Roasted Tomato & Vegan Ricotta Sandwich

I may or may not have shared with you my slight obsession with the TV show Dawson’s Creek. I don’t talk about it much here but if you’ve ever visited my Facebook or Author page, you’ll have seen it. Well I now have an extension to this obsession, which I realize may be too strong a word but if you knew how much I loved Pacey Witter then you’d understand how much Bon Appetit chef Brad Leone reminds me of a grownup Pacey Witter.

Why does any of that matter?

Because I had this conversation recently with a reader and then Brad did this delicious looking roasted tomato and ricotta sandwich which, for obvious reasons, I couldn’t recreate on its own.

So I thought it was a perfect time to share this recipe…and give another shout out to Dawson’s Creek.

So the key to this recipe is the tomatoes. I used vine tomatoes because they looked really good and because I found some really incredible organic rosemary and…well look at it. This is the easy but time-consuming part. Add a bit of oil to the skillet (yes, I know about my oilless stance but I needed to compromise here so I did) and drop the tomatoes and rosemary in as they are. You’ll have to cook them for quite a while, until they start to brown/char a little and maybe even explode.

See the difference? Just cook them until they reach a point you feel they’re tender enough to eat.

While the tomatoes did their thing, I added some garlic and half a yellow chili pepper because they are an important part of the vegan ricotta I tried to make.

So Brad’s original recipe used regular old animal ricotta so I knew I needed to replace it. Somehow. The Google Machine gave me tons of vegan ricotta recipes that used cashews. I LOVE cashews. I’d probably rank them as my second favorite nut behind pecans, but the truth is that I’m still trying to reach my weight loss goals and I just couldn’t do cashew ricotta.

So I got a little creative. Tofu in salty brine water (I used Inedit brand) mixed with vegan cream cheese (Simply V brand). Give them, along with the garlic, lemon juice and chili pepper, a quick run in the food processor until smooth. You might have to add a bit of almond milk or whatever non-dairy milk you prefer. I used roasted unsweetened almond milk so it wouldn’t change the flavor too much.

It didn’t photograph all that well but it was very delicious. I mixed it in a food processor until I got a consistency that satisfied me and that was slightly grainy and smooth.

It’s pretty easy even if it does take more time than a simple vegan sandwich should. It was tasty and well worth the effort, besides I got to share it with you!

Tip: If you need more flavor for the ricotta, add nutritional yeast or vegan Parmesan.

A slightly closer look so you can see all the herbs and green bits added to the ricotta.

And now…the sandwich!

I smashed the tomatoes a little and poured some balsamic vinegar on top and that was it.

Smear the ricotta on your favorite crispy, toasted bread and top with the tomato mix.

All that’s left is to enjoy it…with an ice cold beer, since we’re all still stuck inside and day drinking is totally appropriate.

Easy Vegan Sandwiches

It took me a long time to get creative about making sandwiches to fit my new vegan lifestyle but now I’ve finally figured it out. Once I stopped thinking that sandwiches equal meat, my sandwich game stepped up considerably.

Here’s the secret: put whatever you want on the dang sandwich!

I know, it’s crazy but trust me, nothing tastes better than the crazy stuff your mind comes up with when a sandwich craving strikes.

There aren’t many rules but generally there should be some type of bread, roll, sub, wrap, slices or whatever else floats your boat, and something that goes inside of it, preferably a lot of somethings. Sauces and condiments are optional, of course.

Behold, my deli style tofu sandwich! Just kidding, but it was delicious. I used some carrot greens and basil to whip up a rustic pesto, mixed a bunch of Indian spices on the crumbled tofu and added some tomatoes and cucumbers. It was DELICIOUS!

One of the ways I started to come around on having sandwiches again was to take my favorites and replace the meat. Duh, right? I know, but one day I got a craving for my favorite sandwich from Portillo’s, in Chicago. Dipped Italian beef. As a teenager it was my favorite and I used giant crimini mushrooms to replace the beef and it was delicious.

So, I decided to try completely replacing the bbq beef/pork sandwich with mixed vegetables, of course!

Yeah, I totally popped in a photo of my first attempt at big batch vegetable pickling. They were WAY too vinegary but there are some cucumbers working away in the kitchen as I type.

Or if you feel like feeling healthy when you eat a sandwich, add a wrap.

This spicy tofu, potato & onion wrap (those flecks are chia seeds) was delicious and the jalapenos are totally optional.

My point is, do what you want when it comes to sandwiches. There are no rules for it, trust me I’ve checked.

If you’re not quite that brave yet, take someone else’s idea and make it your own.

Check out my Smoky Tofu Scramble

Or if you want something lighter…my Vegan Lobster Roll

More vegan sandwiches

Or this muffuletta if you’re feeling brave!

