Pesto tofu in a large white bowl atop a granite countertop.

Pesto Tofu

Ever try pesto tofu? Move over bland tofu! Pesto sauce is a fantastic way to make tofu super flavorful!

Pesto tofu in a large white bowl atop a granite countertop.

What You’ll Need

Ingredients:

  • firm or extra firm tofu
  • garlic powder
  • corn starch
  • olive oil
  • baby spinach
  • basil leaves
  • sliced almonds
  • unsweetened almond milk (or milk of choice)
  • nutritional yeast
  • garlic
  • salt
  • crushed red pepper
Pesto tofu ingredients in small colorful dishes atop marble.

Kitchen Tools:

  • tofu press or heavy pan
  • paper towels
  • blender or food processor
  • cutting board
  • knives
  • large mixing bowl
  • lined baking sheet

How to Make Pesto Tofu

First press the tofu! A tofu press is a super convenient tool to have on hand, but do not fret if you do not have one. Simply wrap the tofu in a paper towel and place a heavy baking dish on top to release extra liquid.

Next, slice the tofu block into 3 slabs and chop into bite-size pieces.

In a large mixing bowl, add corn starch, olive oil, and garlic powder. Stir till it becomes a paste. Add the tofu to the bowl and stir until well coated.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place tofu on a lined baking sheet (spread out well so not overlapping).

Bake the tofu for a total of 30 minutes. Flip the tofu after 15-20 minutes.

While the tofu is baking, prepare the pesto sauce. In a blender add baby spinach, basil leaves, sliced almonds, olive oil, almond milk, nutritional yeast, garlic, salt, and crushed red pepper. Blend, blend, blend!

Once tofu is fully baked, it will be a lovely golden brown. Let the baked tofu cool for a few minutes, then transfer to a bowl. Add about half the pesto sauce to the baked tofu and stir till coated well.

Variations

  • Any nut or seed can replace the sliced almonds in the pesto sauce. Walnuts, pine nuts, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, cashews, or peanuts are also great options!
  • Traditionally parmesan cheese takes the place of nutritional yeast in pesto. Nutritional yeast was used in this recipe to make it dairy free, vegan pesto tofu 🙂
  • Any green can be used in the pesto. As an alternative, use all baby spinach or all basil leaves instead of half & half. Other great options are: arugula, kale, and Swiss Chard.
  • Any milk could take the place of the almond milk in the pesto sauce. If you would like to keep it dairy free, try unsweetened soy, cashew, or oat milk instead.

FAQ

What goes well with pesto tofu?

Pesto tofu can be used in a variety of different types of meals.

Serve the pesto tofu with a serving of veggies and a starch or whole grain and you’ve got a pesto tofu bowl!

Prepare a pesto tofu pasta with a side of steamed, grilled, or balsamic vegetables.

A pesto tofu wrap with shredded carrots, cucumber, and cabbage packaged in a whole grain wrap makes for a tasty and filling lunch.

Make a pesto tofu stir-fry with broccoli, peppers, and zucchini! Alternately, serve the pesto tofu with a side of steamed or roasted vegetables such cauliflower or broccoli. Or perhaps prepare a veggie packed pesto tofu salad with a variety of leafy greens and other vegetables.

With any of the above pesto tofu variations, be sure to add a whole grain or starchy vegetable for balance. My favorite whole grains with pesto tofu are farro, brown rice, whole grain or bean pasta, quinoa, or barley. A side of roasted or pan fried potatoes also balances out the meal.

What goes well with pesto sauce?

When you make this recipe there will be extra pesto sauce. So you may be wondering what goes well with pesto sauce?

I’ve used the the extra pesto sauce on top of whole grains such as farro, brown rice, or whole wheat pasta. Balance out the grains with a legume such as edamame, garbanzo beans, or cannellini beans. And add a veggie too such as steamed cauliflower and broccoli or sauteed zucchini and mushrooms and you have a complete meal!

Pesto sauce is also a wonderful addition to protein foods. Add it to egg or tofu scrambles. Or use it as a marinade for fish or chicken.

Pesto sauce is also great on breads. Spread it on toast, crackers, sandwiches, burritos, or wraps.

Pesto is a versatile sauce that can add a kick of flavor to many things!

