I just can’t understand why so many people are afraid of such a versatile, healthy and mild food like tofu. To me, tofu resembles a soft cheese like mozzarella (in fact it’s sometimes called the cheese of Asia), but it’s lower in fat and calories and high in protein and minerals that our bodies need.

You can give tofu flavor with any marinade, and give it texture by draining and baking, grilling or sautéing it so it can take the place of meat in many dishes. When my kids were toddlers, I used to put little cubes of tofu on their high chair trays for their “baby buffets”. The silken-style tofu is an excellent replacement for dairy products in sauces, especially when pureed.

My friend and acclaimed food writer, April Fulton, host of the NPR food blog, The Salt, shared her delightful recipe for this savory, colorful and flavorful meatless dish.  If you haven’t liked tofu in the past, I hope you’ll keep an open mind and give one of my favorite foods a try. However, if you have an irrational fear of tofu, use chicken or beef in this recipe instead. Serve it with white or brown rice.

Recipe: Caramelized Tofu and Broccoli Stir-Fry

  • Prep Time: 10 min(s)
  • Cook Time: 10 min(s)
  • Total Time: 20 min(s)
  • Servings: 4

A quick & easy vegetarian meal.


    • 15 oz. extra-firm tofu (or use chicken or beef)
    • 2 Tbsp. coconut or peanut oil
    • 1 tsp. minced garlic (1 – 2 cloves)
    • 1/2 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
    • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
    • 3 Tbsp. reduced-sodium soy sauce (use wheat/gluten-free if needed)
    • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
    • 1 head broccoli, cut into florets (about 3 cups)
    • 1/2 red bell pepper, cut into thin 1-inch long strips
    • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced


    • Drain the tofu and wrap it in a clean dishcloth to draw out the extra water. Cut the tofu into 3 crosswise slices, and cut those slices into 3 or 4 long strips.
    • In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the tofu strips and cook them without stirring for about 3 minutes until they have browned on the bottom. Flip the tofu and add the garlic and pecans, stirring them for a minute until the garlic becomes fragrant. Add the sugar, 1 1/2 Tbsp. soy sauce, and the red pepper flakes (optional) and stir until the sugar blends with the rest of the ingredients. Remove the tofu and nuts to a plate, allowing some of the sauce to remain in the pan.
    • Add the broccoli, red pepper strips, onions, and the remaining soy sauce and cook for 3 – 4 minutes until they are tender. Add the tofu and other ingredients back into the skillet to heat them through, and serve immediately.

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3 Responses to “Caramelized Tofu and Broccoli Stir-Fry”

  1. michele

    Hi there Aviva,
    I don’t personally have a fear of tofu, but I can understand some peoples apprehension toward it. It’s soy for one thing and soy has gotten plenty of bad press. Still for me I’ve never been able to fix tofu right…I only tried twice and ended up throwing out the rest when it got “forgotten” in the back of the frig.
    I’m really into Asian cuisine lately so I’m sure I’ll give it another try and your recipe will be a good start. Thanks.

    • Aviva Goldfarb Aviva Goldfarb

      Michele, Thanks for that perspective. I hope you’ll let me know if you think you get it right with this recipe. I’ve been cooking tofu for a long time and I think I have come pretty close to mastering it.

  2. chris

    thanks for this. i love all the ingredients, but have never cooked with tofu. i’ll try this over the weekend.