My quinoa ‘crush’ continues ☺. I’ve been making what I affectionately call “tofu fingers” for the kids since they were old enough to eat solid food (yes, that long!) It’s always been one of my go-to recipes I can make in less than 30 minutes with a guarantee the kids will DEVOUR it. Add dipping sauce into the mix and I’m golden 😊. I’ve shared a few of my favourite pan-fried tofu recipes to date, including one with a classic breadcrumb-parmesan variety (see our Vegan Tofu Parmigiana) and one with a little more zip (see our Crispy Pan-Fried Tofu Strips with Spicy Fries), but in both cases I’ve used traditional breadcrumbs as my base in the coating mixture. Enter quinoa in the mix and the results are phenomenal!
Lately I’ve been experimenting with roasting quinoa….with a little bit of olive oil and sprinkling of Himalayan pink salt cooked quinoa seeds are transformed to crispy, golden morsels of goodness that lock in its delicate nutty flavour. The crunch elevates this seed to from wow to WOW 🙂. I decided to experiment with replacing breadcrumbs with roasted quinoa seeds and hit the jackpot with this recipe (just ask my kids). When the tofu strips are breaded in a blend of roasted quinoa and panko (along with a touch of cornstarch) the coating not only looks impressive but tastes even better. The take-it-up-a-notch crispy exterior and subtle nutty flavour make this a pub-style meal without the guilt. You have to try it for yourself to appreciate how delicious this recipe is (and you just may want to thank me lol). If dish presentation is your wheelhouse I would recommend using a blend of white and tricolor quinoa to create a more stunning dimension to these tasty Quinoa Crusted Tofu Strips (incidentally black quinoa has an earthier and sweeter taste than the white and red variety!)
1/Cook 1/2 cup dry quinoa (this will yield between 1 – 1.5 cups cooked quinoa)
2/Rinse block of extra-firm tofu in cold water. Using a clean, dry tea towel wrap each block of tofu to squeeze to release as much water out as possible. If you have time, let it sit for about 15 minutes to release any excess water. Once pressed, cut each block of tofu into 1/4″ slabs (or preferred thickness).
Note: I recommend using two blocks of tofu and doubling the Bowl A/B/C ingredients if serving four or more people.
1 pkg (350g each) extra-firm tofu, rinsed & drained
1/4 cup quinoa flour
1/2 cup aquafaba (chickpea liquid)
1 1/4 cups roasted quinoa (225g) (see Recipe Notes below)
1/2 cup Panko (35g)
1 Tbsp cornstarch (5g)
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp Himalayan pink salt
*Aquafaba Tip* I always keep a supply of aquafaba in our freezer. Next time you need to cook chickpeas reserve the liquid/aquafaba and transfer into an ice cube tray. Let freeze (approx. 24 hours) and simply thaw the cubes as needed. A handy conversion: 1 egg = 3 Tbsp aquafaba
1/Roast the total yield of cooked quinoa (from ½ cup dry quinoa). See Recipe Notes below for details on roasting quinoa.
2/Once cooled, add roasted quinoa to your Thermomix mixing bowl. Add Panko, cornstarch, garlic powder, dried rosemary, dried basil and salt to the TM bowl.
Blend 10 sec/Speed 3 (Reverse blade). Transfer the quinoa-panko mixture from the Thermomix mixing bowl into a small prep bowl (Bowl C).
3/Add aquafaba to a prep bowl (Bowl B). Add quinoa flour to a third and final bowl (Bowl A). Arrange the bowls (left to right): Bowl A (Flour), B (Aquafaba) & C (Roasted Quinoa & Herbs).
4/Dip each tofu slab (both sides) in your prepared bowls following this sequence:
-Bowl A (flour)
-Bowl B (aquafaba)
-Bowl C (quinoa-panko mixture)
Place each coated tofu slab on a plate — they should not touch one another. If you have time, chill in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
5/Turn your oven element to medium-high heat. Pour enough olive oil into your skillet so that it completely covers the pan’s surface — then add a little more. Once the oil is hot (give or take 5 minutes), transfer the tofu slabs to the skillet one at a time. Place the slabs so they do not touch one another.
6/Using tongs, gently lift one tofu slab to see if it’s golden brown. Once you reach this stage, flip all tofu slabs over and continue to fry until the edges are golden brown
Note: You may need to add more olive oil to the skillet once the slabs are flipped.
7/Transfer the fried tofu slabs onto a paper-towel covered plate. The paper towel will help to soak up excess oil. Let sit for five minutes before serving.
*How to cook ½ cup dry quinoa:
1A/Add quinoa to a small pot of salted water (1 cup water). Once the water reaches the boiling point, simmer for 8-10 minutes or until the seed has plumped” up. You will notice the tail-like germ of the seeds will start to unravel when fully cooked. Remove from heat and let the quinoa sit (pot covered) for 1 minute. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork.
1B/Transfer cooked quinoa to a fine-mesh sieve, then run sieve under cold water to stop cooking. Rest sieve over empty bowl and let quinoa drain for 5-10 minutes.
Handy conversion: 1 cup dry quinoa will yield 2-3 cups cooked quinoa
*How to prepare roasted quinoa:
2A/Preheat oven to 375F. Spread the cooked quinoa on a parchment-paper lined baking sheet. Top with a pinch of Himalayan pink salt. Bake for 10 minutes.
2B/Remove baking tray from oven. Using a spatula, move the seeds around to ensure they are roasted evenly. Sprinkle another dash of salt over quinoa. Bake for a final 10 minutes or until quinoa is golden brown and crispy. Let cool for 5-10 minutes; set aside.
Note: This recipe was made using a Thermomix appliance; however, it can easily be adapted using similar food prep tools (e.g. multi-function processor, immersion blender etc).