For the New Year my husband and I made a commitment to reduce the amount of animal-based protein in our diet.  With this transition we are eating ample greens with every meal, legumes, whole grains, and other assorted vegetables. Lately we have been doing some tofu testing.

About a month ago, while searching for some new veggie-friendly ideas, I came across a recipe for baked tofu and have been obsessed ever since.  I am truly not sure how we survived without it in our lives for as long as we did. Baked tofu is a great protein-rich, make-ahead ingredient that can serve as the base for several weekday meals. Hot or cold, it is wonderful — as the centerpiece of the meal, sprinkled on a lunchtime salad, or even in a breakfast wrap!

Here’s what I have learned in the testing process:  Start with extra-firm tofu and be sure to drain and dry it well.  I typically drain any liquid from the package, and then wrap the tofu in several paper towels and place it under a heavy pan for about a half hour. Another option is to drain, then wrap in towels, and leave the tofu in the refrigerator overnight.

One of the best attributes of tofu for cooks is its ability to take on the flavors of other ingredients. Marinating offers endless possibilities.  I recommend marinating at least one hour, but overnight is even better.  You can use store-bought marinades, such as your favorite BBQ sauce or teriyaki sauce, or make your own. My Top Picks: My homemade Lemon Pepper and Sesame Ginger marinades.

Each of the following marinades is for one 12 -ounce container of extra-firm tofu.  (Of course, I recommend you double the marinade and use two containers of tofu so you can have plenty of leftovers to use for other meals later in the week.)  Once baked, the tofu will keep for up to one week in the refrigerator.

Lemon Pepper Marinade for Tofu
Makes about ½ cup, enough for 12 ounces of tofu
Juice from 1 lemon
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 — 3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 ½ teaspoons fresh ground pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Sesame Ginger Marinade
Makes about ½ cup, enough for 12 ounces of tofu

2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger (or crush a piece in a garlic press)
1 tablespoon sweet chili sauce (can be found in the Asian section of your grocery store)

Combine all ingredients from the chosen marinade in a Tupperware or large sealable bag.  Slice the tofu into bite-size cubes or ½ inch slices and add to marinade. 

Place in the refrigerator for at least one hour, allowing the tofu to absorb the marinade.

When ready to bake, lightly spray a baking sheet and arrange the tofu in a single layer. 

Preparation Options: If serving hot for a weeknight dinner, bake the tofu at 400°F for approximately ½ hour, turning once.  If you prefer a crisper tofu and have a bit more time, cook at  250°F for approximately 1 ½ hours, turning 3-4 times, browning all sides.

(In the photo above we served Sesame Ginger Tofu over a bed of greens with grilled asparagus.  And we had leftovers for lunch the next day, yum!)






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