Italian herb crispy baked tofu (minimalist baker)

Crispy tofu that tastes like pizza, so crispy and flavour-packed that you can’t stop eating it  – even tofu haters admit it’s good. A simple, endlessly versatile protein-packed topping for polenta, pasta, wraps, and beyond! Vegan, gluten-free, and bursting with herby goodness!

serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 (14-oz.) package extra-firm tofu
  • 1 ½ Tbsp tamari (or soy sauce // ensure gluten-free as needed)
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar (NOT glaze)
  • 1 ½ Tab tomato paste
  • 4-5 small cloves garlic, crushed or minced (4-5 cloves yield ~2 tsp crushed)
  • 2 tsp dried basil
  • 1 ½ tsp dried oregano
  • 3/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt (omit if using soy sauce)

      • Preheat the oven to 425 F (218 C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

      Wrap your extra-firm tofu in an absorbent towel. Set something heavy on top — like a cast iron skillet — to press out extra moisture for 15 minutes. Alternatively, use a tofu press.

    • Crumble the tofu into pieces less than 1/2-inch in size and arrange them on the parchment-lined baking sheet.
    • In a small bowl, whisk the remaining ingredients (tamari, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, tomato paste, garlic, basil, oregano, thyme, and salt). Pour over the tofu and toss to coat.
    • Bake for 20 minutes, flip with a spatula, and bake for another 10-15 minutes or until the tofu is a little firm and golden with crispy edges.
    • Enjoy warm or at room temperature. This tofu is the perfect protein boost for wrapsrisottopolentacreamy pink pastapasta arrabiata, on pizza or paired with roasted vegetables.
    • Leftovers keep in a sealed container in fridge for 3-4 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month. Reheat in a skillet or in the oven at 350 F (176 C) for 5-10 minutes until warm and crispy.

Rice, Leek & Spinach Pie (Not-quite-Nigella)

Amazing! This is such a wonderfully delicious vegetarian dish. With the sweetness of soft cooked leeks, fragrant spiced rice, two types of cheese & the goodness of spinach – a complete meal.

Serves: 6-8

1 cup/200g/7ozs. white rice – cooked in
1.5 cups/375ml/12.7flozs. vegetable stock for 15 mins absorption method.

30g/1oz butter
1-2 tablespoons oil
3 leeks (around 250g/8.8ozs), white part only & sliced finely (see note below)
6 cloves garlic, peeled & diced
500g frozen spinach, thawed
1/2 cup currants or sultanas
2 tsp chilli flakes
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Sprig of thyme
4 eggs, beaten
2 cups/240g/8ozs shredded tasty or cheddar cheese
1/2 cup/45g/1.6ozs. parmesan cheese
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
Salt & pepper for seasoning

For pastry:
2.5 cups/375g/ 13ozs. plain all purpose flour
1.5 teaspoons instant dried yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup/250ml /8.8flozs milk
1/3 cup/75g/2.65ozs natural yogurt or sour cream
5 egg
2 Tabs oil
1 tsp salt
2 Tabs melted butter to brush on afterwards
1 tsp nigella seeds

Step 1 – When rice/broth is cooked through, add butter & oil to a large saucepan on medium heat & melt the butter. Add the leeks, cook until soft. Add garlic – cook 2-3 mins. Add the spinach, cooked rice, currants, chilli flakes, cumin, nutmeg and thyme and cook for 5 minutes or so until fragrant and tasty. * (You can do this part ahead of time and keep it in the fridge for 1-2 days. On the day you want to use it, mix the rice mixture with the beaten eggs, two cheeses and lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper).

Step 2 – For the pastry dough mix the flour, yeast and sugar in the bowl of a mixer. In a jug measure the milk, yogurt or sour cream, egg, oil and salt. Pour this into the flour mixture and mix together with a spatula until starting to come together. Then add a kneading attachment to your mixer and knead the dough until elastic (around 5-6 minutes on the lowest speed). Shape into a ball and place in a greased bowl and allow to rise until double in size. **(I actually prefer letting this rise, covered, in the fridge overnight where it can prove for up to 3 days as long as it is completely covered).

Step 3 – When it is time to bake the pie, line the base & sides of a 20cm/8inch springform tin. Take dough from fridge, allow it to rest on the counter for 20 minutes. Cut dough into two: one 2/3 of the total weight, the other 1/3. With the larger portion, roll it out onto a lightly floured surface – to  fit the tin and the sides, so roll it out quite large & thin. Transfer dough to the lined tin and gently coax it against the sides of the tin – allow to rest for 5 mins. In the meantime roll out the 1/3 portion of dough to fit the top of the pie.

Step 4 – Preheat oven to 180C. Fill pie with the rice mixture then top with round of dough & crimp the edges, trimming dough with scissors (I use the leftover dough to make pizza-cook’s treat!).
Cut a hole in the centre of the pie for steam to escape – bake for 45 minutes.

If browning too much at 30 mins, cover with a sheet of foil. You want it to cook the whole time so that the dough cooks on the base and sides. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with nigella seeds after. Serve with your favourite marinara or tomato based sauce (needs no salad).

NOTES

Don’t want to make it a pie? This makes a WONDERFUL pilaf!! Just make the rice itself and serve it with fish or chicken!

Use bought pastry! Filo pastry works really well with this pie. Use 8 sheets of buttered filo pastry for the base and 6-8 layers of filo pastry for the top!

What can I use instead of leeks? If leeks aren’t in season try the same weight in golden eschallots or the white parts of spring onions.