Tofu, or soybean curd, gets a bad rap as being slimy, tasteless, boring, and just plain weird. But it’s actually very versatile – a food chameleon in a way, as it can take on any number of flavors and textures in many different foods. You can put it in smoothies, grill it, marinate it, or use it as a protein replacement in some recipes that originally call for meat. And although processed soy isn’t great for you, unprocessed forms of soy – such as tofu and tempeh (fermented soybeans) – are excellent protein alternatives, as long as you’re not consuming more than 3-5 servings a day.
Last night I made spicy baked tofu with veggies, a favorite meal in our household for several reasons:
- It’s loaded with plant-based protein.
- It’s easy and relatively quick to prepare.
- We can make it in our toaster oven in our RV (in other words, it’s small space-friendly!)
- It requires only simple ingredients.
- It’s tasty. (Duh, because otherwise we wouldn’t eat it.)
- It’s difficult to mess it up. Really.
- Sometimes even my picky nine year old will consume it.
Ingredients (makes 2-4 servings):
- 1 block of firm or extra firm tofu (see picture below)
- 3/4 cup salsa (mild, medium, or spicy)
- Hot sauce (optional)
- 8-10 small sweet peppers, whole
- 6-8 small yellow or red potatoes, cut in half
- 4-5 cloves of garlic, chopped or whole (you can use less garlic… I’m just addicted to it)
- 1/2 tbsp olive oil
- Using a knife, make a gash in the tofu container and drain off as much liquid as you can. Then slice open the rest of the package. The tofu is going to be wet and, yes, kind of slimy, but at least you’ll have removed the excess juice.
2. The tofu is still loaded with water. You want to remove as much of the water as possible so that you can replace it with your salsa-based marinade. To do this, place a paper towel on top of a plate, and then set the entire block of tofu on top of the paper towel. Put another paper towel on top of the tofu, and set a heavy plate or bowl on top of the whole shebang.
3. Let the tofu sit in your fancy water-removal contraption for half an hour. Though, let me be honest: I was impatient and waited about ten minutes. That works, too, but your baked tofu will be less firm if you follow my lead.
4. Extricate your tofu block from its weighted confines and slice it into ~1-inch cubes.
5. Place the tofu cubes in a covered bowl or gallon-sized baggie. Add the salsa and the hot sauce. Make sure all of the tofu is covered in salsa-y goodness.
6. Place the tofu in the fridge and let it marinate for two hours.
7. Or, if you’re like me and have waited until the last minute to make dinner, let it marinate for 20 minutes. It’ll still taste good, I promise.
8. While the tofu is marinating, cut up the veggies. I used small sweet peppers, small potatoes, and garlic – because that’s what I had on hand – but you could use any variety of veggies. I think eggplant and green peppers would work particularly well.
9. Douse said veggies in ~1/2 tbsp olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
10. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
11. Load the veggies onto a greased baking sheet and then just dump the marinated tofu on top of the veggies. You could bake them separately, but I like the flavors to meld.
11. Now bake the whole shebang for 40 minutes. Flip the tofu and veggies over after about 20 minutes. (I didn’t actually flip… More like, I moved them all around a bit.)
12. Remove from the oven and let cool for five minutes. Serve with salad and brown rice or quinoa.
I decided against a tofu joke, actually, because it was tasteless.
Keep being oh-soy-awesome,