Tofu is the food that was a health food punchline before “health food” was a thing. If you were a girl growing up in the ’80s or ’90s (and who wasn’t?) you probably read your fair share of books in the Baby Sitters’ Club series. The requisite space cadet, Dawn was characterized primarily by being from California and being a militant, annoying health food nut – she was always eating tofu and making obnoxious comments about the other babysitters’ Snickers bar. Nobody likes a Dawn!

Luckily, tofu is neither annoying nor bland, and it’s packed with all the vitamins and minerals you can handle. While it can replace meat in any dish calling for protein, it’s delicious in its own right when you give it a starring role. Here are two ways to work tofu in your daily routine, and one way to give it a headline role at a holiday dinner!

Hot and Sour Soup with Tofu & Vegetables

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 red bell pepper, chopped
3 green onions, chopped
2 cups water
2 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon cornstarch
3 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon sesame oil
6 ounces frozen snow peas
1 (8 ounce) package firm tofu, cubed
1 (8 ounce) can sliced water chestnuts, drained

1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the red bell pepper and green onions and saute for 5 minutes. Then, add the 2 cups water, broth and soy sauce, reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 5 minutes.
2. In a separate medium bowl, combine the vinegar, red pepper flakes, ground black pepper, cornstarch, 3 tablespoons water and sesame oil. Add this to the soup and continue to simmer for 5 more minutes, or until soup becomes thick and bubbly.
3. Finally, mix in the tofu, snow peas and water chestnuts, and continue cooking 10 minutes, or until heated through.

Lemon Baked Tofu

2 blocks firm or extra-firm tofu, well pressed
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp basil
1 tsp thyme
salt and pepper to taste

1. Slice your pressed tofu into 1/2 inch thick strips.
2. Whisk together all ingredients except for tofu. Transfer to a shallow pan or zip-lock bag and add tofu, coating well.
3. Allow tofu to marinate for at least 1 hour (the longer the better!), turning to coat well with marinade.
4. Heat oven to 375 degrees.
5. Transfer tofu and marinade to baking dish and bake for 20-25 minutes, turning halfway through and pouring extra marinade over the tofu as needed.

Homemade “Tofurkey” and Stuffing

5 blocks firm or extra-firm tofu, well pressed
2 tbsp fresh chopped sage
1 tbsp fresh thyme, minced
1 tbsp fresh rosemary, minced
1 tbsp vegetable broth powder
2 tbsp poultry seasoning
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup red wine
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp soy sauce
approximately 2 cups prepared vegetarian stuffing

1. Working in batches as needed, process the tofu in a blender or food processor until smooth and creamy.
2. Add the tofu to a large mixing bowl, and stir in the fresh chopped sage, thyme, rosemary, vegetable broth powder and poultry seasoning, stirring well to combine.
3. Line a colander with cheesecloth or a thin towel. Place the tofu in the colander, and layer of cheesecloth or a thin towel on top. Place a weight on top of the towel to gently press the tofu. Place on a plate or towel and chill for at least 3 hours.
4. Once the tofu is chilled and firm, scoop out the tofu in the middle, creating a hole or a well, and leaving about 1 1/2 inches of a tofu “shell” in the colander.
5. Gently pat your stuffing into the “well”, then gently press the extra tofu on top.
6. Carefully invert your tofu turkey onto a lightly greased baking sheet.
7. Whisk together the balsamic vinegar, red wine, Dijon mustard and soy sauce, and baste or brush the tofu generously.
8. Bake for about 90 minutes at 350 degrees, basting again every 15 minutes.

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