Why It Works
- Slow-cooking the tofu gets it extra crisp.
- The combination of crispy tofu, creamy avocado, and fresh grapefruit gives this salad great texture and flavor contrast.
I've been making versions of this salad with crispy tofu, avocado, and grapefruit, flavored with za'atar and topped with a miso and tahini dressing, on and off for the last couple of months, each time tweaking the ingredients a bit, substituting different greens, altering the ratio of dressing components, et cetera. I've come to the conclusion that the base is great no matter what you do with it. Add some chopped raw kale and chickpeas? Delicious. Add a splash of fish sauce (for a non-vegan version) and some toasted pita bread croutons? Fantastic. Toasted pine nuts and roasted beets? It works.
- 1 (14-ounce; 400g) block firm (non-silken) tofu, cut into 1- by 2- by 1/2-inch squares
- 5 tablespoons (75ml) extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 3/4 ounce (about 1/4 cup; 20g) za'atar, divided
- 1 large grapefruit, cut into segments, juice reserved separately
- 2 tablespoons (30ml) sesame tahini
- 1 tablespoon (15ml) white or yellow miso paste
- 1 tablespoon (15ml) juice from 1 lemon
- 1 teaspoon (5ml) honey or agave nectar
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 avocado, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
- 5 ounces greens, such as baby kale, spinach, or arugula (see note)
Place tofu in a large colander and set in the sink. Pour 1 quart boiling water over tofu and let rest for 1 minute. Transfer to a paper towel–lined tray and press dry. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large nonstick or cast iron skillet over medium-low heat until shimmering. Add tofu and cook, turning occasionally, until golden brown and crisp on all surfaces, about 10 minutes total. Sprinkle with half of za'atar and toss to coat. Transfer tofu to a paper towel–lined plate to drain. Scrape remaining contents of pan into a medium bowl and set aside to cool slightly.
Add 2 tablespoons reserved grapefruit juice, tahini, miso paste, lemon juice, and honey or agave nectar to bowl with reserved oil from cooking. Add 1 more tablespoon olive oil. Whisk until smooth, adding more grapefruit juice or water as necessary to achieve a smooth, pourable consistency about the texture of heavy paint. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Combine tofu, grapefruit segments, and avocado in a large bowl. Add remaining tablespoon olive oil and remaining za'atar, season with salt, and gently fold together.
Add greens and half of dressing and gently fold to combine. Serve immediately, drizzling remaining dressing on top.
Feel free to mix up the base of the salad if you're bored of salad greens. Roasted vegetables, like beets or cauliflower, work great, as does kale or heartier winter lettuces.