Crispy Baked Salt & Pepper Tofu

by Amanda Paa on August 13, 2013

Crispy, Baked Salt & Pepper Tofu

Tofu: one of those ingre­di­ents that can seem rather intim­i­dat­ing to eat, let alone make if you didn’t grow up eat­ing it. Well, I’m here to help you con­quer those fears! With a few sim­ple prepa­ra­tion steps, you can cre­ate savory tofu recipes that even a non-vegetarian will enjoy. Tofu is a won­der­ful source of pro­tein and soaks up the fla­vor of what­ever mari­nade or coat­ing you use. The tex­ture is deter­mined by the type of tofu you buy, as well as how it’s pre­pared (baked, fried, scram­bled, grilled, etc). For this recipe I used extra firm tofu dusted with a gluten free crust of cornmeal, cornstarch, and spices.

About five years ago I was one of those peo­ple who swore they hated tofu even though I’d hon­estly never had it once. That was until a friend took me to a fan­tas­tic veg­e­tar­ian Chi­nese restau­rant and said, “I know I’m going to change your mind about tofu once you try this salt and pep­per ver­sion”. I took one bite of the hot, crispy, per­fectly sea­soned tofu and I was sold. Who would have ever thought that lit­tle nuggets of soy could be as addict­ing as salt and vine­gar fries? From that point on I became a tofu lover.

How to Make Crispy Baked Tofu

This recipe for Salt & Pep­per Tofu is healthy and very ver­sa­tile.  You can make it to have on the go for a quick snack or add it to a salad like I’ve done here with flat rice noo­dles, sautéed red pep­pers, and mush­rooms. Dressed with a light, lime vinai­grette, it’s a refresh­ing sum­mer meal.

Fol­low these steps for the per­fect crispy tofu:

1.     Drain tofu from the pack­age and pat com­pletely dry. Wrap in two lay­ers of paper towels.

2.     In a bak­ing pan with rimmed sides, put wrapped tofu inside of it with a cut­ting board on top of the tofu. Set some­thing very heavy like a cast iron skil­let on top of the cut­ting board. This will squeeze out all the excess water.

3.     Let sit 15 min­utes, empty dish if water has drained into it and flip tofu. Replace cut­ting board and skil­let, let drain another 10 minutes.

4.     Remove tow­els, and cut into 1 in square cubes. Now you’re ready to go!

Rice Noo­dle Salad Bowl with Baked Salt & Pep­per Tofu

Makes about 3–4 per­sonal salads

1 – 14 oz. block of organic, extra firm tofu pre­pared using steps above
1/4 c cornmeal
2 T cornstarch
½ t salt
½ t pepper
1 red bell pep­per, thinly sliced
1 – 8 oz pack­age of sliced mushrooms
2 green onions, thinly sliced (white and green parts)
1 ½ T olive oil
½ pack­age of cooked flat rice noo­dles (direc­tions here)
Green leafy lettuce

Lime Vinai­grette

2 T olive oil
2 T lime juice
1 clove gar­lic, minced
2 T minced cilantro
¼ t salt
¼ t siracha

While tofu is drain­ing, pre­heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray cookie sheet with non­stick spray. In a Ziploc bag, com­bine corn­meal, corn­starch, salt & pep­per. When tofu has been cut into cubes, add to Ziploc bag in batches, and lightly shake to coat evenly. Place on cookie sheet, (not touch­ing each other) and bake for 15 min­utes, then flip and bake for another 10 min­utes (or until crispy). While tofu is bak­ing, heat olive oil in sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté for 2 min­utes, then add in pep­pers and mush­rooms with a big pinch of salt. Sauté for 8–10 min­utes, until veg­eta­bles are soft­ened. Whisk all dress­ing ingre­di­ents together and set aside.

To serve, set let­tuce leaves on individual plate, then top with ½ c of noo­dles, veg­eta­bles, and tofu. Drizzle with lime vinai­grette and enjoy!


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