There’s this pizza place that we love in Malibu called Spruzzo’s. It’s a no-frills strip mall spot across from Zuma Beach—it has zero hipness, but the pizza’s good and they deliver. When we make the trip out there, it’s become a tradition to drop our bags at the house, place our Spruzzo’s order, and head to the beach. We all agree that the unsung hero on their menu is a shredded kale salad with cranberries, loads of crunchy peanuts, all the herbs (a cilantro, mint, scallion trio), and a peanut-y dressing to tie it all together. We devour it by the bowlful. And since it checks all my boxes for a perfect plant-based dinner (nutrition and flavor-packed and totally filling), I decided to create my own version of that famous kale salad with cranberries for this month’s Plant-Based RE:SET.

Speaking of, have you signed up to get it yet? Our 5-day plant-based meal plan is coming to your inbox on January 21st, and I’ve got to say, it’s our best meal plan ever. Packed with all the recipes for my current favorite breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, this is a week’s worth of meals that’ll leave you feeling lighter, brighter, and energized. Sign up here! But I digress… kale salad! I decided that this one needed some crispy tofu on top to fully make it a meal and add some extra protein. I whipped up a dressing that is probably a bit healthier than the original, but just as addictive. Here’s what you need to know to make this shredded kale salad packed with cranberries, peanuts, herbs, and sooo many good things. Let’s dive in.

How to make the best kale salad

The first step in any kale salad endeavor is the massage. This breaks down the leaves, makes the kale tender and delicious, and easier for the body to digest. But how do you massage kale, you may ask? Here’s how I do it:

  • Strip the kale leaves off the tough ribs, then stack up those leaves and slice them into ribbons.
  • Put them in a big salad bowl and drizzle with some extra-virgin olive oil. Use both hands to vigorously massage the kale for about a minute until it shrinks in size and becomes silky sweet and bright green. Now you’re ready for all those delicious toppings.

How to make tofu taste good

Next up, we transform another divisive ingredient (tofu) into something that even my dad would eat like potato chips. The key is getting all the water out of the tofu, and then flash searing it in a super hot pan for maximum crisp. So the first step is to press your tofu. Since tofu is like a sponge, you want to get the water out to let the flavor come in. Here’s how to press tofu:

  • Remove your tofu from the packaging, pat dry with paper towels, then slice into 1-inch portions. Lay them out on a paper-towel lined plate or baking sheet, then top them with two more layers of paper towels.
  • Place your heaviest pan on top of it to weight it down as much as possible. Cast-iron is great here. Alternately, you can top it with a place and a couple heavy cans to weight it down. Let it sit for at least 30 minutes.
  • When you remove your tofu, it’s dry and ready for searing. At this point, I like to cut the tofu into cubes for more of a “crouton” like shape.

To cook, I heat up the oil in my sauté pan, dust the tofu in a little oil, tamari, and cornstarch (which keeps it crispy), and pan-fry on high heat. At the end of the cooking time, I toss the tofu in my glaze (just a little dressing thinned with water) so it gets nicely coated in loads of flavor.

What goes in this kale salad?

Massaged kale is delicious, yes, but it’s even more delicious with something sweet, something crunchy, and lots of herbs. And this salad has you covered. Before adding dried fruit to a salad, I always let it soak in hot water for about 15 minutes. This rehydrates our cranberries and makes them super plump and juicy before adding to the salad.

Then there are our peanuts. I like to use dry-roasted salted peanuts here because, let’s be honest, they taste way better. I have no room in my life for unsalted peanuts. I give them a rough chop and add lots to our salad. Peanuts are a great source of plant-based protein, and the flavor and texture they give to this salad are some of the things that make it so satisfying (and won’t leave you searching for ice cream right after dinner.) So don’t skimp on the peanuts. Cucumber, green onions, and a handful of fresh chopped herbs add brightness and freshness. I like to use a mix of herbs here—mint, cilantro, and basil—but feel free to use just one of those depending on what you’ve got on hand.

For this shredded kale salad with cranberries, I created a citrus-ginger dressing that has that sweetness I crave on kale salads, with an inviting kick of spicy ginger and zesty orange. It’s addictive and a total crowd-pleaser—double the batch and keep it in a mason jar in the fridge for up to two weeks.

