Tofu Caesar Salad

This makes a great dinner salad for 2!

I’ve been experimenting with Caesar-ish healthy dressings, and this one is my favorite. It lacks pretty much all the traditional ingredients of a Caesar salad, but the combination of lemon and Parmesan was enough to trick my brain into thinking, “Caesar salad!” while the miso/garlic combo was savory enough that I didn’t miss the anchovies or eggs.

I marinated the tofu first, and coated it with cornmeal and sesame seeds before baking to make it flavorful and crispy. I totally had a freak-out moment where I thought the tofu was all stuck to the baking sheet, but BF hit it with a spatula, and it came right off with a great crust on the bottom! We had intended to use only 3/4 of the tofu for the salad, but ended up eating the rest of it off the baking sheet because it was so addictive, so I’m just going to use a whole recipe next time.

I have always been intimidated by purchasing miso, but now I may never make tofu without it again! I used mellow white miso for this. It makes the tofu savory, and adds some depth to the dressing, without giving a distinct miso flavor. As a bonus, I didn’t have to handle anchovy paste to make this!

Tofu “Caesar” Salad

13-14 oz. torn romaine lettuce (2 hearts)
1/4 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese (optional)
1 recipe crispy baked tofu (below)
Approx 1/2 recipe miso garlic Caesar dressing (below)

    Directions:

Combine lettuce and tofu in large bowl. Add dressing and cheese to taste.

Crispy Baked Tofu Recipe

    Ingredients:

– 1 package extra firm tofu, drained
– tofu marinade ( (I used white wine vinegar, miso, EVOO, garlic powder, & some white wine)
– 1/4 cup corn meal
– 2 tsp sesame seeds
– 1/2 tsp salt
– Cooking spray

    Directions:

1. Cut tofu into small cubes.
2. Marinate tofu overnight.
3. Combine cornmeal, sesame seeds, and salt in a small bowl.
4. Grease a baking sheet. Dip tofu in cornmeal mixture until well-coated, then place on baking sheet.
6. Bake tofu for 35 minutes at 400, or until golden and crispy.
7. Carefully remove tofu cubes with a spatula. They will appear to be stuck, but they actually have a delicious crust on the bottom that you don’t want to leave behind!

Miso Garlic “Caesar” dressing recipe

    Ingredients:

-1/3 c EVOO
– juice of 1 lemon
– 4 tbsp miso
– 1 clove garlic, pressed or minced

    Directions:

Combine all ingredients and mix well with a fork.

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May 26, 2013 at 9:48 pm Leave a comment

Potato & Green Bean Salad with Shallot Vinaigrette

I really, really hate mayonnaise, which is why I almost never eat potato salad or pasta salad. I know it adds fatty flavor and isn’t all that different from pasta carbonara or hollandaise sauce, but for some reason the idea of eggs mixed with vinegar just makes me retch. So when I came across this recipe for a potato salad that uses vinaigrette instead of mayo, I was intrigued. I love potatoes and green beans, and it looked like a fairly easy way to prepare a healthy lunch for us.

I’m not a huge fan of balsamic vinegar, so kept searching and found another recipe
that used white wine vinegar, along with ingredients I love: shallots and chives. I tweaked it a little and made this for lunch today. We inhaled it. I’ll definitely make this again for a light vegan lunch or as a side dish.

Potato & Green Bean Salad with Shallot Vinaigrette

    Ingredients:

– 1.5 lb Yukon Gold potatoes
– 1 lb green beans
– 1 shallot
– 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
– 1/4 c EVOO
– 2 tsp chives
– 1 tsp dried tarragon
– 2 tsp honey
– 2 tsp salt (or to taste)
– 1 tsp pepper (or to taste)
– olive oil mister/cooking spray

    Materials:

– cutting board and knife
– baking sheet
– large pot
– medium prep bowl
– colander

    Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 425, and bring a pot of water to a boil.
2. Trim the green beans. Spray the baking sheet with olive oil and place green beans in a single layer. Bake 20 minutes and set aside.
3. Wash potatoes and cut into 1.5 inch pieces. Add to the boiling water with some salt, and cook 15-20 minutes, until cooked through, and drain.
4. Mince the shallots and chives. Place in prep bowl with vinegar, and let them sit about 5 minutes. Add EVOO, tarragon, and honey and mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste.
5. Combine potatoes and green beans in the pot. Pour dressing in and mix well.

