How to Fall in Love With Tofu

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In my column this week I wrote about my quest to eat more plant-based meals, with the goal to become as fluent in tofu as I am in chicken thighs. Turns out, those proteins have a lot in common, including an affinity for pungent marinades and a tendency to become their tastiest selves when laid out on a sheet pan and blasted with high heat.

I take full advantage of both qualities in my sweet chile grain bowls with tofu, paired with caramelized cabbage and marinated juicy tomatoes. The recipe is easy and adaptable, with tangy, spicy notes that will delight both the tofu faithful and the merely tofu curious.


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Of course, tofu is only one road to a great meatless meal. Pasta is another, and Naz Deravian’s kale and walnut pasta is an elegant and hearty option. For depth, heft and protein, she substitutes chopped walnuts for the usual breadcrumbs and mixes them with sturdy winter greens cooked down with olive oil, garlic, and salty pecorino cheese. It’s a 30-minute dinner that will lighten even the darkest January night.

Concern for the environment is a very valid reason to eat more plant-based meals, as is thriftiness. Lidey Heuck’s recipe for salmon patties speaks to both. She uses canned salmon, which is both more sustainable than the usual farmed salmon fillets and a lot more economical. The flavors of smoked paprika, mustard and lemon give these crisp-crusted fish cakes a broad appeal, whether served on their own or with homemade tartar sauce on the side.

On the chicken-y side of dinner, here are two recipes that showcase the bird in distinct ways. Eric Kim’s honey baked chicken drumsticks, seasoned with a zesty mix of ground ginger and onion powder, are a snap to put together and emerge from the oven syrupy and golden, bubbling in their schmaltzy juices. And Colu Henry’s brothy chicken soup with hominy and poblano is brightened by green chile and lime juice, rounded out with whatever garnishes you add to the bowl. Avocado, tortilla chips, sour cream or just a dappling of cilantro can add so much character to the dish without much effort.

We all know about the joys of eating breakfast for dinner, but what do you think of breakfast for dessert? Sometimes a bowl of oatmeal topped with a little brown sugar and butter, or a crisp slice of cinnamon toast is just the satisfying not-too-sweet treat I crave. Sohla El-Waylly’s banana nut breakfast bars would also scratch this itch perfectly. With a fudgy texture from the combination of ripe bananas and nut butter, the nubby bars are packed with oats and walnuts and sweetened with honey. Oh, and of course you could serve them for breakfast.

As always, you do need to subscribe to get these recipes and the other thousands upon thousands we have at New York Times Cooking. If you need any technical advice (Where did that recipe box go? Why can’t I print?), send an email to cookingcare@nytimes.com for help. And if you’d like to say hi, I’m at hellomelissa@nytimes.com.

That’s all for now. I’ll see you on Wednesday.

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