Recipe: Gingery Zucchini Noodle Salad with Crispy Black Pepper Tofu

Recipe: Gingery Zucchini Noodle Salad with Crispy Black Pepper Tofu

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Sarah E Crowder
May 4, 2017
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(Image credit: David Lazarus)

This colorful recipe checks all my boxes for an ideal weeknight dinner: fast, flavorful, healthy, and far from boring. The zucchini noodles (or "zoodles") are combined with vibrant red cabbage, carrot, radish, mango, and herbs. This refreshing base is then tossed with a tahini dressing boasting a zingy dose of fresh ginger and topped with crispy, peppery tofu for a pleasing mix of hues, textures, and flavors — all in under 30 minutes.

While Asian-inspired recipes often call for frying in sesame or vegetable oil, I like to break the rules and use my favorite cooking oil: olive oil. In particular, I used Capatriti® Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Because Capatriti® is part of a privately-owned, second-generation family business and their extra virgin olive oil is backed by a USDA Quality Monitored Program Seal, I know it's 100-percent pure olive oil. The olive oil works well both in the dressing and for cooking the tofu, giving each a unique flavor.

(Image credit: David Lazarus)

The recipe has become a fast favorite in our household, and I don't think that feeling will be fading anytime soon. It's served us well in the alternating cold and warm weather of spring — hearty enough to serve on chilly evenings yet light enough to crave when temperatures rise. I'll be thankful to have it in my back pocket for hot summer days since the zoodle base is raw and the tofu takes fewer than 15 minutes to cook.

Gingery Zucchini Noodle Salad with Crispy Black Pepper Tofu

Serves 4

For the tofu:
1 (14- to 16-ounce) block extra-firm tofu, drained and cut into 1-inch cubes
¼ cup cornstarch
1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
½ teaspoon kosher salt
4 to 6 tablespoons Capatriti Extra Virgin Olive Oil, divided

For the ginger-tahini dressing:
¼ cup Capatriti Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 tablespoons finely grated peeled fresh ginger (from a 3-inch piece)
2 tablespoons tahini
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil

For the noodle salad:
1 pound zucchini
2 cups thinly sliced red cabbage
2 medium carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
2 medium radishes, thinly sliced
½ medium mango, peeled and thinly sliced
¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh mint leaves
¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
4 lime wedges

Line a baking sheet with a double layer of paper towels. Place the tofu on the paper towels in a single layer. Cover the tofu with another double layer of paper towels. Set a second baking sheet on top and weigh down with a few cans of beans or other similar heavy weight. Press for 30 minutes to remove excess liquid. Meanwhile, make the dressing.

Place all the dressing ingredients in a glass jar. Seal the jar and shake vigorously until the dressing is emulsified, about 30 seconds; set aside.

Whisk the cornstarch, black pepper, and salt together in a medium bowl. Add the pressed tofu cubes and toss to coat. Heat ¼ cup of Capatriti Extra Virgin Olive Oil in a large (12-inch) skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking. Meanwhile set a wire rack over a baking sheet.

Add half of the tofu to the skillet and cook until golden brown on both sides, about 6 minutes per side. Remove the crispy tofu to the rack. Brown the remaining tofu, you may need to add an additional 2 tablespoons of Capatriti Extra Virgin Olive Oil to the pan before cooking the second batch.

Trim the ends off of the zucchini. Using a spiralizer, spiralize the zucchini into "noodles." (Alternatively, cut the zucchini into julienne if you don't have a spiralizer.) Place the zucchini noodles, cabbage, carrots, radishes, mango, mint, and cilantro in a large bowl and toss to combine. Add the dressing and toss the vegetables to coat. Divide among 4 bowls and top each with crispy tofu. Add a lime wedge for squeezing, and serve immediately.

Recipe Notes

  • Make ahead: The dressing can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to 5 days. Shake again before serving.
  • Storage: Once dressed, this salad is best served immediately. Individual components of the salad can be prepared and refrigerated 2 days in advance. The tofu stays crispy for about 1 hour at room temperature after pan-frying. It will lose its crisp texture if refrigerated.

This post is sponsored by Capatriti® and was created by the Kitchn Creative Studio.
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