Tag Archives: Vegetarian

All-Inclusive Thanksgiving Dinner: Stuffed Mushroom Stacks

Stuffed Mushroom Stacks

Every trip to the grocery store is an adventure for me. Even when I have a list in hand, I enjoy perusing the produce aisle looking for something unusual that I’ve never eaten or a seasonal favorite that I’ve waited an entire year to get my hands on once again. Sometimes, when I spot a standard item that looks super fresh I just go overboard and buy more than I need. This was the case when I picked up a three pound box of extra large snow white mushrooms at a mushroom outlet in Pennsylvania. They were beautiful and perfect . . . and I was happy! Since a lot of my thinking is done in the car, I pondered how I was going to prepare those beauties the entire ride home. With the Thanksgiving holiday just around the corner I thought about a family favorite — stuffed mushrooms. And then I thought about the turkey stuffing we used to make with mushrooms, celery, onions and sage. Why stop there? Why not place dollops of mashed white and sweet potatoes on top? And while I’m at it, I might as well make it festive with creamy mushroom gravy. This is a complicated recipe, but one that is achievable with some planning. First, I placed the sweet potatoes in the oven and baked them until soft. While the sweet potatoes were baking, I boiled the white potatoes on the stove top. I made the stock using onions and the mushroom stems. Next, I made the bread stuffing using one cup of the stock. You can make the gravy at this point or wait until after the stacks are assembled. If you’re feeling overwhelmed right now, don’t despair. Any or all of these elements can be done ahead of time depending on your time constraints and patience. You can use your own recipe for mashed potatoes. You can even use instant mashed potatoes; just use less liquid to achieve a stiffer consistency. You can also use canned sweet potatoes if you prefer. You can simply place dollops of mashed potatoes on top of the stacks instead of using a pastry bag and decorators tip. You can even assemble the mushroom stacks ahead of time and bake the next day. These Stuffed Mushroom Stacks require some thought and planning but they are worth the effort. It’s like an all-inclusive Thanksgiving dinner in every bite! You can serve them as an appetizer or as part of a buffet. You can plate them with green beans or shaved Brussel sprouts and cranberry sauce to serve as an elegant entree. Any leftovers can be served on a slider bun and rewarmed gravy the next day. On Thanksgiving and on every other day, I thank you for being Vegi-curious.

Stuffed Mushroom Stacks

3 lbs. large white mushrooms, stems removed and set aside

Mushroom Stock & Gravy

½ onion, thinly sliced
Reserved mushroom stems
2 Tablespoons red wine
4 cups of vegetable broth (Better Than Bouillon No Chicken)
2 Tablespoon arrowroot powder or corn starch
Black pepper

Lightly coat a medium saucepan with olive oil and heat over high heat. Add mushrooms and onions and cook until starting to soften and turn brown. Add red wine and cook until evaporated. Add vegetable broth (I use 1 teaspoon bouillon base to 4 cups of water for lower sodium). Reduce to simmer and cook for 30 minutes. Reserve one cup of the liquid to use in the stuffing. Remove from heat and let cool. When ready to thicken, add arrowroot and bring to a boil. Continue to cook until desired thickness is achieved. Remove from heat and let cool. You can puree the gravy in a blender and return to the saucepan until ready to serve. You can alternately use a hand-held immersion blender to puree the gravy right in the saucepan.

Stuffing

1 large onion (thinly slice ½ for gravy and mince ½ for stuffing)
2 celery stalks, minced
8 slices of sliced bread, toasted
1 cup of the reserved mushroom stock
Dried sage, oregano, marjoram to taste
Black pepper to taste

Heat a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add a few tablespoons of water to skillet then add the onion and celery. Saute until vegetables are soft and golden.
Cut or tear the toasted bread into small pieces, almost as if it’s shredded. Place in a large mixing bowl and add the vegetables, mushroom stock and seasonings. Toss until combined.

