August 13, 2014
Copycat CPK: Chopped BBQ Tofu Salad

Chopped BBQ tofu salad! With hunks of saucy baked tofu, crisp veggies and a homemade dairy-free BBQ ranch dressing!

CPK Vegan Copycat! Chopped BBQ tofu salad with homemade bbq-ranch dressing! Taste just like the CPK version only much healthier!

I think I’ve been to a California Pizza Kitchen like six times in my life.

While my hometown had its share of fast-food and restaurant chains, getting a California Pizza Kitchen my senior year of high school was a really big deal. California! In Virginia! This was before avocado was trendy and way before I started eating my body weight in tofu.

So, CPK. In Virginia. Which happened to be situated smack-dab in the middle of a brand new fancy mall. Food and fashion, it was like all my 18-year old dreams coming true at once.

CPK Vegan Copycat! Chopped BBQ tofu salad with homemade bbq-ranch dressing! Taste just like the CPK version only much healthier!

As a family of four women, that mall became our favorite thing to do on the weekends. Window shop til we dropped, bonding over our newfound love for H&M, and ‘can we please buy everything in the store?!’ at Crate and Barrel. (Of course now I ask BL the same thing)

While we had a lot of new restaurants to choose from, I fondly remember begging to eat at CPK. Sigh, even then I was an East Coast kid trying to be a West Coast one, $12 personal pizzas be damned.

CPK was where I first fell in love with the chopped BBQ chicken salad and while I’ve only enjoyed it a few times, the unexpected pairing of bbq chicken, avocado, and tangy ranch dressing was a heavenly-sensory overload for my southern-born high school palate.

Over the years I’ve tweaked and mastered my own version, subbing chewy bbq tofu in place of the chicken and lightening up the dressing. Gone are any crunchy add ins, subbing in more nutrient-rich vegetables and high-protein black beans.

CPK Vegan Copycat! Chopped BBQ tofu salad with homemade bbq-ranch dressing! Taste just like the CPK version only much healthier!

If the concept of bbq tofu bothers you… lemme explain. Tofu is one of those things that if done right, is phenomenal. If done wrong, well… I’d still eat it but I’m not gonna write a blog post about it. Since I’d like to think of myself as a tofu connoisseur, please enjoy my tried and true tips for mastering baked tofu.

1. Start with extra-firm tofu. The package should look like this. You are welcome to try it with firm tofu, but I prefer the extra-firm kind for baking. I know that some brands are coming out with high-protein tofu (Trader Joe’s sells one), but I’m not a fan, especially for baked tofu.

2. Press it. You need to get the water out of the tofu so it can absorb the marinade- in this case BBQ sauce. If you are pressing tofu often, I think it’s worth it to purchase a handy-dandy tofu press to make life easier.  You can always do the paper towel and cast-iron pan method: wrap tofu in paper towels and set a heavy item on top. I like to place a few canned goods on top of the cast iron pan for balance.

3. Marinade! Now that your tofu is pressed, it’s ready to soak up all the juices! We’ll be using a BBQ sauce for this one. I usually press my tofu first thing and marinade it while I am prepping the rest of the ingredients or cleaning the house. Um, or facebooking. By the time I’m ready to eat- the tofu is ready to go! I hope that doesn’t seem like too many steps.  I don’t think it takes any longer than other forms of protein!

4. Bake it! Remove the tofu, place on a baking sheet and cook for 25-30 minutes, flipping once.

CPK Vegan Copycat! Chopped BBQ tofu salad with homemade bbq-ranch dressing! Taste just like the CPK version only much healthier!

You are going to love this salad! It’s

Colorful!4 servings of vegetables in every bowl!
Crunchy
Saucy
Tangy
Gluten-Free
Vegan

Plus this beauty contains 20g of protein per serving. Because, plants have protein! Beans + Tofu = quite the satiating lunch!

If you try this recipe, let me know! Leave a comment, rate it, and tag your Instagram photos with #delishknowledge . I absolutely love seeing your creations. Happy cooking! 

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CPK Vegan Copycat! Chopped BBQ tofu salad with homemade bbq-ranch dressing! Taste just like the CPK version only much healthier!

Copycat CPK: BBQ Tofu Chopped Salad

  • Author: Alex
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: Main, Salad
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Copycat California Pizza Kitchen Salad- made vegan! The Chopped BBQ Tofu Salad with homemade ranch-bbq dressing.


