Thanks Mum and Moosewood, bean and tofu casserole

Growing up in the seventies, our Mum was part of a health-food co-operative. She purchased natural food in bulk that wasn’t your average store bought fare. Standout memories from those days include bags of wholemeal flour, copious legumes, lecithin (crazy stuff that), tins of molasses and brown sugar. (To emphasise this was the seventies, I remember Mum wearing a much coveted white peasant blouse embellished with red embroidery.) An orchardist’s daughter, she always stocked a cornucopia of fresh fruit and vegetables in the house.

Mum baked her own bread, made her own tomato sauce, bottled delicious preserves and for a time, a yoghurt maker graced the benches. Out of her kitchen rolled wonderful soups and heartily savoury casseroles. There was always a container holding tempting baked slices and biscuits made using recipes she had memorised from her own Mums wonderful baking. Our mum is not one to toot her own horn but we all feel lucky to have had such a solid grounding in eating and cooking good food.

One of the cookbooks that graced Mums shelves was The Moosewood Cookbook, one of the most iconic and revolutionary cookbooks of that time. This vegetarian recipe book was written by Mollie Katzen, who at the time was a member of The Moosewood Collective. (A natural foods restaurant founded in 1973 in Ithaca, New York.) My copy seems to have gone missing but recent reviews of updated editions state that many recipes are now ‘lighter’ than in the past. I imagine the author cut back on some of the larger quantities of cheese and sour cream. (Ingredients which were possibly the reason why the Moosewood food was so darned delicious!)

I took the inspiration for this dish from memories of the Moosewood Cookbook and the fact that I was housebound and needed to use whatever my pantry and refrigerator had to offer. It is great to soak your own beans but if you can’t, tinned beans are fine. These sort of casseroles are forgiving, so use what you have and experiment to your hearts content. The Yak and I happily scoffed our portions whilst the sproglets did a double take at the tofu. Kid 2 asked ‘what was that white spongy stuff?’ I said tofu. He said he thought it was chicken. (See, everything really does taste like chicken!) There is a good contrast between the crunchy munchy topping and the piquant, Mexican style sauce underneath. If you like your food really spicy, just bump up the chilli.

Peace out and enjoy.

Thanks Mum and Moosewood, bean and tofu casserole

3 tbl Olive oil
1 onion, diced
1/2 large yellow or red capsicum, diced (or 1 small)
2 carrots, diced
3 small zucchini, diced
200g Mushrooms, diced
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes
1 tbl ground cumin
1 tbl ground paprika
2 tsps salt
Black pepper to taste
2 tins chopped tomatoes
1 tin red kidney beans, drained
1 tin cannelinni beans, drained
1 tbl molasses
250 hard block tofu cut into 2cm cubes (don’t like the curd of beans? Don’t put it in!)
50g Parmesan, grated
1 cup gluten free breadcrumbs (or regular, try and use wholemeal or wholegrain)
Extra olive oil

Preheat oven to 180C.
Oil a casserole dish or if you have an ovenproof casserole dish that you can cook everything in and then transfer directly to the oven, use that. I used my sturdy Le Crueset cast iron pot.
In a large saucepan saute the onions and carrots in the olive oil for a few minutes until they start to soften.
Add the capsicum and zucchini and cook for another few minutes, stirring regularly.
Add the mushrooms and sautรฉ for a few more minutes.
Add garlic cook and for 30 seconds or so then add chilli flakes, cumin, paprika, salt and black pepper. Cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly.
Add the tomato and molasses and stir to combine.
Add the beans and tofu. Bring to the boil.
Adjust the seasoning. If using another baking dish, pour the mixture into it. If you are using the same casserole dish, make sure you wipe the rim so it doesn’t look too messy.
Combine the breadcrumbs, grated Parmesan and a few glugs of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
Place the breadcrumb mixture over the bean mixture.
Bake in the oven for 45 minutes until the crust is golden brown and the mixture beneath is bubbling. (Turn the dish half way through cooking to ensure even browning of the crust.)
Serve with a green salad or steamed veggies.

A Cheergerm creation

33 thoughts on “Thanks Mum and Moosewood, bean and tofu casserole

  1. I like the sound of your Mum, a woman after my own heart!! Funny true story from the late 70s. Kid asks his hippy Mum why their sugar is always dirty ,(brown) and why everyone else had clean sugar? Good ol’ Moosewood, haven’t looked at it for a decade or more, you casserole looks very seventies!

    • Lovely comment Mrs R. Must have been the slightly hippy area we all lived in!? That story is hilarious…the other day Kid 1 said ‘Mum, why can’t you just make things like they should be, with white flour in them?’ It does look very retro hey!

  2. Ah the flower children of the 70s….your mom sounds like quite the renegade! I’m not partial to tofu but this looks a crunchy, healthy treat. My boomerang child has recently returned home with what appears to be gluten sensitivity so I’ll be looking through this blog in earnest for more gluten-free alternatives like this. Cheers!

    • She was a bit of a free thinker, still is. You can just omit the tofu, maybe add a wee bit of hard feta cheese? Yes, children often leave then come home…(ummm, I did that once…bit hard now with children in tow!) Hope some of the recipes here are of use. โ˜บ๏ธ

  3. Susanne

    My cookbook collection contains 2 updated Moosewood books not so much because I’m a vegetarian but because they are emblems of my coming of age. And they have great soup recipes! Your mom sounds like a treat and clearly was a huge influence on you.

