this clever little recipe for baked tofu with coconutty kale, sweet potatoes, and mushrooms totally snuck up on me and quickly became one of my favorite things to make and eat for dinner. i shouldn’t be surprised, since it has spicy tofu, roasty mushrooms, and crispy kale, aka, a few of my favorite things that are not chocolate or ginger.
my first exposure to crispy kale was the surprise delight of the kale, fig, and gorgonzola pizza that i made last spring. raw kale is good in salads with acidic dressings to tame the bitterness but kale in the oven turns out to be a revelation (…to anyone who has never been on pinterest and seen the 1,396,247 recipes for kale chips… ahem.).
the kale’s bitterness seems to evaporate in the oven or something (editor’s note: that’s not even ‘fake science’, it’s just totally made up) and the kale comes out tasting like the dressing you put on it, but with the most shatteringly crisp texture. so. good. (yes, we’re still talking about kale here.)
as far as the roasty mushrooms, they’ve sent me down a roasted mushroom rabbit hole which will soon lead to a delicious soup appearing here. in the meantime though, we get to enjoy them here, where they add some savory depth to our tasty little bowl of healthy dinner.
and spicy tofu is just about my favorite protein. here, because we cook the tofu on a sheet pan in the oven, it gets nice and crispy without pressing the tofu (!) or messing with vats of oil. baking is generally my favorite way to cook tofu because the dry heat of the oven helps dry out the tofu and since we’re not opening the oven to flip the tofu every 3 minutes, it cooks undisturbed and remains much more intact than it does when cooked on the stove.
since we already have the oven on and a sheet pan dirty, we also roast the sweet potato, mushroom, and kale on the same pan, at the same time. this is weeknight dinner efficiency, right here. in the same vein, we also toast our coconut in the same pot we make our rice in, so we only have one sheet pan and one pot to wash.
despite the fact that my husband (aka, the washer of things that i won’t allow in the dish washing machine) likes any recipe that results in few dishes, he told me that he liked this recipe even *before* he saw how few dishes were awaiting him in the kitchen, so i’m pretty sure he actually just likes it. i know i sure do.
- 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil, divided
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
- 1 1/2 tablespoons sriracha, to taste
- 16 oz. (454 g.) extra firm tofu (no need to press)
- 8 oz. (227 g.) kale, cleaned, dried, thick stems removed, and very coarsely chopped
- 8 oz. (227 g.) white button mushrooms, wiped clean
- 1 small sweet potato, scrubbed clean but not peeled
- 3/4 cup (85 g. / 3 oz.) shredded, unsweetened coconut
- 1 cup (198 g. / 7 oz.) brown basmati rice
- preheat the oven to 400° F. in a large mixing bowl, combine 1 tablespoon of the coconut oil, the sesame oil, the soy sauce, and the sriracha. whisk together and taste to see if you want to add any more sriracha. cut the tofu into 1” (2.5 cm) cubes, add them to the bowl, and gently toss to coat the cubes in the dressing. set aside while you prep the rest of the ingredients.
- trim the very bottom of the stem off the mushrooms then cut them in half (or in quarters, if they are large). add to the bowl with the tofu. cut the sweet potato into 1/2" (1.25 cm) cubes and add them to the bowl with the tofu and mushrooms. gently toss everything once more to coat in the dressing.
- spread the tofu and vegetables out in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet, leaving any excess dressing in the bowl (set the bowl/dressing aside for later). bake for 20 minutes.
- while the vegetables and tofu are baking, toast the shredded coconut over medium-low heat in a medium size, heavy-bottomed pot with a lid (the pot you will cook the rice in soon). keep an eye on the coconut and stir it frequently so that it doesn’t burn on the bottom. if you start smelling it and you haven’t stirred it recently, immediately drop what you are doing and race over to check on it. once it’s a nice golden brown, transfer roughly 2/3 of what’s in the pot (so, 1/2 cup) to a separate bowl and set aside. add the rice to the pot along with water, as instructed by the rice package (usually 2 cups water). stir the rice, remaining ¼ cup coconut, and water to combine. put the lid on the pot and cook the rice according to the package directions (the addition of the coconut doesn’t require any modifications).
- add the remaining tablespoon of coconut oil to the bowl with the remaining dressing from the tofu. add the kale to the bowl and toss to coat.
- when the 20-minute timer for the tofu and vegetables goes off, remove the sheet from the oven and gently turn the tofu and vegetables over. if the tofu sticks to the pan, gently slide a spatula under it to loosen it. spread the kale out over the tofu and vegetables as evenly as possible. it won’t be possible to keep everything in a single layer but do try to keep it evenly distributed.
- slide the sheet pan back into the oven for another 12 – 15 minutes, until the kale is crispy. remove from the oven.
- to serve, put some rice in a bowl, then top with tofu and vegetables, and finally sprinkle the reserved toasted coconut over the top. enjoy immediately.
leftovers keep in airtight containers (i stored the tofu and vegetables in one, the rice in another, and the toasted coconut in a third) in the refrigerator for several days. the kale won’t be quite as crispy when you reheat it in the microwave but it does retain a bit of crispiness, to my surprise.
adapted from baked tofu with coconut kale on food52, with thanks to commenter laura milligan for suggesting the addition of mushrooms and sweet potatoes.