Lemon Pesto Eggplant Parmesan Sandwiches

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September 6, 2015 By

Sometimes, I find myself in a pasta rut. During this time, I’ll rely too much on pasta to get by. How can I not? Just add vegetables to sauce and you have yourself a solid dinner and a filling lunch for the next day.

Well, the truth about pasta is that it can get repetitive. Sometimes, it’s fun to switch it up. That’s why I’ve created this recipe in the style of a sandwich. It’s a fun way to eat eggplant Parmesan, vegan style. You can eat it as a sandwich, burger, or even a sub!

This recipe can be a hybrid of other recipes and my own combined. For the “Parmesan” cheese, you have two options. If you have Chao cheese at your grocery store, using a slice on your sandwich is easy and delicious! If Chao cheese isn’t sold at your local grocery store of if you’d prefer to create something homemade, I have attached a moxarella cheese recipe, as seen by My Wife Makes and inspired by Vedged Out.

 

Lemon Pesto Eggplant Parmesan Sandwiches

Click here for a picture-free print out version of this recipe!

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 20-25 minutes

Yield: 4 patties for 4 sandwiches

 

Ingredients

For the eggplant patty:

  • one large eggplant, sliced
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs, gluten-free and vegan (I use the brand Gillian’s Breadcrumbs)
  • 4 pieces of rice paper
  • salt and pepper, to taste

For the lemon pesto:

  • 1 juice of a small lemon, squeezed (3 tablespoons of lemon juice)
  • 1/2 cup of fresh basil, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 pinches of salt

Other ingredients:

  • grape seed oil, as needed
  • bread of your choice (sandwich bread, sub rolls, buns)
  • Chao cheese slices (or homemade Moxarella cheese recipe, seen here)
  • your favorite marinara sauce
  • any other sandwich add-ons (onion, tomato, spinach, etc.)

 

Step 1: Slice the eggplant and decide what you are doing with it.

Cut your eggplant into thick slices. When cooked, eggplant loses its volume a bit, so cutting it a bit thicker will work out nicely in the final product. I suggest cutting up to 6 inch/15 centimeter slices.

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After that, you have a big choice to make. Are you going to fry your eggplant or bake it? DECIDE NOW.

If you are going to fry your eggplant, see STEP 2.

If you are going to bake your eggplant, go down to STEP 3.

 

Step 2: Precook the eggplant in the oven.

Ah, so you’ve chosen to fry your eggplant. A fine choice for the taste buds. While taking photos of this entry, I chose to fry my eggplant as well.

You’ll want to precook your eggplant in the oven to make it softer before frying it. Preheat the oven to 350º F / 176º C. Coat your baking sheet with 1 tablespoon of grape seed oil and bake for 15 minutes. Allow the eggplant slices to cool before Step 3.

 

Step 3: Wrap and bread your eggplant.

Without egg, it can be difficult to keep breadcrumbs on whatever you’re trying to cook. My favorite solution is to first wrap it in sticky rice paper, which will hold breadcrumbs beautifully. Plus, rice paper has a fantastic texture that can hold any flavor.

Speaking of flavor, on the list of ingredients, I put “salt and pepper, to taste”. The breadcrumbs are where you really get that flavor in. Your breadcrumbs might already have an amazing flavor; in this case, you don’t need to add anything to it. In my case, the breadcrumbs I buy don’t have any flavor, so I need to add salt and pepper on my own. Feel free to get creative here. You can amp up your breadcrumbs by also adding garlic powder and/or Italian herbs.

Set up an assembly line for your work station: a large, flat dish filled with warm water, a plate to wrap the eggplant, a dish with the breadcrumbs, and a dish to place your finished patties on. To assemble, first submerge one piece of rice paper into the warm water for around 10 seconds. Next, transfer the softened rice paper onto the wrapping plate. Strategically fold the wrapping paper so all sides of the eggplant are equally covered. Lastly, take the patty onto the breadcrumb plate and cover the rice paper with breadcrumbs. Continue this process until all patties are complete.

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Step 4: Cook your patties.

If you are baking your eggplant: Cook your patties at 450º F / 232º C for 20 minutes, flipping the patties about halfway through.

If you are pan-frying your eggplant: In a deep skillet, coat the bottom with 4 tablespoons of grape seed oil at medium heat. Once the oil is heated, use a spatula to gently place the patties in the skillet. You may have to turn the heat down to medium low, depending on your stove. Flip patties over when they have cooked to golden brown (5-10 minutes). Cook the other side of the patty for 5 minutes. When both sides are golden brown, place on a plate lined with paper towels to soak up excess oil.

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If you created the homemade moxarella cheese, the patties taste delicious if the moxarella cheese is browned. After the patties are done cooking, add the moxarella cheese into the oven on broil. Cook for 3-5 minutes, keeping your eye on it to prevent burning.

