Apple Brussels Sprout Hash

Sprouty in the Summertime

Summer is here, and you know what that means – I’m back in the kitchen! woohoo! (I just spent way too much time deliberating whether to go with my traditional and standard “woohoo” or mix it up with a “woop woop.” It’s definitely summertime).

To kick off my most favorite of seasons, I decided to do something daring: try Brussels sprouts (again).

I know, I know. I can hear the groans from here. But so many of my favorite veggie food bloggers insist that Brussels sprouts are to die for when prepared properly. It’s not that I haven’t tried. I spent a good year trying different recipes in search of one that would make the adorable little sprout-balls enjoyable, and I did find a couple I could tolerate, until I came across a disastrous sprout experience that swore me off of them for the past 2 years.

Here’s the thing: Brussels sprouts are crazy nutritious, and contain sulforaphane, which has some mad anti-cancer properties – particularly if you steam or stir-fry the sprouts. (Boiling reduces the anti-cancer properties). They also contain a chemical that boosts cellular DNA repair and blocks cancer cell growth.

I’d say that Brussels sprouts are too good to be true, but they’re not! If only we could find ways to make them palatable so that we eat them!

If you’ve put off your search for a tasty Brussels sprout recipe, you can sleep easy tonight, because I found The One. This recipe turns Brussels sprouts into a sweet, tasty side dish. I enjoyed mine alongside a spinach and grilled cheese sandwich (I’m on a sprouted grain bread kick, but that’s a story for another day). It was absolutely delicious. I would not lie to you about such serious things as Brussels sprouts.

If you fancy yourself a Brussels sprouts hater, you just might want to give them one more trip down the aisle. There’s a whole lot of happily ever after going on over here!

You can find the original recipe on Herbivoracious. Here’s my adaptation:

Apple Brussels Sprout Hash

by Shelly

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients (2-3 servings)

  • 1 tbsp Earth Balance
  • 1/3 of a medium onion, diced
  • 1 crisp apple (such as a Pink Lady), cored, and diced (peeling optional)
  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, cleaned, trimmed, and quartered
  • 2 fresh sage leaves, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 tsp minced fresh rosemary
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp honey
  • salt, to taste

Instructions

Melt Earth Balance in a large skillet over medium heat. Dice the onion and add it to the skillet with a pinch of salt. Cook until the onion starts to brown, about 4 minutes.

While the onion cooks, core and dice the apple. Add the diced apple to the skillet. Raise the heat slightly and cook until the apple starts to brown, about 2 minutes. Stir occasionally.

While the apple cooks, trim and quarter the Brussels sprouts. Add the Brussels sprouts, sage, rosemary, and a generous pinch of salt. Cook until sprouts are wilted and well browned, 10-12 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Remove from heat and add the vinegar and honey. Stir to coat. Taste for seasonings and adjust as necessary. Serve hot.

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Vegan Caramelized Onion Soup

Vegan French Onion Soup

Have slow cooker, will travel… or at least eat crazy-easy delicious stuff all the time!

Today, I sliced up some onions and let them sit with a little olive oil in the slow cooker on low for 8 hours. About 10 minutes of labor later (i.e., stir in some broth and seasoning, and make homemade croutons), I had the easiest and most awesome caramelized onion soup on the planet! Vegan, even (thanks to no-beef broth and Daiya).

The recipe came from my latest obsession, the cookbook Fresh From the Vegan Slow Cooker. Luckily for you, the recipe can be found online via Google Books here: Caramelized Onion Soup.

Soup simmering in the crockpot

Soup simmering in the crockpot

Homemade Croutons

Homemade Croutons

Vegan Caramelized Onion Soup

Vegan Caramelized Onion Soup

Now, all I have to do is figure out why the cookbook author didn’t call this “French” Onion Soup….

My Fave Soup

Why is it that the best soups always seem to be a pain in the arse to make? Not so in this case, cowboy!

(Cowboy? What?)

This soup has nothing to do with cowboys. It’s hearty enough for a cowboy, though.

Really. I’m not kidding. Yes, it’s a veggie soup. Yes, it’s hearty. Bonus: it’s vegan! And it is incredibly easy to make.

First up: saute some garlic and leeks and/or onions in a little olive oil.

Saute garlic and leeks/onions.

Next, add broccoli, rolled oats (the original kind, not the instant kind), soy milk, and dill. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes.

