My Recipe for Tofu Ricotta, and a Strawberry Basil Salad with Tofu Ricotta and Balsamic Dressing
July 16, 2012

tofu ricotta

A while back, I mentioned on the blog that tofu ricotta is one of my favorite vegan staples. One of my readers commented to ask whether I might please share the recipe? I said I would, of course, and today, I am, though I should begin by saying that I can take no real credit for this recipe! It is a very thinly veiled version of Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s tofu ricotta, which I learned to make after I purchased Vegan with a Vengeance–my first official vegan cookbook.

As you may have noticed, I make a lot of cashew cheese and other nut cheeses. When all is said and done, nut cheese is my favorite cruelty-free cheese. I think it’s tastier than Daiya or other name brands, and I love to make it from scratch because I can play around with different flavors and herbs. I also like that the texture of nut cheese is often so close to that of soft cheeses, which makes them nice for spreads and salads, and I like that they have the fattiness and acidity of the “real thing.”

That said, nut cheese has it’s downsides. It’s not suitable for people with nut allergies, for one thing. It’s rich in fat–healthy fat, sure, but fat nonetheless–which means that people who are trying to moderate their fat intake may not feel comfortable with it (not an issue for me, someone who thrives with a lot of healthy fat, but certainly something I’m mindful of as I develop recipes for a broad readership with varying constitutions). And from my own personal perspective, nut cheese can get a little repetitive, only because I may it so often!

Which is why tofu ricotta is often a nice alternative to my norm. Tofu ricotta is basically a soft, crumbly cheese substitute flavored with salt, herbs, and nutritional yeast. It’s easy to make, quick, protein rich, and–if you are being mindful of your fat consumption–a lower fat alternative to cashew ricotta or sunflower seed ricotta.

This tofu recipe, and all tofu recipes, should begin with the process of pressing tofu. This simply means placing your block of tofu between two plates, and layering a few heavy books on top of the top plate to press water out of the tofu. I literally never make any tofu dish without this step: I can’t stand watery tofu (even watery extra firm tofu), and find that even 10 minutes of pressing makes an enormous difference. Part of why so many people have an aversion to tofu is that they’ve only had waterlogged tofu: I promise you that pressing will change the way you think about tofu, if you’ve never tried it before. (If you want, you can also invest in a Tofu XPress!)

Press your tofu for as long as you can: if you have only 15 minutes, fine. If you can do it overnight (in the fridge), great. Once you finish, you’re ready to make your “ricotta.”

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Tofu Ricotta (inspired by Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s recipe in Vegan With a Vengeance)

Makes 4 servings

1 block firm or extra firm tofu, pressed
1 tbsp lemon juice
3 scant tbsp nutritional yeast
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano or Italian seasoning blend
1/4 tsp sea salt
Black pepper to taste
Optional: fresh basil chiffonade

1. Place all ingredients into a mixing bowl.

2. Using your hands, crumble tofu and seasonings together so that they combine well and take on a crumbly, even texture.

That’s it!

You can sprinkle this into salads, serve it in tea sandwiches, use it with whole grain pastas, and use it in homemade, vegan lasagna! I particularly like using it my eggplant rollatini.

If you like, you can try this salad, which I enjoyed yesterday! I adore the combination of fresh, summery berries and salty ricotta, mixed with a touch of basil and a simple vinaigrette. Quick, easy, and seasonal!

Quick Strawberry and Tofu Ricotta Salad with Basil and Balsamic Vinaigrette

Serves 1

2 heaping cups baby greens (I like spinach or baby romaine)
1 cup steamed broccoli florets, chopped small
3/4 cup strawberries, sliced
1/2 cup tofu ricotta
2-3 tbsp freshly chiffonaded basil
2 tsps flax, sacha inchi (pictured above) hemp, olive, or avocado oil
Splash balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix greens, broccoli, strawberries, basil, and tofu ricotta in a salad bowl. Toss with oil, vinegar, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve.

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If you want to add extra oomph to this already fairly nutrient dense salad, go ahead and add some edamame or navy beans, both of which will work nicely!

So there you have it: a classic vegan recipe that’s quick and easy. It’s also worth noting that the recipe is fairly cheap: organic tofu can be had for $1.99 per block, nutritional yeast is very cheap if you buy it from a bulk bin or in bulk online, and dried oregano is a relatively inexpensive herb. Our conversation about “veganism as a luxury” has recommitted me to giving you plenty of affordable food options. This doesn’t mean I won’t also feature fun and nourishing superfoods or special ingredients (and in fact, I got a great comment yesterday in defense of Irish moss, explaining how far a bag of the stuff goes, which is true), but I will also try to keep us all aware of the fact that most foundational vegan recipes don’t have to cost a fortune.

