Spicy Red Pepper Pasta Sauce

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June 24, 2014 By

Who out there can’t live without their food processor? Mine is perpetually in the dishwasher, being that I use it on the daily. Now that I’ve had one, I don’t think I could happily go on without one.

I regularly make hummus, broth, dressings, and drizzles with it. I’ve dabbled with ice cream-making and pie crusts with it, too. Surprisingly enough, this was the first time I’ve made pasta sauce with it, and I feel like I’ve found a key to a door that should’ve been opened a long time ago.

Pasta dishes seem so boring and cliche. Not to mention that the pictures are pretty unstimulating, as well. (Who has the energy to put the oregano leaves on top, and surround the final photo with the raw ingredients used? Hmm… real photographers, I guess. Complaining like a true amateur.) But trust me when I say that despite the dullness these photos may exude, this pasta sauce is easy to make and easy to fall in love with.

 

Spicy Red Pepper Pasta Sauce

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 10-15 minutes

Yield: 3-4 servings

 

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 Ingredients

Sauce ingredients:

  • a heaping cup of tomatoes
  • a heaping cup of red bell pepper
  • 1/2 lemon, squeezed
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbs fresh oregano, minced
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

Other ingredients seen in pictures:

  • gluten-free quinoa spaghetti
  • 1 1/2 cups baby portabella mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup baby eggplants, sliced
  • 1 small sweet onion, chopped

 

STEP 1: Mince the garlic and oregano.

I use my NutriBullet’s mincing blade to make these two as small as possible. I find that if I throw the garlic and herbs full-sized along with the other ingredients in the food processor, it doesn’t get the ingredients as small as I want it to be. The smaller it is, the more flavor throughout.

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Dat Purple Haze… just kidding. It’s oregano.

By the way, I would like to congratulate my oregano on its first appearance! It’s doing well in the herb garden.

 

STEP 2: Throw in all ingredients in the food processor.

Make sure it’s a strong food processor, as you want the sauce to be smooth. If not thoroughly mixed, this will not produce the “chunky” sauce you want.

Set aside when smooth.

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STEP 3: Chop up other ingredients you wish to feature in your pasta.

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I found these adorable baby eggplants at Nelson Family Farms in Fort Pierce, FL! There a bit longer than my palm. I’ve never seen these before! This variety of eggplant is easy to chop, perfect for bite-sized disks, and absorbs flavors like a dream.

I also chose to throw in onion and mushrooms. It was a medley of perfection.

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STEP 4: Cook pasta and chopped veggies.

I used two tablespoons of coconut oil to cook the veggies with. It takes about 10 or so minutes to accomplish.

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STEP 6: Simmer sauce and strain pasta.

Once the veggies are cooked down, set the stove to a low setting and pour in the spicy red pepper sauce. Mix and let it sit for a few minutes.

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Dish out the pasta noodles, pour the sauce on top, and enjoy!

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Happy cooking,

thisvegangirllogo

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Lemon-Garlic Rosemary French Fries

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June 17, 2014 By

I think I have a poser green thumb. I love nature, and I desperately want to have my own garden. However, it seems that I have a knack for killing plant life. Quite a dilemma indeed. Whatever I touch seems to turn to shit. Dead shit.

Okay okay, I’m exaggerating a bit. The truth is, growing plants is not easy. Sometimes it takes the plant wilting or drying up before I realize how much sunlight/water it needs. I’ve gotten a lot better about it. Now, I research what the plant needs as soon as I get it, as the wait-and-see approach seems to have failed me time and time again.

Through my wannabe green thumb ups-and-downs, the only plant that has seen me through is my rosemary. The ironic thing is that rosemary is an herb mostly used for meat, so I haven’t used it very much. That is, until recently, when I realized it pairs well with potatoes, too.

French fries are my ultimate weakness. In a world full of restaurants that have items I can’t eat, you can bet that the one thing I CAN eat are those french fries. Matt is a fanatic, too. Celiac people are strangely addicted to potatoes, which I suppose is a result of the lack of starches in their lives, I guess. I digress, potatoes rock.

We have combined our love for french fries and rosemary and created these kickass fries.

 

Rosemary French Fries

Prep Time: Less than 10 minutes

Cook Time: 40-45 minutes

Yield: 2 large servings (for the massive french fry lovers) OR 4 small servings

 

Ingredients

  • around 6+ red potatoes (medium sized)
  • 1 tbs coconut oil + 1 tbs coconut oil (used in different parts in the recipe)
  • 1 tbs lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp sea salt (1 tsp seems like a lot, but potatoes easily absorb salt, making it seem like less. Use to your discretion.)
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

 

STEP 1: Preheat your oven to 425 and start chopping your potatoes.

