Raw Vegetable Salad with Tofu and Peanut Sauce

Imagine my poor gentleman’s dismay when he discovered that not only was it Monday (Meatless!), but that he was being served a completely RAW dinner?! The horror! Now, before I get to the recipe, I need to give credit to the inspiration. You will note this is described as “No Noodle Pad Thai.” Here’s why mine is called what it’s called: 1) I do have a spiralizer, but I clearly need a julienne peeler if I’m going to “noodle” any vegetable other than zucchini, so I really didn’t end up with much in the way of non-noodle-noodles; 2) while there was a lot that tied this recipe to a pad thai-like dish, to me, there were also some really delicious distinctions, so in conjunction with my minor modifications to the original ingredients, this really seemed more like a salad or slaw to me. Also worth noting, this was my first experience with handling daikon radish – mmm… I’m both impressed that I found it at my regular grocery store, and excited that it’s so simple to work with. New obsession!

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This dish is perfect for a hot summer night when you don’t want to cook and you want only cold, light, and fresh food. It would work great for a potluck bbq or that type of meal – you’ll impress for sure. And by the way, you could easily un-Meatless this one, and add lightly sauteed thin-cut chicken strips or shrimp. Yummo. And now that we’ve gotten all that out of the way, here you go.

WHAT YOU NEED
* 3/4 lb daikon radish
* 4 medium carrots
* ~3 average-sized zucchinis
* ~8oz bean sprouts (my store was out of fresh (?!), so I used canned, which was fine, and can be found in the Asian section of your regular grocery)
* 4 green onions, sliced thin (both white and green parts)
* ~14oz extra firm tofu, drained and cubed
* small bunch of fresh cilantro, chopped
* 2T sesame seeds (plus extra for garnish)
* lime wedges

for the peanut sauce
* 1/2C peanut butter (or your preferred nut butter)
* 1/4 fresh squeezed lime juice (approximately 3 ripe, juicy limes)
* 2T low sodium soy sauce
* 2T honey
* 2t ginger paste (can be found in the produce section of most grocery stores; can also use fresh grated ginger)
* optional: pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
* 3T water

WHAT TO DO
Peel your daikon radish and carrots, and then spiralize/julienne/painfully slowly-yet-meticulously slice your daikon, carrots, and zucchini to super thin strips (or zoodles, as it were). The author of my inspiration recipe had all the right tools on hand, and therefore prepped all of her veggies in no time at all. I spiralized my zucchini in a reasonable amount of time, and then spent about a half hour manually and desperately slowly sliced each carrot and a large daikon radish into strips. Either method is fine, depending on how much time and patience and sanity you have on hand.

Place the vegetables in a large serving bowl, and then add your bean sprouts, green onions, cilantro, and sesame seeds to them. Mix through a bit to combine so you don’t have a big pile of layered veggie strips. Finally, add the cubed tofu to the bowl as well.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the sauce ingredients, adding the water last, tablespoon by tablespoon, until the consistency is thick but viscous. You want the peanut butter fully incorporated so that your sauce is smooth enough to drizzle. Adjust the seasonings to your taste (I added a bit more honey to tone down the soy sauce in mine).

Serve up a big bowl-ful of the salad, and then top with a generous scoop of sauce, and mix gently to combine (don’t break up your tofu – mix carefully!). This stores really well, so unless you think the whole recipe will be eaten at once, keep the salad undressed and simply portion it up serving by serving. Top each serving with a sprinkle of sesame seeds (or crumbled peanuts!), a little bit more chopped cilantro, and a wedge of fresh, juicy lime. Fresh, bright, light, and TASTY. My tiny sous chef loved it, too (bonus), and basically ate the sauce with a spoon… or her finger. That’s right, this is a finger-lickin’ good dish!

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