Looking to cut the fat—and meat—from your favorite Italian themed meals? My husband—who loves chicken wings, burgers, and a good steak—has openly admitted that he could skip meat with the “right” tofu substitutions. Not kidding. When seasoned well and prepared correctly, he doesn’t miss the meat in many of the dishes that I make. Our daughters, the picky middle one included, accept tofu—even the raw, cubed weird kind—as a dinner protein and even like it better than ground beef in lasagna. After some trial and error (I’m not as tofu accepting—and it took a bit of effort to find a good meatball with the right texture for me!)—I have a great baked Italian tofu meatball.
Ingredients for Oven Baked Italian Tofu Meatballs
1 lb. Extra Firm Tofu, Squeezed dry and crumbled
2 Tbsp. Light Italian Salad Dressing
¼ tsp. Garlic Powder
1 tsp. Italian Seasoning
¼ c. Ground Almonds
1/3 c. Yellow Onion, Finely Chopped
¼ tsp. Salt
1/8 tsp. Pepper
1 egg or a Tbsp. Water or additional Italian Salad Dressing
1/3 c. Bread Crumbs
Olive Oil Flavored Cooking Spray or 2 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil to coat the baking dish and the meatballs
Instructions for oven baked Italian Tofu Meatballs.
Marinate the tofu. Plain, unseasoned tofu isn’t tasty to most of us. It’s pretty bland. Luckily, it readily absorbs seasonings and flavors. Combine the first seven ingredients in a medium mixing bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or even overnight to allow the tofu to take on the Italian flavors.
Preheat oven to 375F and prepare baking dish. Preheat the oven and line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Prepare the baking dish with a layer of non-stick aluminum foil and a coating of cooking spray or olive oil. Since the tofu is more likely to break apart than ground beef or turkey meatballs--you need to ensure that you are able to easily turn and remove the meatballs without them sticking and tearing!
Add in bread crumbs. Add the bread crumbs to the seasoned tofu mixture and mix until thoroughly combined.
Form the tofu mixture into meatballs. Carefully form the tofu mixture into 1 ½ inch meatballs. Tofu will not be as sturdy as ground beef—so form the meatballs gently. Carefully place meatballs onto cookie sheet.
Bake at 375 F for 15-18 minutes. Depending on how well you drained the tofu--the consistency of the mixture may vary dramatically. If your meatballs are well combined and holding together well, turn after 8 minutes. Otherwise, do not turn or disturb. Allow to set for 5 minutes on cookie sheet outside of the oven.
Transfer to deep skillet and cover with marinara sauce. I love Del Grosso Pasta Sauce when I don’t make my own! Heat until sauce begins to bubble. Reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
Serve. We serve over pasta--as shown with the mini-ziti above--or on meatball sandwiches.