Posts tagged ‘italian’

September 9, 2011

Vegan Friday: Tuscan Veggie Bake with Tofu

by ashley

by Ashley Morgan

Sometimes craving a hearty meal isn’t detrimental to your diet. Take this Vegan Tuscan Veggie Bake, similar to lasagna, but sans noodles for a filling, healthy meal. Seasonal ingredients, eggplant and tomatoes, are the stars of this recipe, bringing welcome antioxidants and bright colors to your plate. Serving this to children is easy with just a sprinkle of vegan mozzarella cheese on top, Daiya being my favorite choice. A great way to get the whole family to eat their veggies, and like them! Tofu adds protein and additional nutrition to make this a well-balanced, one pot meal that can be made in under 45 minutes.


Vegan Tuscan Veggie Bake with Tofu

10 Minutes Prep Time

35 Minutes Baking Time


Serves 6


1 small eggplant

1 small firm tomato

1 medium zucchini

1 portabello mushroom cap

1 pkg soft tofu

1 tblsp dried oregano

1 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp ground black pepper

1 tblsp garlic powder

1 tblsp dried rosemary

3 cups marinara sauce

Optional: ½ cup vegan mozzarella shredded cheese for sprinkling on top


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut the eggplant, tomato, zucchini and mushroom cap into long slices. I usually cut the zucchini and eggplant lengthwise to represent noodles. Drain the water from the tofu, pressing to release as much liquid as possible. Mix the tofu with oregano, salt, black pepper, garlic powder and dried rosemary. In a deep baking pan, layer one layer of vegetables, then one layer of tofu mixture, then a layer of marinara sauce until pan is full. Leave about a ¼ inch space on top for settling and the mozzarella cheese, if choosing to add it.


Bake for about 35 minutes or until vegetables are tender with a slight bite. Enjoy!

July 29, 2011

Vegan Friday: Semi-Homemade Italian Basil and Garlic Polenta with Braised Baby Carrots and Red Onions

by ashley

By Ashley Morgan

I think the meatless Monday idea is a great way to encourage the masses to eat healthier and more consciously. It’s also a great way to show omnivores that a meal does not need to revolve around animal protein to be delicious and filling. So along those lines, we’ve decided to startup a “Vegan Friday” campaign, encouraging vegetarians to try eating vegan meals and also some adventurous omnivores who’d like to join in on the fun. Monday was already taken, but even more than that, Friday is a day for celebration. It’s the first day of the weekend and sets a tone to how you’ll spend your days off. What better way than with a healthy, yet indulgent, meal that is not only good for your body, but also good for the world?


To kick off our Vegan Friday extravaganza, I made a dish that is a staple in my home: polenta with vegetables. It’s filling, easy (especially when using the short-cut I’ll show you below), and a great dish for easing non-vegans into vegan cuisine. I do make polenta at home normally, but 1) I was lazy this week and 2) I wanted to show busy moms and professionals how to make this dish in a flash.


Semi-Homemade Italian Basil and Garlic Polenta with Braised Baby Carrots and Red Onions

1 pkg pre-made Italian Polenta (Basil and Garlic variety)

1 cup organic mushroom broth

1 cup peeled red pearl onions

2 cups rainbow baby carrots (peeled with tops trimmed)

2 tbsp peeled whole garlic cloves

4 tbsp walnut oil (divided)

5 leaves of culantro (different from cilantro, these are long, flat leaves)

Kosher salt to taste

In a large saucepan with a lid, heat two tablespoons of walnut oil over medium heat. Add garlic and red pearl onions, sautéing gently for about 30 seconds. Add one cup of mushroom broth, five culantro leaves, two teaspoons kosher salt (or to taste) and two cups rainbow baby carrots, bring broth to a simmer, lower heat and cover. Allow broth to reduce to half before removing from heat, approximately fifteen minutes.


While the broth is reducing, add two tablespoons walnut oil to a medium frying pan over medium-high heat. Cut the polenta into ½ inch-thick sections, and once the oil is hot (check by adding a tiny drop of water to see if it sizzles immediately) add the polenta to the pan. Sprinkle with kosher salt to taste. Turn once to brown on both sides.


Serves four.

June 26, 2011

Ashley’s Vegan Eggplant “Meat”ball Sub

by ashley

by Ashley Morgan

A few days ago Earth Balance put out a post on their site about vegan-ized versions of classic American sandwiches, which made me think of one of my most favorite things I make: the eggplant “meat”ball sub. I’ve been making this sandwich long before I even thought about the vegan or vegetarian lifestyle, however that version did have several different cheeses, which I have omitted for my new, completely vegan version.

I’m extremely excited to share this with you, as I’m chowing down on my sandwich as I type and, while it may be due to being the first “normal” food I’ve eaten since starting the detox, it tastes like one of the best things I’ve ever had. I think this version is even better than its previous, dairy-filled counterpart. I hope that you find it as enjoyable as I do.


1 large eggplant (I chose one about 12 inches long)

1 medium sweet onion

Bunch of fresh basil, to taste (I used five, 3-inch long leaves)

2 tablespoons chopped garlic (I used bottled, you can do it fresh)

2 tablespoons dried oregano

1 tablespoon dried rosemary

1 tablespoon coarse kosher salt

Freshly ground pepper, to taste

1 to 2 cups of panko bread crumbs

1/4 cup ground pine nuts

1/4 cup nutritional yeast

1 cup extra virgin olive oil (add little by little to feel)

1 cup canola oil (for frying)

1 cup marinara sauce (I used Whole Foods’ 365 Organic Brand, Mushroom Flavor)

Earth Balance butter

Vegan Mozzarella Cheese (I used Daiya brand shredded cheese)

Vegan hoagie rolls (I used Whole Foods’ Hearth Bread Petite French Rolls)

Makes about 20 large eggplant “meat”balls, enough for about 10 sandwiches. The eggplant “meat”balls freeze very well, so they are good to make ahead.


Heat a small amount of olive oil over medium-high flame in a large frying pan (I used a large Paella pan that I love because it has high lips). Thinly chop the onions and add to the pan, along with the chopped garlic. While the onions and garlic are simmering, chop the eggplant into very small cubes, about 1/4 of an inch wide. Once the onions are translucent and are beginning to caramelize, lower the heat to medium and add the eggplant. Stir liberally while hand-tearing in the fresh basil.

Stirring frequently, add in all other spices. Continue stirring while adding 1/4 cup of olive oil, slowly, to the pan. Once the eggplant is translucent and mushing, remove pan from heat. Place a separate pan on the burner, filled with one cup of canola oil. Heat over medium heat.

While waiting for the canola oil to heat, let the eggplant cool slightly before beginning to slowly add the panko bread crumbs, ground pine nuts and nutritional yeast. Once cool enough, use your hands to mash the mixture together until you receive a uniform consistency that will stay together with minimal coaxing. Keep adding additional olive oil to the mixture until you feel the balls forming nicely. You may need a little more or a little less than two cups of panko. At this point, taste the mixture to make sure the spices are balanced. You can still add salt, pepper or any of the dried spices to increase flavor, just ensure to mix well.

Once you are happy with the flavor of the mixture, begin forming your “meat”balls using the palms of your hands. I like mine to be quite large, therefore I usually will form balls that are a little larger than a golf ball. The size is entirely up to your tastes.

Make sure to pack the balls well in the palms of your hands, smoothing them so that they will not fall apart in the frying process. Once you have formed the “meat”balls, check the oil by carefully putting a tiny amount of salt in the oil. If it sizzles rapidly, the oil is ready.

Fry the balls well in the oil, until they are crispy golden brown. They fry extremely quickly, so it’s best to only put one or two in the oil at a time, carefully using a metal slotted spatula or spoon to roll them around, giving them even color. Carefully pull them out of the oil once golden brown and place on a paper towel, to soak up any additional oil.

Once all have been fried, remove pan from burner and place in the cold oven, this will keep the smell of oil from permeating any more into your home. While your eggplant “meat”balls are cooling, spread Earth Balance on each of your split rolls and put into a warmed toaster oven until the spread has melted. While this is melting, warm your marinara sauce either in a saucepan or in the microwave (carefully, this splatters A LOT in the microwave).

Assemble subs by placing desired amount of eggplant “meat”balls on each roll (if you made them as big as I do, you will probably only need two per sub). Pour warmed marinara sauce over the balls and sprinkle with vegan mozzarella cheese, in my case, Daiya shredded cheese.

Place sandwiches carefully on a piece of aluminum foil and broil in the toaster oven until cheese has melted. Serve immediately and enjoy!

If you have made a large batch in order to freeze some of the eggplant “meat”balls, assemble the fried, but cooled, balls (without any sauce) into a freezer-tight container. I’ve frozen them up to a month without any problem, as long as your container really is freezer-tight. Warm up either in a toaster oven or traditional oven at 325 degrees for about 20 minutes.

I hope you enjoy and please let me know how they turn out, if you decide to make them 🙂

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