Tag: dinner

Vegan Mofo Comfort Food: Creamy Tofu Wild Rice Casserole

Vegan Mofo Comfort Food: Creamy Tofu Wild Rice Casserole

I grew up in the nineties, a time when canned mushroom soup reigned supreme.

If you ask most people who grew up in that era, they can name at least one dish they ate at the family dinner table involving canned cream of mushroom soup as a main ingredient. I can name two. One of them was a dish of what I think were egg noodles and homemade meatballs, topped with a mushroom soup-based sauce. I remember liking it. But the second dish, I remember loving. It was a chicken, mushroom and wild rice casserole. I loved it so much that, even after I tried to go vegetarian in high school, I would still eat the casserole whenever my mom made it. It was actually good enough for me to ignore the bird parts within. Eventually, though, I became an actual vegetarian and stopped eating any meat at all, no matter how delicious I remembered it being.

I’ve been trying, on and off, to make a vegan version of the dish for a while. At first I thought I could just veganize my mom’s recipe, but that didn’t work. There was definitely something lost in the translation. It’s hard to find vegan cream of mushroom soup, and when I did find some, it was of the virtuous, organic, healthy variety. All fine and good, but lacking in the intense 1992 taste of the standard non-vegan variety. That, along with the generally bland “no chicken” soup stock and the how-will-this-behave-when-heated? mystery of vegan sour cream made for a disastrous interpretation. Back to the drawing board.

What needed to happen, I discovered, was more of an interpretation and less of a copy. I needed to pinpoint what I liked about the dish and work from that, using the kind of ingredients I’d normally cook with.

Success! Success-o-rama, actually. I had the same reaction to this vegan version of the casserole that I used to have when my mom made the chickeny one. I had multiple helpings, and then hoped that there was enough left over for lunch the next day. There was. There was actually enough left over for two lunches, and I found myself standing in front of the fridge holding both containers of it in my hands, wondering if I should bring both for lunch, just in case I wanted two helpings. I didn’t. You have to stop somewhere.

So really, you should make this. The recipe may look long, but none of its components are complicated, and it comes together fairly quickly. It is comfort food at its finest. Warming, tasty, creamy, filling. It might even make you feel like a kid again.

Creamy Tofu Wild Rice Casserole

  • 2 cups uncooked rice (a wild rice/brown rice blend works the best)
  • 4 cups vegetable soup stock
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 leek, chopped small
  • 1 medium carrot, chopped small
  • 1 stalk of celery, chopped small
  • 2 cups cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tbsp dried sage
  • 1 tbsp dried thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup cashews, ground finely in a food processor or blender
  • 1/2 block silken tofu (approximately 1/2 cup)
  • 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup water
  • tsp of salt
  • a couple grinds of fresh pepper
  • 1 block firm tofu (approximately 1 pound) cubed
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried sage
  • a few shakes of salt and pepper

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

-Bring the soup stock to a boil, then add the rice. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cover. Let cook until all liquid is absorbed.

-While that’s happening, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add leek and mushrooms. Let cook until the leeks start to become transparent, then add carrots, celery, sage and thyme. Cover, and let cook until all vegetables are tender. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

-In a food processor or blender grind cashews if you haven’t already. Then add the silken tofu, nutritional yeast, 3 tbsp olive oil.

-Process until smooth, then slowly add the water. You’re shooting for a mixture that has the consistency of cream of mushroom soup. If you need to add more water, go ahead.

-Season with salt and pepper.

-Toss the firm tofu with olive oil, lemon juice, thyme, sage, salt and pepper, then saute over medium-high heat until the tofu starts to brown.

-Mix rice, vegetables, and tofu in a large casserole dish, then add the sauce and mix well until everything is coated.

-Bake, covered, for 25 minutes. If you’d like a crusty, browned top layer, take the lid off and turn the oven to broil for the final five minutes of cooking.

Serves four to six people.

Enjoy!

p.s. I think this is even gluten-free! Can someone more versed in gluten-free-ness correct me if I’m wrong?

J.

Vegan Shepherd’s Pie

Vegan Shepherd’s Pie

It’s Good Friday! And do you know what that means? It means that unless you planned ahead, you’ll be driving to gas stations in Quebec to buy booze with a bunch of other disorganized Ontarians. And if you’re lucky, your boyfriend will buy you a Lisa Simpson key chain while you’re there.

So yeah. The Man of Science and I spent all of our driving-around energy on the aforementioned booze and key chain run, which left me with no ambition to truck around town trying to find dinner ingredients. Next year I’ll remember about Easter, I swear. Luckily, the House of Science had enough in the pantry to make this delicious shepherd’s pie.

I know a lot of vegan cooks like to make their shepherd’s pie as traditionally as possible, but I for one am always disappointed when presented with a meal of TVP in tomato sauce topped with potatoes. I’m not a big TVP fan and besides, that meal needs more vegetables.

So, dear readers, I present you with this recipe for a more vegetabley version of the humble shepherd’s pie. It was the perfect way to soak up the beer in our bellies.

Vegan Shepherd’s Pie

  • 5 large white potatoes, boiled and mashed
  • 1 cup brown lentils
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 tsp rosemary
  • 1 tsp basil3 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup corn
  • 1 heaping tbsp light miso
  • 1 cup water
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

Boil and mash your potatoes as you normally would. Remember the holy trinity of salt, oil, and unflavoured soy milk.

Cook the lentils with the bay leaf. I used three cups of water to the one cup of lentils.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a skillet or frying pan, saute onion and garlic until onion is tender. Add celery, rosemary, basil, and wine vinegar.

Dump in the lentils and whatever cooking liquid is left in their pot. Remove bay leaf.

Add corn and let mixture simmer for a minute.

Add miso and gradually add water. Mixture should now have some liquid in it, but not be overly soupy.

When celery is softened, add parsley and salt and pepper. Remove from heat.

Spread mashed potatoes over top of lentil mixture and bake in the oven until the filling gets bubbley, about ten minutes. I put some soy parmesan, pepper, and basil on top of my potato crust before putting it in the oven.

You can let it sit under the broiler for another three to five minutes if you want the potato crust to brown up nicely.

Some Notes:

  • One of the very practical tips I learned from watching Jamie Oliver on TV is this: when you are doing a mish mash dish like this with a lot of ingredients, cut everything up to be around the same size so it is more pleasant to eat. For this one I tried to cut up my onions and celery to be small like the corn and the lentils.
  • For mashed potatoes, I always add a few cloves of garlic to the potatoes during the boiling period. When it is time to mash them, the garlic is soft and just gets mashed in too. It gives them a nice, subtle garlicy flavour.
  • The Man of Science had three helpings of this, proclaiming its deliciousness multiple times.