I’ve always had trouble with this until Matt, the potato guru (Mr. Potato Head himself) came along. He showed me step-by-step on how to perfectly chop potatoes to create french fries.

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Slice them vertically, like so…

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Then, take each potato slice and slice them about a quarter inch thick, and there you go! Awesome fries!

I suppose you could skin your potatoes prior to slicing, but why would you go and strip the potato from its nutrients? We’re a pro-skin household, so we prefer to keep it on.

 

STEP 2: Grease the baking pan.

Take 1 tablespoon of coconut oil to grease up the baking sheet you will use.

STEP 3: Make the seasoning in the food processor.

Start off by throwing the rosemary, salt, pepper, and garlic into a food processor. Grind it up until everything is minced. (If you don’t have a food processor, you can certainly chop by hand. It just doesn’t become as small as I would prefer.)

Add in 1 tablespoon of coconut oil and 1 tablespoon lemon juice to the food processor with the rosemary mixture, and process it a little more. (If no food processor, just mix it all together by hand.)

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STEP 4: Place the fries on the baking sheet.

Gloop the rosemary mixture on top of the fries. Using your hands, work the mixture and the fries together until every fry is coated.

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STEP 5: Bake for 40-45 minutes.

Use the extra time to clean your kitchen and basque in the wonderful aroma that will be wafting through the house. I prefer to dance with my golden retriever Mia during this time.

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Beautiful, tasty fries! GET IN MY BELLY, NOW!

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By the way, I am actively using Instagram as a way to connect with me. If you’re interested in seeing what I eat day-by-day, you can connect with me by clicking the Instagram icon on the sidebar to the right. Use the hashtag #thisvegangirl to show me recipes of mine that you’ve done!

I’m also available on Facebook, which you’ll see on the right sidebar as well. It’s probably the easiest way to see that I’ve updated the blog.

 

Happy cooking,

thisvegangirllogo

 

 

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The Best GF & Vegan Macaroni and Cheese

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April 20, 2014 By

I have improved this recipe! If you want to see it (trust me, you do), click here!

 

Vegan cheese is famous for sucking horribly. I wholeheartedly agree with the stereotype vegan cheese has unfortunately made for itself. Known for its texture of rubber and taste of plastic, vegan cheese doesn’t deserve to be called cheese at all. “BUT IT MELTS NOW!” Awesome. You know what else melts? Wax. Which is what vegan cheese tastes like.

In my opinion, the only acceptable vegan cheese is vegan cream cheese. Spot-on texture and accurate taste.

What’s worse is that vegan cheese is being used to make awful renditions of vegan macaroni and cheese. 99% of what you see on Pinterest labeled at Vegan Macaroni and Cheese is pure crap. Trust me, I’ve tried. I’m sorry, but nutritional yeast cannot perform vegan miracles.

I was in a dark vegan macaroni and cheese place. That is, until I finally found what I was looking for. No Daiya. No nutritional yeast. It was a vegan miracle. It was made by Alisa in Alaska. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU.

I’ve been making the recipe above for about six months, but the more I ate it, the more I realized that something was missing. It just wasn’t cheesy enough. Maybe it was a little too lemony. Whatever it was, I just needed to tweak it a bit.

It was then that I realized that I bet I could achieve the cheesiness I craved through vegan cream cheese. At that moment, the clouds separated and the sun shone through. I finally achieved the greatness I had chased for over a year.

Here is my rendition of vegan mac and cheese. It’s the best homemade vegan macaroni and cheese out there, guaranteed.

 

The Best Vegan Macaroni and Cheese

Prep Time: 15-20 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 2-4 servings

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 8oz box of elbow noodles (I use gluten-free quinoa noodles)
  • 1 cup sweet potatoes, chopped (russet potatoes are yummy, too!)
  • 1/3 cup onion, chopped
  • 1/4 carrots, chopped
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup cashews
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/8 cayenne pepper
  • 1/3 tub vegan cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup broccoli, chopped (optional)
  • gluten free bread crumbs (optional)

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STEP 1: Cut up the sweet potatoes, carrots, and onion. Don’t peel your sweet potatoes; keep those nutrients in! Place these items in a pot with the 1 cup of water. Bring items to a boil, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.

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STEP 2: Boil the macaroni noodles. When finished, strain and rinse with cold water.

