Here’s How You Can Use Tofu to Recreate Your Favorite Comfort Foods
Inexpensive, packed with protein, and easy to store, tofu is an indispensable wonder food that you simply must have in your refrigerator at all times.
Tofu is sold in different levels of firmness, which can range from silken (pillowy and custard-like) to extra firm (spongy). The less-firm varieties have higher water content, making them better for cream and dairy replacements. Tofu can also be used to boost the nutritional quality of your favorite dishes; blend a block of silken tofu into your typical roux-based cheese sauce for a plant-based protein boost, and no one will notice the difference.
This Monday, experiment with tofu by incorporating this versatile ingredient into some of your favorite classic comfort foods.
Our top tofu tips and hacks:
- Press your tofu to remove water before cooking or marinating
- Freeze and thaw tofu to achieve a texture more similar to meat
- Marinate tofu with your favorite sauces, avoid oil-based marinades
- Press, cube and air-fry or bake tofu with your favorite seasonings for easy and delicious toss-ins for salads, stir fry, burritos and beyond
Traditional Alfredo sauce is heavy, rich, but oh so delicious. Try using tofu for a version that’s light, creamy, lower in calories, and higher in protein. What’s the secret? Just blend together silken tofu, vegetable broth, Italian seasoning, vegan butter, and a healthy amount of nutritional yeast. Liberally coat some fettuccine and enjoy.
When battered, breaded, and baked, tofu becomes crisp on the outside, just like your favorite chicken wings. To make tofu wings, simply dredge extra-firm tofu blocks in cornstarch, dip them in a plant-based milk, coat in bread crumbs, seasonings and bake or air-fry until brown. You can create your own Buffalo sauce by mixing together hot sauce (Franks RedHot is the classic), butter or non-dairy butter substitute, and granulated garlic. Drooling for more? Check out this Crispy Tofu Finger recipe.
No eggs or anchovies required to make this plant-based Caesar dressing. Blend together silken tofu, lemon juice and zest, garlic cloves, capers, Dijon mustard and nutritional yeast. Pour over some grilled romaine lettuce, and your first course it ready to go.
“Chicken Fried” Tofu
Chicken fried steak is a southern staple, but the technique, which involves a thinly sliced protein that’s been breaded and pan-fried, can be made with tofu to produce the same crispy, comforting outcome. The recipe is straightforward: Simply drain, slice, and press tofu to remove as much moisture as possible; dip slices into a batter (use plant-based milk, flour, and some vinegar or lemon juice); and, finally, cover in your breading. Put the finished “steaks” on a wire cooling rack and bake, air-fry or sauté until golden and crispy.
Ideal for game days and gatherings, the jalapeno popper has achieved mythical status as one of the ultimate appetizers. For a plant-based version, swap out the cream cheese for a tofu “cream cheese” — which you can buy or easily make on your own. To make these plant-based bites, seed the jalapenos, slice down the middle, stuff with your tofu cream cheese and whatever other goodies you have available — non-dairy cheese, scallions, chile powder — and give them a quick roast in the oven until nice and charred, and top with some crushed potato chips for a little texture.
Jamaican Jerk Tofu
This is the kind of miracle dish that can convert anyone to tofu. The Jamaican “jerk” seasoning is sure-to-please. It’s sort of like barbeque and sort of like curry, savory and sweet at the same time. The recipe for Jamaican Jerk Tofu is super simple: Just press and slice the tofu, submerge in the jerk marinade, and cook in a hot skillet.
Food doesn’t get more comforting than lasagna. Approach this dish as you would your favorite lasagna recipe, but instead of ricotta cheese, blend together pressed tofu, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, and salt and pepper.
Italian night has never been easier. Press, bread, and sauté slices of tofu until their golden brown; add some tomato sauce to the bottom of a baking dish, line it with the lightly-fried tofu, top with remaining sauce, top with traditional or non-dairy mozzarella, and pop into the oven. Check out one of our favorite recipes here.
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