Tag Archives: tofu

Jar Lunch: Thai Peanut Tofu Spread

The Jar Lunch: It’s like a bag lunch or a bento lunch, but the next big thing is lunch packed in a good ol’ mason jar. I have to microwave my lunch at work, so metal containers won’t work and heating up plastic has me worried. We often simply fill mason jars with leftovers, but sometimes it is fun to come up with a clever jar lunch and make a big batch. Lunch for the whole family is already packed.

This is an old recipe of mine that somehow has never made it onto this blog. I love flavored tofu spreads. You can eat them on a bagel, in a wrap or on a sandwich. This recipe would even be good in a fresh spring roll with some lettuce and sprouts. Here we’ve packed it in jars with vegetables and whole wheat flat bread for dipping.

Thai Peanut Tofu Spread
Makes 5 cups (10-15 servings)

20 ounces high protein, extra firm tofu
1-1/2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and quartered
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 teaspoon chili paste
1/3 cup tamari
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
3 tablespoons sugar*
1 cup shredded carrot
3/4 cup finely diced bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced (about ½ cup)
1/3 cup chopped peanuts or cashews

Press the excess liquid out of the tofu. You can watch a quick video on that technique here. I use two cutting boards instead of plates, slice the tofu lengthwise into two thinner pieces, and wrap them in a kitchen towel to absorb the liquid. This step is important, as you want to get rid of the tofu liquid so it can absorb the liquid you are adding to the recipe.

In a food processor, pulse the ginger and garlic until finely minced. You may need to open the food processor and scrape down the sides and pulse again to get all of it minced. Add the peanut butter, coconut milk, chili paste, tamari, rice vinegar, and sugar. Mix in the food processor until thoroughly combined, about one minute.

Cut or tear the tofu into several smaller pieces and add to the peanut mixture. Pulse the food processor until the mixture is combined and the tofu is chopped into small pieces. Leave some texture, as pictured below:

Finally, put the peanut mixture in a medium bowl and fold in the remaining ingredients.

Though we love this stuff on bagels, we packed a jar lunch with about 1/2 cup of tofu spread in a half-pint jar along with a pint jar of carrots & cucumber and another half-pint with triangles of whole wheat flat bread.

Cucumber rounds are great for dipping.

It reminds me of little Levi in kindergarten getting “carrot cookies” from his teacher in the school garden. They were just slices of carrot. That would make these cucumber chips.

*You can substitute a different sweetener of choice, but don’t omit sweetener entirely as it will throw off the balance of flavors.

Please add your photos to the Jar Lunch Flickr pool for this or any other jar lunches you make!

See our other Jar Lunches here.


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Vegan Tofu Royale: Indian tofu in tomato-cashew gravy

It’s no secret we are obsessed with this shahi paneer recipe from Show me the Curry. This stuff is magical. Don’t get me wrong, some of the magic comes from the paneer, but most of the magic comes from the sauce. It’s a rich and flavorful tomato-cashew gravy. Shahi means royal, and is this sauce ever royal. So I’m just gonna roll with it and call my vegan adaptation Vegan Tofu Royale.

While we do eat dairy, we don’t eat it daily and we don’t generally keep dairy milk in the fridge. After wasting leftover milk a few times, I started using light coconut milk in place of milk. It tasted even better, which inspired me to try this paneer dish 100% sans-dairy.

Vegan Tofu Royale

1 pound extra firm tofu*, cut into cubes
3 tablespoons canola oil, divided
1 tablespoon lemon juice
¾ cup raw cashews
1 (14-ounce) can light coconut milk
2 small onions, finely diced
1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon grated ginger
1 serrano pepper, finely chopped (remove seeds and membranes for mild heat)
2 teaspoons cumin powder
2 teaspoons coriander powder
2 teaspoons garam masala
1 cup water
1 tablespoon sugar
salt, to taste
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 375° F.

Place cubed tofu in a medium bowl with 1 tablespoon of canola oil and the lemon juice. Toss to combine, until coated. Spread in an even layer on a baking sheet prepared with a Silpat mat or parchment paper. Sprinkle generously with salt. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until lightly golden.

In a small sauce pan, combine cashews and coconut milk. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove from heat and set aside.

Using the remaining 2 tablespoons oil, sauté the onions over medium-high heat until they begin to dry out. Add the garlic, ginger, and serrano pepper and cook 2-3 more minutes.

Add tomato sauce and stir well. Cook, stirring frequently, until the oil begins to separate. While the tomato sauce is cooking, put the coconut milk and cashews in the blender. Vent the blender lid and place a towel over the top. Blend until the cashews are completely smooth.