  • Author: Alex
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: Main, Salad
  • Cuisine: American
  • Author: Alex
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: Main, Salad
  • Cuisine: American
Scale

Ingredients

  • 8 cups chopped lettuce- I used butter lettuce here but any lettuce combo will work.
  • 4 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 avocados, chopped
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup corn
  • 2 cups shredded carrots
  • 1 16 oz. package tofu, drained and pressed as described above
  • 1 cup BBQ sauce, DIVIDED
  • 1/2 cup mayo ( vegan mayo for dairy-free option)
  • 1/4 cup soymilk
  • 1/8 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • salt/pepper

Instructions

  1. Chop the pressed tofu into cubes. Place in a bowl and cover with 1/2 cup BBQ sauce. Toss to evenly coat. Marinade for at least 20 minutes.
  2. Make the dressing: whisk together the mayo, soymilk, chopped parsley, garlic powder, 3 tbsp. BBQ sauce and pinch salt/pepper.
  3. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Remove the tofu cubes and place on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove, flip cubs and lightly brush with remaining BBQ sauce- you might not use it all. Place back in oven and cook for another 10-15 minutes.
  4. Assemble the salads: Either place all ingredients in a large bowl and toss together. Or, to serve individual salads (like photographed) place 2 cups lettuce, 1/2 avocado, 1/2 cup shredded carrots, 1/3 cup black beans, 1/4 cup corn and 1 chopped tomato on each plate. Serve with 1/4 of the tofu and drizzle with BBQ-ranch dressing.

Notes

This recipe makes 4 HUGE salads for hungry vegetable monsters like me and 6 normal size salads. The 16g of fiber and 20g of protein is analyzed using 5 servings per recipe.

did you make this?

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Meet Alex Caspero

Alex Caspero is a Registered Dietitian, Plant-Based Chef and Yoga Instructor. She aims to cut through the nutrition noise by providing real-life, nourishing tips for body and mind. Learn more about Alex.

48 comments
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  1. Brought this to a potluck with many other non-vegan salads just like it . Mine was the hit! Never told them what was in it–or not in it. Making this a staple in my house!

  2. Oh my this looks yummy! My first thought was how do I cut the recipe down for one…. then second thought was waitaminute – lunches for the week – double the recipe 😉

  3. How many calories do you figure this is? I am trying to estimate Native Food’s BBQ Chicken Salad and it seems pretty close to this. Thank you!

  4. How many calories do you figure this is? I am trying to estimate Native Food’s BBQ Chicken Salad and it seems pretty close to this. Thank you!

  5. When we lived in Southern California we ate at CPK ALL. THE. TIME. We don’t have one where we live now, so this was a great recipe to try. And…it was soooooooo good! Thank you!! I used vegan mayo and unsweetened almond milk for the dressing. I also used Trader Joe’s BBQ sauce, which has some kick to it and adds a little spice. I let the tofu bake a little longer than 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so, and basting with more BBQ sauce. And I cut the corn right off the cob and into the salad. Yum. My non-vegan husband loved it!! Thank you so much.

  6. I made this salad today and it was excellent! I happened to buy Anni’s BBQ sauce, too, since I was at WholeFoods. Next time I make it I need to grate my own carrots, I bought the shredded from Trader Joe’s and they were too hard. I added cayenne pepper to the dressing for a little heat! Will make again and again! I like to sauté fresh corn cut from the cobb in a skillet.

  7. This salad looks amazing and can’t wait to make it. Question: what would you say is a serving? I know you mentioned that it make 4 huge salads and 5 small salads..

    • Hi Janet, I usually portion this into 4 servings: 2 cups lettuce, 1 tomato, 1/3 cup black beans, 1/4 cup corn, 1/2 avocado, 1/2 cup shredded carrots, 4 oz. tofu per salad. It makes a pretty large salad (pictured) though! You can make it smaller if need be 🙂

  8. As a vegan who misses CPK, this was divinely delicious!! I substituted cucumber for the carrots but followed the rest of the recipe exactly. So fresh and tasty…the BBQ ranch dressing is amazing. So happy I found your site (thanks Pinterest!).

      • I made this salad and really enjoyed it! I am wondering if I overcooked the tofu and it was almost rubbery. The flavor was fantastic though. Looking forward to trying more recipes.

        • Hi Lynne, how long did you cook it for? Sometimes overcooked tofu can taste rubbery! Glad you liked the flavors though! For my oven, 10-15 minutes per side is the perfect length of time but your oven might want you to do a little less. Thanks so much for commenting!

  9. As a tofu lover, I am seriously into this! I haven’t had CPK in forever, but I remember loving their bbq chicken pizza back when I still ate meat. Might have to turn your bbq tofu salad into a bbq tofu salad pizza!

  10. Like Thalia, I spotted that bbq tofu and had to have another look, it looks so good! Not to mention the vegan ranch dressing.

    (also I love me a hearty salad and yours looks so colourful and bright)

  11. Oh my goodness I went through a similar obsession with CPK! They opened one in Atlanta when I was in 8th grade and my mom gave my best friend and I money to go get lunch there together. We thought we were so hip and cool…until we ordered focaccia and pronounced it “fuck-a-chuck-ah” So embarrassing!

    • Bahaha! I LOVE that pronunciation! Why was CPK so amazing? I don’t think their food was THAT good but do remember being obsessed with it! Love that I’m not the only one 🙂

  12. I also remember being very excited when a CPK came to town – I have no idea why, but it seemed exciting at the time. It was always totally jammed so I guess I wasn’t the only one!

    Anyway, if this salad were in front of me right now I’d be on it like white on rice! I’m a huge fan of little cubes of flavorful tofu :-).

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