Tag Archives: tofu

Exciting News + Sesame Tofu Summer Rolls

25 Sep

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Before we delve into the world of summer rolls, I have some news! Last week I officially became a registered dietitian nutritionist otherwise known as an RDN. It took many years of school, a year-long internship, and a big test but now I can finally call myself Stephanie Lang, MS, RDN.  And gee, it feels good. I look forward to using my degree and credential to help people make good, delicious, healthy food choices.

And now…back to summer rolls.

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On a recent visit to Ithaca, New York, I ate Vietnamese summer rolls at the Ithaca Farmers’ Market and have not stopped thinking about them since. Weeks later, those delicious summer rolls were still on my mind and I thought, how hard could it be to make these at home?

Turns out, not that hard at all. Summer rolls are great because Continue reading

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(Vegan) Lasagna with Tofu “Garden Ricotta”

11 Mar

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Spring is around the corner, it is almost, almost here, but I still feel the slam of the cold on my face and hands every time I walk outside.

This lasagna is a transition from heavy, cheesy winter comforts to lighter, colorful spring fare. By using a tofu “ricotta” instead of actual ricotta, this pasta dish gets a lighter makeover so that we won’t have to undo the top button on our pants after eating.

I used to make tofu “ricotta” back when I was cooking for 60 students in the Berkeley co-ops. Pulse some firm tofu in a blender or food processor, add some aromatics and spices, and it turns from rubbery soy product to magical cheese-like goodness in seconds! I really like the addition of white miso paste to this version.

…and because I am flexible, I added a little grated Parmesan cheese to top off my vegan lasagna. Hey, it’s a transition, remember? A little Parmesan offers a nice salty punch without weighing down the pasta, but if you are vegan, just omit.

I also love my carbs, so a little toast with olive oil and salt is a nice crunch contrast to the lasagna.

Now, bring on the warm sunshine!

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I love lasagna, and I believe there should be a lasagna for every occasion. Check out this summer version with zucchini here. And check out this Passover matzo lasagna here.

Vegan Lasagna

adapted from Chloe’s Kitchen

Serves 6-8

**Make ahead: you can prepare the unbaked lasagna and keep it in the fridge for about 2 days before baking. 

Garden Ricotta

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic

1 14-oz package firm or extra-firm tofu, drained

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon white miso paste

3 cups fresh basil

Sauce & Assembly

2 tablespoons olive oil

8 ounces mushrooms, sliced

1 24-oz jar marinara sauce

1/4 milk of your choice *I used cow’s milk, but to keep things truly vegan use soy, almond, or rice milk

1 bunch kale, stemmed and chopped (you can also use spinach or another green)

1/2 pound no-boil lasagna noodles

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. You will need a 9 x 13 inch-pan.

To make the Garden Ricotta: In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat and saute onions until soft. Add garlic and cook one more minute. Remove from heat.

In the food processor, combine onions, garlic, tofu, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and miso paste. Pulse until the mixture is almost smooth but still has some texture. Add basil and pulse a few more times to incorporate it.

To make the sauce: Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet (just use the same skillet you used to saute the onions). Add the mushrooms and cook until soft. Add marinara and milk. The milk should soften the acidity of the tomatoes (you can also add a tablespoon of brown sugar or maple syrup here, but I just omitted it).

To assemble and bake the lasagna: Spread a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of the prepared pan. Arrange 4 lasagna noodles across the pan. Spread half of the Garden Ricotta over the noodles. Layer half of the kale over the Garden Ricotta. Arrange 4 more noodles on top. Spread another layer of sauce over the noodles, then arrange 4 more noodles on top. Top with another layer of sauce, the remaining Garden Ricotta, and the remaining kale.

Cover the pan with foil and bake for 45 minutes, or until the noodles are cooked and the sauce is hot and bubbling. Remove from the oven and let it rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Optional: If you are not vegan, I enjoyed the lasagna with a little grated Parmesan on top before serving.

Farmer’s Market Veggie Explosion with Miso Curry Dressing

6 Aug

A variation on the Miso-Curry Delicata Squash that I was making over and over again last fall.

This time around there’s eggplant, heirloom tomato, baby potatoes, and zucchini from the farmer’s market. And tofu for protein!

Dressed with a smash and a stir of white miso, red Thai curry paste, and extra virgin olive oil. Finished with a squeeze of lemon, fresh herbs, and slivered almonds.

