Monday, July 21, 2008

On Tofu

I don’t specifically recall my first exposure to tofu, but I do remember not being impressed. It looked like cheese to me, which meant it should be delicious! Instead it tasted soggy and plain. When I decided to cut out red meat at the age of 11, I never thought I could swear off all meat because of the sad state of my relationship with tofu.

I tried tofu again at an Asian restaurant some years later. It seemed to me that if anyone knew good tofu, these Asians would. However, since this was less “5 star” and more “mall food court,” I found myself again disappointed. This time the tofu was chewy in addition to being tasteless. I almost lost hope.

Luckily, my mind changed about the soy product. I have since discovered its joys and versatility, and I couldn’t be happier about it. I understand where others are coming from when they claim to dislike tofu, but I wonder if they know tofu the way I do.

In nutritional standings, tofu ranks high. Low in calories and fat, high in protein and completely free of cholesterol, tofu has proved itself as in studies as a heart healthy alternative to meat. An extremely versatile food, tofu can take on any flavor and many textures. I have had tofu in breakfast, lunch, dinners and desserts. None of the meals have disappointed.

How can you overcome your rift with tofu? Hopefully my cookbook will help. I plan on including tofu recipes to satisfy the savory to the sweet tooth. The best way to get over the fear of the unfortunately named bean curd is to try out recipes with it. You’ll be surprised at how well it works in a variety of dishes. My favorite vegan parfait from whole foods uses tofu and maple syrup to create the most delicious faux yogurt.

I’m posting a recipe that I made over the weekend for my (non-vegan, very meat-eating) parents. I still haven’t cracked my 18-year old brother, but he hasn’t gotten around to eating much besides steak, pirogues and hot dogs yet.

When I get him to convert, I’ll expect a personalized thank you note from peta.

Blackened Tofu with Navy Beans and Swiss Chard*

  • 1 pkg extra firm tofu

  • 1 can navy beans (drained and rinsed)

  • 1 bunch swiss chard, cut into 2 in strips

  • 1/3 cup soy sauce

  • 1 clove minced garlic

  • 1 Tbls Rice Vinegar

  • 2 Tbls Paprika

  • 2 Tbls ground black pepper

  • 1 Tbls salt

  • 1 Tbls cayenne pepper

  • 1 Tbls Garlic powder

  • ½ Tbls Thyme

  • ½ Tbls Oregano

  • 2 Tbls EVOO

  1. Slice the tofu (length-wise), then again diagonally creating four pieces

  2. Whisk together soy sauce, vinegar and garlic and paprika, marinate tofu pieces in mixture for 30 min

  3. Combine pepper through oregano on plate, dip each piece of tofu on both sides into rub

  4. Heat large saucepan on stove with EVOO, place tofu slices into pan

  5. Cook 3 minutes on first side, flip, and add navy beans to pan.

  6. Cook until desired firmness is reached (approx. 4 min)

  7. Turn off heat, add swiss chard and cover, let sit for 2 min.

  8. Serve with swiss chard as a bed for the beans and tofu.

Serves four.
*Blackened Tofu taken from recipe at

1 comment:

  1. I love tofu. It really has a neutral flavor & takes on whatever seasonings you are cooking it in!