Healthy comfort food! Casseroles and one-pot meals rock when you are in a hurry but want to resist the urge to cave and get take-out. The convenience of just mixing random ingredients in a pot or pan or whatever and tossing it (gently) in the oven is not to be over-looked. When you can manage to use healthy ingredients in said pan, well, bravo to you!
I was really curious about Macrobiotics about a year ago. I was aware of its existence and knew vaguely what it was all about, but I started digging around on the net and invested in a few books to find out for myself. I think there is a great deal that I can glean from the philosophy behind Macrobiotics, though a hard-core Macro lifestyle doesn’t really work for me. What does work for me is eating whole (locally-grown) foods whenever possible and avoiding processed and pre-packaged fare.
One of the Macro cookbooks I picked up along the way is Christina Pirello’s Cooking the Whole Foods Way- and I love it. This book is extremely user-friendly, and with 500 vegan recipes- has lots to offer everyone, Macrobiotic or not. There are some ingredients which may seem unfamiliar to some such as mochi or umeboshi paste (pictured above), but she’s got a great glossary section explaining everything, and really, many of the recipes can be made with substitutions.
This noodle bake is very, very easy to make, and I have added and substituted various veggies depending on what I had on hand. It’s rich and creamy and comforting, and makes you feel all warm and fuzzy (in a good way). The mochi, a sort of pounded sweet brown rice cake, and thinly sliced on top it becomes very melty and cheese-like and adds a richness to the casserole, but it is also very good without it, so don’t let that hold you back!
Tofu-Noodle Bake, adapted from Cooking The Whole Foods Way by Christina Pirello:
- package firm tofu, crumbled
- 1 teaspoon white miso (I use more like a tablespoon)
- 1 teaspoon umeboshi paste
- 3 tablespoons tahini (you may want to use a little more)
- 1 teaspoon brown rice syrup (I use more like a tablespoon. Agave works, too.)
- 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce (again, I use more, it’s to your taste, really)
- 4 to 6 tablespoons water
- 2 cups cooked small noodles (use whole-wheat, for your health! Then you can splurge on cookies or cupcakes or something for dessert…balance, baby, balance!)
- 2 shallots, diced (I skip this)
- 1 carrot, diced (I use at least 2, usually more)
- 1 stalk broccoli (including stem), diced
- 4oz package brown rice mochi, very thinly sliced
I add to that 1 diced onion, a cup of frozen peas or green beans, courgette slices, whatevah.
Oven heated to about 400F/200C, put the tofu, miso, umeboshi paste, tahini, rice syrup, soy sauce and water in food processor and add enough water so you have a creamy paste.
Toss noodles and veggies together and add the paste, being sure that everything is coated nicely. If you’re skipping the mochi, just cover and pop in oven for around 40 minutes or so, taking off cover (foil works well here) for last maybe 10 mins so it’s a bit crunchy on the top.
If you’re going mochi here, just cover the casserole with the mochi and lightly sprinkle with water, then cover with foil being careful it’s not touching the top because it will stick and you’ll be sad. Check after about 40 minutes and if the mochi isn’t melted add a little more water and put it back in for another 5. If it’s still not melted you probably didn’t slice it thin enough, but it’s not the end of the world, you can probably still enjoy it.
With a little pepper sprinkled on top it is almost as good as the mac & cheese casserole I loved growing up as a kid. It’s very good with just a simple green salad, but, I doubt I need to tell you what to eat with it!