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How to Make Tofu Baked with Tomato and Basil Pesto

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A lot of people find tofu tricky but I love it. Granted, it doesn’t look, smell or taste like much on its own but boy, treated properly with some good flavourings it sure turns into a knock-out meal. Packed with protein, low in fat and easily digested, you’d really do well to consider a little fling with tofu sometime soon. A big bonus is that tofu dishes are really quick to prepare, too, and depending what you add to it, perfectly fine on the Banting or low carb’high fat diets

Knowing what kind of tofu to use in which dishes goes a long way towards guaranteed success, and observing a few basic rules.

  1. Yes, tofu is tasteless on its own, but readily slurps up the flavours of whatever it’s cooked or marinated with. Sweet or savoury, cut in steaks or scrambled, cubed and poached in delicate broths or whipped into egg-free mayonnaise – as long as the accompanying ingredients are good ‘n’ tasty, so will your tofu be.
  2. Firm, block or ‘pressed’ tofu is sturdier and therefore used in stir fries, grills. kebabs etc. Silken tofu has a much softer, almost quivering texture and this is used in puddings, mousses, scrambles and sauces like egg-free mayonnaise.
  3. Buy fresh – like most food, tofu is best when freshly made. I buy blocks in water from my local Asian supermarkets, and at R6 per block it’s HUGELY cheaper than the tetrapak variety sold in supermarkets. There are also a few good local brands of pressed tofu for sale in health shops like Wellness Warehouse – although pricier than the Asian versions, it’s really tasty and come in plain or smoked. These retail at about R44.00 – R54.00 per 400 g block. The advantage of these brands is that they’re pretty firm and don’t need additional pressing to drain excess water.
  4. All tofu has a high water content and will yield better results if pressed before use – place tofu blocks on a plate lined with clean kitchen towel or absorbent kitchen paper, cover with another towel and place a plate on top. Weight down with a can of beans or similar, and let stand for at least 30 minutes before patting dry and seasoning or marinating.

As I was pottering about the kitchen the other day planning my daughter’s vegetarian meals, I looked at a block of tofu and went ‘Mmm…I’m taking this baby to the Mediterranean. Bring on the pesto and tomatoes!’

And whyever not?

Cut the tofu into 3/4 cm thick slices, place them in a single layer in an ovenproof dish and slather both sides generously with basil pesto and tomato passata. (You could also use tomato puree.) Several glugs of fruity extra virgin olive oil for the tofu to bathe in, some salt and a few grindings of black pepper and voila! Your tofu is now well on its way towards becoming Mediterranean.

Let stand for at least an hour, perhaps turning it over now and then, and bake for 25 minutes at 180 C. (I also drizzle over some Braggs’ liquid aminos before baking, because I’m totally addicted to it.)

Enjoy your tomato and pesto baked tofu while still warm with a hearty bean salad and some greens, or let it cool and stuff into a crusty ciabatta roll along with ripe red tomato slices, rocket, thin red onion rings and another smear of basil pesto.

prepare baked tofu sonia cabano blog eatdrinkcapetown
Prepare an ovenproof dish by spreading some olive oil, tomato passata and basil pesto on the base. Season well with salt and pepper.
tomato pesto tofu sonia cabano blog eatdrinkcapetown
Layer the sliced, firm tofu in the dish and spread with 1/2 cup (125ml) tomato passata and 1/2 jar Pesto Princess basil pesto
baked tofu salad sonia cabano blog eatdrinkcapetown
Bake for 25 minutes at 180 C and serve with hot or room temperature with green salad or a hearty bean salad. Keeps well in fridge up to 2 days.







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Celebrating life with food, wine, friends & happiness! Writer, cook and blogger. Author of four cookbooks. Passionately South African, proudly Capetonian.