September 6, 2015 By This Vegan Girl
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
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20-25 minutes
Yield: 4 patties for 4 sandwiches
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
- 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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Step 6: Assemble and enjoy!
Put it all together, and you have delicious sandwiches!
If you tried it and liked it, tag me on social media. Also, add me!
September 7, 2014 By This Vegan Girl
Recently, I’ve been seeing a trend of food blogs taking a “less is more” approach with their ingredient lists. The idea behind it is the less ingredients a passerby sees, the more likely they’re going to say, “Hey! I can do this.” I suppose a long list of ingredients can seem a bit daunting to, say, a busy mom who wants to whip up something fast and yummy on a hectic Thursday night. It’s a cool concept.
I don’t know why, but these blogs made me feel a little down about my own work. I was noticing that some of my entries had the daunting long list of ingredients, and it made me feel like my blog, and its content, wasn’t good enough. I began to try and simplify my ingredients in order to compete.
A few weeks ago, I saw that cooking movie The Hundred Foot Journey. You know, the one about the Indian restaurant that moved across the street from a snooty French restaurant. I was surprised by how much I ended up enjoying that movie. Aside from the love story and giggly scenes, I was relieved to see how much they emphasized bold flavor, lots of spices, and a variety of ingredients. The chef in the movie was first criticized by the amount of flavor he used, but was then adored for it once he was given the chance.
As silly as it sounds, I don’t feel so bad about my own creations after seeing that movie. In fact, I’m proud of my flavors, regardless of how many ingredients are involved. Good taste isn’t always simple; sometimes, something complex is what makes someone say, “Mmmm! Wow, what’s in this?” I encourage you all to not be intimidated by ingredient lists, but be inspired to try something you’ve never tried before.
Anyway, back to the recipe at hand: this wrap is amazing and you need to make it today.
Balsamic Basil Chickun Wrap with Cashew Cheese
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10-15 minutes (can be done during prep time)
Yield: 4-6 wraps
Ingredients for Cashew Cheese:
- 3 handfuls (almost 1 cup) of raw cashews
- 3 tbs tahini sauce OR hummus
- 2 heaping tablespoons of nutritional yeast
- ¼ tsp smoked paprika
Ingredients for Tofu Viniagrette:
- 6 tbs olive oil
- 2 tbs balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbs fresh basil
- 1/8 tsp sea salt
- 1 15oz container super firm tofu, pressed and diced
- 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
- wrap or bread
Step 1: Chop and cook the tofu.
We’re aiming for a chicken-like texture here, so we’re going to pan fry the tofu. I have a green nonstick pan, so I didn’t add any oil to my tofu. However, if you’re afraid of a sticky disaster, use 1 tablespoon of coconut oil or grapeseed oil onto the pan.
I set my temperature a little higher than medium heat, tossing the tofu every couple of minutes. Your tofu will be complete when it’s golden brown, as seen below.
Step 2: Prepare the vinaigrette.
While your tofu is cooking, prepare the vinaigrette. Chop the basil until it’s minced. Place the basil, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar, and salt in a bowl. With a whisk, whip it up quickly for about 10-15 seconds. The idea is you want the oil and vinegar to blend, so it has to be fast.
Step 3: Combine the tofu and tomatoes in the vinaigrette.
Toss. Smell. Swoon. Set aside.
Step 4: Create cashew cheese.
It’s really easy. With a food processor, you’ll want to pulse your cashews to be chunky. Not whole, not milled, but a little in-between, like this:
After that, toss in the rest of the cashew cheese ingredients, and stir until contents are fully mixed together. Use the back of your spoon to press down on the mixture to truly blend the ingredients.
You might have some questions about the tahini sauce. It’s not your regular tahini. I get it from Trader Joe’s, and it looks like this:
I like its paste-y texture, unlike traditional tahini, which is more liquefied. I totally understand if you have never heard of tahini sauce, let alone have it available at your local grocer. If it’s not available, hummus works exactly the same. I’ve tried both, and I enjoyed them equally.
Step 5: That’s a wrap!
Assemble the wrap. This is the order I did mine:
First, cashew cheese.
Finally, topped with the tofu vinaigrette.
For those eating a gluten-free diet, you may or may not have a yummy wrap you can rely on. For those who don’t, you can always go the open-faced sandwich route, which Matt did for this particular meal.
I hope you can use this recipe to spruce up your lunch routine a bit. Enjoy!
August 15, 2014 By This Vegan Girl
Ever since I defied the “sucky vegan cheese” odds with my Quesadillas with Monterey Jack Cheese, I’ve been trying to think of new ways to use my invention.
This past week, I have been surrounded by children. My cousins (ages 11-12) came down to visit from Delaware, which allowed me to channel my inner tween. I also babysat my former colleague’s little girls (ages 6 and 8) for the week, for whom I was a personal chef of mini treats.
Surrounding myself around young ones all week put my mind in a juvenile place. It wasn’t surprising that by the middle of the week, I was having an intense craving for the ultimate American young’un meal: grilled cheese and tomato soup. And now, with my new discovery of melty vegan cheese, I could finally pull off this gem! Don’t forget to check out my Tomato Basil Soup, which goes perfectly with the grilled cheese sandwiches!
Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10-15 minutes
Yield: 4-6 grilled cheese sandwiches (depending on the size of the bread)
- 4 handfuls raw cashews (milled, OR soaked for 8 hours, then drained)
- 4 tbs nutritional yeast
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp salt
- 2/3 cup coconut milk
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- your favorite bread (I used Trader Joe’s gluten-free vegan Brown Rice bread)
- grape seed oil or coconut oil, for frying
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.
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.
Step 3: Scoop cashew cheese onto your bread slices.
If you’re using frozen gluten-free bread like I did, you’re going to want to toast your bread before you scoop. Don’t cook the bread fully, but toast it just enough to evaporate the wetness and make it warm throughout. (Disregard if you’re not using frozen bread).
Lay out your bottom slices and scoop 2-3 heaping tablespoons of cashew cheese onto your bread. Our bread is small, so we use 2 tablespoons of cheese per sandwich. If you’re using bigger bread slices, feel free to use three, or even four, scoops of cashew cheese. With the back of your spoon, spread the cheese evenly throughout the bread slice.
Once the cheese is on the bottom slice, place your top slice on top of the cheese, making the sandwich kiss. Resist the urge to smoosh the sandwich down, as we don’t want the cheese to drip down the bread.
Step 4: Fry your sandwiches on both sides.
In a frying pan on medium-low or medium heat, pour about 2 tablespoons of oil onto the pan. Place your sandwiches onto the pan. I like to shake the pan around for a few seconds to help move the oil throughout the bottom of the bread.
Keep checking the face-down part of your bread every minute or so. When your bread becomes golden brown, flip the sandwich over. You might want to pour another tablespoon of oil onto the pan and mix it around again, just as an added measure to prevent break stickiness (the worst). Your bread should be ready to remove from the pan within the next few minutes.
Step 5: Slice in half and enjoy!
I paired this bread with my Tomato Soup recipe, and oh my goodness, it was a dream. It was the perfect thing to dip my sandwich into! I haven’t enjoyed this treat in so long, and it was such a treat to indulge in this cruelty-free delight.
If you make the grilled cheese sandwiches, I have an amazing Tomato Basil Soup (seen above) to pair it with! Also, 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 your grilled cheese sandwiches and how you decide to present them. 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 reminiscing (whilst cooking),
August 6, 2013 By This Vegan Girl
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
- 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
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.
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!
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.)
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.
Finally, I added the alfalfa sprouts and topped it with the sliced pickle. NO REGRETS WHATSOEVER.
I added mustard on the top slice before completing the sandwich, but it’s optional. The sandwich is still amazing without it.
And voila! In 3 easy steps, you’ve got yourself a lovely gourmet sandwich.
July 3, 2013 By This Vegan Girl
Ever since turning vegan, there are certain foods that I find myself gravitating toward time and time again. For me, that food is the chickpea. Can we agree that chickpeas are the #1 vegan food?
I find myself using chickpeas to create a multitude of substitutions. Whether mashed, cooked, or raw, these beans are something I can always count on for good texture.
I don’t know about you, but every now and again, I find myself craving a salad sandwich. You know, egg salad or tuna salad. It’s not an every day craving, but its one I have maybe about once every 2 months or so. Well, leave it to chickpeas – once again – to save the day in a time of a vegan craving crisis.
Here’s my take on a chickpea salad sandwich. It’s gluten-free, so Celiacs can use GF bread or GF crackers to make this thing happen for them, too.
Chickpea Salad Sandwich
Yield: 3-4 sandwiches
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
- 1 can of chickpeas, drained, washed, and patted dry
- 2 celery stalks, thinly sliced
- 5 petite pickles, thinly sliced
- 8 baby carrots, thinly sliced
- ¼ – ½ sweet or white onion, diced
- ¼ cup green onions, chopped
- 1 cup Veganaise*
- 1 tbs Dijon mustard
- ½ of a lemon, squeezed for juice
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- ½ tsp paprika
- dash of sweetener (if using Veganaise, in order to really make those flavors pop!)
- fresh spinach (optional)
- your favorite vegan and/or gluten free bread (make sure it’s thick… this sandwich can get heavy!)
*SIDE NOTE: I’m visiting my boyfriend in Mississippi, and there was NO Veganaise to be found at the local grocery store! If you are in this predicament as well, I substituted So Delicious Coconut Milk Plain yogurt. It’s a bit on the sweet side, so I used lots of tart spices in the yogurt to even out the taste.
STEP 1: Have a really cute animal nearby to help you out and brighten your spirit.
This is my baby Fleegle. He’s a one year-old cockatiel, and he’s my sunshine. He injured his little foot recently, so that’s why his foot is sticking up like that :(. Don’t worry though; with the help of my vet, Fleegle is on the road to recovery!
STEP 2: Cut chickpeas in half.
You see why you need an animal to brighten your spirits? It’s because cutting these little chickpeas is tedious and annoying. A whole chickpea is a bit thick, so cutting them in half really helps to spread that taste throughout. This step alone takes about 10 minutes, but I promise you it’s worth it!
STEP 3: Cut up the rest of your vegetables.
STEP 4: Using the spices and vegan mayo, create your Veganaise mixture. Sample the mixture throughout and cater to your own personal taste!
STEP 5: Mix everything together.
STEP 6: Place some fresh spinach at the bottom of one of your bread slices. Then, scoop some chickpea salad and place it on top of the spinach layer. Finally, top of your sandwich with your other bread slice.
MMMMMM! Perfect for summer and outdoor adventures!