Vegan Lobster Rolls

Now that the weather is getting warm–finally–I like to keep my day meals fairly light and that’s mostly because I don’t want to sweat my butt off in the kitchen when the temperature is in the upper 20’s. But also because I LOVE sandwiches!

Recently I was in the mood for a sandwich but not a burger or a faux meatball sub or even one of my favorites, the stromboli, and I couldn’t think of anything. At first I thought about the little corner shop near my granny’s house in Chicago, this place sold some really great Po Boy sandwiches but that required more work than I wanted to perform on this particular day. Then I started thinking about a lobster roll.

I could just about taste the caraway seed in that creamy lobster sauce, which is weird because one thing I have never, ever been–before or after going vegan–is mayonnaise. It’s just not my thing. Back in the day I could gobble up some Miracle Whip but these days when I need a creamy sauce I use vegan yogurt or coconut cream.

It was shopping day so I had the chance to get all the ingredients I want and began to stack the sandwich in my head.

What you’ll need:

Hot dog buns

Artichoke hearts, rough chopped

Scallions, sliced

Celery, thin sliced

Grape tomatoes, halved

Cumin (lots and lots of cumin)

Cucumber, diced

Parsley & Dill

Vegan Yogurt (plain)

Mustard

Sriracha (Or gochugaru sauce)

The most time consuming part of this meal is chopping up everything, but it took me about fifteen minutes while singing along to old school Whitney Houston tracks. Combine the yogurt, mustard and Sriracha mix and then mix with veggies.

As far as the buns go, I’m not really a fan of slicing hot dog buns down the center. There’s not enough room and that’s a fancy thing you do to make good pictures, but I’m more concerned with tasty food, which I assure you this was.

A healthy spice rack is the key to making this sandwich amazing. I used cumin, fennel seeds, oregano, basil and turmeric in the yogurt sauce and let me tell you, the flavors were AMAZING.

TIP: Toast the buns so you don’t end up with soggy bread!

Add a handful of chips, but not too many because those suckers are HIGH in calories, and you’ve got a quick and easy lunch in under 30 minutes.

Then wash it down with a nice cold drink.

How To Spice Up A Sandwich ~ Spicy Vegan Muffuletta

Sandwiches. They are a staple meal when you have a busy schedule but you don’t want to eat out or order in, and if you can make them healthy and delicious then you’ve hit the jackpot.

The Sandwich Jackpot, sounds like a pretty amazing lottery, right?

These last few weeks have been incredibly busy with settling into a new place, dealing with immigration bureaucracy, getting used to being surrounded by friends and family and all that…so of course there was a day when I didn’t feel like cooking. Sort of.

I found an amazing round loaf of bread and it hit me; muffuletta sandwich. For those of you unfamiliar with the deliciously amazing muffuletta sandwich, it is a New Orleans staple named after the muffuletta bread.

The key is to find bread that is thick and hearty enough to hold all the ingredients without being so hard that you scrape the roof of your mouth or find the sandwich impossible to eat. Now for those of you who prefer to eat a certain way, I’ll tell you now that this is a messy sandwich with a capital ‘M’. Don’t be afraid to squeeze the bread to make sure there’s some give and here’s a tip: if you find a round bread that you want to use but it’s too thick, yank out some of the softness to make room for more sammie!

If you’re a non-vegan then you’ll find putting together this sandwich pretty easily because there will be lots of processed meat and cheese but for those of us aiming for something a little different, we need a bit more time and creativity.

Let’s start with the top layer of bread, that’s where the tapenade goes and for my tapenade I used: black & green olives, shallot, garlic, sundried tomatoes, capers, lemon juice, parsley, red bell pepper and a healthy squirt of sriracha. Toss it in a food processor until it is blended and a bit chunky and slather that baby on the top of the bread.

In case you’re wondering what the hell purple kohlrabi is!

For the “meat” of the sandwich I slice and grilled artichokes, zucchini, purple kohlrabi (I sauteed the leaves with garlic to add some dark leafy greens), yellow onions, red & green bell pepper and MORE garlic. I added a variety of seasoning including sea salt & black pepper, oregano, basil and cumin.

And you can’t have a delicious sandwich without a side of roasted herbed potatoes!

One thing to remember about this sandwich is that it works best if you assemble it as one big unit so you can spread all the ingredients evenly and in layers, and then cut it in quarters, or for however many people you plan to feed.

Yes, this is a messy eat but when you’re eating with family, who cares, right?

If you’re really feeling festive or you just love picked veg, add pickles, pickled cauliflower, pepperoncini or giardiniera and ice cold beer for a full, fun & simple meal.

And completely plant based to boot!

poftă bună!’