Charred Romaine with Paprika Marinated Grilled Tofu

Hi, my name is Raquel and I’m going to say something that might surprise you: I’m a vegetarian who doesn’t like tofu.

Orange spice-rubbed soybean curd with grill lines on a plate next to two pieces of charred and wilted romaine, with a silver fork.

I feel like whenever I say that, people really look at me like I just admitted to disliking puppies or kittens or beer. Like, what?!

But no, really, let’s not pretend like tofu is tasty. At least not in its unadulterated form.

I don’t know many people (or anyone?) who would voluntarily take the sodden block out of its nasty preservative-laden watery bath, and bite a big chunk off the side.

Sounds appetizing, right? I didn’t think so.

Two pieces of charred romaine lettuce and three pieces of grilled and marinated super firm soybean curd on a white pate with a fork, beside a small bowl of cooked barley, on a folded gray cloth on top of a wood cutting board.

But! I have found ways to enjoy the stuff, the most important being finding the right brand. All tofu is not created equal! I’ve found that there is a flavor in the water that really turns me off, and that pressing it usually doesn’t help much.

I have, however, experimented with soaking the tofu in fresh water for a while and that seems to help a lot. But today’s technique involves none of that – all you need to do is buy the shrink-wrapped high-protein organic variety from Trader Joe’s. It has a decent flavor and is super firm, the best for grilling in my opinion.

Three pieces of grilled tofu coated with orange spices, on a white plate with two pieces of grilled romaine lettuce, on a folded gray cloth napkin with a fork, with a small bowl of cooked grains in the background, on a wood surface.

If the water-soaked tofu doesn’t leave a bad taste in your mouth, that’ll be fine to use, too. But be sure to press it first before you marinate.

Wrapped in paper towels and set on a plate or cutting board, with another on top that’s weighted under some heavy jars or cans, you should be good to go in a few hours.

Tofu XPress Gourmet Tofu Press/Marinating Dish

Or, if you’re really into tofu, you could even consider investing in a press, like this one from Tofu Xpress, available on Amazon.

What I’ve done here is taken the block of soybean curd and sliced it, then marinated it in a flavorful paste made from paprika, olive oil, and lemon juice. It grills up nice and crispy on the outside with a great smoky flavor (using smoked paprika can add to this deliciousness even more).

Then, I put it on a plate with some charred grilled romaine hearts and some quick-cook barley and voila! Dinner.

Top-down shot of orange paprika marinated tofu and wilted and charred romaine on a white plate with a fork, beside a small white bowl of cooked barley and a bowl of shallot dressing, on a wood cutting board with a folded gray cloth napkin.

But wait wait wait. I didn’t even tell you about the romaine! I know that I am not the first one to do this. But, we make some variation of it rather often (and a lot of times using cabbage instead), so I thought I should share my own spin on it here.

If you’ve never made or eaten grilled romaine before, get ready to be surprised. I know you’re thinking how can this be good? Grilled lettuce?? But believe me – it’s tasty.

A small white bowl of cooked barley beside a plate of wilted grilled romaine lettuce, on a wood cutting board with a folded gray cloth.

It’s transformed in a way that will have you craving romaine lettuce for dinner as part of the main course, not just as a side before the main attraction is served.

I don’t know about you, but I’m willing to bet this isn’t something you find yourself clamoring for very often, if at all. But after you try this, you most definitely will.

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Closeup of three rectangular pieces of marinated and grilled tofu beside wilted and charred romaine lettuce, on a white plate.

Charred Romaine with Paprika Marinated Tofu

  • Author: Raquel Smith
  • Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x


A delicious recipe for smoky paprika marinated tofu, grilled to perfection on the BBQ. Served alongside charred grilled romaine and quick-cook barley, this is an amazing summer meal.



For the Tofu:

  • 16 oz super firm tofu*
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger

For the Romaine:

  • 4 hearts romaine
  • 1/2 small shallot, minced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar


For the Tofu:

  1. Slice the tofu along the short edge into 8 pieces. In a shallow baking dish (e.g. 9×9″), combine the lemon juice, olive oil, and spices to form a paste.
  2. Add the tofu pieces a few at a time, and toss them around to coat with the marinade. Stack in piles of 2-3 pieces each and continue until everything is coated. Cover and let sit in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
  3. Preheat the grill to medium-high. When it is hot, toss each piece of tofu again in the marinade, then place on the grill. Cook each side for 4-5 minutes, until lightly charred.

For the Romaine:

  1. Cut each romaine heart in half through the core. Rinse and dry well, in a salad spinner. Whisk together the remaining ingredients in a small bowl, and evenly brush over the cut side of the hearts, using a pastry brush.
  2. Grill alongside the tofu, cut-side down, for about 5 minutes, until lightly charred.
  3. Serve the tofu and romaine with some cooked barley for a well-rounded meal!


I used the shrink-wrapped super firm tofu from Trader Joe’s. If you use regular boxed tofu, you may want to press it first to remove some of the water.

Serve alongside a portion of quick-cook barley, quinoa, or your favorite whole grain.

  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Category: Tofu
  • Method: Grill
  • Cuisine: Vegetarian

Keywords: romaine, tofu, paprika, vegetarian, entree

Tell us what grain you chose to serve alongside this amazing dish, and be sure to give it a five-start rating below if you loved it. If you’re looking for even more veggie deliciousness to make on the grill this summer, try our recipe for balsamic grilled baby artichokes.

Don’t forget to Pin It!

A collage of photos showing different views of a paprika marinated grilled tofu recipe.

Photos by Raquel Smith, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Product photo via Tofu Xpress. Originally published on August 8th, 2014. Last updated: March 1, 2022 at 18:45 pm. With additional writing and editing by Allison Sidhu.

Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.

About Raquel Smith

Raquel is a whole foods enthusiast, an avid mountain biker, and a dog lover. She works by day at Food Blogger Pro and formerly maintained her food blog "My California Roots" (now merged into Foodal).

7 thoughts on “Charred Romaine with Paprika Marinated Grilled Tofu”

  1. Isn’t it funny how polarizing tofu can be? I just mentioned in my last post how much I prefer the water-packed kind and dislike the high-protein one from TJ’s! 🙂 But either way, this marinated tofu looks so yummy! I’ve only had grilled romaine once and I loved it- can’t wait to try it again!

  2. Tofu in its purest form really isn’t very appetizing – but then again, who would ever take a bite out of a raw chicken breast?! And I LOVE grilled lettuce (or stewed!). I guess it’s not the first thing that comes to mind to do with a salad green but SO good! Gorgeous pics as well 🙂

    • It certainly does… we double checked the ingredient measurements in Nutrifox, and didn’t find any significant errors. However, even though nearly 1/2 cup of olive oil is used to make this recipe, it’s used to marinate the tofu and coat the romaine before cooking so a significant amount of this oil will not actually remain on the final dish. We just don’t have a way to calculate that amount exactly. Calculating nutrition facts this way is not an exact science, and we provide this data as a general guideline – this is essentially the max amount of fat that you’d find per serving if you consumed all of that oil! Hope this helps. 🙂

  3. Yummy recipe if you’re a fan of paprika. Made some rice to go on the side. Made some chimichurri sauce too and it goes great with it. Might add some garlic next time I make it.


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