A lot of people assume being a vegetarian means I am a healthy eater. While I’m sure there are plenty of vegetable-loving vegetarians out there, I do not happen to be one of them. I stopped eating meat at the age of eight, and constant lectures from my parents about protein and fiber never really stuck until a few years ago. In college, I would often eat half a can of Pringles and call it dinner. I know you’re reading this, Mom, and I’m sorry.
Now that I am a semi-adult, I manage to incorporate vegetables in my diet on a fairly regular basis. I wouldn’t call my diet a tragedy, but I am still a die-hard frozen yogurt addict, and the occasional (okay, frequent) bag of Smartfood graces my kitchen cabinet. I have loved to cook since I was a little girl, so I was eager to test out some of the recipes from The Fat Chance Cookbook. It isn’t filled with diet recipes disguised as real food. It has recipes that would sound great to me anyway, and, fortunately, they have little or no sugar. While visiting my parents recently, I cooked us dinner using recipes from the Cookbook, and it was a definite success.
Tofu crusted with oregano pesto, cheese, and bread crumbs. This was a little time-intensive, but it really was worth it. I substituted walnuts for pine nuts and they worked well. I can never have too many tofu recipes, so I’ll be sure to add this delicious version to my repertoire. Even my dad, a stubborn carnivore, conceded that it tasted good, although he still doesn’t like the texture of tofu.
“Almost risotto” brown rice pilaf with veggies. My semester in Florence in college made me fall in love with risotto. Even though I enjoy cooking, I’ve never actually attempted to make it on my own. This recipe is godsend: easy, vegetarian, and very yummy. Since it is not the right season for zucchini, I used twice the amount of mushrooms suggested as a substitute. The result was a creamy, cheesy, fragrant dish. I really couldn’t tell the difference between this and real risotto, and, from what I gather, it is much quicker rendition. I could see nearly any other vegetable working well in it, and I definitely plan to try some out.
I am eager to try out some more of these recipes on my friends in the city. Dinner party at my place coming soon!
TOFU CRUSTED WITH OREGANO PESTO, CHEESE, AND BREAD CRUMBS
= Serves: 4
= Serving size: ¼ recipe
= Active time: 15 minutes
= Total time: 30 minutes
1 carton (12 ounces) fi rm tofu
. cup dry cornmeal or quinoa
. cup fresh oregano leaves, or 3 tablespoons dried oregano
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
2 tablespoons pine nuts or chopped almonds or sesame seeds
. cup olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup grated Parmesan, Manchego, or pecorino romano cheese
STEP 1: Drain the tofu on paper towels. Slice crosswise into 6 pieces.
Cut each piece into triangles.
STEP 2: Put the quinoa or cornmeal into a small bowl.
STEP 3: In a blender, or food processor if you have one, add the oregano, garlic, and nuts. Process until all are fi nely chopped. Add 3 tablespoons olive oil. Process until a paste forms.
STEP 4: Season the dry tofu lightly with salt and pepper to taste. Rub the pesto mixture over the tofu triangles. Toss the cheese and the quinoa or cornmeal together in a small bowl. Press this into the tofu.
STEP 5: Heat a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the tofu pieces and fry on both sides, about 3 minutes per side.
“ALMOST RISOTTO” BROWN RICE PILAF WITH VEGGIES
= Serves: 6
= Serving size: 1 cup
= Active time: 20 minutes
= Total time: 30 minutes
1 cup peeled and chopped onion
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon peeled chopped garlic
1 cup diced zucchini
1 cup diced mushrooms
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
2 cups cooked brown rice or barley
1 cup water or vegetable stock
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
STEP 1: Saute the onion in the butter and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a medium-size saucepan over medium-high heat until it begins to soften and brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for 2 minutes. Then add the zucchini, mushroom, and rosemary and continue to saute 5 more minutes. Add the brown rice or barley to the pot. Cook until the grain begins to brown a little.
STEP 2: Stir in the water or vegetable stock and Parmesan cheese to the pot. Cover and cook on low for 15 minutes, melting the cheese and allowing the flavors to meld. Turn off the heat, and let it sit until ready to serve.
Posted by: Laura Berlinsky-Schine, Marketing Coordinator, Plume and Hudson Street Press