Tag Archives: meatless monday

Fan of tofu? Not so much? Try baking or grilling it…

Tofu is one of the mainstay ingredients of a plant-based diet. If you haven’t seen the recent piece in The Guardian, take a few minutes to read it. Here’s the link. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jan/16/new-plant-focused-diet-would-transform-planets-future-say-scientists.

Regardless of whether you embrace the idea that a plant based diet will save the planet (although it seems plausible to me), reducing meat and focusing more on a plant based diet seems to have some health benefits. ( https://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/guide/plant-based-diet-for-heart-health). Certainly, as 2019 begins, many of us are evaluating our lives and trying to make positive changes to improve our health and well-being. Incorporating tofu into your diet can give you some variety and flexibility as well as nutrition.

Not everyone likes the smooth, silky gooshiness of silken tofu, although it is great in some types of custardy desserts. Try Williams-Sonoma’s recipe for Very Chocolate Mousse, for example (https://www.williams-sonoma.com/recipe/very-chocolate-mousse.html).  I made that a few years ago for company and no one knew that tofu was a main ingredient of the mousse until I told them.

But if you want to try something like tofu kebabs or Asian Inspired Wraps (found on Meatless Monday, contributed by Liz of This and That) (https://www.meatlessmonday.com/recipes/asian-tofu-wraps/) three things are key for success:

  1. Buy the right kind of tofu (has to be extra firm if at all possible)
  2. You must press it (not difficult, just takes a little time)
  3. You must season it before and during cooking.

Buying the right kind of tofu should not be difficult as groceries have all sorts of tofu now.

Pressing the tofu is easy. Most instructions encourage the use of wads of paper towels, a couple of cutting boards, and some sort of weight. I try not to use too many paper towels so I take maybe four sheets of paper towel, two for the top and two for the bottom. Lay a cutting board on a counter or table. Take some newspaper that you’ve already read and put say one section of the paper on top of the cutting board. Then fold the two sheets of paper towels in quarters and place on top of the paper. Next comes the tofu, another two sheets of folded paper towels, the second cutting board, and then some sort of weight. I used a metal canister full of flour. Set the timer for 30 minutes while you prepare the rest of the recipe. Be sure to check on the tofu press because unless the arrangement is perfectly balanced,  the tofu can be pressed unevenly which may result in the weight sliding off the cutting board. I like to use newspapers on the bottom because they are absorbent and keep the tofu juice from dripping all over the counter or even on to the floor. Just be sure to use paper towels between the tofu and the old newspapers for cleanliness and hygiene.

Season the tofu you plan to grill or roast or bake after  it is pressed and after you slice or cube it. Assuming you’ve pressed the tofu well, and depending exactly on how you cook it, you usually wind up with a very flavorful result of tofu pieces with crunchy edges and creamy flavorful insides. Delicious.

In a subsequent post, I will try to post my friend Rashmi’s recipe for Tofu kebabs. Do try the Asian Tofu Wraps; they are quite good. Expand your horizons! Try tofu!

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Not Just Meatless Monday Quesadillas

These are so good, you are going to want to make them regardless of whether it is Meatless Monday or not. They are very quick to put together, nutritious, and filling. Here’s how:

  • 4 large flour tortillas
  • 1 can vegetarian refried beans (or see Bean Filling below)
  • 2 cups corn (frozen, canned, or fresh)
  • 2 small avocados
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed
  • juice of half a lemon
  • salt to taste.
  • 1 1/3 cups shredded cheese (American, Mexican)
  • 1 cup tomato salsa
  • butter for greasing skillet

Heat a skillet or cast iron griddle to medium. Meanwhile, warm the tortillas in the microwave for a few seconds to make them more pliable. Heat the corn and the refried beans (or bean filling) for a minute or two in the microwave. Peel and seed the avocados in a small to medium sized bowl. Add in the lemon juice, garlic, and salt to taste. Mash with a fork until it is kind of a chunky guacamole. Assemble the quesadillas. Lay the tortillas on the counter in a row. Spread a generous spoonful or two of the bean mixture on each tortilla. I like to cover about half the tortilla. Next, spread about 1/4 of the guacamole. Then, sprinkle 1/4 of the corn, and 1/3 cup of cheese on each tortilla. Lastly sprinkle the top with the salsa. Carefully fold in half. Quickly grease the griddle or skillet. Lay the quesadillas on the griddle and watch carefully so they don’t burn. Turn over and move to a serving plate. Repeat until all are cooked. Enjoy!

Italian style Haddock on Meatless Monday

I usually try to go completely vegetarian on Meatless Monday but since some friends were coming over and celebrating a birthday,  I decided that fish was a reasonable compromise since it is not really meat. A strict vegetarian might disagree.

