This is another recipe that helped ease the switch to vegetarianism. I hated to give up chicken parmesan; the crispy crust, the sweetly acidic bite of the tomato sauce, and the gooey, melted cheese on top. But, then I realized, none of these things had anything to do with the chicken! So I decided to try swapping the chicken for firm tofu – everything else stays the same. It makes an excellent alternative. You hardly notice the switch, and using tofu instead of chicken breast or veal makes the dish much cheaper. Plus, it still provides a nice serving of protein. I think this recipe is worth a try, even for non-vegetarians looking for a cheaper alternative
1 package extra firm tofu, sliced in to1/4 inch thick pieces
1/2 cup flour
1/4 grated parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons water
1 cup breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon dried basil or oregano
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup marinara sauce, or one 8 oz can of diced tomatoes
4 ounces mozzarella
Slice the tofu and lay it out on paper towels to drain. Arrange three small plates or shallow bowls. In the first, combine the flour, salt, and pepper. In the second beat the egg with the water. Combine the breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, and dried herbs in the last. This is your dredging station. You will cover each piece of tofu with the flour, then egg, and finally breadcrumbs.
Meanwhile, heat up the olive oil and butter in a large skillet, and preheat the oven to 400. After you dredge each piece of tofu, place it in the hot skillet for 3-5 minutes on each side, or until a crispy brown crust forms.
Then arrange the tofu in a baking dish and top with the tomato sauce. Usually I have homemade marinara in the freezer, but I was out when I made this so I just opened up a can of diced tomatoes, drained them slightly, and poured them on top of the tofu. The tomatoes became more saucey as they cooked down.
Arrange the mozzarella on top of the tofu slices. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the cheese is melted and beginning to brown. The nice thing about using tofu, instead of chicken or veal, in this recipe is that you don’t have to worry about getting the tofu cooked all the way through like you do with the others.
I like to serve this over pasta, just like you would with the more traditional versions. This dish is nice to serve when you are having people over for dinner, since it feels a bit fancy. Figure 2-4 slices of tofu per person, depending on their appetite.