This salad delivers big on flavor, between its golden-fried tofu, fresh sliced avocado, savory miso, and tart grapefruit! Follow this recipe to build your own in under 20 minutes.
"I'm bored with salad."
At some point, we've heard plenty of our friends and family members utter the phrase, especially if they're a month deep into their New Year's resolutions to eat more vegetables.
But salad doesn't have to be boring - there are way too many fresh and delicious ingredients that can create a nearly endless number of tasty combinations!
We set out to create this salad when we were feeling sick of some of our "ole' faithfuls" and wanted a plant-based salad that packed a big punch of lean protein and healthy fats, so it can keep your motor running all day long.
Crispy tofu adds texture and protein, freshly-sliced avocado rich creaminess, and the miso-tahini dressing an addictive umami kick. We lightened it up with some bright grapefruit for acidity and fresh greens!
Tofu Avocado Salad - FAQ
Do I have to use firm or extra firm tofu?
Firm or extra firm tofu are the only types that work for this salad. That's because tofu is naturally full of water and the longer producers press it into blocks, the firmer it will get. When you cook tofu, soft or regular tofu will crumble and fall apart, while firm and extra firm hold their shape well under the heat.
Do I need to press my tofu first?
Yes! It might seem like an unnecessary step, but it's the only way to get great-tasting, crispy tofu every time. Even firm and extra firm tofu contains some water, and pressing it will remove as much as possible to cook it up well.
The easiest way to press your tofu block is with a tofu press, which takes a quick 15 minutes before you're ready to cook.
If you don't have a tofu press, you can still do it the old-fashioned way with some paper towels and heavy plates or cutting boards. Simply wrap your tofu block in paper towels and place it between two heavy, flat surfaces. This method requires a bit more preparation, as you'll need to leave the tofu to press for at least 2-3 hours or overnight.
What is miso? Can I use a different kind?
Miso is a delicious fermented paste made from soybeans and mold - don't worry, it's the healthy kind! This mold, called koji, contains enzymes that break down the beans and create a salty, earthy, and funky flavor that's great for your gut.
White and yellow miso are more mild and sweet in flavor compared to red and black, which are very strong and deeply funky. While they're delicious, red and black miso flavors are too strong for our salad, so you're best to stick to the mild varieties for a balanced dish.
What is za'atar?
Za'atar is a common Middle Eastern herb that's a member of the mint family, similar to oregano and marjoram. Since the herb itself is hard to find, the name has become synonymous with a Middle Eastern spice blend that creates nutty, zesty, and tangy flavor to any dish that's similar enough to the real deal.
If you can't find za'atar, you can use a za'atar blend instead, made with dried thyme, sumac, oregano, and ground sesame seeds.
Is this salad vegan?
Besides the honey, this salad is entirely vegan. Swap the honey out for agave or maple syrup, and you can serve it to plant-based eaters!
Once you dress the salad, it needs to be served immediately. If you're looking to prep your salad ahead of time, you can cook the tofu and keep it stored inyour fridge for up to 2 days, keeping all your dressing separate and dressing immediately before serving.
Final Notes: Tofu Avocado Salad
Once you try this tofu and avocado salad, it's going to be a mainstay in your meal rotation! When you're really short on time and looking to eat well, it really hits the spot.
Crispy Tofu and Avocado Salad with a Miso-Tahini Dressing
1 14-oz block of tofu, firm or extra firm
5 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
3/4 oz or ~¼ c. za'atar, divided
1 large fresh grapefruit, cut into segments, juice reserved separately
2 Tbsp tahini paste
1 Tbsp white or yellow miso paste
1 Tbsp lemon juice, ~ 1 lemon
1 tsp honey or agave nectar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 fresh avocado, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
5 oz greens of choice - we like baby kale, spinach, or arugula
Remove tofu from the package and place the tofu block in your tofu press. Leave pressing for 15 minutes, then remove and place on a cutting board. Slice your tofu block into 1 x 2 x ½-inch rectangles.
In a large non-stick or cast-iron skillet pan, heat 3 Tbsp of olive oil over medium-low heat. Once the oil starts shimmering, add the tofu cubes and cook for 3 mins on one side, avoiding disturbing the tofu. After 3 minutes, flip the tofu and cook the other side for 1-2 mins, repeating until all sides are golden ~10 mins.
Sprinkle the cooked tofu with za-atar and toss in the pan to coat. Transfer your crispy tofu to a paper towel-lined plate and allow the excess oil to drain. Scrape the oil and crispy bits in the pan to a medium-sized mixing bowl, setting aside to cool slightly.
Add 2 Tbsp of your grapefruit juice to the bowl along with tahini, miso, lemon juice, and honey or agave. Add 1 Tbsp of olive oil and whisk the mixture until smooth, adding more grapefruit juice as needed until you achieve a nice, pourable consistency that's easy to dress the salad. Season with salt and pepper to your taste preferences.
In a large-sized mixing bowl, combine the fried tofu, grapefruit pieces, and sliced avocado. Add the last Tbsp of olive oil, remaining za'atar, and salt, then gently fold the ingredients together with a spatula.
Add your greens of choice and pour half of the dressing into the bowl, folding to combine. Serve the salad immediately, with the extra dressing available to drizzle on top as needed.