The only consolation that summer is pretty much gone is that football season is here. And by football season I mean tailgating season. And by tailgating season I mean stuffing-my-face-with-ridiculous-amounts-of-insanely-delicious-and-absurdly-bad-for-you-food season. While I love to catch parts of Chiefs games (Go Chiefs!), and I worked as the football team manager for my college, I just don't have the attention span to watch an entire football game (hence why I failed miserable at my team manager job). But eating, now that is a sport I have the attention span for. Let me assure you that if eating was truly a game, I would score a bazillion touchdowns every single time. I'm not even sure how you score a touchdown in eating, but I just know I would. So while everyone else is focused on the football game, I'm focused on the tailgate game, plotting my next play to score a touchdown at the food table. My biggest concern? Protecting my waistline. Now don't get me wrong I love a good plate of nachos, french fries dipped in ranch, and I would probably kill for some good boneless buffalo wings, but a diet like that won't get me very far in the game so I like to mix in a few healthy treats or modified takes on unhealthier favorites every time there's a tailgate spread. These spiced tofu nuggets are just one example. I know, I know, you're probably thinking "Tofu?! Gross!" but believe it or not these actually taste almost exactly like chicken nuggets. They can be served alone with the orange chili dipping sauce or dressed up with a little orange coleslaw and a tortilla chip (almost like a mini taco) for a completely delicious guilt-free treat (or as guilt-free as something that is fried and covered with a mayonnaise sauce can be).
SPICED TOFU NUGGETS WITH ORANGE CHILI AIOLI
FOR THE TOFU
- 1/4 cup of cornmeal
- 1/4 cup of flour
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 1/2 teaspoons of chili powder
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon of a smokey seasoning mix (optional)
- 8 ounces of tofu
FOR THE AIOLI SAUCE
- 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise (can also use a Vegan mayonnaise)
- 2 tablespoons of sweet chili sauce
- 1 teaspoon of sriracha
- 3 tablespoons of orange juice
FOR SERVING (OPTIONAL)
- Corn chips (I used sweet potato ones from Trader Joe's)
- Coleslaw (shredded cabbage mixed with a few tablespoons of OJ, mayo & apple cider vinegar & sprinkled with salt and pepper)
- Avocado or guacamole
Begin by making your breading mixture. Combine all the dry ingredients in a small bowl. Stir until well mixed. Set aside.
Add about 1/4" of oil to a medium-sized skillet and begin heating it over medium heat. Then cut the tofu into thick cubes. Begin rolling them in the flour mixture until they are well coated. Once the oil is nice and hot and sizzling, begin dropping the tofu cubes in. Cook until crispy and golden brown, turning it every few minutes until you have cooked it on each side (this should take about 10-12 minutes total). Remove the cubes from the oil and drain on a paper towel. Repeat this process until all the cubes have been cooked.
To make the aioli, combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and stir until well combined and smooth. Feel free to adjust the amounts of ingredients based on flavor preference.
To serve the tofu nuggets, either leave them as is or assemble them into mini tacos by layering a chip with some coleslaw adding a nugget and then topping it with the aioli.
Serve immediately. If there are any nuggets leftover, store in an airtight container then reheat in the oven at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes (although be warned that they will not be as crispy). Also do not store any of the mini tacos assembled as they will get soggy.
This recipe can easily be doubled or tripled for a larger group of people.