Tofu Toppings

By Jacqueline Dunnington

Tofu is the prepared curd of the white milk from soybeans. It is traditionally used in East Asian cooking in a myriad of forms, from the standard soft squares to chunks pickled in plum vinegar. The word tofu, as spelled in the west, comes from Japan where the first mention of it was in the 12th century, used in reference to the Buddhist vegetarian fare. In old Mandarin Chinese it was tou-fu, now pronounced dou-fu; in the Philippines it is called tokawa.

In the United States, tofu can be bought in a silky state (soft), medium-textured, or hard-pressed. You can even find lite versions of tofu. Firm tofu gives the cook consistency control, while soft tofu is close to cream. When fresh, it is virtually without scent. As tofu can spoil, be sure to check the expiration date on each package. Enjoy these recipes!

Teriyaki, Sesame, and tofu Topping for Greens

(Serves 4)

Try a new top hat for your cooked green vegetable of choice.

  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red pepper
  • 4 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 cup crumbled firm tofu
  • 1 pinch dried basil
  • 2 Tablespoons low-sodium teriyaki sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons sesame seeds

Sauté peppers and shallots in oil over low heat until soft. Remove from stove and add tofu. Whip mixture in a blender, adding basil, teriyaki sauce, then sesame seeds. (If needed, add a few drops of hot water while whipping.) Serve at once over steamed greens, such as spinach, chard, or broccoli. This is also a great topping for hot brown rice or pasta.

Total calories per serving: 156 Fat: 12 grams
Carbohydrates: 7 grams Protein: 7 grams
Sodium: 169 milligrams Fiber: 1 gram

Savory Tofu Mock Sour Cream for Baked Potatoes

(Serves 4)

Your classic baked potato awaits this simple, elegant complement.

  • 4 large scrubbed baking potatoes
  • 1 large yellow onion, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/3 cup trimmed and finely chopped chives
  • 1 cup soft tofu, blended
  • 2 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
  • Salt or salt substitute and freshly cracked pepper to taste

Bake potatoes in usual manner until done. Meanwhile, sauté onions in oil until clear, then add chives. Remove mixture from heat; add tofu, parsley, and seasonings. Whip mixture in a blender. Cut open potato tops and spoon in mixture. Serve at once.

Total calories per serving: 242 Fat: 9 grams
Carbohydrates: 36 grams Protein: 6 grams
Sodium: 15 milligrams Fiber: 4 grams

Tofu-Guacamole Salad Dressing

(Serves 4-6)

Here's a healthy, savory, southwestern-style treat for a salad topping.

  • 3 large, ripe avocados, peeled and pitted
  • 1 large, very ripe tomato, peeled and crushed
  • 1/2 cup very finely chopped cooked green chilies (Canned chilies are fine.)
  • 1/2 cup very finely chopped whites of scallions
  • 1 teaspoon extra finely chopped cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 cup soft tofu, blended
  • 1 pinch of garlic salt

Mash avocados with all other ingredients in a serving bowl using a fork. Chill for a few hours and serve on top of raw, organic greens. (Great with spinach leaves.)

Total calories per serving: 258 Fat: 24 grams
Carbohydrates: 17 grams Protein: 8 grams
Sodium: 209 milligrams Fiber: 12 grams

Colorful Tofu Topping With Rice

(Serves 6)

A tasty topping free of dairy products and oil. When serving, place a few asparagus or leek stalks across the top of the rice bed.

  • 1-1/2 cups soft tofu
  • 2 Tablespoons lime juice
  • 4 Tablespoons chopped cilantro (Reserve one Tablespoonful for garnish.)
  • 3 scallions, trimmed and finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup scrubbed, peeled, and grated carrots
  • 1/3 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/3 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • Pinch of salt or salt substitute
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 4 cups cooked brown or wild rice

In a blender, whip tofu until smooth. Blend in all vegetables and seasonings until smooth. Spoon into a double boiler and warm over hot water. Pour equal portions over hot rice, and garnish with cilantro before serving.

Total calories per serving: 154 Fat: 2 grams
Carbohydrates: 28 grams Protein: 8 grams
Sodium: 11 milligrams Fiber: 3 grams

Quick-Fix Tofu Pasta Sauce

(Serves 4)

International cuisine at its simplest.

  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 medium yellow onion, slivered
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 pound firm tofu, cut in small cubes
  • 1-1/2 cups prepared crushed tomatoes (preferably low-sodium variety)
  • 1 large pinch dried oregano
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
  • Freshly cracked black pepper to taste

Sauté garlic and onions in oil along with tofu cubes until tofu is brown. Stir in crushed tomatoes and seasonings. Simmer about 15 minutes and serve steaming hot atop pasta of your choice. A cold green salad is great with this dish.

Total calories per serving: 238 Fat: 19 grams
Carbohydrates: 10 grams Protein: 10 grams
Sodium: 21 milligrams Fiber: 2 grams

Double-Almond Tofu Sauce for Fruit

(Serves 4)

Bananas and mangoes cry out for this topping.

  • 1 cup cooked, chopped dried apricots
  • One 8-ounce package soft tofu
  • 1/4 cup finely ground almonds
  • 1/4 cup rice syrup
  • 1 dash of lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Soften apricots by boiling in water.

Whirl all ingredients in a blender. Chill and serve over fruit of your choice.

Total calories per serving: 249 Fat: 7 grams
Carbohydrates: 43 grams Protein: 6 grams
Sodium: 23 milligrams Fiber: 2 grams

Tofu-Ginger Topping With Bok Choy

(Serves 4)

No need to fly to Asia to savor this meal, tailored for vegans.

  • 2 Tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 large clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 Tablespoon peeled and crushed ginger root
  • 2 -3 Tablespoon vegetable broth
  • 2 Tablespoons sesame oil
  • 3 cups finely shredded bok choy
  • 1 1/2 cups firm tofu, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup trimmed and finely chopped scallions
  • 4 cups cooked oriental noodles of choice
  • 3 Tablespoons sesame seeds

Blend soy sauce, garlic, ginger root, and broth in a ceramic bowl. Let this sauce stand about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat oil over low flame in a deep wok or skillet. Add bok choy, crumbled tofu, and scallions. Stir-fry for 3 minutes. Add marinade and cook to reduce liquid. Top hot noodles with the tofu-based sauce. Garnish with sesame seeds.

Total calories per serving: 378 Fat: 15 grams
Carbohydrates: 50 grams Protein: 12 grams
Sodium: 396 milligrams Fiber: 4 grams

Jacqueline Dunnington is a freelance writer from Santa Fe, NM, and a frequent contributor to the Vegetarian Journal.