comscore Sturdy greens make hearty salad entree | Honolulu Star-Advertiser

Sturdy greens make hearty salad entree


    Baked marinated tofu topping a spinach salad is hearty enough for a full meal.

The other day, one of my favorite market stands was offering gorgeous spinach with medium-size crinkled, curly leaves. Freshly picked, this spinach had enough body to stand up to a forceful vinaigrette. You certainly can’t say that about the ubiquitous packaged baby spinach that more or less wilts on contact with dressing. I prefer the larger leaves for a chewy salad with crunch.

If you can’t find hearty spinach leaves like that, choose another kind of green with texture, such as Japanese jagged-edged mizuna, a member of the mustard family; Napa cabbage, sliced into wide ribbons; or large arugula leaves. A mix of several kinds of sturdy greens is another possibility.

Many interesting salad ingredients are in season at this time of year. Pleasantly bitter greens, like endive, frisee, radicchio and their colorful chicory cousins, are lovely combined with fruit (apples, pears, citrus) and toasted walnuts. You’ll find them now at farmers markets and in the produce departments of most supermarkets.

Spinach in hand, I considered what kind of salad to make: Of course, there’s the classic spinach salad tossed with crisp sizzled bacon and a hot dressing, but I craved something with a fresher feel.

On this particular day, I wanted a salad substantial enough to be a main course, and came up with this one, which takes cues from Japan. I enhanced the gingery, garlicky dressing with miso, toasted sesame oil, soy sauce and splash of sake for good measure.

To make it even more of a meal, I tucked in slices of baked marinated firm tofu.

The hearty, handsome salad fulfilled the urge for something green, healthy, vegetarian and light.


By David Tanis

  • 1/2 pound firm tofu
  • 8 ounces spinach leaves, cleaned well, tough stems removed
  • 1 cup chopped cucumber
  • 1 cup thinly sliced daikon
  • 1 cup frozen edamame, thawed
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
  • 2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons roasted peanuts
  • Pinch of kosher salt or flaky sea salt

>> Marinade:

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sake
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • Pinch cayenne

>> Salad dressing:

  • 2 tablespoons lime or lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons white or red miso
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated garlic (from about 2 to 3 cloves)
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Slice tofu into 1-by-2-inch pieces about 1/4-inch thick and place in a deep bowl or on a platter.

In a medium bowl, whisk together marinade ingredients; pour over tofu slices to coat well. Let sit at least 15 minutes or up to 24 hours.

Arrange tofu pieces in a single layer on prepared baking sheet. Spoon marinade over tofu. Bake, uncovered, 15 to 20 minutes, until slightly crisped.

In a small bowl, whisk together dressing ingredients.

To assemble: Arrange spinach in a low, wide salad bowl or deep platter. Scatter cucumber, daikon and edamame over spinach, then sprinkle with sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds and peanuts.

Tuck slices of tofu here and there. Sprinkle with salt, then drizzle with dressing. Serves 4 to 6.

Nutritional information unavailable.

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