Creamy Polenta with Barbecue Tofu and Mango and Heirloom Tomato Salsa
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Creamy Polenta with Barbecue Tofu and Mango and Heirloom Tomato Salsa

This is a copycat version of a dinner I made last summer, right before Steven and I moved home to New York. It was barbecue tofu served over a creamy bed of polenta. I’d glazed the tofu in a thick, sweet mango barbecue sauce (something I’d found at the local farmer’s market). Steven was enchanted with it, and even though I resolved to make it again the following summer, I’ve forgotten about it until just recently. Finding some sweet, ataulfo mangos this week reminded me.

Creamy Polenta with Barbecue Tofu and Mango and Heirloom Tomato Salsa

As is often the case when I repeat a recipe (especially when I never wrote them down in the first place), I made some tweaks when I repeated this dish yesterday evening. Rather than using a mango barbecue sauce, I used a half batch of the simple (and delicious) barbecue sauce that I used last week in my barbecue zucchini and chickpea tacos.

Creamy Polenta with Barbecue Tofu and Mango and Heirloom Tomato Salsa

The sauce turned out to be a perfect marinade for barbecue baked tofu. Regardless of whether I serve it over polenta, in a wrap, or as a side dish, I’ll definitely be preparing tofu this way again. It’s firm, yet tender, and bursting with flavor–a really great staple vegan protein to have in your back pocket!

Creamy Polenta with Barbecue Tofu and Mango and Heirloom Tomato Salsa

And I let fresh mango shine through by creating a quick, no fuss mango and heirloom tomato salsa. It’s perfect to serve as an accompaniment for any sort of grilling/barbecue get together: the flavors, which include not only the fruits but also basil and mint, are super light and summery. They help to brighten up an otherwise hearty meal in this particular recipe, but they’d do the same for any potluck or seasonal dinner.

Creamy Polenta with Barbecue Tofu and Mango and Heirloom Tomato Salsa

As you can see, both the tofu and the salsa can be prepared in advance to streamline the process of making the recipe. When you’re ready to go, just whip up the polenta and heat up the tofu. It’s also worth saying that heirloom tomatoes aren’t necessary for the salsa — I just like working with them because they’ve got less seeds than other varieties, and they’re so flavorful.

Creamy Polenta with Barbecue Tofu and Mango and Heirloom Tomato Salsa

I’ve been hit with a little summer cold this week, so I’m busy trying to catch up on work and get rid of the sniffles. I’ll be back on Sunday for weekend reading, as always. In the meantime, enjoy the recipe!


Creamy Polenta with Barbecue Tofu and Mango and Heirloom Tomato Salsa
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Creamy Polenta with Barbecue Tofu and Mango and Heirloom Tomato Salsa (gluten free)

Author – Gena Hamshaw
Yields: 4 servings


BBQ Tofu

  • 1 batch date BBQ sauce (substitute 1 1/2 cups / 360ml store-bought vegan BBQ sauce of choice)
  • 14 ounces extra firm tofu (420g)

Mango Tomato Salsa

  • 1 1/2 cups diced ripe mango (2 ataulfo mangos or 1 medium Tommy Atkins mango, pitted and diced)
  • 2 cups diced ripe tomato (1 large beefsteak or 2 vine tomatoes)
  • 1/3 cup finely diced poblano pepper (1 medium pepper)
  • 1/2 cup finely diced red onion (1/2 medium red onion)
  • 2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon agave or maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped basil leaves (10g)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped mint leaves (5g)

For the Creamy Polenta:

  • 1 cup polenta (160g)
  • 4 cups water (950ml)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt more to taste
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon vegan butter or olive oil


