Roast Eggplant Sandwich with Vegan Umami Paste

So, there’s this thing called Umami Paste. It’s typically a blend of different ingredients, like vinegar, anchovies, tomatoes, mushrooms, spices… and it’s used in cooking (add it to a soup, rub on meats, throw a little in with your eggs) to add a punch of flavor – an umami boost, if you will. (You can purchase it at speciality stores or on Amazon.) Given that most dishes for meat eaters have umami naturally – that very satiating savory flavor experienced most commonly when eating meat dishes – I thought to myself, wouldn’t this be a perfect sauce/paste to adjust (no anchovies here!) for vegans and vegetarians? Hence, my vegan umami paste – seriously good regardless of your meat eating preferences, and definitely a punch of umami to your food! Here, I add it to roast eggplant on grilled bread – KERPOW!

Roast Eggplant Sandwich with Vegan Umami Paste

Roast Eggplant Sandwich with Vegan Umami Paste

 

Vegan Umami Paste

Yield: 1 cup

2 tablespoons double concentrated tomato paste

½ teaspoon soy sauce

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

5 tablespoons water

2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

½ teaspoon unsulphured organic molasses

½ teaspoon granulated sugar

2 tablespoons porcini dust (.25 ounces dried porcini put through a spice grinder or you can rehydrate .25 ounces of dried porcinis, rough chop them and add to the blender with the rest of the ingredients)

1 tablespoon nutritional yeast flakes

½ cup green olives, pitted

1 medium garlic clove, minced

4 sundried tomatoes (packed in oil)

 

Put all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Refrigerate in between uses.

 

Roast Eggplant Sandwich

1 large Italian eggplant, cut into ½-inch thick slices, widthwise

extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

½ teaspoon ground cumin

kosher salt, to taste

freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Piece of baguette or ciabatta that has been seasoned and toasted in the oven with extra-virgin olive oil, salt and pepper and rubbed with a peeled garlic clove

Flat-leaf Italian parsley, for serving

 

Place an oven rack on the middle position and preheat the oven to 500 degrees.

Drizzle olive oil (a generous amount) on each side of the eggplant slices and season with cumin, salt and pepper. Place on a parchment lined sheet tray.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the eggplant is nice and caramelized.

Spread vegan umami paste on bread. Top with eggplant, a drizzle of olive oil and some parsley leaves.

 

Mixed Herb Salad with Toasted Walnuts

Easy. Delicious. Healthy. Flavorful. Beautiful. An all around winner!

Mixed Herb Salad with Toasted Walnuts

Mixed Herb Salad with Toasted Walnuts

Yield: 2 servings

 

For Vinaigrette

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint

1 tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh cilantro

1 small shallot, peeled and diced small, 2 tablespoons

¼ cup finely chopped toasted walnuts

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

 

In a small container with a tight fitting lid, combine the vinaigrette ingredients, close the lid tightly, and shake to combine. Or, whisk to combine the ingredients in a small bowl.

 

For Salad

3 packed cups mixed greens

1 large radish, sliced thinly

 

Gently mix greens and radish with vinaigrette in a large bowl. Divide onto plates and serve.

Balsamic Roasted Figs with Fresh Thyme

Did somebody say cheese plate? How about snack? Dessert? Ok, fine – fig grilled cheese?! YES!

Balsamic Roasted Figs Close

Come to me, my sweet ones!

Balsamic Roasted Figs Far

Balsamic Roasted Figs – Sheet Tray

fig grilled cheese

Look at what you can do with these figs!

Balsamic Roasted Figs with Fresh Thyme

Yield: 2 to 4 servings

 

1 pound figs, halved lengthwise

½ teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons aged balsamic vinegar

1½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

 

Place an oven rack in the upper position and preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

Place figs, flesh side up, on an aluminum foil-lined sheet pan.

Sprinkle the thyme, salt and a few grinds of pepper over the figs.

Drizzle the vinegar and olive oil over the figs.

Place in the oven and cook for 12 to 14 minutes, until the figs start to puff up and the balsamic vinegar thickens.

