Vegan Thai Chopped Salad
This vegan Thai chopped salad with brown rice, tofu and peanut sauce is easy to make and highly nutritious thanks to a colourful array of fresh veggies.
About the Recipe
Say hello to this gorgeous Thai-inspired chopped salad featuring the perfect balance of flavours and textures in every bite. The vibrant colours, wholesome ingredients, and addictive peanut sauce make this a standout dish that’s always a hit.
The star of the recipe is the medley of fresh vegetables like cabbage, carrot and cucumber. Baked tofu adds provides a satisfying protein element that complements the veggies and brown rice lends a chewy, hearty texture and makes this salad substantial enough for a meal.
Whether you’re looking for a healthy lunch option you can prep in advance, crowd-pleasing potluck contribute or healthy plant-based dinner, this salad fits the bill.
The complete list of ingredients with measurements is located in the recipe card at the end of post.
- Brown Rice: This salad can be made with or without brown rice. You can omit it for a lighter meal or side salad or swap it for white rice, farro, quinoa, rice noodles or even pasta.
- Cabbage: You can use purple or green cabbage or for a quick and easy option, use prepared coleslaw mix.
- Tofu: Use firm or extra firm tofu or swap it for edamame, tempeh or chickpeas (or add edamame or chickpeas in addition to tofu).
- Soy Sauce: Be sure to use coconut aminos or tamari instead of soy sauce for gluten-free.
- Peanut Butter: You can use almond butter for a peanut-free option or any other nut or seed butter.
- Sriracha: You can omit this if you’re sensitive to spice. Sambal oelek is a good substitute.
Variations & Additions
- Gluten-Free Option: Use gluten-free tamari instead of soy sauce.
- Nut-Free Option: Use sunflower seed butter instead of peanut butter.
- Veggies: Don’t need to be exact amounts, use what you have and feel free to sub in any color of bell pepper, zucchini, broccoli or chopped celery.
- Alternative Sauces: Try my almond satay sauce, sesame miso sauce, sesame dressing, miso peanut sauce or coconut peanut sauce.
- Fresh Herbs: Enhance the flavor by adding fresh herbs like Thai basil, mint or cilantro.
- Crunchy Additions: Mix in or top with roasted peanuts, toasted sesame seeds or cashews.
- Fruit: Some chopped mango would be good in this salad.
- Citrus: Serve with a squeeze of fresh lime juice.
Step 1: Press Tofu (Optional)
Pressing tofu is an optional step that helps remove excess moisture and improves the texture of the tofu. It is particularly beneficial when baking or frying tofu as it allows it to absorb flavors better and promotes a crispier result.
If you’d like to press it, use a tofu press or wrap a block of tofu in a kitchen towel or paper towel and place a heavy object on top of it. Let it sit for 15-30 minutes.
Step 2: Cook Brown Rice
If you don’t have cooked brown rice on hand, start that now as it will need up to 45 minutes to cook depending on the variety you use. Cook it according to the package instructions.
White rice is fine too and will cook much faster than brown. You could also swap the rice for quinoa.
For a lighter salad, you can skip the rice all together and just to the veggies, tofu and sauce.
Step 3: Bake Tofu
If you did not press the tofu, simply drain, and shake or pat it dry. Chop the tofu into triangles or cubes and gently toss it with the soy sauce, pepper and garlic powder.
Some optional ingredients for the tofu are 1 tbsp oil and/or 2 tsp cornstarch. The oil helps it get more crispy and the cornstarch creates a light, crisp coating.
Place the tofu a baking tray lined with parchment paper (optional but easier clean up!) and bake for 30 minutes until browned and crisp. I like to flip it after 20 minutes but its not required to do so.
Step 3: Make Dressing
Step 3. Make the dressing by blending everything until smooth and creamy or using an immersion blender in a suitable container. Slowly add water until its easily drizzles off a spoon but is still thick and creamy.
Quick Tip: If you don’t have a way to blend the sauce, use 1 tsp garlic powder instead of whole garlic or grate the garlic so its paste-like, and whisk everything together in a container until smooth and creamy.
Step 4: Prepare Veggies
- finely chop the cabbage, use a mandolin if you have one or use prepared coleslaw mix for a quick and easy option
- grate the carrot
- dice the bell peppers
- finely chop the red and green onion
- dice the cucumber
- finely chop the cilantro
Mix and match! Celery, snap peas, snow peas, jalapeno, and spinach all work well here too.
Step 5: Assemble Salad
You have a couple options for assembling your salad.
You can mix the veggies, dressing, tofu and rice in a large bowl or mix just mix up the veggies then plate those individually topped with rice, tofu and peanut sauce. I prefer to assemble each component individually and then drizzle each serving with sauce.
