Eilene has been studying animal cruelty and how animals are used in the American food chain in her sociology class. As a result, she has wanted a lot of vegetarian meals lately. I could not spot anything online that really appealed to me. Most of the dishes were variations of noodles in sauce or salads. I wanted something different.
I remembered my mother’s Cheese Strada. Before I left home for the first time, I sat down with my mother’s recipe box and wrote down my favorite dishes. Jan thinks it has too much bread and cheese in it (things she is trying to avoid). I decided to re-imagine it and make it so that even Jan couldn’t object to all the bread and cheese (by leaving most of it out).
After dinner note: I think they liked it. There is barely enough for one person’s lunch tomorrow.
Karl’s Tofu Strada
1 lb. fresh spinach
1 block tofu, extra firm
1 tsp. soy sauce
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce, separate uses
¼ tsp. sugar
2 cups sourdough bread cubes
4 Tbs. butter, separate uses
½ tsp thyme
½ tsp. oregano
One small onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
½ tsp. Kosher salt
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup milk
¼ cup sherry
¼ tsp pepper
½ tsp. dry mustard
¼ cup Swiss cheese, shredded (optional)
1. Bring a large pot of to a boil. Add the spinach and blanch it for two minutes.
2. Drain the spinach and shock it in a bowl of ice water to stop it from over cooking.
3. Take handfuls of spinach and squeeze as much water out as possible. This produces little pills of spinach. Shred these finely and reserve.
4. Drain the tofu and set it on a large plate. Put a second plate on top of the tofu and place a weight on top to press the moisture out of the tofu. Drain the bottom plate occasionally and continue pressing for at least half an hour.
5. Melt 2 Tbs. butter in a pan and toss the bread cubes to coat with the butter, sprinkle with thymes and oregano. Remove to a baking tray.
Tip: Wipe, but do not wash the pan.
6. Bake the bread cubes in a 450° F oven for 6-7 minutes to toast. Remove to a bowl and cool.
7. Slice the tofu block into 3/8 inch thick planks (about 5-6 planks).
8. Wipe the large plate dry and put the soy sauce, 1 tsp. of the Worcestershire sauce, and the sugar on the plate. Mix the sauces and marinate the tofu planks for 10 minutes, turning occasionally.
9. Melt 1 Tbs. of butter in the pan and fry the tofu planks until well browned on both sides.
10. Cool the planks and cut them into cubes and add it to the bread cubes.
11. Add the last tablespoon of the butter to the pan and sauté onions and celery with the salt until soft, and just starting to pick up some color. Add the garlic and sauté 2 minutes more.
12. Add spinach to the pan and stir it into the onions and garlic.
13. Mix the eggs, milk, sherry, pepper, dry mustard, and the rest of the Worcestershire sauce (1 tsp.) in a bowl to make the sauce.
14. Mix the tofu and bread cubes and put half of them in an 8×8 inch baking pan.
15. Spread half of the spinach mixture over the bread/tofu and pour half of the egg/milk sauce evenly over it.
16. Repeat the layers and sauce and press the layers down into the sauce.
17. Bake at 350° for 40 minutes.
18. The Swiss cheese may be served on the side.