Once the tomato mixture is ready, add spices and mix well. Pour in the cashew mixture and stir. Before adding the water, you can use it to get the remaining cashew cream from the sides of the blender. Just place the water in the blender, cover tightly with the lid and shake.

Finally, add the water, sugar, and about a teaspoon of salt to the pan. Stir while bringing the mixture to a boil. Add the baked tofu and stir to combine. Salt as needed to achieve the perfect balance of salty-sweet.

Makes 6 servings (one scant cup each). Serve over about a cup of rice with a generous side of peas.

*If your tofu is packed in water, press it. Don’t know how? Get directions here. We usually opt for high protein tofu in the vacuum-sealed, clear plastic packaging without water.

Note: If you enjoy dairy and are heading over to make the original recipe with paneer, might I suggest using ghee in place of the 2 tablespoons of oil you use to cook the sauce? You won’t regret it.


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day seven

(Click here for an explanation of the project.)

Woohoo, day seven! We’ve been eating for under $5 per person/per day for an entire week.

Here’s what we ate for $4.05 yesterday, January 8, 2011.


malted almond milk mocha with whipped cream $0.54

organic hulled barley with avocado, pico de gallo & a poached egg $0.60


leftover vegan chipotle corn chowder $0.72


BBQ tofu sandwiches with caramelized onion and cabbage $1.29

yam fries $0.40


8 ounces lowfat vanilla yogurt $0.50

total $4.05

There’s nothing quite like a lazy Saturday morning when the three of us are all home. I got up and started cooking the barley we had soaked overnight and decided to make us malted mochas. I tried to do it on the cheap, and seem to have succeeded. Here’s the recipe I came up with per serving:

malted almond milk mocha for one

1/2 cup almond milk $0.25
1/3 ounce unsweetened chocolate (1/3 a baking square) $0.12
1 tablespoon sugar $0.02
1 teaspoon cocoa $0.03
1 tablespoon malt powder $0.06
1 six ounce serving from a stove top espresso maker (still using the free beans)
1 1/2 tablespoons cream, whipped with a tiny splash of vanilla $0.06

total: $0.54 per serving

Heat the milk, chocolate, and sugar over medium heat, stirring frequently as the chocolate melts. Once it reaches a boil, reduce heat to low, add the cocoa and malt powder and whisk thoroughly. Allow it to simmer while you prepare the coffee and whip the cream.

Pour the coffee and cocoa mixture together in a mug and top with whipped cream.

It can be challenging to whip a small amount of cream. I whipped a tiny amount just for the 3 of us for the sake of keeping the fat down and calculating the cost. For small single servings you can shake cream in a small mason jar and get close to whipped cream if you are very determined.

Now onto the subject of BARLEY. None of the three of us had ever eaten barley outside of soup. And none of us had ever encountered hulled barley. When that was all they carried at our co-op, we had to consult the kitchn to find out if it could be used in place of pearl. Basically, pearl barley is to hulled barley as white rice is to brown.

I’m a little embarrassed to admit that we decided to eat barley on the recommendation of Oprah. I fully expected to just tolerate eating it, but it just so happens that it is delicious. That breakfast was a big hit. Levi said he would be happy to eat it every single day. I didn’t break down the recipe because all the ingredients are in the title and all of them except the barley have been calculated before. We got a little shy of 3/4 cup dry organic hulled barley for 49 cents. It’s even cheaper when you consider that it triples when you cook it. Woops, almost forgot the money shot:

And here’s the cost breakdown for dinner:

BBQ Tofu Sandwiches

kaiser rolls $0.33
BBQ sauce $0.91
14 ounces extra firm tofu $1.99
1 large onion $0.25
1 tablespoon olive oil $0.13
7 ounces cabbage $0.26

total: $3.87
3 servings at $1.29 per serving

yam fries

1 tablespoon olive oil $0.13
1 large yam $1.08

total: $1.21
3 servings at 40 cents per serving


– One of the best things about this project is that we eat dinner at the table every single night.

– Is it possible that today was the first day we ate tofu? It’s okay to admit you thought we’d have to eat a ton of soy. We kind of did, too.

– In case you were concerned our super cheap almond milk was a fluke, we scored more for even cheaper by using a combination of those coupons that spit out of little machines on the grocery aisles and the ones that get spit out along with your receipt when you check out. And today we found a half-gallon of Silk soy milk for $1.79 after another in-store coupon. That will be even cheaper per cup, at 22 cents.

In our first week we ate every single meal and snack for $28.95 per person. We came in $6.05 under budget. When you consider that is 17% of our budget, that is a lot. We are kind of blown away by how well we ate this week.


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