Take Your Lunch to Work: Tofu
One pound of tofu; five easy, varied, quick lunches
Sunday Night Prepwhat you’ll need: extra-firm tofu, soy sauce, honey, garlic, brown rice, salt and pepper, red pepper flakes, oil, spinach, vinegar
WHAT YOU’LL DO: Buy one pound of extra-firm tofu and bake it in the oven using this easy method: Heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit; cut the tofu into 1/2-inch slabs; marinate it for a few minutes in a couple of tablespoons of soy sauce, a tablespoon of honey, and some minced garlic; then spread the tofu on an oiled baking sheet and bake until crispy on the edges and golden brown (about 25 to 30 minutes).
Make the brown rice and spinach for Monday’s lunch while the tofu is baking. For the rice, combine one cup of brown rice, one and a half cups of water, and a teaspoon of salt in a small pot. Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the rice is chewy, about 20 minutes. Turn the heat off but leave the lid on and let the rice steam another 10 minutes. For the spinach, sauté some garlic and red pepper flakes in a bit of oil until the garlic is brown. Add three to four handfuls of spinach, season with salt and pepper, and cook until just wilted. Hit the spinach with a few dashes of vinegar and adjust the seasoning as desired.
Monday Lunch: Baked Tofu, Brown Rice, and Sautéed Spinachwhat you’ll need: scallions
WHAT YOU’LL DO: Toss one-fifth of the tofu with some sliced scallions, and pack with the spinach and rice.
Tuesday Lunch: Vegetarian Vietnamese Sandwich (Banh Mi)what you’ll need: French bread, mayonnaise, carrots, rice vinegar, sugar, cucumber, jalapeños, scallions, a snack mix
WHAT YOU’LL DO: On Tuesday morning, cut a piece of French bread lengthwise, toast it, and slather the cut sides with a good amount of mayonnaise (try CHOW’s homemade mayo). Thinly slice some carrots and put them in a bowl for a few minutes with a dash of rice vinegar and a pinch of sugar to lightly pickle them. Place one-fourth of the remaining tofu on the bread and layer the drained carrots along with any or all of the following: thinly sliced cucumber, thinly sliced jalapeños, scallions. Wrap up the sandwich and eat it with wasabi peas, seaweed crackers, sesame sticks, or shrimp chips.
Wednesday Lunch: Cold Tofu Salad and Rice Crackerswhat you’ll need: honey, vinegar (ideally rice wine or cider), oil (ideally peanut, vegetable, or sesame), soy sauce, red pepper flakes, salt, spinach, carrots, cucumber, scallions, peanuts, rice crackers
WHAT YOU’LL DO: On Tuesday night, in a small jar combine one part honey, one part vinegar, one part oil, and two parts soy sauce with a pinch of red pepper flakes, then season with salt. Take the dressing to work along with some spinach, sliced carrots, thinly sliced cucumber, scallions, peanuts, and one-third of the remaining tofu; toss before eating. Also bring a snack of rice crackers.
Thursday Lunch: Tofu Peanut Noodles with Fruitwhat you’ll need: garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes, honey, rice vinegar, sesame oil, soy sauce, smooth peanut butter, noodles of your choice, carrots, scallions, roasted salted peanuts, a piece of fruit
WHAT YOU’LL DO: On Wednesday night, blend together one garlic clove, a little fresh minced ginger, a pinch of red pepper flakes, one part honey, two parts rice vinegar, two parts sesame oil, three parts soy sauce, and four parts smooth peanut butter until smooth. Thin with water as desired. Cook a half pound of noodles and drain. Toss the noodles with some sliced carrot and scallions, and top with one-half of the remaining tofu and some roasted, salted peanuts. Serve with a piece of fruit, like an Asian pear.
Friday Lunch: Tofu Scramble with Cucumber Spearswhat you’ll need: oil, garlic, red pepper flakes, spinach, scallions, cucumber, rice crackers
WHAT YOU’LL DO: On Thursday night, take the last of the tofu and crumble it. Heat some oil in a pan, add some minced garlic, and cook until fragrant. Add the tofu and a pinch of red pepper flakes and cook until the tofu is browned. Stir in a few handfuls of spinach and a handful of scallions and adjust the seasoning as desired. Top with cucumber spears and take to work with any leftover rice crackers you may have.