Chopped BBQ tofu salad! With hunks of saucy baked tofu, crisp veggies and a homemade dairy-free BBQ ranch dressing!
I think I’ve been to a California Pizza Kitchen like six times in my life.
While my hometown had its share of fast-food and restaurant chains, getting a California Pizza Kitchen my senior year of high school was a really big deal. California! In Virginia! This was before avocado was trendy and way before I started eating my body weight in tofu.
So, CPK. In Virginia. Which happened to be situated smack-dab in the middle of a brand new fancy mall. Food and fashion, it was like all my 18-year old dreams coming true at once.
As a family of four women, that mall became our favorite thing to do on the weekends. Window shop til we dropped, bonding over our newfound love for H&M, and ‘can we please buy everything in the store?!’ at Crate and Barrel. (Of course now I ask BL the same thing)
While we had a lot of new restaurants to choose from, I fondly remember begging to eat at CPK. Sigh, even then I was an East Coast kid trying to be a West Coast one, $12 personal pizzas be damned.
CPK was where I first fell in love with the chopped BBQ chicken salad and while I’ve only enjoyed it a few times, the unexpected pairing of bbq chicken, avocado, and tangy ranch dressing was a heavenly-sensory overload for my southern-born high school palate.
Over the years I’ve tweaked and mastered my own version, subbing chewy bbq tofu in place of the chicken and lightening up the dressing. Gone are any crunchy add ins, subbing in more nutrient-rich vegetables and high-protein black beans.
If the concept of bbq tofu bothers you… lemme explain. Tofu is one of those things that if done right, is phenomenal. If done wrong, well… I’d still eat it but I’m not gonna write a blog post about it. Since I’d like to think of myself as a tofu connoisseur, please enjoy my tried and true tips for mastering baked tofu.
1. Start with extra-firm tofu. The package should look like this. You are welcome to try it with firm tofu, but I prefer the extra-firm kind for baking. I know that some brands are coming out with high-protein tofu (Trader Joe’s sells one), but I’m not a fan, especially for baked tofu.
2. Press it. You need to get the water out of the tofu so it can absorb the marinade- in this case BBQ sauce. If you are pressing tofu often, I think it’s worth it to purchase a handy-dandy tofu press to make life easier. You can always do the paper towel and cast-iron pan method: wrap tofu in paper towels and set a heavy item on top. I like to place a few canned goods on top of the cast iron pan for balance.
3. Marinade! Now that your tofu is pressed, it’s ready to soak up all the juices! We’ll be using a BBQ sauce for this one. I usually press my tofu first thing and marinade it while I am prepping the rest of the ingredients or cleaning the house. Um, or facebooking. By the time I’m ready to eat- the tofu is ready to go! I hope that doesn’t seem like too many steps. I don’t think it takes any longer than other forms of protein!
4. Bake it! Remove the tofu, place on a baking sheet and cook for 25-30 minutes, flipping once.
You are going to love this salad! It’s
Colorful!4 servings of vegetables in every bowl!
Plus this beauty contains 20g of protein per serving. Because, plants have protein! Beans + Tofu = quite the satiating lunch!
- 8 cups chopped lettuce- I used butter lettuce here but any lettuce combo will work.
- 4 medium tomatoes, chopped
- 2 avocados, chopped
- 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup corn
- 2 cups shredded carrots
- 1 16 oz. package tofu, drained and pressed as described above
- 1 cup BBQ sauce, DIVIDED
- ½ cup mayo ( vegan mayo for dairy-free option)
- ¼ cup soymilk
- ⅛ cup chopped parsley
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- Chop the pressed tofu into cubes. Place in a bowl and cover with ½ cup BBQ sauce. Toss to evenly coat. Marinade for at least 20 minutes.
- Make the dressing: whisk together the mayo, soymilk, chopped parsley, garlic powder, 3 tbsp. BBQ sauce and pinch salt/pepper.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Remove the tofu cubes and place on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove, flip cubs and lightly brush with remaining BBQ sauce- you might not use it all. Place back in oven and cook for another 10-15 minutes.
- Assemble the salads: Either place all ingredients in a large bowl and toss together. Or, to serve individual salads (like photographed) place 2 cups lettuce, ½ avocado, ½ cup shredded carrots, ⅓ cup black beans, ¼ cup corn and 1 chopped tomato on each plate. Serve with ¼ of the tofu and drizzle with BBQ-ranch dressing.