Roasted Tofu with Brothy Beans and Kale

Hi, friends! Sorry it’s been a while since my last post. Chalk it up to the joys of new home ownership (a.k.a painting, decorating, and overhauling EVERY. SINGLE. ROOM). Through the stress of all that, though, food makes really fabulous therapy! That’s why today we’re going to talk about my favorite vegan recipe ever: roasted tofu with savory white beans, fennel, and kale.

Roasted Tofu with white beans and kale

I will be completely honest with you. This recipe is a bit of a project. However, while I do appreciate a good simple, weeknight recipe, I’m a strong believer in working a little harder to achieve the best results for your dish.

That’s why I’m bringing you this recipe for roasted tofu with white beans, fennel, and kale today. It’s the kind of recipe that my dad would say you should make for company. It requires a fair amount of effort, but the end result is a savory, crispy, flavorful, and comforting dish that’s restaurant quality and totally vegan!

Let’s go!

Why make this roasted tofu with fennel, beans, and greens?

Carrots and fennel being sauteed in a cast iron skillet for the beans and kale.

When I was younger, my mom would have dinner parties quite often. It always seemed like she could perfectly pair main dishes with sides, creating amazing marriages between flavors to give the diner the ultimate culinary experience. When I began cooking, I wanted to learn how to do this myself.

Some of you may know that when you go vegan, you discover that there are so many new flavor profiles you have to learn and work with. Therefore, this is my vegan answer to my mom’s perfect recipe pairings (though it’s doubtful I’ve done as well as she does!)

I wanted to create something that would be as satisfying as a steak dinner, but make it vegan. We did this by throwing in slow roasted, garlicky tofu with some umami-rich beans simmered alongside delicious veggies. Fresh kale brings texture. Spicy red pepper sauce adds zippiness. In fact, this recipe became so popular among our friends that they started requesting it when we would host parties.

How to make this roasted tofu with beans, fennel, and kale

Onions and fennel in a food processor to go on the roasted tofu with brothy beans and kale.

Let’s start with the tofu. Press it first! Next, to add amazing flavor to the more challenging medium of the tofu, we are going to make an onion, fennel, and garlic paste to rub on the outside.

So, get out your food processor and give some cloves of garlic, a fennel bulb, olive oil, salt and pepper, and a red onion a spin in it until they’re finely combined. Your mixture should look like this after it’s processed:

Onions and fennel after processing into a fine paste. This will encrust the outside of the roasted tofu served with beans and kale.

Set that aside for a minute while you get your beans going and the tofu finishes pressing.

Once the tofu is pressed, cut it into fillets.

Make the beans:

Onions and fennel and carrots sauteeing before adding beans.

Add some olive oil, sliced carrots, sliced fennel, garlic, and half of a chopped fresno pepper to a cast iron pan over medium heat. Sauté the veggies until they are just beginning to soften. The fennel should be slightly translucent around the edges.

Then, add a blob of Better-Than-Bouillon’s Roasted Vegetable Base to the cast iron. If you can’t find this at your store, use a few cups of the veggie broth of your choice. However, part of the amazing flavor of these beans comes from the crust that forms around the veggies because of the viscous Better-Than-Bouillion. So, I would highly recommend trying to get it. You can even find it on Amazon here.

Adding bouillion to the carrots and fennel in the skillet.
Sauteing the vegetables for the white beans.

Increase your heat to medium-high, and toss the veggies and bouillon every minute or so until the bouillon begins to caramelize on the veggies. Next, add your beans. Don’t stir too much, though! You don’t want to smush them.

Beans and vegetables

At this point, add in water and stir. The bouillon will do it’s thing and amalgamate with the water, but some of it will stay on the veggies to create little morsels of umami flavor!

Adding the broth to the beans.

Reduce the heat and allow the beans to simmer. Stir them occasionally as you work on the rest of the recipe. Over time, you’ll notice the cooking liquid reduce and thicken. Add more water if the liquid gets too low or too thick and adjust salt if needed.

Start roasting the tofu.

Onion and fennel mixture for the tofu.

Now, grease a medium baking dish with some neutral oil. Using a large spoon, spread some spoonfuls of the onion and fennel paste to coat the bottom of the pan.

