Crisp, chewy, and flavourful barbecue tofu. A simple vegan grilling option perfect in sandwiches or bowls.
Do you ever feel like vegetarians get the short end of the stick when it comes to grilling season? Or, conversely, do you break into a cold sweat when vegetarian friends or family accept your invitation to grill out?
These days there are so many pre-made options for us veg heads that you really need not worry. But, I do find that it’s a bit of a jungle out there. Usually I offer to bring my own veggie option to throw on the grill, equally to take the pressure off of the host and due to a crippling fear that they’ll end up buying a certain cultured fungus product that doesn’t exactly meet my definition of real food, and then I’ll feel obligated to eat it to be polite (ugh).
There are plenty of veggie burgers out there that I really enjoy (I do love these chipotle black bean burgers and these beautiful beet burgers), but let’s be real, they’re a bit of a project. Sometimes you just want something simple, and there’s not much more simple than throwing some slabs of tofu on the grill.
You guys, after 24+ years of vegetarianism, I’ve finally cracked the code for perfect barbecued tofu. It’s crisp on the outside, nice and chewy, loaded with flavour, and, most importantly, it doesn’t stick to the grill and fall apart when you try to flip or move it. The secret is cooking it twice, and if that sounds finicky to you, bear with me.
First, firm tofu is pan-fried in a bit of olive oil, creating a crisp golden-brown layer on each side. Then these pre-cooked slabs of tofu take a bath in your favourite barbecue sauce. This is where the magic happens. The crisp sides do a better job of soaking in flavours and encouraging the barbecue sauce to cling to the tofu than bare-naked non-fried tofu does. And furthermore, there’s something about the already crisped layer that makes the tofu super grill friendly. It doesn’t stick, it flips easily, and it’s just plain old delicious.
I love barbecue tofu because you can do pretty much anything with it. You can sling the tofu in a bun and chow down like like nobody’s business. You can serve it up with potatoes, corn, and grilled vegetables. You can pretty much eat it straight from the grill.
Today I’ve put together these sweet little barbecue tofu bowls. You can use pretty much anything you want in there since the tofu is the star of the show. I used some leftover turmeric rice, a handful of mixed greens from my mom’s garden (including those darling little broccoli flowers), sliced cherry tomatoes, and avocado. Drizzled with a bit of smoked olive oil, which is my new favourite thing, these made for a damn fine lunch.
Tofu is a protein-packed plant-based food made by fermenting or coagulating soy milk into a cake. Although tofu is made from soybeans –> soy milk –> tofu, it’s made with significantly less processing than soy protein isolates or other commercially prepared soy foods and can be more or less considered a whole food. Tofu is an excellent source of calcium, manganese, selenium, phosphorus, and omega-3 fatty acids. It’s also a good source of iron, magnesium, zinc and vitamin B1. Tofu also provides a range of phytonutrients including flavonoids, isoflavonoids, and phenolic acids.
Three years ago: Tempeh Tacos with White Cabbage and Fresh Salsa
Four years ago: Brown Rice Sushi Bowl
Five years ago: Salad Rolls with Miso Glazed Tempeh
Six years ago: Baked Eggplant Parmesan Caprese Salads
Seven years ago: Cold Rice Noodles with Cashews
barbecue tofu bowls
For the barbecue tofu
- 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 x 350g package firm tofu
- 1 cup of your favourite barbecue sauce
For the barbecue tofu bowls
- 1 recipe barbecue tofu
- 3 cups cooked brown rice quinoa, or other grain of your choice
- 1 ripe avocado sliced
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes sliced
- 4-6 cups mixed greens
For the barbecue tofu
Slice the tofu into pencil-thick slabs.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the tofu slices in a single layer, and fry for 3-5 minutes on each side or until lightly golden.
Transfer the tofu to a plate lined with paper towels and cool slightly.
Spoon some barbecue sauce into the bottom of a container, preferably large enough to arrange the tofu in a single layer. Place the tofu pieces into the container, and spread the remaining barbecue sauce over the top.
Set aside to marinate for at least one hour, and up to overnight.
When you're ready to grill, heat the barbecue to medium-high. Place the tofu slices on the grill and brush with any barbecue sauce from the bottom of the container.
After 3-5 minutes flip the tofu, and brush the other side with extra barbecue sauce.
Grill for another 3-5 minutes until there are grill marks on the tofu. Remove onto a waiting plate.
For the barbecue tofu bowls
Divide the rice, greens, avocado, and tomato between 3-4 bowls.
Chop the tofu into cubes and distribute evenly between the bowls.
Serve with a drizzle of olive oil over top.
Recipe NotesThese bowls also make great packed lunches. Simply divide among packable containers and reserve the avocado until the last minute.
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