I wish it was Sunday 'cause that's my fun day.
Just another 80's song to get stuck in your head. Go ahead, sing out loud....pretend the windows are rolled down and the sun is shinning, and the guy sitting next to you at the red light isn't starting at you like you've lost your marbles. Oh, maybe that's only me they stare at? I sing louder now that I have a kid. Sometimes it works to stop her from yelling (she's yelling out loud about how the heck this crazy woman could possibly be her mother) and other times it just drowns her out.
Ok, getting back on topic.. Meatless Mondays.
We meal plan in our house. We have to, or we will be eating Wendy's salads and PB&J sandwiches all week long. We usually sit down on Sunday and make out a plan through to Wednesday or Thursday, and then attempt to do all of the groceries for the week some time on Sunday. We have a board in our kitchen that is dedicated to our menu for the week, so everyone knows what's what for the week ahead.
I know of some families that find it helpful to follow a formula for meal planning (slow cooker Tuesday, chicken Wednesday, etc) but that's a bit too much for us. We still like to at least pretend like we are go with the flow people some of the time. What we have tried to stick to every week though is Meatless Monday. We are too carnivorous to commit to the whole day, but we do a veggie dinner every Monday night. It's a good excuse to try a new recipe or two every month and to explore some ingredients that we don't tend to use on a regular basis.
Although vegetarian meals usually seem like a healthy alternative, many of them are still quite high fat and are loaded with cream and other unhealthy fats. We at least attempt to eat a fairly clean diet in our house and try to feed Fin as many whole foods as possible. That means, that as much as I may want to, we try to not eat popcorn for dinner on Meatless Mondays and instead I try and search out new and healthy recipes. The other bonus about meatless night is that it usually tends to be our least expensive meal of the week. Free range chicken is stupid expensive these days (dumb birds need to roam around on some expensive land apparently), so if we can get our hands on some tofu for just over a dollar we are a happy family.
Some of our current favorites in the meatless rotation are Moni's Quinoa Mac & Cheese (check it out, it's so delicious!), Spinach and Feta Frittata (from my head), and Butternut Squash Risotto (from the Eat Clean Diet Stripped). One of our all time favourites though is Parma Chameleon (decoded it's tofu Parmesan) from the Eat, Shrink & Be Merry cookbook by Janet & Greta Podleski. I contacted Janet and Greta and asked if I could share this veggie recipe with you readers and much to my astonishment they replied (love it when people reply) and said I could share away. Ok, before you turn your nose up at it and say "ewww...tofu, I don't eat tofu", just give it a chance. I actually sort of like tofu. Mr. Swell could take it or leave it, but he loves this recipe and even looks forward to the leftovers on Tuesday. I actually think Fin is a vegetarian at heart (which I guess is to be expected since she only started eating meat a few months ago) and she loves this dish. We get out the handy dandy immersion blender and puree it up for her and she gobbles it down. The sauce and breadcrumbs do a great job of hiding the tofu. I bet you could serve it and some diners would even mistake it for chicken.
On a somewhat related side note....since we are talking about Parma Chameleon. Does anyone know if Chameleons actually make sounds? Fin's current obsession is our calendar on the fridge. It's a freebie one we got from Telus, and has an animal on each month. She loves to flip through each month and listen to Mr. Swell and I make the animal sounds that go with the picture. October is Chameleons.
Seriously? I am supposed to make a Chameleon sounds? I have no idea what Chameleons sound like, so every time we get to October I break out singing Karma Chameleon by Culture Club. Could someone please help a girl out here? If not for me, just think of my poor daughter who is going to grow up thinking Chameleons are actually 80s British pop stars.
But I digress..,
Without further adeu, here is the recipe.
From Eat, Shrink & Be Merry
Makes 4 servings
Olive Oil Cooking Spray
1 lb (454 g) firm tofu (I always buy extra firm if I can find it)
1 cup fresh whole wheat breadcrumbs
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese, divided
1/2 tsp each dried basil and dried oregano
1/4 tsp each salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups of your favorite tomato pasta sauce, divided
1/2 cup packed shredded light mozzarella cheese (2 oz/57g)
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a non-stick baking sheet with olive oil spray and set aside.
Drain liquid from tofu and blot dry with paper towels. Slice block into 6 to 8 equal slices, about 1/2 inch thick. Lay slices on paper towels and blot again.
Combine bread crumbs, 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, basil, oregano, salt and pepper in a shallow bowl. Place egg in another shallow bowl and beat lightly with a fork.
Working one piece at a time, dip tofu in egg and then in crumb mixture. Make sure both sides are well coated with the crumb mixture. Place on cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining tofu pieces. (Don't worry if you have some crumbs left over - you'll use them later.) Spray the tops of tofu with olive oil spray. Bake for 8 minutes. Using a spatula, gently turn pieces over. Bake an additional 8 minutes. Remove tofu from oven but leave oven on.
Spray a medium casserole dish with cooking spray. Spread 1/2 cup of pasta sauce over bottom of dish. Lay browned tofu pieces in dish close together and in a single layer if possible. Top with remaining pasta sauce, followed by mozzarella, remaining Parmesan cheese, and parsley. If you have any crumbs left over, sprinkle them over the entire dish. Bake, uncovered for 15 minutes. Turn broiler on and broil about 4 inches from heat source for 2 minutes, or until cheese is golden brown. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
Here's what our version looks like:
You can read more about Janet & Greta Podleski, and find more recipes at www.janetandgreta.com
Seriously, don't be afraid of tofu. Give it a shot.
Do you do Meatless Mondays? Do you have any favourite vegetarian dishes?
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