Minnesota-made tofu is cleaner for the planet — and your palate

two slices of tofu on a bed of greens
Chef and cookbook author Beth Dooley says a new Minnesota-made tofu offers a cleaner taste than many mass-produced tofu brands. She uses MinnTofu to make her oven-roasted tofu with maple soy glaze.
Courtesy of Beth Dooley

Tofu originated in China about 2,000 years ago, but a new manufacturer here in Minnesota — MinnTofu — is reviving the modern-day version of it that's typically shipped to us from California.

“It’s founded by Yan Small, and she’s making tofu using locally-grown, non-GMO soy beans. That’s important because there’s far less chemicals used to grow those and they’re not being transported all the way to California to be manufactured and then come back,” said chef and cookbook author Beth Dooley. “It’s a healthy plant and we’re interrupting that industrial planting of soybeans that is damaging so much of our planet.”

Dooley said there’s the added benefit of a clean taste.

“Sometimes with the industrial ones, I get that funky industrial taste. You don’t get that with this one,” she said, adding that the neutral taste lets you take the tofu in any direction, even kid-friendly “chicken” nuggets she makes by breading the tofu before baking and serving it with dipping sauces.

Create a More Connected Minnesota

MPR News is your trusted resource for the news you need. With your support, MPR News brings accessible, courageous journalism and authentic conversation to everyone - free of paywalls and barriers. Your gift makes a difference.

For more ideas, click play on the audio player above and see her recipe below.

Oven-Roasted Tofu with Maple Soy Glaze

Serves 4

Be sure to drain the tofu well and pat dry before roasting. This is delicious on a salad of baby kale or over rice noodles.

1 14-ounce package extra-firm tofu, drained

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1 tablespoon soy sauce

2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger

Generous pinch red pepper flakes

3 tablespoons dark sesame oil

5 cups baby kale and/or spinach

4 green onions, white part only, thinly sliced

Slice the tofu into 1-inch thick slabs and lay them on a paper towel over a large baking sheet. Cover the tofu with more paper towels and place another baking sheet on top with a weight to squeeze out excess water. Drain for about 10 minutes. 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Put the maple syrup, soy, vinegar, ginger, pepper flakes and oil into a jar with a lid and shake vigorously.

Lay the drained tofu on the parchment and roast in the oven about 10 minutes, then baste with the maple-soy glaze, flip the slices and roast another 10 minutes, basting again until the slices are lightly toasted and cooked through.

In a medium bowl, toss the greens and onions with just enough of the glaze to lightly coat. Serve the tofu on the greens.