Brussels and Prosciutto Skewers

Apparently there’s a Brussels gene.

 

I got the version that is addicted to them.

For the New Years Eve pairing dinner I co-hosted, I made Brussels and Prosciutto Skewers.  People loved them… except I was told by one person that there is a gene (like the cilantro gene) where some people think they taste bitter.

Apparently about 50% of the world has this gene.  If you’re not one of those unfortunate people, you’ll love this recipe. (Recipe at the bottom of post.)

Brussels and Prosciutto Skewers… 

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Black-Eyed Pea & Roasted Garlic Hummus

Black-eyed peas supposedly bring luck on New Year’s.

 

Don’t we all want to get lucky?

This year I could use a little extra luck, so I made sure to concoct a black-eyed pea dish to share with friends at our New Year’s Eve pairing dinner.  I used traditional hummus ingredients, but replaced chickpeas with canned black-eyed peas.  What resulted was a fantastic, black-eyed pea hummus.

Black-Eyed Pea Hummus

… 

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Oscar-Worthy Creamy Pesto Dip

I don’t like movies.

 

I know, I know… you’re looking at your screen like I said I kill puppies.

They are just SO predictable/disappointing/over-acted/etc.  I do make exception for movies based on true stories.  Zero Dark 30, for example, was incredible.  I also liked Les Miserables… even thought it was a musical and it was long.  It could have something to do with the bottle of wine we snuck into the theater…

Either way, I DO love the awards shows.  I like to judge check out the dresses, and love the performances between awards.  How awesome is Adele?!  

Adele Oscar performance

 

When Special K contacted me about trying their new Sweet & Salty Popcorn Chips and sharing them with friends at an Oscar party, I jumped at the chance.  I love a party! ;)

The awesome party package they sent included the chips, nail polish, a game to guess the winners, and…. a red carpet!!!  ***I received this product and party kit at no cost from Special K; however, all opinions are my OWN!***

red carpet

 

I invited over some of my favorite movie buffs and prepared a spread of meatballs, Creamy Pesto Dip, Brown Beer Hummus, veggie sticks, cheeses, and Red Wine Chocolate Cookies.  And the chips, of course.

The chips were totally addicting.  How can it get better than sweet & salty?  We inhaled 2 boxes.  Which really isn’t bad considering a serving is 28 chips.  Only 120 calories AND I can pronounce every ingredient on the (short) list.

Oscar spread

 

Our favorite performances were – of course – Adele and Les Mis.  I can’t believe they got the whole cast on stage!  I also laughed like a 10-year-old boy at the “We Saw Your Boobs” song. #sorryimnotsorry.

Did I mention it was a pajama party?

Oscar party

 

Back to the spread.  The dips were fantastic with the chips.  I shared the Beer Hummus on Monday, but today I have the Creamy Pesto Dip for you.  This recipe was inspired by this recipe created by my girl Kierston.  She is a Canadian figure competitor and I have LOVED following her journey!

I lightened it up a bit to meet my dietary needs by eliminating the pine nuts and parm and using nutritional yeast.  Because nutritional yeast has a cheesy-nutty taste to it, it made a fabulous pesto and packed in the B-12 and protein.

Citrus and spice are a couple of my favorite ways to add depth and a bright punch to recipes.  I added lemon juice and red pepper flakes to accomplish that here.  After combining the first ingredients in the food processor, I transferred the mix to a bowl to stir in the Greek yogurt (more protein – woot!).  I couldn’t believe how light and flavorful the result was!

Creamy Pesto Dip 1

 

Vegan or dairy-free?  Make your protein-packed pesto creamy by adding tofu to the blender!

Creamy, fluffy and packed with protein.  And it got the thumbs up from Carol.

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Creamy Pesto Dip

Creamy Pesto Dip

  • 1 C fresh basil leaves (packed)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 C nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 C Greek yogurt

Place basil, garlic, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, and peppers in food processor.  Process until combined.

With processor running, slowly add in oil.

Transfer to a bowl.  Stir in Greek yogurt.

Enjoy!

