Sunday, November 24, 2013

Hearty Smoked Tofu and Chard Casserole with Millet Topping

It's snowed yesterday. A wonderful, blowy, billowing snow that didn't last too long, but just long enough to me me feel like winter is saying hello. The sky is clear and the air is frosty and chilly and it's the perfect day for a winter adventure, even if it's just a small one. We have somewhat of a winter tradition of warming up during our winter walks with Tim Horton's hot chocolate. I love summer and fall, but I also love winter and everything that comes with it.

I'm all for snuggly, pj days spent watching movies and drinking endless cups of hot drinks, but winter adventures get my blood flowing and bring all the cool, crisp oxygen to my brain -- something that helps me stay focused at work and happy at home. But after winter adventures, it's always nice to warm up to something hearty and comforting when supper time rolls around. This nice casserole fits the bill perfectly. It's filled with hearty winter greens, red lentils, smoked tofu (although you could use any firm tofu) and a unique, creamy and crunchy millet topping. It's kind of like a vegan shepherd's pie -- the kind of stick-to-your-ribs meal that reminds you of all the good things winter has to offer.  It's also the kind of relaxing meal that you can make while the wind howls at your balcony door and you sing along with your favourite album -- lots of chopping and stirring, nothing too complicated.

If you've never cooked millet before, it's pretty easy. I used a 1-2 millet-water ratio, but for a real flavour kick, use some veggie stock instead. Some people like to toast their millet in a dry pan before adding the water, which is totally cool as well. Once the millet is made, the rest of the recipe comes together in a snap. It's made even easier if you have a dutch oven that can go directly from the stove-top to the oven. But if you don't, it's no sweat. Just transfer your beautiful stew to a casserole dish, top with the millet crust and pop under the broiler. And if you can't find smoked tofu, just use regular firm tofu and add a nice sprinkling of sweet smoked paprika. It's a meal that you can make on Sunday and enjoy all snowy week long.

Smoked Tofu and Chard Casserole with Millet Topping
adapted from Project Foodie
serves 4-5, generously

1/2 cup of millet
1 cup of water or stock
1 teaspoon of olive oil

3 small carrots, diced
1 stalk of celery, diced
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 small bunch of swiss chard, stems diced, leaves cut into ribbons
1/3 cup of red lentils, rinsed well
4-6 ounces of smoked of regular tofu, cut into cubes
salt and pepper to taste
1-2 teaspoon of herbes de Provence
1 teaspoon of dark soy sauce
2 cups of vegetable stock

1. In small pot, bring water and millet to boil. Turn down the heat to a simmer, cover and cook for about 15 minutes or until the millet has absorbed all the liquid. Set aside.

2. In a large pot of dutch oven, sweat the onions and garlic in olive oil for about 5 minutes, or until they start to soften and become fragrant. Add the carrots, celery, red bell pepper, chard stems and stir well. Add salt, pepper and herbes to provence. Cook for another 3-4 minutes.

3. Add the lentils, and vegetable stock and stir well. Cover, and reduce the heat to a simmer. Let the stew cook for about 10-15 minutes, or until the lentils start to break down and the vegetables start to soften.

4. Add the chard leaves and tofu. Stir well. Cook for another 5-7 minutes, uncovered to let the liquid reduce a little more. Stir in the soy sauce and taste. Adjust seasoning as desired.

5. Turn off the heat. If you're not using a dutch oven, pour your stew out into a large casserole dish (try to choose one that's more deep and not too wide). Spoon the cooked millet on top of the stew. Drizzle with olive oil.

6. Put your casserole under the broiler for about 5-6 minutes, or until you see a nice brown crust. Remove from the oven and serve immediately.

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