May 25, 2013 at 4:17 pm Leave a comment

Broccoli Pot Pie

It’s spring break this week, so I decided to try a more challenging/indulgent recipe. I’ve had this broccoli-cheddar pot pie recipe from Oh My Veggies bookmarked for a while. I made a couple changes for my own convenience – I don’t own ramekins, so I made one big pie instead. I also used frozen broccoli (since I don’t have a steamer), replaced the egg wash with olive oil (because we never have eggs on hand), and used soy milk instead of dairy (because we never buy dairy milk anymore). Also, since my local natural grocery store only sold one kind of puff pastry in a giant sheet that couldn’t be divided before thawing, I decided to use it all up at once by adding a bottom crust to the pie.

I know the previous paragraph makes it sound like I have a depressingly understocked kitchen, but I actually bought a Misto olive oil sprayer because of this recipe! (I wanted to brush EVOO on the crust, but the store didn’t have any non-crappy pastry brushes in stock, so here we are.) I love it so far – it works just like PAM after you pump it a few times. If you don’t have cooking spray, you could definitely just use a pastry brush instead, like in the original recipe.

Anyway, this was pretty good. BF happily devoured his fresh-out-of-the-oven serving AND his leftover serving the next day. I personally thought the filling tasted bland right out of the oven, but it was flavorful and delicious the next day. I can probably blame that on using frozen vegetables instead of fresh. Either way, I’m thinking this would be a good make-ahead dish.

Also, unsurprisingly, the double puff pastry crust was super rich, maybe even TOO rich – like, i couldn’t finish my first serving because of butter overload. I think next time, I will try making my own pie crust instead. It might also be good with mashed potatoes as a topping instead of a crust.

Note – I was also cooking roasted potatoes in my oven while I made this pie. If you are cooking it alone in the oven, watch the cooking times carefully.

    Ingredients:

– 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed (I used one 14 oz package of DuFour)
– 16 oz (about 4 c) frozen broccoli
– 1 c unsweetened soymilk
– 3 tbsp all purpose flour
– 4 oz shredded Cheddar
– 1 tsp salt
– pepper to taste
– olive oil in mister, or cooking spray

    Materials:

– 8×8-inch baking dish
– medium pot for cooking broccoli
– medium saucepan
– surface for laying out/cutting puff pastry (a large cutting board works)

    Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400, and mist the baking dish with olive oil.
2. Lay out the puff pastry. Cut one piece large enough to cover the bottom and 2 sides of the dish (about half the sheet). Place it in the baking dish. Mist with olive oil. Prick a few holes in it with a fork, and bake for 15 minutes. Set aside.
2. Cook broccoli in boiling water according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
3. In the saucepan, combine flour and milk. While stirring constantly, bring to a boil (at medium heat), then reduce heat to low and stir a few minutes until it thickens. Remove from heat and stir in cheese and salt. Add pepper to taste. Stir in broccoli.
4. Pour cheese mixture into baking dish. Top with a piece of puff pastry large enough to cover the dish. Use a fork to crimp the edges down (don’t poke holes in this layer or it won’t rise). Mist top with olive oil.
5. Bake 15-25 minutes, or until top crust is puffed and golden brown. Cool 10-15 minutes and serve.

April 10, 2013 at 8:00 pm Leave a comment

Lasagna

We looooove vegetarian lasagna! This is my basic recipe using frozen spinach (or kale, when I can find it). This recipe is easy and cheap. I hate mushrooms, but frequently I sauté some skiced ones with garlic and layer them in half the casserole, because BF loves them.

