What’s the one meal you always remember being a go-to, weeknight meal at your house?
For me, it was chicken with Shake ‘n’ Bake. Oh, and not just any Shake ‘n’ Bake, Zesty Italian Shake ‘n’ Bake. What can I say — we were cultured kids.
I never grew up actually knowing how to bread anything. Shake ‘n’ Bake was the closest I ever came. As a result, I really don’t like heavy batters very much.
This recipe actually came to me from a fish recipe I saw years ago — rather than a heavy Italian or Panko breadcrumb, it was crusted in pecans. It seemed really interesting, but of course, I don’t eat fish (never have!) so I thought, how can I make something similar with tofu?
This, ladies and gents and non-binary pals, is an “impress the in-laws” kinda meal. It’s crusty, it’s crispy, it’s not-too-heavy, it’s deeeeeevine!
Can’t do nuts? This recipe works just as well with crunchy sunflower seeds.
This ingredient list might seem a bit long to you, and while the cooking process might seem a little fussy, trust me when I say even a kitchen novice can get the hang of this. It takes old-school cooking fit for a meat-eating king and gives it a healthy, plant-based twist.
Almond-crusted tofu, serves four
- Refined sugar-free
- Nut-free option
- Prep time: 10-15 minutes
- Cook time: 10 minutes
- One extra-firm block of tofu
- 1/4 cup+2 tbsp almonds (or sunflower seeds), processed to a coarse crumb
- 2 tbsp hemp hearts
- 1/2 tsp dried dill
- 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1/4 cup oat flour (or fine, neutral-tasting flour of your choice)
- 1 aquafaba* “egg” (3 tbsp+1 tbsp water)
- 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 tbsp vegan butter or coconut oil
- 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
* WTF? Aquafaba is the liquid from a can of beans (most commonly chickpeas). Save it when you’re making hummus or another chickpea-based dish (like my colourful curry chickpea salad) and use in a pinch for a quick sub for eggs in baking, or for key dishes like meringue and mayonnaise.
- Press the tofu for about 20 minutes to release the moisture.
- Process the almonds to a coarse crumb in a large food processor. You don’t want to make almond butter, so I recommend a pulse setting rather than continuous processing.
- Combine the almonds, hemp hearts, dill, smoked paprika, salt and pepper in a shallow bowl.
- In another bowl, combine the aquafaba and water.
- Finally, shake your flour into another shallow bowl.
- Cut your tofu into four evenly sized filets. Dredge each in flour before dipping in the aquafaba like you would an egg, then coat in the nut and seed topping.
- Meanwhile, heat your olive oil and vegan butter over medium low heat. When the pan is evenly coated and the oil is warmed, add the minced garlic.
- Because you’re not using a dairy-based butter, your butter won’t “brown,” but you’ll know the pan is ready to accept your tofu when the butter is slightly frothy and the garlic is fragrant.
- Add the coated tofu and cook for three to four minutes on each side, or until the nuts are slightly charred.
- Serve with a lemon wedge and a nice light salad.
Seriously, this is going to be my new go-to for whenever we have a romantic night in, or whenever I want to impress the husband’s folks. What’s your go-to “fancy” meal — your grown-up Shake ‘n’ Bake?