How to store your leftover kale salad with cranberries, peanuts, and tofu

That is, if there are any leftovers, which is doubtful. But if you have them, great news! Kale is one of the only salad greens that are just as delicious the next day, even if it’s been doused in dressing. Just pack it up in a sealed container in the fridge, and the next day it’ll be even glossier and more flavorful. I personally like to double this recipe so I’m guaranteed plenty for lunch the next day.

More delicious ways to eat kale

My Holiday Jewels Chopped Kale Salad with Mustard Shallot Vinaigrette is the other kale salad recipe that I make over and over…

And then there’s the Clarksville Crunch Kale Salad from Swedish Hill that is the best kale salad in Austin. I love it so much, that they gave us the chef’s recipe!

And I could never leave out Sheela Prakash’s insanely delicious Warm Roasted Delicata Squash and Kale Salad from her cookbook. It’s truly divine.

If you try this recipe, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag your own photo of your salad with @camillestyles on Instagram. Enjoy!

Shredded Kale & Cranberry Salad with Crispy Tofu

Serves 2 main courses

A shredded kale salad with cranberries, peanuts, and tofu is the protein-packed vegetarian dinner I crave.

By Camille Styles
Prep

30 minutes

Cook

5 minutes

Categories

dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian


Ingredients

  • 1 block extra-firm tofu
  • 1 head curly kale
  • 1 cup mixed fresh herbs, chopped (I like to use mint, basil, and cilantro)
  • 5 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 seedless cucumber, sliced
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • ½ cup chopped peanuts
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce or tamari
  • 2 teaspoons corn starch
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

for the citrus-ginger dressing:

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • Juice and zest of an orange
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • Pinch of salt

Instructions

  1. Make the dressing: combine all ingredients in a blender and blend on medium until combined. Store in a mason jar for up to a week.
  2. Press the tofu: Remove your tofu from the packaging, pat dry with paper towels, then slice into 1-inch portions. Lay them out on a paper-towel lined plate or baking sheet, then top them with two more layers of paper towels.
  3. Place your heaviest pan on top of it to weight it down as much as possible. Cast-iron is great here. Alternately, you can top it with a place and a couple heavy cans to weight it down. Let it sit for at least 30 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, prep the kale: Strip the kale leaves off the tough ribs, then stack up those leaves and slice them into ribbons.
  5. Put the kale in a big salad bowl and drizzle with a teaspoon of extra-virgin olive oil. Use both hands to vigorously massage the kale for about a minute until it shrinks in size and becomes silky sweet and bright green.
  6. Add 1 cup of hot water to a bowl, then add your cranberries. Let them sit for at least 15 minutes to get plump and juicy.
  7. Cook your tofu: After being pressed for 30 minutes, it's dry and ready for searing. At this point, I like to cut the tofu into cubes for more of a "crouton" like shape.
  8. Heat up 1 tablespoon oil in a skillet. Place tofu in a bowl and toss with 1 teaspoon oil, tamari, and cornstarch. Add to the pan and let it sear on one side until golden. Carefully release the tofu from the pan, then cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and crispy on all sides. Drizzle a little dressing over the tofu in the pan, stir to coat, then remove the pan from the heat.
  9. Assemble the salad: To the kale, add herbs, green onions, cucumber, cranberries, peanuts, and tofu. Drizzle liberally with dressing, add kosher salt and pepper to taste, then toss it all together until everything is coated with dressing. Eat!

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Comments (3)
  1. 1
    Mrs. Ainee C. Beland January 7, 2022 at 11:32 am

    Hello, Happy New Year; I have been buying more Kale and broccoli since I am getting too fat; I need to tone my eating lots and lots; I will try this recipe for sure. Thank for sharing of it.

    Reply
  2. 2
    Aly January 8, 2022 at 3:52 pm

    Allergic to peanuts. What substitution do you recommend? Thank you!

    Reply
    • Camille Styles January 12, 2022 at 9:04 am

      Any nut would be great – almonds would probably be my top pick! Or if you’re allergic to other nuts but can tolerate seeds, I’d add sesame or pumpkin seeds.

      Reply

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