    Ingredients:

– 12 no-boil lasagna noodles (whole wheat if you can find them)
– 1 jar marinara sauce (26 oz)
– 8-10 oz frozen spinach or kale, thawed and drained as much as possible
– 15-16 oz ricotta
– 2-3 c shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese (IDK measurements because I just eyeball it based on what’s in the fridge)
– salt and pepper
– pinch garlic powder
– 1/2 c water
– EVOO or other grease for baking dish
– optional: sautéed sliced mushrooms

    Materials needed:

– 13×9 inch baking dish
– medium mixing bowl

    Directions:

1. In a mixing bowl, combine ricotta, 1/2 c mozzarella, garlic powder, and spinach. Mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste. (Careful about salt – the ricotta & cheese may already have some added.)
2.Grease a 13×9 baking dish well with olive oil. Put about 1/4 of the sauce in the bottom of the pan.
3. Spread about 1/6 the ricotta mixture onto a lasagna noodle, and place another noodle on top (like a sandwich). Place this in the pan. Repeat to make two other “sandwiches” and place them in the pan next to the other one. (If you’re using mushrooms, press them into the ricotta mixture before placing the second noodle on top.) Top this layer with half the remaining sauce.
4. Repeat previous step to make another layer of noodles. Spread the remaining sauce evenly over the noodles.
5. Pour the water over the edges of the casserole to add moisture. (You could use more sauce if you have it on hand, but obviously the water is cheaper.)
6. Sprinkle remaining mozzarella over the top of the casserole.
7. Cover with foil (tented), and bake 30 min at 375*. Uncover and bake 15-20 min more. Cool 15-20 minutes and serve.

*or whatever temperature is recommended for your pasta

March 17, 2013 at 10:51 pm Leave a comment

Ricotta & Spinach Pasta Sauce

Adapted from this recipe, with the addition of lemon juice per this recipe. This is SO easy and tastes much fresher and more elegant than it actually is. Fresh and frozen spinach are both great in this sauce, so I use whatever is on hand. Parmesan is a great topping, but not necessary.

    Ingredients:

– 12-16 oz. pasta
– 15 or 16 oz ricotta
– 1 package (10 oz) frozen spinach, thawed and drained
– juice of 1 lemon
– 1 tsp salt
– 3 tbsp butter
– black pepper (32 cranks)
– optional – chives, garlic powder, or other fresh/dried herbs to taste

    Directions:

1. Cook pasta. Reserve 1/4 cup or so of the water before draining.
2. While pasta cooks, combine all other ingredients in an oven-safe bowl and warm at 200 degrees.
3. When pasta is done, drain and return it to pot. Add ricotta sauce from bowl, and toss until well coated. Add pasta water if needed to thin sauce.

March 16, 2013 at 6:29 pm Leave a comment

Tofu Florentine Pasta

I saw an Olive Garden commercial the other night that advertised an entree consisting of pasta, spinach, and pan-fried chicken in cream sauce. I instantly craved it, and decided to try and vegan-ize it as much as possible so my lactose-intolerant vegetarian BF could enjoy it with me. I used this recipe for vegan cream sauce (my version uses real butter, but if you follow hers, it’s 100% animal-free!) and modified a few recipes for baked marinated tofu. Combined with pasta and sautéed spinach, this is totally delicious and WAY better for you than the restaurant version. It takes a lot of steps, but they’re all very easy; the only downside is the pile of dishes you’ll have left to do at the end.

Now, vegan-cooking n00bs, take note: “original” flavored soy/almond/rice milk is NOT THE SAME as “unsweetened.” If the front of the box does not prominently say “unsweetened,” check the ingredients for sugar. You want milk that has no sugar added for this kind of savory recipe. I made that mistake, had to make a second trip to a grocery store for unsweetened milk, and could only find unsweetened soymilk. So in addition to most of a container of unsweetened soymilk, we now have a half gallon of sweetened almond milk to use up.

