Tag Archives: sandwich

Freedom from Oil: Grilled Summer Squash

Grilled Summer Squash

Over the weekend Bruce and I visited a vegan cafe that we came across in the early days of our plant-based journey. I recalled that we were pleased with the food so we decided to fuel up there before a wine-tasting adventure in southern New Jersey. I figured the roasted vegetable wrap would be a good choice. It wasn’t. As soon as I unwrapped the wrap it was like the flood gates opened up on my plate — and the flood was mostly oil. I picked at the vegetables hoping to rescue them from the oil spill that left them tasteless and greasy. From the time we left the cafe to our arrival at the first winery our conversation turned to America’s dependence on oil. Olive oil to be specific. It’s everywhere; in restaurant food, in family recipes, on cooking shows. We’ve been brainwashed to believe that it’s a “good” oil. Olive oil is one of the most calorie-dense foods and, contrary to popular belief, it may not be “good” for your heart as we once thought. But don’t take my word for it. This article and video from Forks Over Knives is an excellent (and brief) explanation. Some people feel that oil is needed to help brown food, like roasted vegetables. I can tell you that those “roasted” vegetables in my wrap were not brown at all. I’ve been preparing whole food, plant based food for five years now and I’ve learned to brown vegetables without the use of oil. Just the day before our outing I grilled eggplant, zucchini and yellow squash that came out flavorful and browned — and the only oil I used was a coating of non-stick spray on the grill grates. (I guess that’s what I had in mind when I ordered my wrap.) If you feel that grilled vegetables need a little something, try some fresh garlic, balsamic vinegar and herbs. I made a light dressing for the zucchini and yellow squash that lets their delicate flavor shine through. You can serve grilled vegetables as an appetizer, as an add-in to a salad, in a sandwich or over your favorite grain. Treat yourself to a good non-stick skillet and try using a few tablespoons of water or broth when you want to brown vegetables. If you’re not ready to eliminate oil completely you can re-train yourself by first measuring the oil then spreading with a paper towel. Pretty soon you’ll be on your way to reducing your dependence on oil. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Grilled Summer Squash

a few zucchini and yellow squash, cut into 3/8″ thick slices

Heat an outdoor grill on high heat. Lightly coat the grates with non-stick spray. Place the zucchini slices directly on the grates. Close the cover and grill until the squash is browned, then turn over and brown the second side. Cooking time will vary depending on how hot your grill is. It may be necessary to reduce the heat to medium if the vegetables are browning too fast. Remove from grill and arrange squash on a serving plate, drizzling the dressing on each layer. Serve hot, at room temperature or cold.

Honey Summer Savory Dressing

½ cup white wine vinegar
1 garlic cloves, pressed
1 Tbsp. honey or agave
fresh summer savory to taste

Whisk all ingredients together. Drizzle over grilled vegetables. Season with salt and pepper.

 

 

10 Aug 2017

My Inconvenient Truth: ELT (Eggplant, Tomato & Lettuce)

Egglant, Lettuce & Tomato Sandwich

I think about the cost of convenience every day. Whether it’s preparing a healthy plant-based meal at home or eating at a vegan restaurant, the cost of convenience is apparent. I could use frozen vegetables to make meal preparation easier and less expensive, but I prefer to use fresh vegetables because they have a better taste and texture. While going out to eat is convenient, there is a price to pay in the form of limited choices and the presence of added oil and salt. I was reminded of this “inconvenient truth” last weekend as Bruce and I had lunch at a  “destination” vegan restaurant. (I use the term “destination” when we plan an entire outing around a restaurant.) Since we traveled about an hour to get there I wanted to make the most of our trip and decided to sample a few things on the menu. We ordered jackfruit stuffed mushrooms and oyster mushrooms in scampi sauce for appetizers. I had a French dip portobello mushroom sandwich and Bruce had an ELT (eggplant, lettuce and tomato sandwich). Each stuffed mushroom had a healthy dollop of vegan tartar sauce which I could tell contained oil. The scampi sauce was made with oil and/or vegan butter. The French dip had melted vegan mozzarella (oil), the ELT had fried eggplant and vegan mayo (more oil) and both sandwiches were served with a side of fries. The truth is we don’t eat oil anymore, and when we do it doesn’t sit right with us. I guess that’s the price we pay for the convenience of eating out. Anyway, the ELT was quite tasty and I was impelled to come up with an oil-free version at home. I made the eggplant by dipping the slices in aquafaba (the liquid from canned chickpeas), coating them with bread crumbs, then baking in the oven. Instead of vegan mayonnaise I mashed up an avocado with some lemon juice and a pinch of black salt. Wanting to keep it as close to a traditional BLT, I built the sandwich by spreading a layer of avocado “mayo” on toasted white bread then loading it up with the breaded eggplant, juicy tomato slices and crisp lettuce. The crispy coating on the eggplant gives the sandwich a crunchy mouth-feel that’s similar to bacon and the avocado lends a mayo-like creaminess — without the use of oil. (A few days later I re-crisped the left over eggplant in an air fryer which gave them more of a bacon mouth feel.) Well worth the effort. The truth is that, at times, it may be inconvenient to follow a plant-based diet, but it’s a price I’m willing to pay for tasty food that’s wholesome and healthy. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

