Napa Cabbage and Tofu Salad with Sesame Dressing

When formally arranged, with the elements placed in a minimalist style or in geometirc rows, this salad is especially beautiful. You can also toss the cabbages with the spinach and some of the dressing and use the salad as a base for the remaining elements. However you decide to display it, do toss it before eating.

Slideshow:Terrific Green Salads

  • Servings: 8

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  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 large garlic clove, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 large jalapeƱo, seeded and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon tahini (sesame paste)
  • 1 tablespoon Asian sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon light brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon chopped mint
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Salt
  • 1 pound soft tofu, drained and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 4 cups finely shredded Napa cabbage (about 1/2 large head)
  • 2 cups spinach leaves, finely shredded (see Note)
  • 1 cup finely shredded red cabbage
  • 1 medium kohlrabi or small jicama, peeled and cut into matchsticks
  • 5 large radishes, cut into matchsticks
  • 1 large carrot, shaved into thin curls with a vegetable peeler
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon black sesame seeds or toasted white sesame seeds, for garnish

How to make this recipe

  1. Combine all of the ingredients except for the cilantro and mint in a mini food processor and puree until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the cilantro and mint. Season with salt and pepper.

  2. Bring a medium saucepan of water to a gentle simmer. Add salt. Put half of the tofu in a small strainer and ease it into the water. Simmer over moderate heat for 2 minutes, then transfer to paper towels to drain. Repeat with the remaining tofu.

  3. On a large platter or individual plates, arrange the tofu, Napa cabbage, spinach, red cabbage, kohlrabi, radishes and carrot strips. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon the dressing over the tofu or pass it separately. Garnish with the sesame seeds and serve.

Make Ahead

The dressing can be refrigerated for up to 2 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.


To finely shred spinach leaves (make a chiffonade), simply stack and roll the leaves, then cut them crosswise into thin strips with a sharp knife.

Suggested Pairing

Serve a simple, straightforward white as a refreshing contrast to the greens. Try one from California or a Chilean Chardonnay.

Contributed By Photo © Beatriz Da Costa Published December 1999

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