edible adventures from the centre of the universe

14 October 2007

Cookbook Challenge #1

I love collecting cookbooks. When I get a new one, I always sit down and read it from cover to cover, like a novel. Because of this obsession, I've amassed quite a few cookbooks over the years. However, a recent inventory showed me that there are 13 of them that I have never cooked from. For shame!

In an effort to correct this, I've included a challenge in my 101 in 1001 list to make something out of every cookbook I own. One of the ones that had been previously overlooked is Eat, Shrink, and Be Merry by Janet and Greta Podleski, which Dave's mom gave to me a while ago and I just never got around to using. I generally shy away from "low fat" cookbooks, because my past experience with them has often led to boring, flavourless dinners. I hoped this foray into Dietland would end in tastier results.

As I leafed through Eat, Shrink, and Be Merry, a recipe for Tofu Parmesan jumped out at me (called "Parma Chameleon" -- the sisters Podleski like to use twee, punny names for recipes in their cookbooks. Some find this cute, but it makes me cringe.). I like tofu. And cheese. And tomato sauce. It was an easy decision.

This recipe was very easy to throw together, and I served it over some lightly-seasoned spaghetti squash instead of pasta (if you're going healthy, you might as well go all the way). The results were fantastic -- crispy tofu cutlets with flavourful browned mozza and spicy tomato sauce. I would make this again in a second.

One down, twelve to go!

*Note: The recipe in the cookbook makes way too much breadcrumb mixture, so I've corrected the proportions below.

Tofu Parmesan

1lb firm tofu
1/2 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
1/4 cup parmesan (fresh grated, ideally)
1/2 tsp each dried basil and dried oregano
a pinch red chile flakes
1/4 tsp each salt and freshly-ground pepper
1 egg
1.5 cups of your favourite tomato sauce (I used Classico Spicy Red Pepper)
6 slices mozarella
1 tbsp fresh parsley, minced

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and grease a baking sheet
2. Drain tofu and blot dry with paper towel. Slice block into 8 even slices (about 1/2 inch thick), and blot slices dry again with paper towel.
3. Combine bread crumbs, 2 tbsp parmesan, basil, oregano, chile flakes, salt, and pepper in a shallow bowl. Place egg in another shallow bowl and beat lightly.
4. Working with one piece at a time, dip tofu in egg to coat, and then in crumb mixture. The slices should be well-covered with crumbs. Place coated tofu on baking sheet, and bake for 20 minutes, turning once halfway through the cooking time. Remove tofu from oven.
5. Grease an 8x8 baking dish, and pour 1/2 of your tomato sauce in the base. Place browned tofu in a single layer on the tomato sauce and top with remaining sauce and parsley. Cover tofu with sliced mozarella and remaining parmesan. Bake, uncovered, for 15 minutes and then finish the dish under the broiler to brown the cheese. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Serves 4

Spaghetti Squash

Pierce squash all over with a knife. Place entire squash in the microwave, and cook on high for 12 minutes. Once cooked, allow squash to cool slightly before cutting in half and removing seeds with a spoon. Use a fork to "shred" the flesh of the squash, and transfer it to a bowl. Toss with 1 tbsp butter and season with salt and freshly-ground pepper to taste.

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