Spiced Hazelnut Crusted Tofu {vegan & gluten-free}

There are a lot of things I didn’t take into consideration when I first started up Girl Eats Greens. The sheer amount of time it takes to test recipes, take photographs, edit/watermark photos, test the recipe again, write up a post, etc. is huge to say the least. I didn’t expect to make money, but there are definitely times when I look at the amount of time and effort I put into it and think “wow, it would be great if I had something monetary or otherwise to show for it.” But I also didn’t expect to discover how much I loved food. Taste testing and being creative with recipes and trying new restaurants and traveling and attending events – like a guac off I’m going to today! – it’s all so much fun. I also didn’t expect to discover a really cool community of people who also love food. I was approached almost a year ago by a new food app that was launching, asking me for contribution of some of my recipes. I will on occasion have people reach out, but for all the reasons I mention above, I’ve generally been hesitant to just hand over my recipes and photos to people or sites that I don’t share a similar vision with. After all, all of the content on this blog, I own. It came from my brain and my hard work. It’s hard to just hand it over to someone else.

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But when I talked to the SideChef community manager about their app, about their vision, I couldn’t help but get excited. These people got me! (If you don’t have the app, it’s a great step-by-step guide for making recipes. It has timers, directions, and it talks to you – you don’t have to get your hands dirty). Before I was making my own recipes, I often propped up my phone or my iPad in the kitchen and tried to follow along – but inevitably the phone would lock and I’d risk getting it all dirty unlocking and navigating to the next step. Needless to say, I completely bought into their idea and gladly handed over some of my favorites.

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As they’ve grown, it’s been a really cool process to see. To actually log in and see people rating and commenting on my recipes, to see them taking pictures of the recipes they’ve tried, it’s a really cool experience. And one of the perks I didn’t expect when I signed up with them was surprise packages in the mail. I got one around the holidays with a lot of cool swag, including a tote bag that I use to get groceries. But recently, I got one that came with a package of Bob’s Red Mill hazelnut meal/flour. It came at the perfect time because I was really struggling with finding an inspiration for a new recipe. Often, seeing a new ingredient at the farmer’s market or grocery store will inspire me. This time, I didn’t even have to leave the house!

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I spent days thinking about what to do with the hazelnut meal. I talked to friends over dinner and drinks one night who convinced me that hazelnuts were actually more woodsy flavored than I was thinking. I thought the easy thing to do with them would be to bake them into a cookie or something. But who wants to go the easy route? So I thought savory was the best way to turn the hazelnut meal into something that’s totally unexpected. And that’s just what I did. Spiced Hazelnut Crusted Tofu was born!

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I knew I wanted to model the crust for the tofu off of my favorite pumpkin crusted tofu that I make for Thanksgiving, which is really simple and flavorful. But I wasn’t entirely sure what spices to put with the hazelnuts. I Googled around for spices and hazelnuts and came across a great recipe from the James Beard website for spiced roasted hazelnuts. So I took their lead, added a bit of garlic, and had the perfect spice combo for the crust.

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If you’ve never crusted tofu before, it’s not as intimidating as it may sound. I promise. All you need to do is have your tofu really pressed to remove as much water as possible (be patient with this part) and then you need a combo of something wet to dip it in and whatever you want the crust to be. In this case, I went with a light coconut milk and agave dip (thickened with some cornstarch), and the hazelnut meal with ginger, cumin, garlic, cayenne, and coriander spices.

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You could fry or bake, I prefer to bake. The crust is a great crispy outside and the tofu has a delicious kind of spongey inside when it’s baked. I rarely make tofu or any meat-type substitute the main event of a dish. I tend to use it as an addition to a bowl or as an ingredient in recreating cheese, but this tofu really stands on it’s own.It has a bit of sweet and spice, which will confuse and delight your tastebuds. Of course, it doesn’t taste like chicken for all you meat-eaters out there, but it has so much flavor you won’t even mind it doesn’t come from an animal.

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I chose to put it over a salad with a simple olive oil and vinegar dressing, but then realized it was even better wrapped in lettuce. I recommend either way. Wrapped in large lettuce leaves with radish sprouts, or cut up like giant crutons on the salad. Or served with a side of mashed potatoes and greens. Your call. However you end up serving these, you won’t be disappointed!

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Spiced Hazelnut Crusted Tofu

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 block tofu, drained and pressed for 30 minutes
  • 3/4 cup hazelnut meal/flour
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons light coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons agave syrup
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • dash salt

What You’ll Do:

  1. Drain the tofu between paper towel or a kitchen towel under a heavy pan or book for at least 30 minutes
  2. Cut tofu into squares or triangles and preheat the oven to 375 degrees and lightly grease a baking sheet (I used a spray olive oil for this)
  3. In one bowl, mix the wet ingredients with cornstarch – the coconut milk, agave syrup and cornstarch
  4. In another bowl, mix the dry ingredients – the hazelnut meal and all the spices
  5. Using one hand for the wet and one for the dry (yes, this is messy) take one slice of tofu at a time, drop it in the wet bowl, flip, and then move it to the next bowl and flip until it is coated with the spices and hazelnuts
  6. Place on the baking sheet and repeat the process until all the tofu is coated
  7. Bake for 12 minutes, then turn the tofu to the other side and bake an additional 12 minutes
  8. Optional – for more crispy tofu, turn the oven up to broil and broil for 3 additional minutes
  9. Serve over salad, in a lettuce wrap, or however you choose. Enjoy!

 

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4 responses to “Spiced Hazelnut Crusted Tofu {vegan & gluten-free}

  1. Pingback: Grain Free Coconut Energy Bites | Girl Eats Greens·

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