Buffalo Tofu with Avocado and Zucchini Noodles

Do you ever open the fridge and realize you are really low on groceries? Then you stare at the few random ingredients you have wondering how the heck you are going to make dinner. Well that is what happened to me last night. So I had to use a little creativity. I had tofu, an avocado and zucchini. Doesn't sound like these three things could make any sort of cohesive meal, right? At least that is what I thought at first. 

Long story short, I came up with zoodles (aka zucchini noodles) and tofu. SO BORING. Then I pictured zoodles with cubed tofu and the shapes reminded me of spaghetti and meatballs. The zoodles were the spaghetti and the tofu cubes were the meatballs... but what about a sauce? You can't have spaghetti and meatballs without a sauce! So, I took a look at the last ingredient I had, the avocado, and decided I could smash up the avocado to act as "the sauce". Clearly calling a smashed avocado a sauce is a stretch but hey, sometimes you just have to work with what ya got!

So, I had a quick and easy plan. Zoodles, smashed avocado and tofu. The only problem was these ingredients by themselves don't have a huge amount of flavor. So, I opened my fridge and looked at the condiments. Buffalo and ranch popped out at me. What the heck? Let's give this a go.

I realize this combination of ingredients and flavors is very odd. Even as I sit here typing, I have to admit it sounds very unappetizing as I describe it on paper. However this is one of those meals that totally shocked me because the odd flavors and ingredients actually worked! This meal was really good. The textures from the crispy tofu, creamy avocado and crunchy zoodles were a great combination and made every last bite the furthest thing from boring! The spiciness from the buffalo tofu was perfectly balanced with the coolness from the ranch, the rich tang from the lime avocado and the freshness from the zoodles. It just goes to show that cooking is like a balancing act or a simple math equation. When you balance textures and flavors you can turn any set of ingredients into a meal! 

Recipe

Time Required: 15 minutes                   Level: Easy                                    Serves: 2

Ingredients:

  • 6-8 oz tofu
  • 2 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup buffalo sauce
  • 2 large zucchinis 
  • 1 avocado
  • ranch
  • 1/2 - 3/4 tbsp. lime juice (or to taste)
  • oil (olive, coconut, vegetable, etc.)
  • salt

Directions:

  1. Prep Tofu: Cut the tofu into cubes. My tofu cubes are usually between 1/2" and 3/4" but feel free to make yours larger or smaller if you prefer. Next, you will need to "press" the tofu to remove some of the moisture before cooking. To do this simply place your cubed tofu between two stacks of paper towels and put something heavy on top of the tofu. I usually put a small cutting board and a couple cans of beans on top of my tofu. However, anything will work. A lot of people use a heavy cast iron skillet.
  2. Make Zoodles: Simply spiralize the zucchini with a spiralizer and season with a pinch of salt. I love this part because it takes 60 seconds... instant gratification! Put the zoodles right on the dinner plates.
  3. Smash Avocado: Scoop the avocado out of the peel and combine with lime juice and a generous pinch of salt. Smash to avocado to the desired texture. In this recipe I smashed the avocado enough to be pretty smooth. However, if you want a chunkier avocado go for it! Then put the avocado right on top of the zoodles. Think spaghetti sauce and noodles... but with smashed avocado and zoodles. 
  4. Heat Pan: Put a deep pan over medium to medium/high heat. Generously coat the bottom of the pan with oil. I used coconut oil but feel free to use what you like or have on hand. 
  5. Coat Tofu: Give your tofu one last good pat down with a couple of paper towels. Then coat the tofu with the cornstarch. To do this, I usually put the cubed tofu in a zip lock baggie with the cornstarch, seal the baggie and give the ziplock bag a good shake. This coats tofu perfectly in seconds and requires no cleanup. Don't have a ziplock baggie? No problem. Just toss the tofu with cornstarch in a bowl. 
  6. Cook/Crisp TofuIMMEDIATELY after the tofu is coated, drop the tofu in the preheated pan. You should hear a sizzle right away (if you don't your tofu won't crisp up) .  Flip the tofu with a spatula every minute or so to make sure all sides of the tofu become crispy. Tofu doesn't take very long to cook. I'd say 4-5 minutes. Not sure if the tofu is done? Try a piece and see if it is crunchy. When it is done remove the tofu from the pan and place on a couple paper towels to remove any excess oil.  
  7. Toss Tofu: Toss the crispy tofu in buffalo sauce. You can use a bowl or a ziplock baggie to do this (similar to coating the tofu with cornstarch in step 5). Then immediately put the tofu on the plate on top of the smashed avocado.  Drizzle each plate with a little bit of ranch and enjoy!