Welcome Spring! Perfectly timed, this month’s Recipe Redux theme is Green with Herb Envy. I can’t think of a better way to welcome warmer months and fresh herbs than this flavorful spread.
I am so excited to share this recipe with you! Of all the “better for you” makeover recipes that I make, dairy-free, nut based creams are my absolute favorite… and this creamy, herb-filled cheese is no exception.
This is one of those recipes where I contemplate the actual need to post. It’s a pretty basic vegetarian sandwich: spread, tofu, and grilled vegetables on a hearty bun. Nothing too out of the ordinary but the simplicity and the perfect combination do warrant it’s own page.
I’ve been in quite the sandwich mood lately and needed a reason to use up my still producing basil plant. If your like me, ready for fall but not ready to give up summer favorites like eggplant, tomatoes, and basil you must try this sandwich. I made a bunch of the ingredients and packed them for work last week. Whenever cravings or mealtime struck, I was able to quickly assemble a gourmet sandwich in a matter of minutes.
Creamy Basil & Eggplant Sandwiches
Ingredients: (make 4 sandwiches)
4 whole wheat hoagie rolls
1 globe (Italian) eggplant, sliced 1/4-1/2″ thick
1 tomato, sliced
1 package extra-firm tofu
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp. cup olive oil
1 tbsp. all purpose seasoning (Like 21 Salute)
1 cup basil, packed
1/4 cup mayo (Veganaise is the best!)
To make the basil spread: finely chop the basil leaves. Combine with mayo and juice of 1 lemon. Set aside. Alternatively, you can combine the basil, mayo, and lemon juice in a food processor/blender.
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place the eggplant slices on a baking sheet. Combine the all-purpose seasoning, pinch salt, and 2 tbsp. olive oil in a small dish. Brush the eggplant slices with the olive oil mixture and place in the oven. Bake for 10-12 minutes each side until translucent on the inside and lightly crisp on the edges.
Squeeze the water out of the tofu and slice into 1/2″ slices. Combine the juice of the other lemon, olive oil, and pinch salt/pepper. Place the tofu in a baking sheet and cover with lemon marinade. Bake at 400°F for 15 minutes.
To assemble the sandwiches, spread the basil sauce on either side of the hoagie roll. Layer with eggplant, tofu, tomato slices.
What’s your favorite type of sandwich?
I LOVE pesto. And really, who doesn’t? Let’s look at traditional pesto ingredients:
- Olive Oil
- Parmesan Cheese
- Pine Nuts
Simply put, traditional pesto is a mixture of three delicious fats mixed with an herb. It should come then as no surprise that I love it. I would eat pesto every day on everything if I didn’t feel like I was spooning oil into my mouth with each bite. However, those feelings aren’t going to stop me from eating pesto. It’s summer and my tomatoes need pesto, my pasta needs pesto, my sandwiches need pesto… you get the story.
I also have enough basil from my garden to fill my kitchen and nothing sounds better than…. pesto.
This was my attempt at a light pesto sauce that I could make (and eat) weekly. Creamy white northern beans are the perfect sub for olive oil, and walnuts make an inexpensive sub for pine nuts.
Quick weeknight dinner: whole-wheat pasta, halved heirloom cherry tomatoes (thank you EatWell Farms CSA) and pesto.
So, enjoy. A pesto you can eat every day on anything you can get your hands on, without the excess fat.
3 large bunches basil (About 1-1.5 cups packed basil leaves)
2 cloves garlic
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. nutritional yeast
1 cup white northern beans (Cannelini beans)
1/2 cup walnuts
2 tbsp. water (preferably pasta water if your making this to go with pasta)
1/2 tbsp. white wine vinegar
Put all of the ingredients in a food processor. Coursely chop until the mixture looks like fine meal. With the blade running, pour in the olive oil and continue to process for ~1 minute until smooth. If the sauce is too thick, slowly add more water.
Eat. Enjoy finding foods you didn’t even know pesto tasted good with.
This past Saturday I had the food network on while I cleaned the house. The theme of the weekend, “comfort food.” Shows like Diners Drive-In’s Dives, Giada, and others were all dedicated to enriching everyday foods with all things “comfort:” cheese, cream, bacon, and butter. Which then got me to thinking, why is comfort synonymous with heavy, saturated foods?
Triple D showed the ultimate comfort food, two grilled cheese sandwiches on the outside of a double bacon cheeseburger. I hope I’m not the only one who didn’t get turned on by this or other types of ridiculous food. That just doesn’t appeal to me, and I’m not even talking about the hamburger part. Two grilled cheeses and a burger? No thanks, having to loosen my pants and popping an antacid isn’t comforting to me.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I love treats. Cupcakes, brownies, creamy pasta all make me a very happy person and I enjoy them often. However, whats’ most comforting to me, is making a delicious, indulgent-tasting meal for others to enjoy. That also happens to be free of cholesterol, tons of fat… and bacon! Because, I love my family and friends. And while I want to make them feel good about what their eating, I also want their bodies to feel happy with their choices.
Which brings me to DK’s Comfort Food. Creamy fettuccine with lemon, basil, and roasted cherry tomatoes. Every bit as decadent as a traditional cream pasta without all the next-day bloat.
Creamy Lemon Basil Fettuccine
1/2 cup cashews, soaked at least 1 hour in water
1 cup + 2 tbsp. vegetable broth
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 large lemon
1 large handful basil
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 tbsp. Earth Balance butter
salt/pepper to taste
8 oz. whole wheat spaghetti or fettuccine
3 garlic cloves, sliced
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook to al-dente. While the water boils, prepare the sauce. Reserve 1/2 cup of cooking liquid and the drained noodles.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the vegetable broth and 1 tbsp. E.B. butter to the skillet. Add the garlic and stir constantly until the garlic becomes golden. Don’t burn!
Halve the cherry tomatoes and add them to the pan. As they begin to cook, press down on them lightly with a fork or potato masher until they “pop”. Allow them to soften, about 5-10 minutes. While the tomatoes are cooking, make the cream sauce.
In a blender, combine the drained cashews, 1 cup vegetable broth, and the zest and juice of 1 large lemon. Puree on high speed until all the cashew is creamed and no grainy parts remain. Depending on the power of your blender, this could take 3-4 minutes. Add to the pan with the red pepper flakes. Stir the cream sauce into the tomatoes and continue to stir until the sauce thickens, about 3-4 minutes.
Stack the basil leaves on top of one another, roll like a cigar and thinly slice from the end down until you have basil “ribbons”. Add this to the sauce with the reserved pasta and pasta water. Stir to combine and serve!
Serves 4. Per Serving: 218 calories, 12g fat, 4g fiber, 8g protein.
What’s your favorite comfort food?