ELT (Eggplant, Lettuce & Tomato Sandwiches)

Eggplant:

1 small eggplant (about 1 lb.), cut into 1/4 inch slices
½ cup bread crumbs
1 Tablespoon smoked paprika
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
salt & pepper to taste
½ cup or more of aquafaba (liquid from canned chick peas)

Preheat oven to 400F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine bread crumbs, paprika, brown sugar, salt and pepper in shallow dish. Place aquafaba in a bowl. Dip eggplant slices in aquafaba, then coat with bread crumbs. Place eggplant slices in a single layer on baking sheet. Bake for about 20 minutes until browned, turning occasionally. Remove from oven and serve immediately.

To make eggplant in an air fryer:

Place about 8 slices of eggplant in basket of air fryer, alternating each layer to allow more even browning and to prevent them from sticking together. Fry at 350F for 20 to 25 minutes. About half way through cooking, gingerly rearrange the slices and continue cooking until browned.
For the Avocado “Mayo”:

1 ripe avocado
½ teaspoon lemon juice
Pinch of black salt (or regular table salt)

For the Sandwiches:

Your favorite sandwich bread
Sliced tomatoes
Lettuce

Toast two slices of bread. Spread some avocado “mayo” on one slice, then arrange four slices of eggplant, two or three slices of tomatoes and some lettuce.

23 May 2017

Remodeling: Mushroom Gyro Wrap

Mushroom Gyro Wrap

Long before adopting a plant-based diet one of my favorite sandwiches was a Greek Gyro. I started out ordering them with the “mystery” meat that’s sliced from a slab of lamb (and who knows what else) spinning around on a rotisserie. I migrated to Gyros made with grilled chicken breast thinking that was a healthier choice. Some time ago I remodeled my Gyro with this Greek mushroom and chickpea version of the “mystery” meat which is very tasty, but requires a small amount of effort. I wanted to come up with a newer model that was scaled back in terms of prep time and calories. My latest remodeled Gyro recipe has two key aspects that I wanted to replicate, one being the distinct flavor of marjoram, rosemary and garlic and the other being the creamy tang of Tzatzki sauce. I decided to grill some cremini mushrooms (I would have used portabellos if I had them) and seasoned them with garlic powder, marjoram and rosemary.  For the Tzatziki sauce I used a combination of raw cashews (for creaminess) and soy yogurt (for tanginess). I make my own since I don’t like what’s available in the stores near me, but you can use store-bought vegan sour cream or just plain soy yogurt to keep it simple. After grilling and seasoning the mushrooms, mixing up the Tzatziki, and slicing up the tomato, lettuce and onion, I took a pocket-less pita out of the freezer only to find that it was dried out and lost it’s ability to bend without breaking. Luckily, I had some fresh (and supple) flour tortillas on hand, which made for a lighter and neater wrap. With its Greek-inspired seasonings, mushroom “meatiness”, creamy Tzatziki sauce, onions, lettuce and tomatoes this wrap has everything I want in a Gyro. Start remodeling your life today by building yourself this healthy and delicious Mushroom Gyro Wrap. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Mushroom Gyro Wraps

Makes 6 to 8 wraps

Olive oil (optional)
1 lb. mushrooms, sliced (cremini or portabellos recommended)
dried marjoram, to taste
dried ground rosemary, to taste
garlic powder, to taste
Salt and black pepper to taste

Tzatziki Sauce (recipe follows)
Flour tortillas
Lettuce, chopped
Sliced tomatoes and onions

Heat a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. (You can coat the skillet if desired.) Add mushrooms and cook until brown and most of liquid has evaporated. Season the mushrooms with marjoram, rosemary, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Remove from heat.

