Easy Ways With Tofu

Tofu is one of the most versatile, protein-rich foods for anyone who is looking for ways to eat more plant-based meals. Soft silken tofu lends itself best to desserts and cream sauces, and firm and extra-firm tofu are best used for stir-fries and baking. Here are some ideas for trying your hand at tofu cookery.

1 Asian Tofu Salad: Cut extra-firm tofu into 1-inch cubes. Place cubes in skillet with 2 tablespoons Asian dressing and cook until golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Toss tofu with mixed greens, shredded carrot, chopped cucumber, sliced green onions and some additional Asian dressing. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seed.

2 Chocolate-Banana Tofu Mousse: Blend 1 box silken tofu with 2 ripe bananas until smooth. Meanwhile, melt 8 ounces semisweet baking chocolate. Fold chocolate into tofu mixture; add ¼ teaspoon vanilla. Divide mixture among 4 ramekins and chill 1 hour. Garnish with chocolate shavings.

3 Fried Tofu with Peanut Sauce: Cut extra-firm tofu into ½-inch cubes. Dust tofu with nutritional yeast or cornstarch, and fry in olive oil over medium-high heat until slightly browned, about 5 minutes. Toss tofu with about 2 tablespoons peanut sauce and serve over pasta. Sprinkle with sliced green onions.

4 Sesame Baked Tofu: Cut extra-firm tofu into ½-inch slices. Blot with paper towels, pressing down to remove as much liquid as possible. Mix equal parts tamari sauce and sesame oil; brush both sides of tofu generously with mixture. Let tofu stand 10 minutes. Bake uncovered in baking dish at 325°F for about 1 hour, turning halfway through, until glaze has baked in and tofu feels firm to the touch.

5 Tofu Egg Salad: Combine 2 tablespoons mayonnaise with 1 teaspoon Dijon relish, 2 tablespoons diced celery and a sprinkle of dried dill weed. In separate bowl, mash about 8 ounces firm tofu with fork. Fold tofu into mayonnaise mixture. Sprinkle with paprika.

6 Tofu Patties: Mash 1 pound extra-firm tofu using fork and combine with ½ cup panko crispy bread crumbs, ½ cup ground walnuts, some chopped green onions, garlic salt and 1 to 2 tablespoons tamari sauce to moisten. Form into patties; fry in skillet sprayed with cooking spray until brown and crisp on both sides.

7 Tofu Spaghetti: At least 1 day before making spaghetti, wrap 1 block firm or extra-firm tofu with plastic wrap and freeze overnight. Thaw tofu before making spaghetti. Squeeze thawed tofu to remove any moisture, using paper towels or clean kitchen towels. Make tomato pasta sauce (page 370). Crumble tofu directly into sauce and cook 15 minutes before serving. Top with chopped fresh parsley and shredded Parmesan cheese. Freezing tofu, then thawing it, makes it more porous so it soaks up sauce and flavor is enhanced.

8 Veggie-Tofu Stir-Fry: Cook cubes of extra-firm tofu in mixture of 2 tablepoons each soy sauce, chili garlic sauce and sweet chili sauce. Cook 5 minutes; add halved grape tomatoes and cook 2 to 3 minutes longer. Add 1 cup fresh baby spinach and cook until just wilted. Top with additional sweet chili sauce.

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