Lemon Marinated Baked Tofu Slices

Mar 20, 2024
Food
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These lemon-marinated, baked tofu slices are perfect for sandwiches or for serving as a protein source with any simple vegan meal. The slices are tangy and seasoned with herbs. I like to use super firm tofu in this recipe, so that the slices are especially dense and chewy!

An overhead image of a small, silver baking sheet, which has been lined with tofu slices that are topped with green rosemary leaves.

Yesterday evening, I put a batch of these lemon-marinated baked tofu slices into the oven.

It had been one of those days when I felt resistant to any amount of cooking. I didn’t even want to whisk up a marinade.

But whisk it I did, and after that marinade had a few hours to work its magic, I popped my lemony, seasoned tofu slices into the oven.

Within ten minutes, my apartment smelled nicely of garlic and rosemary. I breathed a sigh of relief, knowing that when the tofu slices came out of the oven, I’d have a wholesome vegan protein to work with for the next few days.

I already used the slices for a sandwich on my lunch break today.

A simple meal with the baked tofu slices, a grain of some kind—maybe mushroom farro?—and my simple steamed broccoli with tahini dressing will happen for dinner at some point this weekend.

As is usually the case when I overcome my inertia and manage to do just a small amount of meal prep, I’m grateful.

While I sit down and plan the tasty uses that I’ll find for these baked tofu slices, I might as well share the recipe with you!

A many-sided marinade

I’ve created many kinds of marinades for tofu and tempeh.

Balsamic marinade is always a favorite, and I love making teriyaki tofu cubes for bowls and noodle dishes.

The tamari glaze for my sheet pan tempeh and broccoli is a favorite as well.

Somehow, however, I keep coming back to lemony marinades.

Two ceramic bowls hold baked lemon pepper tempeh cubes, roasted broccoli, and white rice. Two serving forks are resting nearby.

The lemon pepper tempeh cubes that I posted years ago are still the most popular tempeh recipes on this site, and I can’t say that I disagree.

The bright acidity of lemon can elevate so many kinds of dishes. A lemony protein works well with creamy pasta, with whole grain pilafs, in crispy, colorful salads or Mediterranean-inspired grain bowls.

My mother likes to joke that she knew I was part Greek when I would get caught sucking on lemon wedges and asking for triple portions of tomatoes as a kid.

I love acidic flavors, and there are very few dishes that I don’t think could be improved with a big squeeze of fresh lemon juice to finish.

It’s no surprise, then, that I love the marinade for this recipe. Lemon—lots of it—is the predominant flavor, along with subtle garlic and herbs.

I use soy sauce, rather than salt, for saltiness, as I think that the soy sauce adds a bit of umami and complexity.

The herbs that I suggest are thyme and rosemary, but you could use oregano as well.

As excellent as the marinade is for tofu, you also could use it for tempeh, seitan, or even roasted chickpeas.

Why tofu slices?

I’ve posted a few recipes for tofu cubes, so why do I choose slices here?

The main reason is that I think the lemon marinated tofu is especially good for sandwiches. It’s much easier to layer a slice of tofu between slices of bread than a bunch of cubes.

Slices can also be quickly sliced into spears, which are then easy to layer into wraps.

Slabs or slices of tofu work well for when you’re serving tofu as the central protein on a dinner plate.

Sometimes I organize my dinner plate around a grain, a vegetable, and a protein, in a style that’s reminiscent of the non-vegan dinner plates that I grew up with.

When I create a dinner plate like this, I like the idea of cutting into slices of tofu, rather than poking around my plate for smaller pieces.

Long story short, I think that the baked tofu slices have versatility and usefulness. But if you have a special love of tofu cubes, then you can certainly adapt this recipe to work for cubes, rather than slices.

Super firm tofu for super firm slices

You may be very familiar with tofu that’s labeled as “firm” or “extra firm.”

“Super firm” tofu is a type of tofu that’s even firmer. Even more moisture has been removed from the bean curd than usual, resulting in tofu that’s especially dense.

Thanks to that density, super firm tofu also packs more protein into each slice. In fact, you may see this type of tofu labeled as “high protein” tofu, rather than super firm.

In the United States, the Nasoya and Wildwood brands both distribute super firm tofu. I really love this type of tofu for the baked tofu slices; I think its dense, chewy texture is ideal for sandwiches in particular.

If you can’t find super firm tofu, however, it’s not a problem. Extra firm tofu, which is available in many major grocery stores, will work in the recipe as well.

How to make lemon marinated baked tofu slices

This is an easy recipe to meal prep. You can count on it for those days when cooking really feels like a chore.

The only thing you should know about making the tofu slices is that they’ll need time to marinate. I suggest a minimum of four hours, but up to overnight is fine.

Sometimes I find it easier to break a recipe into steps over two days, rather than one. So, if an overnight marinating time suits you, go for it.

Step 1: Slice your tofu

Tofu slices for this recipe should be about 1/4-inch / 6mm. You’ll want to slice the tofu width-wise.

