Tempting Tofu Recipes

TofuOf all the possible protein sources you could eat, tofu has to be the most versatile, and the healthiest. It is made from soybeans, and is high in protein, low in fat, and also contains good amounts of calcium and some B vitamins.

There are two main types of tofu, regular and silken tofu.  Regular tofu comes floating in water in a small tub. It needs to be refrigerated and used within a few days. It is best used crumbled, sliced or diced, and can be marinated to absorb different flavors. It can be baked, fried, or added to soups, stews and curries.

Silken tofu has a creamier texture which blends particularly well, to make quiches, desserts, smoothies etc.  It doesn’t hold its shape well, so doesn’t work so well sliced. It often comes vacuum packed and doesn’t need to be refrigerated. It keeps for several months.

There are hundreds of different recipes available, and even some whole cookbooks focusing just on tofu. Every style of cuisine can be recreated, so search vegetarian websites or buy a good cookbook, and enjoy the diversity of this nutritional powerhouse.

Recipes

The following recipes are from The Veg-Feasting Cookbook, by Vegetarians of Washington:

Seven-Layer Fiesta Dip

Mexican Seasoning Mix

Tofu Cutlets with Tapenade Sauce

Spanakopita

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Seven-Layer Fiesta Dip

Beware-this dip is habit-forming!   Makes about 6 cups

1 (16-ounce) can vegetarian refried beans (about 2 cups)

½ cup mild salsa

1 (12-ounce) carton firm silken tofu, drained (about 1½ cups)

4 teaspoons Mexican Seasoning Mix (see below)

2 teaspoons lemon juice

¾ teaspoon salt

2 scallions, thinly sliced (about ½ cup)

1 large tomato, chopped fine

½ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro (about ½ bunch)

½ cup sliced black olives

½ cup shredded soy Monterey jack style or soy cheddar-style cheese

Tortilla chips, pita chips, or fresh vegetables

Stir the refried beans and salsa together in a small bowl. Spread on the bottom of a glass pie plate or shallow baking dish. In a blender or food processor, blend the tofu, Mexican seasoning, lemon juice, and salt until smooth. Spread the tofu mixture over the bean layer.

Layer on the scallions, tomato, cilantro, olives and cheese, in the order listed. Serve or refrigerate up to 4 hours. Serve with tortilla chips, pita chips or fresh vegetables.

Chef’s Tip

To make a Creamy Tex-Mex Dip, process the tofu, Mexican seasoning, lemon juice and salt in a blender or food processor until smooth. Makes 1½ cups. To make a Fiesta Dip, prepare the Creamy Tex-Mex Dip. Stir in the refried beans, salsa, and ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro. Garnish with a fresh cilantro sprig. Serve with tortilla chips. Cover and refrigerate up to 5 days. Makes 3½ cups.

Mexican Seasoning Mix

Delightfully seasons Vegetarian Chili, Vegetarian Tacos, Sloppy Joes, and Seven-Layer Dip. You’ll wonder how you ever did without this versatile seasoning mix! This recipe is mild; adjust it to your taste.

Makes ¼ cup

1 tablespoon mild chili powder

1 tablespoon onion powder

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons paprika

1½ teaspoons garlic powder

1½ teaspoons dried oregano leaves

1 teaspoon dried cilantro or parsley flakes

½ teaspoon ground coriander, optional

Combine the ingredients and stir to distribute evenly. Transfer the ingredients to a container; label and date. Store in a cool, dry place. Use within 6 months. Stir contents before each use.

Chef’s Tip

Extra-Mild: Omit the chili powder and increase the cumin to 1 tablespoon, increase the paprika to 1½ tablespoons, and increase the cilantro to 2 teaspoons. Spicy: Add cayenne or crushed red pepper flakes to taste.

Tofu Cutlets with Tapenade Sauce

The neutral flavor of tofu provides the perfect vehicle for the piquant flavors of the tapenade sauce. 

Serves 4

2 tablespoons capers

6 oil-cured olives, pitted

3 oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, cut into pieces

¼ cup firmly packed fresh parsley leaves

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil

1 package firm tofu (14-16 ounces), cut into eight ½-inch slices

In a food processor, pulse the capers, olives, tomatoes, parsley and lemon juice until the mixture is chopped fine. With the motor running, add ¼ cup of the olive oil in a stream and blend the tapenade sauce until emulsified. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and cook the tofu until golden brown, about 2 minutes for each side. Serve the tofu topped with the tapenade sauce.

Spanakopita

In this variation of a traditional Greek favorite, lentils add heft to the tangy, hearty filling nestled between the crispy layers of phyllo dough.

Serves 12

1 (10-ounce) package frozen spinach, or

1 bunch fresh spinach, cleaned and trimmed

½ cup olive oil

1 onion, chopped

3-6 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups cooked lentils

1-2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 package tofu (14 -16 ounces), soft or firm, crumbled

2 teaspoons sea salt

1 teaspoon dried dill

½ teaspoon anise seed (optional)

1 (16-ounce) package phyllo dough, thawed if frozen

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Steam the spinach until it’s thawed or wilted. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a medium skillet, add the onion and garlic, and sauté until softened, then add the spinach, lentils, lemon juice, tofu, salt, dill and anise seed, if using.

Unroll the phyllo dough and cover with a damp cloth to keep it from drying out. Pour the remaining oil into a shallow dish. Use a pastry brush to brush a little of the oil onto the bottom of a 9 by 13-inch baking pan. Lay a sheet of phyllo dough over it, brush it with oil, and repeat with 10 to 12 sheets. Don’t agonize if some sheets stick together. The final product will look fine.

Spread the filling over the first 10 to 12 sheets, then layer the remaining phyllo sheets on top of the filling, brushing each one with oil. With a sharp knife, score the spanakopita into 12 pieces, cutting just to the filling. Cover with aluminum foil, and bake for 15 minutes, then uncover and bake for another 10 minutes. Serve warm or cold.