  • Press the tofu gently between tea towels or paper towels to remove excess moisture. Cut the block of tofu along the short side into 1/2-inch / 1.3cm slices. Place the tofu slices into a flat-bottomed, square or rectangular dish. Pour the barbecue sauce over the tofu, turning over and covering each slice well. Cover and allow the tofu to marinate in the fridge for an hour, or up to overnight.
  • To prepare the salsa, mix together the mango, tomato, pepper, onion, vinegar, maple syrup or agave, salt, basil, and mint in a mixing bowl. The salsa can be served right away or allowed to marinate for several hours before serving (it's easy to prepare this a day in advance of the recipe).
  • Preheat your oven to 375°F / 190°C. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Remove the four pieces of tofu from the barbecue sauce, reserving all of the sauce, and place them on the parchment. Use a brush to glaze each piece with extra barbecue sauce. Place the tofu in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Flip the pieces, brush the other side with extra sauce, and then bake for another 10-15 minutes, or until the slices are firm and the sauce has darkened and thickened. Remove the tofu from the oven.
  • To prepare the polenta, bring the 4 cups of water to boil in a medium sized pot. Add the polenta in a thin stream, whisking constantly as you go along, as well as the salt. Reduce the heat to a very low simmer and simmer the polenta, stirring constantly, for 10-20 minutes, or until it's thick and creamy and pulling away from the edges of the pot. Cooking time varies between types of polenta, so check the packaging for cues. Stir the black pepper and Earth Balance or olive oil into the polenta, if using. Taste and adjust salt and pepper as needed.
  • To serve, divide the polenta into four bowls. Top each with a few slices of tofu, then add a scoop of salsa on top. Enjoy.

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Categories: Recipes, Main Dishes
Method: Oven, Stovetop
Ingredients: Tofu
Dietary Preferences: Gluten Free, Tree Nut Free, Vegan

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  1. I am excited to make this recipe today for dinner! i wanted to let you know that the listed ingredients says “1/4 cup water” and in the instructions you say “1/2 cup water”.

    • Thanks for catching, Allie! It’s 1/4 cup — and I fixed it. Enjoy the recipe!


  2. Another meatless Monday winner! Seriously though, Barbecue baked tofu is almost better than the carnivorous version. And I really don’t utilize polenta enough. So creamy and delicious and I;m sure it pairs really nicely with the tofu. I love adding smoked paprika to the mix too. Yum, yum, yum.

  3. Having a summer cold is the worst but thankfully, this bowl exists to get you feeling better. I never loved polenta until a few years ago and now I eat it about once a week. Going plant based really does change your tastebuds.

  4. what a lovely looking/sounding dish – many of my favourite ingredients all put in the same bowl:) It’s a summer for coughs here in England – I’ve had mine for two weeks and it’s not shifting, but never, mind, it will eventually! Take care

  5. I’m not a big fan of tofu but your Mango and Heirloom Tomato Salsa looks so wonderful I’m curious to try this recipe. The colours are so lovely together, they look very appetising!

  6. Wow this looks delicious Gena. 🙂 I love polenta and have actually eaten it almost everyday this week. I’ll have to spice up my repertoire with some of that salsa and amazing looking BBQ tofu!

    • Hope you love it, Jade! Polenta is SO good…and so quick and easy. It’s one of our favorite sides/bases for dinner.

  7. This looks so good!
    I’ve only cooked tofu once, but I’m dying to try it again now.
    And aren’t Ataulfo mangoes THE best? It’s not my favorite place to shop, but I love buying huge cartons of them at Sam’s Club in early summer.

    • Funny, Catherine: I didn’t really like mangos until someone (Janet, who writes the awesome blog The Taste Space) mentioned how sweet and incredible ataulfo mangos are. That was it — I tried one and love them! I don’t blame you for wanting them by the box 🙂

  8. YUM!!! BBQ tofu is basically my favorite food. And I bet it pairs so well with the mango salsa and polenta. Also, hope you get over your cold quickly. I had a summer cold last week that lasted about 8 days. UGH…still sniffling a bit but mostly better!

    • Thanks girl! There’s something so weird about being all sniffles and shivers when it’s 90 degrees and humid outside. Hope you feel 100% soon! <3

  9. So many delicious flavors and foods in one dish! Looks yummy and I hope you get well soon 🙂