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This sesame crusted tofu salad is a game-changer. Made with bright greens, peppers, cilantro, scallions, sesame baked tofu, easy peanut salad dressing, and more.
Tis the season to be eating
Do you ever find yourself craving fresh veggies after a week of holiday eating? Same! In fact, today I just had my first salad since Thanksgiving, and let me tell ya, it was glorious. If you’re like me and seek the fresh stuff, this sesame crusted tofu salad is right up your alley.
Life is all about balance. Have the pie. Have the cookie. Every once in a while, eat a salad. Your body will thank you! My sesame crusted tofu salad is full of healthy greens and fats. From the fresh cilantro and scallions to the sesame marinated and crusted tofu and avocado, you really can’t go wrong with this delicious combination of flavors. Plus it’s all topped off with easy peanut salad dressing! Y-U-M.
The tofu is worth it
There is a little prep work that goes into making sesame crusted tofu salad. I get it… why write a salad recipe that takes forever to make? Thankfully the sesame crusted tofu can be prepped ahead of time and the tofu tastes great cold or warmed again in the oven, air fryer, or toaster oven.
You’ll first need to marinate the tofu in a combination of water, tamari, sesame oil, and rice vinegar for at least one hour. The longer you’re able to marinate the tofu (up to 24 hours) the better it will taste. Then, simply dip each tofu cube into a combination of black and white sesame seeds and cornstarch and bake for about 40 minutes.
The end result of the sesame crusted tofu is simply delightful. The sesame seeds provide a slight crunch and nutty flavor while the marinated tofu in all of the tamari and sesame oil really knocks the whole salad out of the park. Plus don’t they look so beautiful!?
What ingredients do you need to make sesame crusted tofu salad?
For the sesame crusted tofu…
Super firm tofu: If you can find it, super firm tofu is hands down the best kind to use for any kind of salad situation. It holds its shape and is very high in protein. Seek out the brands that come in a shrink-wrapped package. If you can’t find super firm, extra firm will still work, but you’ll need to be more gentle while prepping.
Rice vinegar, tamari, sesame oil, and water: The first step in making the sesame crusted tofu is marinating the cubes in a mixture of rice vinegar, tamari, sesame oil, and water. This helps flavor the tofu all the way through with savory goodness. You’ll need to soak the tofu cubes in the marinade for at least an hour. Overnight is best if you have the time!
Black and white sesame seeds and cornstarch: To encourage the sesame seeds to adhere to the tofu and stay adhered, you’ll need some cornstarch. This also helps crisp the tofu a little while it’s baking. And then to crust ths tofu, you’ll need some black and white sesame seeds. Raw or toasted will work though the flavor will vary. Pick your fave or whatever you have on hand.
For the rest of the salad…
Greens, red cabbage and cilantro: Naturally the base of sesame crusted tofu salad is greens. For this salad, I went with a mixture of spring mix and power greens. I think most deep greens would work here – I’m thinking kale, spinach, whatever you can get your hands on. I don’t think romaine or arugula would taste great here so maybe avoid those. For some additional crunch and color, I also added some thinly sliced red cabbage. And lastly, for that fresh flavor – cilantro. If you’re not a cilantro fan, I think mint leaves would work well here too.
Mini peppers, cucumbers, scallions, and avocado: For the rest of the salad ingredients, you’ll need a handful of fresh vegetables. I always think those mini peppers are so adorable – plus they come in all sorts of different colors – and wanted to include them in this recipe. If you can’t find any of these, pick up a regular red, yellow, or orange bell pepper. Next, a cucumber! I am a sucker for English cucumbers. I think they taste way better than regular cucumbers and also have a better texture. For a light but not overpowering onion, I went with scallions. And lastly, avocado for some additional good fats and creamy deliciousness.
Easy peanut salad dressing: If you already have the ingredients on hand to make the tofu marinade, you’ll just need some agave, peanut butter, chili flakes, and a garlic clove to make my easy peanut salad dressing for the sesame crusted tofu salad. If peanut sauce isn’t your thing that’s totally ok. You could also top this with my sesame ginger sauce or your favorite Asian-style salad dressing.
How do you make sesame crusted tofu salad?
Making sesame crusted tofu salad is relatively simple. You do need a bit of patience and planning since the tofu does take some time. Otherwise, the rest of the steps involve chopping, dressing, and that’s pretty much it!
