This Thai green papaya salad is made with tofu and bursts with flavor. It's a light, refreshing one-bowl meal ready in 20 minutes!
Healthy Ingredients In Papaya Salad
You don't have to sacrifice flavor to nourish your body. This salad is bursting with multiple layers of flavor. Just look at all the healthy ingredients that are in it.
- Green Papaya: This is high in vitamin C and some studies suggest it has anti-inflammatory properties. Read more about green papaya below!
- Carrots: This crunchy veggie is high in vitamin A and a good source of beta-carotene.
- Cucumbers: They are a low-calorie vegetable that promotes hydration and is known to lower blood sugar.
- Grape Tomatoes: Tomatoes support heart health and are known for being a good source of potassium.
- Peanuts: They are a fantastic source of healthy fats, vitamin B-3, and a good source of protein too.
- Cilantro: This is optional, but if you use it, it's known for having antioxidants and helps with digestion.
- Tofu: In addition to being a good source of protein, tofu also has all 9 essential amino acids.
How to Flavor the Tofu
Tofu is a great addition to any vegetarian or vegan meal. It's high in calcium, iron, magnesium and can be used to add extra protein and flavor to delicious dishes like this papaya salad! However, it can be a little bit tricky to use if you don't know how to prepare it.
Don't make the mistake of simply dumping a package of tofu into your salad. It must be cooked and seasoned first. Seasoning it not only adds flavor, but it also helps to draw out the water content. For this recipe, you'll use the extra-firm variety with high protein.
To prepare it, remove the tofu from its package and rinse it under cold water. Then place a paper towel on your counter, lay out the squares of tofu, and cover with another paper towel to drain. Press out the extra moisture using your hands. You may need to repeat this a few times.
To season the tofu, combine the diced tofu and soy sauce together in a large bowl. Next, add the seasoning. We recommend garlic, onion, and ginger powder for this recipe. Toss it all together and make sure it's fully coated.
Heat a pan, then reduce the heat to medium. Next, add the tofu to the skillet and cook for about a minute. Give the pan a shake and continue cooking for 3-4 minutes. You want all the sides of the tofu to be golden.
All About Green Papaya
Green papaya is undoubtedly the star of this papaya salad! If you haven't used a green papaya before, here are some important things for you to know about working with this fruit.
Green Papaya vs Papaya
For those of you used to seeing papaya with orange flesh, opening up a green one may be a bit of a shock. The green papaya is simply a typical orange papaya picked earlier in the growing process.
While orange papaya is more sweet and a bit creamy, green papaya is crisp, crunchy, and less flavorful. It's got a fantastic crunch and its frequently compared to cucumber or jicama.
You can find green papaya at asian supermarkets. Look for one that is firm with a vibrant green color that isn't yellowing.
Is a Green Papaya Just an Unripe Papaya?
In a word, yes! A green papaya, when left to fully mature will become the standard orange variation you may be used to seeing more often. However, each has its own flavor profile and uses, so we like to give green papaya a bit more credit than just an "unripe papaya".
How to Cut a Green Papaya:
- Cut the green papaya in half lengthwise
- Remove and discard the seeds
- Peel it using a vegetable peeler
- Shred it using a food processor or by hand using a box grater (using a food processor will make your job much easier!)
How To Store the Papaya Salad
You may make a big batch of papaya salad, but only add the tomatoes, cucumbers, and peanut dressing to the amount you are planning to eat in one sitting. You can make extra dressing to enjoy with other salads or roasted vegetables. Store all the ingredients separately from the dressing. The dressing will last in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
If you store the salad with the dressing on it, eat within 2 days. The ingredients will soak up the liquid from it and the salad won't be as crunchy.
Other Vegan Thai Food Recipes
Thai green papaya salad with tofu. A light, refreshing one bowl meal ready in 20 minutes!
- 1 tablespoon neutral flavor oil (such as avocado, grapeseed or sunflower)
- 16 oz extra firm high protein tofu, diced small
- 2 tsp soy sauce
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp onion powder
- ½ tsp ginger powder
- 1lb green papaya, shredded ( about 4 cups) see note on how to cut green papaya)
- 2 cups shredded carrots
- 1 cup diced cucumbers
- ½ pint grape tomatoes, sliced in half
- ¼ cup shelled peanuts
- 1 bunch cilantro leaves (optional)
- Peanut Sauce, homemade (click HERE for the recipe) or store bought
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over high heat
- Combine the diced tofu and soy sauce in a large bowl and toss well. Add garlic, onion and ginger powders and toss again to coat
- Reduce the heat to medium, add the tofu to the skillet and cook for 1 minute. Toss well and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes, or until all sides are golden
- To assemble the salad, combine the cooked tofu with the shredded green papaya, carrots, cucumbers and tomatoes. Add the peanut sauce and toss well
- Top with peanuts and cilantro leaves before serving
How to cut a shred a green papaya: cut the papaya in half length wise. Remove and discard the seeds. Peel it using a vegetable peeler. Shred it using a food processor or by hand using a box grater (using a food processor will make your job much easier!)
- Prep Time: 15 mins
- Cook Time: 5 mins
- Category: Entree
- Method: Raw
- Cuisine: Thai Vegan
- Serving Size: ⅙ dish
- Calories: 206
- Sugar: 15
- Sodium: 96
- Fat: 9
- Saturated Fat: 1.3
- Unsaturated Fat: 7
- Trans Fat: 0
- Carbohydrates: 25
- Fiber: 4
- Protein: 10
- Cholesterol: 0
Keywords: thai, papaya, green papaya, Salad, gluten free
Inspiration For This Papaya Salad
We were inspired to create this nourishing salad after our mom's had a heart attack a few years ago. Thankfully, she was treated right away and was able to recover with minimal damage and no further complications.
However, as you can imagine it left us all shaken. It was a wake-up call and I was determined to take better care of my family's health. This salad is a healthy compete meal in one delicious bowl. I hope you find it as nourishing and healing as I do!
This recipe was originally published on June 7, 2017 - The recipe has remained the same and we've added more information about green papaya.