Makes ~1 C.

***

I wish I had an excuse to throw a party every weekend!  It’s fun… and a great motivator to clean the house. ;)

What is your favorite party dip?

Do you like movies?  What was your favorite this season?

 

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes with Nutella Frosting

48 cupcakes is a lot.

 

But can you really have too many Chocolate Cupcakes with Nutella Cloud Frosting?  Notsomuch – they were GONE by the end of the wedding shower.  The chocolate part was good, but the frosting is what stole the show.  And I have Sweetapolita to thanks.  Click here for her phenomenal recipe.

 

 

The final dish I’ll share from the wedding shower catering experience wasn’t actually made for the shower.  I did use that leftover icing though!  Obvious that meant I needed more cupcakes

I had found some vanilla beans in Mom’s pantry and she didn’t have to ask me twice to put them to use in an Easter dessert.

 

 

These Vanilla Bean Cupcakes were fantastically light.  A perfect pairing for the rich Nutella Dream Icing.

My Easter cupcakes were slightly more healthy less bad for you than the chocolate cupcakes, yet no less delicious.

 

 

Without butter, these were fluffy to the point that you barely realize you’ve eaten the whole thing before it’s gone.  Sub in non-dairy milk and vinegar for the buttermilk and you’ve got a vegan cupcake (except the frosting – it’s full of butter).

 

 

Vegan or not – try these.  You won’t regret it.  In fact, you won’t even notice that you’ve just eaten 3 of them.

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Vanilla Bean Cupcakes

  • 1 1/4 C all-purpose flour
  • 2 T cornstarch
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 C buttermilk
  • 1/3 C canola oil
  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 1/4 C xylitol
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped
  • Nutella Dream Icing

 

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare muffin tin with cupcake liners.

Sift the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl.

Beat together milk, oil, sugar, vanilla extract and vanilla bean in a large bowl.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet, stirring until just combined.

Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full and bake for 10-12 mins.  Allow to cool completely before icing.

Notes:

  • Use a full 3/4 C sugar, or an alternate sugar substitute if you do not have xylitol
  • Make it vegan by using non-dairy milk and 1 tsp of apple cider vinegar.  Let stand 5-10 mins before using to allow milk to curdle

Makes 12 cupcakes.

***

Happy Friday the 13th!  It’s my lucky day.

What’s your favorite cupcake flavor?

What are you most looking forward to this weekend?

 

Mini Mac ‘n Cheese Muffins

You can never go wrong with Mac ‘n Cheese.

You CAN go wrong opening the noodle box

Wedding showers mean bite-sized treats… but we needed mac ‘n cheese to go with the Southern themed-food of the shower I catered last weekend!  What to do?  Mini-mac muffins!

 

Using smoked Gouda here rather than the more traditional mozzarella was a big win.  The deeper, smokey flavor went well with the herbed bread crumb topping without being over-powering.  Extra-sharp cheddar is also key for a more flavorful mac.

 

I doubled the recipe and made what felt like a million of these.  I wish I’d counted… but I think there were 144.  Plus the leftovers, which I turned into a casserole for the family. :)

After looking at the finished product(s), I thought “There is NO way people will eat all of these.”  Wrong.

 

While these weren’t the first item to go (these deviled eggs flew the coop!), there weren’t any left at the end of the night.

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Mini Mac ‘n Cheese Muffins

  • 1 lb box elbow macaroni
  • 2 C extra sharp cheddar, shredded
  • 2 C smoked gouda, shredded
  • 2 T Butter, melted
  • 1 C 2% milk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • S & P, to taste
  • 1/2 C seasoned dry bread crumbs
  • 1.5 tsp olive oil

 

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and grease mini muffin tins.

In a large pot, cook macaroni according to package instructions, leaving it slightly al dente.  Remove from the heat, drain and return to the pan.  

Return pasta to pot and stir in melted butter until coated.  Stir in 1 1/2 C of each cheese and stir until melted.

Mix together milk, eggs, mustard, nutmeg, salt, and pepper.  Pour mixture over macaroni and mix well.

