Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I made (controversial?) Lasagna

Hi! I have not posted in a while! But I do have some catch up posts to share with everyone soon....

To start off, I thought I would just do a real quick post about something I made this past Sunday.

Lasagna is something that I am positive everyone on this blog has made a billion times, so maybe it is silly to even post a recipe? I am sure everyone has their own favorite recipes and techniques. BUT I added one possibly controversial ingredient to the mix. TOFU. Instead of Ricotta cheese. Lots of folks (vegans) have done this before, but if you read on you will see that my version is NOT vegan! (There is mozzarella cheese.) So don't panic.

My logic was simply:

I love lasagna, but I wanted to make something I could bring to work for lunch that wouldn't be too rich. The tofu makes the dish lighter, and the added protein ensures that I will not fall asleep at my desk after I eat it.

OK here is the recipe.

Veggie Lasagna with Tofu

What you need:

TOMATO SAUCE - Obv. I endorse the recipe Joey posted here. I made a shorthand sauce this time though, with the following:

1 can whole peeled tomatoes
1 small can tomato paste (add to your liking)
garlic, onion, basil, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes (add to your liking)
Let that simmer as long as you can. (If you want to use pre-made sauce, totally do it. I am not hating on pre-made sauce, it is awesome.)

Lasagna noodles: Of course fresh pasta is the most delicious. I didn't go that route though, and I used the "De Boles" brand, which you boil first before using. I am not a fan of the 'no bake' noodles.

For the filling:
Fresh Mozzarella cheese
1 package firm tofu
Veggies - I used cremini mushrooms and spinach, two of my faves. Any type of vegetable you want to throw into the mix is fine....peppers, zucchini, carrots, kale.....??

Get the sauce going first, so it has time to simmer.

Then take your tofu out of the package, and put in on a large plate. Place a layer of plastic wrap on top, and then balance something heavy on top (a heavy book or large bag of flour, etc.) so that you can drain out all the moisture (a la this Tofu Scramble I made). Do this for a few minutes, draining the excess water from the plate periodically, until most of the water seems to be drained from the tofu.

Chop/saute all your veggies with salt+pepper (and more garlic/onion if you like) and set aside.

Crumble the tofu until it is in small "cheese-like" crumbles. In a large bowl, combine with the sauteed vegetables.

Chop up your mozzarella cheese in thin slices.

Then, in a casserole dish, layer some sauce, some noodles, some veggie/tofu mixture, some cheese + basil leaves, more sauce, more noodles, etc. Be liberal with the salt + paper in between layers too- tofu doesn't have salt like ricotta cheese does, so it needs a bit.

Bake, covered in foil, at 375 for about 30 minutes, and then another 10 minutes at 350 degrees, uncovered. (Or a bit more/less - depending on your oven!)

So...there you have it. I hope I have not offended any lasagna purists out there!

The next photo shows how Jed enjoyed a slice for an early dinner the next day:

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

I made spaghetti with swiss chard and garlic chips

Found this recipe on smittenkitchen. It came out great. The garlic chips really did look as golden and pretty as in Deb's arsty photo! But it was NOT as easy as she made it out to be. It takes a lot of work to slice all those cloves super thinly. And the recipe calls for two pounds of chard! That's a lotta chard! Three bunches worth at the grocery store. By the time I de-stemmed and de-ribbed every leaf, there was a mountain of shrubbery on my kitchen counter.

BUT, the result was delicious. I recommend this dish if you have a couple sous-chefs to help deal with all that chard and garlic.

Spaghetti with Swiss Chard and Garlic Chips
Gourmet, November 2008

Makes 4 to 6 servings

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 head garlic, cloves peeled and thinly sliced lengthwise though I am sure crosswise would work as well
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup dried currants (we skipped this) (so did I--currants just seem weird with the other ingredients)
2 pounds green Swiss chard, stems and center ribs finely chopped and leaves coarsely chopped separately
1/2 cup water
1 pound spaghetti
1/2 cup Kalamata olives, cut into slivers
6 ounces feta, crumbled (1 1/2 cups)

Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat until it shimmers, then cook garlic, stirring, until golden, about 3 minutes. Transfer garlic with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain.

Cook onion in oil remaining in skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add currants and cook, stirring, until plumped, about 1 minute.

Stir chard stems into onion mixture with water and 3/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Cook, covered, over medium-high heat until almost tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in chard leaves and cook, covered, until stems and leaves are tender, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook spaghetti in a pasta pot of boiling salted water (2 tablespoons salt for 5 quarts water) until al dente. Reserve 1 cup pasta-cooking water and drain spaghetti.

Toss spaghetti with chard, olives, and 1/2 cup cooking water, adding more cooking water if necessary. Season with salt and pepper. Serve sprinkled with feta and garlic chips.