Mashed Potatoes

1 lb. potatoes, peeled and cut into small chunks
2 Tablespoons (or more) soy yogurt or non-dairy milk
Salt and pepper to taste

Place potatoes in a medium saucepan and add cold water to cover by a few inches. Bring to a boil and cook until soft. Drain well. Use a potato masher to mash the potatoes. Mix in enough yogurt or milk to make the potatoes stiff enough to pipe onto the mushrooms. I don’t recommend using an immersion blender to remove lumps as this can make the potatoes gluey. Set aside.

Sweet Potatoes

1 lb. sweet potatoes, baked until soft
¼ to ½ cup oat flour (optional)
2 Tablespoons brown sugar (optional)

Remove the skin from the baked sweet potatoes. Place in a bowl and mash until smooth. If you want a stiffer consistency, add the oat flour one tablespoon at a time. Likewise, if you like sweeter add the brown sugar. You can use an immersion blender to remove lumps. Set aside.

Assembly:

Preheat oven to 400F.

Lightly coat a rimmed baking sheet with oil. Press the stuffing mixture into the mushroom caps, then pipe on either the mashed potatoes or sweet potato puree. Lightly coat the tops with non-stick spray. Place a few tablespoons of water in the bottom of the pan and place in oven. Bake until mushrooms are tender and browned and potatoes are browned, about 45 minutes. You can turn on the broiler during the last few minutes to brown the tops. You can assemble the mushrooms ahead of time, cover lightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

 

12 Nov 2017

Never Stop Improving: “Chorizo” Beans

“Chorizo” Beans

My approach to a healthy lifestyle is to never stop improving. I developed this recipe while making my Vegetable Paella. We had dinner at a Peruvian restaurant in the Poconos over the weekend. Ohhhhh, they had Paella Mariscada on the menu. It stirred up memories that I couldn’t get out of my head. I used to order paella every time I went to a Spanish restaurant. Paella is such a special and impressive dish that I came up with my own version some time ago. My original recipe included rice, artichoke hearts, mushrooms, red peppers and peas. What’s missing is the flavor of chorizo, a spicy Spanish-style sausage made with pork. My plan today was just to add some type of large bean to the paella. Luckily I had a bag of large lima beans on hand. I thought I would cook the beans with some garlic, but then my imagination ran wild. Could I infuse the beans with the flavor of chorizo? I looked up a recipe for real chorizo to see what other seasonings go into it. Oregano, thyme, allspice and cloves. I added crushed red pepper, black pepper, brown sugar and vinegar to the mix. After quick soaking the beans, I placed them in a pressure cooker with all the seasonings. They were done in five minutes. I boosted the chorizo flavor by reducing the excess liquid. Oh, boy! These came out tastier than I expected. These “Chorizo” Beans are tasty enough to eat right out of the pot but they were destined to join the party going on in my paella pan. I added the beans at the point in the recipe when the mushrooms, peppers, artichokes and peas are arranged on top of the rice. Do they taste like chorizo? It’s hard for me to say since I used to eat chorizo only when I ordered paella and that was over five years ago. What I can say is that they are deliciously different than any other bean dish I’ve had. If you’re not up for making paella you can try smashing them into a crusty Italian roll, include them in a burrito or serve with rice. Try these “Chorizo” Beans on their own or add them to my improved Vegetable Paella and make it a Vegi-curious day.

Paella with “Chorizo” Beans

“Chorizo” Beans

The recipe is intended to be included in the paella, you might want to double or triple the ingredients if you want to enjoy the “Chorizo” Beans on their own.

1 cup dried large lima beans, soaked

6 oz. water
4 garlic cloves, whole
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon brown sugar
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
Pinch of ground cloves

Drain beans. Add the beans and remaining ingredients to pressure cooker. Cook on high for 5 minutes and quick release pressure. When safe, remove lid. If you have an Instant Pot, you can set it to “saute” and reduce any excess liquid. If using a stove-top pressure cooker reduce the heat to medium-high and cook until the liquid has cooked down. You can make these without a pressure cooker, just allow additional time for the beans to cook. Enjoy as is or add to Vegetable Paella.

