Sushi roll experimentation continues this week with a Garden Tofu Pesto Roll. I was tempted to call this the “everything but the kitchen sink” roll, but it wasn’t that haphazard. I’ve already created a Tofu Garden Roll which was a fresh and delicious tofu roll with veggies and alfalfa sprouts, but today I decided to add a healthy amount of homemade basil pesto to the mix.
I really enjoyed the combination of the pesto, the satisfying bite of tofu and the crunch of raw veggies that this Garden Tofu Pesto Roll delivered. The final version included some of the charred broccolini and lemon that was left over from last week’s Cannellini and
Homemade Basil Pesto
If the basil in this Garden Tofu Pesto Roll looks a little lighter in color than what you’re used to, it’s because it is. I have been making my own basil pesto for a long time and finally settled on a recipe that uses cashews instead of expensive pine nuts. My Basil Cashew Pesto also doesn’t include the traditional ingredient of parmesan cheese which makes it lighter in calories too.
Tofu for You
Tofu is pretty bland on its own but it’s got a nice creamy but firm bite that I like. It’s also an easy way to add a little protein to lunch so that you aren’t starving by two o’clock. If nothing else, it makes the roll look pretty by adding the color white when you slice it.
I use Wildwood Organic Super Firm High Protein Tofu available at Whole Foods. I love it becasue don’t have to drain and press it like the brands that come packed in water. I find it has a little earthy flavor by itself which is a good thing, but also absorbs things like pesto or harissa paste nicely.
As you can see in the picture, I spread a generous amount of basil pesto on my sushi wrap and then placed a nice slice of tofu on top. From there I added crispy slices of red bell pepper and raw zucchini to make the Garden Tofu Pesto Roll.
What’s In Your Garden?
I was playing around with several different sushi roll ideas when I came up with the Garden Tofu Pesto roll. One of those was the Cannellini and Broccolini Roll I posted last week. Because I had some extra charred broccolini and lemon leftover when I ran out of beans, I threw those into my Garden Tofu Pesto roll too. That was even better than the first one.
Homemade sushi is a time to use your imagination and whatever is in your garden to get creative. If you start with a base of pesto and tofu, you can really add just about anything.
What will your Garden Tofu Pesto Roll be?
- parchment paper
- 3/4 cup sushi rice, rinsed several times
- 3/4 cup water
- 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 1 tsp sugar (optional)
- 1 tbsp sesame seeds or furikake (optional)
- 1/3 block tofu, sliced into three pieces
- 6 tbsp basil pesto
- 1/4 red bell pepper, sliced
- 1/2 cup raw zucchini, thinly sliced
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 1/4 cup super thin lemon slices
- 1/2 cup broccolini
- 3 sheets nori
- soy sauce for dipping
- wasabi paste, optional
Prepare the Sushi Rice
- Rinse sushi rice in a strainer and place rinsed sushi rice in a small saucepan. Add water and place over med heat. As soon as bubbles start to form on the edges, stir to release anything sticking and cover with a lid. Reduce heat to low. Cook for 15 minutes and then turn off heat (don't open the lid). Allow to steam for another 10 minutes. Remove lid, fluff with fork. Add rice vinegar, sugar, and sesame seeds or furikake and fluff again. Set aside and allow to rest until just warm.
Preparing the Roll
- While rice is cooking, prepare the charred lemon and broccolini if using (try making the Cannellini and Broccolini Roll at the same time). Preheat a cast iron grill pan over medium high heat. Toss the broccolini and lemon slices in 1 tbsp of olive oil and season well with salt and pepper. Once pan is hot, add both and allow to sear for about 3 minutes without stirring. Toss around and continue to sear for another 1-2 minutes or until both are tender and charred. Set aside until cool enough to handle. Slice lemon into strips.
- Once rice is done, place one nori sheet (bumpy side up) on a piece of parchment paper. Using a fork and wet fingers, press cooked sushi rice onto the mat firmly leaving 1-2 inches of nori uncovered. Carefully flip the nori over so that the rice is facing down.
- Spread about 2 tbsp of pesto on your wrap and top with a sliced tofu. Arrange the rest of your filling ingredients on top. Don't overdo the filling but don't underdo it either.
- Pick up the edge of your rolling mat and start to flip the exposed piece of nori over the filling ingredients. You essentially want to tuck that piece around and under to get your roll sealed. Lift the parchment and flip it over the roll. Use it as a guide to begin rolling while also pulling it back towards you, and use your fingers to pinch the roll firmly as you go. You want to get things tight on that first turn and then continue rolling about a half turn at a time, pulling the mat free as you continue to roll forward and continuing to pinch along the length of the roll as you go. Unroll the parchment and you should have a beautiful sushi roll!
- The hardest part IMO is cutting. Move the roll to a cutting board and lay a piece of parchment over the top. Use your fingers to hold the parchment and roll firmly while sliced with a serrated knife, gently sawing back and forth as you go. Carefully remove the parchment. Stand back to admire what you've created, then go ahead and make your second roll. Serve immediately or keep wrapped in plastic and refrigerated until ready to serve.
- Serve 1 roll per person with soy sauce for dipping and wasabi paste on the side (optional).
I liked the combination of basil pesto and soy sauce in the final bite of the Garden Tofu Pesto Roll. Making your own Basil & Cashew Pesto is easy. You can use pretty much any small bits of garden goodness that are leftover in your fridge.
Need more recipes but don’t want sushi? Check out the Food page for more inspiration.