Meat Free Monday: Pan Seared Tofu

Through my attempts at Meat Free Mondays/vegetarian cooking, I’ve discovered a few things – things that I wasn’t sure about when I began:

  • Vegetarian cooking can be just as satisfying and delicious as any other type.
  • You really don’t need meat (or nuts or eggs – hello, allergies!) to get enough protein into your diet.
  • Cooking meat can take a long time, and I’ve realized I’ve been able to put healthy meals on my plate relatively quickly – a fact that I love, considering my schedule is so crazy this semester.
  • Lunches and dinners are much, much cheaper. Buying a few cans of beans or a package of tofu is so much cheaper than a pound of ground beef. Another great point for a college student!

A pretty long list considering I didn’t even go into the moral/environmental aspects! ๐Ÿ˜‰

While many of you are probably used to incorporating tofu into your menus, or have at least tried cooking it once, the following recipe is the result of my first experience with it. Well, that isn’t entirely true: my sophomore year I tried some cubed tofu from the salad bar. It was awful.

I’m glad I tried it again!

Pan Seared Tofu with Lemony Rice and Green Beans (E, N, D, GF)
makes 2 servings

Ingredients:
14 oz. package lite firm tofuย (I used a brand called Nasoya)
Cooking spray
Salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, garlic powder to taste

Brown rice, cooked according to package directions

1 cup fresh green beans, steamed, boiled, or cooked however you like them

Lemon juice

Directions:

  1. A few hours before you plan to eat, press the tofu. To do this, put a few layers of paper towel on a plate. (At this point, I cut my tofu in half lengthwise. This is optional, of course, but gets the water out quicker.) Place the tofu on the paper towel, then cover it with another layer of towels. Place another plate on top of all this, and something heavy on the top plate to weigh it down. I used a plate of tomatoes. ๐Ÿ™‚ You might want to replace the towels a few hours into pressing.
  2. Coat the inside of a large skillet with the cooking spray. Heat skillet over medium-high heat.
  3. Season the tofu with salt, pepper, etc. to taste. Place, seasoned side down, it in the skillet and let it sear for about 5 minutes. Flip it over to the other side, and sear for 5 more minutes.
  4. Once both sides are browned, remove the tofu from the pan. Cut it into bite-sized cubes, then toss it back into the pan to crisp up all the sides.
  5. Serve on top of a bed of the green beans and rice, and spritz with lemon juice.
  6. Enjoy!

Notes:
– I know this recipe is pretty elementary, but it really is good. The combination of textures is great; I know that some people have issues with tofu’s texture, but the green beans and rice really downplay it, as does the fact that it is seared and crispy.
– I actually had a lot of leftover tofu from this recipe. It goes great in veggie soup, in a big salad, or mixed into pesto quinoa. Yum!

Please feel free to leave a comment about how you prepare tofu! I’d like to incorporate it more into my diet!

Have a happy Monday!

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