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Tofu 101

Plus so(y) many ways to use it!

Tofu was once a controversial ingredient, but these days it’s a popular and versatile plant-powered protein source.  From salty to sweet , sides, mains, and even dessert, it seems  tofu can do almost anything. If you’ve never cooked with tofu before, or you just want to know more about it, check out this  quick guide on 4 basics to know when using it for the first time, as well as  nine  tasty recipes that might just help you fall in love with this  nutrient-rich star. 

Tofu Tips 

Know the types 

  • The first step in cooking with tofu is knowing the different types, including the most popular varieties: silken, firm, and extra firm, It simply boils down to the amount of water that is pressed out of the tofu while it’s being made. The less water in the tofu (meaning the more it is pressed), the firmer the texture.. Silken tofu has a very soft and delicate texture, while extra-firm tofu has a much more solid texture that makes it a great substitute for meat.  

Choose the right tofu for the job 

  • If you’re not sure what type of tofu to buy, think about the way you’re going to use it. Grilling, frying, or baking? Go for extra-firm tofu. Scrambled or crumbled? Try firm tofu. For soups smoothies, and dips, silken tofu is your best bet. 

How to prep 

  • Regardless of the style of tofu you’re using, you’ll want to get some of the moisture out. Tofu usually comes packed in liquid to help keep it fresh, so removing that extra water is key to cooking it well. Whatever type of tofu you’re using, carefully place the block on a paper towel-lined plate and cover it with more towels and a second plate. The plate on top helps to weigh down the tofu and gently squeeze out  extra moisture. This ensures your tofu will be crisp instead of soggy. You can also cut the tofu block into slabs to  get even more water out. Leave tofu to degorge, aka release moisture, for  10–20 minutes. 

Add Some Flavor 

  • While this step is optional, we think it’s a game-changer if you’re nervous about tofu. Marinating tofu is the perfect way to add tons of flavor to an otherwise blank canvas. If you’re marinating it before cooking it, make sure to add some cornstarch to help it get crispy. You can marinate any texture of tofu to make it extra delicious.

With your tofu prepped and ready to go, try any of these simple, delicious recipes.

Southwestern Sweet Potato Tofu Scramble 

This plant-based twist on a breakfast staple is a great way to have protein in the morning if eggs aren’t an option. Bell peppers and sweet potatoes add plenty of color and extra flavor. Serve this over a warm tortilla with plenty of hot sauce and a strong cup of coffee. 

Get the recipe: Southwestern Sweet Potato Tofu Scramble 

Peach and Protein Summer Breakfast Smoothies 

You’d never guess these vibrant, decadently creamy smoothies are packed with protein and completely nondairy. Use fresh summer peaches and raspberries for natural sweetness without added sugar.  The silken tofu not only adds protein but also makes the smoothies decadently creamy. Add a splash of almond milk and breakfast is ready. 

Get the recipe: Peach and Protein Summer Breakfast Smoothies

Tofu Nuggets 

Move over chicken nuggets, there’s a new favorite on the dinner table. Extra-firm tofu is the perfect mild-flavored protein base for a crunchy breadcrumb coating. Bake the nuggets in a hot oven then serve them with plenty of dipping sauce. Toss cooled, baked nuggets in the freezer for a filling snack or quick dinner that’s ready anytime.  

Get the recipe: Tofu Nuggets 

Grilled Tofu over Summer Squash Salad 

This easy recipe is perfect for warm summer nights when you don’t want to heat up your kitchen. Instead, move your tofu  to the grill. A quick marinade of ginger-soy dressing gives extra-firm tofu  a boost of flavor. Serve over raw summer squash salad with chopped almonds and grated carrots for a plant-powered meal that satisfies. 

Get the recipe: Grilled Tofu over Summer Squash Salad 

Tofu-Crust Pan Pizzas 

Tofu as pizza? This genius recipe makes it possible. Firm tofu and self-rising flour make a quick dough that doesn’t need to rise. A cast-iron skillet makes the protein-packed crust loaded with your favorite toppings extra crispy. Finish your pizzas off with your favorite sauce, cheese, and toppings for a protein-packed twist on pizza night. No one would ever guess! 

Get the recipe: Tofu-Crust Pan Pizzas 

Soy Sauce–Marinated Silken Tofu with Rice 

This silky soft style of tofu is often blended up to disguise it, but it also shines brightly on its own. An easy marinade made with soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and chili sauce infuses the creamy tofu with flavor. Serve over steamed broccoli and precooked brown rice for a nutritious, vegan-friendly lunch or dinner. 

Get the recipe: Soy Sauce–Marinated Silken Tofu with Rice 

Fettuccine with Tofu Alfredo Sauce

This recipe swaps the heavy cream in traditional alfredo sauce for silken tofu.  Pasta night doesn’t have to be a heavy meal, especially when this dinner has so much protein and all the creaminess of the original and some extra spices bring the classic Italian flavor. Buon appetito! 

Get the recipe: Fettuccine with Tofu Alfredo Sauce 

Black Bean and Tofu Tacos 

Firm tofu and black beans are the star of these quick tacos that are perfect for meatless Mondays. A spiced tomato sauce helps transform tofu into a hearty filling with Tex-Mex flavor piled high with avocado, cilantro, queso blanco, and your favorite salsa. This easy of a recipe might become a weekly go-to! 

Get the recipe: Black Bean and Tofu Tacos  

Vegan Chocolate Pudding 

The creamy consistency of silken tofu makes it a perfect addition to pudding. Blend up melted chocolate with silken tofu, maple syrup, and a splash of vanilla for the easiest, tastiest, dairy-free dessert ever. Pour that mixture into some serving bowls and let it set. Perfect for a party or an after-school snack. Don’t forget the whipped cream on top! 

Get the recipe: Vegan Chocolate Pudding 

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