Tzatziki Sauce

1 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight
1 cup plain, non-dairy yogurt
1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and minced
Salt to taste
4 garlic cloves, finely minced
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

Drain cashews and place in container of high-powered blender. Add just enough water to cover and process until smooth. Place into a small mixing bowl along with remaining ingredients and stir. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

To assemble Gyros:

Place a tortilla on piece of aluminum foil. Layer the lettuce, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms and Tzatziki sauce on tortilla. Roll up forming a conical-shaped wrap and secure with aluminum foil.

Mushroom Gyro

16 May 2017

Supersized: “Chic” Filet Sandwich

Chik-fila Sandwich

There’s a fast food restaurant chain in the US called Chick-fil-A that serves, you guessed it, all types of chicken sandwiches. I took my Mom there once and ordered a bean salad for myself. It was enough to fill a thimble. Why is it that plant-based food options in fast food restaurants are not supersized? Why can’t they offer some kind of veggie burger? That’s how I came up with my “Chic” Filet Sandwich.  Bruce and his friends used to go there for lunch and he would jokingly pronounce it as “chic-filet.” One definition of chic “is a style that expresses specified trendy lifestyle or activity.” Since more and more people are adopting plant-based diets for health and humane reasons, “Chic” Filet seems apropos. 

I sauteed onions, carrots, celery and mushrooms to give the burgers a chicken soup flavor and added cannelini beans for substance. You can experiment with the seasonings to suit your taste (or what’s on hand in your pantry). I use either a 1/3 cup measure for an average size burger or a 1/2 cup measure for a supersized one. I made a plain mock mayo using raw cashews. You can spice it up by adding a small amount of the adobe sauce from canned chipotles, Siracha sauce. If you don’t eat cashews, you could try mashed avocado. Tasty, satisfying and it passes my “stays-within-the-bun” test. Make some “Chic” Filet Sandwiches and start a new trend of supersized healthy eating. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

“Chic” Filet Sandwich

1 medium onion, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
8 oz. mushrooms, chopped
1 can cannellini beans, drained
¼ cup bread crumbs (oatmeal for gluten free)
1 Tablespoon mustard
2 teaspoons savory, marjoram or thyme
½ teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon Sazon seasoning (or other seasoning blend)
Salt and pepper, to taste

hamburger buns, sliced tomatoes, onions, lettuce for serving

Brown mushrooms in non-stick skillet. Remove to food processor. Brown onions, garlic, carrots and celery in non-stick skillet. Add spices and herbs and cook 1 minute. Add to food processor along with remaining ingredients and pulse until combined. Using either a 1/3 or 1/2 cup measure, portion out the mixture and form into patties. Place on parchment-lined baking sheet and refrigerate until firm.

Heat an electric griddle on high and cook burgers until browned on both sides, about 15 minutes total. You can also bake in a 375F oven, turning once halfway through cooking (about 20 minutes total). Serve on your choice of bun with lettuce, tomato, onions and top with cashew mayo or your favorite condiment. You can individually wrap and freeze the burgers after they are cooked.

Cashew Mayo

½ cup raw cashews soaked
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/8 tsp. black salt
1/8 teaspoon mustard powder
1/8 teaspoon sugar

Process in blender until smooth, adding water as necessary to thin.

31 Jan 2017

Channeling Grandma: Not Fried Peppers

Cubanelle & Tomato Sandwich

Cubanelle & Tomato Sandwich

My grandmother used to fry peppers all the time. When she was shopping, she would look for “frying peppers.” Of course. (You may have seen them referred to as “Cubanelle peppers“.) They differ from bell peppers in that they are light green, long, skinny and thin skinned. Good for frying because they would cook fast in a skillet. Not good for baking because they are thin and would most likely fall apart before the stuffing is cooked. She might have served the peppers as a side to a pork roast or sausage. What I do remember most was that she loved to eat them with Italian bread, sopping up the oil and pepper juices that coated her plate. I was the lucky recipient of a few cubanelles in my CSA share this week and tried my hand at making them “unfried”. To do this, I removed the stem and seeds and kept the rest of the pepper in tact (i.e., whole). Next, I placed the peppers in a non-stick skillet, added a few tablespoons of water and covered the skillet with a glass Pyrex cover and steamed them until they were soft. At that point, I removed the cover and browned the peppers, turning them often being careful to not let them burn. As the peppers rest, their juices start flowing and create an “oily” coating. The sandwich that followed was so tasty — a few slices of toasted Italian bread, several slices of peppers, a few slices of garden tomatoes and a sprinkling of Italian fairy dust (oregano). How could something so simple taste so good? You just have to let the beauty of the food shine through. On days like today when I’m in the kitchen, I feel like I’m channeling my grandmother. It’s a good day! Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Cubanelle

