Rich in plant protein and dairy - free ... any guesses to the secret ingredient?
Ta-da! The answer is TOFU.
Here's the thing. Many of us are sceptical about this plant protein as we either don't like the taste of OR we don't really know how or what to do with it. As tofu doesn't have a very strong taste, it makes it extremely versatile, adopting the flavour of any dish. If you have a weakness for creamy, thick sauces (like I do), then this basil inspired dish is a must. An easy and delicious plant-based and plant-focused sauce which is a great way to introduce tofu into your diet.
Serving Size: Makes approximately 2 cups
Prep Time: 10 minutes (+ time for pressing tofu)
Cooking Time: 5 minutes
Ingredients and Method
400g soft tofu, pressed* (3 or 4 tofu blocks, depending on size)
2 - 3 Tbsp (30 - 45 ml) nutritional yeast
50 - 60g fresh basil (add more if desired)
1 clove of garlic, minced (optional)
1/2 cup to 1 cup (125 - 250ml) of any liquid (soya or non-dairy milk and/ or water)
Seasonings: salt, black pepper, dried chilli flakes, paprika, dash of Lemon Juice
*Press tofu by taking a plate and lining it with paper towels. Place tofu blocks on paper towels and then place another layer of paper towels on top. Put another plate or cutting board on top of the paper towels and then weigh it down with a book or tins. Drain for a minimum of 30 minutes to try and remove excess water.
Add all ingredients to a food processor an blend until smooth. Taste as you mix and add more seasonings if desired. Transfer to a small pot and heat over a low heat before serving. Make sure not to boil the sauce as it can separate.
Look at serving suggestions.
Add 2 Tbsp of basil pesto if you can't get your hands on fresh basil.
Add 2 handfuls of fresh spinach or 1/2 cup cooked green peas to give it a even more vibrant green colour and to boost your plant intake of the dish.
Roasted Vegetable Salad: Add this creamy sauce to a batch of roasted vegetables mixed in with a wholegrain (couscous, bulgur wheat or wholegrain pasta).
Serve it with roasted baby tomatoes and green peas or try it with sautéed mushrooms with a dash of truffle oil. Serve it with legume - based pasta.
Use the green sauce in a vegetable wrap to boost the protein of the meal.
Tofu: Also known as bean curd is made from soy beans. Unlike most plant proteins, soy beans is a complete plant protein as it contains all of the essential amino acids we need to get from food as our bodies cannot produce them. Tofu can provide between 15 - 20g protein/100g - making it an ideal protein source in a vegetarian, vegan or plant-focused diet.
Buying Tofu Tip: Tofu is also one of the most affordable plant proteins (find it at any local Chinese supermarket where they make it fresh or get it delivered on a daily basis). I usually pay between R3.50 - R6 per block of tofu (a block weighs approximately 120g - 140g) - this is in Cape Town, South Africa.
Nutritional Yeast: This is a species of fungi, which are deactivated (i.e. dead) and can be used as a flavour additive to meals as well as a protein booster. Many vegans or plant-based eaters use it to give their dishes a 'cheesy flavour'. Nutritional yeast is also a source of plant protein providing around 4 - 5g protein per tablespoon. Add it to pasta sauces, sprinkle it over stir-fried vegetables or mix it in vegetable soup.