Adding onion and fennel mixture to the tofu.

Line up the tofu fillets on top of the paste. Once all the tofu is in the pan, spread more spoonfuls of the paste evenly on top of it.

Adding the onion and fennel mixture to the tofu.
Tofu with onion and fennel mixture about to go into the oven.

Place this in the oven, and bake for about fifteen to twenty minutes, or until you’re just starting to see the tofu turn brown on top.

Tofu baking in the oven.

Once the tofu is very lightly browned on top, remove it from the oven and flip it to the other side. Some of the paste may fall off. That’s okay! You’re going to add more in a bit.

Second round of adding onion and fennel to the tofu mixture.

Add more paste to the side of the tofu now facing upward. Be sure to leave a little bit more of the onion and fennel paste aside for one last round!

Bake the tofu for another 15-20 minutes until you see it start to brown on top again.

Repeat by adding more onion and fennel one more time (I know, I know), and bake for another ten to fifteen minutes. The onion and fennel paste on the bottom might be well-browned by this point, especially on the sides of the pan, but this is okay! As long as there is no burning, a little bit of deep brown will only help increase the dish’s overall umami.

Roasted tofu turning golden brown in the oven and ready to serve on top of the beans and kale

Make the kale and spicy red pepper sauce.

Since we already have so much flavor in the beans and tofu, we’re simply going to steam the kale in a little bit of water, with some oil, salt, and pepper.

Also, the kale used for these photographs was taken directly from the aeroponic garden, and it is certifiably MONSTER KALE. Check it out (I’m looking at you @ryanponic!

Kale growing in the aeroponic garden.
Kale on the cutting board.

Chop your kale roughly, and then add it to a skillet with a thin layer of water, just a drop of olive oil, and some salt and pepper to taste.

Bring everything to a light simmer, and cook until the kale just wilts. This will take about five to ten minutes depending on how beefy your kale is. You should be able to totally finish this step of the recipe as well as the red pepper sauce in the last twenty minutes of the tofu’s cooking time.

The red pepper sauce is super simple. Wipe out your food processor. No need to be super thorough though. Some of the leftover flavors from the fennel and onion paste are okay to leave in. This way, you don’t have to wash dishes twice!

Add a couple of roasted red peppers, some whole cumin seeds, olive oil, the other half of the Fresno pepper you chopped, apple cider vinegar, and salt and pepper to the processor.

Give it a spin until it’s smooth! Transfer that sauce to a small, microwave-safe bowl and warm it for a minute or two in the microwave. You can also warm it in a small saucepan on the stove over low heat.

Roasted red pepper sauce in the food processor to top the roasted tofu, white beans, and kale

Plate it!

Now get to plating! You can plate however you want. I like to layer by placing the beans on your plate or bowl first. Then, I top them with the kale and then the tofu. You can drizzle the sauce right over the whole dish, or you can put it on the side, depending on yours or your guests’ preferences.

The end result will be flavorful, crispy tofu atop a bed of fresh, crunchy kale and creamy beans. Sign me up!

I hope you and your guests love this roasted tofu with white beans, fennel, and kale as much as we do. I know there are a lot of parts and steps, but I promise the end result is totally worth the effort!

Happy June and Cheers!

Love, Ryan, LM, and Karl 🙂

brothy beans in the cast iron skillet.
Roasted tofu with beans and kale
Roasted tofu with brothy beans and kale

Roasted Tofu with Savory White Beans, Fennel, and Kale

The perfect meal for a dinner party. Crispy tofu tops off a bed of fresh, zesty kale and creamy beans. It’s as satisfying as a steak dinner, but totally vegan!
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Course: Entree
Cuisine: Vegan
Diet: Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Keyword: tofu, kale, white beans, elegant, sophisticated, satisfying, dinner party, fennel, onion, garlic
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 495kcal
Author: LM

Equipment

  • Food processor
  • Cast Iron Skillet, Dutch Oven, or large, heavy-bottomed skillet.

