Easy,  Entrées,  Gluten Free,  Recipes,  Side Dishes,  Vegan,  Vegetarian

Broiled Tofu with Cilantro Pesto

Pesto gets some Asian flair with cilantro, fish sauce, sesame oil and lime in this vibrant tofu dish.

It’s been a while since I cooked with tofu. My family loves it, and it’s a nice alternative to meat-filled main courses occasionally.

This dish is really simple to put together, and the flavor of the pesto goes really well with the tofu.

Broiled Tofu with Cilantro Pesto

I cut this recipe in half when I made it, and served it as a main course with a side of steamed basmati rice. Instead of spraying the baking sheet and then brushing both sides of the tofu, I just drizzled a thin layer of oil on the sheet, plopped down the slices of tofu and moved them around a little to coat with oil, flipped ’em and moved them around a little more so that both sides were coated. It worked really well.

The fish sauce really makes the pesto unique, but if you want to keep this vegetarian/vegan friendly, you can substitute soy sauce.

My family really enjoyed this meal. I particularly liked biting through the crispy exterior of the tofu and enjoying the silky center. Delicious!

Oh, and on a funny note – apparently I made this recipe back in 2009 and we didn’t care for the Asian twist in the pesto. I think we’re more into fish sauce than we used to be, which probably explains it. I mean, I do have more years of cooking under my belt now, so that’s probably part of it as well. I guess just proceed with caution if you aren’t really into the potent flavor of fish sauce (or go ahead and substitute soy sauce for a more mild flavor.

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Broiled tofu slices on a plate with cilantro pesto and lime wedges.

Broiled Tofu with Cilantro Pesto

  • Author: Epicurious
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 12 as a side-dish or 4-6 as a main course 1x
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: Asian


Pesto gets some Asian flair with cilantro, fish sauce, sesame oil and lime in this vibrant tofu dish.


  • 1/4 cup mild olive oil plus additional for brushing
  • 2 (14- to 16-oz) packages firm tofu, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups packed fresh cilantro leaves
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons Asian fish sauce*
  • 1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • Garnish: pine nuts; fresh cilantro leaves; lime wedges


  1. Preheat broiler and lightly oil a shallow flameproof baking pan with olive oil.
  2. Cut each block of tofu crosswise into 6 slices and pat dry between several layers of paper towels. Arrange in 1 layer in baking pan and brush tops of slices with more olive oil. Broil 4 to 6 inches from heat, without turning, until golden brown, about 15 minutes.
  3. While tofu is broiling, purée cilantro, pine nuts, lime juice, fish sauce, sesame oil, sugar, remaining 1/4 cup olive oil, salt, and pepper in a food processor until bright green and smooth, about 1 minute.
  4. Transfer tofu with a slotted spatula to a platter and serve with cilantro pesto.


Recipe from Gourmet November 2004 via Epicurious

Pesto can be made 3 days ahead and chilled in an airtight container.

*Substitute soy sauce for fish sauce to make this dish vegetarian/vegan friendly


  • Serving Size: 12 as a side-dish or 4-6 as a main course
  • Calories: 376
  • Sugar: 2.1 g
  • Sodium: 543.1 mg
  • Fat: 29.8 g
  • Saturated Fat: 4.2 g
  • Carbohydrates: 8.3 g
  • Fiber: 3.6 g
  • Protein: 21.1 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg

Keywords: tofu, meatless monday, cilantro pesto, pesto sauce

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Ashley Covelli is a food photographer, recipe developer, and culinary instructor based in Ossining, New York. She loves helping people become enthusiastic and adventurous in the kitchen so that they can build skills and confidence to cook for themselves and their loved ones. She can almost always be found with at least 3 different beverages within arm's reach.


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