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Golden Tofu and Spinach Stir-Fry

Stir-fried tofu with golden crisp edges, bright green wilted spinach and a good sprinkle of salty tamari soy sauce, this simple Asian-inspired stir-fry is loaded with protein pizzazz! Besides that, it all comes together in less than an hour!

Tofu with spinach and quinoa rice on white plate with fork

With crunchy sesame seeds, tofu, brown rice and quinoa, altogether this tofu and spinach stir-fry yields 19 grams of protein per serving. That’s a lot of vegan protein! This meal is so good, I’ll bet you can surprise your declared tofu haters and get them to declare anew–this is really delicious!

Click here to save this recipe on Pinterest to make later!

Dinner in one hour is no problem with this golden tofu and spinach stir-fry:

  • Start the rice and quinoa in one pot.
  • Then take 10 minutes to press extra water from the tofu.
  • Heat the skillet, then sauté the tofu.
  • Clean the spinach and toast sesame seeds.
  • In the same pan as the golden tofu, wilt the spinach with a sprinkle of tamari.
  • Awesome! You’ve just pulled together a colorful protein-rich vegan and gluten free meal!

Spinach in bowl ready to stir-fry

“This is mighty healthy,” Robbie would say. “Tastes like chicken!” Sure this Asian feast is healthful, but it’s also one of our favorite dinners. 

Pressing tofu beteen towels with heavy weight on top

How to press tofu:

Time needed: 15 minutes

  1. Cut the tofu:

    Cut the tofu lengthwise in 4 slabs. Lay a clean tea towel (without terrycloth nubs) on a cutting board. Arrange the tofu slabs close to each other on the towel, then cover with another towel.

  2. Add some sort of weight to press out excess water.

    Place a baking dish or plate on top of the second towel, making sure it presses all the slabs. Place something heavy on top of that. (I use my utensil crock. Make sure to center the weight so it doesn’t fall over.)

  3. Cut into desired size:

    After 5 to 10 minutes the tea towels will have absorbed enough excess water, ready to cut in cubes to stir-fry or bake.

raw red quinoa and rice in bowls

Frequently asked question about tofu and quinoa:

Why should I press the tofu?

Pressing tofu squeezes out extra moisture. The firmer tofu absorbs flavors better and gets a crispier golden exterior when cooked. Even if you buy extra firm tofu, it’s always best to press out the excess water.

Can I use silken tofu, the tofu that comes in the small aseptic box?

I don’t recommend silken tofu for this recipe. It’s fragile and better suited for smoothies or a high protein chocolate mousse.

What about a tofu press?

If you often cook tofu and you have the space, you can buy an official tofu press, but the method with towels and weights works just fine.

What is the shelf life on tofu?

Refrigerated and unopened, tofu packed in water has about a six-week expiration date. Check the date–if the package will expire soon, look of a newer package or plan to use it before the expiration date.

Can I freeze tofu?

Yes! Frozen and then thawed, tofu takes on a different pleasing texture. Learn how to use frozen tofu in this recipe for meatless traditional tacos with tofu “hamburger.”

What is quinoa?

Quinoa (keen-wah) is a seed, originally from the Andes mountains where it’s been used for centuries. It cooks much like a whole grain and is often grouped in the grain category. Quinoa is a delicious a high-protein gluten-free option to rice or wheat grains. Read a whole lot more about superfood quinoa here.

More Golden Tofu and Spinach Stir-Fry recipe notes:

  • 1 cup of uncooked quinoa/rice yields about 3 cups cooked. You might have some leftover—freeze it and add to creamy soups for a bit of texture. Like in this Spicy Zucchini Rice Soup.
  • 1 cup of cooked brown rice has 5 grams of protein; 1 cup of cooked quinoa has 8 grams.
  • When I was in college, quinoa wasn’t even on the radar when Diet for a Small Planet was published, that is unless you lived in the South American Andes. These days, regular and multi-color quinoa are easily available.

The recipe is adapted from a dog-eared paperback I’ve had since college–a cookbook that fueled my newfound vegetarian leanings. In Diet for a Small Planet (affiliate link), author Frances Moore Lappé tells us how plant-based and meat-centered diets affect our food systems, as well as how to get plenty of protein without meat.

Author Lappé named this recipe “Leafy Chinese Tofu.” She suggested “Serve over brown rice.” I’m giving this recipe a new name and adding red quinoa to the basmati brown rice. You get the nuttiness of brown rice, plus all the quinoa benefits– protein count, eye appeal and flavor and nutrition

You’ll also want to make these Spicy Thai Peanut Noodles with Golden Tofu.

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PS If you make this recipe and love it, please consider leaving a blog post comment. Your comments help other readers learn more about the recipe.

The cookbook link is an Amazon affiliate link. If you purchase a product via my link, it doesn’t cost you anything and I earn a tiny commission, which helps defray the costs of Letty’s Kitchen blog. Thank you for supporting Letty’s Kitchen.

*** This is an update of the Leafy Chinese Tofu recipe I posted in October 2014.


  • Judy Lujan

    This is a favorite of mine, too. But it’s not Chinese. I live and work in China where I was stunned to discover that people don’t eat spinach and tofu together. Folks at the vegetable market (where I buy my spinach AND my tofu) always assure me that it will make me sick if I eat them together. I always assure them that it never has yet and I’ve been eating them together for 40 years! Reply · 3 January, 2015

    • Letty

      Thanks for the note Judy. Good thing we’ve never been sick from eating tofu and spinach together!
      I wonder–do they cook bok choy with tofu? Reply · 3 January, 2015

  • My husband brought that dog-eared paperback into our marriage, and I always liked it! Reply · 18 January, 2015

    • Letty

      I also have the companion paperback which is literally falling apart–more great recipes. Recipes for a Small Planet by Ellen Buchman Ewald. Reply · 18 January, 2015

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