Grilled Vegetable and Pesto Sandwich…


Yesterday was “baking day” at our house. Basically any day my son wants to wear his apron and asks me to wear mine so we can cook together, we bake. I was craving some rustic style bread but didn’t want to leave the house to buy some so fresh baked bread was the obvious choice.

I made bread once before and it turned out so perfect that I used the same recipe yesterday. It’s this Whole Wheat Artisan Bread from www.cesraskitchen.com, it’s vegan, only 10 ingredients, all natural, healthy and oh so delicious.

What better thing to make with fresh hearty artisan bread than fancy sandwiches. Fancy doesn’t necessarily mean complicated or expensive, these sandwiches only use a few ingredients but they look and taste fabulous.

Heres what you need:

~Bread loaf of choice, sliced (click link above for artisan bread recipe)

~Tomato slices (2 per sandwich)

~Onion slices

~1 red bell pepper cut in thick slices

~1/2 avocado

~Portobello mushroom caps (1 per sandwich)*

~Tofu block, sliced (optional if you don’t want only veggies or, like in my case, my husband is allergic to mushrooms)

~Vegan pesto spread (I modified a recipe from www.eatdrinkdhrink.com, check recipe below)

On a pan add oil and grill your veggies until tender and a bit blackened (onion, bell pepper, tomato, portobello). Portobello should feel tender and soft to touch. In another pan add oil and sear the tofu slices until both sides are crispy and golden.

To assemble sandwich spread the pesto on one slice of bread (both slices if you want more flavor), place grilled veggies on top {I used portobello on one sandwich and tofu on another}.

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On the other slice add avocado slices and close sandwich.

Done and ready to eat!!

*Recipe for vegan cream cheese pesto butter:

In a blender add basil, spinach and parsley with a splash of olive oil and blend until combined. In a pot melt vegan butter, add minced garlic and cook for a few minutes. Remove pot from the stove, add the basil mix and a couple of spoons of vegan cream cheese. Stir everything together.

Original spread recipe:

Vegan Pull Bread

So you see, sandwiches can be fancy and easy at the same time, and most important, healthy and filled with goodness.

Portobello Sandwich

Seared tofu sandwich

Not everyone knows how to cook but anyone can learn…

I’ve always enjoyed being in the kitchen and learning new recipes. Growing up I had lots of cooking role models: my parents, my grandparents, my great grandma, my aunts and uncles and later on, my friends and co-workers. I’ve also always loved cooking shows and any other “food-related” shows (Especially Master Chef, I love Chef Ramsay!). Now that I’m a full-time stay-at-home mom, one of my job duties is to cook for my family and I have to say, that takes up about 40% of my day.

Back before I became vegetarian two years ago, my cooking looked very different from how it looks now; I used to make dishes with all kinds of ingredients not really caring about health content, calories or source; I just wanted to make delicious food. Two years ago things changed, I believe for the better, and now I can say I still cook delicious food but what goes in it is very different and much more health-conscious than before.

I can’t say I was an expert on healthy cooking, much less vegetarian cooking. Also, I knew in my mind what “healthy food” was, but before then I wasn’t fully convinced that “healthy” was the way I wanted to eat. Once the lightbulb turned on in my head and I decided to make the change, I was ready to do the research, put in the work and embark on a new journey.

First thing I did (of course) was Google as much as I could about vegetarianism; then I read a bunch of blogs that talked about it. I also found some awesome people who personally took the time to help, educate and inspire me to follow this path (if you’re reading this, you all know who you are). Then I got some “vegetarian cook books” and my good ol’ friends Pinterest and Instagram also came to the rescue.

So there I went, cooking away three meals a day, seven days a week (except for the occasional dining out of course) and I have to say I was pretty successful at it. But then one day, through a good mommy friend of mine who is also vegetarian I found out about Miss Karina Paz Kennedy aka Chef Karina (@chefkaryma on Instagram).

Chef Karina offers cooking classes for adults and children from beginners to advanced levels. She also offers workshops in colaboration with a Nutritionist and covers not just the cooking part but also healthy tips to live a healthy life.

I’ve been to three sessions with her and I have loved every single one of them. She’s very personable, super friendly, she helps you throughout the class and she answers every question you might have (aka she’s very patient when we have no clue of what we’re doing). You can tell she does this for the love of cooking and because she wants people to learn the ways of healthy cooking and healthy living.

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The first class I took was “Granos, Semillas y Superalimentos” (Grains, Seeds and Superfoods) and we learned all about cooking with those food groups and incorporating them in to our diet. The next one was “Cocina Italiana Vegana” (Vegan Italian Food) and we made things like cauliflower crust pizza, marinara from scratch and vegan pana cota.

The third class was last night and it was SALADS. You think, “Salads? what’s so hard about salads that I have to take a class for it?”…well, let me tell you that once you learn how to make amazing salads that look like they came from a restaurant kitchen and that you paid $12 for each one but it was actually you that made it in your own kitchen, you’ll understand my excitement.

Spinach Salad with creamy dijon dressing

We had a great time making these salads and it’s actually kind of funny because in the past I used to quote Homer Simpson and say “You don’t make friends with salad!” anytime I had the option of choosing a salad vs a plate of meat…and now I look for salads, make salads and actually like eating them as a meal.

