These cabbage and tofu bowls are an easy one-pan dinner that’s big on flavor.
We are now in that stretch of winter where we’re all getting pretty tired of winter. The holidays are over and the resolution-fueled novelty of January is long gone. We’ve just about had it with our bulky sweaters, and if you’re like me, you’re sick of eating soups and stews, too. I’m craving something fresh and different, and that’s where this simple dinner comes in.
These sautéed cabbage and seared tofu bowls with a zingy ginger dressing are the perfect mid-winter weeknight meal. All you need is one pan, a few pantry staples (plus cabbage), and about 35 minutes until this light yet satisfying dinner is on the table.
You start by searing tofu until it has a nice golden brown crust. While it’s cooking, you cut up a few carrots and shred cabbage. I like to use a duo of green and purple cabbages (for a variation of color and micronutrients), but if you only have one type, use what you have.
Next, you set the tofu aside and sauté the carrots and cabbages in that same skillet. While the vegetables soften and caramelize, you stir together an easy but punchy soy- and rice vinegar-based sauce. Then you cook half of the sauce with the vegetables and drizzle the rest on the finished bowls. And that’s it!
If you want to bulk up these cabbage tofu bowls, serve them with brown rice.
How to Make Perfect Seared Tofu
Cooking tofu in a skillet is one of the easiest and fastest ways to make delicious tofu. But first, you have to press it. Pressing tofu eliminates excess moisture and helps it brown better. You can buy a gadget for this purpose, or just use what you have (see instructions in step 1 below).
Then you cut it into slices and season it – tofu is pretty bland on its own, so this step is key (my go-to blend is smoked paprika, garlic powder, salt, and pepper). Finally, you get it in the skillet. It’s important to arrange the slices in a single layer so that each piece makes contact with the hot pan and gets browned.
Leave the tofu alone and do not flip it more than once. You want it to get a nice brown crust, so be patient and just let it do its thing.
These cabbage and tofu bowls are an easy one-pan dinner that’s big on flavor. Perfect for weeknights!
For the Bowls
- One 14-ounce block extra-firm tofu
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Extra virgin olive oil, for frying
- 3/4 pound green cabbage, shredded (about 3 cups)
- 3/4 pound purple cabbage, shredded (about 3 cups)
- 3 small carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks
- Cilantro, for serving
- Toasted sesame seeds, for serving
For the Sauce
- 1-inch knob of ginger, peeled and minced (about 1 tablespoon)
- 1 medium garlic clove, crushed or grated
- 3 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons Thai red curry paste
- 1 teaspoon pure maple syrup or honey
- Start by pressing the tofu: Drain the tofu and place it on a plate, then top with another plate or cutting board and weigh it down with something heavy like a couple of cans, to squeeze out as much water as possible. Let stand for 15 to 30 minutes, periodically draining off the excess water.
- Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the garlic powder, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper.
- Undo the tofu contraption and slice the tofu into 8 slabs; cut each slab on a diagonal, creating 16 triangles in total. Arrange the triangles in an even layer on the cutting board and sprinkle with half of the spice blend.
- Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat and add enough oil to lightly coat the bottom. Arrange the tofu in the skillet in a single layer seasoned-side down. Season the other side with the remaining spice blend. Fry the tofu until the underside is golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Gently flip the triangles and cook the other side for 5 to 7 minutes more.
- Meanwhile, make the Sauce: In a bowl, whisk together the ginger, garlic, rice vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, curry paste, and maple syrup.
- Take the tofu out of the skillet and set aside. Raise the heat to medium-high and add a splash more oil, if needed. Add the cabbages and carrots and cook until they’re starting to soften and brown, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add half of the sauce, toss to combine, and turn the heat off.
- To serve, divide the vegetables among 2 plates and top with the tofu. Sprinkle with cilantro and sesame seeds and serve with the remaining sauce.
- Serving Size: 1/4 of the recipe
- Calories: 260
- Fat: 16.5 g
- Carbohydrates: 20.9 g
- Fiber: 6 g
- Protein: 12.9 g
Keywords: cabbage, tofu, soy sauce, ginger, vegan