Crispy Tofu Bowl with Caramelized Fall Veggies

updated Oct 29, 2020
Crispy Tofu Bowl with Caramelized Fall Veggies

In this hearty vegetarian grain bowl, crispy caramelized butternut squash, Brussels sprouts, and protein-packed tofu are tossed in a savory-sweet glaze and piled onto warm brown rice.

Serves4

Prep1 hour

Cook1 hour

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Credit: Shelly Westerhausen

As nerdy as this might sound, I feel an immense sense of accomplishment when I cook something to deep golden-brown perfection. For many people, that might mean getting a nice, even sear on chicken thighs. For me, it’s peeking under a roasting veggie and seeing a caramelized underside, or flipping cubes of sizzling tofu to reveal a crisp, brown crust.

That’s exactly what makes this new Tonight We Veg bowl so satisfying to make (and to eat!). My favorite fall veggies and protein-packed tofu are cooked to caramelized perfection, then tossed in a savory-sweet glaze and piled high onto steaming brown rice. What more could you want from a hearty vegetarian meal?

Credit: Shelly Westerhausen

3 Tips For Perfectly Caramelized Veggies

In addition to being visually satisfying, darkly caramelized vegetables are also extra tasty — the blistering high heat coaxes out their sweetness and adds toasty, charred flavor. Here are a few tips to set you up for success.

  1. Give them space.You’ve heard it before, but I’ll tell you again: Spread out your veggies so none of them are touching, which will ensure they crisp instead of steam. Because the butternut squash takes longer to cook than the Brussels sprouts, you’ll give it a head-start. About 15 minutes through roasting, you’ll add the tray of sprouts.
  2. Leave them be! Roasting the veggies undisturbed gives them a chance to develop all that gorgeous color and flavor. You’ll flip the squash just once and will leave the sprouts as they are — roasting them cut-side down allows the outer leaves to crisp as the cut side browns.
  3. Save the sauce for after roasting. When the veggies are done, you’ll combine them onto one tray and toss with a mix of soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, whole-grain mustard, maple syrup, and red pepper flakes. They’ll immediately soak in all the savory, sweet flavor, and you don’t have to worry about the sauce burning in the oven, or inhibiting crispiness.

Whether you eat plant-based full-time or want to go meat-free once a week, Tonight We Veg will bring you the feel-good vegetarian meals you crave. Twice a month, in addition to our existing lineup of great veggie recipes, we’ll share easy weeknight recipes that prove how diverse produce-forward food can be, each packed with smart tips we’ve picked up over the years. Cook along with us, and share your creations using #tonightweveg.

Crispy Tofu Bowl with Caramelized Fall Veggies

In this hearty vegetarian grain bowl, crispy caramelized butternut squash, Brussels sprouts, and protein-packed tofu are tossed in a savory-sweet glaze and piled onto warm brown rice.

Prep time 1 hour

Cook time 1 hour

Serves 4

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1 (14 to 16-ounce) package

    extra-firm tofu

  • 1 cup

    long-grain brown rice

  • 2

    medium scallions

  • 1 clove

    garlic

  • 1

    medium butternut squash (about 2 pounds), or 1 1/2 pounds pre-cut squash

  • 5 tablespoons

    extra-virgin olive oil, divided

  • 2 teaspoons

    kosher salt, divided

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 pound

    Brussels sprouts

  • 2 tablespoons

    balsamic vinegar

  • 2 tablespoons

    soy sauce or tamari

  • 2 teaspoons

    maple syrup

  • 2 teaspoons

    whole-grain mustard

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    red pepper flakes

Instructions

  1. Arrange two racks to divide the oven into thirds and heat the oven to 425°F. Drain 1 package extra-firm tofu, then wrap in a few layers of paper towels and set on a dinner plate. Weigh it down with a heavy object such as a skillet, saucepan, or large can, and let drain while you cook the rice and prep and cook the veggies.

  2. Rinse 1 cup long-grain brown rice and cook according to package directions. Keep warm on the stovetop. Thinly slice 2 medium scallions, keeping the white and green parts separate. Mince 1 garlic clove.

  3. If needed, peel and seed 1 medium butternut squash and cut into 1-inch cubes (about 5 cups). Place on a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, and season with 1 teaspoon of the kosher salt and several grinds black pepper. Toss to combine, then arrange in a single layer.

  4. Roast on the lower oven rack for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, trim and halve 1 pound Brussels sprouts (quarter if large). Place on a second rimmed baking sheet (make sure to include any stray leaves), drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, and season with 1/2 teaspoon of the kosher salt and several grinds black pepper. Toss to combine and arrange cut-side down.

  5. Flip the squash and move the baking sheet to the upper rack. Place the Brussels sprouts on the lower rack. Roast until all the veggies are caramelized and tender, 20 to 25 minutes more. Meanwhile, make the sauce and pan-fry the tofu. Place 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 2 teaspoons maple syrup, 2 teaspoons whole-grain mustard, and 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes in a small bowl or liquid measuring cup and whisk to combine.

  6. Drain the tofu and cut into 1-inch pieces. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the tofu in a single layer and season with 1/4 teaspoon of the kosher salt. Cook, undisturbed, until crispy and golden-brown on the bottom, 6 to 8 minutes. Flip with tongs and season with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt. Continue cooking until the second side is crispy, 6 to 8 minutes more. Remove from the heat, add 2 tablespoons of the sauce, and toss to coat.

  7. Transfer the Brussels sprouts onto the squash baking sheet. Immediately add the scallion whites, garlic, and 3 tablespoons of the sauce, and toss to combine. Pile the rice into bowls and top with the veggies and tofu. Drizzle with any remaining sauce and top with the scallion greens.

Recipe Notes

Storage: The sauce and the rice can be made up to 4 days in advance. Warm the rice before serving.

Ingredient Variation: 2 small honeynut squash (about 1 3/4 pounds) can be used in place of the butternut. Dijon mustard can be used in place of the whole-grain mustard. Any grain can be used in place of the rice (including leftover cooked grains, which will speed up the prep).