Tofu Piccata

Tofu Piccata

There are so many ways to serve tofu, and this one happens to be a favorite with my family.  It’s a favorite of mine too because I always have all the ingredients in my fridge and pantry.  Every time I make it, I remember how much I used to hate dipping food in egg before I became vegan.  My hands would get thickly coated with gunk and I would have to stop and wash them constantly, and I was always washing the counters down for fear of salmonella.  I never enjoyed using raw eggs.  Now, a breaded recipe is a cinch to prepare and I never mind doing it.  It’s neat and clean and a pleasure.  The breadcrumbs stick perfectly thanks to the dijon and oil and the lemon juice adds a nice flavor.  I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do.

Tofu Piccata – serves 6

  • 2 pkgs extra firm tofu
  • juice from 2 lemons and a third lemon sliced
  • 2 T olive oil and more for sauteing
  • 2 T dijon mustard
  • 1 c plain breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/2 t garlic powder
  • 1/2 t onion powder
  • 1 T earth balance spread
  • 3/4 c white wine
  • 2 jars capers, drained
  • handful chopped parsley
  • In a small bowl, whisk 2 T olive oil with the dijon and the juice of 1 lemon.
  • In another small bowl, combine the breadcrumbs with the salt, garlic powder and onion powder.
  • Drain the tofu.  Place each block on its side and slice into 4 large, thin pieces so that each piece is the same dimensions as the block, just thinner.  Then cut each piece in half, so each block will give you 8 pieces, and you will have 16 total pieces.
  • Dip each piece into the dijon mix and then into the crumb mix.
  • Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat.
  • Use a small amount of olive oil and saute each piece until golden brown on both sides.
  • Remove the tofu from the pan.
  • While the pan is still on the heat, add the earth balance.  Once melted, add the capers, the juice of another lemon, and the white wine.  Turn the heat up to medium high and cook for a few minutes to burn out the alcohol.
  • Add the lemon slices and parsley to the pan and just heat through.
  • Spoon sauce over tofu.

Crispy Cutlets

Crispy Cutlets

So here is my recipe for Crispy Cutlets.  It is adapted from a recipe for chickpea cutlets from Veganomicon, one of my favorite vegan cookbooks.  I changed a few of the ingredients to make it more to my liking and I made the preparation significantly easier.  The original recipe calls for mashing the chickpeas by hand, which, imho, is very tedious.  So I decided to try to put all the ingredients into a food processor and the end result was really great!  A delicious, crispy cutlet full of protein and flavor.  This recipe makes 12 large cutlets because I like to have them for sandwiches for the kids’ lunches the next day and also just to have as leftovers in the fridge.  They seem to always be there when someone wants a snack.  They also freeze well.  And the best thing is you can prepare them differently every time.  They are shown here with mushroom gravy (and quinoa risotto and lima beans), but just last week I topped them with marinara and some daiya cheese and they made a perfect “chicken” parmesan.  Try them in any recipe that you used to make with chicken – you won’t be disappointed!

  •  3 c cooked chickpeas (or 2 boxes of Fig Food Co chickpeas)
  • 6 T olive oil
  • 1 1/2 c vital wheat gluten (found in health food stores and in the healthy section of many supermarkets
  • 1 1/2 c plain bread crumbs
  • 3/4 vegetable stock
  • 6 T soy sauce
  • 6 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 t dried thyme

Process chickpeas and olive oil in food processor.  Add all other ingredients, except bread crumbs and vital wheat gluten.  Process well.  Pour into a large bowl.  Stir in the bread crumbs.  Then using your hands, knead the vital wheat gluten in until it is all incorporated.

Divide into 12 equal pieces.  Flatten each piece with your palm to make a nice, large cutlet shape.  Saute in a nonstick skillet in a small amount of olive oil, until nicely browned on each side.

No Recipe Smoothie

The Perfect Smoothie

So, you’re probably wondering why “no recipe”.  Well, I make smoothies at least once a day, and I make them a bit different each time.  I use whatever I have on hand that day and I love the freedom of never having to look at a recipe or measure ingredients.  Also, these smoothies are just oozing vitamins, minerals and nutrients and I can’t think of a more delicious way to get nourishment!!  And with the vita-mix, which is my favorite kitchen appliance and totally worth the investment, making them is a cinch.  You can use a regular blender, but you will probably be smelling burnt rubber pretty soon.  I went through so many blenders until I got fed up and turned to the vita-mix.  My formula for smoothies is roughly based on an 8 cup blender/vita-mix and makes about 4 smoothies.

First you need to add a frozen layer.  I use frozen fruit, but if you don’t have any you can just use ice.  I love to add frozen blueberries, strawberries, mango, cherries and bananas.  I stay away from blackberries and raspberries only because one of my kids really dislikes the seeds.  Put ice or frozen fruit in to reach about 1/4 – 1/2 of the way up the blender.