Spoon macaroni into each tin, slightly over-filling.  

In a small bowl, mix together bread crumbs and olive oil.  Sprinkle reserved cheese and bread crumb mixture over the tops.

Bake at 350 for 20 minutes, or until tops are golden brown.  Allow the muffins to cool for a few minutes before removing from the pan so that the cheese sets and they hold their shape.

Makes ~72 mini muffins.

Note: If you have any mix leftover, pour it in a casserole dish for a traditional mac n’ cheese.  I added some cayenne and truffle oil to my leftovers.

***

I tried the Kraft mac ‘n cheese at a friend’s house as a kid and thought I didn’t like mac… until years later someone made me the “real” thing (read: homemade).  Life-changing, my friends. 

Did you ever eat the Kraft mac growing up?

What are you favorite mac ‘n cheese add-ins?

 

Spring Endive Boats + WIAW

Endive Boats are the perfect party salad.

 

Boats make salad a finger food!

Last Christmas when I catered this party I served endive boats rather than a salad dish.  They went over really well, so I decided to make a spring version for the wedding shower.

 

 

This spring version contained raspberries, raw asparagus (thin stalks), and pecans.  Over the top I drizzled a light raspberry vinaigrette.

A lot of people are surprised by raw asparagus, but it is quite tasty.  In season, the asparagus is especially sweet and the crunch it added was perfect.

 

 

The raspberries were just a tad sweet, but still have an early-season tartness that was well-balanced with the fruity vinaigrette and rich, nutty pecans.

Like the deviled eggs, there weren’t any leftover by the end of the party!

Recipe at the bottom.

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Last week I announced I was taking the Green Giant Veg Pledge to add an additional cup of veggies to my daily eats.  Many of you said you would join me… have you been doing it?

Jenn @ Peas and Crayons is with her  What I Ate Wednesday theme for April:

 

 

Check out my veggies below; then click here to see how everyone else incorporated extra servings.

 

 

Breakfast:

Do you ever wake up starving?  Having followed the P90X workouts this week, I cannot get enough food!

 

 

Carrot Cake Smoothie:

  • 1 C spinach
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1/2 in piece fresh ginger
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 7-8 drops liquid vanilla stevia
  • 1 T rolled oats
  • 1/2 C unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp maca (optional)
  • Pecans (optional – for topping)

 

Lunch:

The veggie-theme was full force at lunch today.  I had a conference call, so I ate it in two parts.

Part 1: A slice of whole wheat multi-grain bread from the farmer’s market with my Chipotle Corn Hummus, raw asparagus, zucchini, and carrots.

 

 

I brought the veggies to work in that carrot bag.  The bag was almost empty, so I piled my asparagus and zucchini slices rather than wasting another baggie.  I’m a total hippie.

 

Part 2: Garden Lites Cauliflower Souffle

 

 

Tasty, but I may have over-microwaved it.

 

Snacks:

With my 2-part lunch, I didn’t do much snacking… there was the daily Kombucha with raspebrries, a Think Thin, Wasa flatbread, and unpictued stuff (nuts, 1/2  cupcake, cereal):

 

Dinner:

It was a pizza night at a favorite pizza joint, Double Zero.  You cut the pie with scissors and they have one of the best Italian wine selections in ATL.  My pie was tomato, mozzarella, arugula, roasted garlic, and chilis.

 

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Spring Endive Boats

  • 6-8 endive heads
  • 2 pints raspberries
  • 1 bunch thin asparagus, chopped
  • 1/2 C chopped pecans
  • Raspberry vinaigrette

 

Assemble endive leaves evenly across a large tray.  Divide raspberres, asaparagus pieces, and pecans evenly among boats.  

Lightly drizzle with raspberry vinaigrette just before serving.

Serves 30.

***

I was going to post that mac ‘n cheese recipe… but I had to go endive for the veggie theme! :)

How are you doing with the Veg Pledge?  Have you been incorporating an extra veggie serving each day?

What is the best thing you’ve eaten so far this week?

 

Chive and Caper Deviled Eggs

I am a bad Southerner.

