high-protein tofu parmesan

by Stevie on June 11, 2010

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I don’t like tofu substitute foods at all. Usually they repulse me, in fact. All of that fake tofu sausage, “tofu chicken,” tofurkey, whatever: yuk! But I actually do like tofu, so long as it’s not pretending to be something else. Generally, the soft tofu is best, I think, because it has an interesting texture and is very versatile. The firmer ones get more and more like bricks and don’t meld well with the other ingredients in a dish. I sort of overcame that last week with the Mediterranean lemon tofu with artichokes, olives and herbs dish. The tofu was super firm, but since it was the center of attention, it worked okay with the dish.

high-protein tofu parmesan

Maybe that’s a meat-eating issue? Traditionally, isn’t the meat served at the center of the dish with all of the vegetable and starch “sides” just that: on the side? But it doesn’t have to be that way. Lots of Chinese dishes, for instance, use meat and/or tofu sort of blended in with the rest of the ingredients. Everything has equal pride of place. Perhaps those tofu substitute foods are for folks who haven’t figured out how to make the mental switch from meaty dishes and servings to a different cooking and presentation strategy?

Well, today you folks are in luck, because this dish has you written all over it!

In my family, whatever-parmesan has gone through an evolution. When I was a young child, my mother would make this with veal: veal parmesan. I used to love it! But eventually, as people became more knowledgeable about food and the poor conditions in which “veal” are raised, she refused to make it any longer. Instead, she switched to chicken parmesan. Of course, most chickens are raised in dreadful conditions, too. But at home, that wasn’t a concern for some reason. Instead, the issue was that Mom’s allergic to fowl: hence, the transition to eggplant parmesan. I like that just fine and have been making it periodically for ages. But back to tofu!

We had this block of the stuff sitting around in the fridge. What to do? I thought that it might be a good substitute for… eggplant! That’s right, a tofu substitute for a vegetable. Got you, didn’t I?

It’s made more or less the same way as all of the whatever-parmesan dishes are: batter fried then baked in cheese with tomato sauce. I made a double batch of the Roman style tomato sauce and used mozzarella and grated parmesan for baking.

It worked well but the texture wasn’t much like eggplant. Perhaps if I had used soft tofu? But then it would probably have fallen apart while frying, so wouldn’t work. The flavor was different, but what it most reminded me of was… veal. Oh dear!

high-protein tofu parmesan

1 lb. block of high protein, extra firm tofu
Kosher salt
3 eggs
3 tbsp. plus more grated Parmigiano Reggiano
2 cups Italian breadcrumbs
3 tbsp. flour
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
½ tsp. dried basil
Fresh black pepper
6 anchovy fillets (optional)
Vegetable oil for frying
Splash of extra virgin olive oil
6 slices mozzarella cheese
Tomato sauce of your choosing

Rinse tofu then slice into ½ inch rectangular pieces along the longest part of the block. Place in a bowl with a couple teaspoons of salt. Fill with water to cover tofu. Allow to soak in this brine for at least thirty minutes.

Beat eggs with 3 tbsp. Parmigiano Reggiano and a pinch of salt in a shallow bowl. In a second bowl, add breadcrumbs, flour, cayenne, basil, several turns from a mill of black pepper and a pinch of salt. Mix dry ingredients with a fork.

tofu slices soaking in egg mixture

Heat oil in a large skillet. Use enough to immerse tofu pieces. Add the splash of olive oil and anchovies to frying oil to increase flavor. Fried anchovies can be added to the dish for baking, too.

While oil heats, rinse tofu and dip first in egg mixture then in dry mixture to completely cover with crumbs. Fry in oil for about three to five minutes on a side. Turn to finish frying. Tofu doesn’t need to be cooked so just fry the cutlets until they turn a golden brown. Remove from oil to large platter covered with paper towels to drain.

Pre heat to 350F.

Pour some tomato sauce in the bottom of a large glass baking dish. Layer with fried tofu. Spread mozzarella slices over tofu. Cover with more tomato sauce then sprinkle with grated Parmigiano Reggiano. Cover with foil and bake about 20 to 30 minutes until cheese melts.

I served this with a simple pasta sautéed in olive oil, garlic, crushed red pepper and more grated Parmigiano Reggiano.

high-protein tofu parmesan served family style, what else?

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

ritatower June 14, 2010 at 11:08 am

That dish looks mouthwatering! I like all the cheese and sauce when you show the finished product.

tasteofbeirut June 14, 2010 at 9:50 pm

I love the idea! I am a bit uninspired when it comes to parmesan and this was brilliant! it makes the stuff dance in that tomato-and-cheese based dish! Fabulous!

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