Domain: Kitchen Mission: Saving Supper

Everyday dinners go from unhealthy to wholesome without sacrificing flavor

My husband and I try to eat healthy. But we also love comfort foods, which aren’t exactly low-cal. Enter Almost Meatless, a new-ish cookbook by local foodies Joy Manning and Tara Mataraza Desmond. While I may be a tad biased — Joy and Tara are friends, and Joy is Philly mag’s food critic — I think these ladies are on to something big. They’ve given familiar recipes a subtly wholesome makeover: less meat here, grains and veggies there. They even managed to transform two of my go-to weeknight dinners into nutritious meals that are, I swear, just as delicious as the originals.

Serves 6

For the sauce:
4 poblano peppers
1 1/2 lbs. tomatillos, hulled, washed and halved
1 T. canola oil
1 tsp. kosher salt, divided
4 oz. silken tofu
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 c. chopped cilantro
1 1/2 tsp. honey
1 jalapeño, seeds and stem removed, chopped

For the filling:
2 T. canola oil
8 oz. boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 2)
1 c. chopped onion
1 T. cumin
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
6 oz. extra-firm tofu, crumbled
4 oz. pepper jack cheese, grated,
plus extra for topping if desired
12 6-inch corn tortillas
Canola oil, for brushing tortillas

Sauce: Position oven rack about 6 inches below the broiler. Arrange poblanos on a baking sheet and broil, about 3 minutes per side. Cover poblanos with plastic wrap to loosen the skins. Toss tomatillos with the oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt and arrange, cut side down, on a foil-lined baking sheet. Broil tomatillos for 5 to 15 minutes, until soft and blackened. Set aside to cool. Peel the skin from the poblanos, and remove the seeds. Place 1 poblano in a food processor, and cut the other three into bite-sized strips and reserve. Add silken tofu, garlic, cilantro, honey, jalapeño, roasted tomatillos and remaining salt to the food processor and puree until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to use. Filling: Heat canola oil over medium-high heat in a nonstick skillet. Brown chicken for 4 minutes per side, remove from pan and let cool. Add onions, cumin and salt and cook until the onions have softened, about 10 minutes. Add the tofu and cook for another 10 minutes. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and add the reserved poblano strips. Shred chicken into bite-size pieces and add to the mixture. Mix in the cheese. Preheat oven to 400˚ F. Brush both sides of tortillas with canola oil, arrange on a baking sheet, and bake for no more than 5 minutes, to soften. To assemble the enchiladas, pour 1/3 of the sauce into the bottom of a 2-quart casserole dish. Fill each tortilla with about 1/4 cup of the filling and roll. Spread remaining sauce over the top, and sprinkle with additional cheese. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until bubbly.


Serves 4

For the meatballs:
2 garlic cloves, minced to a paste
with 1 tsp. coarse salt
1/4 c. whole-milk ricotta
1/4 c. freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano
1 whole egg, beaten
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 T. minced fresh oregano
6 large basil leaves, minced
1/4 c. parsley leaves, minced
1/2 c. pearled barley, uncooked
1/4 pound ground pork
1/4 pound lean ground beef
1/4 pound ground veal

For the sauce:
2 T. olive oil
1 1/2 c. diced yellow onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 c. dry red wine
28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
2 tsp. sugar
For the sandwiches:
4 soft sandwich rolls, cut in half lengthwise
4 ounces grated or sliced asiago or fontina

In a large bowl, mix together the garlic paste, ricotta, parmigiano-reggiano, egg, pepper, oregano, basil and parsley. Add the barley and stir well. Gently add meat; do not overwork. Roll 2 tablespoons of the mixture to form one meatball; you should get about 20. Heat olive oil in a large saucepot over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and sweat for 5 minutes. Add the red wine and simmer to reduce by 3/4, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and sugar, and stir to combine. Bring sauce to a simmer and add meatballs. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. When the meatballs are tender, season with additional salt and pepper to taste. Spread a few spoonfuls of sauce on a roll. Add 3 to 4 meatballs and a few extra spoonfuls of sauce, and top with 1/4 of the cheese. Place sandwiches on baking sheet and broil for about 3 minutes, just until the cheese is bubbly.