Tofu surprise

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?



  1. September 20, 2011 / 7:40 pm

    Since i got the special dish (to drain Tofu) from a japanese friend and directions how to make it I am making my own..which is pretty easy.I find indeed that kind of Tofu very yummy.This dish you prepared sounds nice darl':)

  2. September 20, 2011 / 8:08 pm

    Years since I cooked tofu, but it's come up on blogs twice this week!

    Certainly sounds good.

  3. September 20, 2011 / 8:14 pm

    Your husband sounds just like mine. Though yours probably does the Aussie accent better than mine! I have converted my family to tofu through fresh Vietnamese spring rolls filled with strips of marinated and then lightly fried firm tofu and the other usual vermicelli/mint/cuc stuff.
    When out, I love love love salt and pepper tofu.
    Adding this recipe to the list of things to cook! 🙂

  4. September 20, 2011 / 10:06 pm

    Didn't even know there were different kinds of tofu. I probably haven't been terribly open minded about it so far. You are on the verge of convincing me. I'll keep my eyes open for soft tofu and think about it…

  5. September 21, 2011 / 1:54 am

    Yes, tofu gets a rather undeserved bad rep! Obviously it's not for everyone but there are actually heaps of different kinds of tofu – it's like the Asian version of cheese, and when I go to China the variety is mindboggling!

    I love the sound of this – I used tofu instead of ricotta in a bake and it was still pretty tasty! The extra firm stuff can be tasty if seared quickly on high heat (tenderises it slightly), but again, it depends on who made the tofu. Thanks for posting this, it's always nice to see people standing up for tofu in new and exciting ways!

  6. September 21, 2011 / 4:38 am

    I love a tofu and seaweed salad that my favourite Japanese restaurant makes, it is covered in a delicious sesame sauce. Have never tried it at home though…
    Will try this recipe instead.

  7. September 21, 2011 / 5:31 am

    how do I love tofu let me count the ways! I love tofu in burgers and stirfries, scrambles and nuggets, crackers and burritos – though I actually quite like it firm rather than the silken type – and sylvia just eats in plain straight from the packet! In fact ever since I met tofu I feel much better about my dislike of eggs! I must try this bake – looks fantastic

  8. September 21, 2011 / 2:39 pm

    I also didn't know there were different kinds of tofu. I am going to give it a go as – it's different and I'm into different at the moment. Er, if it's not firm but silken does that mean it's runny??? Thanks KitchenMaid for your lovely comments on my blog and for letting me know about Holly's blog. I had a look and I love it. She's doing well and still in the competition, made it through to the semi-final, despite a bit of a dodgy week with desserts.

  9. September 21, 2011 / 4:28 pm

    never been crazy for tofu unless its been deep fried and served with lashings of some kind of saucy stuff… the dish does look good and if it was developed in the 80's it can't be all bad… can it?

  10. September 21, 2011 / 10:21 pm

    I actually like tofu. I think they're delicious. Especially Japanese tofu.
    I was trying to read this post in Australian accent, but ended up sounding slightly Irish.

  11. September 22, 2011 / 5:12 pm

    i love tofu…i make it often…but usually in a curry or stir fry…this looks great!! 🙂

  12. September 24, 2011 / 4:29 pm

    Can't say I've tried tofu often but this sounds like a pretty delicious way to eat it. Must bookmark…

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