Sesame-maple roasted tofu (4 servings)

maple+tofu.jpg

Once upon a time, I was scared of tofu. I didn't like the way it... behaved. It had a way of jiggling that made me nervous. And that grayish color and spongy texture? No thanks. Besides, foods that came packaged in brick form made me suspicious.

Luckily, I eventually learned to love tofu after I found out it's versatile and easy to prepare if you know a few tricks. The number one rule with tofu is to drain out as much moisture as you possibly can. My usual method is to cover a plate with four layers of paper towels, slice the brick of tofu into eight uniform rectangles, and place them on the plate. Then I cover the tofu with another four layers of paper towels and another plate, which I then top with something heavy, like the canister of sugar or two big cans of tomatoes. After that, I let it sit, anywhere from an hour to all day in the refrigerator while I'm at work. When the tofu is drained of excess moisture, it soaks up added flavors better, plus it's able to get a gorgeous caramelized crust, as in that luscious photo above. Otherwise, it's gummy, limp, and gag-worthy.

I found this recipe on Eating Well a couple months ago when I was searching for new ways to make tofu. I already knew how to make it with two kinds of noodles, put it in a wrap, and make it resemble orange chicken, but I wanted something different. Roasting the tofu gives it a crispy outside while the inside remains fairly creamy. The sauce complemented the roasted veggies, which were further enhanced by the sesame seeds. It was delicious!

You will need:

  • 14-oz block extra-firm tofu, drained and cut into 1-inch cubes (you can cut it up after you let it drain, using the method I described above)
  • 1 medium red onion, sliced thinly
  • 2 tsp canola oil
  • 2 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tsp pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 lb green beans, trimmed
  • 1 Tbsp sesame seeds (white, black, or a combination)

Steps:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. Toss tofu cubes, onion, canola oil, sesame oil, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Spread out on a large rimmed baking sheet; roast until tofu is lightly golden and the onions are turning brown (about 20 minutes).
  3. Whisk soy sauce, maple syrup, and vinegar in a small dish. Remove the tofu from the oven, and stir to turn the tofu over. Add in the green beans, and drizzle the maple sauce over top; toss to combine. Sprinkle sesame seeds over top the mixture and return to oven. Roast another 10-12 minutes, or until the green beans are tender and the tofu is nice and caramelized.

I sliced my onions into thin half-moons, and they got quite crispy, as you can see in the photo. I really like them that way though! You could easily serve the tofu and veggies with rice, but I just brushed a pita with olive oil and sprinkled onion powder and sesame seeds on top and baked it until it was crispy. Then I sliced it into wedges and served that on the side.