 

Step 5: Prepare other toppings, including the lemon pesto.

If you haven’t done so by now, begin to heat up your marinara sauce in a saucepan on the stove. Cover and stir occasionally.

If your bread is gluten-free and vegan, you probably need to thaw and toast. This bread by Food for Life is expensive, but so delicious!

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If you are adding any vegetables to your sandwich (such as onion, tomato, or spinach), prepare.

To make the lemon pesto, put all lemon pesto ingredients in a food processor or blender. Spread it on your bread when ready.

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Step 6: Assemble and enjoy!

Put it all together, and you have delicious sandwiches!

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If you tried it and liked it, tag me on social media. Also, add me!


 

Happy cooking,

thisvegangirllogo

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Mushroom-Walnut Tacos with Queso

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January 29, 2015 By

The idea for these tacos came in bits and pieces. I guess it started a few weeks ago  when my soon-to-be brother-in-law was telling me how mushrooms are the umami, or savory part, of vegan dishes. He’s right! Mushrooms have volume, can easily absorb flavors, and ooze juices when cooked just right.

Fast forward to that special time of month when my stomach becomes a dumping ground from all the crap I stuff my face with. Okay, I’m exaggerating a tad, but the cravings were a bit out of control this month. I was obsessed with this Dairy-Free Dorito Popcorn recipe from Whole New Mom.

I thought about that perfect spice blend nonstop that week. Then, it came to me: “This would be a delicious taco seasoning.” That thought, plus the thought of the savoriness of mushrooms, led me conceive this dreamy meal. The “meat” here is full of flavor and has a great consistency!

Don’t get me wrong; I looove black bean tacos. However, it’s difficult to incorporate taco seasoning in black beans. They’re just not the absorbent type.

Try this recipe and you will not be disappointed. In fact, you might be obsessed like I am.

 

Mushroom-Walnut Tacos with Queso

Click here for a print-out version of this recipe!

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 10-20 minutes

Yield: 8 tacos

 

Ingredients

For the Mushroom-Walnut Meat:

  • 2 large portobello mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, crushed (but not minced)
  • 4 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • a dash of cayenne pepper (optional)

For the Queso:

  • 1/2 cup raw cashews, milled in the blender or food processor
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup coconut milk
  • 1/8 cup grape seed oil

Additional Ingredients/Toppings:

  • Taco shells/tortillas (I used mini corn tortillas to keep it gluten-free)
  • tomatoes
  • red onion
  • spinach
  • avocado

 

Step 1: Prepare the toppings.

I’m trying to get more organized in the kitchen by chopping the little stuff first.

I got an EXTREMELY rare, beautiful picture of my cockatiel Fleegle here. I was taking pictures of my chopped fruits and veggies, and Fleegle flew over to see what was going on. As soon as I snapped this picture, he flew away, leaving me with a lovely picture of his wingspan! I’ve never seen the details of his underwing, and it’s so beautiful!

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Step 2: Blend/mix/cook the meat.

I like to start with the spices. Since nutritional yeast is made with flakes, I like to put all the spices in the blender together at once. That way, all the spices are evenly distributed and fused together.

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After that, throw the mushrooms in the food processor until the mushrooms are in tiny pieces.

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Are your walnuts crushed yet? If so, do that now. Make sure your walnuts are decent chunks. I lightly crushed mine with the handle of my cutting knife.

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Mix the spices, mushrooms, and walnuts together in a bowl. There’s your meat!

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Throw the meat on a skillet set at medium heat. Stir/flip the meat every minute or so for about 10-12 minutes. You’ll start to see the meat become more crumbly; this is jackpot, people.

No, you're not looking at poop in a ramekin. It's deliciousness in a ramekin.

No, you’re not looking at poop in a ramekin. It’s deliciousness in a ramekin.

Step 3: Blend your queso.

The queso can be made in 5 minutes while the taco meat is cooking (as long as you keep stirring the meat every minute or so).

Start by placing only the cashews in the blender/food processor. Blend until the cashews are in tiny bits or like cashew meal.

 

Post milling

Post milling

After that, toss or pour the rest of the cashew cheese ingredients in the blender/food processor and blend until all ingredients turn into liquid gold.

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Step 4: Prepare your taco shells.

If you’re using corn tortillas like I did, you’re going to need to fry them on the pan on medium heat. I used a tiny bit of coconut oil for every tortilla I used. The tortillas fried for about 2 minutes on each side.

For those of you that are baking your tortillas in the oven, follow the packaged directions to do that.

For those of you eating soft flour tortillas, you may happily be on your merry way to Step #5… asshole. What? I didn’t say anything. Okay, I’m just super jealous, alright? Sorry.

 

Step 5: Assemble your tacos.