Broccoli soup in progress

Add salt and pepper to taste, then puree with an immersion blender. Voila!

Creamy Broccoli Soup

So filling. So good.

This recipe works great with asparagus, too. I suspect it would be great with any soup-happy vegetable. If you don’t have an immersion blender, a food processor or blender works too – just let the soup cool a bit before you process it, and make sure to have the steam vent open while blending.

Enjoy a soup-er meal!

Creamy Broccoli Soup (Vegan)

by Shelly

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Ingredients (4 servings)

  • 1 leek, chopped and 1 small onion, chopped
  • OR
  • 3 leeks, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 6 cups broccoli (frozen or fresh)
  • 4 cups unsweetened soy milk
  • 1/2 tsp dried dill
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

1. Saute garlic and onions and/or leeks over medium heat in olive oil until soft, about 3 minutes.

2. Add broccoli, soy milk, oats, and dill. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until broccoli is soft, about 10 minutes.

3. Puree with an immersion blender.

4. Add salt and pepper, to taste.

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The Super Bowl – Remember That?

This is a recipe I made for the Super Bowl party I hosted this year.

Yes, I realize the Super Bowl was 2 months ago.

It’s a recipe for a hot artichoke and goat cheese dip.

Yes, I realize it is not vegan. Allow me to digress a bit to explain why you’ll be seeing some vegetarian (but not vegan) recipes for a little bit here.

The Super Bowl kicked off not long after a harsh diagnosis of cancer for my best kitty buddy, Goose. He’d been sick for a couple months at that point, and would die 6 weeks later. (Sorry to harsh your mellow… it definitely harshed mine). The daily medical care and feeding (and eventually, the loss of my buddy) have taken their toll on me emotionally. Dairy (and believe it or not, eggs) have found their way back into my diet… for now. I’m sorry, my cow and hen friends. I can only take so much. So things will be vegetarian around here for a little while, at least.

Artichoke and Goat Cheese Dip

Artichoke and Goat Cheese Dip

This dip is an attempt at a recreation of a fantastic rendition from Mas Tapas restaurant in Charlottesville, Virginia. It’s not spot-on; I suspect theirs might actually be healthier than this one. But I won’t lie – I ate the leftovers of this dip every day for a week!

If you’d have told me I’d like goat cheese, I’d have told you you’re crazy. Turns out, it’s pretty darn tasty.

Hot Artichoke & Goat Cheese Dip

by Shelly

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Keywords: bake appetizer vegetarian artichoke goat cheese

Ingredients (12 servings)

  • 1 can artichoke hearts
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onions
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 cup Vegenaise or mayo
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 6 ounces goat cheese, softened

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 350F.

2. In food processor, combine onions, garlic, mayo, cream cheese, parmesan cheese and goat cheese.

3. Blend, and slowly add in the artichoke hearts (to leave some texture).

4. Spoon into a casserole dish.

5. Bake dip uncovered for 30 minutes.

6. Serve hot with bread, crackers, bruschetta, tortilla chips, or veggies.

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Pesto Veggie Lasagna

This might be my favorite lasagna ever – and it’s vegan! I know – I’ve been making a lot of “best ever” claims lately, but I’ve really been on a roll in the kitchen. While this recipe is a little bit labor intensive, it’s easy labor – and the end result is beyond worth it.

I made this dish for my family’s Christmas get together in Chicago last week (though it was just vegetarian for them and not vegan, as I couldn’t find Daiya on short notice Christmas eve). It almost didn’t happen; do you have any idea how hard it is to find lasagna noodles at 4pm on Christmas Eve? We had to go to 2 stores, and I got the very last package on the shelf at store #2 (thank you, Target!) It was well worth the search. This lasagna got thumbs-up reviews from even the meat eaters, and I enjoyed it so much that I made it again at home for New Years.

This recipe makes a 9×13″ dish of lasagna – good for 8 serious servings (which in my case means, a freezer full of lasagna!) For the record, it does freeze and reheat very well. If you plan to go that route, let it cool down a bit then portion it out into freezer-safe containers and freeze. You can also make this a day ahead of time and refrigerate it prior to baking, then toss it in the oven when it’s time to make dinner. Just add 5-10 minutes if you’re starting with cold lasagna.