Cubanelle

 

 

02 Sep 2016

Corned Beet Rueben Sandwich

Corned Beet Rueben

Corned Beet Rueben

The first time I had a Rueben sandwich was my first time on an airplane. It was soooo long ago that a meal was included in the price of your ticket and the food was actually pretty tasty. I got the idea for this recipe from a menu item at Rise Above Cafe in St. Catharine, Ontario. We dined at this great vegan restaurant a few times while vacationing in Niagara on the Lake. Without further ado, let me get to the recipe as this one has a lot going on.

A traditional Rueben sandwich consists of slices of corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and Russian dressing that’s grilled on rye bread. It can be served either open-faced and eaten with a knife and fork or closed for a neater, hand-held sandwich. The first task is to make the corned beets, which is very simple but requires you to keep an eye on the stove while the beets are getting “corned”. The process to make corned beef consists of placing a slab of beef in a brine with allspice, cinnamon, black peppercorns, juniper berries, cloves and bay leaves and letting it sit the fridge for several days. I thought about trying that with sliced beets, but nixed it to avoid using any salt. Instead, I braised the beets in a vegetable broth and all of those spices. I figured the worst that could happen is that I’d have some nicely spiced pickled beets. I was quite surprised that the beets turned out to be a good stand-in for corned beef. The next ingredient was the Swiss cheese. Of course, you can purchase non-dairy cheese, but I opted to use the recipe from the Gentle Chef’s Non Dairy Evolution cookbook. It takes just a few minutes to make and after a few hours in the fridge, it’s ready to use. The last element was the Russian dressing. I used thick, homemade almond yogurt, ketchup and horseradish. You can use vegan mayo in place of the yogurt. As I was building and grilling my Rueben sandwich I was still skeptical of the final outcome, but after the first bite I was knew I was hooked. Does it taste just like a corned beef Rueben? Of course not; no plant food ever will. But it does have many of the flavor components that transport me back in time to that day I enjoyed my first airplane trip and my first Rueben sandwich. Make yourself a Corned Beet Rueben, make yourself some memories and make it a Vegi-curious day.

Corned Beet Rueben Sandwich

Have ready:

Corned Beets (recipe below)
Swiss cheese
Rye bread
Sauerkraut
Russian Dressing (recipe below)

Preheat oven to broil.  Heat a non-stick skillet on medium. Place a slice of rye bread and sliced Swiss cheese in skillet and heat until bread is browned and Swiss cheese begins to melt. If cheese doesn’t melt, place under broiler for a few minutes. Add a layer of beets, a layer of saurkraut, Russian dressing and another slice of rye bread. Turn over to and cook until browned.

Corned Beets:

3 Tbsp. brown sugar
½ tsp. mustard seeds
8 whole allspice berries
4 whole cloves
2 small bay leaves
½ tsp. black peppercorns
12 whole juniper berries
½ tsp. onion powder
½ tsp. ground celery seeds
2 whole garlic cloves
¼ cup vinegar
2 cups hearty vegetable broth

1 lb. beets, thinly sliced

Place all ingredients in large non-stick skillet, adding water to cover beets. Bring to boil and cook until beets are soft and liquid has evaporated.

