Tofu Souvlaki with Vegan Tzatziki

Jul 10, 2020

Lately, I’ve enjoyed cooking with tofu. This fermented soybean product is a very versatile product filled with protein, iron and calcium, and many other proven nutritional features and health benefits. Asians have been enjoying soy products and tofu for centuries, one of the healthiest populations in the world. The soaking and cooking when soybeans are prepared for tofu improves the digestibility and mineral availability as well.

Where you will find negative reviews on tofu and soy products, is typically traceable back to groups that promote an animal-based diet. I always encourage my clients and readers to do their own research and preferably from sources that are not biased in any way.

But I digress…The good news is that tofu makes for a brilliant food on the grill and can be seasoned, marinated, and prepared in so many ways, depending on what you feel like cooking and eating.

Many people I speak to feel intimidated by tofu and have no idea which one to buy and how to cook it. It’s honestly not hard at all, but here are a few tips:

When buying tofu, always make sure you buy non-GMO and organic tofu.

Tofu comes in different textures from silken/soft (which you can use in dressings, puddings, cheesecakes, and other desserts), to medium-firm (great for miso soups), firm and extra-firm. I love using extra-firm for when I’m making “meaty” dishes” as it holds its shape very well and also has a higher protein content.

If your tofu comes packaged in liquid, which many do, in addition to draining it, you also want to press it to squeeze the extra liquid out. I typically wrap it in paper towels, then put it on a plate, and place something heavy on top and leave it for about 15-30 minutes before I marinate or season it.

You can marinate the tofu anywhere from 30 minutes to overnight. I think the longer it is allowed to sit and soak in the flavors, whether it’s a liquid marinade or a dry rub with spices, the better. Typically it also needs more seasoning than you think, remember – tofu is bland when right out of the package. Much like people would season animal-based protein, we need to do the same with tofu and other plant-based proteins to add that extra flavor.

If sauteing or grilling it, make sure your pan/grill is really hot and resist the urge to move the tofu around too quickly! Give it the time it needs to properly get a crispy surface and achieve that brown/golden color on the outside before flipping.

If baking it, I would bake it at a hot enough temperature that it can also crisp up on the outside quickly, while maintaining a juicy interior.

More will be shared on tofu, cooking tricks, and health benefits in a future online cooking class I’m giving, so stay tuned for that!

This past weekend I chose to make souvlaki with tofu and I was thrilled with the results. I’ve always enjoyed Greek flavors and cuisine, dating back to my teens when I spent several summers on the beautiful island of Skiathos, where my sister lived at the time.

I started by draining and pressing the tofu as described above and made a BBQ marinade with a few Greek flavors. Then I cubed up the tofu and let the pieces marinate for about 2 hours.

I prefer metal skewers so I can re-use them, although this time I couldn’t find mine, so I had to resort to wooden skewers. If you do use these, make sure you soak your skewers in water before you place it on the grill, otherwise, you will start a second fire you didn’t plan on!

You can use whatever veggies you have to skewer on along with the tofu, but I chose portobello mushrooms, red onion, and red bell peppers. These veggies happen to be in line with my Greek theme, and also fabulous for the grill.

Tzatziki is another dish (or more correctly, sauce) I couldn’t imagine living without. In the early days when I had just turned vegan, there weren’t any great vegan yogurt options so I made tzatziki from soaked cashews that I pureed up. Nowadays though, we have fabulous yogurts from brands like Forager, So Delicious, Kite Hill, and others, who all would be great in this recipe. I prefer using Greek yogurt and the one available right now is by Kite Hill. It’s less runny/watery and has a great consistency that is perfect for tzatziki.

Fold in shredded and drained cucumbers with plenty of garlic and some type of acidity, either lemon juice or vinegar and season well. You can use this sauce in sandwiches, wraps, even as a salad dressing if you want.

Serve your tofu souvlaki in pita bread with some romaine lettuce, cucumbers, and tomatoes (which I dress with a little olive oil and red wine vinegar) and the tzatziki.

True summer food at its best!