Ingredients

For the white beans:

  • 30 oz. white beans (Cannelini, Navy, or Great Northern) rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup fennel roughly chopped with fronds reserved
  • 3/4 cup carrot thickly chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic finely minced
  • 1 tbsp. vegetable bouillon paste. *Use 4 cups low sodium vegetable broth if you are not able to find bouillon paste such as Better Than Bouillon
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil extra virgin
  • 1 tsp. Fresno pepper finely chopped
  • 4 cups water
  • salt and pepper to taste

For the tofu:

  • 14 oz. extra firm tofu pressed and sliced into fillets
  • 1 cup. fennel roughly chopped
  • 1 red onion roughly chopped
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tbsp. neutral oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

For the red pepper sauce:

  • 3/4 cup roasted red pepper chopped
  • 2 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp. Fresno pepper chopped
  • 1 tsp. olive oil extra virgin
  • salt and pepper

For the kale

  • 3 cups kale roughly chopped
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

For the beans:

  • In a cast iron skillet over medium heat, add the fennel and olive oil. Sauté until fennel just begins to release liquid.
  • Add carrots, garlic, and fresno pepper to the cast iron skillet and toss to combine with the fennel. Sauté until the fennel is translucent around the edges.
  • Increase temperature to medium-high, add bouillon paste, and stir until all the vegetables are evenly coated.
  • Sauté, tossing every minute or so until the bouillon paste begins to caramelize on the outside of the vegetables.
  • Add the beans and stir gently to combine all ingredients.
  • Add water or vegetable broth to the skillet. Add salt and pepper to taste. Reduce heat and simmer beans and veggies over low heat as the other parts of the dish are prepared. You will notice the sauce begin to reduce and thicken as the beans cook. This is normal, but add more water or broth if the sauce reduces too much. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.

For the tofu:

  • Preheat oven to 400° and grease an 8 x 10 baking dish with olive oil.
  • Press tofu for 30 minutes to remove moisture, and then slice into fillets.
  • Combine onion, fennel, oil, salt and pepper, and garlic in the bowl of a food processor. Process until the ingredients are finely chopped and amalgamated, but not pureed.
  • Evenly coat the bottom of your greased baking dish with two heaping tablespoons of your onion and fennel mixture.
  • Place tofu fillets on top of the fennel mixture in the pan.
  • Spoon approximately 2-3 more tablespoons of the onion and fennel mixture on top of the tofu fillets. Place in oven and set timer for 15 minutes.
  • After 15 minutes, check tofu. The top and bottom layers of the onion and fennel mixture should just barely be beginning to brown. If so, remove the tofu from the oven. If not, place back in oven for an additional five minutes.
  • Using a spatula, flip the tofu to the opposite side (some of the onion and fennel mixture will fall off) and spoon an additional 2-3 tablespoons of the onion and fennel mixture on the top side of the tofu.
  • Place back in the oven and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes. Again, look for slight browning of the top layer of onion and fennel mixture. At this point, you should also notice slight browning around the edges of the tofu.
  • If browning is occurring, remove tofu from oven, flip again to the opposite side, and spoon remaining onion and fennel mixture over the top.
  • Again, bake for 15-20 more minutes until you observe deep browning of the onion and fennel mixture and of the edges and sides of the tofu fillets. Remove from oven and leave to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

For the red pepper sauce:

  • Wipe out the bowl of your food processor.
  • Combine roasted red pepper, vinegar, cumin, olive oil, and Fresno pepper in the food processor.
  • Process until a smooth, thick sauce is formed.
  • Taste and adjust seasonings if need, adding salt and pepper to taste.
  • Transfer sauce to a microwave-safe bowl or a small saucepan and warm by microwaving for 1-2 minutes or heating on the stove over medium-low heat. Keep warm for serving.

For the kale:

  • In a medium skillet, bring water and olive oil to a boil.
  • Reduce heat and add kale, simmering for 5-7 minutes until kale is wilted but still slightly firm.

For plating (optional)

  • Add a few spoonfuls of beans to a large plate or bowl. Top with a spoonful of the wilted kale. On top of the kale, place two fillets of the roasted tofu. You can either drizzle the red pepper sauce over the whole dish, or serve it on the side.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 495kcal | Carbohydrates: 74g | Protein: 33g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 548mg | Potassium: 2136mg | Fiber: 18g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 9332IU | Vitamin C: 90mg | Calcium: 396mg | Iron: 12mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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