Crunchy Thai Kale Salad

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Big plate of Easy Vegan Gluten-Free Thai Kale Salad with Simple Peanut Dressing

Although we eat dinner together most evenings, sometimes John and I crave different things. It’s no secret that I generally want something healthy and light and he is desiring something a bit more satisfying.

Most nights I can whip up something that’s a compromise – something filling but with tons of veggies like black bean tacos, Pad Thai or pizza. But other nights, we agree to disagree and go our separate ways. And on those nights I usually make a big green salad.

Massaging kale leaves for a delicious vegan salad

This salad is one that I’ve been making recently when I’m craving Thai food but don’t have time to make anything complicated. It’s not authentic by any means but certainly Thai-inspired with the peanut sauce, fresh vegetables and tofu.

Bowl of sesame seeds for Thai Kale Salad

The whole thing comes together in about 20 minutes, starting with the greens.

I prepare the kale by drizzling it with toasted sesame oil and agave nectar (or honey if not vegan) and massaging to flavor and soften the sometimes bitter, stiff leaves. Then I toss some lightly drained tofu in sesame seeds (a tip I learned from Sprouted Kitchen Cookbook), to give it more texture and nutritional value. If you aren’t into raw tofu (like some commenters have noted) try this easy baking method that gives it a nice bite with no additional ingredients.

Coating tofu in sesame seeds for Sesame Tossed Tofu
Big plate of Crunchy Thai Kale Salad for a gluten-free vegan dinner

Next is the dressing – my favorite part. I use my go-to 5-ingredient peanut sauce that’s the perfect balance of savory, sweet and spice. I love how it adds another layer of flavor to this crunchy, spring salad.

Bowl of Thai Peanut Sauce for a healthy vegan salad dressing
Pouring peanut dressing over Thai Kale Salad for a simple vegan gluten-free dinner

I don’t trust myself around peanut sauce. Whoever said 2 Tablespoons was one serving was a liar.

Plate of Thai Kale Salad made with radishes, tofu, carrots, and kale

So easy, so fresh, so delicious. I think you’re going to love this salad. It’s

Crunchy
Filling
Light
Flavorful
Peanut-y
Sweet
Savory
Seriously healthy
& Super delicious

Bonus? It packs incredibly well for lunch! Make it in the morning or the night before and then throw it in a Tupperwear to eat later. I ate half of mine the first day and other half the next and it was just as delicious! Enjoy!

Stainless steel lunchbox filled with Massaged Thai Kale Salad
Plate of our Thai Kale Salad recipe with Sesame Tofu and Peanut Dressing

Crunchy Thai Kale Salad

A colorful, crunchy Thai-inspired salad with kale, carrots, radishes, sesame-tofu and a spicy-sweet peanut dressing.
Author Minimalist Baker
Print
Plate of Vegan Gluten-Free Thai Kale Salad made with tofu
4.93 from 14 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 1
Course Entree, Salad
Cuisine Gluten-Free, Thai-Inspired, Vegan
Freezer Friendly No
Does it keep? 2 Days

Ingredients

For the Salad:

  • 4-5 cups packed curly or lacinato kale
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced carrots
  • 3 small radishes* (thinly sliced)
  • 1/4 cup cubed firm tofu (organic, non-GMO if possible)
  • 1/2 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 Tbsp agave or maple syrup (or honey if not vegan)
  • 1 Tbsp sesame seeds (you’ll have leftover)
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • 3-4 Tbsp peanut sauce (for topping)

For the Peanut Sauce:

  • 1/4 cup salted natural peanut butter (creamy or crunchy)
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce (tamari if gluten-free)
  • 2-3 Tbsp brown sugar (or sub agave, maple syrup or honey if not vegan)
  • 1/2 medium lime, juiced (1/2 lime yields ~1 1/2 Tbsp)
  • 1/2 tsp chili garlic sauce
  • Hot water
  • Sriracha (optional // for a little heat)

Instructions

  • Drain tofu by wrapping in a towel and pressing gently. Let rest for 5 minutes. Then unwrap, cube and toss in sesame seeds. If you don’t like raw tofu, check out this “Make Tofu Taste Good” recipe! Just omit the sesame seeds so they don’t burn in the oven.
  • Prepare peanut sauce by whisking all ingredients together except the water. Then add in 1 Tbsp very hot water a little at a time until pourable. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
  • Add kale to a large mixing bowl and drizzle with lime juice, toasted sesame oil and agave. Massage with hands for 1 minute to incorporate ingredients and soften the leaves.
  • Add kale to serving plate or bowl and top with sliced radishes, carrot and sesame-tofu. Drizzle with peanut sauce and serve immediately. Leftovers store well, even lightly dressed. Will keep refrigerated for up to a couple of days, though best when fresh.