If you’re making this for meal prep, I recommend storing the dressing until serving.
Yes. You can make the sauce ahead of time and store in the fridge. It may thicken when chilled, so you might need to add a little water after storing to adjust the consistency before adding it to the salad.
Certainly! Substitute tempeh, chickpeas, seitan or edamame.
For sure! You can use almond butter, cashew butter or sunflower seed butter instead of peanut butter.
- Dressing Consistency: If the peanut sauce is too thick, you can add a little water, one tablespoon at a time, to achieve the desired consistency. Conversely, if you prefer a thicker dressing, reduce the amount of water.
- Garnish: Before serving, garnish the salad with additional fresh chopped cilantro, a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds or peanuts, or a wedge of lime.
- Flexibility: The vegetable amounts do not have to be exact so adjust as needed to what you have available or add anything else you like.
Storage and Prep
- All the components can be prepared in advance and stored in the fridge until you’re ready to serve.
- If storing the final dish, keep sauce separate if you can until just before serving.
- The assembled salad is best after 2-3 days as the veggie will start to get soggy.
- If storing for a grab-n-go meal prep, I’d recommend rice on the bottom of the container, then the tofu, then the veggies on top to help keep them fresh. You can either store the sauce separately or drizzle it over the rice at the bottom then mix it all up when you’re ready to enjoy.
Did you try this recipe? I’d love to hear about it! Scroll down to the comment section to leave a star rating and review.
This healthy, vegan Thai-inspired chopped salad is nourishing, satisfying and delicious. Throw in some cashews for some crunch!
For the Salad
- 1 cup cooked brown rice (add up to 2 cups if desired)
- 4 cups shredded purple or green cabbage
- 2 carrots, grated (approx. 1.5 cups)
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 6 green onions, finely chopped
- 1 cup lightly packed, finely chopped cilantro
- 1/2 a cucumber, diced (approx. 1 cup)
- 1/2 a medium red onion, diced (approx. 1 cup)
For the Baked Tofu
- 1 package firm or extra firm tofu
- 2 tbsp soy sauce or gluten-free tamari
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp black pepper
For the Spicy Peanut Sauce
- 5 tbsp (75 g) natural peanut butter
- 1 tbsp (15 g) sriracha sauce
- 4 cloves garlic, grated or minced
- 2 tbsp (30 mL) soy sauce or gluten-free tamari
- 1 tbsp (15 mL) fresh lime juice
- 1 tbsp (15 mL) rice wine vinegar
- 3 tbsp water, plus more to consistency
- 1 tbsp (15 g) pure maple syrup
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Press Tofu: Use a tofu press or fold a dishcloth over the block of tofu and place something heavy on top of it for at least 15 minutes. This step is not required but it helps to press out extra water so it can absorb more flavor and produce a crispier result.
- Cook Brown Rice: If you don’t have brown rice prepared, start cooking that now as it will need about 45 minutes to cook. For quicker option, you can use white rice or quinoa.
- Preheat the oven to 400 F.
- Bake Tofu: Chop the tofu into triangles, slabs or cubes then toss with the tofu ingredients. Place on a baking tray lined with parchment paper (optional but easier clean up!) and bake for 30 minutes until starting to brown and crisp. I like to flip it after 20 minutes but its’ not totally necessary to do so. For extra crispiness, see notes on pressing the tofu first.
- Make Dressing: To make the dressing, add all the dressing ingredients to a blender or food processor, or use and immersion blender and mix until smooth and creamy. If you don’t have a blending method, sub the garlic with 2 tsp garlic powder and whisk everything together until smooth and creamy. You may need a little water to adjust the consistency of the sauce. If so, add water 1 tbsp at a time until you have a thick but pourable sauce.
- Prepare Vegetables: Chop all the veggies and either divide between 4 containers or bowls and top each with equal amounts of rice, tofu and peanut sauce or mix everything together in a large bowl and serve mixed. I like to mix the veggies in a large bowl then plate the mixed veggies individually, topping each serving with with the rice, tofu and sauce.
- Serve with right away with fresh lime and if desired, chopped cashews or peanuts.
Meal Prep and Storing: If meal prepping this recipe, I’d suggest storing the sauce separately until serving The fully assembled salad is best after 2 days as the veggie will start to get soggy.
Veggies: Don’t need to be exact amounts, use what you have and feel free to sub in any color of bell pepper, zucchini, broccoli, snap or snow peas or chopped celery.
- Serving Size: 1/6th of recipe
- Calories: 362
- Fat: 13 g
- Carbohydrates: 55 g
- Fiber: 8 g
- Protein: 13 g
Keywords: Thai chopped salad, vegan thai salad
Originally published on June 1, 2015.