Let cool slightly before eating.

Pan-Roasted Okra with Fresh Corn and Fire Roasted Tomatoes

Okra is still popping up at the farmers market and, for all my Southern and die hard okra friends, what’s summer without okra and tomatoes?!

Pan Roasted Okra with Fresh Corn

Pan-Roasted Okra with Fresh Corn and Fire Roasted Tomatoes

Yield: 2 to 4 servings

 

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

½ pound of okra, cut in half lengthwise

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground fennel

2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic

1 cup fresh corn kernels

1 14.5-ounce can diced fire roasted tomatoes

½ cup water

1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint

1½ tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil

1½ teaspoons aged balsamic vinegar

kosher salt, to taste

freshly ground black pepper, to taste

¼ cup plain greek yogurt

 

In a large sauté pan over medium high heat, add the butter. After approximately 30 seconds to 1 minute, the butter will foam up, and then subside. Following that, the butter will begin to turn golden brown. (Yay!)

Once the butter is brown, add the okra and cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the okra starts to caramelize.

Add the cumin, fennel and garlic. Stir and cook until fragrant, 1 minute.

Add the corn. Cook for 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Add the tomatoes and water. Stir occasionally and cook until the liquid begins to thicken, approximately 3 minutes.

Remove from heat and add the thyme, mint, basil and vinegar. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve in bowls with a dollop of Greek yogurt atop each serving.

Sweet and Spicy Peanut Sauce with Zucchini Noodles

For all you peanut sauce lovers – this one is for you. Plus, this recipe is vegan, vegetarian, raw and gluten free!

sweet and spicy peanut sauce

Sweet and Spicy Peanut Sauce

peanut sauce noodles

Sweet and Spicy Peanut Sauce with Zucchini Noodles

 

Sweet and Spicy Peanut Sauce with Zucchini Noodles

Yields: 2 servings

 

Sauce: (yields ¾ cup)

1 large garlic clove, peeled and chopped roughly

2 tablespoons seasoned rice wine vinegar

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

2 tablespoons grapeseed oil

¼ cup creamy peanut butter

1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger (on a microplane)

¼ cup water

2 teaspoons lime juice

1 teaspoon sriracha sauce

 

Place all sauce ingredients in a blender and blend to combine thoroughly.

 

Noodles:

1 large zucchini (2 medium zucchinis), peeled into long strips with a vegetable peeler or made into noodles

1 red bell pepper, seeded and julienned

¼ cup toasted unsalted peanuts, chopped roughly

¼ cup cilantro leaves

 

Gently toss some of the peanut sauce (to your liking) with zucchini and red bell pepper.

Divide onto serving plates or in bowls and top with chopped peanuts and cilantro leaves.

Burgers, Gazpacho and Honey Vanilla Whipped Ricotta

Three bonus recipes for the week. Two on the Piedmont Healthcare website and one on the Livestrong website. They can also be found in my seasonal cookbook, Great Food Starts Fresh!

First, my Honey Vanilla Whipped Ricotta with Fresh Fruit:

Screen shot 2014-09-03 at 11.27.43 AM

 

Second, my Spicy Watermelon Gazpacho:

Screen shot 2014-09-03 at 11.53.01 AM

 

Finally, my Grilled Hamburger with Tomato Mostarda:

Screen shot 2014-09-03 at 11.55.23 AM

Creamy Coffee Ice Pop

Need a caffeinated way to cool off this summer? This. Is. It. Another win for coffee!

Creamy Coffee Ice Pop

Creamy Coffee Ice Pop

Yield: 6 ice pops

 

1 cup cold brewed coffee (recipe below)

¾ cup heavy cream

1/4 cup granulated sugar

 

Mix all ingredients until sugar is dissolved and pour into ice pop molds and freeze.

 

Cold Brewed Coffee

2 1/4 cups coarsely ground coffee

6 cups cold water

 

Stir to combine, cover and allow to sit at room temperature for 24 hours.

Strain through a fine mesh sieve lined with damp cheesecloth.