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This recipe for Maple Tofu with Rice and Greens has been one of our favorites for years. It’s super easy and full of flavor thanks to a simple sauce made with maple syrup, balsamic vinegar, and garlic. Even when my son was a toddler he’d gobble this up!
Do you like tofu? I really do, especially firm tofu cooked in a really flavorful sauce, like this one. When my son was a toddler this was the recipe I used to introduce tofu to him. The sauce has a touch of sweetness from the maple syrup that’s pretty irresistible.
You will find that I add a bit of maple syrup to many things – sometimes I even drizzle it on chili. Maybe it’s a New England thing? I didn’t even think about it until a friend on the West coast pointed out my fondness for maple.
This tofu recipe is very simple and uses only a few staple ingredients. I like to pair the tofu with fresh, garlicky spinach and some white rice. If I’m feeling fancy I’ll layer them all nicely in a bowl like you see above, which just makes this rustic meal feel a tad elegant. Mind you, this is “rustic fancy.” Sort of like when we go out to an elegant restaurant and wear our “nice jeans” to dress up.
How to Make this Maple Tofu Recipe
This is a very easy process! Do be sure to allow the extra time needed for pressing the tofu; dry tofu cooks better and absorbs more sauce.
- Press the Tofu. Line a large plate with 3-4 sheets of paper towel, then spread the diced tofu on top of them. Cover with a few more sheets of paper towel, then top with another plate. Allow the tofu to press for at least 1 hour.
- Saute the Tofu. Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the pressed tofu, and saute, stirring frequently, until golden brown.
- Make the Sauce. While the tofu is browning, whisk together the broth, syrup, vinegar, garlic, and salt to taste.
- Add the Sauce to the Tofu and Simmer. When the tofu is golden, add the sauce to the pan. Bring to a simmer and cook until the liquid reduces to a thick syrup. Stir the tofu a couple times as the broth cooks down so that every piece has a chance to soak up the flavor.
How to Make the Rice
To cook this rice, you’ll first cook uncovered until much of the water has evaporated. Then, cover the pot and finish cooking. I realize this is a somewhat unusual cooking technique for the rice, but cooking it this way just goes really well with the tofu and greens.
- Cook Uncovered. Combine the water, rice and salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook, uncovered, until the water level drops below the rice and small holes form in the rice, about 8 minutes.
- Finish Cooking with Lid On. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook until all the water has been absorbed and the rice is tender, about 15 minutes. Serve immediately.
How to Make the Garlicky Spinach Greens
These simple wilted greens taste absolutely delicious, and they’re also very good for you. Plus, they add a bright, jewel-like color to the plate.
- Saute the Garlic. In a large pan warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté for a minute or two, to soften and release the flavor.
- Wilt the Spinach in the Garlic and Oil. When the garlic has cooked somewhat, add the chopped spinach and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Cook until the spinach has wilted, then season to taste with salt. Cook about 30 seconds longer, then serve.
Tips for Success
Cooking with tofu this way is very easy! Here are some times to make sure yours comes out perfectly:
- Don’t Skip Pressing the Tofu: This essential step helps to drain excess liquid from the tofu, which makes more room for the sauce to absorb and flavor this mild protein. Tofu itself has very little flavor, so it’s necessary to make the sauce delicious, and make it absorb into the tofu.
- Keep the Tofu from Sticking: If you are using a good, well-seasoned cast iron pan or a good nonstick pan, the tofu shouldn’t stick, or at least not much. Make sure to coat the bottom of the pan generously with oil before sautéing, and be sure that the oil is hot enough; a cube of well-drained tofu should sizzle gently as soon as you place it in the oil.
- Change It Up: If you like, you can make this recipe with mushrooms, parboiled potatoes, or even cooked chickpeas instead of tofu. There are all kinds of yummy options that taste good in a sweet and tangy sauce!
How to Store and Reheat Leftovers
- These leftovers are best stored separately in the refrigerator, in airtight containers. The tofu, as well as the spinach, will keep for up to four days; the rice should not be kept for more than one day.
- To reheat, place desired portions on a microwave-safe plate, and heat for one to two minutes or until heated through (stir once or twice during the heating process).
Maple Tofu with Rice and Greens Recipe
For the Tofu:
- ½ cup vegetable broth
- 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 3 medium garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 lb extra-firm tofu, cut into 1-inch cubes
For the Rice:
- 3 cups water
- 2 cups long grain rice
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
For the Spinach:
- 3-4 cups baby spinach, roughly chopped
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- Red pepper flakes, just a pinch
- Kosher salt
To Make the Maple Tofu:
- Line a large plate with 3-4 sheets of paper towel, then spread the diced tofu on top of it. Cover with a few more sheets of paper towel, then top with another plate. Allow the tofu to press for at least 1 hour. (You can do this step the night before and store the press tofu in the fridge for cooking the next day.)
- In a large pan over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Add the tofu and cook, stirring frequently, until golden brown.
- While the tofu is cooking, combine the broth, maple syrup, balsamic vinegar, garlic and a pinch of salt in a bowl. Stir to combine. Set aside.
- When the tofu is done, add the liquid mixture to the pan. Bring to a simmer and cook until the liquid reduces to a thick syrup. Stir the tofu a couple times as the broth cooks down so that every piece has a chance to soak up the flavor. Serve immediately.
To Make the Rice:
- Combine the water, rice and salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook, uncovered, until the water level drops below the rice and small holes form in the rice, about 8 minutes.
- Reduce heat to low, cover and cook until all the water has been absorbed and the rice is tender, about 15 minutes. Serve immediately.
To Make the Spinach:
- In a large pan warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté 1-2 minutes, then add the chopped spinach and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Cook until the spinach has wilted, then season to taste with salt. Cook about 30 seconds longer, then serve.