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STEP 3: Mill/process the cashews, garlic cloves, salt, paprika, and cayenne pepper. Set aside.

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STEP 4: When your pot of veggies is done, pour the contents into a food processor (including the water). Grind until pureed. Add the cashew mixture and vegan cheese and continue to puree until fully incorporated.

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STEP 5: Get out your favorite macaroni dish, line with cooking oil, and add the noodles, “cheese”, and broccoli. Mix contents with a spoon.

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I’ve heard that breadcrumbs on macaroni and cheese is a southern thing. If so, it’s the best southern tradition I know. Sprinkle on your bread crumbs before sending your dish into the oven at 350° for 30 minutes.

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Thirty minutes later…

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Mmmm, finally. Edible vegan macaroni and cheese.

Happy cooking,

thisvegangirllogo

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Hummus Pizza with Cucumber Cream Sauce

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February 9, 2014 By

After a year of veganism, I have grown to see pizza in a new light.

I’ve never been a huge fan of a ton of cheese on my pizza. In fact, I used to peel the cheese off 90% of the time. Nonetheless, at the beginning of my vegan journey, the thought of pizza without cheese forever seemed a bit tragic.

I tried to go the vegan “cheeze” route, but that was just a grave disappointment. I hate cheeze. You might melt, but you’re not cheese and you never will be, so please just stop.

Finally, I started experimenting with different base sauces. At that point, I finally felt like I had gotten somewhere! No longer does pizza require a tomato base and a cheesy topping. In fact, it’s a lot more interesting, eco-friendly, and humane without it. I’ve tried a refried bean base, garlicky coconut milk base, oil & garlic base, and now, a hummus base.

I can’t take credit for the entire thing. I had help from my sister’s boyfriend, Adam, who happens to be a chef.  He gave me some great tips to help give this pizza the wow factor.

Oh, and before you begin, just know that making this pizza is somewhat of a circus act. Between the homemade GF pizza crust (optional), pan-fried chickpeas, cucumber cream sauce, and the normal veggie-chopping prep, you’ll be preparing and cooking several things at one time, so an extra set of hands would be ideal. Don’t let it discourage you, though; this great-tasting pizza is totally worth it!

By the way, having cute pets in the kitchen always makes the cooking process more enjoyable.

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The big little sister.

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The little big brother.

 

Hummus Pizza

Prep Time: 15-20 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Yields: 2-4

 

Ingredients

GF Crust: Bob’s Red Mill’s website provides my favorite GF pizza crust recipe here.

If you plan on using the recipe above, you’ll need the following

  • 2 tsp Active Dry Yeast
  • 1 tsp Sugar
  • 3/4 cup Warm Water
  • 1 tbs flax seed, combined with 3 tbs warm water
  • 1 Tb Olive Oil
  • 1-1/2 cups GF All Purpose Baking Flour
  • 2 tsp Xanthan Gum
  • 1/2 tsp Sea Salt

Pan-Fried Chickpeas:

  • 4 tbs GF All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 can (or 7.5 oz) of organic chickpeas, rinsed and damp
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 tbs coconut oil (for the pan)

Cucumber Cream Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup cashews, milled
  • 1 cup cucumber, pureed
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon agave nectar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Other Ingredients:

  • 8oz of your favorite hummus
  • 2 cups portobello mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/4 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • lemon juice
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup spinach leaves, chopped

 

STEP 1: Prep the pizza crust.

If you’re making the GF pizza crust, follow the directions here. Once you allow the crust to rise, or when you’re putting the GF pizza crust in the first time (to solidify), you can get started with the other prep  work.

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STEP 2: Prepare the chickpeas.

Put the chickpeas in a strainer and rinse. Place the GF all purpose flour, salt, and pepper in a sandwich baggie. Here’s the fun part; place the damp chickpeas in the bag, seal, and shake it up! It’s satisfying to see them coated so perfectly. From there, throw the coconut oil on a skillet with the chickpeas and cook at medium heat for 20-30 minutes, shaking the chickpeas around often.

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The crispity, crunchy finished product.

STEP 3: Make the cucumber cream sauce.

To make the cucumber cream sauce, start with milling the cashews.

I’ve tried soaking cashews overnight to make cream sauces before, but for this last-minute cooking girl, it wasn’t an ideal situation. Not only that, but my soaked cashew result left me with cashew chunks in my cream, which was less than desirable. I found out that by milling the cashews to a pulp using the milling blade on my NutriBullet, I achieved a smooth, creamy finish instantly.