Oh yay! This is the fun part! Will you put on the leafy greens first, or the meat? Who cares? It’s up to you!

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If you like what you see, you might want to do the following:

  • Follow me on Instagram @thisvegangirl. I post my day-to-day meals there. If you try one of my recipes, I love when you post a picture and tag me!
  • Like me on Facebook for quick updates on new recipes.
  • Follow my board on Pinterest to see what’s pinspiring me.
  • Comment below!

 

¡Olé!

thisvegangirllogo

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Vegetable Lo Mein

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December 23, 2014 By

This dish took years to perfect. Yes, YEARS. I’ve been so annoyingly critical of this dish every time I’ve sat down to eat it. Too salty. Not enough flavor. The wrong flavor.

I think I’ve finally found it, though. The secret ingredient is nori, otherwise known as the seaweed that keeps your sushi tucked in so nicely. I bought a pack of nori, milled it up in my blender, and sprinkled some in this sauce. The result was nothing short of a vegan miracle; I was tasting that glorious flavor of the ocean that I haven’t tasted in years. As someone who used to love seafood, it was marvelous to acquire that taste again without harming any of our ocean friends.

Combining the fishy taste of nori, the natural sweetness from coconut oil, and the saltiness of Tamari (or soy sauce), you’ll be on your way to making this delicious vegan lo mein!

 

Vegetable Lo Mein

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Yield: 2-4 servings

 

Ingredients

For the Sauce:

  • 6 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 3 tablespoons Tamari or soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of nori, milled
  • 1 teaspoon powdered ginger

Other Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of carrots, diced
  • 1 cup of celery, diced
  • 8oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 pound of rice noodles
  • 1/2 cup green onions, chopped, for garnish
  • Sesame seeds, for garnish

 

Step 1: Chop and cook your vegetables.

The vegetables don’t HAVE to be the ones mentioned above. In fact, use this opportunity to get rid of whatever you have available. I like to use this dish as a fridge-clearer. Nonetheless, the ingredients above are my favorite ones to use.

Set 1 tablespoon of coconut oil in a wok/deep skillet on medium heat. Once the oil is melted, add in the celery, carrots, and mushrooms. Stir occasionally. After about 5-7 minutes, your vegetables should be cooked down properly. Reduce to low heat.

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Step 2: Create the sauce in a blender.

While your veggies are cooking down, start by milling up the nori into a pulp in your blender or food processor. I usually mill the entire nori package at once and store it in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for future uses.

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Once the nori is milled, combine all the sauce ingredients in the blender until all ingredients are fully incorporated. Add this sauce to the vegetables on low heat. Cover the wok/skillet.

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Step 3: Cook the rice noodles.

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Boiling the noodles isn’t normally the final step, but lo mein is a little different. The noodles need a chance to cook in the sauce for a bit; therefore, the sauce already needs to be ready. This will ensure that your noodles will be full of all the delicious flavors of the vegetables and sauce.

Start a pot of boiling water on the stove. Once the water is boiling, place in your noodles. Whatever the package of your noodles recommends for cook time, think about reducing that time by a few minutes. Drain, add the noodles to the wok, stir, cover, and let it cook for another few minutes. The idea is to start cooking the noodles in boiling water and to finish them off by having them soak up the flavors in your wok.

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Step 4: Garnish, serve, and enjoy!

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If you like what you see here, don’t forget to:

  • take a picture of this meal, upload it to Instagram, and tag me @thisvegangirl or #thisvegangirl so I can see how it turned out for you
  • add me on Facebook
  • follow me on Pinterest
  • comment below with feedback/results

 

Happy cooking,

thisvegangirllogo

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Cheesy Green Bean Casserole

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November 17, 2014 By

This Thanksgiving will be my second vegan Thanksgiving. Last year, I spent my Thanksgiving at Matt’s aunt’s house, which was very nice. I contributed a dish, and Matt’s mom made several gluten-free vegan dishes. No pressure.

This year, the pressure is on me: I’M HOSTING. I’m hosting both Matt’s family and my family, where our parents will meet for the first time. Not only that, but I will be the only vegan in attendance, so all my vegan dishes are going to need to be kickass in order to please the omnivores. I get the sweats just thinking about all the pressure.

One of the attendees requested green bean casserole, so I went to work searching online. With disappointment, I looked through a lot of recipes that just fell short. I need to blow the socks off these people, and I refuse to make a subpar dish.

I decided to take a chance with a non-vegan recipe and to veganize it. I took the great Alton Brown’s “Best Ever Green Bean Casserole” recipe and made some gluten-free & vegan changes.

Now, I’m confident that my green bean casserole is awesome. If you need a gluten-free vegan green bean casserole for your Thanksgiving, look no further. This recipe is creamy, cheesy, flavorful, and has a pleasant little crunch from the crispy onions.