 

Most southern foods, I do not like.  This includes fried okra, green bean casserole with those crispy onion things on top, sweet potato casserole, honey-baked ham… and deviled eggs.

However, a wedding shower on Easter weekend with Southern-themed food all but requires deviled eggs be served.  I had to suck it up and learn (quickly) how to do deviled eggs right.

 

Round 1 was a spicy version that I sort of liked.  More proof that if you make anything spicy, I’ll eat it.

 

 

The family shot it down.  Mom reminded me that not everyone likes to have their mouth on fire, and that most people like a traditional “like your momma made it” deviled egg.

 

Traditional isn’t something I do well, but I did compromise.  I ditched the heat, opting for a caper and chive version.  That with some mustard and plenty of mayo made for a flavorful yellow filling.  A little lemon zest added a brightness that shouldn’t be skipped.

 

 

These eggs were the first thing to go at the shower!  Even with a double batch of the recipe, they were gone in an hour.

Who knew 48 deviled eggs could be eaten so fast?!

 

 

I learned that the most challenging part about deviled eggs is the hard-boiling and peeling of the eggs.  After couple of “oops” moments, I’ve found the perfect technique.  If you follow the recipe below, I promise you will have easy-to-peel hard-boiled eggs, free of that icky grey color.

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Chive and Caper Deviled Eggs

  • 1 dozen hard-boiled eggs
  • 2 T dijon mustard
  • 1/4 C + 2 T mayonnaise
  • 3/4 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 T minced fresh chives, plus additional for topping
  • 3 T capers
  • Zest of 1/2 large lemon
  • Smoked paprika, for topping

 

Place the eggs in a large pot and add just enough cold water to cover.  Salt water and bring to a boil.  Once the water is boiling, allow to cook for 30 seconds.  Remove the pot from the heat, cover, and let stand for 15 minutes. 

Remove the eggs from the pan and place in a bowl of ice water until cooled (5-10 mins).  Roll each egg on the counter, applying moderate pressure in order to crack.  Carefully peel the eggs, getting just under the first thin layer of membrane.  Rinse as necessary to remove any remaining shell bits.

Cut the eggs in half length-wise. Remove the yolks and place in a medium bowl, mashing with a fork until yolks are as smooth as possible.  Set the whites aside.

***At this point, I placed the whites in a baggies with paper towels to be assembled the next day.  Everything was fine refrigerated overnight***

When you are ready to assemble eggs, add the remaining ingredients to the yolks.  Using a fork, mash together until the mixture is smooth and fluffy. 

Place yolk mixture in a plastic baggie.  Cut the tip off of the baggie to pipe into whites (you can also just spoon it in).  Pipe or spoon 1 heaping teaspoonful of the yolk mixture into the cavity of each egg-white half, mounding it slightly.  Arrange the filled eggs on a plate and sprinkle with paprika and remaining minced chives.

Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 6 hours.

Serves 20-30.  (Can easily be doubled.)

***

I did try one… and they weren’t bad for deviled eggs.  I do love mac and cheese… that one is coming tomorrow! ;)

Is there a “traditional” food from your region/culture that you don’t care for?

What one dish did/would you HAVE to have at your wedding or wedding shower?

 

Vegan Salade Niçoise for #GreensLove

We interrupt my usual post-fee weekend for a BLOGHOP!

 

This month’s theme is #GreensLove in honor of St. Patrick’s Day.  Naturally, I got unnaturally excited.  75% of everything I eat is green!

I thought about making another green smoothie, but decided that was getting old (not to my taste buds, but after you’ve seen one green smoothie pic, you’ve seen them all).

 

 

A salad seemed too obvious.  What about an not-so-obvious version of a famous salad?  As I brainstormed ideas for my French-themed vegan book club, I knew the dinner spread would be incomplete without the famous French  salad - Salade Niçoise.

 

A traditional (by traditional, I mean Julia Childs’ recipe :) ) Salade Niçoise consists of lettuce, green beans, shallots, vinaigrette, tomatoes, boiled potatoes, chunked tuna, hard-boiled eggs, anchovy fillets, Niçoise olives, and capers.