Once you mill the cashews, set aside. Puree the cucumbers until liquidy smooth. After that, mix the cucumber juice, cashews, salt, pepper, lemon juice, agave nectar, and lime juice together. When that’s all done, place your concoction in the refrigerator until your pizza is ready.

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Powdery goodness!

Powdery goodness!

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STEP 4: Cook the vegetable toppings.

Place the onions on a skillet with medium heat and the olive oil and cook for 1 or 2 minutes. After that, mix in your portobellos for about 5-8 minutes. Actually, the 5-8 minutes is an estimate, as I unprofessionally didn’t keep track. Squirtce on top of the mushrooms as they are cooking. Cook the mushrooms until they look like the picture below. They should be juicy and browned. Add in the minced garlic 2 minutes before you take the mushrooms off the heat. Oh, and don’t forget to squeeze lemon juice on them as they’re cooking.

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STEP 5: Prep the pizza crust for final cook.

Once you’re done prepping the mushrooms, phase 1 of the GF crust should be completed. Spread the hummus as the base, place the mushroom/onion/garlic on the pizza, and place in the oven. The pizza should stay in the oven until the crust has turned golden brown.

By the way, I bought this cheap, local hummus from Whole Foods. Basil and Tomato hummus? It doesn’t get much better than that.

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Hummus pizza in its pre-oven state.

STEP 6: Chop up raw vegetables (if you haven’t done so already).

While your pizza is in the oven, chop up your remaining veggies.

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The crust is golden, and soon, you will be, too. Take out that pizza and put the chickpeas and fresh veggies on top. Retrieve the cucumber cream, and by the spoonful, drizzle the cream on top until you’re satisfied. We like our pizza nice and wet, so at a glance, it looks pretty bizarre… bizarrely delicious, that is.

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Yum! I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Happy cooking,

thisvegangirllogo

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Rasta Pasta Salad

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January 12, 2014 By

Happy New Year, everyone! I officially went vegan on January 1, 2013, so here’s to 1 full year of veganism!

Pasta salad is an easy go-to for anyone. It’s perfect for big groups and entertaining. You can arrive with a vegan pasta salad to an event and no one will bat an eye. It’s a wonderful “clear the fridge” dish, too, as it is so versatile. Every time I make pasta salad, different veggies go into it, depending on what’s chilling (literally and figuratively) in my fridge.

For a long time, I was going through a trial-and-error period with my pasta salad recipe, particularly the dressing. In the past, I’ve tried to make the dressing from scratch, but something always went wrong. Too lemony. Too tart. Way too much balsamic. Too creamy. Too salty. Too bland. For someone who loves pasta salad so much, I couldn’t seem to get it right. It was a dark place.

Then, my sister and I decided to cook it together one day, and it was PERFECT. Who knew that the answer to my pasta problems was someone so close to home?

Cooking with others is so fun. I always come out of it feeling like I’ve learned something new. So here is the product of collaboration and deliciousness.

Oh yeah, and the Rastafarian thing? This is definitely not an authentic Rastafarian dish by any means. It’s only based on the matching flag colors. 😉

 

Rasta Pasta Salad

Prep Time: 15-20 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

 

Ingredients

Pasta Dressing:

  • 8 tbs EVOO
  • 1 1/2 tbs white wine vinegar (In a pinch, any vinegar will do, really. I used Apple Cider.)
  • 2 heaping tsp Veganaise (or as I like to call it, “goops.” Two goops of Veganaise.)
  • 2-3 tbs Agave Nectar
  • 1 tbs lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp Sriracha
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed and minced

Other Ingredients:

  • 2 packages of Quinoa Pasta (gluten-free deliciousness; so much better than any GF pasta out there)
  • 1-2 cups of grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup of carrots, finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, sliced
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1/2 white onion, diced
  • 1/2 can, or 7.5 ounces, chickpeas
  • salt/pepper as garnish

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STEP 1: Cook the pasta.

Start boiling that water and get the pasta started! When your pasta is finished cooking, strain it and run it under cold water. Pasta salad shouldn’t be hot, so cooling off your pasta right after cooking keeps it cool and firm. Set aside or place in the fridge if you are still working on the meal.

Mmm… I love the Garden Pagodas!

Mmm… I love the Garden Pagodas!

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STEP 2: Create the magic sauce!

There’s a science behind the sauce, so don’t throw in everything at once and mix.