    • Yes, we weren’t vegetarians either but Mum was quite experimental and it really was of that era hey? If I can’t find my older version I may just have to lash out on an updated copy. Yes, funny how much more you see and appreciate the influence with age. Thanks Susanne.

  4. I love my Moosewood. It’s so dogeared, so stained, and now thankfully so memorized. Your mom sounds like a woman worthy of a book and filled with warm and wonderful stories. It’s so apparent her love of food and amazing ability to nurture was embraced by you as well, Cheergerm.
    I’m really looking forward to testing out this recipe. It sounds and looks divinely delicious!

    • Thanks Mrs P! We were and are lucky to have her. Good ole Moosewood, I am going to have to re-check my boxes to see where it’s hiding. This was a tasty dish and even better, there was enough for the the next night!

  5. i think your Mum and I could have come from the same hippy cooking school. I also used that book in the 70s and another Veggo book by Anna Thomas which was good too, I have since bought a second hand copy at Savers but haven’t yet used it. I am at heart, an aging hippy in denial so relate well to your lovely, healthy recipe Miss Cheery. Tofu and beans, bring them on.

    • It’s a delicious casserole PR! And great as everyone ate it. Yes, certainly a lot of influence there. I think that like anyone, she got sick of cooking for four kids sometimes but then, who wouldn’t! ๐Ÿ˜

  6. Ha! I’m dating myself, but I bought that cookbook while I was in college! I only shopped at a food co-op, and even after i moved to texas from california, i used co-ops. my daughter, 31, was making fun of me recently, saying she will never be as extreme as i was. she claims my muffins weighed 12 pounds. they did not. but at least she grew up healthuy! great casserole!

    • I love hearing how our varied past food experiences have shaped us all. Great hippy food memories there Mimi! I do remember complaining to Mum about wanting store bought white bread but now, am very grateful that we were able to ‘get to know food’ in the way we did. 12 pound muffins do sound pretty funny! I know that in some of my experimentations I have ended up with muffins so dry and heavy they could be used as doorstops! ๐Ÿ˜

  7. No, tofu does not taste like chicken! I disagree with kid 1. ๐Ÿ˜ However, love, love, love the bean casserole (minus tofu, of course). My Moosewood has travelled with me from place to place – indeed, a classic. Takes me back to those days of peasant blouses, leather strappy sandals, maxi skirts and strings and strings of beads – not to mention the peace symbol pendant which I still have kicking around somewhere.

  8. Wow, that’s just not how I remember the 70’s at all.
    In New Jersey, it was the beginning of the prepackaged era. Microwaves were beginning to make their “hot on the outside-cold in the middle” appearance in kitchens all across the country. They had just invented high fructose corn syrup, and the government had already been petitioned to put it in EVERYTHING. All our food came from boxes, bags and cans. Even when mom made soup from scratch she used “Soup Starter”, a little package of foul smelling powder. I still don’t know what they put in that mess, ow why you’d need a little packet of nasty powder to make soup. Soup is elemental. Ah, but it just goes to show the complete commercial saturation of our brains at the time.
    We didn’t know any better back then. Hell, even now, when my mother does know better, she still can’t stop herself; she will forever eat out of boxes cans and bags.
    You had a remarkable childhood.
    But I had Ring Dings and Kandy Kakes, so my jealousy can only run so deep. We’ll call it even.

    • The juxtaposition of our childhood food memories is rather awesome. I am intrigued and equally horrified by the Soup starter. (I always thought a soup starter was just me getting off my butt and making the bloody soup!) And even though I don’t know what a Ring Ding or Kandy Kake is (purely because we don’t have them in these here parts), I do know that I would have come to your house as a child often in the hope that I may have been given some of these delicious sounding treaties. I did love Mars Bars when I could get my mitts on one! I do appreciate my childhood food experience much more in hindsight than I did as a kid. I think back then, I just wanted a white bread sandwich schmeared with high fructose corn syrup.

  9. I still have my copy of Moosewood, and the sequel, the Enchanted Broccoli Forest. What a charming description of your Mom–I can see how you come by your love of wholesome, delicious food. I am fond of bean casseroles but never thought to add tofu. Sounds like a great idea, since I love the stuff…

    • Thanks LM. She is ok our Mum. ๐Ÿ˜ I used to have the Enchanted Broccoli Forest as well but lost it along the way.mTofu is the great divider. I see it as a receptacle of
      flavour and in that way (ethics aside), not
      much different to chicken. (In my opinion.) When you try the good stuff, it can be super fab. But if it is inferior I can
      see why it puts people off. On saying that, everyone’s tastes are different I guess. Maybe it’s a texture thing?

      • Yes, unless it’s really good, fresh stuff, there’s not much flavor, so if you don’t enjoy the texture, it can be disappointing. But I like it in any strong-flavored soup or sauce, where its mildness is the perfect counterpoint. I also like it fried… mmm. That is usually too much trouble to do at home, though I sometimes pan-fry it to a crispy golden brown.

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