You know when you go out in the summer and all you see is coconut shrimp this and coconut shrimp that? Here’s a meatless Monday take on that — Crispy Coconut Tofu Bowls. I got this idea/recipe from Well Vegan and it definitely came from a plant-based protein roundup from either SELF or BuzzFeed. (Obviously I receive biweekly emails for meal, recipe ideas and cooking tips from both.) After coming back from Sanibel Island, I was still feeling the tropical vibes during this rainy weather and this recipe seemed like the perfect solution. I definitely cut down on all of Well Vegan‘s prep time, simplified the tofu process, lightened it up by baking instead of frying and skipped their added sauce. This recipe looks way more complicated than it is and just requires a little foresight to prep the tofu ahead of time. By swapping a can of full-drat coconut milk for So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut Milk, the quinoa still turned out dense, yet fluffy with a very subtle coconut flavor. I must say the best part about this is the toasted coconut flakes and panic that result from the baking process — pure perfection.
Ingredients (serves 4).
For the Tofu:
- 1 package (14 oz.) extra-firm tofu
- 1/4 c reduced sodium soy sauce
- 1/8 c water
- 3 T coconut sugar (light brown sugar works well as a substitute!)
- 1/4 of a lime, juiced
- 1 T fresh ginger, finely minced
- 1/2 c panko
- 1/2 c unsweetened coconut flakes
For the Bowls:
- 1 c quinoa, dry
- 2 c coconut milk (I used So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut Milk)
- 2 medium zucchinis, sliced into medallions
- 2-3 c spinach
- Cooking spray
- Garlic powder
- 4 lime wedges
- Red pepper flakes (or any hot sauce, but only if you’re in a spicy mood — just as great without!)
For the Tofu:
- Remove tofu from packaging. Line a plate with folded paper towels and place tofu on top. Set another small plate on top of the tofu and place something heavy on top like 15 oz or 28 oz can of diced tomatoes. “Press” tofu for 15-30 min to allow excess liquid to drain.
- Once drained, cut tofu into pieces. I “thinned” the tofu by cutting it in half lengthwise into two even sheets. Then I stacked the sheets and cut everything into small cubes — 5 columns by 5 rows to yield 50 cubes.
Note: I prefer smaller cubes because they marinate faster and are easier to work with, but keep the tofu in long slices or make as large or as small cubes as you want!
- In a small microwavable bowl, combine soy sauce, water and sugar. Microwave at 15 sec intervals, whisking in-between until sugar dissolves. Whisk in lime juice and fresh ginger. Pour marinade into a large shallow baking pan. Add tofu and toss so cubes are evenly coated. Refrigerate for 15 min, flip cubes and refrigerate for another 15 min.
Do NOT discard marinade! You’ll use this again for the zucchini, while the tofu bakes during its first 15-20 min.
- Preheat oven to 400° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or Silpat to prevent tofu from sticking.
- In a small bowl, mix panko and unsweetened coconut flakes. Add about 4-5 tofu cubes to mixture and toss with your hands so tofu is well coated on all sides. Place cubes evenly spread out on a baking sheet. Repeat until all cubes are tossed in the panko coconut mixture. Sprinkle about half of the excess mixture over the cubes to allow for extra toasted coconut flakes and panko.
- Bake 15-20 min, flip tofu cubes and then back another 15-20 min. Tofu should be firm and crispy on edges.
- Serve warm.
Note: if you want to the tofu to stay crunchy and crispy, you can leave the tofu in the fridge already pre-marinated and follow steps 4-7 when ready to eat. Any baked leftovers will have all the flavor, but lose that crispiness once stored in the fridge.
For the Bowls:
- When the tofu goes in the oven, add zucchini slices to the leftover tofu marinade and marinate zucchini slices in the fridge during the tofu’s first 15-20 min baking time.
- At the same time the tofu starts baking, cook quinoa according to package directions, swapping coconut milk for water.
TIP: Simmer on a low, loooooow heat and stir occasionally. I noticed the milk cooks off faster than water!
- Once the tofu is flipped and only 15-20 min remaining in the oven, add zucchini slices to either the same baking sheet (if room) or new baking sheet and roast for the remaining time.
- When there is 3 min left, top zucchini with spinach, lightly spray with cooking spray and dust with garlic powder. Toss zucchini medallions and spinach before returning to the oven for the remaining 3 min. Remove once spinach is wilted.
- Plate 1/2 c quinoa with 1/4 of the veggies and about 12-13 coconut tofu cubes. Sprinkle with some excess toasted coconut. Garnish with a lime wedge.
Adapted from Well Vegan‘s “Coconut Crusted Tofu with Sweet Chili Sauce.” Baking instructions for tofu from The Kitchn‘s “Crispy Tofu.”