Lately, tofu has been the bold topic of my healthy-eating conversations. It’s affiliated with a health conscious diet and used as a symbol for the tasteless way that veggie folks can get adequate protein. Chances are, if you’re reading this blog you’re already beyond that stereotype, but nonetheless, it’s an interesting ingredient. And as it is showing up on menus more and more, people are becoming curious. Personally, I am a huge fan. Once I learned the basics about proper preparation, it became a welcome ingredient into many meals.
However, tofu is not for everyone. Several different people have come up to me recently asking what they’re doing wrong or how to cook tofu in a way that makes it edible. These friends happen to be health nuts in their own right, just truly trying to figure out how to make tofu taste good. Even though it may seem like a right of passage into vegan-hood, the bottom line is that it’s just another food that some people like and some people don’t. It just so happens to be extremely versatile so many people don’t know that they like it until it is prepared to their tastes. The take away message here is short. 1, you are not a bad vegan if you don’t like tofu, 2, listen to your tongue (it’s like your heart, but gives clearer messages and won’t leave you in a pool of tears later on down the road) and the easily acceptable #3, be open to trying it new ways!
For all those that have asked, and those that haven’t, here is my go-to tofu preparation. It’s my favorite way to throw it into a meal (see chocolate covered katie for some KILLER desert interpretations). Here’s the full recipe for one of my favorite meals but feel free to just skim for the tofu advice.
- 1 block of “extra firm” tofu
- 1/2 head of cauliflower
- 1 medium sweet potato
- 3/4 cup of tiki masala sauce (I keep store-bought asian sauces on hand as a quick way to jazz up veggies)
- 1 tablespoon nut butter (trust me)
- 1/2 tablespoon salsa (I wanted an extra kick, but it’s optional)
- Open the package so that the tofu juice can drain out, empty as much as you can
- Now wrap it in paper towels. It may not be the most environmentally friendly advice I can suggest, but if you don’t have a tofu press it works pretty well.
- I normally make it a few layers thick, if I can already feel liquid soaking through I throw another layer on top. Then, I comfortably lodge it under a stack of cookbooks, or something equally heavy.
- Now go about your daily business. I let it wait for AT LEAST twenty minutes but I typically aim for 40. Especially for baking, it varies depending on how you’re planning on cooking it. If the paper towel soaks through you may want to swap it out for a dry one at some point.
- While you’re waiting, peel and chop the sweet potato and break apart the cauliflower.
- When your time is up, preheat the oven to 400F
- Next step is to unwrap it. It will likely be beautiful and appetizing at this point. Just kidding. It will look weird and smell of a rice field during monsoon season. I’m assuming. I haven’t actually been to a rice field.
- Now slice it up however you’d like. I typically make little cubes for when I’m tossing it in with veggies, kind of the same size as whatever else I’m cooking.
- I mixed the tiki masala with the pb and salsa first (heating to make it easier), and then pour it over the cauliflower, sweet potatoes and tofu. Mmmmmm.
- Grease a pan, spread the veggie mixture out, toss it in the oven, and set a timer for 15 min.
- Half way through flip the veggies over so they can bake evenly, and set it for another 15 min.
- Total bake time is normally between 30-45 minutes for me, but I check it frequently at the end.
- You’re looking for a golden, slightly tough exterior. Similar to chicken nuggets. Since you’re not frying, it won’t get that hard crispy crunch, so if you cook it too long it will just burn.
- When it’s done and your whole house is smelling heavenly, serve it up how you’d like and dig in! The first night I had it with spinach and rice, but I had them alone for leftovers and I think I preferred that method. Enjoy! Feel free to through feedback my way, very open to new ideas!