We run the risk of this becoming a foodie blog, but I’m just having a great time documenting some stuff coming out of our kitchen that I can’t resist posting! Plus I figure it’s good to introduce readers to life as a vegetarian if they’re afraid of that V word or the T(ofu) word.
On our first Christmas together when we were dating, my husband made me one of his favourites: chicken parmigiana with alfredo pasta and a homemade American style chocolate cheesecake. These are some of the things he cooks best. He’s pretty much a legend with these. Yet I do suffer from dairy backlash in the form of coughing and congestion (nothing I can’t handle, but quite annoying, and obviously the more dairy the more problematic) and this meal absolutely knocked me out. Clearly now that we’re veggies, we don’t eat chicken, so with a bit of tofu in the fridge needing eating, I thought I’d try my hand at an alternative version of chicken parmigiana: tofu parmigiana!
One way of making tofu more palatable, as with nearly anything in the world: fry it! So the gist of what went down in the kitchen that day and some suggestions on how you might make yours better (sorry, adding chicken to the recipe won’t be included!):
I’ve learned that one way of making tofu a much nicer texture is to cut it into cubes or steaks, depending on what you’re using it for, set the pieces on top of some paper towels on a plate, put a couple paper towels on top, and set something heavy on top while you’re prepping everything else (I wouldn’t advise using the dog or a child for this step). This will squeeze out the water and make it a more firm consistency. Freezing tofu is also rumoured to make it chewier and more substantial- but I’ve not yet tried this out. While the tofu is being pressed, you can commandeer the following ingredients:
- Tofu (about 100-150g per person)- you’ve already got this out at this point. DON’T use that crap in a weird juice box type carton! Get the stuff that’s refrigerated. You’ll be much happier with the texture.
- Bread Crumbs – about 1/2 cup
- Various herbs such as oregano, basil, parsley
- Garlic powder
- Olive Oil
- Parmigiana Cheese – To be honest, we didn’t have any of this so I cheated and used cheddar! For a vegan option, you could just use some nutritional yeast and chuck some into the breading mixture.
- Tomato Sauce – be a bore and use a bottle, or experiment with using freshly (boxed/tinned) chopped tomatoes. See recipe for sauce below.
- Salt and Pepper
- Veggies- mushrooms, courgettes (zucchini), carrots, onion, garlic, etc… – more if you’re making your own sauce, less if cheating with a bottle.
If you’re going to be making your own tomato sauce, now’s the time to start to give it a good while to develop flavour. I’m not known for making particularly nice sauce, but I have to brag a little: this time around I gave it a good 40 mins and it was uh-may-zing! See the ingredients above for a basic sauce. Seriously, the key is the time you let it cook on a low heat.
Next, if you’re using pre-made breadcrumbs, super- you’re doing it the easier way. I toasted some bread then grated it into crumbs and ended up devouring lots of bread in the process! Mix up the breadcrumbs, the herbs, some salt and pepper, garlic powder, and nutritional yeast if using that. Dig your tofu out from wherever it’s buried, and dredge it through the breadcrumb mixture.
Before you walk away at this point, however, I would like to say it still turned out REALLY yummie with a very light breadcrumb coating… so stick with me!
Once you get the ‘steaks’ coated, get a frying pan piping hot with a good amount of oil in the bottom. At this point you should also start your pasta boiling unless it’s one of those 3 minute types. Cooking the tofu will take a good 10 minutes. Fry the steaks on each side til they turn a nice golden brown.
Once your pasta is done, drained and served up, top it up with sauce, saving just a bit to drizzle on the tofu. Put the tofu parmigiana on top (making it ‘parmigiana’ by topping it with cheese), and top with that last bit of sauce. Let the photo do the convincing :0)