Crispy Glazed Tofu with a Warm Quinoa Salad

I bet that you’re surprised to see a tofu recipe from me, aren’t you? I’m surprised myself, to be honest. I’m not typically a huge tofu fan – the texture has never been my favorite, and I figure, why eat tofu when you can eat chicken? However, sometimes things happen and you may as well step outside your comfort zone and see what you think. You see, I use Fresh Direct for my grocery shopping, as a New York City lifestyle doesn’t often leave much time for the store. Sometimes I am missing an item or two that I’ve ordered, and sometimes my order includes a mystery item that I would never have added to my cart. It’s much like the episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm when Larry’s dry cleaner loses his favorite baseball jersey (which Leon subsequently gets back for him) – you win some, you lose some. This time, I “won” some tofu in my grocery delivery. Kramer and I had a good laugh about it, because, really, tofu? I couldn’t bring myself to throw it away, though, so I set out to make something that we would enjoy eating out of something that I would normally never have in my fridge.

I figured, since Kramer and I are tofu novices, that frying the tofu would be the first step in making it taste delicious. The second step was to create a flavorful, Asian-inspired sauce. My friend Lindsey, of Little Seed, Big Apple, had also given me a package of quinoa from her friend’s company, Keen One Foods, so I thought that this would be the perfect way to use that. I had some candy beets, which are a gorgeous variety of beet that don’t stain your hands when you chop and cook them, as well as sweet potatoes, which are quickly becoming a staple in my house. I roasted those and tossed them with the quinoa, then coated the tofu in panko and lightly fried it before tossing it in a sauce made from shallots, garlic, fresh ginger, honey, soy sauce, sesame oil, and, of course, Sriracha. The result tasted similar to something you’d find in a restaurant, if I don’t say so myself – the dish seems complicated, but is actually quite easy, and much healthier than a breaded piece of meat and pasta or rice. The quinoa, beets, and sweet potatoes are bursting with vitamins and fiber, and the tofu is high in protein and low in fat (so, of course, I had to fry it – so sue me). Go ahead and serve this vegan and vegetarian friendly dish to your tofu-hating friends and family; it’s sure to open up their world to a whole new type of cuisine!


Crispy Glazed Tofu with a Warm Quinoa Salad
Your ingredients.

Crispy Glazed Tofu with a Warm Quinoa Salad
Dice the sweet potatoes and beets, then place on a lined and/or greased baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, honey, salt, and pepper, and bake at 400 degrees F for 15-20 minutes, tossing halfway through.

Crispy Glazed Tofu with a Warm Quinoa Salad
When the sweet potatoes and beets are fork tender, set aside until ready to use, then toss with your cooked quinoa.

Crispy Glazed Tofu with a Warm Quinoa Salad
Mince your garlic, shallots, and ginger and saute for a few minutes, until fragrant.

Crispy Glazed Tofu with a Warm Quinoa Salad
Add in your other sauce ingredients and bring to a boil.

Crispy Glazed Tofu with a Warm Quinoa Salad
Add the cornstarch and water mixture to the sauce and lower the heat to a simmer. Stir until thickened.

Crispy Glazed Tofu with a Warm Quinoa Salad
Cut your tofu into bite sized pieces.

Crispy Glazed Tofu with a Warm Quinoa Salad
Stir together your panko coating.

Crispy Glazed Tofu with a Warm Quinoa Salad
Dip your tofu in egg, then in the panko mixture, then add to a pan with a bit of oil over medium-high heat and cook on all sides until golden and crispy.

Crispy Glazed Tofu with a Warm Quinoa Salad
Set on some paper towels to drain some of the oil.

Crispy Glazed Tofu with a Warm Quinoa Salad
Toss your tofu in your sauce and serve over your quinoa, sweet potato, and beet salad.

