23 June 2016

Roasted Veggie Sandwich with Balsamic Reduction

We had a leftover eggplant from making Eggplant Asian Stir Fry and Shana was insistent that we figure out a way to use it. As we made our meal plan for this week, we were looking through cookbooks of all sorts when the following exchange took place:

Shana: Oooo - this looks good! I want this!
Me: Okay, what is it? Read me the recipe?
Shana: Well, it's a roasted veggie sandwich, but I want to add things and take some of this away and maybe we could do something like a balsamic reduction.
Me: [dumbfounded] ...
Shana: I don't know who I am right now.

Shana is not a cook. However, it's very clear that she's becoming more comfortable (but never excited about) thinking about how flavors and textures work together. After I made peace with this new world, we brainstormed together. The result was this amazing - and deliciously messy to eat - sandwich of roasted veggies, hummus, and a balsamic reduction, all on crusty bread.


Roasted veggie sandwiches are also infinitely customize-able! For example, the recipe that inspired this has only one thing in common with what we ended up with - the roasted eggplant. To make this sandwich your own, add or subtract cooked veggies (how about a couple of caramelized onions or strips of portobello mushrooms), slather on some pesto in place of (or in addition to!) the balsamic reduction, add some greens (oooo, arugula), change up your protein source by adding some strips of grilled tofu, or put it on slices of an Italian loaf or focaccia or in a wrap. Served hot or cold,* you'll be satisfied.

14 June 2016

Eggplant Asian Stir Fry

School has been out for both of us for a few weeks. Most people assume that for teachers like us, summer time means days filled with lounging around and cocktails. That's hardly the case. Shana's picked up two summer-only part time jobs, I've been doing committee work and catching up, and we've both been busy with projects at our house. For example, I've been gardening, Shana's been clearing our old patio, and we've been discussing which projects come next. Shana's also been coaching a 3rd & 4th grade softball team, which has meant about 3 evening games per week.

All this activity has meant that we haven't actually seen each other as much as we would like. To remedy that, we decided to have a date day in Indianapolis. We had a great time! We met a friend for drinks, had a great dinner, and went to a game. We also did errands. I know what you're thinking: "Errands?! On a date??!!" Yes. Errands. But the errands totally worked out in Shana's favor, as I purchased an awesome magazine full of recipes. We've tried two recipes to great success already.

This particular recipe has Shana's name written all over it. It's full of Asian flavors and contains eggplant. Shana loves eggplant. I'm only...meh... about eggplant. Luckily, this recipe also includes green beans, which are my absolute favorite vegetable. Because both Shana and I were predisposed to like this recipe, I'm happy to say that we also had friends over who enjoyed it. This is a winner of a recipe all around!



02 June 2016

Dilly-Ranch Pasta Salad

The summer temperatures have arrived in Indiana! As I said last summer, summer temps and humidity make me not want to eat anything. Since not eating for an entire season is not a healthy option, it helps to have a collection of cold foods to eat that won't heat up the house. This is especially important when hosting a large gathering of people, as all those extra bodies create enough excess heat.

This semester's minions
I had just this situation occur a few weeks ago. I hosted my semi-annual Minion Dinner, but had an especially large group with 11 minions this semester. I was worried about unpredictable May weather and how to feed 13 people delicious vegan food with one gluten-free minion and one who doesn't like onions. The final decision was a soup/salad/bread buffet (with cake & cookies for dessert). I had all sorts of ideas for soups (I mean, have you seen this blog?!), but while I had a few good ideas for salads, I wanted something new. I mean, what's not to like about making a brand new recipe with 12 taste-testers ready and willing to offer commentary? 

To complement the other dishes already on the menu, I opted for a pasta salad. Pasta salads are great for parties because they are best when made ahead of time, as the resting gives the flavors a change to meld together. This particular pasta salad is also great because it has the creaminess of heavier mayo-based versions but uses silken tofu for a protein-packed punch. Above all, my minions were complimentary of it and I've been dreaming about it since. 


12 May 2016

Smoky Rotini Dinner

The semester is over, my grades are entered, and I'm looking at all the things I neglected over the past few months. Although this blog is one of those neglected items, it hasn't been far from my mind. I have loads of new recipes lined up to post.

Although the weather the past couple of days was quite warm, the week before had been rainy and cool and reminiscent of fall, which led to Shana and I seeking warmth and comfort. Given that it was also finals week for me, we also needed speed and ease. Luckily, we've been enjoying just the thing over the past couple of months: this smokey, savory, and speedy dinner that we adapted from Robin Robertson's More Quick-Fix Vegan cookbook. I've had this cookbook for a while, but we hadn't given it much of a chance. If this recipe is anything like the others in this cookbook, I have a feeling we'll be coming back to it over and over.

But back to the food! This dish has so many amazing flavors and textures in it! Even though the ingredients list looks long, you can find what you need in nearly any grocery store and you really only need to be able to boil water to make it. With all that going for it, the complexity of the flavors makes this meal something you can serve at a dinner party. Just make sure to double what I've listed below, as you and your guests will go back for more.

You can't see them, but there are chickpeas hiding in there, too!


18 March 2016

Veganomicon's Chickpeas Romesco

Every so often I just get sick of everything we eat. It usually happens once or twice a year, such that when Shana and I plan our meals absolutely nothing sounds delicious. It was in a bout of hating everything that I turned to my cookbooks to find inspiration. Upon paging through my trusty copy of Veganomicon, I came across something that tickled my taste buds, simply upon reading the recipe. The recipe in question was one for Chickpeas Romesco.

Romesco sauce is of Spanish origin (northeastern Spain, arguably Tarragona according to this NYTimes article), although similar types of sauces exist in other places. Generally, romesco is a pepper, tomato, and nut-based mixture, ranging from thin-ish to spreadably thick. This recipe takes a bit of prep-work, only because you need to toast almonds and roast peppers before you can actually make the sauce. But! The extra steps of preparation really ARE worth it, as they add such wonderful depth to the flavor. If that still seems out of reach for you, many grocery stores carry toasted almonds and roasted red peppers, but make sure they are not packed in brine.*

This dish is worthy of your next dinner party, especially if you serve it over saffron-garlic rice (recipe forthcoming)! We brought it to our monthly vegan potluck in February and it got rave reviews. We always share recipes, but forgot after February's dinner. This month, people pointedly asked for this recipe, which I'll take as a good sign that it was well-received.
You can see the chickpeas romesco over the saffron-garlic rice we like,
as well as another dish from February's vegan potluck.