5 Easy Vegan And Vegetarian Mains For Long Weekend Gatherings (Or Any Time)

From a souped-up tofu burger to faux egg salad!

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Tofu recipes: Black bean and tofu veggie burgers topped with avocado.

Tofu and black bean burgers. Photo, Roberto Caruso.

Summer barbecues are often food deserts for vegetarians and vegans. Usually, the meat-free menu items include sub-par veggie burgers, rubbery tofu dogs and, if you’re lucky, one mayo-less salad. But with plant-based eating on the rise, there’s no reason why the veggie options should play second fiddle (especially when you can whip up vegetarian and vegan mains in a pinch). Here are five easy tofu recipes that’ll please everyone, including meat eaters.

Crispy tofu with peanut sauce

Use: Extra-firm tofu

  • Pat 2 350-gram packages of extra-firm tofu dry with a kitchen towel, then cut each block into 4 square steaks
  • Cook tofu in 2 batches in 2 tsp canola oil in a large non-stick frying pan over medium-high, until golden, 4 to 5 min per side. Transfer to a platter. Reduce heat to medium. Add 1 tsp oil and 1 sliced small onion to pan. Cook 1 min. Add 1 thinly sliced red bell pepper and 3 handfuls trimmed green beans. Cook until vegetables are tender-crisp, 4 to 5 min. Add a pinch of salt and season with pepper
  • Whisk ¼ cup smooth peanut butter with 1/3 cup hot water, 2 tbsp hoisin and 2 tsp chili-garlic sauce. Serve tofu with vegetables and sauce. Garnish with 1 sliced green onion

Tofu bites with orange-lime ponzu

Use: soft tofu

  • Orange lime ponzu sauce: Combine ¼ cup soy sauce, 1 tbsp mirin, 1 tsp instant dashi powder and ½ tsp sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium, whisking until sugar and dashi dissolve. Remove from heat. Stir in ¼ cup orange juice and 2 tbsp lime juice. Refrigerate in a jar up to a month
  • Pat a 300-gram block of soft tofu dry with a kitchen towel. Set on a serving plate, then thickly slice. Grate a small peeled carrot over tofu and sprinkle with chopped chives. Drizzle with 2 tbsp orange-lime ponzu sauce. Serve cold
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Creamy tofu pesto pasta

Use: soft tofu

  • Cook 250-gram fettuccine following package directions, 7 to 8 min. Drain and rinse well. Return pasta to pot
  • Whirl 2 cups firmly packed arugula, ¼ cup toasted almonds, 3 tbsp grated parmesan, 2 garlic cloves, 1 tbsp lemon juice and ¼ tsp salt in a food processor until finely chopped. With motor still running, gradually add 3 tbsp each olive and canola oils. Add a 300-gram block soft tofu, drained and whirl until mixed
  • Stir tofu mixture into cooked pasta along with 280-grams grape tomatoes, halved. Cook over medium, stirring often, until warmed through, about 2 min. Serve immediately with parmesan shavings, if desired

Black bean and tofu burgers

Use: Extra-firm tofu

  • Whirl ½ cup canned black beans, rinsed, with 2 garlic cloves, ½ cup each quick oats and ketchup, ¼ cup cilantro, 2 tbsp ground flaxseed, ½ tsp chipotle chili powder and ½ tsp salt in a food processor until smooth
  • Pat 1 350-gram package extra-firm tofu dry with a kitchen towel. Crumble into black bean mixture. Divide mixture into 4 portions. Form into 1-in.-thick patties.
  • Oil your grill. Barbecue burgers over medium, lid open, until firm to the touch and grill marks form, 4 to 5 min per side. Serve on toasted hamburger buns and top with your favourite burger toppings (lettuce, tomato, pickles, red onion, ketchup, etc.)

Sneaky tofu egg salad sandwiches

Use: Extra-firm tofu

  • Stir 1/3 cup mayonnaise with 1 tbsp hot mustard and a pinch of salt in a large bowl
  • Pat 350-gram extra-firm tofu dry with a kitchen towel, then coarsely grate with a box grater. Stir into mayo mixture along with 2 finely chopped large celery stalks and 2 thinly sliced green onions. Season with pepper
  • Toast 12 slices whole-wheat bread. Line 6 slices with 6 leaves iceberg lettuce, 2 medium tomatoes, each cut into 6 slices, and 2 medium dill pickles, thinly sliced lengthwise. Top each with a mound of ‘egg’ salad. Sandwich with remaining bread

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