Michelle’s Weeknight Baked Tofu

April 7, 2014 6:41 am
Posted in: Entrees

Easy Weeknight Baked Tofu

Today is my 38th birthday (and Eating Rules’ fourth anniversary!). There won’t be much fanfare for this one, because, well, let’s be honest: graduating from your “late-mid-30s” to “late-30s” isn’t all that groundbreaking. I’m cool with that, though – I’ll save the hoopla for my 40th. Or better yet, for my 39th.

Tonight we’ll be dining with my parents at one of my favorite restaurants, Hostaria del Piccolo. The food is creative yet comfortable (I’m partial to their gluten-free spaghetti with lentils and cherry tomatoes). The service, wonderful (Christian, the manager, always welcomes us with open arms – and often sends over some lemoncello). The cocktails, far too good. And to top it all off, the prices are quite reasonable, too. So no hullabaloo this year, just a celebratory meal with my husband and my parents. It’ll be perfect.

To honor my “blogiversary” today, I think it’s time to update one of my favorite recipes. Ever since our friend Michelle showed us her tricks to baking tofu, it’s been a regular weeknight dinner in our home, and it deserves far better photos than I had originally given it.

Michelle was vegan for about ten years, and during that time she certainly cooked her fair share of tofu. She says the secret to this recipe is simple: “Bake the hell out of it!”

She adapted the recipe from a stir-fry sauce found in Mollie Katzen’s The Enchanted Broccoli Forest, and our version has shifted a little bit over time as well. If you do make substitutions, just be sure to keep enough sugar in the sauce (whether from the orange juice or other sweetener), to be sure it will caramelize nicely.

Although it takes a while — pressing and baking the tofu can take over an hour — almost all of that time is inactive, so you can do something else outside of the kitchen. Truly, the hardest part of this recipe is remembering to get started early. Then in the last fifteen minutes or so, simply  sauté some greens to serve on the side. Throw in some brown rice or quinoa, and you’ve got a well-balanced, tremendously satisfying dinner.

Easy Weeknight Baked Tofu

3.0 from 1 reviews

Easy Weeknight Baked Tofu
Author: 
Recipe Type: Dinner
Cuisine: Asian
Prep Time: 
Cook Time: 
Total Time: 

Serves: 4
 

Pressing the tofu before marinating is crucial. Michelle uses this technique: Place a clean kitchen towel on the counter, and then layer several paper towels on one half of the towel. Place the slices on the paper towels, cover them with a few more paper towels, then fold the other half of the towel on top. Place a cutting board or other flat surface on top, and then add some weight on top (several large cans of food work well). Alternately, you could use a TofuXpress — it’s one of the few “unitaskers” in our kitchen that’s actually been a great purchase.
Ingredients
  • 1 pound firm tofu
  • ¾ cup orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey, or 2 tablespoons mirin wine*
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon red chili flakes or several shakes Original Tabasco Brand Hot Sauce (optional)

Instructions
  1. Drain the tofu and cut into even slices, about 1″ thick. Press the tofu to get out as much moisture as possible. It’s really important to get as much water out of the tofu as you can. Let sit for at least 10 minutes, longer if possible.
  2. While the tofu is pressing, combine the other ingredients in a bowl. Line a large baking dish with aluminum foil (for easier cleanup). Place the tofu slices in a single layer in the dish, and then pour marinade evenly over the tofu.
  3. Bake uncovered at 450°F for about 45 minutes, or until the marinade is nearly evaporated. (If you need to bake something else at a lower temperature at the same time, baking the tofu at 350°F will work fine, too.)

Notes
A note on mirin: Be sure to read the labels! Some may say “mirin” on the label, but are just junk made with corn syrup and grain alcohol (Kikkoman, I’m looking at you…). I like the Eden brand.

Photos by Kelly Jaggers for Eating Rules.

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10 Comments on "Michelle’s Weeknight Baked Tofu"
  1. Comment left on:
    April 7, 2014 at 8:23 am
    Heidi says:

    Does tofu pass the kitchen test? I have always thought of it as a processed food. The recipe looks so good though. I think I may try it anyway.

    • Comment left on:
      April 7, 2014 at 10:06 am
      Andrew says:

      Hi Heidi! I think most store-bought tofu does pass the kitchen test, though it’s definitely a good idea to double-check the ingredients to be sure. You can also make your own tofu if you prefer: http://www.eatingrules.com/2012/10/how-to-make-tofu/

    • Comment left on:
      April 7, 2014 at 10:09 am
      Devyn says:

      Actually, you can make tofu at home! It’s soybeans, lemon juice, and water. There are all sorts of recipes and videos on “how to” if you search for them. :)

  2. Comment left on:
    April 7, 2014 at 10:15 am
    Alli says:

    Happy Birthday! Thanks for the yummy recipe.

  3. Comment left on:
    April 7, 2014 at 10:34 am

    Happy birthday, Andrew! And this? This looks delicious. I feel like the marinade would be great on chicken too.

    Oh, and I’m guilty of the act of Kikoman Mirin-ing. Then again, my kitchen is far from unprocessed. It happens when your husband is hooked on “comfort food” that is made of junk. *sigh*…

  4. Comment left on:
    April 7, 2014 at 2:16 pm
    Marisa says:

    Happy Birthday! This looks great! I have cubed tofu on hand; would the cooking instructions be the same?

  5. Comment left on:
    April 8, 2014 at 12:19 am
    Jayne says:

    Happy birthday to you and your blog Andrew! I forgot how much I liked tofu, looks great!

  6. Comment left on:
    April 8, 2014 at 3:23 pm

    Happy Birthday! I’m about to head out to pick up some tofu and brown rice to make this for dinner tonight. Just what I need after a week of eating out on a trip! I recently discovered an extra firm organic tofu that doesn’t come soaked in water – this means I can often cut out the “press the heck out of it” step in my tofu recipes, making it much quicker. I’ll see how it turns out with this recipe tonight:)

  7. Comment left on:
    April 12, 2014 at 6:37 am
    Azu says:

    Love the ingredients for the marinade. I love tofu and I have never heard before about the TofuXpress.

  8. Comment left on:
    April 14, 2014 at 5:31 am
    Sharonann says:

    where did you get those wooden forks? Love the recipe. it passes the kitchen test, but not the starch test. lots of carbs here. and definitely not paleo if you are on a paleo diet.

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