 

 

18 Oct 2017

Turning into Fall: Pasta with Roasted Tomatoes & “Fried” Zucchini

Pasta with Roasted Tomatoes & “Fried” Zucchini

I love this time of the year because there’s still a lot of fresh produce at the farm and with cooler temperatures creeping in I get to turn on my oven. It’s like I’m turning a corner and I still get to enjoy the good things about where I’ve been and where I’m going. I picked up some beautiful plum tomatoes and zucchini earlier in the week and put together this Pasta with Roasted Tomato and “Fried” Zucchini recipe. It’s quite simple. Just roast plum tomatoes with garlic and herbs, either air- or oven-“fry” thin slices of zucchini and toss with your favorite pasta. This recipe is what I like to call a “have-it-your-way” recipe because you can easily adapt it to your liking. I used a combination of fresh oregano and marjoram, but you can use any fresh or dried herbs you like. I used one-half pound of Barilla’s campanelle, which is a cut pasta that looks like a curled lasagna. You could probably get away with using more pasta. If you’re thinking about using this recipe as a side dish you might use a small cut of pasta, like orzo, and chop up the zucchini after it’s “fried.” This dish is fancy enough to serve on a special occasion and simple enough for a quiet family dinner. Any way you choose, you’ll have a fresh, delicious and healthy meal. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Pasta with Roasted Tomatoes & “Fried” Zucchini

8 very ripe plum tomatoes
olive oil to coat the pan
3 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
fresh or dried oregano and marjoram (or any herb you like)
salt and freshly cracked pepper

2 small zucchini

8 oz. dry pasta, cooked according to package directions

Preheat the oven to 325ºF (165ºC.)

  1. Lightly coat a large baking pan with olive oil. (Use one that’s just large enough for a single layer of tomatoes.)
  2. Cut the tomatoes in half horizontally then use a sharp knife to remove the stems. Lay them cut side down in the pan, then distribute the garlic, herbs and seasonings on top. Bake the tomatoes for two hours, or until they are completely softened and wilted and start to wrinkle. Remove from oven. Use a fork and a knive to break up the tomatoes to make a chunky sauce.
  3. Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise. Place the cut side down on a cutting board and thinly slice on a diagonal. Place the zucchini in a bowl, add one-half to one teaspoon of olive oil and toss to coat. Set an air fryer to 400F and cook the zucchini until they start to soften and get spots of brown. (See note on how to make the zucchini in a oven.) Remove and add to the pan with the roasted tomatoes.
  4. When pasta is cooked, add to the pan with the tomatoes and zucchini. Toss gently and serve.

Note: To cook the zucchini in the oven, raise the temperature to 400F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and arrange the zucchini slices in a single layer. Bake until they start to soften and turn brown.

 

02 Oct 2017

Sin-lessy Decadent: Hazelnut-Date Truffles

Hazelnut-Date Truffles

I love getting out of bed on Sunday mornings before anyone else wakes up. It’s my time for making lists, planning my week or simply clearing my head. This morning I’m sitting on our front porch enjoying some solitude and a lovely hydrangea whose blooms are turning to rust. And a cup of coffee. (Note to self: make it a point to spend more time out here.) It’s also the perfect time for me to share my recipe for these Hazelnut-Date Truffles that I made last week. I was in the mood for a decadent, chocolate treat that was easy to make using items I had in my pantry. I also wanted to keep the refined ingredients to a minimum to make these truffles as guilt-free as possible. Since my favorite chocolate candy is Perugina’s Baci (“little kisses” made with milk chocolate and hazelnuts) I decided to go with those flavors in mind. The truffle centers are made with hazelnuts, dates, cocoa powder and hazelnut liqueur. (I use my Blendtec Twister Jar in order to get a super silky texture.) I melted some dark chocolate with coconut cream for a glossy chocolate coating and rolled a few in cocoa powder. All I can say is WOW! The result was part truffle, part caramel, total decadence and no remorse. I paired the truffles with a glass of Frangelico liqueur, but a glass of red wine or port would also be nice. Treat yourself to these Hazelnut-Date Truffles and make it a Vegi-curious day.

