Title: The Meat Lover's Meatless Cookbook
Author: Kim O'Donnel
244 pages; Softcover $18.95 US/$24 CAN
Publisher: DaCapo/Lifelong Cambridge MA 2010
Reviewed by, Ana Susi, November 2010
Many people, for various reasons, choose to
limit or cut meat entirely out of their diet. I tried my hand at
this as well, lasting 7 years before finding my iron and energy
slump at an all time low and a diet so boring and carb laden, I
was starting to wonder if food would ever fulfill me and excite
me the way it had in my pre-vegetarian days. With Kim O’Donnel’s
cookbook, The Meat Lover’s Meatless Cookbook: Vegetarian Recipes
Carnivores will Devour, I found excitement and inspiration for
cooking sans meat using vibrant, seasonal vegetables and,
surprisingly, not wanting to slip in a piece of meat or cheese
somewhere to give the recipe some much needed oomph. Not only
were the recipes fulfilling and quite healthy, they had me
preparing tofu and vegetables in ways I had never eaten before
and will definitely be eating over and over again.
prepared the Pepita-Crusted Tofu, Dino-Mash, and the Black
Bean-Sweet Potato Chili. I was expecting the tofu to be
interesting, but the heat, spice, and texture of this dish was
simply addicting. The suggested accompaniment to the tofu,
Dino-Mash, was smooth, comforting, and delicious. This meal
lives up to the book’s title and makes for an impressive,
healthy meal for any vegan foodies you may be entertaining.
Being a huge sweet potato fan, I found the chili hearty,
vibrant, and balanced compared to a more fattening meat based
Kim O’Donnell’s cookbook reads like a Food
Network show sounds, with Kim being the friendly, easy going
host that writes with novices and experienced chefs in mind,
making you feel as if she’s right there with you, guaranteeing
you a successful meal. The recipes can easily be altered to suit
your vegetable preferences and tastes and use ingredients you’ll
be able to find easily and affordably. This cookbook creatively
puts produce in the spotlight and will more than satisfy the
appetites of all who attempt these well thought out choices.
Makes 4 servings
Although a high-protein flavor chameleon, tofu is typically a
hard sell with the meat set. I'd be lying if I told you it
tastes like chicken, and its squishy marshmallow-like texture
takes some time getting used to. But a meatless cookbook without
tofu? That just didn't seem right.
As a culinary
writing fellow at the Writer's Colony at Dairy Hollow in Eureka
Springs, Arkansas, I dreamed up this dish with the tofu-reticent
in mind. The magic flavor element is a pumpkin-seed pesto
seasoned with garlic and cilantro, an irresistible combo that
delivers both herby tang and nutty richness. As for the texture
kinks, the tofu is sliced into thin "cutlets," which facilitate
a toothy crust when baked in the oven. The result: the "most
chickeny" tofu that did ever pass my lips.
Do try it with the Dino-Mash, my take on
colcannon, the classic Irish mashed potato and cabbage dish,
updated with Lacinato (a.k.a. Dinosaur) kale.
Notes: The first thing you should do is roast the garlic for the
Dino-Mash, as it will take 50 minutes.
1 (14-ounce) package fresh extra-firm tofu, preferably
1-1/2 cups raw, unsalted pepitas
2 to 3 cloves
3/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped roughly
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 fresh chile pepper of your choice,
seeded and chopped roughly
(I like things on hot side, so I
use 1/4 habanero)
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame
Cornstarch, for dredging
Vegetable oil, for brushing
Here's What You Do:
Drain the tofu: Remove from the
package and place on a dinner plate. Place a second plate on top
of the tofu and weigh it down with a something heavy, such as a
can of food. Allow to sit for about 20 minutes. (While the tofu
drains, you can make the pesto.)
In the bowl of a food
processor or wide-mouthed blender, place the pepitas. Pulverize,
using the "pulse" button. Do not puree into a paste; you're
looking for texture.
Add the garlic, cilantro, salt, and
chile pepper, and continue to process, using the "pulse"
Taste and smile. This stuff is really good,
and if you're not careful, you could end up eating it all and
forget about the tofu. Transfer to a shallow mixing bowl.
With a sharp (serrated is even better) knife, cut the tofu
into 1/2-inch cutlet-like slabs. (You should get eight to ten
pieces.) Transfer to a dish deep and wide enough to accommodate
all the slabs in a single layer.
Preheat the oven to 350
Pour the soy sauce and sesame oil, if using,
over the tofu and allow to marinate for at least 15 minutes,
making sure you turn the tofu once to ensure even coverage of
Place about 1/4 cup of cornstarch in a
small, wide bowl. Dredge a tofu cutlet in the cornstarch. Dust
off any excess.
With a silicone or pastry brush, apply
oil to both sides of the cutlet. Place in the pepita mixture,
and with your hands, press on both sides of tofu. The pepita
mixture will adhere and look a bit like a mosaic.
Transfer to a baking dish large enough to hold all the tofu in a
single layer, being careful of the pepita crust. Repeat these
steps for the remaining tofu cutlets.
Bake for 30
minutes, carefully turning onto the second side with a spatula
or tongs after the first 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, prep the
Dino-Mash. Remove from the oven and serve hot or at room