Who would have ever guessed that a stroll through The Enchanted Broccoli Forest would be laden with swamps thick with cheeses, creams of all kinds, butter and eggs. It sounds like a forest where maybe Paula Dean might have gone camping, no? It is no wonder that, even as a vegetarian, I would easily carry an extra 20 pound during the times I regularly cooked the recipes from this classic cookbook and it’s sister, The Moosewood Cookbook. To their credit, both books have been updated with healthier recipes but I have the old copies and it makes veganizing them even more of a challenge and a pleasure.
The recipe Jim and I missed the most and haven’t made in years was the Frijoles con Queso Etc. Casserole. The recipe is packed with cream cheese, mild white cheese, yogurt and egg. The way the recipe was set up drove me crazy; when trying to do a list of what I would need, I would always miss the ingredients split out for the cornbread topping. Even with that aggravation, or maybe because of it, I had the recipe pretty much memorized at one point. It was my “go to” casserole to make when a family needed donated meals because of illness, pregnancy or family crisis.
Frijoles con Queso Etc. Casserole
2 C cooked (or canned) Pinto or Kidney Beans
4 Oz. Tofutti Cream Cheese
1 C. Silk Soy Yogurt (plain – unsweetened)*
1/2 C. Grated White Vegan Cheese of choice
1 Tbs. Olive Oil
1 1/2 C. chopped Onion
3 cloves crushed Garlic
1 teaspoon powdered Cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried Basil
black and cayenne pepper to taste
1 medium Zucchini, coarsely chopped
2 medium Tomatoes, chopped
a few more dashes of pepper, salt, oregano and basil
Earth Balance to grease casserole
Ingredients for the Cornbread Topping:
1 C. Yellow Cornmeal
1/2 C. All Purpose Flour
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon baking Powder
1/2 C. Silk Soy Yogurt (plain – unsweetened)*
1/2 C. water
1 teaspoon agar agar flakes
1. If you have soaked and cooked your own beans, start this step while they are warm. If using canned beans it can help to warm them just a bit after draining them and then cut in the Tofutti Cream Cheese. It will help it melt into the mixture. Mix in the yogurt and soy cheese. Set aside.
2. Sauté the onions and garlic in the olive oil with 3/4 teaspoon of salt, cumin, basil and black and cayenne pepper for about 5 minutes. Add the sauté to the bean and cheese mixture and transfer into a greased 2-quart deep casserole.
3. In the same skillet you used to sauté the onions, pan fry the zucchini (you may not need to add oil but I usually do) with a little salt, pepper, basil and oregano. Over medium heat, stir them constantly for about 3 minutes. Add the chopped tomato and turn the heat up a bit more. Continue stirring for about 5 more minutes. Spread this mixture as a second layer over the beans in the casserole.
1. Combine the 4 dry Cornbread Topping ingredients. Preheat oven to 375°F.
2. Heat the water to boiling and stir in the agar agar flakes until pretty well dissolved.
3. Beat the yogurt into the agar mixture and stir them into the dry mixture until well mixed.