Russian Dressing:

Mix the following ingredients in a small bowl, adjusting to your liking:

2 tablespoons vegan mayonnaise or yogurt
2 tablespoons ketchup
¼ teaspoon horseradish

02 Jun 2016

The Incredible, Edible, Bean: Smoky Black Beans in an Instant Pot

Black Bean Spread

Black Bean Spread

The American Egg Board has been using their slogan, “the incredible, edible egg”  since 1977. They wanted us to think that eggs were a healthy food choice that could be used in a variety of ways. Like so many unsuspecting Americans, I bought into that concept for many years. What’s so incredible about raising chickens in crowded conditions so that we could eat a food that’s high in cholesterol? Too bad that incredible slogan is already taken because I think beans are pretty incredible on so many levels. They’re high in fiber, protein, vitamins and they’re versatile. I just finished making a pot of black beans, you know, just because . . . just because I made a batch of recaito yesterday and decided to use it to make black beans. After quick-soaking the beans, I sauteed the recaito right in my instant pot, added the beans, water, liquid smoke and Sazon seasoning; pressure cooked on high for 6 minutes and was done. And while I was waiting for the pressure to come down, I thought about how this pot of beans fits in with my “one mess, many meals” habit. So, here I go. A bowl of black beans with brown, white or Spanish rice. Soft corn tacos stuffed with black beans, rice, avocado and salsa. Black bean spread with tortilla chips. Black beans smashed onto a tortilla, layered with avocado, lettuce, tomatoes and onions. Strangely, I even made a sandwich of black beans, sauerkraut and mustard on rye that reminded me of corned beef. Wow! That’s a stretch, but something in those beans did that for me. It’s easy to see that you can make several different, healthy meals with just one pot of beans. Now that’s incredible!

I happened to have two cups of dried beans on hand which made a little over a quart of cooked beans. If you want to make more, here’s how it breaks down: for every cup of dried beans, use 1/2 cup of water, 1/4 cup of recaito, 1/2 teaspoon of Sazon and 1/4 teaspoon of liquid smoke. The great thing about making recaito and freezing it in small portions is that all of the flavor is in there — peppers, onions, garlic, cilantro, culantro. You can find my recaito recipe here. (You can purchase recaito in the Spanish food aisle or freezer section, but home-made is much more flavorful.) The beans came out on the dry side, but that’s what I was after. You can adjust the amount of liquid and cooking time depending on your preference and experience with pressure cooking beans. Make a pot of black beans and make something incredible. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Black Bean Tacos

Black Bean Tacos

Black Bean Wrap

Black Bean Wrap

Black Bean & Sauerkraut Sandwich

Black Bean & Sauerkraut Sandwich

 

Smoky Black Beans in an Instant Pot

  • 2 cups black beans, soaked overnight or quick-soaked
  • ½ cup recaito
  • 1 teaspoon Sazon seasoning
  • 1 to 1-1/2 cups water
  • ½ teaspoons liquid smoke
  • Salt (optional)

Set instant pot to saute setting. When hot, add recaito and cook until it starts to brown and its liquid evaporates. Add beans, recaito, Sazon and water. Secure lid and cook from 4 to 6 minutes, depending on your pressure cooker. Release when pressure has come down naturally.

If you don’t own a pressure cooker, you can use canned beans and simmer on the stove top for about 30 minutes, adding water as needed, until the flavors mingle and the beans thicken.

 

28 Mar 2016

Don’t Fear the Sprout: Creative Ways to Enjoy Brussel Sprouts

Brussel Sprout Bagel

Brussel Sprout Bagel

“We kids feared many things in those days – werewolves, dentists, North Koreans, Sunday School – but they all paled in comparison with Brussels sprouts.”
Dave Barry, Miami Herald Columnist, ‘Dave Barry’s Bad Habits’ (1987)

What is it with Brussel sprouts? Any time I bring them up people wrinkle their noses like a child getting ready to take a dose of cough medicine. I’ll admit that even I didn’t like them until later in life when I came across a recipe that instructed me to shave them instead of cooking them whole. What a difference a little effort makes. So last summer I decided to grow a few plants in our garden. Since we get most of our sun in the front of our yard, I thought Brussel sprouts could be somewhat ornamental in a quirky sort of way. The seed packet said that if you leave them on the stalk until after a frost, the sprouts become “sweeter”. Well, we had a very warm autumn in Delaware and I harvested my sprouts about two weeks ago. These things were huge. With each stalk weighing about 5 pounds and topped off with what looks like a small cabbage, I barely had room in the kitchen to work on them. Look at Mom toiling away behind that mountain of sprouts. I had four stalks, which yielded about 7 pounds of sprouts.

