Tofu Is the One Ingredient You Should Always Have for Speedy Dinners

It’s the key to easy (and healthy!) dinners in a snap.

Published Jan. 2, 2023.

Look in the back right-hand corner of the middle shelf of my fridge, and you’re almost guaranteed to find a container of firm tofu. (But also, how did you get into my house?) 

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10 ingredients. 45 minutes. Quick, easy, and fresh weeknight recipes.

I love keeping tofu on hand because it’s affordable, packed with protein, stores well, and doesn’t even need to be cooked. It makes the ideal blank slate for last-minute weeknight dinners: It’s a great addition to stir-fries and soups since its mild flavor soaks up whatever sauces or seasonings you throw at it. Cut into cubes and sautéed, it’s an easy way to add heft to vegetarian salads. Or you can try my family’s favorite preparation: I cut the tofu into fingers, dredge them in cornstarch, and shallow-fry them in a skillet. I serve them with an array of dips (the more, the merrier), like an easier alternative to chicken fingers. 

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The Best Firm Tofu

Check the nutrition label for a clue about your tofu’s texture.
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Before using tofu, you’ll want to press it to remove excess moisture: Wrap the whole block in a clean dish towel or several layers of paper towels, place it on a plate, and weigh it down with a sturdy saucepan. Let it sit for 10 to 20 minutes, until the towels are thoroughly damp. 

And if you have any tofu left over, refrigerate it in a sealed container submerged in fresh water—it should last like that for up to 10 days, perfect for the next time you need a quick dinner fix.

Pita Salad with Za'atar Tofu and Chickpeas

A za’atar crust elevates the tofu in this fresh and filling pita salad.
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