Friday, August 2, 2013

Garlicky kale with sesame tofu

Tofu + greens = power team 

The protein:

My highly versatile, hugely yummy sesame tofu
Tofu – it’s pretty polarizing. Meat-eaters mock it and even among vegetarians, there’s not a clear consensus. While some are worried about the alleged health risks associated with soy consumption, other are worried about, well, making it taste good. 

It’s not the easiest to prepare, after all. Making the most of your tofu involves pressing it to remove excess water and then developing a recipe chock-full of flavor for the tofu to absorb. The quality* (i.e. price) of your tofu is also a factor in where your meal registers on the deliciousness continuum.  

Then, of course, there’s your preparation method – baking, frying, stir-frying, steaming. Where to begin? What on earth to do?

You bake it up sesame garlic style, as I did for this epic salad, and then you move on with your life. 

The power:
Yet you’ll surely run up against some follow-up questions, namely: now what? What do I do with a pan of perfectly browned sesame tofu?

When in doubt, my friends, go for garlic + greens. Sautéed kale, spinach, or collards work wonderfully here. Sliced mushrooms bring a mild meaty flavor, where your yellow peppers bring crunch and color.

You’ll need:

  • 1 cup brown rice, cooked
  • 1 large bunch kale, roughly chopped
  • 1 yellow pepper, sliced
  • ¾ cup mushrooms, sliced (white or Crimini variety)
  • 1 small onion, sliced into half moons
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1-2 pinches red pepper flakes, to taste
  • 1.5 TBSP toasted sesame oil
  • Sea salt and pepper, to taste

If you're tofu-ambivalent, try it sesame style over garlic greens!
Heat the EVOO on medium and add the onion. Cook for 4-5 minutes, adding garlic and red pepper flakes once the onion softens. Cook for 1 minute before adding the yellow pepper and mushroom. Stirring often, cook the peppers and mushrooms for about 4 minutes. 

Finally, toss in the kale and stir to incorporate. You may want to add a drizzle of EVOO or a few splashes of water or veggie stock to create some stream. As your kale turns bright green, after about 4-5 minutes, add a generous hit of sea salt and pepper. Finish up by turning off the heat and adding a light drizzle of toasted sesame oil. 

Prepare your bowl with couple heaping spoonfuls of rice, a generous layer of steaming kale, and as many pieces of tofu as you deem reasonable. Yes, it’s fantastic, but you don’t have to eat it all in one sitting – it holds up in the fridge just fine. 

* As a Connecticut native, I’m hugely fond of The BridgeTofu, out of Middletown, CT. Living in Boston, I’m lucky to still have access to The Bridge’s handmade tofu, even if it retails at about 2x the price of store-brand varieties.


  1. I love kale but I cannot find it anywhere around here in Switzerland. This is one of my absolute favorite foods when I get to go to the US. And I hate all of my american cookbooks for all the kale recipes I cannot cook. Mmmh :(

  2. Oh no! I feel your pain. Life without kale sounds difficult indeed! You can always sub in spinach, collard greens or Swiss chard for this recipe! I'm sure it would be nearly just as good :)