 

Cheesy Green Bean Casserole

Prep Time: 25 mins

Cook Time: 45 mins

Yield: 6-8 servings

 

Ingredients

For the Crispy Onions:

  • 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup gluten-free bread crumbs or seasoned coating
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • a teeny bit of coconut oil (or grape seed oil), for greasing

For the Cheesy Cashew Cream:

  • 1/2 cup cashews, milled
  • 2 heaping tablespoons of nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 2 tbs grape seed oil or melted coconut oil

All Other Ingredients:

  • 24 oz green beans, trimmed and halved
  • 16 oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 tbs grape seed oil or coconut oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 tbs all-purpose GF flour
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • salt and pepper, to taste

 

Step 1: Prepare and bake the onions.

Preheat the oven to 450/232 degrees Fahrenheit/Celcius. Chop the onions thinly and separate with your fingers. Brace yourself for this step. I had to walk away with burning tears in my eyes THREE TIMES.

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Stinky goodness… so beautiful, it brings burning tears to your eyes.

Take your chopped onions, put them in a large tupperware container, pour in the breadcrumbs/coating, and shake it up, baby. Go ahead and twist and shout while you’re at it.

Once the onions are perfectly coated, take out a greased baking sheet, spread the onions out on it evenly, and bake in the oven for 20 minutes, shifting the onions halfway through. When you remove the onions from the oven, reduce the heat to 400/204 degrees Fahrenheit/Celsius.

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Step 2: Blanch the green beans.

While the onions are cooking, get to making those beautiful, lush beans! Bring a big pot of water to a boil. Boil your beans for only 4-5 minutes. I did 4 minutes and 30 seconds, and my green beans were perfect.

DSC_0004While those green beans are boiling, get out a big bowl and fill it with ice water. Once the green beauties have steamed their way to perfection, quickly strain them and immediately place them in ice water. This will keep them cooked, yet firm.

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You can keep them in the water for a while, since you’ve got other things to worry about.

 

Step 3: Prepare the cashew cream.

Once step 4 comes along, things will escalate quickly, so we’ll want that cashew cream ready to go.

I don’t believe in soaking cashews to make cashew cream. The whole thing can be done without soaking as long as you have a blender, food processor, or coffee grinder.

Start by placing the cashews into your milling machine of choice. Mine is a NutriBullet, which has an amazing milling blade that does the job beautifully. Mix the cashews until they become a pulp.

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Pre milling

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Post milling

After that, add all other cashew cream ingredients (coconut milk, oil, salt, nutritional yeast, smoked paprika). Set aside.

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Step 4: Cook all remaining ingredients on the stove.

But WAIT! There’s an order!

Start with the 2 tablespoons of oil in a pan on medium heat, followed by the mushrooms. Season those mushrooms with a little bit of sea salt and pepper.

DSC_0018Once the mushrooms start to sweat (4-5 minutes), add in the minced garlic and nutmeg and cook for another 1-2 minutes. After that, sprinkle the gluten-free all-purpose flour in there, letting it cook for 1 minute.

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Pour in the vegetable broth and let it simmer for 1 minute. Decrease the heat to low and add the cashew cream, mixing it all together and letting it cook for about 5 more minutes.

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Step 5: Put the dish together and bake.

Remove the pan from the stove and mix in the green beans and 1/4 of the crispy onions. Place the mixture in a baking pan and sprinkle the rest of the crispy onions on top. Bake for 15 minutes. Serve it hot.

It’ll look something like this:

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Oh, man. This was awesome. I can’t wait to serve this on Thanksgiving!

In the meantime, I’ll be enjoying this as my leftovers tomorrow for lunch. 🙂

 

Before I go, FREE PLUG PARTY! (Right, fellow Tosh.0 fans?)

  • Follow me on Instagram @thisvegangirl, and don’t forget to tag me in pictures of creations you’ve made from my blog! You can use the hashtag #thisvegangirl, too.
  • Like This Vegan Girl on Facebook for updates on new blog posts.
  • Comment below if you’ve tried my recipe and liked it!

 

Happy Thanksgiving,

thisvegangirllogo

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Fennel Salad Pizza with Pesto Base

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August 24, 2014 By

I’ve been wanting to make a pizza with a pesto base for quite some time now. However, I just couldn’t seem to come up with ideal toppings for the pizza. I had found myself in a rut, using the same ingredients as toppings over and over. I decided to put off posting the recipe until I came up with the answer.

A week ago, we went to Clearwater, FL to celebrate Matt’s birthday with his parents. Matt’s mom, Gail, loves to cook, and she made him a spectacular dinner for his birthday. On the menu was this to-die-for fennel, red onion, and olive salad. The rest of the family had their salad topped with sea scallops, but even without, mine was incredible.

