Roasted Eggplant Cilantro Spread

Hello lovely readers! I know it’s been forever since my last post. Life is busy! When I don’t have a lot of time for experimenting in the kitchen, there a few vegan blogs that I know I can rely on for something quick and yummy. One of those that I’ve loved for a while is Fat Free Vegan Kitchen.  This is a recipe of Susan’s that I tweaked to accommodate what I had on hand in the house, and it turned out delicious. I had a lot of cilantro in the fridge that needed to be used so I used that instead of basil, and walnuts instead of almonds, which I prefer in pesto anyway.  This is much lower fat than traditional pesto too, since the creaminess of the eggplant replaces the need for any oil. And the best part is that it can be used as a dip, sandwich spread, or as an addition to pasta, and all busy vegans can appreciate foods with multiple uses!

More recipes to come soon. My spring CSA share starts next month so I’ll soon have more veggies than I know what to do with!

Enjoy!

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Grilled Zucchini, Chioggia Beet and Daiya Pesto Quesadillas

I still can’t get over the fact that I finally found a vegan cheese that I like and that actually melts and is creamy, so naturally I’ve been putting Daiya on everything! And basil galore from the CSA means lots of pesto lately. Put those two things together in between some corn tortillas with some yummy end of summer veggies and you have a super easy weeknight meal, which is even easier if you have a sandwich press or george foreman grill. I have never had one of these but I just moved in with my boyfriend, who has one and it’s so great! It sounds kind of lazy to cook veggies on it but it grilled the zucchini perfectly (works well with eggplant too.) Plus you get those pretty grill marks without having to have a fancy backyard with a grill!

Here’s what I used. This makes about 5/6 quesadillas (I used the Ezekiel Sprouted Corn tortillas which are kind of small though so maybe less if you use bigger ones.)

  • 1 large zucchini, cut into thin 1/4 inch slices
  • 1 medium chioggia beet, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • Daiya cheese (I used the mozzarella one)
  • corn tortillas
  • splash of lemon juice
  • pesto (see my recipe here)
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Put the beets in a pot with enough water to cover them and a splash of lemon juice and bring the water to a boil. Bring heat to medium and allow the beets to simmer for about 25 minutes until they’re tender and you can poke them with a fork. Run under some cold water and let them cool off.

While the beets are cooking, combine about 1 tbsp of olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper in a mixing bowl. Brush both sides of the zucchini slices and put on the grill, turning over once, until they have nice grill marks and are kinda soggy (about 3-4 minutes per side.)

Spread some pesto on a tortilla and layer zucchini, beets and cheese. Fold the quesadilla in half and put it on the grill until the cheese is melted and the tortilla is crispy.

Squash Polenta Casserole



I’m totally up to my neck in squash and from the CSA, so instead of making zucchini bread, I decided to experiment with polenta, which I just recently cooked with for the first time. I tried this recipe the other night when I had friends over for dinner and it was a huge success (I love all her recipes!). Daiya cheese would have gone great with this too but I ran out and was already back home in Brooklyn (can only find it in Manhattan so far). I’ve also been getting a ton of basil so I’m putting pesto on EVERYTHING, but who would complain about that?

For the pesto:

  • 1 1/2 cup fresh basil, sprigs removed
  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 3 tbsp cup olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • salt
  • crushed red pepper
Process everything up, pouring the olive oil in little by little. I left it chunky, but if you want you can add more olive oil to make it smoother.
For the polenta:
  • 1 1/2 cups cornmeal
  • 1 1/2 cups cold water
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1 tsp salt
I followed veganprairiefood’s method:
Combine the cornmeal, salt and cold water, then pour into the boiling water on the stove. Turn the burner down to medium low heat and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until the cornmeal thickens into a thick paste. I set it by the window to cool for about 20 minutes.
For the filling:
  • 5 small summer squash (i used green and yellow) halved lengthwise and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 1/2 cups napa cabbage, steamed until soft but crisp (about 10 min
  • tempeh crumbles (adapted from post punk kitchen recipe, without the sage and added 1 tsp nutritional yeast)

Grease the bottom of an 8 x 8 inch pan and preheat oven to 375º

Saute the onions for about 7 minutes until they turn soft and translucent, then add to the tempeh and cook for another 3 minutes on med-low heat.

While that’s cooking, roll the polenta into a cylinder and cut into thin slices to layer the bottom of the pan with.

On top of that, layer the zucchini, tempeh, cabbage, and pesto (I had room for about 2 rounds of layers) and top off with the remaining polenta slices.

Bake for about 25 min. This made about 5 servings, and the leftovers were great for a quick yummy breakfast the next day too when we were in a hurry to go berry picking. The one redeeming thing about the atrociously hot summer in New York has been all the great fruits and veggies!

Cilantro Pesto

At the vegetable market in my neighborhood, the bunches of cilantro are huge! So I’ll buy it for a simple salsa or to use as a garnish in a recipe, then I find myself rushing to use all of it before it goes bad. Problem solved: pesto! This was my first time making pesto without basil, and it turned out really good. I was kind of hesitant at first because I’m one of those people who thinks cilantro tastes a little like soap and can only take it in small doses. But this did not have that effect at all. It think it’s because the nutritional yeast gives it that nutty flavor and balances it out perfectly.

  • 2 cups loosely packed cilantro
  • 1 jalapeno pepper chopped
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 tsp water
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yest
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • juice of half a lemon
  • sea salt and black pepper to taste

Process it all up! I left it a little chunky but you can blend it for longer if you want it to be smoother.