Old Bay Tofu with Lemon Pickled Cucumber Salad

This Old Bay Tofu is paired with a light and refreshing charred lemon cucumber salad. A meal that packs in both protein and flavor.

Top down view of a bowl of rice, cucumber salad, baked tofu bites and a charred lemon.

Why You’ll Love This Old Bay Tofu

  • Packed with protein. This meal is made higher in protein by using super firm tofu.
  • Easy to customize. Change out the veggies in your salad or try another salad to pair the tofu with.
  • Designed with flavor in mind. We maximize flavor in this dish by allowing each component a moment to marinade in a tangy brine that helps both the tofu and cucumbers to pick up on amazing flavor.
Cutting board with tofu, lemon, shallot, Persian cucumbers, and Fresno pepper.

Key Ingredients and Substitutions

  • Tofu: For more protein I used super firm tofu. Feel free to use extra firm tofu, but make sure that you press it before using.
  • Old Bay Seasoning: Not a fan of this flavor profile? Feel free to use a different spice blend. I also love this tofu with lemon pepper seasoning.
  • Cucumbers: I used Persian cucumbers, but English or Japanese cucumbers can work just as well here.
  • Shallot: This can be swapped with some thinly sliced red onions.
  • Pepper: I used a Fresno pepper, but you can also use different spicy peppers like jalapeno if preferred. You can also swap with a non-spicy pepper like some sliced baby bell peppers.
  • Lemons: I used 2 lemons. Fresh is best as you will need the zest from at least 1 for this recipe.
  • Tamari: I used a gluten-free tamari, but you can also use coconut aminos.
  • Maple syrup: This is just easier to use for the sauces, but feel free to use sugar. If using sugar, just make sure it is fully dissolved in the sauce before pouring over the cucumbers.
  • Vinegar: I used rice vinegar, but white wine vinegar works as well.

How to Make Old Bay Tofu and a Lemon Pickled Cucumber Salad

Heat the oil in a small pan over medium low heat. When hot, add the lemon halves cut side down in the pan. Cook undisturbed until the bottoms have caramelized, about 5-6 minutes. Squeeze the juice from each half into a small mixing bowl and set aside.

Tear the tofu block into small bite size pieces (about 1-inch) and place in a large bowl or airtight container. Pour the tamari and vinegar over the tofu, cover the container then toss to evenly coat and allow the tofu to sit for 10 minutes.

Coat the tofu with the sugar, half the lemon zest, Old Bay seasoning, paprika, garlic, cornstarch and oil, then cover and toss again to evenly coat. Spread the tofu pieces out on a baking tray, making sure each piece has space between it. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, flip then bake again for 10 minutes. Drizzle the maple syrup and 1 tablespoon of the charred lemon juice over the tofu and toss to coat.

Add the sliced cucumbers to a large bowl and sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt. Toss to evenly coat then set aside for 5 minutes. Rinse the cucumbers well, squeeze out any excess moisture, and pat dry with a clean towel then add the remaining lemon zest, shallots and peppers to the bowl.

To the bowl with the remaining lemon juice add the garlic, vinegar, tamari, and maple syrup then whisk together and pour over the cucumbers. Toss everything together until the cucumbers are well coated.

Now assemble, portion between bowls some cooked rice, the cucumber salad, then the tofu and enjoy.

Expert Tips

  • Soak your onions to tone down their bite. I like to place my sliced shallots or onions in cold water to soak for a few minutes. this will remove a lot of their astringent flavors.
  • For higher protein count, use super firm tofu instead of extra firm tofu. Per serving, super firm tofu can pack in 14g of protein, a few grams higher than what you would get from most extra firm tofu options.
  • Squeeze as much liquid out of the cucumbers as you can. After letting the salted sliced cucumbers sit, grab a handful and gently squeeze extra water out. This will help to remove excess water that can dilute the flavor of this dish.
  • Save time and use a mandoline. To make the cucumber salad quickly, feel free to use a mandoline. Be safe when using your mandoline by using the guard it comes with or using a strong mesh glove to protect your hands.
Bowl of white rice topped with cucumber salad, and baked tofu served with a charred lemon half.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can this be made in advance?

This recipe is best when made fresh, but you can still store leftovers with success. I would recommend storing the quick pickled cucumbers and baked tofu in seperate storage containers. Place in the fridge for up to 3 days. To warm up the tofu, either reheat in a toaster oven for a few minutes to warm through before enjoying.

How do I make this meal gluten-free?

