Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Roasted Tofu with Couscous

I'm sure some of you out there saw the title to this post and groaned. I know a lot of people out there have very poor perceptions of tofu as a mushy, tasteless, foam-like substance, which is quite unfortunate. Tofu, when made well, is firm, chewy and full of flavor, and hopefully this recipe will inspire some of you to give it a shot. If you're already a fan of this version of soybeans, then hopefully this will give you ideas of new directions to take it in.

Tofu is essentially a blank canvas, it can become and taste like almost anything you want it to. While I'm still a little skittish on using it in desserts (I highly doubt I will ever find a tofu-cheesecake recipe worth posting), it's a really great way to add variety to your protein sources. For what it's worth, tofu is also awesome for you -- very low in cholesterol and sodium, it's a good source of protein, calcium and iron. Good luck finding 10g of protein for 88 calories anywhere else! All of that adds up to a diet-friendly food that can be made to fit any palate.

As my summer has quickly been overtaken by spending ~70+ hours a week on school, the majority of my recipes will be things that are quick, can either feed a family dinner or create enough leftovers to feed myself for the week, and are fairly healthy. There isn't much wiggle room for extra time at the gym this summer, so hopefully some of you out there will appreciate recipes that are a little lighter but still filling and never bland!

On a quick side-note-- one of my friends in the nursing program was asking about some healthier recipes to try out for her and her family, and I know several of our readers are my aunts/uncles, so making food kid-friendly is on my radar. A suggestion for how to get kids interested, and possibly even liking, foods like tofu and other 'weird stuff' is to involve them in the cooking. Tofu's consistency can be off-putting to people, kids especially, simply because it's different- but generally if the kids have helped make it, they're all about wanting to eat it :)

Roasted Tofu with Couscous
Inspired from Epicurious.com

1 lb extra firm tofu, patted dry and cut into 1/2" cubes
*Peas, chopped peppers or onions -- 1 cup/serving of couscous

Sweet-Salty Marinade
3 tsp Reduced Sodium Soy Sauce
3 tsp Honey
2 Tbs olive oil
1tsp Sesame Oil
2 gloves Garlic, minced
roasted red pepper flakes, salt and pepper to taste

Citrus Marinade
2 tsp each Lime and Lemon juice
3 Tbs olive oil
1 tsp paprika
salt and pepper to taste

1. Divide the tofu into two containers that have secure lids.
2. Whisk each marinade together, pour over the tofu and cover thoroughly by gently inverting the containers a few times.
3. Marinade the tofu for at least 30 minutes, several hours is better.

4. Roast the tofu at 375º on a baking sheet lined with tin foil (clean up will be a *huge* pain if you don't line your sheet well- trust me!)
4a**. The tofu covered with the sweet-salty marinade was ready in 20 minutes, whereas the high water content in the citrus marinade required closer to 40 minutes. You'll know when they're done because they're browned and firm.

5. While the tofu is roasting, prepare the couscous according to the directions on the box.
6. Add the peas/peppers or onions as desired to the couscous for some additional color, texture and veggie points.
7. Season as desired with salt and pepper. Other delicious spice additions could be tumeric, paprika, garlic, cilantro or parsley -- mix and match as you please.
8. Serve the tofu on top of the couscous and enjoy!

*I made the 2nd marinade up off the top of my head, so don't be afraid to throw some different things together and give it a try. Another option is always to use pre-made marinades or salad dressings.
*Another option for carb-minded folks is to serve the tofu on a bed of baby spinach. This is particularly good if the tofu is still hot and you can drizzle any remaining marinade over the spinach.

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