Home Grown Brussel Sprouts

Home Grown Brussel Sprouts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I previously wrote about my all-time favorite Brussel Sprout recipe, so I’d just like to share a few ways to enjoy the leftovers.The first is a tasty little sandwich that I made out of desperation. I was running a little late for an appointment with Mom and wanted to have a quick bite to eat. Horror of all horrors . . .  there was nothing I wanted to eat in the fridge. No rice. No beans. No hummus. No chick pea salad. What’s a hungry and harried girl to do? I foraged around and uncovered some leftover Brussel sprouts, cashew cheese and a pumpernickel-everything bagel. Hmmmmm? The minutes were ticking away, so I donned my best “devil-may-care” attitude, set my expectations low and made myself a sandwich. What I expected was simple sustenance; what I tasted was just short of bliss.

The next creation was another of my “what-the-heck-let’s-give-it-a-try” experiments. While making an exotic mushroom pizza using aquafaba mozzarella from Avocados & Ales, I decided to make one half of the pizza with some more of the leftover Brussel sprouts. What I thought would be so-so turned out to be so delicious. We liked it more than the mushroom pizza. Who’d have thunk it?

Brussel Sprout Pizza

Brussel Sprout Pizza

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, there’s no new recipe today, just some ideas that will hopefully inspire some creativity in the kitchen. Click here for the original post on the Brussel sprouts and have yourself a Vegi-curious day.

20 Jan 2016

Mystery Meat: Mushroom Gyros

Gyro

When I was working up this recipe, Bruce told me a story that happened many years ago while patronizing the grease trucks at Rutgers University. One of the trucks was selling Gyros, a Greek sandwich made with some type of ground meat, lettuce, tomatoes, onions and Tzatziki sauce wrapped in a pita. He asked what kind of meat they used on the gyros and, to the chef’s dismay, another student waiting on line replied, “It’s a mystery, nobody knows.”  If you’ve ever had a gyro before you’re probably familiar with the greasy slab of animal by-products revolving ever so slowly on a rotisserie. Even though I threw back a few Gyros in my younger days, that meat is still a mystery to me. I wanted to use up some more of that box of portabellas from last week and thought I could make a mushroom mystery meat substitute to use for my Gyros. I started the “mystery” part of the recipe the day before by making a mushroom-chickpea loaf seasoned with marjoram and rosemary. If you can’t find marjoram in the store, you can purchase it at Penzeys. It’s definitely a nice addition to your spice rack and this recipe. You can substitute oregano or thyme if you don’t have it. The next step was to make the Tzatziki sauce, which is a blend of yogurt, cucumbers, garlic and red wine vinegar. I found a soy yogurt recipe in The Non-Dairy Evolution Cookbook that’s made with cashews, soy milk and vegan yogurt starter, but feel free to use whatever yogurt you can get your hands on. When you’re ready to assemble the Gyros, warm up a few pocket-less pitas, layer on lettuce, tomatoes, onions, sliced mushroom loaf and pour on the Tzatziki. It’s no mystery to me: these Mushroom Gyros are filled with all that is good. Make yourself a Mushroom Gyro and make it a Vegi-curious day!

Mushroom Gyros

Makes 6 to 8 wraps

  • Olive oil (optional)
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 lb. mushrooms, chopped (portabellas or cremini recommended)
  • 2 teaspoons dried marjoram
  • 2 teaspoons dried ground rosemary
  • 1 can chick peas, drained
  • 2 teaspoons Better Than Bouillon No Chicken or No Beef Base
  • 1 tablespoon vegan Worstershire or Soy sauce
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • Tzatziki Sauce (recipe follows)
  • Pocket-less pita bread
  • Lettuce
  • Sliced tomatoes and onions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat an 8-inch loaf pan with oil. Line bottom of pan with parchment paper.

Lightly coat non-stick skillet with olive oil. Saute onion until lightly browned. (You can saute onion in water by adding 2 tablespoons of water at a time to prevent sticking.) Add mushrooms and continue to cook until brown and most of the liquid has cooked out of them. Add marjoram, rosemary, soup base, Worstershire or soy sauce, salt and pepper and cook 1 minute. Remove from heat and place in food processor along with chick peas. Process until a chunky paste is formed. Press into prepared loaf pan and bake until firm, 45 minutes to one hour. Let cool overnight before slicing.

 Tzatziki Sauce

In small bowl, stir together:

  • 16 ounces plain, non-dairy yogurt
  • 1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and minced
  • Salt to taste
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

To assemble Gyros:

Place pita bread on piece of aluminum foil. Layer lettuce, tomatoes, onions, mushroom gyro slices and Tzatziki sauce. Roll up forming a conical-shaped wrap and secure with aluminum foil.