I couldn’t have tuna, potatoes, eggs, or anchovies.  That’s half the salad.  Undeterred, I set to work on recreating the dish in a fun way.

 

 

Dressing that can make or break a salad.  I wanted to light, herby vinaigrette that wouldn’t overwhelm with the stronger flavors from the olives and capers.  The lemon-thyme vinaigrette did the trick – the lemon flavors brought out the other veggies in the salad.  A high-quality olive oil allows you to use less in the recipe without compromising flavor.  This particular bottle is from my recent travels to Italy.

 

The other stand-out in this vegan-ized recipe was the “tuna” tempeh.  Meant to sub for the tuna, it doesn’t really taste like tuna (a good thing in my book).  Rather, it adds a slightly nutty, lemon-pepper protein addition.  The crunch it adds as a result of being slowly sautéed is a fun dimension to the salad.

 

 

You may think you’re going overboard with the pepper on the tempeh – and feel free to adjust to your tastes – but when it’s combined with the lemon flavors and them eaten with the other salad ingredients, it’s the perfect flavor.

 

The color of the salad is fabulous.  It was the most photogenic thing on the table!

 

 

You’ll notice I didn’t include measurements for the veggie toppings.  Add as much or a little as you like!  I simply added “handfuls” until the bowl was filled and looked pretty.

If you are unable to locate Niçoise olives, substitute Kalamata or another high-quality dark olive.  Read: don’t use your left-over pizza topping olives.

 

 

Check out these other (vegan) French dishes served that Book Club:

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Salade Niçoise

For the Salad:

  • Arugula lettuce
  • Red leaf lettuce
  • French green beans, ends removed and cut in 3-4 in pieces
  • Wax beans, ends removed and cut in 3-4 in pieces
  • Niçoise olives
  • Capers
  • Tomatoes, diced
  • Red onion (1/4-1/2 C), diced

 

Place lettuces in a large bowl.  In individual sections, add each veggie topping.

 

For the Tempeh:

  • 8 oz. tempeh, cut into 1-in cubes
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon, plus zest
  • 1-2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 4-5 drops liquid smoke
  • 1-2 drops liquid stevia
  • Salt, to taste

 

In a small bowl mix together remaining ingredients.  Toss with tempeh to coat well, and allow to marinate for 10-15 mins.

Heat oil in a medium pan over medium heat.

Place tempeh and any residual marinade in pan.  Cook, tossing occasionally until tempeh is lightly browned and crisped on the outside (~10 mins).

Remove from heat and allow to cool.  Once cooled, add to salad.

 

For the Lemon-Thyme Vinaigrette:

  • 1/4 C fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 C water
  • 2 T fresh thyme
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/3 C extra virgin olive oil

 

In a small bowl whisk together all ingredients except olive oil.  Slowly pour in the oil, whisking constantly.

Alternately, place all the ingredients in dressing bottle or jar and shake to combine.

Taste and adjust the seasonings before serving alongside the salad.

Note: If not using dressing right away, cover and refrigerate, bring to room temp and shake again before use.

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I’m excited to be co-hosting the #GreensLove event with the following fabulous bloggers.  Be sure to visit them, and to add your own recipe via the linky tool below!

 

ASTIG Vegan ~ Richgail ~  @astigvegan
Bon a croquer ~ Valerie ~ @Valouth
Cheap Ethnic Eatz ~ Evelyne ~ @cethniceatz
Easily Good Eats ~ Three Cookies
Oh Cake ~ Jessica ~ @jesshose

Join us in the March #greenlove by linking up any leafy green recipe below.  Don’t forget to link back to this post, so that your readers know to come stop by the #greenlove event!  The twitter hashtag is #greenlove.

Powered by Linky Tools

Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…

***

I am also honored to announce that I was nominated as a “Best Healthy Eating Blog” for the 2012 Fitterati Blog Awards on FitnessMagazine.com.  You guys are the best and a constant source of inspiration.  If you’re so inclined, pretty please click here and vote for me. :)

 

What’s the best green food you’ve made lately?