Hazelnut-Date Truffles

½ cup dates
½ cup hazelnuts
2 Tbsp. regular or dark cocoa powder
1 Tbsp. Frangelico liqueur

2 oz. non-dairy dark chocolate
1 Tbsp. coconut cream or full fat coconut milk

Place dates, nuts, cocoa powder and liqueur in food processor or high-powered blender. Process until smooth. Remove and portion out into 1” balls. Place on parchment paper. Set aside

Melt the dark chocolate and coconut cream over low heat. Dip the truffles in the melted chocolate and place on parchment paper. (See note below.) Refrigerate until cooled.

Note: You could also roll the truffles in cocoa powder.

24 Sep 2017

The Great Pumpkin: Pumpkin Cheesecake Parfaits

Pumpkin Cheesecake Parfait

When he came up the story line of The Great Pumpkin I wonder if Charles Schultz knew that someday millions of people would develop a “Linus Alter-Ego”? I, along with a host of others, look forward to all things pumpkin during the harvest season.

The Great Pumpkin is a holiday figure in whom only Linus van Pelt believes. Every year, Linus sits in a pumpkin patch on Halloween night waiting for the Great Pumpkin to appear. Invariably, the Great Pumpkin fails to turn up, but a humiliated but undefeated Linus vows to wait for him again the following Halloween. I can relate.

I really look forward to this time of the year. I’m in the habit of buying a few baby pumpkins every time I go to my favorite Amish farm stand. I bake them and freeze the puree to use in baked goodies all year round. I use pumpkin puree in place of applesauce and bananas because it doesn’t impart a fruity flavor to brownies and chocolate cake. I do like pumpkin scones and, now, these Pumpkin Cheesecake Parfaits. This recipe was inspired by one that I saw on Facebook . The filling is made with pumpkin, cream cheese, whipped cream, sweetened condensed milk and frozen whipped topping; and the crust had graham crackers, butter and sugar. Yikes! It looked so creamy, spicy and decadent. How could I not try to make this work for me?

It was actually easier than I expected. For the crust I used a mixture of graham crackers and pecans. The fat from the pecans allowed the crust to clump up so that it could stick together in the bottom of a glass. No extra sugar is necessary as the graham crackers are sweet right out of the box. The filling was made with pumpkin, raw cashews, extra firm tofu, brown sugar, lemon juice/lactic acid and pumpkin pie spice. The combination of cashews and lemon juice are what I use as a cream cheese replacement and the tofu gives it a lighter feel. Lactic acid is similar to lemon juice as it adds to the tangy flavor of non-dairy foods. (The one I use is made from sugar beets. You can omit this and simply add more lemon juice.) I used brown sugar on my first go-around. My second attempt was made with dates. Both came out equally delicious, so the choice is yours to use sugar or dates. I processed the filling in a high-powered blender to get a super smooth texture. I can’t say that I would trust a regular blender or a food processor to get these same silky results. The pecan-graham crumble adds a nice textural contrast to the dreamy, creamy pumpkin filling. You can really have fun by dressing up these parfaits by sprinkling candied pecans, granola, crystallized ginger or more graham cracker crumble. It’s all good.

So, the moral of the story is to be like Linus and never give up. Adopting a plant-based diet over five years ago was certainly a challenge for a foodie like me. I’ve had a few disappointing meals and several melt-downs since. I’ve learned to walk away from those recipes that just won’t work for me and move on to ones that do. It’s what keeps me going down this path to wellness. Feed your Linus alter-ego with these Pumpkin Cheesecake Parfaits. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Parfaits

Filling:

½ cup raw cashews, soaked and drained
8 oz. extra firm tofu, pressed
1 cup pumpkin
½ cup brown sugar (3/4 cup dates)
2 teaspoons lemon juice
½ teaspoon lactic acid (optional)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
Pinch of salt

Crust:

1 sleeve of graham crackers
1 cup pecans

Place all filling ingredients in high-powered blender and process until smooth. Remove to covered container and refrigerate.

