Looking for a vegan plant-based meal that's easy to whip up and is also kid-approved? Look no further!
This simple recipe is fun to make and loaded with heart-healthy nutrients!
As a vegan, I love how adaptable tofu is for creating delicious plant-based meals. One of the best parts about using tofu is that on its own it has little flavor, so it easily absorbs flavors from the different spices, marinades, and sauces you use. You can really turn it into anything you want!
Tofu is created using soybeans and is one of the cheaper sources of plant-based protein you can buy. Besides protein, it also contains a good dose of calcium, iron, fiber, and all nine essential amino acids needed for balancing the mood and maintaining strength, keeping you feeling healthy and strong.
Some sources may suggest that soy isn't healthy and should be avoided at all costs, but that's just not true!
Soy, in its most natural forms, is one of the healthiest foods to eat and is not only good for the heart and cardiovascular system by lowering the "bad" cholestrol, but can also help lower the risk of some forms of cancer. While highly-processed soy products (think frozen section) have been shown to cause some problems for certain people when eaten on a regular basis, (just like with any other processed foods), whole soy foods like tofu, edamame, and tempeh, in moderation, have been shown to be incredibly nutritous and are beneficial parts of a balanced diet.
As I raise Lea Luna, it's important for me that I feed her vegan foods that she not only enjoys, but that are also nutritious and balanced for her. Luckily this is one of those recipes that she eats with no problem!
While shopping for tofu, you may notice that it comes in different varieties and you may wonder which kind to get. Silken and Soft are best for making things like soups or desserts, while Firm and Extra-Firm hold up better for frying, baking, and stir-fries.
Vegan Breaded Tofu w/Pesto Mayo for Dipping
Ingredients for Vegan Pesto Mayo:
- 2 1/2 cups fresh basil leaves, semi-packed
- 1/4 cup walnuts
- 1/4 cup pine nuts* (can substitute for walnuts)
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled, roughly chopped
- Juice of one lemon* (see optional note)
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil* (see optional note)
- Salt and pepper, to taste
Optional: Pesto mayo can also be made with pre-made mayo. To do so, pulse basil, walnuts, pine nuts and garlic until coarse, then add 1/3 cup vegan mayo, 1/4 cup olive oil and mix until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. No lemon juice required.
Ingredients for Breaded Tofu:
- 1 16-oz. package of extra-firm tofu, drained and moisture pressed out
- 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
- 1 Tbsp. dried parsley
- 1/2 Tbsp. Italian seasoning
- 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. pepper
- 1/4-1/2 cup vegan mayo, plain
- Make sure the tofu is as dry as possible to prevent the breadcrumbs from becoming soggy. Grab some paper towels or other absorbent towels and wrap the tofu, then place it between two plates or cutting boards and put a heavy object on top to press the moisture out. Press for about 30 minutes, changing out the towels as needed.
- While tofu is pressing, begin to prep the pesto mayo by placing the fresh basil, walnuts, pine nuts, and garlic in a food processor and pulsing until coarse and starting to smooth out.
- Continue to let food processor run and then very slowly begin to drizzle in the olive oil. Mixture should begin to thicken. Once reached desired consistency, mix in lemon juice, salt and pepper, adjusting for taste. Set aside.
- Preheat your oven to 200C/400F degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Once tofu is pressed, cut into long strips about 1-2 inches thick. Lay out on paper towel to absorb more moisture as you cut the rest of the block.
- In one medium bowl, mix the Panko breadcrumbs with the parsley, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Place the plain vegan mayo in a separate bowl.
- Begin by dipping each tofu strip in the plain mayo to coat, then dipping again in the breadcrumb mixture. Once evenly coated, place on parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Continue until all tofu strips are coated then bake in oven for about 30 minutes, until browned or until your desired crispiness.
- Serve immediately while hot and fresh with your favorite sides! If there’s any leftover pesto mayo, it can keep in the fridge tightly sealed for 1-2 days.
Enjoy this delicious and comforting kid-friendly meal and share what you think in the comments below!