Without further ado, my favorite lasagna recipe of all times:

Pesto Veggie Lasagna

by Shelly Hokanson

Prep Time: 30

Cook Time: 35

Ingredients (8 servings)

Lasagna

  • 1 pkg lasagna noodles (12+ noodles – no-boil are fine)
  • 1 cup pesto – see recipe below
  • 5 – 6 cloves garlic, peeled & minced
  • 5 cups grilled or sautéed veggies – choose from zucchini, eggplant, red or green bell peppers, portobello mushrooms, broccoli, or your favorites. My favorite mix: 1 red pepper – diced, 1 zucchini – cut into half moons, and 1 head of broccoli florets.
  • 2 cups fresh baby spinach
  • 1 lb or 1 – 14oz package herbed tofu, firm or extra firm (Italian herbed tofu works great here), pressed and crumbled
  • 2-3 medium tomatoes, sliced (8 slices)
  • 1 package (8 oz) Daiya mozzarella or other vegan shredded cheese
  • 1 jar of your favorite marinara

Pesto

  • 1/4 cup walnut halves or pieces
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts (or, replace with additional 1/4 cup walnuts)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 cups fresh basil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • pinch of black pepper
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, scant
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Instructions

This first step is optional, but highly recommended. Preheat a large heavy-bottomed skillet (such as a cast iron skillet) over medium-low heat. Add the walnuts to the dry skillet and toast for 5 minutes, tossing often. Then add the pine nuts and toast an additional 5 minutes. (If using all walnuts, add them all at the start and toast for 10 minutes).

Set toasted nuts aside to cool.

Prep the Veggies

Preheat the oven to 350F.

In a large saute pan, heat 2 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and saute for 5 minutes.

As you chop up the rest of your veggies, add them to the pan, stirring often. If the pan dries out, add a tablespoon or two of water to deglaze the pan and keep on saute-ing.

Continue to saute the veggies while preparing the pesto.

Prep the Pesto

Add the toasted nuts to a food processor.

Add the minced garlic, basil, thyme, salt, pepper, and nutritional yeast until the basil leaves are well blended, scraping down the sides of the food processor as necessary.

Slowly stream in the olive oil and process until well combined.

Blend in the lemon juice.

Assemble the Lasagna

In a 13×19″ dish, coat the bottom of the dish with a layer of marinara.

Place one layer of lasagna noodles on the bottom of the dish.

Layer more marinara on top of the noodles.

Then, add the baby spinach over the noodles.

Crumble the tofu on top of the spinach.

Sprinkle a layer of shredded Daiya over the tofu, then add a second layer of noodles.

Coat the noodles with another marinara layer.

Add the veggies to the next layer and top with a generous layer of pesto.

Add the last layer of noodles and coat with remaining marinara.

Add the rest of the shredded cheese. Place 8 dollops of pesto across the top, and add a tomato slice onto each dollop of pesto.

Cover the dish with foil and bake for 35-40 minutes at 350F, until the lasagna is warmed through and the cheese is melted.

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Going Green

So, it’s been about 2 weeks since I ran my last half marathon. That race was the culmination of a whole lot of chaos in my life: moving cross-country, starting a new (and thankfully awesome!) job, going to school for my MFA full time (12 credit hours, yikes!), and of course – another round of long-race training. Needless to say, upon completion of that race, I needed a break – so I took one. I took a break from running, and indulged in some holiday goodies in the form of way too much chocolate and pizza.

The result: I caught my first sickness in 2 years (ugh – still fighting it off), gained 5 pounds, and felt like absolute crap!

While I’m glad I took a break from all things healthy (I needed it mentally more than anything – I’ve been going at this healthy lifestyle thing for 2 years now!), it definitely demonstrated that feeling good is so much more enjoyable than eating junk food. I couldn’t wait till the new year to get back to eating right, so I started the day I got home from the holidays. I started yesterday. (The exercise is going to have to wait until I stop hacking up lungs).

Since my pre-planned junk food binge was pretty extreme (at least relatively speaking), I decided to embark upon a similarly relatively extreme detox: 5 days of only fruits and veggies.

I considered a juice fast, a la Jason Vale (the JuiceMaster), but decided I’d have a much more enjoyable experience with something like Reboot Your Life (a la Joe Cross, the guy that made the film Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead). I like Jason’s juice recipes more, though, so I’m basically drinking Jason’s juices and eating fruits and veggies as described in Joe’s Reboot Entry program.