Step 2: Whisk together your marinade

The ingredients for the lemon marinade are straightforward:

  • Lemon juice
  • Soy sauce
  • Olive oil
  • Garlic powder
  • Dried or ground, dried thyme

Can you use fresh, minced garlic? Yes, but since garlic powder flavors the marinade well, and mincing garlic creates more mess, I opt for the powder (or garlic granules, which are similar).

You can also trade dried oregano, Italian seasoning, or herbes de Provençe for the thyme.

Step 3: Pour the marinade over your tofu slices

I like to arrange my slices of tofu in a single or double layer in a flat, rectangular container. The container becomes the vessel that you’ll marinate the tofu slices in.

An overhead image of a glass storage container, in which slices of tofu have been piled and covered in marinade.
A large, flat, rectangular storage container is a perfect vessel for marinating the tofu slices.

Pour the marinade over your slices, cover the container, and then transfer it to the fridge.

The slices should remain in the fridge for at least for hours, or up to twenty-four hours.

Step 4: Prepare the tofu for baking

First, remove the tofu slices from their marinade, reserving the marinade. Transfer the tofu slices to a nonstick, rimmed baking sheet or a baking sheet that has been lined with foil.

Use a pastry or basting brush to brush the tops of the slices lightly with some of your reserved marinade.

Distribute some rosemary sprigs or leaves over the tofu—this will season the baked tofu slices lightly. If you have dried rosemary, it’s fine to sprinkle that over the slices, too.

Step 5: Bake

Transfer the slices to a 375°F / 190°C oven and bake them for fifteen minutes. Then, remove the sheet from the oven. Push the rosemary to the side and flip the slices over.

Brush the new top sides of the tofu with a little more of the reserved marinade, then re-arrange the rosemary on top.

Return the tofu to the oven and bake it for another 15-20 minutes, or until the tofu is crisping and browning at the edges.

That’s it!

A round, white plate has been topped with golden baked tofu slices and rosemary leaves.
Lemon-marinated baked tofu slices can be served as a standalone protein with meals or incorporated into a wide variety of other recipes: sandwiches, wraps, toasts, and pastas, to name just a few.

How to serve lemon-marinated baked tofu slices

I’ve already shared some of the ways in which I like to enjoy these simple slices. But here are a few more recipes that I think the tofu would make an especially nice addition to:

  • As an accompaniment to one-pot creamy mushroom spinach orzo or simple baked bulgur and chickpeas
  • As a higher protein boost for vegan chickpea Caesar wraps or quinoa chickpea Caesar salad
  • An accompaniment to cauliflower alfredo sauce and pasta
  • Chop the baked tofu slices and fold them into vegan mac and cheese
  • Add some slices to my miso tahini vegetable sandwich

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Meal prep & storage

The lemon-marinated baked tofu slices are exactly the kind of recipe that I like to meal prep when I don’t have much time or energy to meal prep.

Why? Because versatile vegan basics, and especially vegan proteins, can be used in many kids of meals.

Moreover, you can rely on any protein as an “add-on” to an existing meal.

The baked tofu slices can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to five days. It’s also fine to freeze them; the slices can be frozen for up to six weeks.

When you’re ready to enjoy them, just defrost them in the fridge overnight before serving.

A round, white plate has been topped with golden baked tofu slices and rosemary leaves.

Ingredients

  • 16 ounces super firm (high protein) tofu, cut width-wise into 1/4-inch / 6mm slices (450g)
  • 6 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried or ground thyme
  • Fresh rosemary sprigs (substitute two teaspoons dried rosemary)

Instructions

  • Transfer the tofu to a wide airtight storage container, preferably in a single layer. Whisk the lemon juice, soy sauce, olive oil, garlic powder, and thyme together, then pour this mixture over the tofu. Cover the container and transfer the tofu to the fridge.
  • Allow the tofu to marinate for at least 4 hours or up to 24. If possible, flip the tofu over at one point during marinating so that the sides marinate evenly.
  • Preheat the oven to 375°F. Remove the tofu slices from the marinade, reserving the marinade for basting. Transfer the tofu pieces to a nonstick or foil-lined, rimmed baking sheet and top them with the fresh rosemary sprigs. Use a pastry or basting brush to lightly brush some of the reserved marinade over the tops of the tofu slices. Transfer the baking sheet to the oven.
  • Bake the tofu for 15 minutes. Push the rosemary to the side, flip the slices over, and then use your pastry brush to brush some additional marinade over the new top sides of the tofu. Rearrange the rosemary on top. Return the sheet to the oven and bake the tofu for another 15-20 minutes, or until the tofu the slices are darkened and crisp and browning at the edges.
  • Serve or store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to five days.

On a Friday afternoon, I always get to thinking about the one or two simple things that I can prepare over the weekend for ease in the following week.

I feel happy to have gotten a tiny head start on that process. Perhaps you can find some time for this simple, nutritious protein this coming weekend, too. If so, I hope you’ll be happy with the effort.

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