Janine Gilbertson's Granite Kitchen: Meatless meals (with or without fish)

By JANINE GILBERTSON February 27. 2018 11:57PM
Broiled salmon with mango salsa. (JANINE GILBERTSON)

If you’re observing Lent, you’re probably also observing the tradition of abstinence from meat on Fridays.

When it comes to Lent, many people turn to fish for their Friday meals, but fish isn’t the only way to meet the meatless mandate.

Lately I’ve been cooking tofu as a way to add more protein to our diets and tofu is a great option for a meatless meal. It’s affordable and easy to prepare, as long as you pair the right firmness with the right cooking method.

The only way I’ve managed to get my family to eat tofu is if I fry it in a little sesame oil and sprinkle it with some sesame seeds.

I buy firm tofu, drain it then pat it dry, then dredge it in a little tapioca starch and drop it in the hot oil. The tapioca starch makes it crisp up nicely and the sesame oil imparts a nutty flavor.

If I’m making a stir fry for dinner, I pre-fry the tofu, then add it at the end and mix everything together. The first time I did this no one even asked me what the crispy little cubes were, since they had picked up the flavor of the seasonings.

Of course, fish is still a great meatless dinner option too. I love broiled salmon with fresh mango salsa; it’s an easy dish to pull together in a hurry and it’s chock- full of nutrition.

Another easy fish dinner idea is to make a fish chowder. When I was grocery shopping last week, I stopped in at the fish department to buy some salmon and noticed the store had packaged small pieces of fresh fish such as haddock and cod and were selling them specifically for stew. I decided this was an excellent (and budget friendly) idea so I picked up a couple of containers.

To make the stew, I simply chopped up some onion and celery, sautéed them in a little butter, then added a couple of chopped potatoes and some water. I simmered this until the vegetables were tender, then added the fish, some frozen corn, milk, a little cream and some seasonings.

As it was cooking, my kids kept coming into the kitchen to see if it was ready. The moment it was done, they loaded up a couple of bowls and tried. Apparently it was a hit, because there was barely a full bowl left when I was ready to eat later that evening.

Broiled Salmon with Mango Salsa

2 lbs salmon

2 tbsp avocado oil (you can use olive oil)

1 1/2 tsp paprika

1 1/2 tsp brown sugar

1/2 tsp kosher salt

For the salsa:

1 cup mango, chopped

1 1/2 tbsp red onion, chopped

1/4 cup avocado, chopped

1 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped

1 lime

pinch of kosher salt

To make the salsa, add all ingredients to a medium bowl and combine. 

To prepare the salmon, line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place the salmon on the baking sheet. Brush the salmon with oil, then sprinkle with salt, brown sugar and paprika. 

Place the salmon under the broiler of an oven. Broil for 7 to 10 minutes, until the salmon starts to char slightly on the top and the fish is an opaque pink. 

Remove from oven, garnish with salsa and serve. 
Sesame tofu, dredged in tapioca starch and fried in sesame oil. It's a great addition to a salad if you prefer not to eat it on its own. (JANINE GILBERTSON)

Sesame Tofu

1 lb container of firm tofu

2 tbsp tapioca starch 

2 tbsp sesame oil

1 tsp kosher salt 

1 tbsp sesame seeds

green onions, chopped, if desired, for garnish 

Drain the tofu and remove from package; pat with paper towels to dry thoroughly. Slice the tofu into pieces about 1/4 inch thick, then pat dry again. 

Add the tapioca starch to a shallow bowl or plate. 

Add the oil to a sauté pan and heat over medium high on the stove top.

Dredge the tofu in the tapioca starch, then place in the heated oil. Cook on each side for 3 to 5 minutes, until the tofu is lightly browned, then drain on paper towels. 

Sprinkle with sesame seeds and salt and garnish with green onions before serving. 
Easy fish chowder is a quick-fix Lenten favorite. (JANINE GILBERTSON)

Easy Fish Chowder

2 lbs white fish, such as cod or haddock, chopped

4 celery stalks, chopped

1 sweet onion, chopped

2 tbsp butter

3 potatoes, peeled and diced

2 cups frozen corn

2 cups water

5 cups milk

1 cup heavy cream

salt and pepper to taste

Add the butter to a stockpot and set over medium high heat. When butter is melted, add the celery and onions. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the vegetables have softened.

Add then add the potatoes and water. Reduce heat to medium and cover. Simmer for about 15 minutes, until the potatoes are softened. 

Add the fish, corn, milk and cream and simmer (do not boil) for about 20 minutes, until the fish is no longer translucent and is cooked throughout. 

Season with salt and pepper to taste.


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