Baked black pepper tofu with shallots, cavolo nero & sesame sauce


I know there’s some resistance to tofu out there but I think I’ve a recipe to convert you haters. If you bake diced tofu, it turns crisp on the outside. And if you ensure its had a nice long bath in a lovely marinade before doing so, you’ll have flavour. This tofu is flavoured with lots of black pepper and garlic.


So, now you’re sold on tofu, how about a nice healthy recipe to go with it? This one is so simple. Blanched cavolo nero and kale is spun around a frying pan with some whole shallots that’ve been slowly frying for about 40 minutes, til soft and golden. It’s then dressed with a Japanese-style tahini dressing, taken from a recipe in Ottolenghi’s Plenty More that I’ve made countless times.
Whack the tofu on top & you’re good to go!


This is the first time I’ve baked tofu – I normally fry it – and I’d definitely recommend it. The tofu firms up more than with frying, and the marinade remnants won’t burn as they can do when frying. Plus, there’s no oil involved – and it is January after all.


You will need:

For the tofu:

200g extra firm tofu, cut into 1cm cubes
3 tbspn freshly cracked black pepper
2 tbspn rice wine vinegar
2 tbspn mirin
1 tspn chilli flakes
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tbspn soy sauce
1 tspn honey


1 – Mix together all of the ingredients bar the tofu to create the marinade. Spoon the mixture over the tofu, carefully tossing it to coat evenly. Leave to marinade in the fridge for at least 2 but preferably more hours. (I left mine for 8 hours, so the flavours were well absorbed).
2 – Preheat the oven to 200 degrees and lift the tofu pieces onto a baking tray, leaving the marinade juices behind. Roast the tofu for 20 minutes or until golden, turning the tofu cubes halfway through cooking. Serve.


For the shallots & cavolo nero:

10 cavolo nero leaves, stalks trimmed and roughly chopped into bit sized pieces
A good handful of curly kale, chopped into bite sized pieces
6 echalion/banana shallots, peeled but left whole
Olive oil
Salt, black pepper
1/2 quantity of sesame sauce (see recipe below)


1 – Heat 2 tbspns olive oil in a frying pan over a low heat. Add the shallots and a good pinch of salt. Leave to cook gently for 30 minutes, stirring every so often, until soft and golden.
2 – Fill a saucepan with boiling salted water and blanch the cavolo nero and kale together for two minutes.
3 – While the cabbage blanches, turn up the heat on the shallots for a few minutes, ensuring they start to caramelise. Drain the cabbage and add to the shallots, turning down the heat. Stir in a little salt and pepper, and then half the sesame sauce. Serve.


For the sesame sauce:

50g tahini
1 small crushed garlic clove
1/2 tbspn honey
1/2 tbspn soy sauce
1 tbspn rice wine vinegar
About 2 tbspns water


1 – Mix the tahini, garlic, honey, vinegar and soy sauce. Add salt to taste and water, as needed, to loosen into a drippable sauce.

Serve the sesame shallots and cavolo nero with the tofu scattered on top, and extra sesame sauce drizzled as desired.



2 thoughts on “Baked black pepper tofu with shallots, cavolo nero & sesame sauce

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