After all, tofu is the probably the one thing most meat eaters fear when they hear the words "vegetarian" or "vegan."
I think it took me a good year of being vegan to warm up to the stuff (outside of using it in the occasional dessert).
But boy, for all the wrong that tofu can appear (slimy, white, squishy, flavorless), there are so, so, so many right things about it.
For starters, it made an excellent finger food for our daughter when she was first starting out. And because it's so flavorless, it's basically like a blank canvas for you to mold into whatever you want. And speaking of molding, it comes in a variety of magical textures, from silken to extra, extra firm.
It can be the feature of a main dish, a plumper in a dessert, a binder for those baked goods or a protein boost for your smoothie.
It's basically magical if you think about it.
I've gotten a lot of flack over the years for our introducing our daughter to soy, in addition to consuming it while pregnant with my son. There are a lot of controversial studies on the effects of soy and boys and estrogen and every other thing under the sun (I implore you to do your own research and draw your own conclusions before you jump on either band wagon), so here is our family's stance on it, among pretty much every other nutritional requirement.
We take it in moderation.
We don't wake up in the morning and give our daughter a big glass of soy milk followed by some tofu scramble with some tofu sausage. She usually has a piece of fruit and some almond or coconut milk. Generally, the only soy she's exposed to throughout the day is the occasion shelf product with it added or one meal that features a little bit of soy.
Now that we've gotten that out of the way, let's talk about this tofu recipe I'm about to lay on you. It's seriously delicious and I'm telling you this dish will get anyone to at least TRY a bite of tofu.
And if they don't try a bite of tofu, then I have a feeling they're not human. Maybe a leprechaun, but not human. Because no human can resist a delicious little protein square soaked in a sweet mustard marinade and breaded with pretzel crumbs.
Pretzel-Breaded Tofu Bites
One block extra firm tofu
2 cups pretzels
2 TBS pure maple syrup
1/2 cup deli mustard
1/4 cup lite soy sauce
1/2 cup water
2 TBS ground flaxseed
2 TBS water
2 TBS plain almond milk
Oil for cooking
Take the tofu out and squish it between some napkins or towels (this step is vital since we want to get the tofu moisture out and replace it with our delicious marinade). I usually have to use a couple towels to get it out. Just make sure not to squeeze it so hard that it gets all crumbly. After you've drained the excess liquid, cut into bite-size squares and set aside.
In a container with a lid, mix maple syrup, deli mustard, soy sauce and water thoroughly. Toss the tofu cubes into the marinade and shake it around, making sure each piece is coated. You want this to marinate at least an hour (shaking it and turning it upside down and on it's side from time to time), but the more time the better. I suggest getting it ready in the morning so it can hang out all day in a delicious liquid.
Once you're ready to cook your tofu bites, mix the ground flaxseed, water and almond milk in a shallow bowl and set aside for 10 minutes or so (it will thicken a bit and congeal). Measure out two cups of pretzels (I used the regular-shaped variety) and toss them into your food processor (a powerful blender might work too) and grind until a fine crumb has formed. Place the crumbs in a shallow dish (suitable for rolling tofu cubes around in).
Coat a saute pan with a small amount of oil and turn the heat to medium (around 4 or 5). While it's heating up, take your tofu cubes out of the marinade and dip them into the flaxseed/water/milk mixture. Then drop them into the pretzel crumbs and roll around. Set aside and repeat until all the tofu cubes are coated. Toss those bad boys into your oil and cook on one side for about 4-5 minutes (or until a golden brown color) and then on the other for 2-3 minutes. You don't really need to cook all sides as it will cook up, just watch the pretty golden brown coating rise.
Just make the marinade from above, add it to an empty salad dressing bottle (or another bottle with a lid that you can shake) and add 2 TBS of cornstarch. Shake this up super duper well and then pour into the saute pan you just used for your tofu (remaining breading bits and all).
Lower the heat to 2-3 and let the dressing cook until it starts to bubble and thicken (it only took mine about 2-3 minutes). Pour back into your empty bottle and serve over your salad.
You also might like: