Anybody missing a hearty casserole with creamy melted cheese on top? Well, try this one, it´s not exactly the same, but it is equally good, I dare say!
I had some cooked rice which I mixed with oil-sauteed leek, mushrooms and carrot slices. For the cheese I purchased a block of smoked tofu which I pureed in the blender with water, lemon juice, salt and black pepper, until I got the consistency of cream cheese. I spread the “cheese” on top of the rice/vegetable mixture, in a deep casserole dish, and baked in the oven for about 20 minutes until the “cheese” became light golden.
What an odd dish, I can hear you saying! 😀 Well, it´s one of those wild ideas coming from my very own head and I admit it´s not a meal you would read about anywhere in any cookbook…But it turned out rather well, so I am publishing it here for your kind consideration 😀
I cooked separately about two servings of buckwheat pasta (made by a fabulous Czech buckwheat company) and about two servings of long grain brown rice. After cooling down I mixed them together in a large bowl and added some vegetables – raw chopped celery stalk and leek and raw grated carrot and celery root. I seasoned the funny mixture with some shoyu sauce, smoked paprika powder and dried oregano. I poured it into a casserole dish and topped with a topping which I made by combining grated tempeh (you could use fried tempeh or smoked tempeh, any tempeh that is already flavoured and not plain) with corn starch mixed in some cold water and some nutritional yeast powder (adds extra “cheesiness”). I popped the dish into the oven and baked until crusty and browned.
Yes yes, I know, Christmas is already far behind us and we´re all looking forward to spring coming. But sadly it takes me usually a long time to catch up on all the posts I want to write, so usually I´m writing about foods that I cooked about a month ago or even a bit longer ago… :-p My bad, but anyway, you can already make plans for the next Christmas holiday, it will be here sooner than you think!
Traditional Czech “kuba”, eaten for Christmas day lunch, is made with wild mushrooms (I didn´t have those on hand) and with plenty of butter and/or lard, so this is a more macro-friendly version…
I cooked pearley barley (polished barley) for half an hour. It was already presoaked, so maybe it would take a bit longer to cook without soaking. Nevertheless, the barley should still have a bite and not be too mushy or creamy! Meanwhile I sauteed a good amount of minced onion on oil with a pinch of salt and then sauteed it together with sliced soaked shiitake mushrooms, until the mushrooms got soft and well…nicely fried 😀 I seasoned them with some dried marjoram, caraway seeds, minced garlic (an essential kuba ingredient so don´t e shy!), black pepper and an extra sprinkle of sea salt. The flavour should not be too mild as you are making a casserole dish, not a separate vegetable dish with grain.
When the mushrooms and onions are done, mix them through the cooked barley, transfer mixture to a greased casserole dish, smoothe the surface out, drizzle with some extra oil and bake until the top is browned and a bit crispy. The dish is nice served with sauerkraut or other pickles.
Polenta is a very light summer-style dish if you prepare it just by cooking cornmeal in water on the stove. But you can also make polenta more winter-style if you bake it in a casserole dish. You can really play around with this versatile grain dish.
I first prepared standard polenta by cooking 1 cup cornmeal (or special polenta flour, but don´t use the instant one) with 3 cups of water and a pinch of salt. There are different ways to cook polenta, but I personally soak the flour and water overnight and the next day I just bring it slowly to boil and simmer on a low flame under a lid for about half an hour to 45 minutes, without any stirring or other interfering. Then I let it rest with a flame off for 5-10 minutes, it also helps to unstick from the bottom of the pot.
While your polenta cooks, you can sautee veggies on some oil – I used sliced onion and leek, finely cut curly cabbage and finely diced carrot, with a pinch of salt of course to draw out the juices of the vegetables. I also added some arame seaweed which I soaked beforehand for about half an hour, discarding the soaking water. Season with more salt (the veggies will get mixed with polenta, so you need a stronger flavour), fresh or dried rosemary and some pressed garlic cloves.
When the polenta is cooked, stir in the vegetable/arame sautee and transfer content of the pot into a casserole dish and allow to cool.
Now – you can either pop the polenta into the oven to brown the surface a bit and make the polenta more warming (otherwise it has a more cooling overall effect) or you can just slice it up and eat as is (room temperature, might be nice on hot days), or you can even make slices and pan-fry them with some oil. That´s up to you! 😀
One of my last ovendishes…before the heat struck! 😀 Now I truly don´t bake ANYTHING!!
This one was made by combining cooked leftover rice and hato mugi mixture with some sauteed veggies and pan-fried tempeh. For the veggies water or oil-sautee some cut up leek, green beans, celery stalk and kohlrabi (I used stems), just very shortly, so they are not raw, and season with tamari, thyme and black pepper. Mix with raw grated carrot. Pan-fry tempeh in a moderate amount of oil until golden and spray lightly with some tamari. Mix all ingredients through, move into a baking form and bake on about 200 °C until crispy.
Casseroles go well with salads, which bring more light uplifting energy – mine is made from lollo rosso lettuce, chinese cabbage and cucumber, with added olives, roasted pumpkin seeds and a vinaigrette of 2 tsp apple cider vinegar, 2 tsp flaxseed oil, a pinch of salt and half a clove of finely minced garlic.
Pasta ovendishes were always a favourite of mine before becoming macro…now I hardly have them because…well, because I don´t eat any more cream and cheese, quite essential ingredients for creamy pasta dishes! 😀 But there is a way…yup, tofu to the call…
First cook your noodles (any kind will do, I made udon, which are thick flat wheat noodles). Mix them with sauteed veggies of choice (I used onion, carrot, broccoli, parsley root and leek), sauteed on water with a teaspoon of tamari. For the sauce just blend a cube of smoked tofu with enough water and lemon juice to taste – smoked tofu has a distinct flavour of its own so I didn´t want to overpower it. It will come out a bit chunky, but it´s ok 😀 Mix through the noodles with veggies and bake in the oven on 200°C for 30 – 45 minutes until the top gets a nice crust. Serve with fresh salad – I had lettuce, rucola and red radishes with some salt and lemon juice. Good for balancing the baked yang food!
I know that the cold part of the year is already behind us and spring is in full blossom, but anyway – I really enjoy making oven-baked dishes, especially for dinner. I think it has to do with my need of variety of food preparation, and baking is just one of many methods. Be sure to always use some light uplifting steamed or blanched veggies, or something raw with these dishes 😀
I had leftover rice+hato mugi mixture which I put in an even layer on the bottom of my silicone baking pan. Then I made the next layer with long-sauteed caramelized red onions (just sautee on water+pinch of salt, at least 15 minutes), another layer of grated smoked tofu and a layer of grated raw young carrot. Then came the second part of the grain mixture and on the very top some sauteed onion mixed into the grated tofu. Bake in a preheated oven on about 200°C until the top gets crusty and golden.
I served the dish with olives, fresh rucola, red radishes and portulac, and some homemade carrot pickles.