Sunday, April 8, 2012

I Love Tofu!

I think that when people think of vegetarians, they think of tofu....and they think, "Yuck!"  
Well, I understand.  Badly prepared tofu can be really gross.  I should know.  About 10 years ago, I bought tofu at the grocery store for the first time. I had no idea what to do with it, so I opened the package and threw  it on the grill.  
Anything is good on a grill, right?  Wrong!
Well, let's just say that it was never eaten.  The texture was gross, there was no taste...totally inedible!  

Fast forward about 5 years.  After reading up on how to prepare tofu, I thought we should try again.  And......jackpot!  
We LOVE tofu!  Truly love it!  And, it is one of the only dinner foods that my whole family will eat.  In fact, I've gone from preparing one package of tofu to three packages of it for our dinner....and I never have leftovers.  
I don't think that eating soy products is good for everyday, but once or even twice a week seems fine to me.  Look, if the alternative is this, then I think we're doing fine with tofu!

So, the key to good tofu is how you prepare it.  And, the first step is to get all of the water out of the tofu.  I would love to purchase a tofu press in the future, but for now, jars of beans work just fine!

So, wrap your blocks of tofu in clean towels, put the wrapped tofu between two plates, and put something heavy on top....jars of beans, cookbooks, heavy pots, etc.  Just be careful to balance it well or you get the leaning tower of beans which sometimes falls over! 
(What was that CRASH in the kitchen???)

Let the tofu sit for at least a half hour and then flip it over and let the other side have a go!

Your pressed tofu should be much drier than when it began (and your towels should be a whole lot wetter) and it should be a bit flatter.  Now, slice it all up.  I prefer to make little cubes of tofu, but some people like to cook it in larger pieces.  
It'll all taste great in the end!

 Now, after the tofu is all cut up nice, you have the option of marinating it.  Plain tofu tastes just like....well, plain tofu.  That is to say it really has no taste.  I used to love to marinate my tofu in whatever sauce I had on hand.  However, my favorite thing to do these days, is just to cook it up in the oven right away.  I put a small bit of olive oil on it and sprinkle on some salt and pepper.  That's it.

After baking it in the oven for about a half hour to 45 minutes (really, just bake until golden brown, perhaps flipping once), it is so good!  I have many little people begging for a piece about now.

  It is so yummy dipped in ketchup or honey.  Or just plain.  Sometimes I will put these super delish cubes in tortillas with lettuce and tomatoes and dressing.  Or I will serve them alongside rice.  My new favorite way is in a yummy, Asian-inspired pasta dish.  But I will bring that recipe to you next time.  For now, experiment with tofu.  After you figure it out, it is an easy, delicious way to bring good protein to a vegan/vegetarian diet.


-Vegan Mama

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