An Instagram photo of Matt’s birthday dinner. The winning salad is on the bottom left.

I kept thinking about that salad. I thought about it for the next week. I’m not a fan of fennel, or olives for that matter. Nonetheless, I kept thinking about how perfect it was.

It suddenly clicked that this winning salad combination might be my answer to my pesto base pizza woes. I acquired the recipe from Gail, put it on top of the pizza, and the result was out of this world. I always say this, but this time, I mean it; this is my new favorite pizza. Shh… don’t tell the others.

 

Fennel Salad Pizza with Pesto Base

Prep Time: 30-45 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Yield: One pizza pie

 

Ingredients

For the Gluten-Free Crust: (see recipe here) (optional)

  • 2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 tsp Sugar
  • 3/4 cup Water (warm)
  • 1 tbs flax seed mixed with 3 tbs warm water
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1-1/2 cups GF all-purpose baking flour
  • 2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

For the Fennel Salad:

  • 5-6 fennel stalks OR 1 head of fennel, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup red onion, rinsed with cold water to reduce raw harshness
  • 1 cup Castelvetrano olives, crushed and pitted
  • 2 tbs fresh or dried tarragon
  • 2 tbs fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed

For the Pesto Base:

  • 1-2 handfuls of fresh basil, rinsed
  • 1 handful of raw cashews
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 lemon, freshly squeezed
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • salt and pepper to taste

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Step 1: Make the fennel salad.

The fennel salad needs to marinate for 20 minutes, so I think this should be numero uno.

I bought my olives at Whole Foods at their olive bar. Start by placing the olives in between sheets of parchment paper.  Mash the olives with the palms of your hand. If it hurts your hand too much, a potato masher will probably do the trick. Once all the olives are mashed, remove the pits, separate the olives into smaller bits with your hands, and place in a bowl.

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Ready!

Ready!

Next, chop up the red onion. Once chopped, place the red onion in a strainer, rinse off with cold water, and add it to the bowl of olives. Raw red onion is extremely harsh and has quite a bite to it, so we don’t need that type of drama here.

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My knives are an embarrassment to the world of cooking, as I am a starving artist. Therefore, I had to pulse my fennel in the food processor to chop it properly. Hopefully, you don’t have these problems and can cut your fennel like a normal human being. Nevertheless, feel free to use my method.

The three caballeros.

The three caballeros.

Place the rest of the salad ingredients into the bowl. Mix and set aside. Let it marinate for at least 20 minutes.

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Step 2: Prepare the gluten-free pizza crust. (optional)

Not everyone needs to make a gluten-free pizza crust. Not everyone wants to make a gluten-free pizza crust. However, if you do, I’ve found that Bob’s Red Mill’s website has provided the best recipe. View it here. (Substitute 1 tbs flax seed meal & 3 tbs warm water (mixed) for the egg to make it vegan.)

Your pizza crust should look like this when complete:

Pre precook

Pre precook

Gluten-free crust needs to be pre-cooked before adding any base or toppings to it. At 425º, cook the pizza crust for 7 minutes. Set aside.

 

Step 3: Food process the pesto base.

This is the easy part, and it’s the perfect thing to do while you’re waiting for your gluten-free crust to precook. Place all ingredients in a food processor and mix until creamy. Garlic bits are graciously accepted.

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Step 4: Spread pesto base on pizza crust and bake.

Scoop the pesto with a spoon, then use the back of the spoon to smooth out the pesto throughout the crust.

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Bake in the oven at 425º for another 5-7 minutes, until crust is golden brown.

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Why bake the pesto, you ask? I think it gives the garlic a roast-y taste, which I like.

Step 5: Strain the marinade and scoop contents on top of pizza.

Straining the marinade is crucial. Otherwise, you’ll be stuck with the most greasy pizza of all time, and that’s not what we’re about here. Just stick it in a colander, let the oil drip out for a few minutes, and scoop the remaining salad on top of the pizza.

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I’d be surprised if you’ve had anything like this pizza before. It tastes so fresh. One thing I really like about this pizza is that the need for tons of salt is minimal, as the parsley and lemon take care of that. It throws so many flavors at you at once, but they all seem to complement each other so nicely. These flavors really have seemed to taken a liking to each other and get along so well. I think they’ll be friends for a long time to come, and my mouth isn’t complaining.

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If you’re interested on trying any of my other pizzas, take a look at the following:

If you happen to try making this pizza and are on Instagram, take a picture of it and use the hashtag #thisvegangirl so I can take a peek. I’d love to see how it worked out for you. Don’t forget to add me on Facebook, too, as I post all my blog updates on there.

