Grownup Vegan Stromboli

One of my favorite memories from college is spending Mock Trial strategy sessions at Jerry’s Pizza right across the street from my all girls dorm room. Yes, the proximity to home was a major selling point and so was the vintage PacMan machine that I spent too many hours and too many quarters playing but the thing that kept me coming back for more was the delicious cheesy stromboli.

The old version is ground beef, some kind of tomato sauce with pepperoncini peppers and giardiniera peppers if you ask really nicely. The sandwich was delicious and cheap but it was also big enough to enjoy the other half for lunch the next day. Over the years I have recreated the sandwich ad nauseam, never quite getting it right.

This time though, I’m feeling a little bit cocky.

This time around I made a few changes to correct things I wasn’t happy about in the past. The protein was always a problem for me because let’s be honest, ground meat and tofu scrambles are both greasy and not the greatest. So I replaced it with a Beyond Burger and 100 grams of chickpeas, along with bell peppers (any color you like), garlic and onion. That’s the main base and it’s pretty simple, right?

You’re halfway there. Now it’s time for the sauce and this is where I got a little more creative, a little more grownup and a lot more vegan. I got rid of the canned tomatoes and replaced them with cherry tomatoes on the vine, sun dried tomatoes and roasted red peppers. Toss a clove of fresh garlic, capers, Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, soy sauce and lemon juice into a food processor and blend until smooth. This is your fabulous tomato sauce that will bring this vegan stromboli together beautifully.

When the veggies are cooked enough, add the sauce and bring to a boil and simmer until the sauce has thickened to an acceptable level, about 15 minutes.

Once the sauce thickened, I added a few drops of balsamic vinegar and a handful of green olives. Stack it on a long bun or a roll like I did here and you have a perfect vegan sandwich that tastes like it took all day to make.

I added jalapeno peppers to mine because I like things spicy but you can omit them if you want, or add more spice to the sauce. The choice is yours!

Since this was a pretty satisfying meal, I served them as open-faced vegan sandwiches and skipped a side dish. I didn’t want to add greasy fries, even if they were oven cooked and cold veggies wouldn’t have been right with this hot dish.

I’ve finally found a new & improved version of the Stromboli and I’m happy to add it to the rotation so let me know what tweaks you made when you try it at home!

Roasted Veggie Sub & Oil Free Pesto

Just because you want to eat healthy doesn’t mean you can’t eat good.

This has been the key to my weight loss success this far, finding creative ways to keep the flavor without adding too much extra fat or calories. It’s something that has to be done so instead of whine about it, I just get creative. It’s kind of my thing, I don’t know if you’ve heard.

So sometimes I really just want a sandwich. Some thick pillowy bread fresh from the bakery with just enough crunch to let you know it won’t fall apart when you load it up with veggies. I found these rolls that were like baguettes but softer and wider, basically they were perfect for this kind of sandwich which I came up with when I got a look at the big red bell peppers at the market.

I’ll concede right now that the photos of this delicious sandwich aren’t the greatest, but I am a work in progress. 🙂

This is a pretty easy sandwich but if you need to eat within five minutes of hunger striking, this probably isn’t the meal for you because the oven does ALL the work. For me, it’s an excellent trade off because I can sit at my desk and spend thirty minutes working. Or making an oil free pesto, which isn’t as easy as it might sound.

Gather your favorite veggies, enough to fill the rolls without going overboard. Since I opted out of side dishes for this meal, I went a little veggie crazy.

Grab your favorite herbs and spices and toss everything at once, or individually. I chose to do it individually because I like to mix it up, but you can do it all with one batch of spices. Lay it all out on a baking sheet or casserole dish and pop in the oven.

Then…

I added tomatoes during the last fifteen minutes of cooking and look how juicy and plump they got!

While the veggies cooked, I made the pesto but before anyone gets crazy, I know there is no oil in it so technically it can’t be a pesto…I guess. So it is a blend of fresh herbs, sun dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, walnuts, scallions, capers, lemon juice and hot sauce. Popped it in the food processor and gave it a few go rounds. It takes time without oil but I added a splash of lemon juice here and splash of water there and finally it started to look like more like a tapenade, honestly.

Now you’re ready to build. Spread the pesto/tapenade on the top bun (it’s just a preference, more of a suggestion really but it tastes better this way) and the veggies on the bottom.

In total, it took about 40 minutes, which was worth every minute in terms of taste.

Since the weather has been so HOT, I won’t suggest a beer or even a lemonade. Nothing but ice cold water.

Again, a preference, but once that will make you feel better.