This satisfyingly salty brined tofu is an awesome plant-based alternative to feta. In this recipe, it is served cubed, skewered and grilled but it can also be sliced (pre- brining) for sandwiches or crumbled (post-brining) onto salads. This appetizer will be a perfect addition to your summer BBQ as it is easy to prepare ahead of time. Although 24 hours is enough for tasty tofu, let it brine for a few days for maximum flavor. Take it over the top with a balsamic glaze (that can also be prepared well in advance!). However, if you’re short on time, you can buy pre-made balsamic reduction at the grocery store.
If you have the time and energy, it is a great idea to press the tofu before brining. Pressing removes some of the water from the tofu and allows it to absorb more of the brine resulting in more a more flavorful feta. If you’re too pressed for time to press, give the drained tofu a quick squeeze or you can purchase pre-pressed tofu.
This tofu feta is great for more than just skewers! It is great on its own as a quick, plant-based snack and is great as a protein in summer salads. For a simple but impressive dinner party hors d’oeuvre, use a toothpick to skewer one cube of tofu feta with a cherry tomato and fresh basil or with a cube of watermelon and fresh mint. Either or those offerings pair perfectly with the balsamic glaze for dipping.
Planning a summer get-together? Why not make it a potluck? Assign everyone a different recipe so you can try a little bit of everything at your next get-together.
Your Planned Potluck Menu:
- Tofu Feta:
- 1 block (400 g) extra firm tofu, pressed if desired
- 2 lemons, juiced
- 1 tsp garlic powder or 1 garlic clove, minced (add both if you love garlic like I do!)
- 1 Tbsp dried oregano
- 1 Tbsp dried basil
- 1 1/2 Tbsp sea salt
- 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast, optional
- Enough water to cover (1 to 2 cups, depending on jar)
- Balsamic Glaze:
- 2 cups balsamic vinegar
- Medium frying pan or small pot
- Bamboo or reusable metal skewers. If using bamboo, soak for at least 30 minutes prior to using (but longer is even better!)
- 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
- Other veggies as desired desired – red onion, peppers, zucchini and/or mushrooms would be delish!
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 dried basil
- 1/2 dried oregano
Slice open the tofu package and drain all of the water. Cut the block of tofu width-wise into four slices.
Place a dishtowel or cloth on top of a baking tray and add a couple of layers of paper towel on top. Lay the tofu out in a single layer on top of the towels and then create a tofu sandwich by adding more paper towel and another dishtowel on top.
Put another baking tray or large plate on top and load it up with some heavy objects – cookbooks, canned goods or jugs filled with water.
Leave for at least 30 minutes and up to two hours. If you want to leave it for longer (which is great if you have the time!), you’ll have to put the pressing set-up into the fridge, where you can leave it overnight.
Cut the tofu into cubes (one block of tofu will make roughly 48 cubes) and place into a glass jar or container.
In a small bowl, mix lemon juice and dry brine ingredients. I add ½ cup of water to make mixing and transferring into the brining vessel a little bit easier.
Pour the brine mix on top of the tofu and add enough water for the tofu to be fully submerged. Cover the jar and let sit in the fridge for at least a day but up to three. To preserve the tofu even longer (up to two weeks), cover the brine with a layer of olive oil and keep in an air-tight jar.
Balsamic Glaze: (warning, reducing vinegar causes a very intense smell so be sure to put your hood fan on high and/or open the kitchen window!)
Place balsamic vinegar into a pot or pan and bring to the boil. Using a wider pan will allow your balsamic to reduce more quickly but will also make it more likely to burn in the later stages.
Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium low and allow the vinegar to reduce until it coats the back of a spoon (10 to 15 minutes). I tend to keep my glaze on the thinner side to avoid it burning and because I don’t like things to be overly sweet. If you’re looking for a more decadent syrup, you will likely need to reduce for 15 to 20 minutes – making sure to stir occasionally so that it doesn’t burn.
If you’re using bamboo skewers, soak them on the day you plan on serving them to ensure they don’t catch on fire during grilling.
Prepare your skewers by alternating between veggies and the tofu feta. You can keep it simple (I love it with just tomato and tofu) or make them more elaborate. Make sure you don’t pack the veggies too tight and that you leave one to two inches of room on each end of the skewer. The skewers can be prepared a few hours ahead of time and kept in the fridge.
Preheat your grill to medium heat and lightly oil to avoid sticking.
Mix together olive oil with spices and brush skewers before putting on the grill.
Grill skewers for 10 to 15 minutes, until veggies are tender.
Place balsamic glaze on the table and allow guests to drizzle over their skewers.