Northfield Hospital's Thai Tofu Salad has hospital staff sprinting to the salad bar

Locally Sourced: While it has only been on the menu for a few weeks, the salad has already caused a “eating frenzy” among hospital staff, says Chef Molly Lindberg.
Northfield Hospital's Thai Tofu Salad has become a popular lunch option for visitors and staff during Lent. | Photo courtesy Northfield Hospital

 Locally Sourced

The salad bar at Northfield Hospital in Northfield, Minn., is a popular lunch option for hospital visitors and staff.

The bar’s star status is thanks to Chef Molly Lindberg who has created close to 40 different themed salads for diners.

This Lent, a Thai Tofu Salad has joined the robust salad lineup and while it’s still considered the new kid on the block, it has already won the hearts of many.

“[Hospital employees] bring it back to their desk and one person sees it and then it's like an eating frenzy,” says Lindberg. “They all come down.”

The salad features local tofu produced by MinnTofu located in Spring Lake Park, Minn. Lindberg found out about the company through Bix produce, her produce supplier.

 “I got really intrigued by it because so much tofu has a lot of chemicals in it and I found this company and they're making tofu using locally grown, non-GMO soybeans,” she says.

Bix began working with MinnTofu during December 2020. It currently offers three different types of tofu from the company: extra firm tofu, firm tofu and soft tofu.

“They are a local and woman-owned company that provides great quality and excellent service,” says Bix Buyer Todd Stevens.

Lindberg got inspiration for the salad on MinnTofu’s website. Salads that feature Thai ingredients, sauces and marinades have always been popular with guests, so she wanted to go in that direction.  

“I wanted to hone in on something that they were familiar with,” she says.

Mixing the salad

The tofu is prepared by first marinating it in a maple soy glaze made with maple syrup, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, hot pepper flakes, sesame oil and fresh ginger.

“I just cube [the tofu] up and then I put it in a big Lexan and I let it marinate overnight,” says Lindberg.

The following day, it gets baked in the oven at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until it is golden and crispy.  Once baked, the tofu is added to the salad bar and tossed made-to-order with green onions, scallions, red cabbage, shredded carrot, diced red bell pepper, romaine lettuce and cilantro.

Guests have two sauce options to go with their greens: a yum yum sauce and a sweet chili sauce.

An emphasis on education

The salad bar is not self-serve and Lindberg is often the one behind it serving guests. She uses this as an opportunity to engage and teach them about what goes into their salad as they go down the line.

In the case of the Thai Tofu Salad, she educates diners about tofu and where it comes from. Guests can also learn more about the tofu and other ingredients through a newsletter she sends out.

As a chef, Lindberg believes it is her responsibility to source local whenever possible and help guests understand the story behind what they’re eating.

“Just keeping it healthy, keeping local and keeping it fresh through Lent, that’s kind of what I’m all about,” she says.  

Do you have a dish that uses local ingredients on your menu that you would like to see featured in Locally Sourced? Please send an email to Benita Gingerella at bgingerella@winsightmedia.com  



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