Crispy Glazed Tofu with a Warm Quinoa Salad
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
For the Quinoa
  • 1 package quinoa, cooked per package instructions
  • 3 candy beets, cleaned, peeled, and diced into small cubes
  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced into small cubes
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
For the Tofu
  • 1 block of tofu, cut into bite-size pieces (about 1 inch cubes)
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup panko crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese 5-Spice
  • 1 egg (or equivalent egg replacement)
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • vegetable or canola oil, for frying
For the Sauce
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, minced well
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced well
  • 1 2-inch piece of ginger, minced well
  • 3 tablespoons honey or agave nectar
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Sriracha or hot chili paste/sauce
  • ¼ teaspoon sesame oil
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • ¼ cup water mixed with 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • toasted sesame seeds, for garnish
  • scallions, for garnish
Instructions
  1. First, get your quinoa going. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Clean, peel, and dice your beets and sweet potatoes. Place them on a lined and/or greased baking sheet, then drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of honey, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper, and toss together. Place in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, tossing halfway through. When they are fork tender, remove from the oven and set aside. Cook your quinoa according to its packaging's directions, then toss together with the cooked beets and sweet potatoes. Add a bit more olive oil, salt, or pepper to taste, and set aside until ready to serve (you can cover with foil to keep warm, or heat back up before serving, whichever you prefer).
  2. Now it's time to cook your tofu. Make sure that your tofu is completely dry by pressing it between some paper towels to soak up any water. Dice into bite sized pieces, about 1-inch cubes. Mix together you egg and 1 tablespoon of water in one shallow dish and mix together your flour and panko crumbs in another. Dip the tofu pieces in the egg mixture, then in the panko mixture. Heat ½ inch of oil in a large pot or pan over medium-high heat, and when the oil is hot, add in the tofu pieces in batches, frying on each side for about 2 minutes, until crispy. Move the tofu to a cooling rack lined with paper towels to drain, and continue frying until all of your tofu is done.
  3. Make the sauce by first heating your 2 teaspoons of olive oil in a pot, then adding in the minced shallot. Cook for 5 minutes or so, until translucent, then add in the garlic and ginger, and stir until fragrant. Add in the honey, soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, Sriracha, sesame oil, and red pepper flakes. Cook over medium-high heat until bubbling, stirring frequently, then mix together the cornstarch and water and add to the sauce. Reduce the heat to medium, and stir until thickened. Keep the sauce on low, stirring every so often, until ready to use.
  4. When your tofu is cooked and your sauce is ready, place the crispy tofu in a large bowl and pour half the sauce over it. Gently toss, and add more sauce if desired. Serve over the warm quinoa and garnish with scallions and sesame seeds.

 

29 Responses

  1. I’m glad you gave the Tofu a shot! Not many people are willing to. I fell in love with it (and many other dishes!) when I lived in Japan after college, but not many people have that opportunity to expand their culinary palate.

    Tofu is certainly an acquired taste (and texture), but it grows on you! Fried tofu was a great way to go. This recipe looks fantastic. Bravo!

    • Sydney says:

      @Chris: That’s awesome that you got to live in Japan! I’m eternally jealous.

      @Anthony: That’s a great idea to “extend” other proteins – I’m going to try that!

      @Lindsey: Thank you, and thanks again for the quinoa!

      @Christopher: I’m definitely going to do that with the scallops – I’ve been meaning to pick some up soon!

  2. Anthony says:

    Surprisingly for a confirmed carnivore such as myself, I like tofu. Not only is it a good protein source, but it’s pretty good at picking up the flavors of whatever it’s cooking in, losing its blandness. I often use it in stir-frys to “extend” the meat or chicken I’m cooking with. This salad looks like a really tasty combination of flavors. :)

  3. Lindsey says:

    This looks absolutely delicious – I love the healthy combination of ingredients!

  4. Christopher says:

    Sydney, this recipe looks awesome! When I get back from my business trip I would like to feature it on the website. I may also suggest a gluten free options of rolling the tofu in a little of the K1 quinoa instead of breadcrumbs before frying. I often do this with scallops to add a bit of texture. Though thank you for the feature…

    Cheers,

    Christopher

  5. Mindy says:

    Wow, I maybe have cooked with tofu twice in my life, but this is lookin’ amazing. The veggies sound awesome too. I’ll definitely give this a shot.

