Who says cheese can't be healthy? Cheese is the reason why if I ever became a vegetarian, that I would never become a vegan, because although I've made some delectable vegan dishes in the past, I could never give up cheese. It's too delicious and so far, I haven't really found a tasty vegan alternative. That's not to say that you should go crazy and overload on cheese, but it really gets a bad rap by many health gurus when if used in the right proportions and preferably reduced-fat, it can be just as a salubrious as other protein-packed meals. The dish I prepared can actually be made vegan too, and as I found out the next day, congeals to a thick, creamy consistency, pretty much the same as the traditional creamy French dish that inspired me. However, I made an homage to the Swiss not by using Swiss cheese (har har), but rather by using Swiss chard, which has lately become one of my favorite vegetables to cook with. This dish can serve as a moderate portioned entree or a smaller side dish.
Tofu-Swiss Chard Au Gratin
Makes about 6 servings
4 c. Swiss chard chopped
6-8 Brussels sprouts, leaves separated
1-2 dried kale chips (I used New York Naturals in the 'Vegan Cheese' flavor)
1/2 c. unsweetened almond milk
3 tsp tofutti cream cheese
1/2-3/4 c. low-sodium chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
5 tbsp vegan buttery spread (I used Smart Balance)
1/2 c. silken tofu
1 tbsp whole grain mustard
3 tbsp Parmesan or Romano cheese OR some finely chopped walnuts (vegan alternative)
1 c. lactose-free, reduced-fat cheese, grated (I used McAdam's reduced-fat cheddar, but Cabot makes some as well) OR some vegan cheddar
1/3 block extra-firm tofu, sliced thinly
2 tbsp grated cheese for garnish
1/2 tbsp. dried oregano to garnish
1 tbsp Parmesan cheese to garnish
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a small casserole dish with Pam olive oil.
2) In a small microwavable bowl, heat up the almond milk, silken tofu, cream cheese, chicken broth, buttery spread and the 3 tbsp. of Parmesan cheese until blended and creamy.
3) Rinse the kale and Brussels sprouts and place into the casserole dish.
4) Pour the creamy mixture over the greens and sprinkle the grated cheddar on top.
5) Lay the extra-firm tofu on top of the mixture and crumble the kale chips over the tofu.
6) Sprinkle the extra cheddar cheese on top of the kale chip crumbles along with the oregano and red pepper flakes for garnish.
7) Bake the gratin for about 30 minutes, until you see it bubbling in the oven, with the cheese melted on top.
8) Remove from oven and serve immediately--can also be refrigerated, which will actually solidify the mixture a bit.
Enjoy and Bon Appetit!