Happy Monday! Don’t forget to enter my Breville Juice Fountain Plus giveaway if you haven’t yet!

xo

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    25 Comments
  1. I was skeptical at first of the combo going on, but was really curious about this salad. I just made it last night for dinner and another batch for lunch today. It was so yummy! I loved it. It also was more filling than other foods have been for me lately. 🙂

  2. oo yum! ricotta cheese killlls my stomach (haven’t eaten it in 5 years also lol) so I’ll definitely try this out, I’m always looking for new ways to use my tofu 🙂

  3. Served this for lunch today. I must say the flavors all blend nicely and the cheese substitute was a wonderful add in. Used sprouted tofu and it turned out crumbly and tasty. Was a refreshing and satisfying salad on a very hot day (heat index was 105 here)!
    P.S. Gena I had never heard of tofu ricotta until this post. I’m glad I made it. 🙂

  4. Loooove tofu, but I don’t cook with it nearly enough! I tried an awesome tofu scramble taco yesterday as a part of a Whole Foods Foggy Bottom Vegetarian cooking demo, and it was delicious. Totally reminded me how easy + versatile tofu is 🙂

  5. The cheese is wonderful, and the salad is absolutely delicious! I strained my tofu thru my nut milk bag, and presto….tofu crumble. So simple.

    I’m glad to know my Irish Moss comment resonated with you. 😉 Everyone else was posting on the topic of dedication vs. obsession, but I feel so strongly about the moss that I was moved to comment on that. Thanks for listening 🙂

    Thanks again for all you do, Gena!

  6. Ive made tofu ricotta before but never even thought to add nutritional yeast! *smacks forehead with hand*

    One of my favorite things to eat is the waterlogged tofu, just plain- straight out of the package. With a little shoyu its great!

  7. tofu ricotta is certainly a favourite of mine as well! sometimes i even get crazy and throw some dehydrated garlic in the mix too 😉

  8. Vegan with a Vengeance was my first official vegan cookbook too – I got it for Christmas one year as an accident – I was vegetarian at the time, and my auntie was all, “I’m sorry to get you a vegan book, I meant to get you a vegetarian one!” But I was all over that and read it like a novel. It’s what got me cooking in the first place! Love that book.

    It’s been a long time since I’ve made a ricotta, and that salad looks like a good excuse to. That, or lasagna. 🙂

  9. Gena—ever try sprouted tofu? I am not a big tofu fan, but the spouted variety has a very meaty, dryer type texture and you probably wouldn’t have to press it. I am in California, there is a brand available at the natural food co-op in Davis, CA., that I use on occasion. If you are interested, I can get you the brand name, who knows, they might have it there on the East coast.

  10. Hey Gena! I have a question for you that’s not related to your post (sorry!): do you have any experience with/knowledge of (first hand or otherwise) a change in eye color since switching to a mostly raw diet? I just read about it today in a small corner of the internet and was curious if the topic was discussed or even heard of in more mainstream circles. Thanks!

  11. I’m allergic to nuts and haven’t tried any of your recipes that call for nut cheese. I’m really excited to have this tofu recipe as a subsitution! Thank you! 🙂

  12. Thanks for giving an alternative to nut cheeses, it does get pricey and heavy on the calories. I enjoy soft tofu as well, and to flavor it just grate some fresh ginger and drizzle a tablespoon of shoyu (soy sauce) or tamari on a block. Squeeze a little fresh lemon to brighten up the flavor & enjoy!

  13. When I first went vegan it was via raw foods, so I did a lot of nut cheeses, especially cashew cheese, which I think tastes better than cow’s milk cheese.

    However, I do love Daiya cheese, I like that I can sprinkle it in salads or make a quick quesadilla. I think more vegan products is to our benefit–I know some would disagree, but I think it makes becoming vegan more do-able.

    I love the tofu ricotta–so many vegetarian recipes call for cow’s milk ricotta, so this is a great replacement. Thanks Gena!

  14. How big is your block of tofu? I tend to find with tofu in the UK I have to use blocks for 1 block of US tofu so the weight of tofu is always handy to know! My 9 yo son loves tofu in most forms, tofu ricotta is one of his favourites so I try all different recipes for him! Thanks

  15. Oh my- this would be perfect in a spinach ricotta pizza on naan bread I’ve been trying to veganize. Thanks!

  16. i will definitely be making this since i don’t eat dairy! sometimes i do miss the tangy flavor cheese can add to a dish ;/ you should know that i made that carrot mousse you posted a little while back and i think it’s my favorite recipe i’ve made from CR. sweet, savory & a little salty…it was perfect! i ate it in 3 days and that was me being conservative with it haha, i wanted to down the whole thing on day 1 but i refrained using it over zucchini ‘noodles’ as a spread in a raw wrap and just mixed into some steamed veggies as a sauce. i was surprised at how versatile it was and pretty cheap!

  17. Great recipe!
    I too love nut cheeses but when having it in a large amount such as in eggplant ravioli, it doesn’t match some people’s diet requirements for the day. This will be a perfect replacement!
    And also I lot cheaper than nut cheese.
    How many grams is your block of tofu ?
    Thanks for sharing your tips, appreciate it x