Jennifer Gaddis is an assistant professor of Civil Society and Community Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the author of The Labor of Lunch: Why We Need Real Food and Real Jobs in American Public Schools (University of California Press 2019). She received a PhD in environmental studies from Yale University in 2014. Her research on school lunch programs has appeared in numerous journals, including Feminist Economics and the Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, and in popular media outlets such as the New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, and Teen Vogue.


Tofu Medallions with Black Bean Sauce


For the Medallions

1 cake extra firm organic tofu, sliced ¼” thick, into 10 slices, then cut on the diagonal to form a triangle

¼ cup nutritional yeast

1 t. onion powder

1 t. garlic powder

1 t. ginger powder

1 t. 5 Chinese Spice Powder

¼ t. cayenne powder

¼ t. salt

Splashes of Tamari


For the Sauce

2 Tbs. canola oil

1 onion, chopped 

1 jalapeno pepper  ( ½ red, ½ green)

1 t. minced garlic

1 t. minced ginger

1 can black beans

1 cup sauerkraut

1 Tbs. tomato paste

1 t. 5 Chinese Spice Powder

1 Tbs. Brown Rice Vinegar

1 t. sesame Oil

1 t. hot sesame oil

  1. salt

¼ cup boiling water

1 Tbs. chopped cilantro for garnish


Lay out tofu slices on a dry towel, cover with another towel, and press lightly to dry. Cut on the diagonal to form triangles.


Combine ¼ cup nutritional yeast, onion powder, garlic powder, ginger powder, Chinese Spice Powder, cayenne powder

and ¼ t. salt in a shallow dish. Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper and spray or wipe with oil.  Lay out tofu medallions onto the greased parchment paper. Sprinkle the nutritional yeast mixture on both sides of the tofu medallions, and bake at 375° for 10 minutes, until the bottom is golden brown. Turn tofu slices over and bake another 5 minutes. Remove from oven and lightly splash tofu with Tamari on both sides.


Meanwhile, cover bottom of heavy skillet with oil. When oil is hot, add the onions, ginger and garlic. Cook for a few minutes, and then add the peppers. Cook for 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and let that cook for another 5 minutes. Then add the black beans, sauerkraut, Chinese 5 spice, salt, vinegar and sesame oils. Puree with an immersion blender. Add the boiling water, 1 Tbs. at a time until you reach the desired consistency. Taste and adjust spices if desired.


Arrange tofu cutlets on platter and cover with sauce. Garnish with chopped cilantro.


Serve with sautéed vegetables and your favorite grain.