Notes

*You can sub 1/4 cup sliced red onion in place of 3 small radishes.
*Nutrition information is a rough estimate for 1 salad and does not include all of the dressing – just 3-4 Tbsp.

Nutrition (1 of 1 servings)

Serving: 1 serving Calories: 528 Carbohydrates: 59 g Protein: 22 g Fat: 26 g Saturated Fat: 3 g Trans Fat: 0 g Cholesterol: 0 mg Sodium: 1100 mg Fiber: 9 g Sugar: 26 g

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My Rating:




  1. Mia says

    This salad is refreshing and delicious, and easy to prep, 5 stars!!! I kept the ingredients separate in the refrigerator and ate this salad all week long, the ingredients kept really well.

  2. Kimberlee says

    Made the peanut sauce and holy smokes, it is so good! Normally I would shy away from something containing spice, but went for it. Very good!

  3. Miranda says

    I’ve never liked kale before but this recipe has changed that. The kale was soft and I was able to chew it for once! The peanut sauce added so much flavor too. I actually like raw tofu so that wasn’t an issue. I normally start eating it once it’s out of the package. I will definitely be eating this for lunch this week. Thanks for the amazing recipe!

  4. Jenna says

    This was great! I made the peanut sauce with ginger instead of the chili garlic sauce and it still turned out with enough flavor :)

  5. Emily says

    I can eat raw tofu no problem (I’ve never eaten meat so maybe that’s why), but I have issues with raw kale. Whatever concoction I followed (using honey) “massaged” into the kale made it an enjoyably edible texture! I had to sub different salad ingredients, like cucumbers, but I think the important element is the kale dressing and sauce. This was a great, simple, quick recipe. I made a huge bowl and ate it all!

  6. Randiah says

    Made this today, subbed grilled chicken for tofu and I did not use radishes, but this came out great. Simple, healthy, and tasty especially since I am addicted to peanut butter… the idea of adding oil and honey to the kale is great! I’ve always wondered how to get it less stiff when using kale raw in a salad. Great!

  7. Meg says

    This was so good! Used chunky peanut butter in the sauce which gave it a fun pad-thai texture. Also I don’t like radishes so I added in mung bean sprouts instead, and that gave it a nice little kick. This will definitely be a salad I make frequently now! Thanks :-)

  8. Tiffany says

    Guys. I discovered your website a couple of weeks ago and I’m obsessed. I’ve already made this salad three times, I’m in love with it. Love!

  9. Winter says

    This was amazing, thank you for this recipe! I’ve made this almost everyday for lunch or dinner so far- definitely a go-to salad recipe. I love nut butters, especially when it’s peanut butter in a peanut sauce :)

  10. Nanette in so Cal says

    Hello,
    Please help me to start juicing again (for the 90th time). :(

    How do I keep my greens from wilting and turning into mush? I can’t run to the store every other day.

    A fellow shopper at Fresh & Easy told me to layer individual green(s) leaves between pieces of aluminum foil!

    Please help me.

  11. Genki Kitty says

    This is the best recipe! Thank you so much- perfect for the summer season when these ingredients are in season. We have made this a few times now and I am writing a review of it on my blog. (Attached with your original link.) Thanks again!

  12. Kelzee says

    I had leftovers of your carrot soup for lunch, and this awesome salad for dinner. I am a peanut butter sauce machine!

