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When I asked my neighbor, a trusted cook and friend, if she ever baked tofu, she scrunched her nose, recoiling—her expression revealed not only had she never baked tofu, but also that she had no interest in baking tofu.
Understood. With so many other sources of protein and calcium out there, tofu for non-vegetarians is a hard sell, seemingly high-maintenance—it requires pressing to release moisture and delicate handling to prevent crumbling and sticking—only to offer a bland product in return.
But if tofu’s demanding nature is a deterrent, the health benefits of eating less meat are not, so when I saw a recipe in Moosewood Restaurant Simple Suppers for baked tofu, which the authors describe as “the most useful recipe in the book,” I had to make it immediately. The results surprised me: A simple preparation, which called for making a four-ingredient dressing, resulted in nicely textured and completely tasty tofu—crispy edges, custardy centers, sesame-soy flavor throughout.
Best of all, no pressing or deft touch required. Having made the recipe a few times now, I’ve made some observations:
Cutting the block of tofu into 1-inch cubes (as opposed to larger slabs or triangles) allows them to quickly and effectively absorb the dressing.
Whisking a little Sriracha into the dressing adds a nice kick.
Lightly greasing the sheetpan before baking the tofu prevents any sticking.
Adding kale and flaked coconut to the sheet pan (inspired by this favorite Food52 recipe) after 20 minutes of cooking makes this a full meal.
Caramelized tofu, crispy kale, a sheet-pan supper—this baked preparation, as the authors promised, has become a “reliable standby,” and I have no doubt it will, at the very least, pique my neighbor’s interest.
Alexandra Stafford is a writer, photographer, and occasional stationery designer based in upstate New York, where she is writing a cookbook. You can read more of her work on her blog.
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A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).