The only ingredient to be mindful of is the tamari. Tamari should be wheat-free, but some tamari may contain wheat depending on the brand. It’s important to read labels to ensure that the brand you are using contains no gluten containing ingredients.

Can this be made lower in sodium?

You can swap the tamari for coconut aminos or low sodium soy sauce. You can also swap the Old Bay seasoning with a lower sodium seasoning mix of your choosing. Mrs. Dash has a great line of no salt added seasonings that can be used as a replacement.

How can I make this recipe easier?

If you are not in the mood to char you lemon, that is okay. You can opt to not char it and just use the juice and zest as recommended. It will change the flavor slightly, but should still be delicious. You can also save on chopping by either using a mandoline for the cucumbers or just leave out the shallots and Fresno pepper as a means to save time on this recipe. Don’t like cooking fresh rice? Try purchasing frozen rice instead and heat it up according to package instructions when you are ready to eat.

Close up of the baked tofu served on top of a cucumber salad and rice.

How to Serve

This meal can be served with any grain of choice. I happened to use white Jasmine rice, but you can use short grain brown rice, quinoa, farro, or even millet to serve the tofu and cucumbers over.

More High Protein Plant Based Recipes

Grabbing a spoonful of rice, tofu and cucumber salad on a spoon.

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Top down view of a bowl of rice, cucumber salad, baked tofu bites and a charred lemon.

Old Bay Tofu with Lemon Pickled Cucumber Salad

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  • Author: Catherine Perez
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 3 servings 1x
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Roasting
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

This Old Bay Tofu is paired with a light and refreshing charred lemon cucumber salad. A meal that packs in both protein and flavor.


Ingredients

Scale

Charred Lemon

  • 1 tsp avocado oil
  • 1 large lemon, zested and cut in half

Old Bay Tofu

  • 1 lb super firm high protein tofu or extra firm tofu (pressed and drained)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp tamari
  • 1 1/2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp Old Bay Seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp avocado oil
  • 2 tsp maple syrup

Cucumber Salad

  • 1 English cucumber or 6 Persian cucumbers, thinly sliced with a knife or mandoline
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced (optional)
  • 1 Fresno pepper, thinly sliced (optional)
  • 1 clove garlic, grated
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp tamari
  • 2 tsp maple syrup
  • Kosher salt

For serving: cooked rice


Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425F.
  2. Heat the oil in a small pan over medium low heat. When hot, add the lemon halves cut side down in the pan. Cook undisturbed until the bottoms have caramelized, about 5-6 minutes. Squeeze the juice from each half into a small mixing bowl and set aside.
  3. Tear the tofu block into small bite size pieces (about 1-inch) and place in a large bowl or airtight container. Pour the tamari and vinegar over the tofu, cover the container then toss to evenly coat and allow the tofu to sit for 10 minutes.
  4. Coat the tofu with the sugar, half the lemon zest, Old Bay seasoning, paprika, garlic, cornstarch and oil, then cover and toss again to evenly coat. Spread the tofu pieces out on a baking tray, making sure each piece has space between it. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, flip then bake again for 10 minutes. Drizzle the maple syrup and 1 tablespoon of the charred lemon juice over the tofu and toss to coat.
  5. Add the sliced cucumbers to a large bowl and sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt. Toss to evenly coat then set aside for 5 minutes. Rinse the cucumbers well, squeeze out any excess moisture, and pat dry with a clean towel then add the remaining lemon zest, shallots and peppers to the bowl.
  6. To the bowl with the remaining lemon juice add the garlic, vinegar, tamari, and maple syrup then whisk together and pour over the cucumbers. Toss everything together until the cucumbers are well coated.
  7. Now assemble, portion between bowls some cooked rice, the cucumber salad, then the tofu and enjoy.


Notes

Soak your onions to tone down their bite. I like to place my sliced shallots or onions in cold water to soak for a few minutes. This will remove a lot of their astringent flavors.

For higher protein count, use super firm tofu instead of extra firm tofu. Per serving, super firm tofu can pack in 14g of protein, a few grams higher than what you would get from most extra firm tofu options.

Squeeze as much liquid out of the cucumbers as you can. After letting the salted sliced cucumbers sit, grab a handful and gently squeeze extra water out. This will help to remove excess water that can dilute the flavor of this dish.

Save time and use a mandoline. To make the cucumber salad quickly, feel free to use a mandoline. Be safe when using your mandoline by using the guard it comes with or using a strong mesh glove to protect your hands.

If using extra firm tofu, make sure to drain and press before using!

This post contains affiliate links which means I will make a small commission if you purchase from those links. I only recommend and share products that I know, trust and personally use myself!

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