Glazed Tofu Cutlets with Ginger-Cilantro Pesto

Welcome back, Americans!  Hope you had a great July 4th weekend. And hello again, rest of the world! 🙂

As promised last time, today I’m going to share the main course that the HH and I enjoyed a few nights ago. Because I know that many of you are only today back at work, and perhaps even more of you are still recovering from a long weekend filled with carousing and celebrating and much imbibing, I’ll keep it short and sweet and won’t burden you with my typical 1500 word blog post (I’m just trying to be considerate of your recovering brain cells, truly).

I made this dish on Saturday evening, in honor of Canada Day (well, I can’t eat maple syrup or butter tarts and I can’t drink beer and I was too lazy to make this tortiere. . . and we grow soybeans in Canada, don’t we?  And the HH and I are both Canadian, aren’t we? And we ate it during the Canada Day weekend, didn’t we? Okay, so that was the best I could do).

When the HH heard I was making tofu “cutlets,” he demurred rather quickly.  “I’ll make myself some real food–steak!” was his reaction.  But then he checked the freezer and found there were no steaks to be had. What ensued was a conversation we have fairly regularly in the house:

HH (rummaging in freezer): Hey, we’re out of steak [or “coffee” or “bread,” or whatever]!

Ricki (not looking up from her cookbook): Really? Was it on the list?

HH (a slight whine in his voice): List?!  We should just have it in the house!  You should just buy it.

Ricki (as if speaking to a small child): I don’t keep track of your meat [or coffee, or bread, or whatever].  I don’t eat it and I don’t cook it. So it’s really up to you to let me know when you need more. If you want, you can run out right now and get some.  I’ll hold off cooking the tofu [or kale salad, or beans, or whatever] until you get back.

HH (frowning): Naw, forget it.  I’ll just eat what you’re having.

And so, dear readers, that is how the HH’s extreme indolence afforded me the opportunity to sneak some healthier food into his diet.

I found the recipe in an old issue of Vegetarian Times, in an article about non-meat cutlets.  Nestled beside “Braised Seitan Cutlets in Mushroom and Red Wine Sauce” and “Tempeh Cutlets Provençal” was a recipe for “Tofu Cutlets with Cilantro Pesto.” Apart from the marinating time (which was overnight), this recipe was incredibly easy to make.  While the original called for baking the tofu, I decided to cook it only partially in the oven before grilling for the final few minutes of cooking time.  The cutlets were incredibly flavorful on their own, with a slightly caramelized, slightly crispy exterior and a deep Asian sensibility.  After sampling the pesto, I worried that it would be too sour (from the rice vinegar), but after tasting it atop the tofu, I was smitten with the combination of the two together.  So was the HH, as it turned out.

“How is it?” I asked, tentatively.

“Not too bad,” he replied, a slight pout still on his face.  He speared another bite-sized piece.  “Actually, it’s very good.  The pesto really makes it,” he said, beginning to brighten.

I continued to savor my own (very delicious) cutlet, glancing occasionally across at the HH as he scooped up raw kale salad and tofu. In no time, his plate was clean, and he was smiling.

“That was great!” he beamed, setting his fork and knife down on the empty plate. “You should definitely make this again!”

A pretty great Canada Day present, wouldn’t you say?

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Last Year at this Time: Layered Mexican Casserole (ACD Stage 3 and beyond)

Two Years Ago: “Sour Cream” and Raisin Tart (not gluten free; ACD maintenance only)

Three Years Ago: Rustic Plum-Topped Cornmeal Breakfast Cake (not gluten free; ACD maintenance only)

© Diet, Dessert and Dogs 

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  1. Looks lovely especially with a celebratory maple leaf – and simple but impressive is just right for holidays! I am no fan of pesto but maybe I could make it with basil as I am a huge fan of marinated tofu – and I know what you mean about the HH – E is not so keen on meat but he would eat some if he could be bothered cooking it – but I enjoy sharing my food so his laziness has some benefits 🙂

    • I think the HH’s laziness has benefits, too–not only for me (we get to eat the same thing), but for him, since I know my diet is so much healthier! I’m sure you could use basil in this as well, though I might change up the vinegar–it was pretty sour for basil! 😉

  2. I’ve been mashing up plain cold tofu with mustard and chilli lately, so this recipe of yours puts me to shame! And if it can make a steak-loving man smile? It must be good!

    • Nothing wrong with mashed tofu, either! And mustard/chili sounds like an intriguing combination, if you ask me. 😉 Never enough different ways to eat tofu, I say! 😀

  3. I too have to deal with a spouse who thinks I can magically guess when he is out of his normal omnivore fare. I do cook it for him, but I don’t keep track of it for him.

    • I think it’s pretty classic–I know so many families where the woman is in charge of remembering everything–including all the details about the guy’s life! 😉 (Sorry, guys, but some things do seem to be stuck in the 1950s. . . lol!).

