Mancuso family comfort food

Contributed by Victoria Mancuso, MD

Mancuso family comfort food

Every week, my family has what we call "comfort food." We love the meal, which is entirely plant based. It's made up of grilled tofu, vegetarian Dal (a traditional Indian dish made with lentils), brown rice and sauteed kale.

It's a good combo of protein, fiber, whole grains, and flavor.

My 12-year-old even enjoys it, dipping her pita bread in the Dal and competing for the tofu with the best grill marks!

Servings: 4-6

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes


  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 1/4 white or yellow onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, diced
  • 1  teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon of each: cumin seeds, coriander seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 14 oz block firm tofu, cut in 1/2 inch rectangles
  • Low sodium soy sauce (enough to cover tofu for marinade - about 1/2 cup)
  • Mirin (roughly 1/2 cup)
  • 1 teaspoon black sesame seeds
  • Sauteed greens (such as Lacinato Kale)
  • Brown rice
  • Whole wheat pita cut in quarters, heated in the oven



Combine the following spices in a small dish: 

  • 1 teaspoon turmeric 
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander 
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin 
  • 1/4 teaspoon of each: cumin seeds, coriander seeds 
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds 
  1. Heat a large stock pot, add 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil and saute the onions and garlic for one minute. Then add the entire mix of spices, mixing well until your kitchen smells aromatic (but before it burns). 
  2. Quickly pour in 4 cups water, scrape the spices off the bottom of the pot and add 1 cup red lentils. 
  3. Bring to boil, then simmer for 30 minutes or until the lentils are soft.

Grilled tofu:

  1. Place the firm tofu, cut in 1/2 inch rectangles, into a pan and cover with low sodium soy sauce and mirin. 
  2. Sprinkle with black sesame seeds and marinate for 10 minutes. 
  3. Heat a panini maker or a grill. Paint small amount olive oil on the grill and place the tofu, seed side up for about 5 minutes. When the grill marks are present and golden brown, turn the tofu and grill for two more minutes.

Sauteed greens:

  1. Heat a cast iron or stainless steel skillet. 
  2. Add two tbsp extra virgin olive oil and quickly add one bunch sliced dinosaur kale and sprinkle sea salt to taste. Use tongs to mix the greens for 5 minutes. If they start to burn, add a dash of water (in order to steam them slightly). 
  3. Serve with a squeeze of lemon (added at the table, since adding lemon in the pan will turn the beautiful greens into browns!) 
  4. Serve the Dal, tofu and greens with warm pita bread and brown rice.

Nutrition Information (per serving)


  • Calories: 170
  • Total fat: 7 g
  • Saturated fat: 1 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg
  • Sodium: 0 mg
  • Total carbohydrate: 20 g
  • Dietary fiber: 5 g
  • Sugars: 1 g
  • Protein: 9 g

Grilled tofu:

  • Calories: 130
  • Total fat: 5 g
  • Saturated fat: 1 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg
  • Sodium: 360 mg
  • Total carbohydrate: 8 g
  • Dietary fiber: 1 g
  • Sugars: 6 g
  • Protein: 8 g

Sautéed greens (includes 1/4 tsp added salt):

  • Calories: 60
  • Total fat: 5 g
  • Saturated fat: 0.5 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg
  • Sodium: 115 mg
  • Total carbohydrate: 5 g
  • Dietary fiber: 1 g
  • Sugars: 0 g
  • Protein: 2 g