Celebrate National Soyfoods Month

April is National Soyfoods Month, a time for celebrating the versatility, sustainability, and all-around high satisfaction factor of tofu comfort food recipes. Soyfoods are affordable, readily available ingredients that make it easy to incorporate plant protein into your favorite recipes. Like other soyfoods that provide approximately 7 to 15 grams of high-quality protein per serving, tofu is a complete protein. It offers all eight of the essential amino acids needed for healthy growth, without the large amount of saturated fat that typically comes with animal sources of protein. Tofu is especially versatile because it comes in several forms. In fact, it just might qualify as an emerging American comfort food.

Silken tofu works well for party dips, creamy soups, smoothies and rich desserts. Water-packed tofu (available in soft, firm and extra-firm textures) can be added to casseroles, stir-fry dishes or pastas and salads. It’s also a favorite for grilling season.

National Soyfoods Month in April is the ideal time for discovering tofu’s comfort food potential. Think of it as soymilk’s cheese equivalent. Tofu is bean curd, made from soymilk. In Asia, tofu has been a staple since ancient times, with its use in ancient China going back more than 2,000 years.

Tofu itself is bland, and comes in a variety of textures that lend themselves to numerous comfort-food recipes. Tofu takes on flavors, and can be marinated, basted, baked, fried, grilled, crumbled, used in cheesecakes and other desserts, in creamy salad dressings, soups and in vegetable dishes. Here are some ideas from The Soyfoods Council.

  • Get out your air fryer and have some tofu fun: Next time you’re entertaining, offer your guests a protein rich, flavor-packed snack of Tofu Bites. They’re tiny bursts of flavor made with firm water-packed tofu. Drain the tofu, press out extra liquid and cut tofu into cubes. Marinate the tofu in any prepared sweet and spicy sauce you prefer. Just before guests arrive, roll the marinated tofu in panko breadcrumbs and cook for 6 minutes in the air fryer, shaking the basket halfway through the cooking time.
  • Meat lovers rejoice: Creamy Lemon Poppy Seed Salad Dressing made with tofu is the perfect complement for luxurious steak dinners. To make the dressing, simply combine soft silken tofu is combined with mayonnaise, soybean oil, Dijon mustard, brown sugar, fresh and bottled lemon juices, lemon zest and poppy seeds. Toss with salad greens of choice. If you prefer pork to beef, try “Creamy” Mango Habañero Dressing (pictured here with recipe at the end of the post), made with soft silken tofu, ripe mangos, minced half (or whole) habañero chile, lime juice, tamari soy sauce, honey and soybean oil, seasoned to taste with salt and pepper. In a blender, puree all ingredients except soybean oil and the salt and pepper. With the blender still running, slowly add the oil to emulsify, and then adjust seasoning to taste. Serve a salad of mixed greens, avocado, hearts of plan and red peppers with a main course of Jamaican jerk pork.
  • Fire up the grill and prepare for a tofu revelation: Extra-firm water-packed tofu and grills were made for each other. Because tofu takes on other flavors such as marinades or barbecue sauces, it’s a quick, cholesterol-free food to add to an outdoor grill or make in a grill pan on the stove. The Soyfoods Council offers recipes such as Grilled Tofu Fries, Grilled Tofu BLTs, and Grilled Tofu with Chimichurri Sauce and Grilled Garlic Bread (pictured here with recipe at the end of the post). For tofu fries, drain and pat dry extra-firm water-packed tofu. Slice the tofu into ½-inch french fry shapes, lay the slices on a platter, and pour ¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce over them. Transfer to another platter and brush with soybean oil or your vegetable oil of choice. Place tofu fries on a preheated grill. Grill for 3 to 4 minutes, then turn and grill for another 3 to 4 minutes. Serve with warmed barbecue sauce for dipping.
  • Don’t scrimp on dessert: Silken tofu adds a luxurious note to comfort food classic desserts such as cheesecake and mousse. Decadent Chocolate Tofu Cheesecake, for example, combines a chocolate graham cracker crumb crust with a filling of melted bittersweet chocolate bars, soy cream cheese, extra-firm tofu, sugar, cocoa, eggs and vanilla extract. The cheesecake is baked for 60 to 70 minutes, and then served with drizzles of melted white and dark chocolate.

For details about tofu and other soyfoods, visit the Soyfoods Council website at www.thesoyfoodscouncil.com. You’ll also find additional recipes, ideas for incorporating more soyfoods into your diet, nutrition information, cooking tips, and the latest research about the health benefits of soyfoods.

“Creamy” Mango Habanero Dressing

This delicious dressing tastes decadent without the added calories of mayonnaise or sour cream. Perfect on any salad, pork or grilled fish.
  • 1 -12 ounce package Mori-Nu soft silken tofu, drained well
  • 2 ripe mangos, peeled, roughly chopped
  • ½ to 1 fresh habanero chile, minced (depending on how spicy you want it)
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 2 tablespoons tamari soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • ½ cup soybean oil
  • Salt and pepper

Combine first 6 ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. Blend to puree with a hand wand or in a blender. Slowly add oil to emulsify while still blending. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

Served over mixed local greens with avocados, hearts of palm, red peppers and Jamaican jerk pork.

  • Yields: Salad dressing for 4 to 6 servings

Grilled Tofu with Chimichurri Sauce and Grilled Garlic Bread

This recipe is from Elizabeth Karmel, grillmaster, and author of "Taming the Flame: A Southern Girl's Sassy Guide to Grilling and BBQ". Chimichurri sauce is a zesty Latin American condiment similar to pesto. You can cook the tofu on an outdoor grill, but a grill pan or skillet works fine too.

Chimichurri Sauce:

  • 2 cups lightly packed chopped parsley
  • 4 garlic cloves, halved
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • ½ teaspoon chili pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons shallot or onion, minced
  • ¼ cup of vegetable or olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons sherry wine vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
Cumin Rub:
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika or Hungarian paprika
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 pound water-packed extra-firm tofu, cut in half lengthwise
  • Olive oil
  1. To prepare the Chimichurri sauce, place all ingredients in a blender or food processor and pulse until well chopped, but not puréed. Set aside.
  2. To prepare the rub, combine the garlic, paprika and cumin; mix well. Set aside. Cut the tofu in half lengthwise to make two “steaks” abut ¾-inch thick. Brush lightly with olive oil. Press the rub into both sides of the tofu steaks. Place tofu in a grill pan coated with oil or directly on the cooking grate over direct heat. Cook for 3-4 minutes. Turn the tofu steak with a pair of tongs and a flat spatula if necessary. Sear the second side and continue grilling until done, about 3-5 minutes. Cut each tofu steak in half to form 2 triangles. Serve with Chimichurri Sauce and Grilled Garlic Bread.
  • Yields: 4 servings

Grilled Garlic Bread:

  • 8 pieces of crusty and dense Italian bread, cut ¾ to 1-inch thick
  • 4 large cloves garlic, peeled and cut in half
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  1. Place bread on grill rack or in grill pan. Cook, turning once, until golden on both sides, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Rub one side of each piece of bread with a half clove of garlic; rub hard for good garlicky flavor. Place each piece of bread on a serving plate and brush with a thin coating of olive oil.