  6. Aarthi says:

    Great dish for vegetarians…looks delicious…I make some lovely tofu burger..I love tofu all time…

  7. Some of my favorite foods in one dish – looks fabulous!

  8. Nicolette says:

    Ahhh! This looks so delicious! I am so happy you finally posted a tofu recipe. I always use some vegetarian substitute when I try your meat recipes, but this time I won’t have to! :)

  9. Maat says:

    This looks delicious! I love fried tofu. It has a great taste. :)

  10. Looove this! I’ve been on a quinoa kick all week, so this recipe deserves a particularly enthusiastic high five. I, too, ended up with a giant slab of unwanted tofu (I panicked and thought I didn’t have any Mori Nu on hand for a dessert), so this may be in my near future. And roasted vegetables! Sweet potatoes and beets, no less! Did you make this just for me?!

  11. Shana says:

    I love your site, and this is an awesome recipe, but I have to totally disagree about NYC lifestyle and grocery shopping. I always find a sec to stop into a store, or text my partner to pick up what I miss. Fresh Direct is a scourge on NYC streets. Loud, idling toxic fumes, holding up traffic. I sometimes hear that truck at 10 pm and curse my neighbors.

    • Sydney says:

      @Shana: Sorry to hear that – I just don’t have any real grocery stores near me, so unless I want to transfer to yet another train and get off at a stop out of my way, get back on, transfer again, then lug it all home by myself, Fresh Direct is the best way for me to shop. Besides, they have a few options to help make your deliveries as green as possible, such as scheduling a time where your neighbors are getting deliveries, too. I think you should give it a try! They also use mostly local NYC/Jersey produce/meat/etc. so it probably takes less carbon emissions than most grocery store hauls, where a lot of produce comes from California or Mexico.

      @Rhonda: Yay! I’m glad you approve as a tofu-fan!

      @RRA: Good point – I always forget that, but at least there’s an easy alternative.

  12. Rhonda says:

    I am actually a fan of tofu so this will be yummy!

  13. RRA says:

    FYI the honey prevents this from being vegan, but anyone could sub in some agave to make it vegan

  14. Kelly says:

    The egg also prevents this from being vegan. Looks delicious though!!

  15. Jenny says:

    Just had to say, thanks for the recipe! I made it last night and it was delicious.

  16. We are huge tofu and quinoa fans and I love the addition of sweet potatoes to this! I can’t wait to try this – looks so amazing!

    • Sydney says:

      @Alena: We’ve been converted to fans – I’m glad that seasoned tofu-eaters like you approve of the recipe! Makes me feel like less of a newbie 😉

  17. Elicia says:

    Made this for dinner tonight, regular beets, smaller dice on both the tofu and the veggies, was FANTASTIC! I can see serving the quinoa, beet, sweet potato with a multitude of entrees, thanks for the great transition to fall.

  18. Amber says:

    Made this last night. SO good!
    Although I did alter some things a little.
    2 c. water 1 c quinoa cooked ( I buy it in bulk)
    regular beets and I added an onion to the roasted veggies
    smaller tofu cubes (they were already cut) I didn’t fry them, just sauteed them in a little sesame and olive oil
    Sauce- I didn’t mince the shallot, garlic or ginger too fine, but left them somewhat chunky (pure laziness there) they were fine
    I didn’t have rice wine vinegar and used apple cider vinegar (raw) instead. I didn’t put in the sugar
    I didn’t cook it with the sriracha sauce, but my Husband and I did add it to ours afterwards. (I didn’t want it to be too spicy for the kids)
    Oh- I forgot the sesame seeds and scallions too… I had them but forgot the last step in my haste to get the food on the table and just now realized it. EVERYONE ate ALL their food. I was amazed! That doesn’t even happen when we go to McDonalds… And my husband even liked it even though he claims to not like tofu. (Really he doesn’t like the idea of tofu – every time I have served it to him he liked it when he thought it was chicken, after I tell him it was tofu he usually stops eating) but this time he knew and still said it was good.

  19. […] new take on your typical potato salad. I’ve used this before in a more typical dinner dish of Crispy Glazed Tofu, but quinoa is versatile and a perfect addition to almost any meal. Eat up, ladies and gents, and […]

  20. Penelope says:

    When you use egg this recipe ceases to be Vegan.

  21. Ellen says:

    Damn it. Eggs are not vegan. Use an egg substitute as YOUR MAIN INGREDIENT only.

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