Place graham crackers and pecans in a mini-chopper or food processor. Process until the crackers and nuts are finely ground and begin to clump.

Assembly:

Place one or two tablespoons of crust into a small glass or ramekin. Press down with an espresso tamper or your fingers. Spoon or pipe the filling into the glass until the glass is full. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

 

 

 

18 Sep 2017

Some Like It Hot: Thai Stir Fried Vegetables

Thai Stir Fry

I sometimes wonder why people living in hot climates like to eat hot, spicy food. For instance, Thai food is known for its curry dishes. Thai curry pastes range from “Panang” or red which is the hottest, through “green” which is moderately hot, to “Massaman” or yellow which is mildly hot. I’ve tried them all and even the Massaman is not so mild. Perhaps if you eat hot food it makes the world around you seem not so hot. I wonder . . .

I started making my own curry pastes in an effort to reduce the amount of sodium in our diets. It takes some effort to find the ingredients and to make the curry paste, so if sodium is not a problem for you simply buy a container in an Asian section of your supermarket. A little goes a long way and you can store it in the refrigerator for months.

I picked up a head of broccoli at my favorite Amish farm stand. It had a nice crown of florets, but it also had a huge stem. I usually discard the stem, but I thought it would make a nice addition to a stir fry. I also used red bell pepper, celery, carrots and scallions in the stir fry (and no broccoli florets). This was a perfect way to use up broccoli stems which I would normally throw out. The broccoli stem’s texture is similar to that of the other vegetables, so everything cooks at the same time. I used some red curry paste and a small amount of Thai coconut milk to season the vegetables. I recommend starting with one teaspoon of curry paste and adding more according to your heat tolerance. The vegetables have a nice crunch and the sauce is intensely flavored and aromatic. This dish comes together so quickly and is so tasty that I’ll be making this on a regular basis. Why sweat it outside hovering over a hot grill when you can beat the heat inside with this Thai Stir Fry? Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Thai Stir Fried Vegetables

1 cup thinly sliced broccoli stems (use leaves if you have them)
1 large bunch of scallions (about 8)
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
3 celery ribs, thinly sliced
2 carrots, thinly sliced
1 to 2 teaspoons Thai curry paste
¼ cup Thai coconut milk

Heat a non-stick wok on medium-high heat. Add vegetables and stir-fry until fork tender and the edges start to brown. Add curry paste and coconut milk and heat one minute. Remove from heat and serve over rice.

22 Jun 2017

Tofu Trials: Five Spice Maple-Glazed Tofu

Five Spice Tofu & Snow Peas

I bought some beautiful snow peas the other day at an Amish farm stand. When snow peas are fresh from the fields they really don’t need to be fussed over. In fact, I’ll eat a handful of them while I’m getting them ready for steaming. I only had a pint of snow peas and no other vegetables that would go with them, so I decided they would make a nice side dish for tofu. I purchased an air fryer a few months ago and like the way it makes tofu. Here are a few things I’ve learned about air frying tofu.

  • Marinating the tofu is pointless. The tofu doesn’t absorb the flavors of the marinade and the exterior does not crisp up.
  • It’s much easier and I’ve had better results just sprinkling or coating the tofu with dry spices and letting it sit for a few hours. (You probably don’t even need to wait before cooking.)
  • I also discovered that pressing the tofu makes it too dry. Since the tofu spends enough time in the fryer (or oven), pressing out the excess liquid is an unnecessary step and does not enhance the texture.
  • To achieve a glaze-like surface, I’ve had good results cooking the spiced-coated tofu until it starts to develop a crisp exterior, then tossing it with barbeque sauce, maple syrup or other “glazey” ingredients.