So far, so good! I’m on day 2 of 5.

The first day, I was starving… All. The. Time. I was also pretty dehydrated from a week of holiday madness (and wine, ahem), and dehydration feels a lot like hunger, so I probably wasn’t actually hungry for food. Still, I felt like I went to bed hungry (booo).

Ironically, though, when I woke up this morning, I wasn’t hungry at all. I felt good (well, except for this plague of a cold I caught in Chicago over Christmas). I haven’t felt hungry today, and – knock on wood – my body seems to be fighting off this cold.

My basic plan is to:

  • drink juice concoctions and smoothies made with my Breville juicer (including a Vega protein shake each day).
  • eat fruit (bananas, strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries), green soups, and green salads.
  • drink lots of water and some tea.

Now, that does mean I’m also eating salad dressing. Sorry – I can’t live without my daily giant bowl of greens, and to that end, I can’t live without salad dressing. I also used a dab of olive oil to saute the veggies I used in today’s soup recipe (below). But those are the only non-whole-foods, non-fruit-or-veggie things I’m eating for these 5 days.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t looking forward to busting out that loaf of bread I baked last week or mashing together a great new veggie burger recipe… but that day will come soon enough, and I’m already feeling the positive effects of this junk food detox. Ahhh, to feel normal again!

In the spirit of going green, here’s the recipe for the soup I had for lunch! Super tasty. I love kale!

Green Veggie Soup

by Shelly

Prep Time: 10

Cook Time: 30

Keywords: soup/stew kale broccoli zucchini garlic

Ingredients (4-6 servings)

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 sweet onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 head broccoli florets
  • 1 medium zucchini, cut into half moons
  • 2 cups kale, roughly chopped
  • 4 leaves basil, plus 3 tbsp chopped
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 6 cups water

Instructions

In a large stock pot, heat olive oil over medium high heat.

Add onion and garlic and sauté for 5 minutes.

Add broccoli, basil leaves, zucchini, spinach, salt, and pepper.

Stir and cook for 5 minutes.

Add water and bring to a boil.

Lower heat and simmer 15 minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in chopped basil.

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Killer Squash Apple Soup

Killer Pumpkins! Inspired by Killer Pumpkins!

Killer pumpkins? What?

OK… so the reference won’t make sense unless you’ve spent the day chasing killer pumpkins around in Ultima Online (which I’m about to go do more of). But you don’t have to play UO to enjoy some killer (pumpkin) soup!

October is my favorite month. Hoodie weather sets in. Hockey season begins. Halloween is awesome. And of course, there’s that little day called My Birthday. But maybe the most wonderful thing about October is the abundance of squash! That, and Vegan MoFo.

Vegan MoFo (the Vegan Month of Food) is a month-long celebration of vegan eats. I didn’t get my butt signed up in time to make the “offical” Vegan MoFo list, but I’m going to blog along anyway. The ultimate goal is to blog about vegan food 5 days a week throughout October.

Without further ado…

I scored some super-sweet local red delicious apples this week. With chilly weather ushering in the new month, I was in the mood for some SOUP! Isa’s got a great recipe for Butternut Apple Soup in her Appetite for Reduction cookbook, but all I had on hand was an acorn squash and some organic canned pumpkin. What the heck, right? Let’s rock this thing!

So after chasing around killer pumpkins all day, I took a stab at a Killer Squash Apple Soup.

Killer Squash Apple Soup

Killer Squash Apple Soup

This, my friends, is not your typical bowl of soup. It won’t be content to sit alongside a sandwich. No, this soup wants to be The Next Big Thing. The Star of the Show. This soup is not messing around.

It’s seductively sweet, and just when you start to fall head over heels, it gives you a nice little kick to remind you who’s boss.

There’s a good bit of rosemary beating around the bush, playing tag with the apples. The red pepper flakes, though, keep this soup from being a kiddie game. This is Big League soup.

I toasted some crusty bread and slathered it with Earth Balance and went to town dipping into this Killer Soup. It was divine.

And now, back to killing the killer pumpkins.

Tempeh Sloppy Jims

Skillet Sloppy Jims

It’s 7:21pm. Do you know where your dinner is?

Today, I did not know where my dinner was. I did not know what my dinner was. All I knew was that I was hungry to the max, and I didn’t feel like slaving for a meal.

