Asian inspired sesame salad

The new year is often the time that we make resolutions for the year ahead: from stopping bad habits to picking up positive ones, we tell ourselves that from this point we will really will stick from the plan and do whatever we wished we’d done last year.  However, a cold and dull January is one of the hardest times to make big changes.  Back to work after the excitement of the holiday season, and with Summer still a long way away, you need all the comfort you can get.  However, positive changes don’t always have to be difficult.  For example, I think that eating healthily should never taste bad or take up all of your time.  There is so much delicious nutritious food out there that there is likely to be something that you enjoy.  By choosing options that are quick to prepare it should also leave you the time and energy to do the other things you wanted to this year. This speedy salad is a fresh, light and tasty pick-me-up after rich festive food, and a reminder that Spring is on its way.

Asian inspired sesame salad

Cooking time: 10 minutes preparationn, 30 minutes cooking (for the tofu), 10 minutes cooking and assembly on the night 

Dietary info: vegan, gluten-free

Serves: 2 

  • 1 cucumber, spiralised or grated
  • 1 medium carrot, grated
  • 300g beansprouts
  • 1 block firm tofu (about 300-400g)
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds (optional)

Sesame dressing

  • 2 tbsp tahini (sesame paste)
  • 2 tbsp warm water
  • 3 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1.5tbsp rice wine vinegar
  1. Drain the tofu and wrap in kitchen towel to get out some of the excess moisture, then cut into cubes (about 1cm).
  2. Put the tofu in an oven proof dish, drizzle with the tbsp of soy sauce and bake for 20-30 minutes, stirring about half way through, until it is starting to go a bit brown and crispy along the edges of the cubes.
  3. Mix the tahini with the warm water until you have a smooth paste then stir in the rest of the dressing ingredients (soy sauce and vinegar).
  4. Steam the beansprouts for 3-6 minutes until tender but still retaining a little crunch.
  5. Mix the beansprouts with the cucumber and carrot, drizzle with the sesame dressing, scatter with sesame seeds and top with the tofu.

A few tips to prep ahead:

  • Make the sesame dressing and keep for up to a week in a sealed container in the fridge.
  • Cook the tofu and keep in a container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
  • Spiralise or grate the cucumber and grate the carrot the day before and keep in a bag or container in the fridge.
  • All you need to do on the night is steam the beansprouts (these can even be done ahead if you like them cold) and mix everything together.

Some tasty little twists…

  • For a spicier version add 1-2 tsp chilli flakes or 1 tsp chilli powder to the sesame sauce.
  • For toasted sesame seeds put the sesame seeds in a non-stick frying pan and cook, stirring for 2-4 minutes until the seeds start to brown.
  • Vary the vegetables in the salad e.g. add quartered cherry tomatoes, steamed mushrooms, sweetcorn or steamed Asian greens.
  • Make the salad more substantial by stirring in cooked noodles or serving with sticky rice.
  • Try replacing the soy tofu with different protein options such as flavoured tofu, tempeh or beans (e.g. cannellini, aduki, butterbeans), or if you want a non-vegan version you can use omlette, chicken or salmon.
  • Use the sesame dressing as a dip for sticks of carrot, celery and cucumber as an appetiser.
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