It's my mission to get people
like, no make that love tofu. I'm good at helping people see the light when it comes to tofu cooking and eating. Heck, my fondest tofu cooking memory is helping a finicky child I used to babysit eat a tofu stir fry and have her ask for it again. There are several tofu secrets you must learn: season it liberally, use the correct type of tofu and know which cooking methods work best. All three are essential and closely tied together. I have a "friend" blogger, Mary Ellen's Cooking Creations; I thoroughly enjoy her recipes. One of her specialties is tofu — she writes creative and original tofu recipes. I have a few tofu go-to recipes, a dynamite tofu chicken salad, and tofu lasagna. Someday I'll get around to sharing my vegan/vegetarian tofu chocolate pudding recipe — a version I created that mimics a good and very expensive Whole Foods Vegan Chocolate Pudding. There's a great story to go along with the recipe too, but I'll save it for another post.
Today, I'm sharing an idea given to me by my bestie, Rachel, updated and recreated in the style of my favorite cookbook - Deceptively Delicious, sort of based on the Tofu Bites I made and wrote about in 2008. Rachel told me she made tofu parmigiana and I was completely taken with the idea. It was so tasty and easy that I've made it twice now — tweaking the recipe from a simple dip the tofu in flour, egg and bread crumbs to adding a puree of spinach to the egg the second time around. Both times I discovered that you have to season the tofu a lot, in every step of the process. Tofu is a blank slate and in order to make someone fall in love with it, you need to jazz up the flavors. Take my word for it, you have to layer in the flavors. I'm thinking of marinating the tofu the next time I make it, then do the flour, egg/spinach puree and bread crumb routine, to make it POP! with flavor. Just a thought. If you try it and you have an idea, let me know how it works out for you. I've discovered an organic, low-fat firm tofu, which I enjoy using. For this recipe, use firm or extra firm tofu; drain it, cut it into several pieces and for the love of processed soy beans, SEASON, SEASON, SEASON it! I'm writing the version with puree of spinach in the egg batter. Feel free to omit it if this step is too much for you!
Tofu Parmigiana Ingredients:
- 1 Pound or 1 Container Firm or Extra Firm Tofu - drained and tofu patted dry
- Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- 1 Cup All-Purpose Unbleached or All-Purpose White Wholewheat Flour
- 1 Egg - lightly beaten
- 1/2 Cup Frozen Chopped Spinach - thawed, drained and pureed in a food processor or blender
- 2 Cups Whole Wheat Bread Crumbs
- 1/4 Cup Dried Italian Seasonings
- 1 Tablespoon Garlic Powder (no salt)
- 1 Tablespoon Onion Powder (no salt)
- 2 Tablespoons Olive oil or Cooking Spray
For Parmagania topping:
- 1 & 1/2 Cups Tomato Sauce
- 2 Tablespoons Grated Pasta Cheese (such as Peccorino, Locatelli or Parmesan)
- 1/2 Cup Shredded Mozzarella or 2-3 Sharp Provolone Cheese Slices
- Salt & Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- Roasted Peppers - optional
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees fahenheight. Prepare a sheet tray/baking tray by lining it with either a Silpat, parchment paper or tin foil. Spray the lined sheet tray with cooking spray or brush it with the 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Set aside.
- Prepare three plates or shallow dishes as follows; one with flour — seasoned with salt, pepper and a pinch each of the ground garlic and onion powders; the second with the lightly beaten egg and spinach puree mixture. Season this mixture with salt, pepper, and a pinch of the garlic and onion powders; the third plate/dish should be the bread crumbs, seasoned with salt, pepper, the Italian seasonings and the remaining garlic and onion powders.
- Drain and dry the tofu and cut the block into thirds, slicing the thickness into three pieces. Cut each piece into half, on the diagonal, creating two triangles from each third — you will have 6 triangles. Season each piece of tofu with salt and freshly ground pepper.
- Dip each tofu piece into the seasoned flour, then into the spinach and egg puree, and then into the seasoned breadcrumbs. Lay the finished tofu pieces onto the prepared sheet tray. Continue on in this manner until all of the tofu is completely breaded.
- Bake for 15 minutes, then carefully turn the tofu pieces over so that they will brown and cook evenly on both sides. Continue to bake the tofu for another 15 to 25 minutes — depending on how firm and brown you want the finished product to be.
- When the tofu is done to your liking, remove from the oven and cool for 5 minutes.
- To serve, spread 2 tablespoons of tomato sauce onto a plate and place two tofu triangles on top of the tomato sauce; spread more tomato sauce on top of the tofu, and if using, a few small juliened slices of roasted red peppers; sprinkle some grated cheese on top of the tomato sauce, then layer onto each tofu triangle either half a piece of sharp provolone slice or 2 tablespoons of grated mozzarella cheese on top. Melt in a microwave for either 45 seconds or in the oven for 2 minutes.
- Serve hot immediately. Tofu can be cooled completely and made the next day, heated in the microwave for a minute and a half to two minutes before serving. Will hold for up to one week, covered, in the refrigerator. Serves three - two triangles for each serving.
Recipe Bonus Extra: with the left-over spinach egg puree mixture, you can stir in some of the seasoned breadcrumbs to make a "spinach burger" patty. Use as only as much breadcrumbs just to make the spinach mixture hold together and be formed into a patty. You may be able to make one large or two small/medium patties. Bake, along with the tofu triangles, for about 30 minutes, turning over after 15 minutes.