Our friends had recently returned from a trip to Italy so I decided to incorporate some Italian flavors to our meal. I looked at a number of recipes, and am borrowing ideas from some, adding some of my own, and incorporating shortcuts.  Here’s the recipe:

  • 4 haddock fillets ( one could use any firm, white-fleshed fish)
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 cup plain breadcrumbs
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan
  • seasoned salt to taste
  • black pepper to taste

For the sauce:

  • 14 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 clove fresh garlic, pressed
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 c. balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 c. dry white white
  • 1/2 c. minced parsley

Start the sauce first by putting all ingredients except the parsley into a small saucepan. Using a hand blender, kind of half puree the mixture. You should have some pieces of tomato. It should not be completely smooth but with a bit of texture. Simmer on low heat for at least an hour. Stir in the parsley at the end. Set aside.

To prepare the fish, melt the stick of butter and dump it on the baking sheet you will use for cooking the fish. On a sheet of waxed paper, mix the bread crumbs, the parmesan, the salt and pepper.

Dip each piece of fish in melted butter (which is on the baking sheet) and then into the seasoned bread crumbs. Place on the baking sheet. If there are any crumbs left after all the pieces have been coated, sprinkle on top of the fish.

At this point, you can refrigerate the fish on the baking pan. About 25-30 minutes before you plan to serve the fish, take it out of the refrigerator. Preheat the oven to 450 F. When the oven is up to temperature and everything else is ready, bake the fish in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Use a timer and remove immediately. To serve, take a generous ladleful of the tomato sauce and spread over a plate. Place one cooked fillet on top of the sauce. Repeat for the remaining servings. Enjoy!

This is delicious!!!

 

 

in anticipation of Meatless Monday

When Meatless Monday rolls around, sometimes it is difficult to figure out what to make/eat when all sorts of meaty alternatives are so already in the fridge and handy. Yesterday we watched a show on Human Planet (Mountains: Life in Thin Air) and watched as hunters snared giant bats by the use of tree nets. The bats were roasted over an open fire and would feed the men and their families for the next two weeks. It was quite interesting and involved a tremendous amount of effort.  The whole show made me feel uncomfortable for having such readily available food…so much, in fact, that many of us, myself included, are overweight.

And then I also questioned my squeamishness regarding various types of meat. On many an occasion I’ve stated that if I had to eat (fill in the blank) I would go completely vegetarian.  But, as I realized watching this show, even being able to make that choice is an indicator of great privilege. In the show the men’s children were clamoring for bat meat, as they were hungry for protein. I don’t know what, if any, vegetarian choices were available in that part of the world. Just as many people don’t have the option to choose to eat meat, many people don’t have the option to choose not to eat meat. Some people have to work so very hard for their food. We who have the choice and have food readily available are indeed privileged.

I don’t know what our meatless food will be tomorrow. But I suspect it will involve lentils and/or beans as that is what we have on hand. We are so fortunate.

Meatless Monday Magic with Black Bean Burritos and Moosewood

I prefer to cook dried beans from scratch since I use Rancho Gordo beans and they are awesome! Plus, cooking them myself allows me to control the salt, flavorings, and any additives. I kind of like my bean burrito filling to be partially pureed, not completely smooth, but I don’t always like the texture when none of the beans are pureed. Anyway, I looked for some black bean burrito recipes on line and couldn’t find anything that appealed. So, I remembered a recipe from the Moosewood Cooking at Home Cookbook, which is a really nice little cookbook for a black bean dip which could be used as a burrito filling. I had soaked and cooked about 1 cup of midnight black beans. In a small skillet, and a small amount of oil, I sauteed a small onion and a minced large clove of garlic for about five minutes. I put the strained beans (reserving the cooking liquid), the onion, the garlic into my food processor. Next I added about 1 t. of salt, some chili powder, oregano, cumin, and whirred it until it was partially smooth. I poured in about 1/4 c. of the cooking liquid, and voila! the filling was done. Using a large flour tortilla, I spread out about 2/3 c. of the bean filling, added 2 T. salsa, some cheddar cheese, and wrapped it up. Into the microwave for about 1 1/2 minutes. A dollop of light sour cream and yum! Lunch. When I make this again, I’ll add about a T. of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, chopped, and also a T. of fresh lime juice. But this was excellent!

Scarlet Runner Bean stew for Meatless Monday

Yummy. These are beautiful, big, colorful beans, which cook up very nicely. I get most of my dried beans from Rancho Gordo (www.ranchogordo.com) , which sells excellent quality dried beans. It is definitely worth getting top quality raw ingredients. It makes a difference in how much time it takes to cook and also the overall flavor. I took a cup of these and soaked them for a couple of hours. Next, sauteed an onion and some kale and garlic in a little bit of olive oil. Threw in a jar of homecanned tomatoes, some oregano, and a healthy pinch of red pepper flakes. Let the mix simmer a while. Decided it needed something more and chopped up probably 2 cups of cabbage. Added 1 T. of red wine vinegar. It was actually quite good. Served it with rice. I intended to sprinkle with parmesan cheese, but forgot to do so. Excellent. Healthy. Frugal.