Tasty tofu: Tips for using this alternative source of protein

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Arugula Pesto Cream with Pasta


Ingredients:


1 block silken tofu


2 cloves fresh garlic


2 cups baby arugula leaves


Juice of 1 lemon


1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil


Salt and pepper to taste


Directions:


Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Toss sauce with your favorite cooked pasta and serve hot.


Roasted Garlic Dip


Ingredients:


1 block silken tofu


10 cloves fresh garlic


2 ripe avocados


juice of 1 lime


1/4 cup olive oil


Salt and pepper to taste


Directions:


Combine garlic cloves and olive oil in a pocket of aluminum foil and roast in a 400-degree oven for about 25 minutes, until garlic is soft and golden. Let cool. In a blender combine silken tofu, roasted garlic, 1 avocado and lime juice. Blend well and transfer to a mixing bowl. Dice up remaining avocado and fold into the dip. Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper. Serve with tortilla chips or cut veggies.


Tofu Breakfast Scramble


Ingredients:


1 block firm tofu, crumbled


1/2 cup smoked almonds, crushed


1 teaspoon fennel seed


2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic


1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes


1/4 cup water


2 tablespoons olive oil


Salt and pepper to taste


Directions:


Heat olive oil in a saute pan on medium high heat. Add crumbled tofu, smoked almonds, fennel seed, garlic, red pepper flakes and salt and pepper and cook, stirring frequently. Deglaze pan with water and adjust seasonings. Serve over hashbrowns or toasted English muffins.


Breaded Tofu à la Meunier


Ingredients:


1 block firm tofu


1 cup flour seasoned with salt and pepper


1 egg beaten with a little water


2 cups Japanese bread crumbs


1 stick butter


Juice of 2 lemons


1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced


Olive oil for sauteeing


Directions:


Cut block of tofu in half lengthwise, then again across for four equal pieces. For each piece, dredge lightly in the flour, shaking of the excess, then dip into the egg and finally coat in the breadcrumbs. In a hot saute pan with olive oil cook the breaded tofu on each side until golden brown and crispy. Place tofu on a cookie sheet and keep warm in a 350-degree oven.


Melt butter in a pan over medium-high heat. When the butter starts to turn an amber color and smells nutty, add lemon juice — be careful, it will foam up a bit. Remove from heat and add parsley.


To serve, drizzle each piece of tofu with some butter sauce and serve with pasta or some sautéed spinach.


Image via Everyday Moment.

Let’s talk about tofu for a minute. What is it exactly? It’s actually coagulated soy milk pressed into blocks. In most people’s book, that’s strike one; anything with “coagulated” in the description tends to be off-putting. The word “tofu” comes from the Chinese “doufu” which is “bean” plus “curdled” or “fermented” — strike two. Tofu by itself, in flavor and texture, is well, just kind of … meh.

Tofu is an excellent source of protein, is low in calories and has very little fat. Its popularity in Asian countries directly coincides with the spread of Buddhism and vegetarianism dating back to A.D. 710. Many of us who like to eat a vegetarian meal on occasion may have stir-fried chunks of tofu with some veggies, added some soy sauce and called it “good,” even though it really wasn’t. I have yet to meet anyone — even a hard-core vegan — who actually enjoys the taste and texture of tofu by itself.

But with its status as the seemingly perfect veggie protein source, what can be done to make it more appealing to our Western palates?

A lot, actually. Tofu is the perfect sponge to soak up any flavor that you have a yearning for. It comes in different textures (firm and silken) which adds to its versatility. It’s inexpensive and easy to work with. All good reasons to give tofu another chance to prove itself worthy. Below are several recipes featuring both firm and silken tofu, and you will see how easy and delicious it can be to add this odd food source to your life.

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