Roasted Asparagus with Caramelized Tofu, Toasted Pine Nuts, and Garlic

Though asparagus is no longer in season, versions of this dish make its way into my weekly dinners because it’s super easy and I like the simple flavors. Lately I’ve been making a version with some local black walnuts and broccoli from my CSA, with maple syrup instead of the tofu. This easy dish puts simplicity in the foreground–the perfect solution for a busy day when cooking isn’t on the radar… but you want a cooked dinner.

tofu and asparagus

Roasted Asparagus with Caramelized Tofu, Toasted Pine Nuts, and Garlic

For the asparagus:
1 pound asparagus, washed, ends cut off, and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Fine sea or Himalayan salt

For the tofu:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon fine sea or Himalayan salt
1 (250 g) block extra-firm tofu, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup pine nuts
1 tablespoon agave nectar

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Toss the asparagus with the olive oil and sprinkle with the salt. Bake in oven for about eight to 10 minutes, until tender crisp.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Season the tofu with the salt, then fry, about three minutes on each side, until golden. Reduce to medium-low, add garlic, and stir until fragrant, about one minute. Add pine nuts and stir for about another 2 minutes, until their nutty aroma appears. Drizzle in the agave nectar, and stir all ingredients together, until tofu is coated. (Add a dash or two of water if it gets too sticky). Remove from heat.

When the asparagus is finished, toss it with the tofu mixture. Serve warm.


Spicy Apricot Tofu

A spicy marinade has a kick of cayenne, along with sweet apricots and a tang of Dijon. You can also fire up the grill, cut the tofu into chunks and spear it on skewers for a barbecued version of this easy protein- and flavor-rich dish.

Spicy Apricot Tofu

Spicy Apricot Tofu

For the marinade:
6 medium apricots, stoned
2 to 3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
1 to 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard (depending how potent your brand is, add it to taste)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Pinch fine sea salt
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

To finish:
2 (170g/6oz) packages super firm tofu, squeezed of excess moisture

Put the apricots, garlic, water, maple syrup, Dijon mustard and cayenne pepper in a food processor. Process until smooth.

Slice each block of tofu into six slices. Pour a little marinade into a long container. Add the tofu in a single layer, then top with the remaining marinade. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

When ready to cook, heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the tofu and fry until crisp, about 4 to 5 minutes per side. Serve warm.

Maple Barbecue Tofu Bites

These tofu bites are a great pop-in-the-mouth treat. You can double the marinade, reserve it after marinating them, and heat it as a dipping sauce, although they really don’t need it. If you freeze the tofu, then thaw it, the consistency forms a “meatier” texture, however, a long marination still delivers the same amount of flavor. See my note below about pressing tofu if you’re unfamiliar with this (imperative!) step.

Maple Barbecue Baked Tofu2

Maple Barbecue Tofu Bites

5 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons tomato paste
3 tablespoons wheat-free tamari or gluten-free soy sauce
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoons yellow mustard
1/4 -1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 (350g) package extra-firm tofu, pressed and cut into 1/2″ (12 mm) cubes

Put the water, tomato paste, tamari, maple syrup, onion powder, garlic powder, mustard, and cayenne pepper in a shallow bowl. Whisk to combine. Gently stir in the tofu cubes, cover, and let sit for three to five hours.

When you’re ready to bake the tofu, preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper, and spread the tofu, in a single layer, on the sheet. You can reserve the marinade, if desired, for a dipping sauce.

Bake for 30 minutes, turning every 10 minutes.

Note: Pressing tofu removes the excess moisture and allows it to absorb the marinade much more efficiently, with a far tastier end product. To do it, layer a cutting board with two layers of clean towels. Top with tofu, and layer with another two towels. Top with a board (I use another cutting board), then put a heavy object on top (like a cast iron pan, or a heavy pot or two) that offers even weight distribution. Allow to press for at least 30 minutes, changing the towels if they become soaked through.