While tofu doesn’t make up the bulk of my diet like it once did back when I first entered the vegetarian world a decade ago, it does typically enter the dinner lineup once or twice a week. In many cases it’s in the form of a signature scramble or quinoa dish; however, sometimes I like to take a simpler, minimalistic route. This particular dish brings together tofu with a down to earth, homestyle favorite—barbecue sauce, and pairs it with a bed of fresh sautéed asparagus.
Why asparagus? The real question is, why not asparagus? If this almighty green vegetable isn’t making its way to your plate on a regular basis, you just might want to reconsider. Not only is asparagus delicious and filled with antioxidants, it is anti-inflammatory, and even anti-cancerous, as it carries a compound that helps to break down free radicals in your body. Like leafy greens, asparagus is anti-aging and helps prevent cognitive decline in the brain, thanks to its folate content. And since it serves as a natural diuretic, asparagus can help alleviate water retention. Meaning, next time you think of reaching for the chocolate cake when battling PMS symptoms [ladies], just grab the asparagus instead. As an added plus, asparagus helps you see more clearly, thanks to Vitamin A.
- 1 block of Organic, Non-GMO certified tofu (firm or extra firm)
- Barbecue sauce of choice
- 1 bunch of fresh asparagus
- 1 Tbsp. Earth Balance Natural Buttery Spread (optional)
- 1/2 cup water
Cut open your package of block tofu and pour out water. Place tofu on cutting board and slice into thick pieces. Use side of knife or flat plate to press each piece firmly against the cutting board to squeeze out any excess water.
Ingredient Note: If the tofu pictured above looks darker than what you are familiar with, your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you. It’s Nasoya’s Black Soybean TofuPlus. Made from a mix of black and yellow soybeans, this variety is not only rich in antioxidants, but has been touted for its ancient healing powers.
Once your tofu pieces have been pressed, gently lay them in an airtight container, layer with barbecue sauce, and place in the refrigerator. Allowing the tofu pieces time to sit and marinate for a few hours, or even overnight, lets them soak up extra flavor. That said, this is only something I do when I happen to know what I am going to be preparing well ahead of time. Usually I end up pouring the sauce over the tofu pieces as I am placing them in the pan. Either way is entirely acceptable.
When you are ready to cook your tofu, place pieces into a nonstick or lightly-sprayed pan (flat pan preferred) and cook on stovetop on medium heat. Have your spatula handy so you can carefully flip the tofu from one side over to the other (and back and forth) to make sure each piece is evenly sauced and not sticking to the pan.
Meanwhile cut approximately two inches off the stalks of your fresh asparagus and rinse clean. Melt Earth Balance Natural Buttery Spread, or other select vegan butter alternative, in a sautéing pan on the stove. Once buttery spread is melted, place asparagus in the pan, add 1/2 cup water, cover with lid and steam on medium heat.
Allow your asparagus and tofu to cook side by side for 15-20 minutes. The tofu is cooked when heated throughout and sauced to your liking. If you have a favorite spice on hand, go ahead and sprinkle it. I like to throw some minced garlic in the tofu pan the last few minutes of cooking. As for your asparagus, cook until desired tenderness is reached, without allowing to overcook. To serve, use tongs to gently plate your asparagus, layering pieces of tofu on top.
Confession: I definitely eat more than two pieces.
For a slightly sweet yet tart touch, add fresh orange slices.