I’ve never been a vegetarian. Ever. Not even as a phase. But my love of tofu started because of a little chain called Noodles & Co. Now if you’re lucky enough to have a Noodles in your area, I truly envy you. I had one 5 minutes from my house in Kansas City but now the closest one to me in Fort Worth is possibly the exact same one… 1,500 miles away. That’s what I call cruel. Anyway, my favorite dish at Noodles is the Pesto Cavatappi with Tofu. I think it originally came with the tofu automatically, but nowadays you have to choose your protein. So basically ever since I fell in love with this dish, I’ve tried to recreate it at home, mainly because I can’t get it here in Texas. Pasta isn’t too hard. It’s pasta. It’s the tofu where it gets tricky. It’s definitely not an easy food to prepare. Most people have only ever had tofu in Asian soup dishes. In that case, the tofu is pretty soft and mushy. I didn’t like that kind of tofu. The way Noodles prepared it was crispy and firm. That’s how I was bound & determined to make mine.
I should also mention that part of the reason I wanted to make tofu so badly is because I hate cooking meat, especially chicken. I always convince myself I didn’t cook it enough and I’m going to give myself salmonella. How silly is that?! But this tofu recipe is truly the reason I never buy chicken anymore!
I first tried to make the tofu this way by buying your average tofu at the grocery store. They usually sell different variations based on firmness; from silken (no idea what this is) to extra firm. So naturally, I opted for the extra firm kind. After a little Pinterest research (where I get all of my cooking advice), I learned you have to press the water out of tofu to make it crispy. In order to do this, I put paper towels on either side of the tofu and put the tofu on a plate, with another plate on top of it to press. I let this sit overnight. I continued to follow instructions, yet alas, my quest to extra crispy tofu was a fail.
Fast-forward to discovering Trader Joe’s Teriyaki Organic Baked Tofu. I had tried the previous “pressing” technique a few times and was about to give up, but when I saw this tofu on the shelf I thought I’d give it a chance.
I’m so glad I did.
Y’all I’m not kidding when I say I buy two packages of this tofu every time I go to Trader Joe’s. It’s so easy to prepare and it doesn’t go bad quickly, which is important when you’re cooking for one!
Ready for the quick and easy instructions on how I finally mastered the “perfect” tofu? Let’s do ittttt.
Servings: 2ish (totally up to how much tofu you want on your dish!)
Time To Prepare: 15 minutes
1 package of Teriyaki tofu from Trader Joe’s (or the Siracha version if you like a little spice)
1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1. Cut open the package. There will be two tofu “patties.” I like to cut mine up into 1″x.5″ pieces because it’s easy, but you can decide how big or small you prefer it!
2. Heat up a frying pan and add the tablespoon of olive oil
3. Add the tofu and let it be until you hear it start to crackle.
4. Once the tofu starts crackling, use tongs to rotate the tofu so each side is able to brown. I usually eyeball it, but I’d say maybe 5 min on each side.
5. Once the tofu is browned well on each side (see picture below), remove the heat and allow the tofu to cool for a couple minutes.
6. Add to your salad, pasta or quinoa!
Seriously, how easy is that?! I love how quickly it cooks and how versatile it is. The teriyaki taste isn’t so overwhelming that you can’t mix it with other tastes. I love it on pesto pasta (obviously), salads, or with quinoa and Brussels sprouts. Are you a tofu fan? How do you prepare it? Share your tips and tricks on my Facebook page or my latest Instagram!