I was inspired by the produce at the farmer’s market. I suggest you do the same and use whatever strikes your interest–corn, peppers, sprouts, peas, baby eggplants…

I think my favorites right now have to be the cherry tomatoes. Farmer’s market tomatoes taste SO much better than any grocery store variety. Just remember not to put them in the refrigerator or they will lose their luscious tomato taste. They are great roasted or raw.

Looking for another quick, farmer’s market-inspired dinner idea? Tacos are always the answer in my book.

I know that this Miso Curry Veggie Explosion requires you to turn on the oven. If you just can’t take the heat, make a raw salad with some kale, tomatoes, snap peas, corn etc. You could still use tofu. Just cut everything in bite size pieces and drizzle the miso-curry dressing with a little lemon and chopped herbs, and add the nuts or seeds for texture. No oven required. Stay cool.

Endless possibilities.

Veggie Explosion with Miso Curry Dressing

adapted from Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Everyday 

serves 4

1/4 cup/ 60 ml extra-virgin olive oil

Scant 1/4 cup/ 2.5 oz/ 70 g white miso (I purchase mine at Whole Foods)

Scant 1 tablespoon red Thai curry paste

1 14-oz package of extra firm tofu, cut into cubes

1 large handful of small potatoes, unpeeled and cut into chunks

1 medium eggplant, cut into small chunks

1/2 of a medium zucchini, cut into strips

1 large heirloom tomato, cut into cubes

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (half a lemon)

1/4 cup slivered almonds

small handful of fresh basil or cilantro leaves, roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, whisk together olive oil, miso, and curry paste.

Combine the tofu, potatoes, eggplant, zucchini, and tomato in a large bowl with all but 2 tablespoons-worth of the miso-curry paste. Use your hands to toss well, then turn your vegetables onto a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment and arrange everything in a single layer. Roast for about 30 minutes, until everything is tender and browned. Toss once or twice along the way, after things start to brown a bit. When the veggies come out of the oven, squeeze half of a lemon over them.

Serve the veggie explosion with some toasted almond slivers, fresh basil or cilantro, and a spoonful of the remaining sauce with a little more lemon.

NOTE: You can always make a raw salad. No oven. Dressing is the same. Enjoy.

Pineapple Not-So-Fried-Rice

15 Jun

I’m at a weird transition point in my life.

Just a few weeks ago, I was working full time, volunteering once a week, and taking an online medical biochemistry class to fulfill a prerequisite for graduate school.

I felt busy and stressed, but I was in the groove. There came a point when I had to let something go. I stopped volunteering and I quit my job. I went back home to California for a week and was able to completely relax and gather myself. Now that I am back in New York, my main responsibility is to do well in this biochemistry class. Sure, I study throughout the day, but boy do I have gobs of free time.

Gobs. Of. Free. Time.

What a blessing, right? I’m trying to seize the day and take advantage of my new-found ‘freedom,’ but it is hard to get out there and explore when I feel obligated to catch up on Parks and Recreation and devour the tin of chocolate covered almonds in my pantry. Life is so hard sometimes.

At least now I have the time to experiment in the kitchen and cook healthy meals for myself.

The tofu gods were calling on me this week, I’ve been craving tofu like a maniac (see my previous post on Tofu Bento Bowls). And now that I finally realize how important it is to drain and press the tofu (see recipe below), all of my tofu dishes have been turning out better than ever.

This recipe is from Chloe Coscarelli’s book. This is her Pineapple Not-So-Fried Rice. In her picture, she plates the dish in a pineapple boat. I tried to do the boat, I even looked up how to do it online and watched a video. When push came to shove, things just got messy and I found that I was wasting to much of the sweet flesh. I broke down and cut the pineapple up and ate my meal out of a bowl. Oh the perils of being uncreative/lazy.

Despite the pineapple boat failure, the meal tasted superb. There’s sweet yellow pineapple and crunchy raw cashews. Baked tofu and bright green peas. Shredded carrots and studs of raisins. With all sorts of onion and garlic and spice to flavor the rice.


Tofu cubes fresh out of the oven. Ain’t nothin’ better. All it took was a good pat-dry and a press, a little soy sauce, and an oven.

Pineapple Not-So-Fried Rice

Serves 4-6

From Chloe’s Kitchen

1 14-oz package extra-firm tofu, drained

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 pineapple, or 1 1/2 cups diced pineapple

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 onion, thinly sliced

2 scallions, chopped (optional)

sea salt or Kosher salt

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons curry powder

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon chili-garlic sauce

3/4 cup cashews

1 carrot, peeled and shredded (I simple sliced the carrot thinly with my knife, but you could use a box grater if you want)

1/2 cup peas (you can use fresh or frozen)

1/2 cup raisins

3 cups cooked rice

1/4 cup water or vegetable broth

Note: The first thing I did was get my rice cooking so that it would be fully cooked for when I needed it later.