  4. Ricki, those cutlets (and pesto) look divine! As you know, I have an omni in the house, too. He knows if he’s eating meat, he needs to buy it. We’re on vacation this week — staying in an apartment — and I was the only who planned ahead (made beans and grains in advance, packed greens, seeds, nuts, etc) so let’s just say he’s mostly vegan (until we dine out for dinner) this week 😉

    • Ha, ha! Well, I’d say that’s a pretty positive consequence of his not planning ahead! We tend to eat out on holiday–the HH goes a little crazy ordering his meat then! 😉

  5. Oh, WOW! This appeals to all of my senses. YUM! Tofu?! Cilantro?! Grilled things?! I’m in heaven! I think the only change I would make would be to use maple instead of agave.

    So, so yummy looking. Thanks for sharing! I can’t wait to try it out!

    ps: thanks also for having that handy “print this” option on your recipes!!


    • Kristine, you know I think maple syrup would probably make this taste even better. I will try it that way once I can finally eat maple syrup again! And I’m so glad the print function comes in handy–I had a lot of requests for it about a year ago (and I’ve been trying to update older recipes along the way). If there’s a specific (older) recipe that you want to print and doesn’t yet have it, let me know–I can go in and change it! 🙂

  6. Hi Ricki,

    This dish sounds perfect! I’m always looking for new and delicious ways to make tofu. Adding a cilantro (another of my fave ingredients) pesto is a great idea. Thanks for sharing your recipe with us! — Tina.

    • My pleasure! I’m the same way. . . I love tofu but seem to get stuck in a rut a lot of the time. This was a refreshing change–and the pesto really did “make” the dish! 🙂

  7. Hi Ricki,

    This looks very tasty. The grill marks are perfect. 😉 I don’t cook meet in my house and lately when I prepare tofu meals or whatever, my husband likes the meals. It makes me feel good when I get my family some very healthy and tasty food. Awesome feeling!

    I must try this recipe very soon. Thanks for sharing!


    • Thanks, Evelyn! It was pure chance re: grill marks–I just flipped them over and it turned out that way. 🙂 I know what you mean about feeling good when the hubs likes your meals–this was a triumph! 🙂

  8. OMG, you scared me for a minute there. That tofu looked a lot like salmon or something. You’re quite convincing. Love the plate it is on.

  9. I am chuckling at your behavior modification program! Sounds like the kind of response I used to give my students if they lost something. This sounds just delicious to me!

    • Thanks, Kalyn! Somehow, I never thought to do that with my students. . . I seem to have a shorter tolerance for the HH than for my students (not sure whether that’s a good thing or not. . . )! 😉

  10. With a few small bags of last summer’s pesto in the freezer and a pkg of sprouted tofu, this sounds like a great dinner for me tomorrow nite. My omnivore husband is out of town, though he will eat ANYTHING I cook and loves it fortunately. He can go for weeks at home without meat, but I know when he’s out, he’ll buy a meat dish in a minute, though he does eat as healthy as he can too. I’ll prob try NuNaturals for my sweetener (out of agave, save the spendy maple syrup for pancakes). Thanks for dinner tomorrow night Ricki!

    • My pleasure! Hope you like it. 🙂 The HH will generally eat anything I cook as well (at least once), but he went off tofu a couple of years back and it’s been a slow climb to get him to eat it again. Thankfully, he enjoyed it this way! And next time, I’m going to use stevia, too.

  11. Ooo, this looks yummy! I think my other half would gobble it up, too. I’m lucky that, though he’s a through-and-through omnivore, he will eat absolutely anything I cook and 99% of the time, he loves it. Also, he can’t cook, so he’s pretty much stuck with whatever I decide to make. 😉

    • Ha, ha, sounds very much like the HH! He once lived in an apartment for 2 years and used the stove only ONCE. And he’s great about eating what I cook, too. Let me know what you (both) think if you give it a try! 🙂

  12. Looks amazing! I wish I knew how to use the grill. Seriously, how lame is that? I have no clue when it comes to outdoor cooking! We have a backyard with weeds 2 feet high and no intention of doing anything about it, clearly 🙂

    • The grill is TOTALLY optional in this recipe–as I said above, the original was entirely baked, not grilled at all. I just did it for the fancy grill marks. (And can I admit that it was an indoor grill??) 😉

  13. Love the story behind this! I’m not much for tofu cutlets, but you’re convincing me to try again. My husband will ask what’s for dinner, and when it’s something like this, he’ll just ask “what am I gonna eat?” LOL

    • Yes, the HH pretty much does the same thing! He has his frozen chunks o’ meat in the freezer, but sometimes they do run out. . . and then I strike with my tofu! Muahaha! 😀

  14. I can see why your husband loved this! And it looks so perfectly grilled and present too.


  1. […] to keep extras of packable foods like homemade burgers or “meat” loaves, crackers or grilled tofu in the freezer at all times so I don’t have to stress if I need to bring something to a […]

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