My Conscious Friday Night Meal

Gino went into San Francisco for a dinner night with the boys so I had a night in at home by myself. Lately my body has been craving natural whole foods. For Christmas our friend Noel gave me a cookbook titled, “ The Conscious Cook Tal Ronnen “. It is a vegan cookbook created to give everyday meat eaters delicious meatless recipes that will change the way they eat! The cookbook has many great vegan recipes and I have wanted to try one for some time now. Gino probably isn’t the best vegan meatless entrĂ©e guinea pig so I thought I would try a recipe out myself. Some of you may know that years ago I was a vegetarian but don’t worry, just because I occasionally want a vegan whole food meal, it doesn’t mean I am going vegan or vegetarian =)

Recipe of Choice: Old Bay Tofu Cakes with Pan-roasted Summer Vegetables, Horseradish Cream, Apples, and Beets
I choose this recipe because I loved the colors of all the vegetables and apple plus it seemed filling enough. Since I was preparing the meal for myself, I cut the recipe in half and had enough to make 5 tofu cakes with enough for dinner and leftovers.
1) Mix 1/3 vegan mayonnaise (I just used the light mayonnaise I had in my refrigerator), 1/3 cup regular Cashew Cream (the Conscious Cook uses Cashew Cream in many recipes but I choose to use sour cream instead just because I didn’t have the time to make his recipe for Cashew Cream), 1 1/4 tablespoon prepared horseradish , juice of 1/2 lemon , sea salt and freshly ground black pepper in a bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve. Already my substitutions have made this recipe non-vegan but for the most part I followed the recipe.
2) Heat 1 tablespoon canola oil in a small saute pan over medium heat. Add 1/4 cup finely diced onion and 1/4 cup finely diced carrots to the pan and saute for 3 to 5 minutes. Then add 1 teaspoon minced garlic and saute for another 1 minute. Set aside to cool completely.
3) With tongs, hold a half of a nori seaweed sheet over the oven burner flame and lightly toast the sheet by gently fanning it over the low flame. Be careful not to burn the edges. Once done toasting, the recipe tells you to pulse it until powdered in a grinder, but I just crushed the flakes with my hands and then diced them up more with a knife. That seemed to work fine.
4) Place onion mixture , nori seaweed powder , 1 pound diced firm tofu, 1 1/4 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning , pepper , and juice of half a lime in a food processor and pulse until mixed well but still chunky.

The recipe called for nutritional yeast flakes but I couldn’t find them in my grocery store so I omitted that part. It also called for white pepper but I used regular black.

5) Cover half of a beet with water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Add 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar to the boiling water and let simmer for about 25 minutes or until you can poke the beet with a toothpick in it’s center. Drain and peel the beet then slice it into small pieces. Finely dice 1 Fuji apple . Mix apple, beet, 1/2 tablespoon extra-virgin oli and sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. This is actually the first time I have cooked with beets so I wasn’t sure if I liked them much so I used extra apples and only a little bit of the beet.
6) In a shallow dish combine 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs , 3/4 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning , sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste. In another shallow dish, pour 1/2 cup of plain unsweetened soy milk . Take the tofu cake mixture and dip it in the soy milk on both sides then place it in the bread crumb mixture on both sides. This amount of ingredients made me 5 tofu cakes. Place them in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes or until firm (I was hungry so I put them in the freezer and they did fine).
7) While you are waiting for the tofu cakes to firm up, prepare the Pan-Roasted Summer Vegetables which includes half of a shallot , 3/4 cup fresh corn kernels , 1/2 cup thawed frozen peas , 3/4 cup cherry tomatoes , halved.
8) Heat 1/4 cup canola oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat for 1 minute. Saute the tofu cakes until browned on both sides and heated through, 2 to 3 minutes on each side.
9) At the same time, heat 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil in a skillet over medium heat for 30 seconds. Add the shallots and saute for 3 minutes. Add the peas and corn and saute for 3 minutes. Finally add the tomato halves, season with salt and pepper to taste, and saute for about 2 more minutes.
10) Finally we are about ready to eat! Overall, this recipe took about 1 1/2 hours to prepare and that was a little too long for me. I took advantage of the time and cleaned the mess I made in the kitchen and assembled a cute little flower arrangement in a jar with coffee beans.
To serve the dish, place a large spoonful of the Pan-Roasted Summer Vegetables onto the center of the place and top with 2 tofu cakes. Place heaping spoonfuls of the apple beet mixture on top of the tofu cakes and drizzle with the horseradish cream sauce.
Evaluation out of 10?
Taste: 8.5
It was extremely tasty and the tofu cakes didn’t have a raw tofu flavor. The lemon and lime flavors added a nice zest to the dish. I was right to add more apples than beets because I still don’t know how much I like them. Now, to figure out what to do with the other 2 beets I have left from the grocery store? I loved my version of the horseradish cream sauce and it was a great addition to the meal!
Ease of Preparation: 6
It took too long! I liked the final product but it wouldn’t be a dish I could prepare on a busy weeknight.
Appearance: 9.5
In my opinion, all the colors of the vegetables and fruit are so beautiful together and you can just feel the health benefits by looking at the dish =) Just what my body was asking for!
Cost of Ingredients: 5
I wouldn’t say it was a cheap dish so it gets a 5. There were items I didn’t use because I couldn’t find them or I didn’t already have them in my pantry and there were items that I purchased such as seaweed sheets that I don’t know how I will use next.

Overall, it was a lovely Conscious Friday Night Meal that made me feel healthy and good before bed.

2 thoughts on “My Conscious Friday Night Meal

  1. Wow! Your final product looked amazing. I have been vegetarian for five years now, and have never cooked a dish that beautiful! You have inspired me. Back to the cook books I go!

  2. My goodness! What a beautiful dish and so much work for just yourself. Come my way and cook like that for me someday..ha ha! Looked delicious, I would have enjoyed it but would have skipped the sea weed..not my fav. Love you!

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