Mandala Salad with Miso Dressing


Mandala-Salad with Miso Dressing II

Vegan or Vegetarian, can be Gluten Free

Yep, it’s January all right!  Time to get out the shredders, graters and the new spiralizer you got for Christmas and load up on all sorts of veggies.  My December consisted of eating sugar and carbs with complete abandon.  We took a lovely Caribbean vacation, which was absolutely perfect (85 degrees and sunshine the whole week) and contained Mojitos a plenty.  By New Year’s Eve, after dinner with friends at Ebb & Flow (very good, but in my opinion, Emilitsa’s is still the reigning Mediterranean restaurant in Portland, Maine), I felt like a polar bear waddling through the Old Port making our way back to the car.  OK, so part of it was the coat, but still….

January 1st I entered the detox zone and after a week (of which the first few days I was positively exhausted and grouchy), I am down 3.5 pounds.  I refer to this as the honeymoon period – those first few pounds – Yay, I’m losing weight! This is so easy!  I feel so good!  The real key is to keep it up over an extended period of time.  WISH ME LUCK.

It’s at this time of year that I pull out my trusty recipe for mandala salad with miso dressing.  It’s raw, vegan, full of heart healthy fiber, anti-oxidants, living enzymes, probiotics and can be gluten-free.  I’m so exhausted from writing that sentence I need a cupcake.

Mandala Salad with Miso Dressing II

I feel so virtuous eating it and can hashtag my virtuousness on Instagram.  I do have to eat a good bowlful of it so I’m not daydreaming about any one of Portland’s great bakeries by mid-afternoon.

This is an easy way to fairly effortlessly increase your veggie intake. It’s all about shredding ahead of time. PLANNING.  I find salad eating occurs best when I am prepared, which means doing the work far ahead of hunger pangs. Like a day ahead.  Otherwise, I can easily be persuaded to just eat carbs. It’s best if you have a Cuisinart or similar food processor to get the job done in a jiffy by using the shredding disc.  The salad can contain as many shredded veggies as you like, but I find three is enough – and my favorite three are daikon radish, carrots and red beets.  First of all, they look smashing together.  When it’s subzero and grey outside, it’s a nice pop of color on your plate.

Mandala-Salad with Miso Dressing II

I always start by shredding the lightest colored vegetable first and move towards the beets which stain everything, so always do them last.  Just shred, wipe out the bowl, rinse the blade quickly and shred the next thing.  Store the veggies in separate containers for up to three days.  Shred enough so you can just grab handfuls and make a very fast salad on the go, when you need it.  To add some protein,  I add 3 ounces of cubed Wildwood baked tofu, made with sprouted non-GMO soybeans.  It’s pretty tasty, but not gluten free, so leave it out if that’s a concern.

There’s a story with the dressing.

Back in the late 80’s, we used to go visit my sister in law who lived at the time in Miami (a very convenient winter destination for New Englanders I might add).  We were all particularly fond of this one natural food grocery store/restaurant in North Miami Beach known as The Unicorn.  When you ordered the salad, you had your choice of shredded veggies and cheeses and this amazingly tangy and yummy miso dressing.  They may have had other dressings, I don’t remember, I was just so high beam focused on the miso dressing.   I so badly wanted the recipe, but they wouldn’t part with it.  Then they were bought out by a larger natural foods brand and shortly after, the Miami Herald published their famous miso dressing.  Apparently, I was not the only one requesting it.

To keep the dressing gluten free, be sure to read the miso label first.  Typically, miso made from brown rice or chickpeas is gluten-free.  I love the brand, South River, from Conway, Massachusetts.  Their sweet white miso is also gluten free, and white, or mellow miso is my first choice for this dressing.  Additionally, most tamari and soy sauce usually contain wheat, but I find that Bragg’s Liquid Aminos works just fine as a soy sauce substitution.  If maintaining a gluten free dressing doesn’t matter to you, use whatever soy sauce you happen to have on hand.  My preference is nama shoyu (unpasteurized soy sauce) which also contains probiotics and living enzymes.

The dressing is not particularly photogenic.  However, (there’s always a however involved when a food is not cute) it contains more nutrients than the bottled stuff due to the miso’s beneficial probiotics and enzymes which “unlock the nutrition and full flavor of all foods.” (right off the South River label).

Mandala Salad with Miso Dressing II

And I love the Weck bottle, don’t you?  The top stays on great, looks good on the table, and I just shake the dressing before I want slather my salad with it.

Are you detoxing/cleaning up your diet this January?   Tell me about it in the comments!



Mandala Salad with Miso Dressing
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Shredding veggies ahead of time makes it easy to put a salad together when you need it. Miso dressing is full of good for you probiotics and enzymes.
Recipe type: Salad
Serves: 4 servings
  • 2 large cloves garlic, peeled
  • ¼ cup chopped onion
  • ⅓ cup packed miso (sweet white, chickpea or brown rice)
  • ¾ cup silken tofu
  • 4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons water or vegetable stock
  • 2 tablespoons tamari, Nama® shoyu or Bragg’s Aminos
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh dill
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 10 ounces baby romaine leaves, or 1 large head of red leaf lettuce, torn into bite size pieces
  • 2 – 6 ounce packages savory baked tofu, cubed
  • 2 cups shredded daikon radish
  • 2 cups shredded carrots
  • 2 cups shredded red beets
  • Garnish: chopped fresh dill, about 4 tablespoons
  1. Drop garlic cloves in a food processor and process until minced.
  2. Add onion, miso, tofu, water or stock, vinegar, and tamari or Bragg’s Aminos to the processor and process for one minute.
  3. With food processor on, add vegetable oil through feed tube in a slow steady stream until emulsified and dressing is thickened. Add dill and black pepper and pulse until combined.
  4. Chill completely before serving. Refrigerate in an airtight container up to 5 days.
  1. Divide salad greens among 4 plates. Mound cubed tofu in center of each plate. Place a mound (about ½ cup) of each shredded veggie in a circle around tofu. Scatter chopped dill over.
  2. Pass the dressing separately and serve.
Veggies can be shredded and store separately in an airtight container until ready to use, up to three days.


Published on January 13, 2015
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.


  1. I am super excited about this dressing! I enjoy miso, but my husband LOVES it. Thanks for sharing!

    • It’s very good and the taste will vary depending on the type of miso used — the most mellow will be white or mellow white (and that honestly is my fave, but I will use whatever I have in the fridge!). Thanks for stopping by!

  2. I rarely use my spiralizer. I really need to change that. I love the tip about starting with the light colored vegetables first! I will need to remember that.

  3. Oh this looks so great. I love miso dressings and the fresh vegetables you added to this salad will pair perfectly with the dressing. Pinned to try.

  4. What a light refreshing salad! I love miso dressing but I’ve never made it myself before, must change that!

  5. What an interesting dressing. Looking forward to trying it.

  6. I haven’t tried adding tofu in dressing, excited to try it! This dish looks so amazing and vibrant, love it :)

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