  13. Hannah says

    I don’t even like kale that much, and this was incredible. It’s the second time I’m making it this week (which makes it the third time I’m eating it this week!) and I’m loving it all. I don’t mind tofu raw usually, but the sesame seed trick was seriously awesome. Plus, it made my night when my 18-month old ate one bite, thought about it, and then reached for another handful. :)

  14. Melissa says

    LOVE this recipe! Just made it tonight – quick and easy and so good! I don’t like radishes so cut those out and used cucumber, red onion, bell pepper. Yum!

  15. meghan says

    I don’t know if it’s a typo but the recipe is labelled gluten free and contains soy sauce, one or the other should be changed.

    Otherwise this sounds great!

  16. Gabby @ the veggie nook says

    I can’t digest raw tofu well at all, but a light steam is all it takes! I definitely want to try this, with steamed tofu of course ;) Looks so satisfying but light!

  17. Elizabeth says

    Yum this looks really good! Wonder what the dressing would taste like with almond butter instead?

    xx,
    Elizabeth

  18. Shikha @ Shikha la mode says

    Genius tip with the sesame-coated tofu! I’m trying to eat more salads but often find myself craving some sort of protein with it or I get hungry in like an hour afterward.

  19. Phi @ The Sweetphi Blog says

    Wow! This looks sooo yummy! I’m not vegan but I want this salad asap! The dressing and tofu sound soooo good, so does everything else that’s in there!

  20. Christina @ but i'm hungry says

    Finally, a kale salad that’s different from the ten thousand other kale salad recipes out there. I love kale salad, but I was getting bored of all the lemon juice, parm, garlic, etc. variations out there. This looks wonderful… so bright and fresh. And peanut sauce is EVERYTHING. Love it.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerDana @ Minimalist Baker says

      Count me flattered! Thanks Christina! Hope you’ll give this a try! Let’s do our part in keeping kale salads NOT boring ;D

  21. Valerie | From Valerie's Kitchen says

    This looks perfect! I love the combination of flavors and textures. Peanut sauce makes me so happy. Seriously, happy.

  22. Richa {VeganRicha.com} says

    that is one gorgeous salad. yeah i am with the no raw tofu crowd. cooked bean on that will work beautifully too!

  23. Ceara @ Ceara's Kitchen says

    This salad looks next-level nutritious and nummy! I have yet to try raw tofu (I usually lightly fry it in about a tbsp of coconut oil before eating it) but might just have to give it a go :D

  24. Lisa @ Simple Pairings says

    What a gorgeous salad. I love the sliced radishes in this, too! I’ve been on such a radish kick, so this salad is extra-appealing to me. :)

  25. Averie @ Averie Cooks says

    Looks so good & pinned! Those sesame seeds on the tofu make me just want to reach right in and snag a few bites, now!

  26. Jessica @ahappyfooddance says

    This salad is beautiful and I love anything with a peanut sauce! I can’t wait to try!

  27. Zunni says

    Looks divine. I’m especially inspired by the peanut sauce. Raw tofu does sound a little daunting though.

  28. The Vegan 8 says

    Looks so good Dana, especially that peanut sauce! I love making nut butter sauces that don’t use oil. Will have to try that sauce…mmmm

  29. P. Cruickshank-Schott says

    I hope to try this as it sounds delicious. My jaw dropped at the sodium content though… Is that a typo? I use unsalted nut butter, so that might help, but is all the rest from the chili garlic sauce and soy? When I know I’m using sea salt I don’t concern myself with sodium much, but in pre-made products I expect it’s the less healthy table salt version with anti-caking ingredients and such. I was surprised at the calorie count as well, though if you are actually using this for 2 meals it’s more reasonable. Using stevia would lower the calorie count a bit… I make a dressing with almond butter, lime, and coconut aminos that has a Thai type flavor without the sweet… Again this does look and sound delicious…

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerDana @ Minimalist Baker says

      I do think that’s correct, but I calculated the information using regular soy sauce instead of low sodium. So use less soy and use low sodium and you’ll see a drastic reduction there.

  30. Maryea {happy healthy mama} says

    I can’t do raw tofu {cringe}, but that sauce I can definitely get behind! A very pretty salad.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerDana @ Minimalist Baker says

      Ah! I used to be that way too, but since going mostly meat free, I’ve been relying on it more when I’m craving something filling. With the crunchy veggies and creamy peanut sauce, it’s kind of perfect!