 

23 Oct 2015

Con-fusion Cuisine: Samosa-dillas

 

Samosas

What do you get when you cross a Samosa with a Quesadilla? A Samosa-dilla!  Fusion cuisine is cuisine that combines elements of different culinary traditions. Asian fusion might combine elements from East, South-East and Southern Asia. Tex-Mex in a fusion of Mexican and Southwestern United States cuisines. Sounds like an identity crisis to me. Perhaps, it should be called Con-fusion Cuisine. The trend has been around since the 1970’s, so I figured I better explore some fusion dishes before the concept is cleared off the table.

Within the past year, I’ve become a fan of Indian food, especially Samosas. A Samosa is a fried pastry that’s filled with a savory filling, usually potatoes and peas. So, there are reasons I haven’t ventured into Samosa production. While the act of making and rolling out dough (and cleaning up the post-frying mess) is a labor of love, it’s still labor. And after three years of striving to follow a whole-food, plant-based diet, my system does not process fried foods very efficiently. I wanted to figure out a way to get around these two obstacles. I remembered that I had a package of frozen Indian Roti bread in the freezer. I buy them in the Indian section of an ethnic produce market. The Roti look like raw flour tortillas and brown up nicely when cooked in a skillet or on an electric griddle. (This is the “-dilla” part of the recipe’s name.) I was optimistic that the Roti would be the time-saving and fat-eliminating solution I was looking for. For the filling, I cooked up some potatoes, onions, peas, jalapeno and Indian spices. After the griddle was up to temperature, I threw on a frozen Roti and grilled it just enough to cook but not brown the one side so that the filling would have a sticky surface to settle into. After I turned it over, I spooned the filling onto one half and folded the other side on top, pressing down with a spatula. When the one side of the Samosa-dilla was browned, I turned it over and browned the other side. A few peas and pieces of potato were able to sneak out, but I was surprised that my Samosa-dilla was a neat little package. And that’s when the wheels kept turning. I wanted to make them just a little neater and decided to wrap the filling into pockets and bake them. To do this, I simply let the Roti defrost just enough to cut them in half, filled them and pinched the edges together to form a triangular bundle. When they came out of the oven, they had a golden-brown color and a crispy texture. I couldn’t have been more pleased with the results. And that’s when the wheels started turning again. Now I’m planning a plant-based cocktail party in my head . . . Samosas, knishes, mushroom bundles. When will it end? I hope it never does. Back to reality . . . if you’re pressed for time, just make the Samosa-dillas and serve with your favorite chutney. You can make the filling a day early and fill and grill them the next day. So I wonder . . . since I used an Indian flat bread and not a Mexican tortilla, is this really Fusion Cuisine? Perhaps not, but it sure tastes good! Make yourself a Samosa-dilla and make it a Vegi-curious day!

Roti

Samosas,

 

 

 

 

 

 

Samosa-dillas

  •  1-1/2 lbs. white potatoes, peeled & cut into ½” chop
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons black mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon Garam Masala
  • 1 jalapeno or other green chile, minced
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro
  • 1 cup cooked peas
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  •  Frozen Roti, as needed

Boil potatoes until tender. Drain and let cool.

In a non-stick skillet, toast mustard, cumin and coriander seeds until aromatic. Place in spice mill to grind. If you don’t have seeds, use ground mustard, cumin and coriander. Adjust quantity to your taste.

Heat 2 tablespoons of water in sauce pot or the same non-stick skillet. Add onions and saute until golden, adding more water to prevent sticking. Add jalapeno, spices and cilantro and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in potatoes and peas.

Heat electric griddle or non-stick skillet on high. Place Roti on griddle and grill until the dough “sets” but does not brown. This should take about 1 minute. Turn Roti over and spread some of the potato filling on one half. Fold over and press down with spatula. When brown on one side, turn over and brown the other side. Remove to cutting board and cut into three wedges.

Serve with your choice of chutney.

To make Pocket Samosas:

Let Roti defrost enough to be able to fold. (This takes only a minute or two.) Cut Roti in half and place filling on one half of the semi-circle. Fold the dough over the filling and press edges together to seal. Bake in 450F oven for 20 to 30 minutes, turning over once.

Number of servings: depending on how much filling you use per Samosa-dilla, you will get about 8 to 10. If you’re making the baked pockets, you’ll get about 16 to 20.

 

 

 

 

 

23 Sep 2015

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