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Hugh Acheson's Spinach, Benne, Roasted Tofu, Fuji Apple, and Avocado Salad with Miso Vinaigrette Recipe

We hope that this recipe by Chef Hugh Acheson inspires those deciding what to place on their menu.

Salad with Spinach, Benne, Roasted Tofu, Fuji Apple, Avocado, Miso Vinaigrette

  • Difficulty level: Easy
  • Preparation time: 25 minutes
  • Servings: 4


This salad takes spring seriously with the first asparagus, spinach, and California avocados of the season. Fuji apples are a wonderfully crisp, late-season apple and are commonly available in March or April. Benne, or sesame, has a deep tradition in the South, mostly in the Lowcountry of Georgia and South Carolina, and it’s a flavor I love with spinach and miso. When you use sesame oil, make sure it’s a really good and fresh batch. Mine was pressed at Underbelly restaurant in Houston, a city that I find is taking its food very seriously these days, with delicious results.  

Miso Vinaigrette

  • 1 teaspoon blonde miso
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese mustard
  • 3 tablespoons grapeseed oil
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • Pinch of salt


Combine all the ingredients in a jar, seal tightly, and shake really well to combine all the flavors thoroughly.

Roasted Tofu

  • ½ pound extra firm tofu
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
  • 1 tablespoon tamari 


Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Drain the tofu, pat it dry, and cut it into rectangles (1" wide, 2" long, ½" thick). Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit a sheet pan. Drizzle half of the oil onto the parchment and then arrange the tofu on the parchment. Brush the tofu with the remaining oil and season the pieces evenly with the salt. Place the sheet pan in the oven to roast the tofu for 20 minutes. When you remove the tofu, brush it with the tamari and set it aside until you are ready to plate the salad.

Spinach, Benne, Roasted Tofu, Fuji Apple, Avocado Salad with Miso Vinaigrette

  • ½ pound pencil-thin, spring asparagus, cut to 5-inch spears, bottoms discarded
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • ½ pound of spinach leaves
  • 1 Fuji apple, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1 ripe avocado, peeled, seeded, and sliced
  • 1 teaspoon toasted benne (sesame) seed
  • Roasted tofu (see above)
  • Miso vinaigrette (see above)


Heat a large cast-iron pan over medium-high heat to cook the asparagus in the Spanish “plancha” style. Add the olive oil and then the uncooked asparagus. Let the asparagus cook for about three minutes a side, seasoning with the sea salt halfway through. The asparagus should be just tender. Remove the asparagus from the pan and place in a large bowl with the spinach, apple, roasted tofu, avocado, and benne seed. Add two tablespoons of the vinaigrette, toss well, and arrange on plates. Circle each plate with a little more vinaigrette. 

June 2013

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About Chef Hugh Acheson

Hugh Acheson Headshot

Chef Hugh Acheson has earned more accolades than we can easily print in this space. To give you a sense of his accomplishments, we list the following:

  • He is the author of the James Beard Award–winning cookbook A NEW TURN IN THE SOUTH: Southern Flavors Reinvented for Your Kitchen.
  • He is a five-time James Beard nominee (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011) and 2012 winner for Best Chef Southeast.
  • He is the chef/partner of the critically acclaimed restaurants Five & Ten and The National (both in Athens, Georgia), and Empire State South (Atlanta, Georgia).
  • Food & Wine Magazine named him Best Chef in 2002.
  • He competed in Bravo's Top Chef Masters, Season 3, and starred as a judge on Top Chef, Seasons 9 and 10.