If you're vegan, vegetarian, or eat primarily plant-based, chances are that you've played around with tofu. But if you eat meat, it probably rarely ends up in your grocery cart. But it deserves another chance, omnivores: You don't have to remember to thaw it out before using, it's more sustainable than meat, and it has eight grams of complete protein per serving. It's also more versatile than chicken, beef, or pork because it's more malleable in texture and doesn't have as strong of a flavor profile.
That latter point is particularly why it's important to know how to cook tofu—and what to season it with. That's where this week's Prep School expert, Rican Vegan creator Desiree Rodriguez comes in. As a healthy food blogger and recipe creator who is completely vegan, she cooks with tofu on a regular basis—and never serves it bland. Here, she shares her tried-and-true ground tofu recipe. Pair it with zucchini noodles for your dinner on Sunday, then save your leftover ground tofu to use the rest of the week as the base of five heat-free dinners. Here's what you need to get started—including a sample shopping list.
Ground tofu and zucchini noodles
Makes 6 servings of ground tofu; 1 serving of zucchini noodles
1 1/2 blocks firm tofu
Olive oil for drizzling
1 1/2 Tbsp garlic powder
1 1/2 Tbsp onion powder
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 1/2 tsp marjoram
1 1/2 tsp rosemary
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 cups spaghetti sauce
1. Drain the liquid from the tofu block with a tofu press or place the tofu on a plate lined with several sheets of paper towels. Place some more paper towels on top of the tofu then put a weighted object on top to squeeze the liquid out and let sit for one hour.
2. Pat the tofu block dry and crumble with a fork, potato masher or in a food processor.
3. Heat a pan over medium high heat and drizzle some olive oil.
4. Add the crumbled tofu, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, thyme, marjoram, rosemary, oregano, and salt. Cook for 10 minutes.
6. Add the spaghetti sauce to the ground tofu and cook for five more minutes.
7. Top a serving of the ground tofu pasta sauce on the raw zucchini noodles. Save the rest of the ground tofu in an air-tight container in the fridge to use for dinner the rest of the week.
How to use your ground tofu in a whole week's worth of no-heat dinners:
Put a serving of your leftover ground tofu in a tortilla, along with black beans, chopped peppers, tomatoes, lettuce, corn, guac, and salsa. (Or any other toppings you desire.) Fold, roll, and serve. This easy meal has plenty of protein, fiber, and veggies—and you won't have to spend the rest of your night washing dishes either.
Tuesday: Raw veggie bowl
To make this dinner, chop up cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, and green or purple cabbage. If you have any leftover zucchini from Sunday night, feel free to chop or spiralize that as well. Add your veggies to a bowl and top with a serving each of black beans and leftover ground tofu. This dinner is similar to a rice bowl, replacing the rice with raw veggies, which eliminates turning on the oven completely.
Wednesday: Vegan sloppy joes
Sloppy joes are a quintessential summer dinner. Simply stir in some barbecue sauce into a serving of leftover ground tofu. Then, sandwich it between a burger bun. Add lettuce or other greens if desired.
Thursday: Raw veggie chili
Chili is a classic go-to for getting great servings of protein, fiber, and veggies all in one bowl—and you don't have to have it hot in order for it to taste good. (Especially in July.) Pulse chopped zucchini, red onions, a can of diced tomatoes, green peppers, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, cilantro, tomato sauce, and salt into a food processor until it's a puree. Pour it into a bowl and add your ground tofu and a serving of black beans on top, folding them into the puree. This gazpacho-style chili tastes great with some tortilla chips on top.
Friday: Tofu tostadas
Tostada means "toasted" in Spanish, and the term also describes a classic dish in Mexican and other Latin American cuisines where toppings are added to a toasted base (typically a tortilla). You can buy corn tostadas already toasted so they don't need to be cooked at home, or you can toast your own tortillas by lightly spraying with oil and heating in a pan on the stove top. Put your remaining serving of ground tofu on your toasted tortillas, along with some mashed black beans, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, and cumin. Other great toppings for your tostadas are chopped avocado, tomato, lettuce, salsa, and a sprinkle of cilantro.
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