Next is the fresh layer.  Here’s where you can add fresh fruit, such as a cored apple or pear, a handful of grapes, a chunk of watermelon, a banana, or some mango slices.  You should also add some greens, such as a handful of fresh spinach, collards or kale.  The collards and kale add a delicious, earthy taste.  One of my kids doesn’t like that taste so for her, I use spinach, or I make sure to add a banana which hides the earthy taste really well.  Now your ingredients should be around 3/4 way to the top.

Then is the liquid layer.  Here you should add about a cup of your favorite juice (I love acai berry juice, mango nectar, blueberry juice, strawberry lemonade, coconut pineapple juice and carrot juice) or your favorite “milk” (soy, rice, hemp, almond, oat and hazelnut all work great).

Lastly, you can add flax or hemp seeds, which adds protein and omega 3, and  a squirt of lemon juice or some lemon zest, which really enhances the flavor.

This formula is really fool-proof.  If your smoothie comes out too thick for your taste, just add more liquid and conversely, if it is too thin, just add more frozen fruit or ice.

Experiment with lots of different fruits and veggies and I bet you will love throwing things in the blender and seeing what comes out!  I promise it will always be nutritious and delicious!!

Perfect Comfort Food

Creamy Tomato Soup and Grilled "Cheese"

Today was somewhat warm here in the Northeast, but it was really, really windy.  The kind of day that makes you want some comfort food. No wonder my daughter asked me if she could have some tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich for lunch.  I told her of course, but that it would take about an hour to make the soup.  I have always used a recipe from my friend Norma that involves sauteing onions and garlic and then adding tomatoes and simmering for 45 minutes, among other things.  Delicious, but definitely not fast.  So, I decided to try to make a quick version, and to make it creamy and smooth.  Well – it was a huge success and all five of us wound up having it for lunch.  I think it took 5 minutes total and I was able to whip up some grilled cheese while it was heating on the stove.  Don’t you just love healthy, yummy food that can be made with only a few ingredients and in no time at all?  Especially cooked tomatoes, since scientists now report that heating up tomatoes is very beneficial.  And for the grilled cheese, once again, as always, I used Daiya.

Creamy Tomato Soup

  • 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 c coconut milk
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/4 t onion powder
  • 1/4 t garlic powder
  • 1/2 t herbes de provence (or just use any combo of rosemary, thyme, sage and/or marjoram)
  • squirt of lemon juice
  • Heat all ingredients together in a large saucepan.  Blend with an immersion blender until really smooth.  Garnish with a dollop of mock sour cream.

Neatloaf

Neatloaf and caesar salad

Okay – so meatloaf is not really anyone’s favorite food, right?  Yet it is easy to make and full of protein.  And with mashed potatoes and a salad, it’s a perfect weeknight meal.  So, I set out to make a vegan loaf with lots of flavor and I think this one’s pretty neat – hence the name “neatloaf”.  It’s also really delicious the next day, cold, in a sandwich.  This recipe can also be made into “burgers” instead, which are great on whole wheat rolls with lettuce, tomato, onion, daiya cheese and anything else you want to add!  And here’s a tip – Whole Foods sells bags of organic, frozen white and brown rice so you can just scoop out one cup, pop it in the microwave for 3 minutes, and then have that ingredient ready.  Or why not use some leftover rice from a recent Asian takeout order?

Neatloaf

1/2 cup walnuts
1 onion, chopped
1 T ground flax meal
3 T nutritional yeast
2 T ketchup
dash vegan worcestershire
1 t salt
2 cans (or better yet, cartons) pinto, black, navy, or any other bean, drained*
1 c cooked rice (preferably brown)
1/2 c plain breadcrumbs
for the glaze: combine 1/2 c ketchup, 2 T brown sugar, and 1 t spike seasoning
 
Preheat oven to 350.  Spray an 8×8 pan with cooking spray.
In a food processor, process walnuts until ground.  Add the onion, flax, yeast, ketchup, worcestershire and salt.
Add beans and process to combine.
Add rice and breadcrumbs and process until all incorporated.
Spread into prepared pan and cover with foil.
Bake for 40 minutes, the spread glaze on top and return to oven, uncovered, for 10 minutes.
Let cool 10 minutes before slicing.  This is very important!  If you serve it right away it will be mushy.  Just by waiting for it to rest, the texture will be much better (although at times I am in a rush and it still tastes delicious).
 
for “burgers” – shape into round patties and bake for 30 minutes covered and then 10 more minutes with the glaze.  
 
* I love the new, small cartons of beans from Fig Food Co.  They are BPA-free cartons, not cans.  No lead, no toxic glue – and all from an organic and environmentally responsible company!  And –  no need to use that annoying can opener.