Oven Baked Vegetarian Tofu Parmigiana
This recipe was developed for the United Soybean Board
In my experience, tofu isn’t an ingredient that elicits a whole lot of enthusiasm among anyone under about age 12. Sure, you might cross paths with the occasional devotee, but more often, talking tofu evokes disdain. It took years of feeding my family (and two avowed vegetarians) for my entire crew to get on board with bean curd. Even Mr. Mom’s Kitchen would probably choose turkey over tofu, and he’s well past the middle school years. All that being said, today’s recipe for Tofu Parmigiana is just the sort to make a convert of even the most committed tofu avoider.
Benefits of Tofu
All of this might beg the question: why eat tofu at all, especially with a perfectly tasty Chicken Parmesan recipe on the blog. There are plenty of excellent reasons to embrace this dish and the tofu that serves as its centerpiece. First up, it’s meatless, so if you’re looking to eat more plant-based meals or have a vegetarian to cook for, this is your ticket. Tofu is also inexpensive as far as protein sources go. Consider, for example, that a pound of organic tofu was one-third of the price of organic chicken at my local market. And some tofu is even shelf-stable, which makes this a great meal to cook from your pantry.
Is Tofu Good for You?
The other reason to embrace tofu is that it’s nutritious. A good source of protein, it also provides iron and when processed with calcium sulfate (which most tofu is) delivers a meaningful dose of calcium, too. As for concerns about a potential link between soy foods and cancer, here’s what the American Cancer Society has to say on the subject, “So far, the evidence does not point to any dangers from eating soy in people, and the health benefits appear to outweigh any potential risk. In fact, there is growing evidence that eating traditional soy foods such as tofu, tempeh, edamame, miso, and soy milk may lower the risk of breast cancer, especially among Asian women.”
How to Make Tofu Parmigiana
The method for making this healthy spin on an Italian classic is easy.
- Start by cutting extra-firm tofu into slabs and laying them on paper towels to absorb the moisture
- Next up is to dunk the tofu into beaten eggs and breadcrumbs.
- Bake the coated tofu in the oven until good and crispy on the outside. I prefer baking over frying, since it minimizes the calories, not to mention the mess.
- Once browned, tuck the tofu into a baking pan, smother in marinara sauce, and top with grated Mozzarella.
- Put it back into the oven and cook until hot and bubbling.
What to Serve with Tofu Parmigiana
Simple Italian salads or vegetable dishes make a perfect accompaniment to this meat-free parmigiana. A green or arugula salad with this vinaigrette is a good starting point. Alternatively (or in addition), roast a big sheet pan of broccoli or cauliflower tossed with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper until tender and lightly brown (425 degrees seems to be the magic number for cooking). This Sautéed Kale is also a favorite.
Can you Make Parmigiana Ahead of Time? Can you Freeze it?
Like most recipes, I think this is at its very best piping hot from the oven. That said, it can be made ahead of time, stowed in the refrigerator, and reheated later in the day (or even the next day). It’s also freezer-friendly. Wrap first with aluminum foil and then a few layers of plastic. If you have a casserole dish with a tightly fitting lid, all the better.
Be sure to check out these other vegetarian main meals:
Oven-Baked Tofu Parmigiana
Crispy Oven-Baked Tofu Parmigiana gets smothered in marinara sauce, topped with Mozzarella, and baked until bubbling. It’s a guaranteed kid-pleaser that’s easy enough for a weeknight supper. For a simple side dish, toss broccoli florets with a splash of oil, spread on a baking sheet, and roast alongside the main dish. Finish with a pinch of salt and squeeze of lemon juice.
- 14 ounces extra-firm tofu, drained
- 3/4 cup panko-style breadcrumbs, gluten-free, if desired
- ¼ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 ½ teaspoons Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 egg
- 1 ¾ cups marinara sauce, homemade or bottled
- 1 cup lightly packed shredded Mozzarella cheese
Preheat oven to 425F.
Lay a dish towel or several paper towels on your work surface. Cut the tofu into 8 slabs that are about ½-inch thick (like small playing cards). Lay the tofu on the towel and cover with another towel to absorb the moisture.
Use a fork to stir together the panko, Parmesan, Italian seasoning, and garlic powder on a medium plate or shallow dish.
Crack the egg into a medium bowl and whisk well.
Dunk a tofu slab into the egg mixture and coat generously on all sides with the panko. Lay on a large baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining tofu. Bake until crispy and beginning to brown, particularly along the bottom, 30 minutes.
Spread ⅓ cup marinara sauce along the bottom of a baking pan large enough to accommodate the tofu in one layer (7- by 11-inches or thereabouts). Nestle the tofu in the pan. Pour the remaining marinara sauce over the tofu and smooth with a spooth. Scatter the Mozzarella on top.
Bake until the cheese melts and begins to brown, 20 minutes. Cut into squares and serve warm.