Wait, come back! That headline is ironic, I promise. Poor old tofu gets such a hard time. I agree, the extra firm stuff is like chewing the bottom of a Converse sneaker, but the melt-in-your-mouth soft stuff is wonderful. If you don’t agree, then you should make this surprisingly good make-ahead bake that is jammed with tofu and brown rice and olives and spinach. Then tell me you don’t like tofu.
This is how it played in our house:
Him (in mock Australian accent): “What’s for dinner, darl? Is there tofu in there?”
Her: (in ‘I am not cross with you yet, but I might be’ voice): “Yes. And it’s going to be delicious.”
Small Girl: “Dinner time!”
Him: “Is there any more?”
Her: “Yes, and you can even take some for lunch tomorrow!”
Small Girl (singing): “I saw a little green frog last night…”
Tomato Tofu and Rice Bake
This is adapted from an 80s Annabel Langbein recipe I remember my mum making. I know it sounds worthy (tofu! brown rice! spinach!) but it’s really tasty. Please use soft tofu. I buy it from the vege market from an ancient Chinese woman and it costs about $2 for 500g. You can make this ahead of time and refrigerate, covered, until you’re ready to cook it. Leftovers are good hot or cold.
3 cups cooked brown rice (let me know if we need a rice tutorial, but I’m figuring you know how to cook rice if you’ve got this far)
2Tbsp olive oil
2 red onions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 x 400g tins of tomatoes
a squirt of tomato paste
300g soft tofu, sliced into 2cm chunks
1 cup kalamata olives, pitted
1 cup cottage cheese/ricotta
3-4 handfuls of spinach or silverbeet, blanched in boiling water and squeezed dry
2 handfuls of grated Parmesan
salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 180C and grease an ovenproof baking dish.
Saute the onion and garlic in the olive oil and cook gently until soft and golden. Add the tomato paste and cook for a minute or two, then add the tomatoes. Stir and let simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes until the sauce is thick. Add the tofu and olives and let cook gently for another five minutes. Remove from heat and season.
Layer half the cooked rice in the bottom of the greased dish, then cover with half the tomato tofu mixture and half the spinach. Spread the cottage cheese on top, then repeat the rice, tomato and spinach layers. Sprinkle over the Parmesan. Cover with a lid or a sheet of greased foil (it’s important to grease the foil, or the cheese will stick to it) and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil or lid and cook for another 5-10 minutes until the cheese is crispy and the dish is piping hot. Serves four.
What’s your favourite way with tofu?