Lately I have been kinda lazy… With lots of work and travel, I have not been the most creative in the kitchen, cooking from scratch for myself. For lunch or dinner, lots of sandwiches and snack foods. I know… not so good.
But I was training for a half marathon so I needed to get some good vegetarian protein in my diet especially for after my workouts. They help rebuild muscle when taken right after training. I sometimes turn to my trusted pretzels with hummus combination… or my peanut butter and jelly sandwich. But I had gone to La Hacienda, a popular gourmet market and deli here in Puerto Rico and I had bought a garbanzo bean salad and this is what I came up with it… you can call it a pizza or an open-faced sandwich, but there’s no denying that you will certainly be adding “mouth-watering” and “addictive” to whichever name you choose.
OPEN-FACED MEDITERRANEAN SANDWICH
1 flat bread of your choice… I like FlatOut brand
½ cup of cooked garbanzo beans or garbanzo bean salad from La Hacienda
3 wedges of avocado
1 roma tomato, sliced
2 large handfuls of mesclun salad greens
Freshly Cracked Black Pepper
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
This is just assembling…
- Drizzle and spread some olive oil to the flat bread and toast it in the oven… I like my flat breads crispy. I use the toaster feature in Light.
- Take the toasted flat bread from the oven and place the garbanzo bean salad and the avocado wedges and mash it all together with a fork trying to cover as much flatbread surface as possible. You can sprinkle a little salt, pepper and olive oil to the mixture while you’re mashing.
- Place tomato slices over the mashed garbanzo/avocado mixture.
- Place mesclun greens or even baby spinach over the tomato slices. Season salad greens with a sprinkle of salt, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.
- Cut into pieces using a pizza cutter… I found it was easier than using a knife.
Tip: I found the mashing worked best than leaving the garbanzos and avocados in pieces… they would roll off the flat bread and I ended up eating more out of the plate with a fork than over the bread itself. So that’s why I recommend mashing…
I know this recipe might sound quirky… but it’s probably because it was “invented” by one of my quirkiest friends, Yanelis. While we were in Paraguay, we were assigned a different day to lead the kitchen and design a menu for all of us who were traveling together. This was one of Yanelis’ creations on his menu…
This dish was so popular that Yanelis actually made it 3 times… well the third time I actually was the one who made them, using macadamia nuts instead of the peanuts. And to be honest, I like them both (but maybe a little bit more the macadamia version)…
This is easy and delicious and will impress anyone when served at a table. I usually plan for 2-3 tomato halves per person. Or maybe 2 whole tomatoes per person so you make sure there’s enough for all. I know I served myself seconds each and every time we made these. Check them out.
ROASTED TOMATOES WITH ROSEMARY AND PEANUTS
8-10 Roma tomatoes – make sure they’re organic, without wax on the outside
¼ cup honey
¼ cup water
2 tbs olive oil
2 tbs dried rosemary
½ cup raw peanuts
Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- Pre-heat oven to 400F.
- Half all the tomatoes and take off a very thin piece off the “bottom” of each tomato half, to make sure they stand and do not topple on top of each other when they’re roasting. Place in a roasting dish cut side up one next to the other.
- Season tomatoes liberally with salt and freshly ground pepper. Sprinkle dried rosemary on top of tomatoes.
- In a large measuring cup measure the oil, honey and water. Whisk well to combine and drizzle over the tomato halves.
- Roast in oven for about 45-60 minutes. The tomatoes will cook, but maintain their shape.
Serve was a simple but tasty side dish… I just liked them on top of whole grain rice and a salad.
Roasted Tomatoes with Rosemary Honey and Macadamia Nuts
Has it ever happened to you… you’re going on a trip and you have tons of fresh stuff in your kitchen and fridge you know will rot by the time you get back home? This happens to me ALL THE TIME!!
I’ve been trying to be better at not going grocery shopping before a trip, especially before a trip that’s over 1 week. But still, even when you try to plan to eat most everything fresh by the time you leave, there might be things here and there you forgot or where unable to eat completely. This was the case with an almost full case of Campari Tomatoes I had bought at Costco. I hate to place them in the fridge because I believe they taste different after being refrigerated.
So I needed to do something so these tomatoes would not go to waste and still be good, edible and better yet tasty to integrate into my back-from-the –trip recipes…
ROASTED TOMATOES WITH BASIL AND GARLIC
Roma or Campari Tomatoes, cut in half and seeded
Garlic Cloves, sliced thinly
Basil, I use freeze dried herbs
Salt and Pepper
- Place tomatoes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Massage the tomatoes somewhat to ensure the olive oil, salt and pepper kinda coat the tomatoes evenly.
- Make sure tomatoes are arranged cut side up in a single layer. Place a slice or two of garlic inside each tomato, sprinkle liberally with basil leaves and a little sprinkle of turbinado sugar.
- Roast in a 375F – 400F oven for about 45 mins to 1 hour. I usually place them, leave them and when they look cooked and a little caramelized. I just turn off the oven and leave them there to cool together with the oven.
Place them in an air-tight container and save for future recipes. Use them in any recipe that calls for sun-dried tomatoes. I used them in a version of my pasta with marinated tomatoes where I used part fresh tomatoes and part these roasted ones. I also used them in a filling for stuffed bell peppers and to add a nice pizzazz to my easy pasta with fresh baby spinach.
This was one of the main dishes we created for our 3rd KarmaFree Cooking class recently. We were super excited because we got picked up by the local newspaper El Nuevo Día and we received tons of calls from people interested. We hosted 7 students who are not vegetarian, but are very interested in following a more natural and meat-free diet. I was thrilled!!
Angie is the expert among us making tofu scramble… but I made sure the ingredients were colorful, vibrant and easy to find in any supermarket.
1 package of extra-firm tofu
1 vegetable bouillon cube with seas salt and herbs
½ red onion, chopped
1 orange bell pepper, chopped
1 package of fresh baby spinach
2 cups of cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
Butter or Dairy-free alternative like Earth Balance
Freshly Cracked Black Pepper
½ tsp turmeric
- In a large skillet over medium high heat, add the olive oil, a pat of butter and add the onions and peppers to soften. Add the bouillon cube too and dissolve it in the mixture.
- Drain the tofu as much as you can. In a bowl, pat it with a few paper towels. Mash the tofu and add to the onions and peppers in the skillet. Miox it well so the tofu starts infusing itself with the flavors in the skillet.
- Season with black pepper and turmeric. Mix well.
- Add the tomatoes and spinach to the mixture. Mix it all well and cover for a few minutes so the spinach wilts .
- Uncover and raise the heat a bit so the liquid that most probably accumulated at the bottom can evaporate a bit.
Serve alongside these Double Mustard Roasted Potatoes and your favorite toast.
Even though I am not currently dating someone special… I still like to cook something nice, even if it’s just for myself.
After all, Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate LOVE and there are many ways to express and celebrate love – love towards your parents, love towards your kids, love towards your siblings, love towards your pets, love towards your partner, love towards your neighbors, your family in general, your co-workers, your friends and most of all, LOVE TOWARDS YOURSELF. Because, if you don’t love yourself, how do you expect others to love you too???
Here are a few ideas I have cooked in the past to impress a few loved ones… hope you choose to make one to impress YOURSELF!!!
Cheese, Spinach and Mushroom Manicotti
Roasted Stuffed Tomatoes over Pasta
Eggplant and Goat Cheese Bake
Korean Seasoned Tofu
Chame’s Spinach Salad with Figs and Blue Cheese
Poached Pears with Blue Cheese and Almond Praline