For those of you who are afraid of tofu, this dish will change your mind. Tofu can work a lot like chicken because it soaks up the flavors it’s cooked with. The trick is to use extra-firm tofu, so the texture will remind you of any type of protein. Not to mention, tofu is pretty inexpensive and can last in your fridge for a long time.
This dish in particular is one I discovered in grad school. I was living in bitter, cold Chicago, and living on a grad student budget. This is a warm, comforting dish that’s really inexpensive to make, not to mention it’s super healthy! After trying it out on myself and falling in love with it’s rich deliciousness, I made it for a few of my girlfriends, all of whom had been tofu skeptics. But they loved it! So I thought it would be a great way to change your minds about a different type of protein, too.
I use a whole block of tofu in this recipe so that nothing goes to waste (it makes about 4 servings). It’s so easy, and it makes great leftovers if you’re cooking for only one or two. But as a dinner for my three girlfriends and me, it was a perfect winter meal. So here goes!
- 5 tablespoons water
- 4 tablespoons smooth natural peanut butter (or whatever you have in the pantry)
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar or white vinegar
- 2 teaspoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 2 teaspoons minced ginger
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
Tofu & vegetables
- 14 ounces extra-firm tofu (you can also use chicken!)
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil (approximate, used to cook the tofu)
- 1 package frozen spinach (optional)
- 1 cup of uncooked white or brown rice (or 2 cups of leftover cooked rice is fine, too)
First, get the rice cooking. Get it all set in your rice cooker, and then go relax for about 10 minutes (watch TV, read a book, browse the Internet, whatever). The tofu doesn’t take very long to cook, so this one gives you some rest time.
After relaxing for a bit, heat the olive oil in your “very large pan” over high heat. While it’s heating up, place the tofu on a cutting board and slice into small cubes (about 1/2 inch cubes work best). After the tofu is sliced, dump the cubes in the olive oil to fry.
Optional middle step: defrost the package of frozen spinach in the microwave. I usually put it in a glass bowl, run water from my faucet over it for about 1 second (to be about 2 tbsp), and then follow the microwave instructions on the package. Usually, you heat it on high for 3 minutes, stir, and then heat again. It takes about as long to defrost the spinach as it does to cook the tofu, so after you get the tofu in the pan get that spinach defrosting!
While the tofu (and possibly spinach) is cooking, make the sauce. To do this, whisk all the sauce ingredients together (water, peanut butter, vinegar, soy sauce, honey, ginger, and garlic). Set aside.
Continue to monitor the tofu and stir around in the pan to get all sides of the cubes nice and golden-brown. This doesn’t have to be exact, but as long as you have most of the sides golden-brown you’ll be good to go.
After the tofu is golden brown-brown (about 5-7 minutes, and don’t wait for the spinach or sauce to be done or it’ll burn!), lower the heat to medium and stir in the peanut-ginger sauce. Continue to stir the peanut-ginger sauce in with the tofu for about a minute, or until it thickens up. Then add the spinach and toss with the tofu.
Scoop out about a cup of cooked white rice and pour the peanut-ginger tofu on the top, and then enjoy! It’s a nice healthy, hearty meal that can also be deliciously reheated for lunch (or dinner) the next day. Each serving of the peanut-ginger tofu is only about 220 calories.