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
WHAT YOU DO
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
HOW YOU DO IT
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 sauté 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
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