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This black pepper tofu quinoa salad features marinated tofu, quinoa, and crunchy veggies like carrots, cucumber, and spinach. It’s healthy and colorful, and comes with a bright, herby, and tangy pesto lime dressing!

Black Pepper Tofu Quinoa Salad in a plate.

⭐️ Why You Should Try This Recipe

  • Easy & delicious. This tofu quinoa salad is super quick to prepare and versatile. It features plenty of crispy vegetables like carrots, red onions, and cucumbers, as well as sweet and peppery tofu slices!
  • Protein-packed. With 21g of protein per serving, lots of fiber, and plenty of vegetables, this salad is healthy and hearty. Plus, it will keep you full for several hours!
  • Great for meal prep. If you are looking for a salad that keeps well for a few days in the fridge, you are going to love this one! It stays fresh for up to 3 days in the refrigerator, so you can have leftovers for your work lunch.

🥕 Ingredient Notes

This salad is simple and requires basic ingredients. Here is what you will need:

  • Tofu – Use semi-firm or firm tofu. You can easily replace the tofu with tempeh or seitan.
  • Maple syrup – To help with the caramelization of the tofu. Feel free to use agave or your favorite liquid sweetener if you don’t have maple syrup.
  • Soy sauce – For a balance of sweetness and saltiness.
  • Quinoa – I went with regular quinoa, but you can use tricolor quinoa for more color!
  • Vegetables – For the veggies, we have crunchy raw carrots, diced cucumber, red onion, and a handful of spinach. Again, you can omit or replace some of these vegetables with what you have in your fridge. Bell peppers, radishes, or corn would make great additions.
  • Sun-dried tomatoes – Optional, but highly recommended! Sun-dried tomatoes add a natural sweetness and plenty of flavor to this salad. You can use store-bought or homemade sun-dried tomatoes.
  • Baby spinach – For a vibrant green color and more nutrients. You can use kale or chopped lettuce as well.
Ingredients to make a quinoa pesto salad with baked tofu.

For the herby and tangy dressing, you will need the following:

  • Pesto – Make sure you are using vegan pesto, as regular pesto usually contains parmesan.
  • Olive oil – For richness and a fruity aroma.
  • Maple syrup and soy sauce – For sweetness and saltiness. If you don’t like the combination of sweet and salty, simply omit or reduce the amount of maple syrup.
  • Lime juice – For a citrusy and sour flavor. If you want the salad a bit more citrusy, add lime zest as well!
  • Garlic – Preferably fresh garlic.

🥣 How To Make Black Pepper Tofu

Brushing tofu with a marinade.

It starts with the tofu that is brushed with a sweet and salty glaze. To prepare the tofu:

  1. Make the glaze. In a small bowl, combine the maple syrup, soy sauce, oil, and ground black pepper.
  2. Slice the tofu and brush it. Slice the tofu into bite-sized pieces and arrange them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Using a pastry brush, generously brush the tofu with the glaze.
  3. Bake. Once the tofu is coated with the glaze, pop it in the oven for about 10 minutes or until browned on the edges.
  4. Flip and bake again. Use a fork or spatula, carefully flip each slice of tofu and brush with the remaining glaze. Bake for another 5 minutes or until golden brown.
  5. Let cool. Remove from the oven and let the tofu cool for at least 20 minutes.
Baked caramelized black pepper tofu.

🌿 How To Make Tofu and Quinoa Salad

While the tofu is baking, cook the quinoa, and prepare the vegetables and the dressing:

  1. Cook the quinoa. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the quinoa according to the package instructions. Drain and set aside.
  2. Slice/grate the vegetables. Peel and grate the carrots, dice the red onions and cucumbers, and chop the sun-dried tomatoes.
  3. Prepare the dressing. In a small bowl, combine the vegan pesto, lime juice, olive oil, maple syrup, minced garlic, and salt.
  4. Assemble. Finally, add the quinoa to a large mixing bowl. Add the vegetables, baked tofu, and dressing. Toss to coat and taste to adjust the seasonings to your liking.
Cucumber, carrots, quinoa, tofu, and pesto to make salad.