Make ahead/ storage/ reheat tips

The pesto sauce can be made in advance. When freshly prepared pesto sauce is stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, it will last for 4-5 days. When the pesto sauce is frozen in an airtight container or freezer bag, it will last 9-12 months.

Pesto tofu is best if consumed within 3 days when refrigerated in an air tight container. Technically, pesto tofu can be frozen, but the texture of the tofu changes with freezing. In my experience, frozen tofu is just not as good.

Pesto tofu reheats well in the microwave. It is one of my favorite leftovers for lunch in the office!

If this recipe sounds good to you and/or you make it, please leave me a comment. I love hearing feedback!

Looking for other delicious ways to use pesto?  You’ll love these recipes!

If you need a tofu press recommendation, I own and love the Williams Sonoma Tofu Press.

If you are new to nutritional yeast, Bob’s Red Mill is a great brand to try.

Learn more healthy tips in my recent post: What to Dip in Hummus? (15 Healthy Savory & Sweet Options!)

Pesto tofu in a large white bowl atop a granite countertop.

Pesto Tofu

Sheri Berger, RDN, CDCES
Pesto Tofu is a flavorful recipe that is far from bland tofu. The pesto can be made ahead 1-2 days if refrigerated or months ahead if frozen.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 45 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Chinese, Italian, Japanese
Servings 4 people
Calories 275 kcal

Equipment

  • tofu press or heavy plate
  • blender or food processor
  • cutting board

Ingredients
  

Pesto Tofu

    Pesto

    • 1 cup baby spinach
    • 1 cup basil
    • ½ cup sliced almonds
    • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
    • ¼ cup unsweetened almond milk
    • ¼ cup nutritional yeast
    • 2 cloves garlic
    • dash salt optional
    • dash crushed red pepper optional

    Tofu

    • 14 ounce package extra firm or firm tofu
    • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 1 tablespoon corn starch

    Instructions
     

    Pesto Tofu

      Tofu

      • Press tofu with a tofu press or wrap in a paper towel and place a heavy dish on top to squeeze out excess liquid.
      • Slice tofu into 3 slabs.
      • Chop tofu into bite size pieces.
      • In a large bowl, combine corn starch, garlic powder, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and chopped tofu. Stir until tofu is coated well.
      • Preheat oven on 350 degrees.
      • Place seasoned tofu on a baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes total (flip after 15-20 minutes).

      Pesto

      • While tofu is baking, prepare pesto.
      • In a blender, combine spinach, basil, almonds, olive oil, almond milk, nutritional yeast, garlic, salt, and crushed red pepper. Pulse till pureed well.

      Pesto Tofu

      • After tofu is fully baked and golden brown, let it cool for a few minutes. Then, place in a large mixing bowl and add about half of pesto.
      • Refrigerate or freeze remaining tofu.
      • Enjoy!

      Notes

      • The nutrition calculated is the pesto tofu with just half the pesto.
      • Any green can be used in the place of spinach or basil.  Other popular choices are arugula, swiss chard, baby kale, beet greens, or carrot top greens.
      • Any nut or seed can be used in place of sliced almonds.  Other popular choices are pine nuts, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, or peanuts.
      • Any plant based milk can be used in place of the almond milk.  Or any dairy milk can be used if dairy free is not a preference. 
       
       

      Nutrition

      Calories: 275kcalCarbohydrates: 9gProtein: 13gFat: 22gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 4gMonounsaturated Fat: 16gTrans Fat: 0.01gSodium: 35mgPotassium: 361mgFiber: 6gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 1020IUVitamin C: 4mgCalcium: 245mgIron: 3mg
      Keyword dairy free, easy, healthy
      Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

      Pesto tofu in a large white bowl atop a granite countertop.

      10 thoughts on “Pesto Tofu”

      1. 5 stars
        Fabulous recipe! I made it with kale, and I added pasta and grape tomatoes. Delicious!!! The only thing I noticed is that corn starch isn’t in the ingredients list, so I just eyeballed it when it came up in the instructions. Fortunately I had some! Highly recommend this recipe!

      2. 5 stars
        Excellent and super easy to prepare!
        Since by garden tomatoes are out of control, I toss a handful in with the tofu 🍅🌿

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