To prepare the tofu: Wrap the tofu tightly in dry paper towels or a clean kitchen towel. Set the tofu on a flat surface and place a small baking pan on top. Then stack something heavy, like canned food or books, on top. Let the tofu sit for 20 minutes while it releases its water. When ready, discard the towels and cube the tofu.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss the tofu with the soy sauce, making sure each cube is coated. Place in one layer on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 45 minutes, turning the tofu a few times with a spatula. Remove from the oven and set aside.

If you are using a whole pineapple, peel it and remove the core. Slice the pineapple into cubes. If you want to make a pineapple boat for serving, cut the pineapple in half lengthwise, remove the inner flesh with a paring knife, then cut into bite-sized pieces (I tried to do the boat, but found that I was losing too much of the good flesh, so I nixed the idea).

In a large skillet or wok, heat the oil over medium-high heat and saute the onions until soft and lightly browned. Season with salt. Add the garlic, scallions (if using), curry, coriander, and chili-garlic sauce. Let this cook a few more minutes. Add the cashews, carrots, peas, raisins, cooked rice, water (or broth), pineapple, and tofu. Cook until heated through and adjust salt to taste. Serve the rice in the pineapple shell (if you are brave enough to try the boat method) or simply in a bowl. Enjoy!

Tofu Bento Bowls

10 Jun

A light dinner for a warm summer night.

A vegetarian take on the Japanese bento box, the containers with separate compartments usually used for  lunch to-go.

Vegetarian Times Magazine is a great resource for healthy vegetarian meals. This Tofu Bento Bowl, along with the Hearty Grain Soup With Beans and Greens and the Peanut Butter Banana Bread With Chocolate Chips are some of my favorite recipes that I tend to make over and over.

Finally, I felt satisfied with my skillet tofu skills. The secret? I drained and patted the tofu until it was nice and dry, which, as so many tofu experts preach, is the best way to ensure a great tofu product. No excess water to interfere with the heat and the sauce that flavor the tofu. I also tried not to turn the tofu very often; I just let it get nice and brown and flipped it only once or twice.

Tofu Bento Bowls

serves 6, adapted from Vegetarian Times Magazine (october 2006 issue)

For some crazy reason, I did not have hot chili-garlic sauce (I know, I need to get on that asap). I omitted the chili-garlic sauce and instead used a combo of a spicy chili sesame oil and a regular dark toasted sesame oil. I also sprinkled a few red chili flakes into the mix for an added kick. 

I also used lime instead of lemon because that was what I had on-hand. 

You could also omit the yogurt in the recipe to make this a vegan meal. And if you use a gluten-free soy sauce, this could be a gluten-free meal! Boom.

Spicy Tofu

1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce

1/4 cup hot chili-garlic sauce

2 Tbsp. dark sesame oil

14-oz. extra firm tofu, cubed

5 green onions, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)

1/4 cup nonfat plain yogurt

2 Tbsp. lemon juice

Salad

1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce

2 Tbsp. lemon juice

1 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger

1 tsp. hot chili-garlic sauce

2 cups cooked brown rice

4 1/2 cups mixed baby greens

2 carrots, peeled into ribbons

1 cucumber, thinly sliced (about 1 1/2 cups)

1 avocado, peeled and sliced

1 Tbsp. toasted sesame seeds

To make the Spicy Tofu: First, drain and pat your tofu dry. Wrap it in paper towel and put a skillet on top to ensure that the tofu dries out. Change the paper towel a few times.

While the tofu is drying, whisk together the soy sauce, chili-garlic sauce (if using), and sesame oil in a bowl. Cube the tofu and add it to the sauce mixture. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Let the pan get hot. Add the tofu in one layer and cook it for about 10 minutes, or until browned, turning occasionally. Save the remaining sauce. Cool the tofu.

Add the green onions, yogurt, and lemon juice to the remaining sauce. Toss it with the tofu.

To make the Salad: Whisk together the soy sauce, lemon juice, ginger, and chili-sauce in a bowl (I added some more scallions to the dressing). Mound the rice into bowls. Top with greens. Add the carrot ribbons, cucumber slices, avocado, and tofu. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve with the sauce.

Nutrition Info Per Serving: 297 calories, 12g protein, 15.5g total fat (2g sat. fat), 30g carbohydrates, 0mg cholesterol, 858mg sodium, 6g fiber, 3g sugar