Tofu is a quintessential ingredient, popping up all over vegan cooking.
I have to admit, for some reason it’s taken me longer to master the subtleties of tofu than virtually any other food.
I’ve broiled it, mashed it, blended it, braised it and sautéed it—all to good effect—but I believe I have finally found the tofu holy grail; grilling.
I got the idea for this simple treatment from a beloved—now sadly defunct—restaurant near my home in Glenview, Illinois called Sweet Dreams. Sweet Dreams specialized in vegan baking, but they had a wonderful savory menu as well. Their salad with grilled tofu and vegetables rocked my world, and the only good thing about their going out of business is that I was forced to learn how to make it myself.
After many missteps, this is what I came up with:
Perfect Grilled Tofu
One block extra firm tofu—not pressed or drained—cut into eight even slices lengthwise.
For marinade you will need:
2 tsp olive oil
1 tbl tamari or soy sauce
1 tbl maple syrup
1 tbl red wine (optional) or lime juice
1 jalapeño pepper, sliced (optional)
Mix marinade well and pour into a flat bottomed dish. Place tofu slices in a single layer in the marinade. Turn once, then let sit for 15 minutes. Turn again, let sit another 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, turn grill onto high. After tofu is marinated, place slices on grill and cook three minutes or until grill marks appear. Do not move the slices except to lift up edges and see done-ness until you flip them. Flip and repeat.
This tofu is so delicious, you’ll have trouble getting it from the grill to the table, but if you manage, here are three things you can do with it—each serves one to two people.
1) Toss in miso soup (you can find excellent boxed miso at Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s).
Add one to two cups chopped bok choy to two cups heated broth, cook on medium three minutes. Add tofu, heat through. Garnish with fresh cilantro and a dash of soy sauce or tamari.
2) Use in salads with grilled veggies.
While you’re grilling the tofu, throw some veggies on the fire, too. Try zucchini sliced lengthwise, red peppers sliced in quarters, yellow squash sliced lengthwise or eggplant, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch discs.
Just brush both sides of veggies with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper—the cooking time is the same as the tofu. While everything cooks, get some greens on a plate, dress them with a drizzle of olive oil and some balsamic vinegar, then pile tofu and veggies on top.
Slice 1/2 fresh avocado to finish, and garnish with fresh basil if desired.
3) Amp up a veggie stir fry
While tofu is marinating, slice 1/2 cup mushrooms, 1/2 cup snow peas, strings removed, 1/2 onion, thinly sliced and one spear fresh pineapple. Grill pineapple along with tofu, the cooking time is the same and there is no need for any oil on the fruit.
For sauté you will need:
Your prepped veggies
1 tsp sesame or peanut oil
1 tsp fresh grated ginger
1 tsp soy sauce or tamari
squeeze of lime or dash of wine
salt to taste
While tofu and pineapple are grilling, sauté onions in one tsp sesame or peanut oil two minutes, add mushrooms, sauté another three minutes, add snow peas and ginger, sauté two more minutes. Add soy sauce and wine or lime, and heat through.
Heap the sautéed veggies and sauce on first, then add tofu and pineapple. Serve with rice and garnish with Sriracha hot sauce if desired.
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Editor: Rachel Nussbaum
Photo: crd! via Flickr