📔 Tips

  • Use leftover quinoa. Instead of cooking quinoa specifically for this salad, you can use leftover quinoa! Not only will it be already cold, but it will also save you time.
  • Add dried fruits or nuts. You can add some crunch and extra sweetness by adding nuts like walnuts, almonds, and cashews or dried fruits like raisins or chopped dates.
  • Chill in the refrigerator. I recommend refrigerating the salad for at least 2 hours. This will allow flavors to merge and the salad to cool a bit.

❄️ Freezing

You can freeze this salad for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before serving. It won’t taste as fresh, and the tofu will be a bit more spongy, but it still tastes great.

Black Pepper Tofu Quinoa Salad

If you are looking for a flavor-packed salad that is healthy, high-protein, and refreshing, you are going to love this tofu and quinoa salad!

Close up of a Black Pepper Tofu Quinoa Salad in a plate.

🥗 More Healthy Salads

Let me know in the comments if you try this recipe!

Black Pepper Tofu Quinoa Salad in a plate.
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Recipe
Black Pepper Tofu Quinoa Salad

Black Pepper Tofu Quinoa Salad

5 from 4 votes
Author: Thomas Pagot
This black pepper tofu quinoa salad features marinated tofu, quinoa, and crunchy veggies like carrots, cucumber, and spinach. It's healthy and colorful and comes with a bright, herby, and tangy pesto lime dressing!
Prep Time : 35 minutes
Cook Time : 15 minutes
Total Time : 50 minutes
Servings 3 servings (as a main)
Calories 528 kcal

Ingredients
 

Baked Tofu

  • 7 ounces firm tofu
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper

Salad

  • 1 cup quinoa uncooked
  • 1/2 cup cucumber chopped
  • 1 carrot shredded
  • 1/2 red onion finely diced
  • 3-4 sun-dried tomatoes diced
  • 1 cup baby spinach

Pesto Dressing

Instructions
 

Baked Tofu

  • Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Cut the tofu into rectangles of about 2×1-inch and 1/2-inch thickness. Alternatively, you can simply cut it into bite-size cubes. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and arrange into an even layer, making sure the tofu slices don't overlap each other.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the maple syrup, soy sauce, oil, and black pepper. Generously brush the tofu slices with half of the sauce. Bake for 10 minutes.
  • Using a fork, flip each tofu slice and brush with the remaining sauce. Bake for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let it cool.

Salad

  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add the quinoa, and cook until tender, according to the package instructions. If you have already cooked quinoa, use about 3 cups.
  • Prepare the dressing: in a small bowl, mix the vegan pesto, olive oil, lime juice, maple syrup, garlic, and salt.
  • To a large mixing bowl, add the cooked quinoa, chopped cucumber, shredded carrots, red onion, sun-dried tomatoes, baby spinach, and baked tofu. Pour in the dressing and stir well to coat everything. Serve at room temperature, or let it chill for about 2 hours in the refrigerator.
  • This quinoa salad will keep for up to 3 days in the refrigerator.

Notes

  • Use leftover quinoa. Instead of cooking quinoa specifically for this salad, you can use leftover quinoa! Not only will it be already cold, but it will also save you time.
  • Add dried fruits or nuts. You can add some crunch and extra sweetness by adding nuts like walnuts, almonds, and cashews or dried fruits like raisins or chopped dates.
  • Chill in the refrigerator. I recommend refrigerating the salad for at least 2 hours. This will allow flavors to merge and the salad to cool a bit.
  • This recipe serves 3 as a main meal or 4-5 as an appetizer.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 serving | Calories: 528 kcal | Carbohydrates: 56.3 g | Protein: 21 g | Fat: 24.7 g | Fiber: 6 g | Sugar: 12.3 g
Course : Main Course, Salad
Cuisine : Mediterranean
Did you make this recipe? Tag @fullofplants on Instagram and hashtag it #fullofplants
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About the Author

Thomas Pagot is the founder, photographer, and recipe developer behind Full of Plants. He created the blog in 2016 as a personal cookbook for vegan recipes. Through years of recipe development, Thomas has successfully grown Full of Plants into a trusted resource for plant-based recipes.

Learn more ➜

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5 stars
Tested ! Delicious !!! Thank you !

5 stars
Just delicious ! Thank you for your recipes & your beautiful photos !

5 stars
Wonderful recipe…I absolutely love the tofu and dressing – yum! Somehow I ended up with more quinoa than pictured (but it wasn’t a problem). Thank you, Thomas!

5 stars
Just maked for my family. We love it. Thanks!