Spinach Salad with Crispy Tofu and Wasabi-Walnut Dressing

Spinach Salad with Crispy Tofu and Wasabi-Walnut Dressing

This salad recipe results in lots of flavor with little effort -- the walnut crust gives tofu a welcome crunch and the wasabi-walnut dressing lends a Japanese flair.

Ingredients

For the dressing:

  • 1/2 cup California walnut halves
  • 3 tablespoons seasoned rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons prepared wasabi paste
  • 1 teaspoon honey

For the tofu:

  • 3/4 cup California walnut halves
  • 2 teaspoons white whole wheat flour
  • Kosher salt and Freshly ground black pepper
  • 14 ounces extra firm tofu, drained and patted dry
  • Grapeseed or walnut oil, for cooking

For the salad:

  • 5 ounces mixed baby greens (mizuna, spinach, tatsoi, or cress all work)
  • 1 medium ripe avocado, pitted and thinly sliced
  • 6 green onions, whites and greens thinly sliced, ends discarded
  • 3 Japanese cucumbers, thinly sliced, ends discarded
  • 4 small radishes, thinly sliced, ends discarded

Directions

For the dressing:

  1. Combine all ingredients with 2 tablespoons of water in a small food processor or blender and blend until smooth, adding another 1 to 2 tablespoons water to thin out the dressing, as desired.
  2. Dip a baby green into the dressing (it should just be coated by the dressing), taste and adjust, as desired. (Dressing can be made up to 4 days ahead of time. Store refrigerated in an airtight container until ready to use. Taste and add more seasoning as desired or add more water, as needed, to thin it out.)

For the tofu:

  1. Place the walnuts, the flour, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and some freshly ground black pepper in a small food processor and pulse until a fine meal (like uncooked cornmeal) then dump in a shallow dish. Slice the tofu into 8 rectangles (they should be about 1/2-inch by 1-inch by 2-inch). Season tofu with salt then dip in the walnut mixture and coat on all sides, pressing to help the mixture adhere.
  2. Coat the bottom of a large nonstick frying pan with oil and heat over medium-high heat. When the oil shimmers, add the tofu (you may have to do this in two batches) and cook, undisturbed, until it forms a golden brown crust, about 2 minutes. Flip and repeat on the second side, about 1 to 2 minutes more. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate and repeat with remaining tofu.

For the salad:

  1. To serve, divide greens, sliced avocado, green onions, cucumber, and radishes, among serving plates, top with tofu, then drizzle a few spoonfuls of dressing over the top.