Enter: the cast iron skillet.

This particular piece of cookware is amazing. It’s naturally nonstick. When things do stick, it’s actually good, because you can deglaze the pan and everything tastes even better! Somehow, everything I’ve ever made in my cast iron has turned out awesome – including tonight’s throw-together mess of deliciousness.

I call it: Tempeh Sloppy Jims.

(Sorry, Joe. There’s no red sauce going on here, so I can’t really call it Sloppy Joes, but this sandwich assembled exactly like a Sloppy Joe, and ate just like one… just tasted different! So I gotta give the nod to Jim).

Tempeh Sloppy Jims

Tempeh Sloppy Jims

Take 1 cast iron skillet.

Add a diced white onion. Sautee in oil (I used peanut oil) over medium heat while preparing the rest of the ingredients.

Dice up a red bell pepper. Crumble a stick of tempeh. Throw them into the skillet. Keep on sauteing.

Pour in a little water or veggie stock. (I used a vegan chicken-flavored stock). Deglaze the pan. Keep on sauteing.

Don’t burn the batch of kale chips you’re making on the side like I did.

Throw a couple big handfuls of baby spinach into the skillet. Toss in some fresh basil, for fun. Awww heck, let’s mince a couple garlic cloves in there, too.

Salt and pepper…. stir until the spinach is wilted…. voila.

Tempeh Sloppy Jim mix

Tempeh Sloppy Jim mix

Tempeh Sloppy Jims! Well, I suppose this could be eaten a lot of ways. I was tempted to just eat it with a fork, but it reminded me so much of Sloppy Joes that I had to put it on a bun (with some melted Daiya mozzarella, of course [vegan… best vegan cheese on the planet!]). Served it with a baked potato and a giant bowl of greens, and some un-photogenic burnt kale chips on the side (not pictured).

Speaking of baked potatoes… why do I let myself buy big 5# bags of potatoes? Usually I just buy 1 or 2 potatoes, because I end up letting them sit until they’re growing eyes, but somehow while standing in the grocery store, I sometimes convince myself that the extra $1.50 is so worth it to get so many more potatoes! And then they go bad. This might have been the only potato I’ll out of the entire bag. Grrr! Why!!! I don’t even like to eat regular potatoes that often… I prefer sweet potatoes… I think I meant to make my favorite asparagus potato soup… except that I ate all of my asparagus. Hmm. Dilemma.

Maybe next time it’s 7:21pm and I’m lost without my dinner, I should study my potato options.

Pesto Veggie Sandwich with Grilled Asparagus

Another holdout

Yes, I’ve been keeping something from you… again. But instead of waiting a couple days to tell you, I’ve waited a couple weeks.

Terrible. I know.

So, I’ve been eating this one sandwich…

(OK, that could probably start every food-blog post this summer).

Rewind. A couple weeks ago, I was at a restaurant called Olivers in Oak Forest, IL. It’s really more of a martini bar & grill. Or a sports bar. Whatever. At any rate, I was having an early dinner at Oliver’s, and ordered their Pesto Veggie sandwich.

It was heavenly.

Pesto, where have you been all my life?

(Full disclosure: I often relax my vegan ways to vegetarian at restaurants. I don’t eat out often, but still, the ethical battle that rages between my non-confrontational nature and my love of the cows is exhausting… but I have to remember that I eat this way to reduce suffering, and I accomplish a lot to that goal!)

Anyway. Where was I? PESTO!

Wow. Pesto. Self, meet basil! I never really knew basil was basil. I’ve had it before but never had a name for it. Now, I know what basil looks like and smells like and tastes like, and I know that basil is in pesto! How do I know this?

Because after eating at Oliver’s, I went out and bought a basil plant and made my own (vegan) pesto. I’ve made 3 batches so far, and almost have it perfected (at which point, I’ll likely post it here). I’m currently digging a mix of half-almonds, half-cashews. (Haven’t tried actual pine nuts, but going for a less calorie-dense version anyway).

So this homemade pesto frenzy has been feeding my new sandwich obsession – a clone of the Oliver’s Pesto Veggie sandwich.