Is anyone running this weekend?  Good luck – I’d love to hear how it goes!!!

 

Roasted Eggplant Bruschetta

This has been the LONGEST week.

 

Maybe because I know I’m 3 days from NUT BUTTER?!  That’s really been the biggest hole in my life.  That and oatmeal, but going without oats has been a little easier since Atlanta has turned into San Diego with 65-70 degree temps.

 

Spiced Almond Butter

 

As I think about what foods will and will not enter back into my life after Sunday, I am thinking more and more about what it means to eat clean on a daily basis.  Should I cut out meat completely?  Dairy products?  Eggs?

After the first Standard Process Cleanse I did in November of 2010, I drastically reduced my intake of red meat and sugar.  It has made a HUGE difference in the way that I feel.  Red meat and I don’t process well together.  Does that mean I won’t help myself to a bite of the tasty burger you ordered?  Nooooo… I quite like Sarah‘s concept of being “vegan with benefits.” Maybe we can start a movement, Miss. Smart?

 

Sugar will remain an item I try to avoid.  There are so many great alternatives out there, you don’t really need it!

Candy @ Healthy in Candyland just wrote a great post on sugar and my favorite alternative – Xylitol.  Apparently it could have anti-aging properties!

 

 

Check out my Chewy Granola Cookies for a great start to using xylitol in baking!

 

How will I eat on post-cleanse on Monday?  I don’t yet know what the right answer is for me.  I do know that I will enter into the non-cleanse world by reintroducing one “new” food at a time, and pay close attention to what my body says about it.

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Cleanse or no cleanse, I WILL be making many of this week’s French vegan dishes again!

 

I ran into my friend and his partner in Whole Foods last night, and they shared with me that my Vegan Goat Cheese Stuffed Oven-Roasted Tomatoes was on their menu!  Keith (the “chef”) posted this pic later:

 

 

The two meat-eaters served vegan stuffed tomatoes with homemade organic Shepherd’s Pie with grass-fed Georgia beef and sweet potatoes, paired with a Vintage 2008 South Australian Shiraz.

Keith’s quote: “Props on the Vegan Goat Cheese girl! To die for!!!”

 

 

The next party dish I want to share is this Eggplant Bruschetta - installment #3 in the Vegan French Book Club Dinner Series (don’t you love how I made it so official-sounding?).

It was created a traditional bruschetta in mind, only the eggplant replaces the baguette to create a light, flavorful finger food.

 

 

Healthy and full of flavor, it was also the easiest dish.

Remember this Provençal Tomato Spread?  I saved some and blended it with extra basil and olive oil to make a creamy sun-dried tomato-olive topping that was reminiscent of SDT pesto.  It took less than 5 minutes.  Wham, bam, thank you ma’am.

Topped with a little basil for color!

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Roasted Eggplant Bruschetta

  • Olive oil
  • 2 medium eggplants, cut in 1/2 inch slices
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • Provençal Tomato Spread
  • 1/2 C fresh basil

 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Line a large baking sheet with foil.  Spray liberally with olive oil.  Place eggplant rounds in a single layer on sheet. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Roast for 15 to 20 mins. Flip each piece, checking to be sure the undersides have browned and become and a bit puffy.  If they’re not, cook a bit longer.

Once flipped, sprinkle them with more pepper and some garlic powder.  Place pan back in the oven for ~15 mins, until the undersides brown to match the tops.

Meanwhile, blend 1/2 C of the Provençal Tomato Spread with basil.  Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Add more olive oil (I added 2 tsp), if desired.

When the eggplant is cooked, arrange on a platter.  Top each disk with 1-2 tsp of the purred provencal spread and a small bail leaf.  Eat immediately.

Serves 8-10 as appetizers.

 

Note: Some people swear you don’t have to do this, but I always lay my sliced eggplant out, sprinkle generously with salt, and allow to sit for 10-15 mins.  This helps remove some of the bitterness and excess moisture.  If you do this, wipe off the excess moisture with a paper towel and proceed to bake as instructed.

