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Healthy Tofu Recipes: How To Use It 3 Ways For Dinner
Almost two years ago my daughter decided to start eating a vegetarian diet, and I was re-introduced to tofu. My first taste of the soy product back in the 1970’s didn’t make me a big fan. But for my daughter’s sake I was willing to check it out again. I’m glad I did.
My early attempts to cook with tofu led to bland results. Then I learned that, like a sponge, tofu soaks up the flavors around it. So I tried marinating it, and began to have fun experimenting with all sorts of taste combinations.
I was always impressed with the nutritional value of tofu - high amounts of protein and calcium with a low calorie count. But I wondered just how versatile this ingredient could be. So I issued myself a challenge to find out.
Using three packages of extra firm tofu, I tried creating recipes for three distinct courses of a meal. I ended up with three new ways to enjoy it. Before I share those, here's a video that explains where tofu comes from and why it's such a healthy choice.
Learn About Making Tofu
Part 1, Appetizer: Baked Tofu Bites
I generally don’t make very spicy food, but wanted to see how well the tofu would absorb the kick of some of Indian-inspired tastes. To my surprise I enjoyed the fiery flavor - in small bites, of course! And the amount of heat can easily be turned up.
1 tbsp Curry powder
1 tbsp Chili powder
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 1/2 cups Tofu, extra firm, cubed
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Put all the spices into a small zip-lock bag. Put a few cubes of the tofu into the bag, and close securely. Shake the bag to cover the tofu with the spices. Remove the cubes to a cooking sheet. Repeat process until all the cubes are coated.
Bake the tofu for 10 minutes, until it is a medium brown color. Then turn each over and bake for another 10 minutes so the other side browns. Remove and cool, then put on a serving plate or into an airtight container to store in fridge (up to 2 days) or the freezer (up to 2 weeks).
Serve at room temperature, with toothpicks to dip into store-bought or homemade peanut sauce.
Part 2, Main Course: Breaded Tofu and Pasta
There are a few steps to this yummy italian dish, but it is worth the effort. You can save yourself a little time by buying the olives already sliced and the garlic in a jar already minced. Packaged bread crumbs work perfectly well also.
Note: This recipe serves 2-3 people, depending on your appetite!
8 oz regular or whole wheat pasta (about 1/2 of a package)
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup green pepper, diced
1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
1/3 cup pitted canned olives, thinly sliced
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes, chopped roughly (if in olive oil, drain first)
1 clove garlic, minced
pepper, to taste
1 cup bread crumbs (white, wheat or italian bread)
1 tsp each oregano and basil
7 oz extra firm tofu, cut into small cubes (keep them in some of the liquid from package)
Parmesan cheese (optional)
Cook the pasta in water until al dente (done but still firm).
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a sauté pan. Soften the onions, pepper and olives over medium heat for 3-4 minutes. Add in the tomatoes and cook for another minute, then put the garlic in and cook another 30 seconds (so the garlic will release its flavor but won’t burn). Turn the heat off and leave the pan on the burner.
In another large pan, heat the vegetable oil on a medium setting. Put the bread crumbs in a large bowl with the oregano and basil and mix together well. Take the tofu cubes from the liquid and roll them in the crumbs until they are well coated. Put them in the pan for 7-10 minutes, until they are browned on each side.
On each plate put pasta, the vegetable mixture and tofu. Top with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese if desired, and a small drizzle of olive oil.
Part 3, Dessert: Tofu Parfait
I came across cheesecake, custard and other dessert recipes with tofu. They sounded good, but I wanted something light and quick to make. I tried a technique I just found out about to soften the firm tofu. It came out like a creamy mousse - and the consistency holds up fine in the fridge for a couple of days.
7 oz firm tofu
2 tbsp honey
1 Banana, sliced
Granola or a nugget-type cereal
Rinse and drain tofu. Place it into a food processor and let it blend for about 3 minutes, until it starts to look smooth. Stop the processor and add the honey. Blend for another 2 minutes, using a spatula to scape the sides a couple of times.
In parfait glasses, layer the tofu, banana slices and cereal, then sprinkle cinnamon on top.
Note: Use whatever kind of fruit you like - apples & raisins, berries, even kiwi. And cinnamon can be replaced with other favorite toppings. Go wild!!