One of the great finds from our trip out to the Printer’s Row Book Fair was a copy of The Vegetarian Gourmet’s Easy Low-Fat Favorites. I’m a vegetarian! I like easy! I like low-fat! For 10 bucks you just can’t beat nearly 500 pages of relatively easy recipes that promise you lower-fat alternatives to what’s out on the market.
Split into 15 different sections (including a section just for baked potatoes) , Bobbie labels each recipe with an icon letting you know if the meal is vegan, lacto, lacto-ovo, or vegan w/ honey. I wondered what those little icons meant. It pays to read the introduction occasionally. Or even the back of the book. Good thing I worked at a library for over a decade.
What I like about the book is just how varied the recipes are. Ms. Hinman bounces all over the savory map, from stuffed sweet potatoes to a southwestern twist on Jicama salad. But this also comes with some negatives. Of the three dishes I’ve tried, only one seemed flavored properly. The others tasted a bit bland, needing some added “oomph.”
This afternoon I tried her Tofu Tamale Casserole which reminded me more of a scrambled tofu frittata than a casserole. And ultimately, I didn’t feel it tasted much like a tamale at all. Even after adding cumin and cayenne pepper to the mix, it still seemed under flavored. Don’t get me wrong, it tastes good, but there needs to be some recipe adjustment.
The only real misfire so far has been the BBQ Tofu over cous cous. It didn’t taste much like BBQ at all. It reminded me more of a peppery marinara sauce with tofu.
My favorite dish so far, however, is the one I’m about to share with you. It combines two of my favorite flavors, black beans and feta cheese. You could honestly add feta to anything and I’d be happy. I love the crumby texture and tangy flavor the cheese embodies. The sharper the flavor, the happier I am. And black beans? Best bean on the planet (although fresh fava beans are a close second). What makes this dish so interesting is the combination of the feta cheese with salsa. When the two flavors are blended together in the yogurt, it just hits your tastebuds and says “What’s UP!?” For the noodles, I prefer the Barilla PLUS! noodles, because they’re not as quite as heavy as wheat noodles, and provide a little more nutrition than regular egg-free noodles.
Black Bean and Noodle Casserole with Feta
- 3 egg whites
- 3/4 cup skim milk
- 1 8-oz container plain nonfat yogurt
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese, rinsed and drained (3 oz.)
- 1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp parsley flakes
- 2 tsp dried basil
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 6 oz medium (yolk-free) noodles, uncooked (4 cups)
- 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained (or 2 cups of cooked beans)
- 1 16-oz jar salsa (medium or hot)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Lightly oil a 7×11-inch baking pan or spray with a nonstick cooking spray.
- In a large bowl, combine egg whites, milk, yogurt, feta cheese, and flour. Beat with a fork until blended. Add spices, mixing well.
- Place half of the noodles in the prepared pan, Top with half of the beans, followed by half of the salsa. Spoon half of the cheese mixture evenly over the top.
- Repeat layers, using remaining noodles, beans, and salsa. Spoon remaining cheese mixture over the top, covering all of the noodles. Press noodles down lightly into the sauce.
- Cover with aluminum foil and bake 45 minutes.
- Let stand 5 minutes before serving.