Shopping difficulties aside, though, we loved this meal! It had the perfect proportion of sauce to pasta, and was flavorful without being heavy. I had bought some Parmesan Reggiano to add, in case it turned out too bland, but it wasn’t necessary at all. We both agreed that more spinach, shallots, and garlic would improve it next time. I will probably double the salt next time, too, just to make it a bit easier on myself.

I am going to post the sauce and tofu recipes separately at the bottom of the page, for convenience’s sake. Give yourself about an hour to get this done (not counting the tofu marinade, which you should do the night before). I would start baking the tofu, then start the shallots/garlic/spinach, then make the sauce, then do the pasta last to have it all ready on time.

Almost-Vegan Tofu Florentine Pasta

    Ingredients:

– 16 oz whole wheat short pasta
– 2 cups baby spinach
– 1 shallot
– 5 cloves garlic
– 1-2 tbsp EVOO
– Baked Marinated Tofu (recipe below)
– Creamy sauce (recipe below)

    Directions:

1. While tofu is cooking, mince shallot and garlic. Sauté in olive oil until shallots are translucent. (Start your cream sauce in a separate dish after you start the shallots.)
2. Add spinach and cook over low heat until wilted. Set aside.
3. Cook pasta until al dente. Drain.
4. Return pasta to pot and add spinach mixture. Add sauce and toss until well-coated. Add tofu cubes and mix well. Add more salt if needed before serving.

Baked Marinated Tofu

    Ingredients:

– 2 tbsp EVOO
– 2 tbsp soy sauce (I used low sodium)
– 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
– 2 tsp garlic powder
– 2 tsp dried oregano
– 2 tsp dried basil
– 1 tsp onion powder
– About 1/2 c white wine
– 16 oz extra firm tofu

    Directions:

1. Drain/press water out of tofu and cut into one-inch cubes.
2. Combine all other ingredients in an airtight container and mix well.
3. Add the tofu, and add more wine if more moisture is needed.
4. Marinate overnight in refrigerator, flipping at least once.
5. When ready to cook, preheat over to 350 and grease a baking sheet with olive oil. Bake for 40 minutes, turning cubes halfway through.

Creamy Almost-Vegan Sauce

    Ingredients:

– 1 c unsweetened soy milk
– 4 tbsp nutritional yeast
– 2 tsp EVOO
– 2 tsp tahini
– 2 tbsp butter
– 1 tsp salt
– 32 cranks black pepper

    Directions:

1. Combine all ingredients in skillet.
2. Bring just to a simmer, then turn heat to low and cook 5 minutes. Stir frequently.

March 11, 2013 at 10:12 pm Leave a comment

How to cook brown rice without making a mess!

Per this tutorial, I cook 2 cups of long-grain brown rice in 4 3/4 cups water (covered & at a simmer) for 45 minutes. I usually add a half teaspoon salt and a few cranks of black pepper before cooking, then season to taste afterwards. I check it every 5-10 minutes to keep it from boiling over or burning, which keeps me from having to scrub the stove afterwards.

This makes enough for one meal for the two of us, plus 1-2 meals’ worth of leftovers. We like to add roasted or sautéed veggies* and soy sauce. Grated cheese and baked tofu are great on this, too.

*Trader Joe’s Healthy 8 Chopped Veggie Mix goes great with brown rice. I try to keep one in the freezer at all times. I toss the frozen veggies with about 2 tbsp EVOO and lots of soy sauce and garlic powder, then bake at 350 for 45 minutes before mixing it in with the cooked rice.

March 7, 2013 at 12:39 am Leave a comment

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This is a cooking blog by someone who is not particularly good at cooking. I'm a lazy person who aspires to make simple, awesome, healthy food at home.

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