Natural Messages — Tofu-Millet Casserole

Some of the recipes in The Blonde Box have a long history before I took charge of them. With others, I can roughly pinpoint when I got them. This is one of those recipes.

My better half and I had returned home from a couple of years in a distant city, and we brought with us some uninvited guests – 50 pounds between the two of us!. Only it’s not quite true to say they were uninvited. Every time we ate out at restaurants, every breakfast sausage biscuit, every time the two of us polished off a entire delivery pizza, we  had sent an engraved invitation to every pound of fat.

We were both looking for an alternative way of eating when we came back home. There was a big health-food store in the center of town, and we were there every week. Sitting on the counter was a box of sample recipes from The Natural Messages Company – trying to interest us in their mail-order vegetarian recipe box. We only have a couple of recipes from that collection, but they really are good recipes.

People are often skittish about some of the ingredients in vegetarian food, and for many people tofu tops the list. The recipe starts by marinating cubed tofu in soy sauce, wine vinegar and garlic powder, and it’s almost magical how much better people like their tofu prepared this way.

Another surprise in the recipe was millet. Back then, I didn’t know you could actually cook millet for yourself rather than it just being bird food, and toasting it makes it all the better.

1 pound tofu cut into ½" – ¾" cubes
½ cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon wine vinegar
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 ½ cups millet
3 tablespoons oil, divided
¼ teaspoon salt
1 medium onion, sliced
4 to 8 ounces mushrooms, chopped (1 1/3 – 3 cups)
1 green or red bell pepper, chopped
1 ½ teaspoons dried crushed rosemary 
1 teaspoon sage
½ teaspoons paprika
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup plain yogurt
½ – 2/3 top chopped parsley (preferably leafy)

1.  Marinate tofu in soy sauce, vinegar and garlic for at least 15 minutes (preferably longer), turning frequently.  Meanwhile, bring 4 cups water to a boil in tea kettle. 
2. Place a large pot on medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of the oil.  Sauté millet in this, stirring constantly five minutes or so until it changes color and gives off a nice fragrance.  Add the boiling water to the millet (just be aware that it will sizzle alarmingly as you do this).  Reduce heat, add the ¼ teaspoon salt and simmer with lid ajar for 20-25 minutes until water is absorbed. 
3.  Heat remaining two tablespoons oil in a good-sized frying pan on medium heat.  Add onions and stir for a minute, add mushrooms, green or red pepper and a pinch of salt and stir a few minutes more.  And drained tofu and herbs and continue cooking for a total of about 10 minutes.  Preheat oven to 350°.
4. Remove tofu-and-vegetable mixture from heat and mix with cooked millet, cheese, yogurt and parsley.  Place in a light pre-oiled 9" by 13" baking pan and cover with foil.  Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or so.  It makes six to eight servings.


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