You’ll need a couple of tools to make sesame crusted salad like a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, a shallow container to marinate your tofu cubes, a small bowl to hold your sesame seeds, and cornstarch, a knife, a cutting board, and measuring cups and spoons.
Prep the sesame crusted tofu
Start out by marinating the tofu. Add all of the marinade ingredients – the sesame oil, tamari, rice vinegar, and water into a shallow container. Take your tofu and cut into 1 ½ inch cubes. Very lightly press the tofu with a paper towel along the way and then add to the marinade. Ensure the tofu is submerged and marinate for at least 1 hour up to 24 hours.
After the tofu is marinated, you’re ready to crust! Add the sesame seeds to a small bowl and whisk with cornstarch. Working one tofu piece at a time, remove each piece from the marinade and shake off any excess liquid. Then dip in the sesame seeds on all sides until coated. Add each cube to the baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Then bake the tofu for 40 minutes at 400 degrees, flipping halfway through.
Make the salad
While the tofu bakes, you can jump over to this recipe to prepare the easy peanut salad dressing or prep whatever salad dressing you’re into. Then, prep the rest of the salad which is essentially just chopping all the veg and adding the ingredients to a big bowl.
When the tofu is done, allow it to cool slightly before tossing on top of the greens. Top with easy peanut salad dressing and chow down my friend!
Substitution ideas and more
I absolutely love this salad just the way it is written, but if you’re feeling adventurous, I have some other ideas on how to make this the salad of your dreams.
Make it spicy: Add a few shakes of crushed red pepper flakes or a squirt of sriracha across the entire salad for a spicy kick!
Add more veggies: I kept it simple with the cabbage, cucumber, cilantro, avocado, scallions, and mini peppers, but sesame tofu salad is one of those dishes you could really add any veggie under the sun. Consider adding carrots, snap peas, edamame, or broccoli slaw.
Use mock chicken or seitan: If you’re not a tofu fan, consider using some unflavored mock chicken or seitan instead.
Sub mint: If you’re one of those people who think cilantro tastes like soap. 1. I feel bad for you and 2. You could try subbing it out for fresh mint!
Up your salad game
I’m a sucker for fancy salads! If you liked this sesame tofu salad, you might be taken aback (in a good way!) by some of my other salad recipes:
- Southwest salad with crispy tofu
- Sweet tomatoes salad
- Roasted beet salad with green goddess dressing
- Gochujang tofu salad
- Blueberry coconut arugula salad
- Strawberry avocado salad
In this segment, I suggest a song for you to listen to while you make sesame crusted tofu salad! You can even stream it right here in your browser. Today’s recipe jam is Roses All Around by Soft Kill.
If you try this recipe, I want to hear about it! Feel free to post your creations to Instagram or Facebook and tag Hell Yes It’s Vegan or #hellyesitsvegan. I look forward to seeing what you make!
Sesame Crusted Tofu Salad
- cutting board
- measuring cup and spoons
- shallow dish for marinating
- small bowl
- baking sheet lined with parchment paper
- large bowl for serving
Sesame Crusted Tofu
- 1 lb spring mix, super greens or a combination of the two
- 2 cups red cabbage, (shredded)
- 1 cup cilantro, (chopped)
- 12 mini peppers, (thinly sliced)
- ½ English cucumber, (chopped)
- 2 scallions, (thinly sliced)
- 1 avocado, (chopped)
- ¾ cup easy peanut dressing, (or sub other salad dressing)
Sesame Crusted Tofu
- Cut tofu into 1 ½ inch pieces and gently press with a paper towel. In a shallow container, add the water, tamari, toasted sesame oil, and rice vinegar. Whisk to combine and add submerge the tofu. Let the tofu marinate for at least 1 hour up to 24 hours.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk together sesame seeds and cornstarch in a small bowl. Working one piece at a time, remove the tofu from the marinade, give it a few shakes to remove excess liquid, and dip in sesame seed mix on all sides until coated. Carefully transfer to the baking sheet and continue the process until you run out of tofu. Bake the tofu for 40 minutes flipping halfway through.
- While the tofu bakes, in a large bowl, add greens, cabbage, cilantro, mini peppers, English cucumber, scallions, and avocado.
- Once the tofu is fully baked and cooled slightly, add the pieces to the salad and top with easy peanut salad dressing. Serve immediately.