Tofu has a bad rap for being a flavorless, almost alien-like vegetarian food–but it’s so much more! Tofu, also known as bean curd when used in Chinese cuisine, is made from soy milk that is fermented and pressed into small, white cubes that come in a variety of textures–extra firm, firm, soft, and silken. Tofu isn’t overly processed, but always try to buy non-GMO and organic (pro-tip: you can easily find it at Trader Joe’s)! Because it doesn’t have much of a flavor on its own, it is often marinated or sautéed with a variety of spices. Tofu can seem pretty intimidating at first, but it’s so versatile and easy to make once you learn how. Here are three of my favorite tofu recipes to get you going! Once you get the hang of it, try testing our your own recipe with different spices and seasonings.
1. Basic Baked Tofu (4 servings)
This is the tofu I grew up with. Simple, savory, and not too much prep. If you’re a newbie to tofu, this is your starting point. Ingredients: 1 block extra firm tofu, 2 tbsp Tamari or soy sauce of choice, juice of 1 lemon, 1 tsp sage, and 2 cups water
Directions: Set oven to “broil.” Slice tofu into rectangles, approximately 1/4 inch each. Lay out slices on a baking sheet and place in oven for 10 minutes, until tofu browns. Flip each piece and broil for another 10 minutes. In a Tupperware container (or a tall plastic container from takeout), combine lemon juice, Tamari, and sage. Place tofu slices, stacked, in the container and pour 2 cups of water over them. They should be completely submerged. Marinate for 1 hour. Set oven to 350 degrees and bake tofu for 5 minutes, until warm. Serve.
2. Scrambled Tofu with Spinach and Mushrooms (1 big serving or 2 moderate servings)
Having trouble giving up your morning eggs? This breakfast tofu will make you forget all about them. Silken tofu gives these faux huevos a soft texture and turmeric gives them the yellow coloring that may just make you forget that what you’re eating is completely vegan.Ingredients: oil of choice (I went for grapeseed), 1 package silken tofu, 2 handfuls spinach, 1 cup chopped mushrooms, 1/4 tsp turmeric, sprinkle himalayan salt, sprinkle nutritional yeast, pepper
Directions: Heat oil in a pan, letting it spread out evenly. Chop mushrooms and sauté until tender, about 3-4 minutes. Gently crumble the tofu into large chunks. You don’t want them to be too small, because they will break apart further as you cook them. Add tofu to pan, stirring occasionally. Add spices and nutritional yeast. Once becomes a bit more composed (think scrambled egg texture), add the spinach. Allow the spinach to wilt, stirring frequently. Serve.
3. Maple-Cider Seared Tofu (serves 4)
This tofu is my most recent soy creation. Using seasonal maple syrup and farmers’ market apple cider, I whipped up this delightfully autumnal protein source.Ingredients: 1 block firm or extra firm tofu, oil of choice, 1/4 cup apple cider, 2 tbsp maple syrup, 2 tsp apple cider vinegar, 1 tsp Tamari or soy sauce of choice, 1/8 tsp ginger,
Directions: Press your tofu for at least 30 minutes or longer to get as much water out as possible. Heat oil in a skillet. Slice tofu into rectangles that are about 1/4 inch thick. Place slices (as many that fit) in the pan and allow to brown, flipping so that each side is browned. Apple cider, maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, Tamari, and ginger. Once all slices of tofu are seared, add them back to the pan and pour the cider mixture over them. Allow the mixture to bubble and flip the slices a few times to ensure they are wholly covered. Repeat with all the slices and serve.
Try out these recipes and you’ll be a tofu expert in no time!