I have had the Vegan Lunch Box cookbook by Jennifer McCann for awhile, and I have tried numerous recipes successfully for my family. For some reason I never tried the Tofu Fish Sticks. I think the name scared me, like I would have to put in a ton of effort or something. While searching this morning for inspiration in the kitchen, I revisited this wonderful cookbook and was drawn to this recipe. After reading it, I saw actually how very simple it was. You cut some tofu, dredge it in soy milk and batter, then bake. Well, these were a HUGE hit tonight at dinner in my house. All 4 kids have them a thumbs up, and it felt good to start our busy week off with a nice home cooked meal.
So for all you tofu skeptics out there, I would encourage you to try these delicious, nutritious renditions! The only thing I was missing was the tarter sauce, which I will make the next time we have these. Actually, I am going to give you 4 recipes from tonight’s meal. It seems like a lot, but most of the work was in the prep and this was actually a pretty simple meal to prepare. The meal is 100% vegan except for a tiny, tiny amount of ghee on the beets, which you could easily omit. I use ghee for the flavor and to add a little bit of animal fat to our diet for variation. I also used some honey in the carrots and green bean vinaigrette. You can read about some of the health benefits of ghee vs. butter here.
Moving on to the recipes! First up are the Tofu Fish Sticks, which my family renamed To-Fish Sticks. These are gluten free and vegan!
To-Fish Sticks (recipe taken from Vegan Lunch Box)
- 2/3 Cup fine cornmeal
- 2/3 Cup sliced almonds
- 2 tsp. paprika
- 2 tsp. kelp granules
- 2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. onion powder
- 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp. dried dill weed
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pound firm tofu, drained
- extra virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Coat the bottom of a glass baking dish with olive oil spray. Combine first 9 ingredients in a high power blender until it turns into a coarse meal. (Note: modify this to your taste. For example, I added extra kelp granules, along with some nutritional yeast. I also omitted the onion powder because I had none, so I doubled the garlic powder). Transfer powdered blend to a wide baking or pie dish. Put soy milk into a bowl. Cut the tofu into just under 1/2 inch slices, then cut those in half. This gave me 18 sticks. Dip the tofu stick into the soy milk, then place it in the cornmeal mix, making sure to heavily coat on all sides. Place in the baking dish (I sprinkled on extra cornmeal mix on top of the tofu sticks), and sprinkle them with olive oil. Bake for 30 minutes or until crispy.
Next up, the beets. So super simple, but such a wonderful flavor. Thinly slice a red beet and an orange beet (more if needed). Spray bottom of a shallow baking dish (I use a pie pan). Place your beet slices in the pan and sprinkle with olive oil. I also added a touch of ghee. Bake at 400 degrees F for about 20 minutes or until beets are tender. I like to cook mine until they just start to get crispy around the edges.
Now for the potatoes. Cut some golden potatoes into 6-8 pieces, depending on the size of the potato. Boil in water (with a little salt and pepper added) until tender. Drain the water and place the potatoes back in the saucepan. Coat with some vegan butter and freshly chopped parsley. Done!
Finally, the veggies. This is another recipe from Vegan Lunch Box. It is such an easy vinaigrette to make and so flavorful! I will tell you that I completely forgot to add the tarragon as listed below. I also added some honey to the vinaigrette to slightly change the flavor. I loved the way it turned out! I also added some fresh crushed garlic. Keeping that in mind, here is the original recipe below:
Green Beans and Carrots in a Tarragon Vinaigrette (original recipe taken from Vegan Lunch Box)
- 3 baby carrots (cut into matchsticks)***
- 1 handful fresh green beans, trimmed
- 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1 tbsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 tsp. dried tarragon
- freshly ground black pepper
***I used regular carrots, sliced then then cut them into tiny matchsticks
Add green beans and carrots to a sauce pan with a little bit of water. Bring water to a boil, then lower temperature, cover and simmer for a few minutes until beans are tender. I like mine tender but still a little crunchy. Remove the cover and increase the heat to boil off the rest of the water. This shouldn’t take long, so if you find that for some reason you have a lot of water left after you do this for a few minutes then just go ahead and pour off the excess water. (At this point I added some crushed garlic to the pan and cooked for a few minutes). Whisk together the vinaigrette ingredients (I added some honey to mine and omitted the tarragon) and toss with the vegetable mix. This vinaigrette could be used with a lot of different foods. Try it and you will see how simple, yet flavorful it is. It really jazzes up your basic vegetable and brings it to a whole new and fun level!