 

Happy cooking,

thisvegangirllogo

 

 

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Tomato Basil Soup

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August 18, 2014 By

I’ll admit that I never cared about making this soup until I had an intense craving of grilled cheese sandwiches, which I made here (vegan and gluten-free, y’all!). With my mind now on grilled cheese sandwiches, my next thought was, “How am I going to pull off making my own tomato soup?” Honestly, HOW on EARTH can you make grilled cheese sandwiches without the tomato soup?

The tomato soup is the elegant hero here. Without it, what would we have? Just cheese and bread? Horrible. Homemade tomato soup gives class and nourishment to an otherwise disgustingly boring, nutrition-lacking meal.

Oh, this soup makes my heart sing. The basil really gives the soup a superior taste. Dipping my grilled cheese into this soup and placing it in my mouth might have been the highlight of my week. The best part is that most of these ingredients are ones you probably already have in your kitchen! Woo hoo!

 

Tomato Basil Soup

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 3-4 cups of soup

 

Ingredients:

For the oven:

  • 4 Roma tomatoes, sliced
  • 2 tbs grape seed oil
  • 2 tbs balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/4 tsp coconut sugar

For the stove:

  • 1 heaping cup grape tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced

Garnish

  • 2 heaping tablespoons basil, minced

 

Step 1: Prepare the tomatoes for the oven.

Preheat the oven to 400º. Slice the tomatoes, leaving the stem part out. I cut mine out, as shown below:

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Grease your baking sheet and place the tomatoes on the sheet. Pour/season the tomatoes with the grape seed oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic salt, and coconut sugar.

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Place the tomatoes in the oven for 30 minutes. They’ll be nice and roasted by the time they’re done, and your house will smell AMAZING.

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Roasted and robust!

 

Step 2: Cook your stove-top ingredients.

Start off your frying pan with coconut oil with your chopped onion and grape tomatoes on medium heat. There’s no need to cut your grape tomatoes, as they will burst with flavor as soon as they food processed. Cook for about 5-7 minutes, when the onions are sweating and the tomatoes are slightly browned. Throw in the minced garlic cloves and cook for an additional minute. YUM!

After that, pour in the vegetable stock*, stir with a ladle, and let it sit on medium-low heat until the roasted tomatoes are done.

*NOTE: For those of you who use bouillon instead of stock (as I did), I used 4 cups of water for 2 teaspoons of vegetable bouillon. In a separate pot, I mixed the two ingredients and brought the mixture to a boil. After that, I poured the broth into the frying pan with the tomatoes and onions. Done!

before

before

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after

 

Step 3: Combine the roasted tomatoes and stove-top ingredients in a food processor.

When the roasted tomatoes are finished, it’s time to turn all these ingredients into soup!

Dump the stove top ingredients and the roasted tomatoes in the food processor and mix it up! My food processor isn’t the greatest, so my soup was slightly chunky. You know what, though? I ended up liking it that way.

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Once all the ingredients are mixed, place the soup back on the stove on low heat and take a deep breath: the hard part is over!

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Step 4: Add fresh basil and serve.

Cooked basil sucks, which is why the last-minute addition is the way basil needs to be served.

Mince your basil as much as possible, making sure you can gather two heaping tablespoons of the yummy stuff. Do not skip this crucial ingredient! Put the tablespoons of basil in the big pot, give it a big mix, and serve!

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Remember, don’t forget to pair the soup with my gluten-free vegan Grilled Cheese Sandwiches. I’m telling you, these two make the perfect pair.

If you try making this soup, don’t forget to take a picture of it, post it on Instagram, and use the hashtag #thisvegangirl so I can see it. I’d love to see how you present your grilled cheese and tomato soup. Speaking of Instagram, follow me! I post my day-to-day meals, if anyone gives a crap. I’m also on Facebook, too. Thanks for all your support!

 

Happy cooking,

thisvegangirllogo

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Fiesta Potatoes

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August 1, 2014 By

In Florida, it’s unfortunate, and a little surprising, that vegan and/or raw food restaurants are hard to come by. Cities give you more options, but finding a vegan restaurant in a little town? Fa getta bout it.

When I go to visit my parents in South Florida, it’s a miracle that we have Christopher’s Kitchen in Palm Beach Gardens. It’s a raw vegan restaurant with modern cuisine that my whole family loves. My sister and I always order the Iron Man smoothie, which inspired me to start adding cinnamon to my smoothies with yellow & orange fruit in it! (Seriously, try it.) Matt has a wide selection of gluten-free options, too. It’s just a fantastic restaurant.

When I bought my Prius back in March, we decided to try Christopher’s to celebrate and/or gorge ourselves afterward. For anyone who has bought a car from a dealership before, it’s a guarantee that you’re starving by the time you leave. Thus, we went a little crazy when we went to the restaurant.

We ordered an appetizer called the Fiesta Potatoes, and we fell in love. With Matt being gluten-free and me being vegan, he’s oddly obsessed with potatoes, and I’m oddly obsessed with avocados, so this side dish satisfies both weaknesses. We’ve been copying the recipe ever since!

