Thursday, February 28, 2008

Veggie Gratin + a twist on that mornay sauce :)

Several days ago, I was reading about a mornay sauce - basically a bechamel sauce to which cheese has been added. I've made this a few times in the past - and the key is usually to simmer it gently and stir in the cheese right off the heat so the sauce does not get too thick, but is instead smooth and creamy.

Well, all that sounds fabulous, but I wasn't really looking for a super cheesy/creamy sauce for dinner. But then again, the idea of a gratin of sorts sounded really yummy! Well, that's when I realized I had a bunch of silken tofu remaining from that fabulous chocolate pudding attempt. Hmm ... I could totally try using that as the base for the sauce! And season it with some cheddar and nutmeg ... would that work?

So, what's the deal with this recent tofu craze, this health kick, some kind of fad? I hope not! :) I've mostly been trying to incorporate a lot more protein into the daily diet - without compromising on flavours. We eat pretty healthy in general - lots of greens and vegetables, the occasional fish, lots of fiber and what not. But it has been good to take that a step further. We're running again, spring is in the air, just feels right to be working on improving that protein fix! Besides, morphing recipes and experimenting is highly entertaining - can't quite pass on that one!

I just hope all them traditionalists won't scream murder when they see me touting a mornay sauce with tofu in it! C'mooonnnn! It has the cheese, the nutmeg, it is flour-based, can't a sauce get some tofu love? :)

Vegetable Gratin with a tofu-mornay sauce
Julia Child, please forgive me!

Servings: 3-4

1 medium cauliflower
10-12 shiitake mushrooms
1 onion - sliced
1/4 cup of egg beaters (equivalent to 1 large egg)
8-10 cherry tomatoes - halved

For the sauce

1 T vegetable spread (I use Earth Balance)
1/3 cup of soy flour
1.5 cups of nonfat milk or a combination of milk and vegetable stock
1/2 cup grated lowfat cheddar cheese
freshly grated nutmeg
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2/3 cup of silken tofu - ground to a smooth puree

Trim the cauliflower into even sized florets - maybe even slice the thinner parts of the stalks.
Bring a large pan of slightly salted water to boil and cook the cauliflower, onions and mushrooms for 4-5 minutes until just tender. Do not overcook.
Drain the vegetables (I reserved the water and reused it in the sauce) and arrange them in a baking dish.
Scramble the egg substitute and toss it in with the veggies.

Preheat a broiler or the oven to 450 F.

To make the sauce, melt the vegetable spread in a pan and stir in the soy flour.
Cook gently for 1-2 minutes, stirring occasionally and taking care not the brown the flour.
Slowly add the milk+vegetable water, whisking constantly.
Bring to a boil, whisking until smooth and thick.
Lower the heat and simmer for 2-3 minutes.
Stir in the silken tofu puree along with the nutmeg, salt and pepper.

Pour the sauce over the vegetables and dot with the tomato halves. Sprinkle with the cheese and broil until bubbling. Scoop out and serve in bowls.


Love it, love it, love it. This crazy silken tofu thing is a perfect base for sauces and dips (and puddings :)) - it was smooth and creamy, not as rich as a real bechamel or mornay, but perfect for a lighter meal. Plus, the gratin had this really neat nutty flavour - I'm suspecting that's a tofu thing.

Next time around, I'll probably cut down on the milk/water added, the sauce was a bit runny, I need to work on that whole consistency thing. And maybe a handful of breadcrumbs would be fun too - to make the gratin even more crispy.



Happy cook said...

I think it is ones choice how one make a dish. It looks good

sra said...

I've never seen silken tofu undressed ;) - the one we get here is highly priced and very close to its best by date - from your pix, I'm beginning to understand why it's used as an egg substitute in some recipes.

Cynthia said...

Fantastic. And you are right, the nutmeg in this sauce is really something else.

Cynthia said...

Meaning, something good :)

Edalene said...

Good words.