Some weeks I like to get wild in the kitchen and come up with fancy new inventions. This week I was craving simplicity. I recently created a new sauce that is nutty and spicy that I really liked. Inspiration for it came from my love for Thai food (peanuts are a common ingredient in Thai sauces). I decided to try using the sauce I created as a marinade and make some baked peanut tofu with it. The result, is this simple baked peanut tofu bowl.
Homemade Tofu Press
Pressing tofu before cooking with it is a new discovery of mine. It makes SUCH a difference! Pressing the moisture out of your tofu block before cooking with it greatly improves the texture of the tofu (it makes it more dense) and I find it also better holds flavor from marinading.
First, wrap your tofu block in a towel or two on your cutting board. Next, place a heavy object on top of it for about 30 minutes. That’s it! You could use a couple of cans, a pot, anything that is heavy enough to lightly press down on the tofu without smashing it completely. I used one of my boyfriend’s huge books for school, Differential Diagnosis and Management for the Chiropractor (but any big book will do!).
Spicy Peanut Sauce
Now, onto the sauce. I apologize that I don’t have any photos to share of the process for making the marinade, but it is very easy. Really, just throw all of the sauce ingredients into your blender or food processor, and voilà! When I first made this sauce I soaked some peanuts in water and then blended them with everything else. I think peanut butter could easily be subbed though, to make things even easier. The only reason I used whole peanuts instead of peanut butter actually, is because I didn’t have any peanut butter on hand! I was forced to get a bit creative, but it all worked out great in the end. So what I’m trying to say is, if you have whole peanuts, or peanut butter, either will work for the sauce.
After about 30 minutes of pressing your tofu, chop it into cubes as shown and then toss it in a bowl with your marinade. You may not need to use all of your marinade (I didn’t). Just enough to coat all sides of the tofu will do. Any leftover marinade you have can be stored and used later in the week, or you can drizzle it over your baked peanut tofu bowls right before serving. At this point you can also start preheating your oven to 375 F. My oven preheated in about 10 minutes, so my tofu was only marinading for about 10 minutes.
Prep Your Vegetables
Once your tofu is in the oven, set the timer for 25 minutes. In the meantime, you can start to prepare the vegetables and rice. Like I said, I was craving simplicity this week. I made some simple steamed brown rice and simple steamed vegetables to go with my baked peanut tofu. Red bell pepper, zucchini, broccoli, and yellow onions are what I used. You are welcome to use whatever vegetables you want though! These are just the vegetables I happened to have in my fridge at the time!
Baked Peanut Tofu Bowls
By the time your tofu comes out of the oven, your veggies and rice should also be done, and everything can be assembled. Simply spoon out some brown rice into a bowl, and top it with your baked peanut tofu and veggies. That’s it! You can drizzle your bowls with extra leftover peanut marinade, or use any other sauce you happen to have at home.
There’s nothing too fancy about this recipe. It’s healthy, simple, whole foods plant based, and in my humble opinion – delicious. What I love about this recipe though, is that the sauce is oil free, sugar free, and healthy! It’s hard to find baked tofu recipes online that don’t include oil in the ingredients list. I think pressing the tofu beforehand plays a big role in the tofu still coming out firm and slightly crispy after baking, yet with no oil used. It’s why I love pressing tofu now before cooking with it! It really does make such a difference.
So though this bowl is simple, I think the peanut tofu marinade really shines as a great way to bake tofu that has tons of flavor, but is healthy as well. It ends up making the final version of this dish extremely low fat, low sugar, low sodium, and high protein! Perfect for any day of the week.
That’s all I have to say about this dish! I hope you enjoy it, in all its delicious simplicity.
- ½ cup of unsalted peanuts (or ¼ cup of all natural peanut butter - see notes)*
- 5-6 dates (see notes)*
- ¾ cup of water (see notes)*
- 2 tbs of rice vinegar
- 2 tbs of soy sauce
- 3-4 tbs of Sriracha
- 2 tbs of lime juice
- 1 block of tofu
- Steamed brown rice
- Steamed vegetables (see notes)*
- Wrap your block of tofu in a few towels on your cutting board. Place a heavy object on it for about 30 minutes to press extra liquid out of it.
- Place your dates in a microwave safe dish with about 2 cups of water and microwave for 2 minutes. This will help your dates soften, so they will blend more easily.
- Combine all marinade ingredients in a blender of food processor and blend until smooth. The mixture should be thick, but not chunky. The water I used in this recipe came from the water used in the bowl to soak and microwave the dates - aka "date" water.
- Preheat oven to 375 F.
- Once your tofu is done pressing, chop it into cubes and toss it in a bowl with about half of your peanut sauce.
- Space out the coated tofu cubes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 25-30 minutes.
- While the tofu bakes for 25-30 minutes you can chop and prep your veggies and rice.
- Once the tofu is out of the oven, put some rice in a bowl and top it off with your steamed veggies and baked peanut tofu.
- You can optionally drizzle extra leftover marinade on your bowls, or any other sauce you have at home. Enjoy!
*Soaking the dates in hot water for a few minutes helps soften them up. I then used the leftover water they were soaking in as the water in this recipe.
* The vegetables I used were broccoli, red bell pepper, zucchini and onion! You can use whatever vegetables you like.