Tofu Souvlaki with Vegan Tzatziki

For the grilled tofu

1 16 oz block extra-firm tofu
2 tbsp olive oil
5 tbsp soy sauce or tamari
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tbsp ground cumin
2 tsp Greek oregano
Black pepper and salt to taste

For assembly

Marinated tofu, grilled
Pita bread
English cucumbers, chopped
Tomatoes, chopped
Tzatziki

Make the marinade first: Whisk together all the ingredients and set aside.

Drain the tofu, wrap it in paper towel, and place it on a large plate with another plate on top. Place something heavy like cans of beans or a mortar and pestle on top and press for at least 15-20 minutes.

Cut the tofu into 12 equal, cubed ‘souvlaki’ pieces, place them in a shallow dish and pour the marinade over. Place in the fridge and cover and let sit for at least 30 minutes, preferably several hours or overnight.

When ready to grill, start skewering the tofu along with peppers, onions, and mushrooms or whatever veg you want on the skewer. Reserve the remaining marinade for brushing on the grilled tofu.

Place the tofu on the grill over indirect heat (not directly over the flame/hot coal). Cook for 6-8 minutes per side, flipping halfway through. The tofu should get crisp and golden/brown on the outside.

If desired, brush the tofu with some of the extra /leftover marinade after you’ve grilled it.

Serve the tofu souvlaki with pita bread, salad, cucumbers, tomatoes, and tzatziki,

TZATZIKI

1 medium English cucumber, shredded
1 cup plain, unsweetened non-dairy yogurt (I love Kite Hill’s Greek Yogurt)
1 tbsp olive oil
2 small clove garlic minced or grated
Juice from 1 lemon
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
Salt, pepper to taste
Pinch of sugar
2-3 tbsp minced fresh dill
2 tbsp minced fresh mint

Place the shredded cucumber in a colander placed in a bowl and sprinkle with a little salt and let drain while you get the other ingredients together.

Squeeze out as much excess liquid from the cucumber as you can with your hands, and add in a bowl with all the other ingredients and mix well. Taste for seasoning and acidity.

Transfer to an airtight container and place in the fridge. Lasts for about 5 days refrigerated.

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Tofu Souvlaki with Vegan Tzatziki

Ingredients

Scale

For the Grilled Tofu:

1 16 oz block extra-firm tofu
2 tbsp olive oil
5 tbsp soy sauce or tamari
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tbsp ground cumin
2 tsp Greek oregano
Black pepper and salt to taste

For the Tzatziki

1 medium English cucumber, shredded
1 cup plain, unsweetened non-dairy yogurt (I love Kite Hill’s Greek Yogurt)
1 tbsp olive oil
2 small clove garlic minced or grated
Juice from 1 lemon
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
Salt, pepper to taste
Pinch of sugar
23 tbsp minced fresh dill
2 tbsp minced fresh mint

For assembly:

Marinated tofu, grilled
Pita bread
English cucumbers, chopped
Tomatoes, chopped
Tzatziki

Instructions

Make the marinade first: Whisk together all the ingredients and set aside.

Drain the tofu, wrap it in paper towel, and place it on a large plate with another plate on top. Place something heavy like cans of beans or a mortar and pestle on top and press for at least 15-20 minutes.

Cut the tofu into 12 equal, cubed ‘souvlaki’ pieces, place them in a shallow dish and pour the marinade over. Place in the fridge and cover and let sit for at least 30 minutes, preferably several hours or overnight.

When ready to grill, start skewering the tofu along with peppers, onions, and mushrooms or whatever veg you want on the skewer. Reserve the remaining marinade for brushing on the grilled tofu.

Place the tofu on the grill over indirect heat (not directly over the flame/hot coal). Cook for 6-8 minutes per side, flipping halfway through. The tofu should get crisp and golden/brown on the outside.

If desired, brush the tofu with some of the extra /leftover marinade after you’ve grilled it.

Serve the tofu souvlaki with pita bread, salad, cucumbers, tomatoes, and tzatziki.

For the Tzatziki:

Place the shredded cucumber in a colander placed in a bowl and sprinkle with a little salt and let drain while you get the other ingredients together.

Squeeze out as much excess liquid from the cucumber as you can with your hands, and add in a bowl with all the other ingredients and mix well. Taste for seasoning and acidity.

Transfer to an airtight container and place in the fridge. Lasts for about 5 days refrigerated.

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