For this recipe, I sprinkled some Chinese Five Spice on the tofu, air fried it for 15 minutes, then tossed it with a smidgen of oil and maple syrup and continued air frying until it had a crispy, glazed surface. The meal was rounded out with steamed snow peas and Jasmine rice then drizzled with a ginger-peanut sauce. This turned out to be a simple meal that’s simply delicious. If you don’t have an air fryer, you can bake the tofu in the oven. You can use this method to come up with your own favorite tofu recipe by just varying the spices and glazes. If you like Texas barbeque, try sprinkling the tofu with a smoking rub, then coating it with your favorite barbeque sauce. Serve it with potato salad and corn on the cob. Or how about an Indian version that’s sprinkled with curry powder and coated with chutney and served with samosa potatoes or Basmati rice and peas? I’d love to hear about your own tofu trials. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Five Spice Maple-Glazed Tofu

1 lb. firm or extra firm tofu
½ teaspoon Five Spice powder
½ teaspoon oil (optional)
1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey

Cut tofu into 1” pieces and add to bowl. Toss with Five Spice seasoning and allow to marinate for a few hours.

To make in an air fryer:

Arrange seasoned tofu in a single layer if possible. Set temperature to 350F and cook for about 15 minutes. Remove from fryer and place into mixing bowl. Add maple syrup and oil and toss to coat. Return to fryer basket and continue cooking for another 10 minutes or until crisp. Serve immediately with steamed vegetables and rice.

To make in an oven:

Preheat oven to 400F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Place seasoned tofu in a single layer on parchment paper. Bake until tofu starts to dry out and brown, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and place in mixing bowl. Add the oil and maple syrup and toss to coat. Return to baking sheet and continue baking until the exterior of tofu is glazed and brown. Serve immediately.

16 Jun 2017

Magnifique: Mushrooms in the Style of Bourguignon

Mushrooms Bourguignon

I picked up a bag of baby portobello mushroom caps the other day not knowing what I was going to do with them. At two bucks a bag, I figured I’ll find something to make with them. These baby portobellos were about 3″ in diameter and had a nice thickness to them. It’s interesting how inspiration comes about, but the word “medallions” came to mind as I was gazing so lovingly at them. I wanted to make something hearty and meaty and thought of Beef Bourguinon. I used Ina Garten’s recipe as a guide for this recipe. I sauteed onions and garlic, browned the mushroom caps then cooked them in cognac and red wine. The mushrooms had a rich taste and meaty texture. The onions added a subtle, sweet contrast to the deep flavor of the mushrooms. Magnifique! I served the mushrooms with baked potatoes and mesclun salad, but they would also pair well with mashed potatoes and sauteed green beans. The next day, I made a Bourguignon slider with the leftovers and a small dinner roll. These would also make a nice addition to a buffet or cocktail hour. Make these Mushrooms Bourguinon and make something magnifique for dinner. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Bourguignon Slider

Mushrooms in the Style of Bourguignon

¼ cup dry red wine
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
About 1-1/4 pound small Portobello mushrooms (3” diameter)
Olive oil (optional)
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, sliced
1 Tablespoon brandy
Dried thyme, salt and pepper to taste

Whisk together red wine and tomato paste in a small bowl and set aside.

Remove stems from mushrooms and reserve for another use.

Coat a large non-stick skillet with a small amount of olive oil. (You can omit the oil and use a few tablespoons of water.) Saute the onions over medium heat until they start to brown slightly. Add garlic and continue cooking until golden. Remove the onions and garlic to a plate.

Recoat the skillet with oil if desired. Place the mushroom caps top side down and cook until they start to brown. Turn mushrooms over and continue to cook until they brown and start to soften. Arrange the onion slices on top of the mushrooms. Add the brandy to de-glaze the pan, then add the red wine mixture thyme, salt and pepper. Cover skillet and cook on low heat until the sauce thickens and turns dark brown. Remove from heat and serve with baked or mashed potatoes and a green vegetable.

06 Jun 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

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