cut them in half or quarters.
Substitute diced red bell peppers, strawberries, or watermelon for tomatoes.
We often use canned corn for most of the year, but when corn is in season, you can also use corn on the cob, boil it until soft and remove the corn from the cob with a knife to separate the kernels.
Substitute yellow bell peppers or grated carrots for corn.
We like to use spring onions for this tofu salad.
Substitute red onion or shallots for spring onion. If you want, you can also add fresh herbs such as chives, parsley, or mint.
Diced avocado adds creaminess, healthy fats, and plenty of nutrition, making the salad fulfilling and deliciously creamy.
We have a separate blog post on how to make the best-pan-fried tofu, soft and almost silky on the inside and golden and crispy on the outside.
You'll need a few ingredients, such as firm tofu or extra-firm tofu, cornstarch, garlic powder, chili powder, paprika, salt, pepper, and olive oil.
It only takes about 15 minutes on the stovetop to make.
- Tahini: pick a tahini that is light in color, quite runny, not dense like a paste, and made from hulled sesame seeds. You can read that on the package. Dark, thick tahini tastes bitter, so I wouldn't use it for this preparation.
- Water: use plain tap water to dilute the sauce.
- Lemon Juice: add a touch of acidity and freshness.
- Garlic: a crushed clove infuses the sauce with a mild garlic flavor.
- Salt: to add flavor and bring the other ingredients together.
Step 1: Make the dressing
Add tahini, lemon juice, water, crushed garlic, and salt to a small bowl and whisk until the ingredients are creamy and smooth. Set aside.
Step 2: Pan-fry the tofu
Mix cornstarch, garlic powder, paprika, salt, and pepper in a large container. Then cut the tofu into small cubes and toss it in the mix until coated.
In a large non-stick pan, warm up the olive oil, then arrange the tofu on a single layer and fry it on medium-high heat for 12 minutes, flipping it every 2 to 3 minutes.
The tofu cubes should get golden brown on most sides.
While the tofu cooks, prep the vegetables.
Step 3: Mix the veggies
To a large salad bowl, add chopped lettuce, corn, chopped cucumber (we like to keep the peel on), thinly sliced green onions, and halved cherry or plum tomatoes (if using larger tomatoes, cut them in half first, then slice them into wedges), and pan-fried tofu.
Pour in about half of the dressing. Don't add the avocado just yet, or it'll turn brown.
Mix the salad until everything is well coated in the dressing. Then when you are ready to eat it, add thinly sliced or diced avocado. Give it another mix, taste it, adjust for salt, and serve immediately.
You can drizzle the remaining dressing on top or put it on the table for people to help themselves.
Tofu salad is an excellent lunch or dinner. It's healthy, nutritious, tasty, and fulfilling. To make it even more so, you can:
Serve it with a soup: we love eating this with one of our delicious soups. Depending on the season, try the following:
- Zucchini soup: a light, summery soup perfect when zucchini are in season.
- Eggplant soup: creamy, light, and original, this soup will surprise you.
- Potato and leek soup: creamy, cozy, and perfect for winter. It's a classic.
- Carrot soup: sweet, tangy, and zesty, thanks to the fresh ginger.
- Broccoli soup: so incredibly delicious and fulfilling.
- Cauliflower soup: one of the best soups you'll ever make.
Add grains: turn the tofu salad into a complete meal by adding your grains of choice. We love it with farro, barley, pasta, whole grain rice, couscous, and quinoa.
Serve it with bread: you can go for a store-bought crusty bread, best if artisanal, and avoid plastic-wrapped ultra-processed white bread you can find in a supermarket aisle. Or pair it with:
This tofu salad is made of 3 primary building blocks: the veggies, the dressing, and the tofu. So to make a variation, you can change one or more of these three blocks.
Try different vegetables
Spring: you can try it with shredded carrots, sliced fennel, radicchio, boiled asparagus, and thinly sliced radishes. You can add whatever you like if you mix the colors and textures.
Summer: you can even add strawberries or watermelon cut into dice. It's delicious and refreshing this way.
Fall: you can add baked sweet potatoes, butternut squash, sliced mushrooms, broccoli, or thinly sliced red cabbage.
Winter: substitute chopped and massaged kale for the lettuce. You can learn more in our kale salad post. Add boiled quinoa and roasted pumpkin to pack this one with nutrition. It's wholesome and crazy delicious.
Try different dressings
Carrot ginger dressing
You can make carrot ginger dressing with lemon juice or orange juice. The orange juice one is sweeter and frankly so delicious you could drink it as a smoothie.
To a blender, add ¼ cup (50 grams) of extra virgin olive oil, ¼ cup (60 grams) of lemon juice or orange juice, ¼ cup (60 grams) of water, 2 peeled and chopped up carrots (130 grams), about half an inch (1.5 cm) of peeled ginger, 1 tablespoon (15 grams) of maple or agave syrup, ½ teaspoon of salt, and if you like a drizzle of sesame oil, which is optional but goes really well with this dressing.
Blend at high speed for a few minutes until it's completely smooth. Add more water if you like a more liquid dressing.
Honey mustard dressing
You can make a simple, delicious, tangy, sweet, and creamy honey mustard dressing with extra virgin olive oil, mustard, honey or maple syrup, salt, pepper, and lemon juice. It's terrific with this tofu salad.
Our homemade Italian dressing is herby, tangy, garlicky, and easy to make with olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, honey or maple syrup, dried oregano, dried basil, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper.