In a bowl, mix the olive oil and balsamic first. Whisk it quickly for about 30 seconds. This will allow the two opposing ingredients to blend. Add the Veganaise next and whisk, but not like a crazy person this time. Just normal whisking. After that, you may add the other pasta sauce ingredients in any manner you’d like.

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STEP 3: Chop up those veggies!

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STEP 4: Mix all ingredients.

The fun part! Get a great, big bowl and mix the pasta, pasta sauce, veggies, and chickpeas all together! Add more salt and pepper as needed.

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RASTA!

 

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Extra pepper on mine, please!

 

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Happy cooking,

thisvegangirllogo

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Portobello Sandwich with Spicy Garlic Mayo

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August 6, 2013 By

Oh, the mushroom. So juicy, so versatile, and so delicious.

And yet, so easy to mess up when it comes to something like a sandwich/burger.

You don’t want it too juicy, as it will turn your bread into undesirable mush. You don’t want to undercook it, as it has a dry texture and a lack of succulent flavor. Not to mention that portobellos have a habit of breaking, which can just ruin the presentation. (Don’t laugh… It’s important to me!)

Portobello mushrooms make a great meat substitute for sandwiches. They’re filling, luscious, and omit such a wonderful, one-of-a-kind flavor! I was determined to make the perfect portobello sandwich, but first, I had to think of the best way to cook those problematic portobellos.

And then, it hit me: I have a George Foreman grill! It sits out on my back porch and it’s a hassle to clean, so it barely gets any love. However, I knew that the grill would be the ultimate solution to my over-juicy mushroom problem.

 

OOOOH, a solution indeed. This sandwich is fantastic.

This sandwich is hearty, succulent, and tangy. It’s stacked high with flavors that complement each other beautifully. The mushrooms have just the right amount of juice & flavor without doing unpleasant things to the bread. It’s like a burger with class. It’s the perfect thing to pack for lunch, or could be a delightful addition to a vegan barbeque.

 

Portobello Sandwich with Spicy Garlic Mayo

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 5-7 minutes

Yield: 1 sandwich

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 slices of hearty bread (GF people, I’d recommend an Udi’s bagel)
  • 4-5 portobello slices (or 1 portobello mushroom, sliced)
  • 1 tomato, sliced
  • 1/2 avocado, sliced
  • 1/4 red onion, sliced
  • 1/4 cup alfafa sprouts
  • 1/4 spinach
  • 2 Dill pickle slices
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • salt/pepper to taste
  • mustard (optional)

 

Spicy Garlic Mayo Ingredients:

  • 2 tbs Veganaise
  • 2 tsp Tabasco sauce
  • 1 garlic clove, miced
  • 1/2 tsp salt

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STEP 1: Begin by heating up your grill to a medium high heat. On my grill, I put my setting on 4, with 5 being the highest setting. Basically, you want to hear your mushrooms sizzle.

Drizzle your portobellos with olive oil, salt, and pepper. After that, throw them on the grill. After 5 minutes, flip them over and let them cook for an additional 1-2 minutes.

Drizzle lightly; I swear mushrooms are more absorbent than sponges!

Drizzle lightly; I swear mushrooms are more absorbent than sponges!

 

Tsssssss!

Tsssssss!

 

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After cooking for 5 minutes, they reduce in size and turn golden brown.

After cooking for 5 minutes, they reduce in size and turn golden brown.

 

 

STEP 2: While the ‘bellas are sizzling away, start cutting up your veggies and creating your mayonnaise by mixing the mayo ingredients in a small bowl. I was surprised at how simple it was to make the mayo fit the desired taste I was looking for! Go me!

Take out the bread, spread on the mayo, and… ohp! The mushrooms are ready!

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Look how excited the bread is!

 

 

STEP 3: Gather your mushrooms and start building your masterpiece! The order of your stack can be the crucial difference between a firm sandwich and a jumbled mess, so choose your order wisely.

I started off with a spinach base with the mushrooms on top. (In hindsight, the tomato would’ve fit nicely underneath the portobellos, but that’s up to you to decide.)

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Next, I went with the avocado, followed by the tomatoes and onion. I only had grape tomatoes on-hand, which made things a bit more topple-y than I wanted, but whatever. Tomato, tomata.

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Finally, I added the alfalfa sprouts and topped it with the sliced pickle. NO REGRETS WHATSOEVER.

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I added mustard on the top slice before completing the sandwich, but it’s optional. The sandwich is still amazing without it.

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And voila! In 3 easy steps, you’ve got yourself a lovely gourmet sandwich.

 

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Happy devouring!

thisvegangirllogo

 

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