This recipe is sponsored by EZ Tofu Press. All opinions are 100% my own.
Fresh lettuce, crispy pickled carrots and radish, and flavorful sauteed tofu make this Tofu Banh Mi Salad a standout supper.
If you're craving a banh mi but want something even more vegetable-forward, I have got you covered. This Tofu Banh Mi Salad is like the sandwich in salad form.
I love a banh mi sandwich. Savory tofu, a spicy spread, and vinegary pickled carrots and daikon just warm my heart. Slap those suckers onto crusty bread, and you have got a seriously awesome sandwich.
Banh Mi Salad Ingredients
A traditional banh mi sandwich piles meat into a soft baguette-style loaf with pickled carrots and daikon radish, spicy chilis, and cilantro. I've made some substitutions to veganize this recipe and make it doable, even if you only have access to a regular grocery store.
Let's talk substitutions!
The first thing you'll notice is that my recipe calls for radishes instead of daikon for the pickles. That's because not everyone can find daikon at the grocery store, but radishes are pretty readily available and taste somewhat similar. If you have access to daikon, by all means, us it instead! Slice it into thin rounds or into matchsticks, like the carrots.
I'm also using one of my favorite prep cheats in this recipe. Instead of spending time cutting carrots into matchsticks, I'm using bagged shredded carrots. Most grocery stores stock this, but if yours doesn't, just cut your carrots into a similar size and shape, and you are good to go.
The last substitution is the tofu in place of meat. Since this is a salad, we are going to cube the tofu, instead of slicing it lunchmeat-style. I kept the marinade simple but flavorful. This is where you get that chili element that's in a traditional banh mi. The marinade includes garlic, ginger, jalapeno, and lime juice for plenty of flavor!
Making the Tofu
Before you marinate that tofu, though, you need to press it. You want your tofu nice and firm, so it holds up well in the salad. Getting that excess water out also leaves it thirsty, so it will drink in that tasty marinade.
I like to press my tofu with the EZ Tofu Press. Not only does the EZ Tofu Press get about 1/2 cup of water out of your tofu in just 10-15 minutes, but it also maintains the shape of the block. That's key for a recipe like this, where you will be cubing your tofu.
After you press your tofu, just toss it with the marinade ingredients, and you are ready to make your banh mi salad!
Making the Banh Mi Salad
While you marinate your tofu (see section above), whip up your banh mi pickles. I like to mix up the brine right in the jar where I will store them. Add the veggies to the jar, and set this aside while you prep everything else.
While the pickles set and the tofu marinates, you will be frying up your cubes of bread. This part of the recipe is inspired by a panzanella, a Tuscan salad starring soaked and sauteed bread.
When the bread is ready, saute your tofu, and toss it with the pickles and some of the pickle brine. Let this mixture rest for about half an hour, and then you are ready to assemble your salad!
Crisp, green leaf lettuce is the base for this salad. Layer on the tofu-bread-pickle mixture, then top everything off with some fresh cilantro and cucumbers.
Ready to make the banh mi salad of your DREAMS? Let's cook!
Easy Tofu Banh Mi Salad
For the Banh Mi Pickles
- 3/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon organic sugar - optional, but recommended
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup shredded carrots
- 3/4 cup radish slices - Cut them as thinly as you can. If you can get your hands on daikon, then peel it and cut into matchsticks instead of using radishes.
For the Tofu
- 1 block extra firm tofu - pressed and cut into 1/2" cubes
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ginger powder
- 1 small jalapeno - minced (remove the seeds, if you prefer less heat)
For the Saute
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cups cubed baguette - About 1/2 a regular-sized loaf will do the trick; go for 1" pieces.
For the Banh Mi Salad
- 4 cups chopped green leaf lettuce
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1/2 cup sliced cucumber
- sliced jalapeno
Make the Pickles
- In a mason jar, stir together the vinegar, sugar, and salt. Add the carrots and radishes, making sure you submerge the veggies in the liquid. Set this aside and let the veggies marinate on the counter while you prep everything else. You can do this the night before, if you prefer.
Marinate the Tofu
- In a small bowl, toss together the tofu with the soy sauce, lime juice, garlic, ginger, and jalapeno. Set aside to marinate while you saute the bread.
Time to Saute
- Heat 1/4 cup of the oil in your frying pan on medium high, and saute the bread for about 5 minutes, until it’s nice and browned. Make sure you stir frequently and get all of that bread coated in oil. Transfer to your serving bowl.
- Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil on medium high. Cook the tofu and the marinade, stirring, until the tofu begins to brown, around 7-9 minutes.
- Transfer the tofu into the bowl with the bread.
Assemble the Salad
- Drain the pickles, reserving 1/4 cup of the marinade. Toss the pickles and marinade with the bread and tofu. Spoon the bread-tofu mixture over a bed of lettuce with a tablespoon of cilantro, a handful of sliced cucumber, and sliced jalapeno on top of each bowl.