Just combine the ingredients in a jar and shake it well and your delicious Italian dressing is ready to pour on this tofu salad.
Asian soy sauce sesame oil dressing
To a bowl, add 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of sesame oil, 2 tablespoons of white vinegar or rice vinegar, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and 1 tablespoon of maple syrup or agave syrup. Whisk well till combined and drizzle on top of this tofu salad.
Try a different tofu
Crispy oven-baked tofu salad
Oven-baked tofu is crispier and chewier and also delicious in a salad.
To make it, drain and pat dry the firm or extra firm tofu with a paper towel or clean kitchen cloth. Apply some gentle pressure to squeeze some water out of the tofu. You could use a tofu press if you have one.
Cut it into small tofu cubes, then in a mixing bowl, mix the ingredients for the marinade: 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of soy sauce or tamari if you are gluten-free, ¼ teaspoon of garlic or onion powder, and ¼ teaspoon of chili powder if you like things spicy.
Mix the tofu in the marinade and leave it in the mixing bowl for about 30 minutes. If you are in a hurry, you can skip this step and bake the tofu without marinating it. Just toss it in the sauce.
Then before baking, add 1 tablespoon of cornstarch, and stir and mix the tofu until the cornstarch dissolves and fully coats the tofu.
Spread the tofu onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, arrange it on a single layer, then bake in a preheated oven at 400°F or 200°C for 15 to 20 minutes or until crisp and with a slightly chewy bite.
Air fryer tofu salad
Air fryer tofu is one of the simplest tofu recipes of all. The tofu gets chewy and crispy on the edges, making it perfect for adding to salads like this one.
Marinated tofu salad
Marinated tofu is delicious with our Asian soy sauce and sesame oil dressing above. The tofu cubes are marinated in a tasty marinade with olive oil, apple cider vinegar, soy sauce, garlic powder, mustard, dried oregano, dried rosemary, salt, and black pepper.
They are then cooked on a pan for a few minutes until the tofu absorbs the flavors and gets super tasty.
Firm tofu and extra-firm tofu are best for salad as they keep their shape when you dice them up and toss them in.
No. In theory, tofu does not need to be cooked. However, cooking it to improve its flavor and texture is advisable, as uncooked tofu is bland.
Make Ahead & Storage
Make Ahead: the salad is best when freshly made; however, you can chop the veggies ahead of time (except the avocado) and store them in the refrigerator to keep them crunchy.
You can also make the dressing in advance and keep it in an airtight container for 3 days. The fried tofu doesn't keep well, so it's best to do it right before assembling the salad.
Refrigerator: keep leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 24 - 36 hours. The salad and the tofu will lose their crunch, but they'll still be tasty and nutritious.
Freezer: this recipe is not freezer friendly.
More Tofu Recipes
If you enjoyed this tofu salad, get new inspiration from these easy and quick tofu recipes:
- Vegan tofu egg salad: excellent for a quick lunch in a sandwich. It's delicious!
- Mushroom tofu: Italian-style mushroom scaloppine with tofu as protein.
- 30-minute tofu curry: one of the best curries you'll ever have.
- Tofu cream cheese: terrific as a spread in bagels, sandwiches, and anywhere you like.
- Scrambled tofu: the perfect healthy and protein-packed breakfast recipe.
- Tofu soup: light, simple, and Asian-inspired, tofu soup is a tasty and nourishing recipe.
More Salad Recipes
If you love crisp, seasonal, and wholesome salads, take your pick from these vibrant and fresh salad recipes:
- Chickpea salad: a reader's favorite because it's tasty, easy, and nutritious.
- Kale salad: a colorful mix of superfoods, this salad is your winter ally.
- Sweet potato salad: creamy, tasty, and fulfilling; everyone loves sweet potato salad.
- Black bean salad: one of our favorite ways of using black beans.
- Avocado salad: with tomatoes and cucumber, this one's a blessing for summer.
- Couscous salad: Mediterranean-inspired couscous salad is the perfect lunch!
For many more salad ideas, check out our salads category page.
- 8 packed cups lettuce chopped
- 1 cup cucumber diced
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes halfed
- ½ cup corn
- 2 spring onions finely chopped
- 1 avocado
- 14 ounces tofu firm or extra firm
- 4 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- ⅓ cup tahini
- ⅓ cup water
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 clove garlic
- ¼ teaspoon salt
MAKE THE DRESSING
- To a small bowl, add tahini, water, lemon juice, crushed garlic, and salt. Whisk until well combined and set aside.
PAN FRY TOFU
- In a large container with low edges, mix cornstarch, garlic powder, paprika, salt, and black pepper.Cut the tofu into ½-Inch cubes (1.3 cm) and toss it in the mix until coated.
- In a large non-stick pan, warm up the olive oil then arrange tofu on a single layer and fry on medium-high heat for 12 minutes, flipping it every 2-3 minutes. The tofu is ready when golden brown on most sides.
MIX THE VEGGIES
- To a large salad bowl, add chopped lettuce, corn, chopped cucumber, sliced green onions, halved cherry tomatoes, and the tofu. Pour in about half of the dressing.Don't add the avocado just yet because it turns brown quickly.
- Toss well, then when you are ready to eat it, add thinly sliced or diced avocado. Give it another quick mix, taste it, adjust for salt, and serve immediately.You can drizzle the remaining dressing on top or put it on the table for people to help themselves.
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