 

Fiesta Potatoes

Prep Time: 10-15 minutes (can be done during cook time)

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 4 sides

 

Ingredients:

  • Petite red potatoes, quartered into 3 cups
  • 2-3 tbs olive oil
  • 3 ripe avocados, mashed
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • 1/3 cup grape tomatoes, diced
  • 1/3 cup red onion, diced
  • 2 tbs lime juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • hot sauce (optional)

 

Step 1: Wash, cut, and bake your potatoes.

Use the olive oil on the baking pan, put the cut pieces of potato on top, and move the potatoes around the dish with your fingers until every potato is coated with olive oil. Bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes.

Potatoes before cooking

Potatoes before cooking

Potatoes after cooking

Potatoes after cooking

 

Step 2: Make the guacamole.

You have plenty of time to make the guacamole AND clean up the kitchen afterward!

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Once the fruits and veggies are cut, put all remaining ingredients in a large bowl. I love chunky avocados in guacamole on any given day, but for this side dish, you’ll want keep your guacamole mashed and on the creamier side. It’ll help your guacamole bind to the potatoes. Therefore, I’ll use my potato masher if I have to.

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When completed, set aside or put in the fridge until potatoes are finished.

 

Step 3: Mix potatoes in with guacamole.

Once the potatoes have finished cooking, dump the potatoes in your guacamole bowl, mix, and serve!

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Only three steps for a recipe?! That might be a This Vegan Girl record low!

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I love to pair this side dish with my Quesadillas with Monterey Jack Cashew Cheese! Click here to see the recipe.

If you make any of my dishes, take a picture and tag me on Instagram using #thisvegangirl to let me know how it went!

 

Happy cooking,

thisvegangirllogo

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Quesadillas with Monterey Jack Cashew Cheese

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July 27, 2014 By

I have been going a little crazy over cashew cheese lately. I was avoiding it for a little while. I think that’s because perfecting the taste of cashew cheese takes a lot of experimentation, and I’m someone who likes to get it right the first time.

About a week ago, I decided to put my ego aside and took a stab at making the first vegan quesadilla I’ve ever attempted to make… with cashew cheese. DUN DUN DUN. My first attempt created the texture I wanted, but the quesadilla as a whole was a bit dry. Next time, I added more cheese to moisten it up, but the taste didn’t wow me.

The third time was a charm with this one, which is what you’ll be viewing today (and hopefully trying yourself later)! I have to give it up to my once aquaintence, now friend, Nutritional Yeast. You really pull your weight in creating the cheese flavor. I must say, however, that the true star of this post goes to Smoked Paprika. Smoked Paprika was the key ingredient I needed to make me say, “Oh my God. This tastes like a real quesadilla.” out loud.  Nutritional Yeast and Smoked Paprika, you two make a GREAT COUPLE, and you have earned a permanent spot in my spice collection! Congrats!

Quesadillas with Monterey Jack Cashew Cheese

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Yield: 4 whole quesadillas

 

Ingredients:

For Monterey Jack Cashew Cheese:

  • 1 cup of raw cashews (soaked for 8 hours, then drained, OR milled)
  • 4 tbs nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup grape seed oil

Other Ingredients Needed:

  • 8 flour tortillas (for GF, corn tortillas and GF tortillas both work perfectly)
  • 1 15oz can of organic & vegetarian refried beans
  • red onion, diced
  • tomatoes, diced
  • red pepper, diced

 

Step 1: Blend the raw cashews.

Let’s get the most difficult part out of the way first, and that’s the cashew cheese. I have a NutriBullet, which has a milling blade that grinds cashews to a flour without the need for soaking. (Seriously people, buy a NutriBullet. They’re the best.) I believe a coffee grinder will do the job, as well. For the non-soakers, blend your cashews first before adding the rest of the ingredients.

Pre milling

Pre milling

Post milling

Post milling

For most of you, you will need to soak your cashews for 8 hours prior to making this meal. Once the soaking is over, drain your cashews. Make sure you have a strong blender or food processor to avoid chunks of wet cashews (ew). For the soakers, you’ll probably need blend the cashews and coconut milk first before adding the rest of the ingredients.

 

Step 2: Blend the rest of the cashew cheese ingredients.

Blend ingredients until you have a smooth, thick consistency. This cheese is really thick and oozy. It makes a huge mess in whatever it’s being blended in!

Messy!

Messy!

Put the cashew cheese to the side.

Mmmm… I can't wait to eat you.

Mmmm… I can’t wait to eat you.

 

Step 3: Prepare tortillas, refried beans, and vegetables.

Start with the bottom tortilla. Add 1-2 generous spoonfuls of refried beans on top, spreading it around evenly with the back of the spoon.

