Soy products are quick and easy to cook with and are an excellent source of high-quality protein, just as complete as the protein in meat.
Try this easy-to-prepare lasagna made with tofu and you’ll save the time it takes to brown the ground beef you would normally use, as well as cut costs. Cooked mushrooms and zucchini add some texture and nutrition.
1¾ cups zucchini, chopped
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
1 teaspoon Italian herb seasoning
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
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4 cups fat-free marinara sauce
8 oz. lasagna noodles, uncooked
6 oz. Mozzarella cheese, grated
½ cup Parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Fry the mushrooms and zucchini in a non-stick frying pan until soft, adding a little water if necessary. Put aside. Puree the tofu in a small mixing bowl. Add the lemon juice, dried parsley flakes, Italian herbs and pepper. Mix well. Combine the water and marinara sauce. (The extra water will be absorbed by the noodles.) Assemble the lasagna: Place about 1/3 of the sauce in the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Top with half the uncooked noodles, half the tofu mixture, half the Mozzarella cheese, and all the mushrooms and zucchini. Top with another 1/3 of the sauce, the remaining noodles, the remaining tofu, and then the last 1/3 of the sauce. Sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Cover the casserole with foil. Bake at 350 for an hour. Remove from oven and let stand 10 to 15 minutes to facilitate serving. Cut the lasagna into 18 pieces. Source: “Soy Foods – A Healthy Profile,” Soybean Research & Promotion Council.
Black bean and corn burritos
Burritos are a favorite meal choice and your family won’t miss the meat in this recipe that uses nutritious and inexpensive beans as a meat substitute. The recipe has the advantage of being prepared in a slow cooker so that the filling is ready when needed. If desired, the mixture can be cooled after cooking and then frozen for future use.
2 cans (15 oz.) no added salt black beans, rinsed and drained
1 package (16-oz.) frozen whole-wheat corn
1 can (14.5 oz.) no salt added fire roasted tomatoes, undrained
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped (1 cup)
1 cup low-sodium salsa
1 fresh jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
2 teaspoons ground chipotle chili pepper or chili powder
16 (8-inch) whole-wheat flour tortillas, warmed
1 cup shredded taco cheese mix or cheddar cheese (6 oz.)
½ cup sliced green onions (optional)
Low-fat Greek yogurt (optional)
In a 3 or 4 quart slow cooker, combine the beans, corn, tomatoes, bell pepper, salsa, jalapeno, chipotle pepper, and garlic. Cover and cook on Low 5 to 6 hours or High 3½ to 4 hours. With a slotted spoon, spoon the bean mixture onto each warmed tortilla, just below the center. Top with lettuce, cheese and, if desired, green onions. Fold the bottom of each tortilla over the filling. Fold opposite sides in, roll up tortilla. Serve with yogurt if desired. Source: “Slow Cooker Favorites, Volume 8”, 2020.
Lynne’s Linguine Con Pesto Di Pistacchi
Different types of nuts can also be used as a meat substitute and protein source. Lynne Rossato Kasper, former host of the radio show Splendid Table, turns to this recipe regularly, which uses roasted pistachios and pine nuts as a comfort food.
1 cup shelled pistachios
3 large unpeeled garlic cloves
1 cup tightly packed fresh basil leaves (or a mix of spearmint, peppermint, and basil)
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
½ teaspoon coarsely cracked black pepper
½ teaspoon ground red pepper
1 pound dried linguini or spaghetti
1 pound assorted cherry tomatoes, halved
½ cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
Heat a large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Pile in pistachios and pine nuts. Cook, stirring frequently, until lightly browned and smelling incredibly nutty, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a food processor. Add garlic to skillet and cook, turning occasionally, until soft and browned in chunks, about 5 minutes; remove to a plate to cool. Peel and add to food processor, along with basil, and process. Drip oil through the funnel while the blade is still running. Once incorporated, transfer to a large bowl. Stir in salt, black pepper, and red pepper. Meanwhile, cook the linguine according to package directions until al dente. Save about ¾ cup of pasta water. Drain the remaining water from the pasta and shake the colander well. Add pasta and tomatoes to pesto. Stir well and drizzle with enough of the reserved pasta water so that the nutty pesto coats the pasta. Sprinkle with Parmigiano Reggiano. Source: “AllRecipes”, February/March 2022.
Jack Burgers with black beans and pepper
With the addition of fresh scallions, cilantro and spicy pepper jack cheese, these spicy burgers are a tastier choice than the regular veggie burgers you’ve tried. The rolled oats help to keep them together.
1 can (15.5 oz.) black beans, rinsed and drained
2 oz. finely grated pepper Jack cheese (1/4 cup)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander
1 tablespoon olive oil, more for the plate
4 whole-wheat hamburger buns, toasted
Jarred salsa, to serve
Sliced avocado, to serve with it
Place the oats in a food processor and pulse three times to roughly chop. Add half the beans and pulse to a coarse paste, about 6 pulses. Add the egg, cumin and ½ teaspoon salt and mix well, about 1 minute. Transfer the bean mixture to a large bowl. Stir in remaining beans, cheese, cilantro and spring onions. With wet hands, shape the bean mixture into four ½-inch patties and transfer to a lightly oiled plate. Place in the fridge for 15 to 18 minutes to let the burgers stiffen. Heat a large heavy-duty skillet (preferably a cast iron skillet) over high heat until very hot; add the oil and turn to coat the bottom. Bake the burgers for 2 to 3 minutes until brown and with a good crust. Flip the patties and cook again, if necessary, until the burgers feel firm when pressed with a fingertip, another 3 to 5 minutes. Serve the burgers in the buns with the salsa and avocado on top. Source: “Fine Cooking”, June/July 2012.
Bernie Mason writes the Local Flavor column for Lee Montana Newspapers. She was an information officer in Yellowstone County for 24 years. Mason grew up in Sidney in a family of German and Danish descent.