These Kid-Friendly Tofu Buddha Bowls are full of plant-based protein and the veggies your kids like best. Let everyone build their own!
If your kids don’t eat tofu, have they met crispy tofu tossed with peanut sauce–in a meal they get to assemble themselves?
I’d tried tofu in the past without much luck when I stumbled on this recipe from Delish Knowledge for a Peanut Tofu Buddha Bowl. Being perpetually late to every food trend party, I was new to the “bowl” concept–and quite frankly, I suspected my gang would be poking around their bowls, wondering where the meat was.
To my surprise and delight, it went over well. So well that I served it again and again and again, making some tweaks along the way.
Whenever I include Tofu Buddha Bowls on the Real Mom Menu I send out in my weekly message (sign up for my weekly message here!), I’m asked for the recipe I use–so I wanted to share exactly what I do.
How to Make a Tofu Buddha Bowl
Tofu can be squishy and weird to some kids. So you’ll want to take some steps to make it more appealing. First, choose extra-firm tofu (not silken, which is very soft and better suited for sauces or this amazing Chocolate Tofu Pudding).
Then press out excess moisture. Some people use an official tofu press. But I do it DIY-style with a plate and a cast-iron pan. Here’s what my set-up looks like:
Place the block of tofu on a plate between paper towels (or clean kitchen towels) and put something heavy on top (I use a cast iron pan) and let it rest for at least an hour, draining away the moisture. This leaves your tofu a little drier (and less squishy).
Then cut the tofu into pieces. I think small cubes are a good place to start with kids who are new to tofu.
Baking the tofu instead of stir-frying also removes some of the squish-factor. I find that tossing the tofu in some cornstarch before baking gives it an even crispier texture.
Arrange the cornstarch-coated tofu cubes in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone baking mat.
Chop the veggies your family likes best into pieces and toss with olive oil. My gang likes broccoli, carrots, and sweet potato. You can also include veggies that only some of your family likes (for our family, that’s mushrooms and Brussels sprouts) since everyone gets to choose what goes in their bowl.
Spread the veggies out on another lined sheet pan.
If your oven can handle two baking sheets at once, bake both sheets at 400 degrees F for about 20-30 minutes or until veggies are done and tofu is lightly browned and crispy around the edges. (We like our veggies crisp-tender, so they still have a little crunch. If you like your veggies very soft, add an extra 10 minutes of cooking time.)
A few notes about roasting veggies:
- Be sure to cut veggies into uniform(ish) pieces for more even cooking.
- If preparing hard root veggies like sweet potato, cut into small dices so it cooks faster.
- More delicate and quick-cooking veggies like mushrooms, bell peppers, and asparagus don’t require as long to cook, so toss those onto the sheet in the last 10 minutes of baking time.
While the tofu and veggies are baking, whip up a batch of Easy Peanut Sauce.
Toss the baked tofu together with a couple spoonfuls of Peanut Sauce in a small bowl. Then create an assembly line with a pot of brown rice, the sheet pan of veggies, the tofu, Peanut Sauce, and any garnishes like crushed peanuts and green onions.
Let everyone create their own bowl!
Here’s what a pint-sized version of this bowl might look like. You can serve the peanut sauce on the side. Or if it feels more familiar and comfortable, serve with soy sauce (that’s how my younger son, who is still reluctant to try peanut sauce, eats his!).
Kid-Friendly Tofu Buddha Bowls
- Baking sheet
- Parchment paper (or silicone baking mat)
- 2 cups uncooked brown rice (or white, use what your family likes)
- 1 block extra-firm tofu
- 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 cup each raw, chopped vegetables such as sweet potato, carrots, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, bell peppers, and mushrooms
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 batch Easy Peanut Sauce
- crushed peanuts and sliced green onions to top bowls, if desired
- Press tofu for at least an hour to remove excess moisture. Place tofu between paper towels (or a clean kitchen cloth) on a plate. Set a heavy object, such as a cast iron pan or heavy pot, on top.
- Prepare brown rice according to package directions.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
- Once tofu is pressed, cut into cubes. Toss cubes in cornstarch and arrange in a single layer on one of the baking sheets.
- Chop vegetables into uniform pieces, toss with olive oil, and arrange in a single layer on the second baking sheet.
- Bake tofu and vegetables for 20-30 minutes or until tofu is lightly browned and crisp around the edges and vegetables are crisp-tender (or desired doneness). If your oven can't cook two sheets evenly, rotate them between racks halfway through cooking time or bake them separately. Keep in mind that root vegetables such as carrots and potatoes will take longer to cook, followed by broccoli and Brussels sprouts. Add more delicate quick-cooking vegetables such as mushrooms and peppers in the last ten minutes.
- While tofu and vegetables are baking, whisk together ingredients for the Peanut Sauce.
- Place a portion of rice in each bowl. Top with tofu and vegetables, drizzle Peanut Sauce on top. Top with crushed peanuts and green onion if desired.