I recently was out to dinner at a vegan restaurant in Philadelphia called Vedge (go if you’re in Philly). The inspiration for this salad comes from that meal and their ridiculously good Salt Roasted Gold Beets dish with Avocado, Smoked Tofu, Rye, Capers, and Creamy Cucumber.
I tried to recreate similar flavors from that dish and came up with this tasty Smoked Tofu Kale Salad with Beets, Avocado, and Creamy Vegan Cashew Dressing. The method I used for cooking the tofu in this dish is a method I found on Dana’s beautiful Minimalist Baker site. A few prep steps may take a little extra time, but the end crispy result is worth it. I placed the drained tofu on a plate, wrapped it in paper towels, placed a heavy skillet on it, and let the liquid drain out into the paper towels for about an hour. I then chopped the tofu and baked at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. After letting cool for ten minutes, I placed the tofu in a simple marinade and let rest for about 15 minutes. I then sautéed it in a small amount of coconut oil. It may be several steps, but the finished product is definitely one of my new favorite salad toppings. It’s so good!
- 1 14oz block extra firm tofu (drained and pressed dry [see above] for one hour prior to use)
- 3 tbsp almond butter (can sub peanut butter)
- 2 tbsp liquid aminos (you could also use tamari or regular soy sauce if not gluten-free)
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 1/2 tsp liquid smoke
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- dash of cayenne
- 2 tbsp hot water
- To cook tofu:
- 1 tsp coconut or sesame oil
- 3/4 cup cashews (soaked in water for 3-4 hours or soaked in boiling water for 15 minutes)
- 5 tbsp unsweetened almond milk
- 1 tbsp liquid aminos (can sub tamari or soy sauce, if not gluten-free)
- 1 tbsp capers
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 12 cups baby kale (if using mature kale, try massaging dressing into kale leaves prior to adding other toppings to soften leaves)
- 1 avocado, shelled, pitted, and sliced
- 2 cooked beets, peeled and thinly sliced (I boil my beets for 30-60 minutes until soft, then run under cold water and remove peel)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cube drained and dried tofu and spread out on 9×11 baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Bake tofu for 25-30 minutes until crisp and lightly browned. Remove from oven, let cool.
- While tofu is baking, prepare tofu marinade. In a medium bowl, combine almond butter, 2 tbsp liquid aminos (or tamari/soy sauce), 1 tbsp maple syrup, liquid smoke, smoked paprika, and cayenne, stirring with a spatula until completely combined. Whisk in 2 tbsp of hot water to thin marinade out.
- Add tofu to marinade, tossing to combine. Let rest while preparing dressing.
- To prepare dressing, combine soaked cashews, almond milk, 1 tbsp liquid aminos (or tamari/soy sauce), capers, and maple syrup in a high speed blender. Blend until completely pureed.
- Cook tofu: heat 1 tsp coconut oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add marinated tofu and remaining sauce to skillet. Saute for 5-10 minutes until crispy.
- While tofu is cooking, arrange baby kale on serving plates. Top with sliced avocado, beets, and Vegan Cashew Dressing. (If using mature kale, massage 1-2 tbsps dressing into each serving of kale to soften.)
- Remove tofu from heat. Top prepared salads with tofu. Serve hot.
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