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For non-GFers, I am currently in love with Trader Joe’s Habañero Lime Tortillas!

Next, add your vegetables. I didn’t specify specific amounts because it’s your preference!

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Step 4: Spread cashew cheese on top tortilla.

Add 2-3 generous spoonfuls of cashew cheese on top of the tortilla that hasn’t been used yet.

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Now, take the top tortilla and make it “kiss” the bottom tortilla. Pat it down gently so everything sticks.

MUAH!

MUAH!

Here was Matt's gluten-free corn tortilla. :)

Here was Matt’s gluten-free corn tortilla. 🙂

Step 5: Bake.

Bake your tortillas in the oven at 400 degrees for about 7-10 minutes. Keep a close eye on your quesadillas, as every tortilla is different and unpredictable.

Just ask my toaster oven, which is now covered in soot after a tortilla incident a few weeks ago. It caught on fire while toasting a tortilla. I swear, sometimes, I wonder if I really should be the person behind a food blog.

Anyway, just make sure the tortillas are crispy enough to hold their own, but by no means burnt. Okay?

 

Step 6: Slice and serve!

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Look at the oozy cheese! It’s so exciting!

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I enjoyed these quesadillas with a Mexican side-dish favorite, Fiesta Potatoes. Click here to get the recipe.

If you happen to try this recipe and have Instagram, take a picture of your quesadilla and use the hashtag #thisvegangirl so I can see your wonderful creation. Don’t forget to add me at thisvegangirl, as I update my IG every day.

This is just the beginning of my cashew cheese journey! Stay tuned, everyone!

 

Happy cooking,

thisvegangirllogo

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Lentil Soup in a Homemade Veggie Broth

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February 9, 2014 By

It’s a beautiful Sunday afternoon in Central Florida. After a rainy, disgusting week, it’s sunny and beautiful, with a high of 71 degrees. Oh Florida, it’s great to have you back!

After a stellar morning involving a morning run, yoga in the park, and some partner yoga with my best friend, I came home wanting a great lunch. We haven’t had a big grocery run in about a week, and we need to clear out the ripe veggies in the fridge to make way for the new ones. “Perfect for soup!” I thought.

Much to my dismay (initially), I realized that my stash of vegetable bouillon was all gone. What started out as a soupy defeat quickly turned into a chance to be creative. I didn’t have an hour to simmer my veggies to make stock (who does?), so I decided to use the same approach as I did to make my instant cashew cream: mill it up!

In order to successfully make this soup, you’ll need a really powerful food processor, or some type of milling device. If not, you’ll end up with a chunky broth, and nobody wants that.

This soup was tasty, quick, fridge-clearing, packed with nutrition, and didn’t take a lot of ingredients!

 

Lentil Soup in a Homemade Veggie Broth

Prep and Cook Time: 20 minutes combined

Yield: 4 servings

 

Ingredients

Broth:

  • 2 cups ripe tomatoes (I used grape tomatoes that were getting a bit wrinkly)
  • 4 celery stalks
  • 3 large carrots
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tbs sea salt
  • 1 cup water

Other Ingredients:

  • 2 cans of organic lentils, strained and rinsed
  • 8oz baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  • ½ cup white onion, chopped
  • 4oz quinoa pasta – OPTIONAL – (I used Ancient Harvest Garden Pagoda quinoa pasta)

 

STEP 1: Create the broth.

Prep your stove by setting your pot on medium-low heat. That way, when your broth is ready, you can make it instantly hot.

Take the broth ingredients, except the water and salt, and put them in your food processor. Mill those ingredients together until it has become completely smooth liquid.

Once your veggies are smooth, pour your soup onto the pot. Add the water and salt.

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STEP 2: Strain and rinse your lentils.

Add the lentils to the pot.

Why the canned lentils? I’ve tried raw lentils a countless amount of times through soaking, simmering, adding baking soda, and a combination of all three. No matter what I did, I couldn’t ever seem to get my lentils to be that puffy, soft consistency. They would ALWAYS turn out a bit crunchy. I finally gave in and bought organic lentils, and I haven’t looked back since! It doesn’t hurt that they’re also quick and easy.

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STEP 3 (optional)Prepare the pasta.

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add in 4oz of quinoa pasta to boiling water, allowing the pasta to boil for 6 minutes. Strain and add to the pot when ready.

 

STEP 4: Add chopped veggies to the pot.

While the pasta water is heating up, increase the stove to medium heat. Chop the onion and mushrooms and add the two to the pot. Cover with a lid until you add in the pasta, about 6-8 minutes.

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STEP 5: Ready to eat!

We prepared Schar Gluten-free Ciabatta Rolls to dip into our soup.

By the way, it’s REALLY difficult to get a great picture of soup. Here is my best attempt.

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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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