Sweet and spicy grilled tofu and pineapple with herbed cauliflower rice is a super fresh, satiating, and very flavourful vegan main course.
It’s another grill-friendly vegan entree for you this week. And don’t worry: I have instructions for preparing this if you don’t have a grill in the recipe notes. This sweet and spicy grilled tofu and pineapple (!!) comes together super quick and with some pretty simple pantry ingredients.
It’s no secret that I love ketchup and it is the hero of this dish! I often mix up a quick little barbecue sauce with ketchup as the base and the use of it here echoes that treatment! I’ve been getting this amazing date-sweetened ketchup at one our local grocery stores lately and the flavour is amazing. Lots of good acidity and a bit of spice. It’s a perfect base for the sticky and spicy glaze here! We also add minced ginger, garlic powder, tamari, some oil, and adobo sauce. Remember when we talked about adobo a couple weeks ago?
I always like to press my tofu before cooking and this recipe is no exception. Getting that extra water out helps the sauce stick better and also helps to avoid the instance of little tofu bits stubbornly sticking to grill grates. I know that tofu recipes tend to do well here, but I still have to be very much in a specific mood to actually crave it myself. Covering it with this sweet and spicy sauce and letting it caramelize on the grill with some pineapple is definitely helpful on the tofu-cravings front!
We know tofu as the original plant-based “meat” that was developed in China during the time of the Han dynasty. There are three major competing theories as to how tofu was initially created. One account has a prince creating it with the intent of producing an “elixir of immortality.” Another possibility is that the Chinese applied the technique of cheesemaking used by Mongolians to soybean curd. The last theory is that tofu was simply a fortunate accident that occurred when a pot of boiled soybeans sat long enough with a strip of seaweed to produce bacteria that in turn created lactic acid, which went on to further form pieces of tofu curd.
You can read more about tofu’s storied origins in this excellent article. There’s even more history and details on this page. These origins are rife with conflict and possibility! I also love this post from Omnivore’s Cookbook about typical uses of the different types of tofu available in Chinese cooking. A wealth of information and amazing recipes from one of the best food blogs.
All these stories in the news about lab-grown meat and the future of plant-based protein… kinda makes me crave the simplicity of nicely pressed and grilled tofu with a flavourful sauce. Know what I mean? I think you do. I’m also really interested in trying this jerk tofu wrapped in collard leaves from Bryant Terry’s Vegetable Kingdom cookbook. I have no problem with the occasional super high tech plant-based “sausage,” (I even have a recipe that calls for them here!) but simplicity wins me over more often than not.
These sticky little nuggets of grilled goodness are served over an aggressively herbed cauliflower rice that’s finished with a kiss of lime. You could also substitute regular cooked rice, couscous, some sort of grain you like, whatever! Just make sure that it’s cooked before you start making this recipe. I grabbed multiple cauliflowers on my last shopping trip, so the abundance motivated me to make “rice.”
Hope you enjoy this recipe the next time you decide to grill for dinner! It would be great with a nice little salad or some slices of grilled zucchini/bell peppers. Stay well and be safe out there.
Sweet and Spicy Grilled Tofu with Pineapple and Herbed Cauliflower Rice
- 12 oz (350 grams) extra firm tofu
- ⅓ cup ketchup
- 1 tablespoon tamari soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons oil of choice, plus extra for grilling
- 1 tablespoon adobo sauce (see headnotes for substitutes)
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon finely minced ginger
- 1½ lbs (680 grams) cauliflower florets (from roughly ½ head large cauliflower)
- 1 cup mixed leafy herbs (such as cilantro, parsley, basil, or a combination)
- 2 green onions, sliced
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
- 2½ cups fresh pineapple chunks (from roughly ½ of a standard pineapple)
- If your grocery store sells pre-riced cauliflower, you will need roughly 4 cups of it for this recipe.
- If you don’t have adobo sauce hanging around, you can substitute any hot sauce that you like. Maybe start with 1 teaspoon and work up from there if you’d like more. Feel free to add a pinch of smoked paprika or a drop of liquid smoke to make up for that smoky essence that adobo marinade has.
- This is my favourite ketchup in the entire world. Tastes amazing and is sweetened with dates!
- If you’re using wooden skewers, make sure that you soak them for 30 minutes before grilling.
- To make this without a grill: preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Toss the cubed tofu and pineapple chunks in the ketchup and tamari-based sauce mix to coat. Then, space all the pieces out on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Roast the tofu and pineapple for 25 minutes, flipping the pieces over at the halfway point.
- Press the tofu for 15 minutes. While the tofu is pressing, mix up the sweet and spicy sauce. In a small bowl, whisk together the ketchup, tamari, 1 tablespoon of oil, adobo, garlic powder, and minced ginger.
- Prep your cauliflower rice: finely chop the cauliflower florets into rice-sized pieces. You can also do this quickly by pulsing the florets in a food processor. Your choice! Finely chop the herbs and green onion.
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Pour in the remaining tablespoon of oil and swirl it around. Add all of the cauliflower at once. Season with salt and pepper, stir, and cover with a lid. Let it sit for 1 full minute. Remove the lid and stir in the chopped herbs, green onions, and lime juice. Stir to combine. Once the cauliflower has softened slightly, remove it from the heat. Keep warm.
- Preheat your grill to high.
- Once the tofu is done pressing, blot it with a clean towel. Cut the tofu into 2-inch cubes. Arrange the tofu and pineapple chunks on skewers. Set the finished skewers on a plate and set aside. Lightly brush the skewers with oil.
- Place the skewers on the grill, close the lid, and let them sit for 4 minutes. Then, flip the skewers and let them sit for another 4 minutes. You should see some char marks. Brush half of the sauce on the exposed parts of the skewers and then give them a flip. Let them cook for 2 minutes or until some of the sauce has caramelized. Brush the remaining sauce on the exposed parts of the skewers. Flip them one more time and cook for another two minutes, or until you get an even amount of caramelization.
- Serve the sweet and spicy grilled tofu and pineapple skewers with the herbed cauliflower rice!