Wednesday, October 26, 2011

I Served My Husband A Tofu Sandwich!

Many years ago, when I was a brand-new vegetarian, I decided to make breaded tofu for my carnivorous husband. I took a block of firm tofu, pressed it between two plates to remove the excess water, and cut it into thin slices. Then I did what any good Italian would do.  I dipped the slices into a bowl of lightly beaten egg and then covered them with seasoned bread crumbs. I tossed my breaded tofu slices into pan with a bit of olive oil and fried them up until they were golden brown.

I thought this was ingenious. It tasted pretty good, too. At least I thought so. It resembled fried mozzarella- crunchy on the outside, soft and creamy on the inside. I was so proud of how it all turned out that I piled the tofu on a hero roll, added a few slices of cheese, mayo, lettuce and tomato, and sent my husband off to work with a healthy lunch.  By the way, he's my ex-husband now--this COULD be the reason why! :)

Later on that day, he opened the lunch lovingly packed by his adoring wife. I can see it ex-husband sitting with his co-workers, looking forward to eating what looked like chicken cutlets on a hero roll. YUMMY!!! Smacking his lips, he takes the first bite of his delicious sandwich and......


He called me later on that afternoon and it wasn't to thank me for a healthy, delicious lunch. Nope. He was not happy. Not at all.  Instead, he screamed into the phone: "Don't ever give me a tofu sandwich again! What is the matter with you?"

I made it up to him later by serving pot roast and gravy for dinner that night.

This was long before tasty meat alternatives ever existed. Everything I made, I made from scratch. There were no packaged veggie burgers, Tofurky slices, or frozen patties that looked and tasted like chicken but weren't actually chicken. Honestly, I am not a big fan of that sort of stuff. If you really want something that looks and tastes like meat, perhaps you should just have meat. I do have veggie burgers in my freezer, however. They are a quick convenience food for the nights I just don't feel like cooking and they're perfect for a BBQ when everyone else is eating grilled hamburgers. I just don't make a habit out of them. Not mention they're not very economical. It's much cheaper to make them myself.

Never again did I give my ex-husband a tofu sandwich but I did keep experimenting with all sorts of healthy, vegetarian recipes. And I must admit, for remaining years we were married,  he was a pretty good sport and willingly sampled just about everything I cooked: tofu chili, "chocolate cream" pie made with carob powder and tofu, baked lentil burgers, Fettuccine Alfredo-No Alfredo (this was homemade spinach noodles tossed with a sauce made from tofu, soy milk and soy cheese) and a whole variety of other strange concoctions. Some dishes were a hit (he really liked the fettuccine) and others were complete failures. It was all trial and error. This is how I learned what worked and what didn't........

In order to inspire others to eat healthier and incorporate more "meat-less meals" into their diet, I have to give them something that actually tastes good. I happen to love tofu and I can eat it straight from the container. I can't expect everyone else (especially meat-eaters) to do the same. This is why I work so hard to bring you delicious recipes every day.  Delicious, healthy, wholesome food you will enjoy and want serve to your family or even to guests.

Here is one recipe that was always a "hit": Baked Lentil Burgers.  They're tasty, easy to make, and healthy.  You can put them on rolls and add cheese or serve them up with mashed potatoes and vegan mushroom gravy. Bake it in a lightly oiled loaf pan, or roll them into tiny lentil balls. You can get crazy and add other things to the mixture as well: chopped, sauted onions, some dried sage--the possibilites are endless. I love them topped with a bit of pepper jelly or mango chutney. These freeze really well, too. You might enjoy these so much, you'll never buy another veggie burger.

Lentil Burgers (makes 4 burgers or 6 small ones)

1/2 cup lentils
1 egg yolk or Ener-g Egg Replacer
dash of dried thyme
1 tablespoon bread crumbs

Cook lentils until soft so they mash easily with a fork, about one hour. Drain any excess. When the lentils are cool, add the egg or egg replacer, bread crumbs, and thyme. Shape into patties and bake 15 minutes at 350 degrees.

Serve warm.

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