Earth Eats: Real Food, Green Living

Creole Casserole

Lent is nearly upon us! Let the good times roll with this piquant vegan-cajun mashup.

close-up macro Mardi Gras mask

Photo: Ludovic Bertron (Flickr)

Hopefully your mask, feathers and beads won't get in the way as you scarf this down.

Stuck At Home? No Problem.

With Mardi Gras in full swing, this is a perfect consolation dish for if you can’t actually go down to New Orleans this year.

Although my family isn’t vegan, we aren’t big fans of heavy, cheesy casseroles — hence the tofu. You can feel free to toss out the soy and load up the cheeses though.

Creole Casserole

Ingredients

  • 2 large eggplants
  • 2 medium onions
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 gloves of garlic
  • 1/2 - 1 cup mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon sunflower oil
  • 1 block silken tofu
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 3/4 cup textured vegetable protein (TVP)
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons parsley
  • 3 tablespoons butter/butter substitute
  • 3/4 cup Panko bread crumbs

Cooking Directions

  1. Roast eggplants in a 450-degree oven for 30 - 45 minutes, or until black on the outside and soft on the inside.
  2. After the eggplants cool, scoop out the flesh into a food processor with the tofu and chickpeas. Blend until smooth. Reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees.
  3. Meanwhile, sauté the onions and garlic in sunflower oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the bell pepper, TVP, mushrooms and spices once the onions start to turn transparent. Cook for another 7 - 10 minutes, or until all is tender.
  4. Add tofu puree to the skillet and let everything simmer for another 5 minutes or so, salting and peppering to taste. When you're satisfied, transfer the contents of the skillet to a casserole dish.
  5. Melt your butter or butter substitute in the skillet and add bread crumbs. (They will brown up in the oven, so all you need to do here is combine the ingredients.) Top the casserole with this butter and breadcrumb mix.
  6. Bake in oven for 30 - 40 minutes.

A Tasty Potpourri

I love all the different textures and flavors this casserole brings to the table: creamy and smooth, spicy and deep, and don’t forget about the crunchy top!

Since the cayenne is fairly hot, I recommend serving a light green salad alongside to cool your taste buds. Bread pudding couldn’t hurt either. (Some say if you go light on the main course, dessert doesn’t count!)

Sara Conrad

Sara is an eternal student. Currently studying Tibetan Culture at Indiana University, she loves to cook with fresh, organic, vegetarian ingredients – but also has never turned down fake mashed potatoes in a buffet line.

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