For 4 servings:

  • 1/2 sweet or red onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup or so of mushrooms, diced (I’m liking portobello the best)
  • 1/2 of a red bell pepper, diced

Saute that all up in a little bit of olive oil until the onions are soft. Stack that between a couple slices of bread with a generous smear of pesto and some Daiya mozzarella, and press for 4 minutes in the panini press… oh my word. It tastes great on a crusty Italian sourdough, but also delish on regular ol’ Italian bread (or what I call, junk food bread).

Pesto Veggie Sandwich with Grilled Asparagus

Pesto Veggie Sandwich with Grilled Asparagus

I’ve literally eaten this sandwich 10 times in the past couple weeks. The only reason I didn’t eat it yesterday was that I ran out of pesto (and I seem to have already killed my basil plant… it’s outside now working on its resurrection). I thought I pruned it correctly. YouTube says I did, anyway. Still, it doesn’t seem to be growing new leaves. It just seems to be dying. Sigh.

In other news, I’m still obsessed with grilling veggies on my Griddler. That gadget is one of the best kitchen investments I’ve ever made (and it was really too cheap to call an “investment” – but I use the thing multiple times per week. Love it).

Unfortunately, my kitchen adventures are likely to be boring for the next 2 weeks. I’m 12 days from The Big Move, and have to eat through my freezer by then. I’ve been dreading this time. I don’t know why I stock my freezer full of frozen veggies. I know they’re supposed to be convenient, but I just prefer fresh. Maybe I just haven’t learned how to properly cook using frozen veggies.

My plan is to check the web sites of the frozen veggie manufacturers and find some recipes specifically written for those veggies. Maybe with some techniques under my belt, I’ll find a reason to fill my new freezer with them. (I’d much rather fill it up with jam!)

Do you have any favorite recipes that make use of frozen veggies? Please share! 🙂

Avocado Spinach Sandwich and Asparagus

Lies of Omission

So, I’ve been keeping something from you.

It’s a sandwich – one that I’ve now eaten 3 days in a row.

I didn’t mean to. I thought about sharing. The first time, I was just too hungry to stop and grab the camera.

The second time, I started to prep the sammy for picture time, but it just wasn’t photogenic enough to bother.

Well, the sandwich still isn’t very photogenic, but it’s so darn tasty that I was overcome with guilt today as I made it for, yes, a third time.

So here you go – my current crush of a sandwich:

Avocado Spinach Sandwich and Asparagus

Avocado Spinach Panini and Asparagus

It’s the Avocado Spinach Panini [recipe], inspired by the recipe in the July/Aug 2011 issue of Vegetarian Times.

My version is a slight modification on the original. It’s essentially (for one sandwich):

  • half an avocado, mashed
  • 1/8 of an onion, diced
  • a generous smear of garlic hummus
  • a small handful of baby spinach
  • some sundried tomatoes
  • smashed between two slices of bread and pressed for 4 minutes on the panini press

I’m currently enjoying the High Five Fiber loaf from Great Harvest Bread Company in Palos Heights, IL. If you’ve never had Great Harvest bread, you MUST check to see if there’s a GH near you. Their breads use simple, real food ingredients and fresh whole grain flours – ground daily! The flavor is incredible, and I’m so glad that I found GH at my local farmer’s market. I’ve been looking forward to shopping at GH Charlottesville once I get to Virginia, but it has been so delicious enjoying it here in the meantime!

Of course, I still suck at cutting bread loaves, so my slices are WAY huge. So, people, do not take these photos as an example of how much in grains you should eat at a meal. Leave that to MyPlate! My slices probably end up being 2.5 servings, at least!

But just look at this hot, gooey mess…

Avocado Spinach Panini

Avocado Spinach Panini

Oh, it is so good.

Mashing the avocado is definitely key. I had trouble in my first two attempts with the avocado slices falling out on the panini press or when I tried to eat the sandwich. The mashing also adds to the gooey-factor.

Side note: I’m eating asparagus like french fries now. Loooooove asparagus!

Fave way to prep asparagus: trim off the rough stems. Spray with a little olive oil spray. Sprinkle with veggie seasoning (I’m currently in love with McCormick’s Perfect Pinch Vegetable Seasoning. Yeah, the ingredient list is less than whole-foods-stellar, but it is mighty tasty). Then grill for 3 minutes. (Ahh, this is where having the Griddler is awesome sauce!)

So, as we embark upon this holiday weekend, I urge you to enjoy a tasty sandwich, grill up some veggies, and share some good times with the ones you love. 🙂