***

3 days to go on the Standard Process CleanseI can’t believe it’s almost over!  Like I said above, the idea is to add back one food at a time to see what you may be sensitive to…. I’m thinking nuts are coming back first!  That’s what she said.

What would you add back first post-cleanse?

Have you ever considered a vegan or vegetarian diet?  What pushed you to do it or held you back?

 

Vegan Goat Cheese Stuffed Oven-Roasted Tomatoes

Playing favorites isn’t fair.

No one ever said life was fair.

Everything I made for my vegan French book club dinner was good (I was kind of shocked)…. but we all have favorites, even if you won’t admit it.

 

This is mine.

 

These vegan Goat Cheese Stuffed Oven-Roasted Tomatoes could probably get by on their looks alone.  That isn’t why they were my favorite.  I’m not that shallow.

They were my favorite because of the cheese.

 

Inspired by this recipe from Alain Coumont, founder of Le Pain Quotidien cafés in France, I decided to take his concept and make it vegan.  (Coincidentally, Le Pain Quotidien offers many vegan dishes.)

Everyone has some sort of vegan “cheese” they use in recipes.  Often it’s cashew-based.  Sometimes with nooch or any array of vegan products.  It never really tastes like cheese.

 

With the exception of this tofu-based cheese.  Tofu makes a GREAT sub for creamy cheeses like ricotta and goat cheese.  (It made a helluva ricotta in this Eggplant Rollitini.)

This particular vegan version of tofu-cheese is a goat cheese.  I swear to you – you would NEVER miss the real thing.  The book club didn’t balk at all!

Goat cheese has a tanginess that was captured well with the lemon juice in this tofu creation.  The miso lends a salty-sweetness to it, which helps bring out the cheesy side of the nutritional yeast.

 

Fantastic taste aside, the other plus to this recipe is that it’s easy… yet it looks impressive.  There is a decent list of ingredients for the cheese, but you simply toss it all in the food processor.  I love a one-bowl recipe!

Just be careful not to cut through the tomatoes when you scoop out the middles!

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Vegan Goat Cheese Stuffed Oven-Roasted Tomatoes

  • 12 small-ish tomatoes
  • 1 16 oz. pkg firm tofu, pressed
  • 2 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 1.5 T yellow miso
  • 1/4 C nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 C freshly-squeezed lemon juice (~1.5 lemons)
  • 1/4 C yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano powder
  • 3-4 T finely chopped basil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

 

Pre-heat the oven to 425.

Slice off the top 1/2 inch of each tomato and reserve the tops. Carefully scoop out the tomato cores and seeds. If necessary, cut a very thin sliver off of the bottom of each tomato to help them stand up straight. Arrange the tomatoes in a 9-by-13-inch glass or ceramic baking dish.

Crumble pressed tofu into the bowl of a food processor.  Add remaining ingredients for “cheese,” except the basil. Process until smooth.  Add basil and pulse briefly to combine.

Spoon the “cheese” mixture into the tomatoes, filling them just to the brim. Cover with the tomato tops and drizzle lightly with additional olive oil.

Bake the tomatoes for 30-35 minutes, until beginning to brown in spots and the cheese is hot. Let stand for at least 15 minutes. Serve warm. (They’re also good leftover!)

Notes:

  • I do not have a tofu press.  Instead I drained the tofu, cut it in half horizontally, and wrapped it in paper towels.  Then I stacked a load of cookbooks on top and let it press for 10-15 mins.
  • The cheese mixture can be made up to 2 days in advance.  In fact, they are better on day 2 once the flavors fully marry.  If you do this, do not add basil until just before you bake.

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Tomorrow is Eggplant Bruschetta!  Next week is the Salade Niçoise with Tempeh “Tuna”… then you’ll have a fully vegan-ized French-themed party spread! :)

What’s your favorite “veggi-tized” recipe?  Or is there one you’d like to see made vegan/vegetarian?

What other dishes would you use a vegan goat cheese for?  I’m making another batch this weekend!