It’s time to rethink your stance on tofu, which is so much more than a meat alternative or questionable impulse purchase from your local health food store. Silken or soft tofu can be an amazing addition to all kinds of recipes, adding a low-calorie creaminess that easily absorbs flavorings. Firm tofu marinates beautifully and is easy to pan-sear and toss on top of salads or use instead of meat (as in our Vegan Lasagna recipe shown above). Try these 11 recipes and get ready to give tofu another chance.
1. Chocolate Mousse
This rich chocolate mousse is a great option for a truly tasty dairy-free dessert. Chocolate soy milk, chocolate chips (vegan or not), 12 ounces of silken tofu, vanilla extract, and amaretto are combined to make a creamy mousse that can be chilled in a big serving dish or individually in small ramekins. Get the recipe here.
2. Roasted Tomato, Kale, and Herb Quiche
This quiche with an oat-almond crust contains an entire package of firm tofu, but you’d never guess unless you read the list of ingredients. Combine 2 cups of chopped kale, cherry tomatoes, onion, garlic, and fresh herbs and you have the start of a very healthy vegan (and gluten-free!) quiche. You can use a traditional crust (homemade or store-bought) to save time. Get the recipe here.
3. Mac and Cheese
Tofu mac and cheese is lighter and though not quite low-calorie, it’s a healthier take on a classic comfort food. With a full pound of silken tofu, 8 ounces of grated cheddar, milk, butter, Greek yogurt, and toasted breadcrumbs on top, this rendition of macaroni and cheese will please even the most discerning cheese lover. Feel free to add in chopped veggies, but sauté them first to make sure they’re not still raw after baking. Get the recipe here.
4. Mexican Chocolate Pudding
This Mexican chocolate pudding recipe from Mark Bittman is so good you’ll never guess that it substitutes a pound of silken tofu for cream and eggs. A half-teaspoon of chili powder (or cayenne) gives it a spicy kick, but adjust the amount according to taste and this pudding will be a fail-safe alternative to boring old store-bought pudding. Make it in a big serving bowl or serve individually in ramekins garnished with fleur de sel. Get the recipe here.
5. Vegan Alfredo Pasta Sauce
Simmer cauliflower until it’s tender along with garlic powder, salt, butter, and milk, then use an immersion blender to blend it all together. This tastes just as good as traditional alfredo but is infinitely better for you (though perhaps not quite as rich). To brighten up the dish, use colorful fresh pasta such as tricolore penne. Get the recipe here.
6. Chocolate Pound Cake
Silken tofu replaces eggs in this chocolate pound cake recipe, which also includes a chocolate sugar glaze. Wait until the cake is somewhat cooled before glazing, and garnish with chopped walnuts (or any other nut) for a crunchy touch. Get the recipe here.
7. Whole-Grain Pancake
Whole-grain tofu pancakes with almond milk, whole wheat pastry flour, lime juice, and lime zest are an original breakfast dish that you haven’t had before. Mix up the dry ingredients the night before so you can whip up a batch first thing after you wake up. Add in fresh fruit, chopped nuts, or chocolate chips to jazz up the recipe, and you can freeze any of the leftovers for later in the week. Get the recipe here.
8. Tiramisu Cheesecake
This tofu tiramisu cheesecake has traditional cream cheese as well as silken tofu, which makes for an exceptionally creamy texture. The sponge cake base soaks up the flavors of the cheesecake (but you can use store-bought ladyfingers if you’re running short on time). Be sure to chill for at least four hours to make sure the cheesecake sets up before slicing. Get the recipe here.
9. Spinach Lasagna
Extra-firm tofu takes the place of meat or eggplant in this version of spinach lasagna. You can use whole wheat or regular lasagna noodles and substitute any spices that you like. Unless you’re determined to keep it vegan, you can also use regular mozzarella. Make a pan, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil, and keep it in the freezer for a quick dinner any night of the week. Get the recipe here.
10. Kidney Bean and Corn Chili
Tofu in chili? This recipe for traditional chili that has firm tofu crumbled in it instead of meat has all the traditional trappings of a hearty chili dinner and is the perfect fit to serve your vegetarian friends. Cumin, chili powder, and jalapeños add spice; substitute fresh veggies if you can. Make a batch of cornbread and you’re all set. Get the recipe here.
11. Warm Artichoke Spinach Dip
Artichoke spinach dip is a classic party dip that everyone loves. This rendition has soft tofu instead of cream cheese and a half cup of nutritional yeast flakes to add a cheesy flavor (and keep it vegan). Substitute with Parmesan if you’re not looking to keep it vegan, and be sure to use lots of fresh lemon juice to add brightness. Serve in a bread bowl or with tortilla chips. Get the recipe here.
Caitlin M. O'Shaughnessy is a New York City–based food writer and editor at Penguin who has worked on and recipe-tested several cookbooks. She is currently in search of NYC's best ramen, and is one of the few people who admit to disliking brunch.