This Spinach, Avocado and Marinated Tofu Salad recipe was originally published on March 13th, 2013. After noticing more people visiting this recipe we decided to update it and repost it on August 30, 2019.
This new and improved version of our Spinach, Avocado and Marinated Tofu Salad features fresh new images, and updated recipe, nutrition info, and a new dressing. The original recipe called for a simple “dressing” of soy sauce and sesame oil. We’ve stuck to that theme but upgraded it to a creamy toasted soy & sesame dressing. We’ve doubled the marinated tofu portion of the recipe but otherwise kept it the same.
We included the original image at the end of the post to jog your memory if you think you’ve made this recipe before.
We topped this hearty salad of baby spinach, marinated tofu, avocado, carrot, cucumber, red bell pepper, green onion with a creamy toasted sesame and soy dressing.
This is a great meal to pack for work or school lunches (just pack the dressing on the side). Add some cooked brown rice to turn this salad into a filling vegan lunch bowl. A single serving, made as is, contains 15 grams of plant-based protein (scroll to the end for complete nutrition information.)
Feel free to swap ingredients in and out. I love adding to or swapping the spinach with romaine lettuce for a crunchier salad.
Inspired by the flavours of gomae, a Japanese spinach salad, this toasted sesame and soy dressing is blended and contains cashews for a creamy finish. This versatile dressing is perfect for rice noodle salads, vegan lunch bowls, summer rolls, and stir-fries.
The marinated tofu in this recipe remains the same as before: a simple marinade of soy sauce, sriracha, sesame oil, and garlic. You can choose to bake or sauté the tofu. Baking takes a little longer but it’s more hands-off and uses less oil. Sautéing is quicker, but its uses more oil and requires more hands-on supervision.
As with any marinated tofu recipe, you’ll enjoy the best flavour if you press your tofu first. I’m not a fan of typical pressing methods, they tend to take a while or they don’t work that well. I usually use my “quick pressing method” from my very old “4 Part Tofu Tutorial”. Slice a block of extra-firm tofu into 8 slices and lay them on a clean folded kitchen towel. Top with a second folded kitchen towel and add pressure to draw out excess moisture. Place a cutting board on top and weight it with some heavy things, (cookbooks, cast-iron bakeware, nesting bowls, etc.) for 30 minutes or so. If you’re in a hurry you can quickly press some moisture out of the tofu with your hands.
Tofu Pressing Tip (for my fellow cooks with cats and dogs in house):
Pet hair is a fact of life and sometimes kitchen towels aren’t 100% fur-free. You can use paper towel to press tofu but you’ll need to use a lot of it. Instead, use the kitchen towel method but add a single piece of paper towel wrapped around the tofu. With this method, paper towel is a barrier between the tofu while the kitchen towel absorbs moisture. This ensures that you don’t add any undesired “ingredients” to your tofu with minimal waste.
Alternatively, you can buy a tofu press! It’s like a little vice that evenly adds pressure to press excess moisture from a block of tofu.
This marinade is rich enough that you CAN skip the marinating if you’re looking to save time. In this case I’ll whip up the tofu first and let it marinate briefly while I preheat my oven or skillet and prepare the dressing and vegetables. After that, use up remaining marinade in the cooking process. If baking, top the tofu with any leftover marinade before baking. If sautéing, add remaining marinade near the end of the cooking process and cook until it’s absorbed.
- 1 block (350g) firm or extra-firm tofu, pressed and cut into small squares
- 2 tbsp (30ml) low-sodium soy sauce
- 2 tbsp (30ml) water
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tsp (10ml) sriracha (more or less to your preference)
- 1 tsp (5ml) sesame oil
- (Optional, for sautéing) 1 tbsp (15ml) canola oil (or other neutral-tasting vegetable oil)
- 3–4 tbsp (45-60ml) low-sodium soy sauce
- ¼ cup (60ml) raw cashews
- ¼ cup (60ml) water
- 3 tbsp (45ml) toasted sesame seeds, divided
- 2 tbsp (30ml) canola oil
- 2 tsp (10ml) sugar
- 2 tsp (10ml) rice wine vinegar
- 8 large handfuls of baby spinach
- 1 carrot, grated
- ½ cucumber, halved and sliced
- ½ red bell pepper, sliced
- 1 ripe avocado, sliced
- 2 stalks green onion, sliced thinly
- 2 tbsp (30ml) toasted sesame seeds
- Heat skillet over medium heat. Add sesame seeds and cook, stirring often until golden-brown and fragrant. Do not leave unattended.
- For optimal flavour, press tofu to draw out excess moisture. Check out ourfor a quick and easy method.
- Combine marinade ingredients. Add cubed tofu. Stir to coat. Marinate for 1 hour (stirring halfway through). If you’re in a hurry, you can skip this step.
- Baking Instructions: (Uses less oil, slower method) Preheat oven to 425°F (220°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread tofu out in a single layer with no pieces touching. Top with remaining marinade. Bake for 20 minutes (or until tofu is crisp on the outside and tender inside.)
- Skillet Instructions: (Uses more oil, faster method) Heat 1 tbsp canola oil over medium-high heat. Add marinated tofu cubes (reserving excess marinade) and cook, turning tofu as needed, until all sides are golden-brown and crisp on all sides. Stir in remaining marinade and cook until marinade cooks down and coats the tofu.
- Chill tofu.
- Set aside half of the sesame seeds. Combine remaining ingredients in a blender. Blend on high until smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust seasoning. Add remaining sesame seeds and stir. Chill in refrigerator.
- In a large bowl, add 2 handfuls of spinach. Top with grated carrot, sliced cucumber, red bell pepper, avocado, and green onion. Add ¼ of the chilled marinated tofu. Drizzle with dressing and sprinkle with extra toasted sesame seeds.