They came out so delicious and so full of flavor. Chef Karina always tells us, “a complete and balanced meal should have a protein, a grain and a healthy fat aside from your vegetables”, and that’s exactly what these salads are, Full Meals on their own because they have all the components. And yes, the protein IS there, it’s plant-based so we used tempeh, seitan, seeds and even avocado, all great sources of protein for vegetarians and vegans.

Just to give you an idea, here’s some of the salads we made:

Green Salad

Avocado Caesar

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Thai

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Red Salad

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Greek

Greek Salad

All of these can technically be made at home in about 20 minutes tops (give or take on ingredients that have to be roasted or toasted) and just look at them! They’re amazing!!

So I’d like to encourage everyone who has the opportunity to join a local cooking class wherever you live, to do it! and if you’re in our neck of the woods, check out Chef Karina’s Facebook page or Instagram for upcoming class and workshop dates. They are held in Tijuana (in Spanish), they’re fun and best of all…you get to eat what you make in class!!! (I bet you can’t say that about your calculus class).

Here’s her info, contact her for questions. She also offers catering and will make dishes upon request. (Prices and dates vary)

Email: kpazkennedy@gmail.com

Instagram: @chefkaryma

FB: Taller de Cocina con Chef Karina

Now I can honestly say “I make GREAT friends with salad!”

~Mrs. H

 

Vegan Polenta Tamales…

Polenta Tamales

Sometimes recipes come in to your head from a craving, a tv cooking show, a restaurant dish you loved or from a friend’s dinner. This one was inspired by one of my wonderful friend’s who made Tamales by substituting the masa and lard with polenta and coconut oil. I would have never thought about it but I figured now that I knew, I had to try it.

I made a few changes and turned them in to VEGAN polenta tamales. If you love tamales because they’re dense, fluffy pockets of deliciousness but you don’t want to feel heavy and guilty after you eat a few, this is the recipe for you!!

Makes 14 tamales:

2 tubes of organic polenta (2 lbs)

•2 tbsp coconut oil

•2 zucchini

2 ears of corn

4 oz of non-dairy cheese (I use Follow Your Heart)

•1 can organic tomato sauce (12 oz)

•1/2 onion

•3 garlic cloves (minced).

•1 jalapeño

•2 tsp olive oil

•salt and pepper

•14 dry corn husks (for wrapping)

Zucchini corn mixture

Soak the dry husks for an hour, then remove and pat dry. Boil corn and remove kernels from cob (if you’re using canned corn, skip this step). Slice the cheese in to thin strips. Finely chop the onion, zucchini and jalapeño.

In a pan heat the olive oil and add the garlic, then the onion, the zucchini,  jalapeño and corn. When that’s cooked and tender, add the tomato sauce, salt and pepper to taste. That will be the tamales’ filling.

In a bowl, break down the polenta tubes and add the coconut oil until it gets to a soft cookie dough consistency (use your hands). Spread about 2 oz of polenta on each husk, enough to cover most of the husk in a rectangle shape; add a slice or two of cheese, the zucchini mixture, roll and tie with a husk ribbon.

Stand them in a pot and steam them with a minimum amount of water on the bottom, covered for 45 min to an hour. Buen Provecho!!!!



 

Hay veces que la inspiración de recetas nos llega por medio del antojo, de la televisión, de algún platillo en un restaurante o de algún amigo. Esta receta fue inspirada por un amigo mío que hizo tamales sustituyendo la masa y la mateca por polenta y aceite de coco.

Hice algunos cambios extras y los convertí en tamales VEGANOS. Si te gustan los tamales porque son densos, esponjosos y tienen rellenos deliciosos pero no te quieres sentir súper lleno y culpable después de comerte unos cuantos, esta es la receta para ti!

Salen 14 tamales:

•2 tubos de polenta orgánica preparada

•2 cucharadas de aceite de coco

•2 calabacitas

•2 mazorcas de elote

•1/2 cebolla

•4 onzas de queso vegano

•1 lata de salsa de tomate

•3 dientes de ajo

•1 jalapeño

•2 cucharadas de aceite de olivo

•sal y pimienta

•14 hojas de tamal

Remoja las hojas por unos minutos, sácalas y sécalas con una servilleta. Pica las calabacitas, ajo, cebolla y jalapeño. Hierve los elotes y cuando estén tiernitos separa los granos de la mazorca con un cuchillo. Rebana el queso en pedazos delgados.

En un sartén agrega aceite de oliva y sofríe ajo, cebolla, calabacitas, elote y jalapeño hasta que todo esté tiernito. Agrega la salsa de tomate y sal y pimienta al gusto. Esto va a ser el relleno.

En un platon desmorona la polenta, agrega el aceite de coco y amasa con las manos hasta que tenga la consistencia de masa de galletas. Embarra 2 cucharadas de la masa sobre las hojas de tamal en forma rectangular y que no toque las orillas; agrega la mezcla de calabacitas, dos tiras de queso, enrolla y amarra el tamal con un listoncito de la misma hoja. En una vaporera coloca los tamales verticales y cocínalos por unos 45 minutos.

Buen Provecho!