Excerpted with permission from Farmer John’s Cookbook: the Real Dirt On Vegetables: Seasonal Recipes and Stories from a Community Farm by Farmer John Peterson and Angelic Organics (Gibbs Smith, Publisher). www.AngelicOrganics.com/cookbook

If you enjoy the tangy-sweet taste that comes from adding mandarin orange segments, raisins, or chunks of apple to a salad, then you already know how delicious fruit and salad dressing can be. In this salad, choi provides a succulent base for a mixture of apples, grapes, mild onion, and freshly toasted almonds, all smothered in a luxurious poppy seed dressing. (The Sneaky secret to the dressing’s impossible smoothness is silken tofu, which purees beautifully and makes an exceptional, flavorless base for soups, sauces, and dressings.)

This recipe yields more than 2 cups of dressing, so you’ll have plenty left over for other salads. Silken tofu is widely available in grocery stores and health food stores.

Serves 4 to 6

½ cup slivered, blanched almonds
1 cup mild-flavored vegetable oil
½ cup honey
½ cup white vinegar
4 ounces soft silken tofu
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
1 ½ teaspoons dry mustard
1 ¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon paprika (optional)
2 tablespoons minced onion
1 bok choy or other white-stemmed choi/choy, trimmed, stems cut diagonally into thin slices, leaves sliced into thin strips
1 large sweet apple, peeled, cored, diced
1 cup red or purple seedless grapes, halved
Freshly ground black pepper

  1. Toast the almonds in a heavy (preferably cast iron) skillet over high heat until they begin to brown slightly. Transfer the nuts to a bowl to cool.
  2. Put the oil, honey, vinegar, tofu, poppy seeds, dry mustard, alt, and paprika in a food processor or a blender. Process or blend the ingredients until smooth. Pour the mixture into a bowl and stir in the onion. On cover the dressing and store it in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve the salad.
  3. Toss the choi, apple, and grapes in a large bowl.
  4. Pour the dressing over the ingredients; toss until everything is thoroughly combined. Cover the bowl and set it aside at room temperature for 15 minutes to let the flavors develop.
  5. When you’re ready to serve, stir in the toasted almonds. Season with salt and pepper to taste.