Gado gado salad with kimchi peanut sauce (V, GF)

I've been sitting on this recipe for way too long. For such a stretch, any open opportunity to pull together a quick post has found me in a harried state of combined distraction and fatigue. In that kind of fog flurry, it's just so darn hard to think of something to say, much less expect fingers to translate brain reliably. But that's no excuse, because really all I wanted to say is, self, don't lose this recipe! And by 'recipe' I mean, please keep drizzling this dressing over stuff.

What's so amazing about this dressing? Peanut butter and kimchi. I can't even write that with some cartoon voice in my head sputtering, seriously? Which says a lot, considering that I am pretty hard pressed to think of a time I was dubious about peanut butter. Even on this blog, I'm pretty sure I've enthused about eating-out-of-the-jar fantasies to such nerd levels that sanity could be considered questionable. But yes, there anything that doesn't stand to improve with peanut --or, if you don't go for peanuts but do go for nuts generally, some other kind of nut--butter? Maybe a kimchi-peanut butter combo seems all too obvious to you, and therefore proof of nothing; for me, having been taken so pleasantly off guard by it, I am all the more entrenched in nut butter fandom. 

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Somehow this dish--or, whatever vegetable combo you want to toss together with this dressing--carries flavor that seems at once bold and adventurous while also being comfortably homey and satisfying. I guess that's to be expected given...well, peanut butter and kimchi. But as a solid added bonus, each bite is chock full of nutrition, including the immune boosting, sugar craving reduction and healthy bacteria promoting effects associated with fermented foods. 

Here's the secret: like the majority of my favorite recipes, you don't really need a recipe for this beyond the simple dressing. Raid your fridge for suitable mix-and-match bowl options, top with the dressing and you're good to go. I adapted the fantastic sauce from a recipe I had the pleasure of testing some time ago for Yoga Journal. I changed up the ingredients for a vegan version, and adjusted the dressing to be sugar and oil (not counting the obvious with the peanuts) free. Although I was happy to lick the food processor clean with a spatula, I was a little unsure of how it would be received...too spicy/tangy for little F, too unusual for Dave? But they both ate it up with relative gusto, and the next day D even declared leftovers his new favorite. Hope it hits some favorable notes for you, too. :)

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Vegan gado-gado salad with  kimchi peanut sauce
4 main dish servings

  • 1 12-ounce package extra firm tofu, cubed
  • 1 pound baby or small new potatoes
  • 1 cups broccoli florets
  • 1 cup shredded purple cabbage
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 4 cups baby spinach or kale
  • 3/4 cup kimchi, squeezed dry saving liquid (I use mild for 4 -year old)
  • 1 cup all natural peanut or other nut butter (no added sugar or oil)
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1/2 -3/4 cup water
  • sea salt to taste

Preheat oven to 400 F. Place tofu cubes on a baking sheet lined with silpat. Lightly coat with cooking spray and sprinkle with salt.  Bake 30 minutes, turning midway through with a spatula. Set aside.

Place potatoes in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to boiling, then reduce heat to medium high. Simmer until potatoes are cooked through, approximately 20 minutes. Drain and rinse (halve as needed depending on size).

In a pot with a steamer basket, steam broccoli until just tender, about 10 minutes.

Prepare dressing: combine kimchi, peanut butter, soy sauce, lime juice, 1/4 cup reserved kimchi liquid and 1/2 cup water and blend until smooth. Add additional water as needed.

On a platter or in individual serving bowls, arrange potatoes, tofu, and all the vegetables. Drizzle with dressing.