Monday, July 25, 2011

meatless mondays: grilled vege pressed sandwiches

I'll admit it. I've found a great new cooking show to love. And it's not found on the food network. Though with the advent of Ree Drummond's show next month, I may be enticed back, I've found the network has just gotten filled with a lot of reality tv style shows that aren't really my thing. And a lot of the "stars" that they're choosing to host their new shows, just aren't my style. I've had enough experience in the cooking industry that I want shows featuring techniques, herbs and spices that I've never used {or maybe sparingly} and that's tough to come by on their current lineup. I'd love to hear if you have a favorite to recommend, though!

Anyway - back to the new favorite:

I happened upon the show while catching up on a few Martha Stewart episodes this summer. I never, ever get to watch, so it's been fun. I'll always admire Martha's style and what she's done for modern homemaking. And yes, she's always been one of my go-to stops for finding any recipe that I might need, from cakes to salads and entrees.

Back to Mad Hungry. I was instantly drawn in by Lucinda's easy going {yet intensely driven} conversational style as she moved deftly around the kitchen preparing the day's meal for the show. Her recipes are typically quick to assemble, using easy to acquire ingredients. But she always seems to offer some little twist to vary you from the typical path in order to keep things exciting. I. Love. Her. Style. She means what she says. Bringing back the family meal. Her meals are typically pretty healthy {being a mom} and often offer great vegetarian alternatives or sidedishes that work well for me, while still getting dinner done for the guys. Once I found a bit more info on her, I found it small wonder that I admire her so much. She's been the food editor for Martha Stewart for quite a while. Yes. As I said before, Martha has taste.

If you're interested in learning more - check out her blog. And did I mention that she's awesome enough to answer questions on her facebook page? I made her Vermont Burgers {the turkey version} for the boys' birthday party last week, and posted asking if she thought I could make them ahead and freeze them, since we were going out of town for the days leading up to the party. And yes. She replied. So. If you're interested and have a chance, check out her show. I definitely recommend. For what it's worth.

Mmm. On to today's meatless monday post. I had this really awesome recipe designed and put together for curried chickpeas, but, um, misplaced my notes. {oops!}

It's really, really yummy, and based on what I've learned from my mother-in-law, so it's Jamaican style curry. More sweet and savory than heat. I'll be doing my best to locate those notes. {I really need one of these.}My meat eating guys devoured it, just like the meatless shepherd's pie - without a peep. Except to comment on how yummy it was.

So, in it's stead, I'll offer up this great meatless recipe that I recently tried from Mad Hungry. Pressed sandwiches.

I'll admit to being super busy with both of our boys having birthdays within 6 days of each other, so this was a last minute thing. Which meant that I couldn't make the fresh pesto. A bit of a bummer, really, since I know that's the best way. I also couldn't locate a ciabatta bread that was ok for our son with peanut allergies. {Most bread is marked "processed on the same equipment with nuts".} So, I went with a nice, crusty, fresh loaf of French, and some store bought pesto, which I left off of our little guy's portion, since it contains pinenuts. They were amazing. 

My recipe ended up something like this:

Pressed Grilled Vege Sandwiches

  • 1 red bell pepper (about 7 ounces)
  • 1 medium size eggplant, cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 2 medium size zucchini , cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • olive oil, for grilling
  • sea salt
  • 4 oz. store bought pesto sauce
  • 8 oz. fresh mozzarella ball, sliced roughly 1/4" thickness
  • 2 loaves of fresh, crusty French bread

  • Prepare your grill for cooking, and throw your red pepper on the back. Watch and turn as the flames crisp the outer skin. While this is cooking, place the eggplant and zucchini slices on the grill that you've given a light coat of olive oil and sprinkle of sea salt. Grill those, flipping once until cooked tender. Once the red pepper is a bit blackened on all sides and starting to deflate a bit, remove and let it rest. While it's resting, slice the loaves of bread lengthwise, horizontally, and pull out most of the doughy center. {this makes great homemade croutons for your salads if you're interested.} Coat both the top and bottom halves of the bread with pesto. Layer the grilled vege on the bottom half of the bread. Then peel, seed and cut your grilled red pepper into strips. Add to the sandwich and top with the slices of fresh mozzarella. Finish with the top portion of bread that already has pesto. Place between two pans and add a weight to the top to press it flat.  After pressing, cut in slices to serve. 

They were definitely a hit!! No one believed that there wasn't any meat on them {extended family included}. They were filled with flavor, and loved by all - even my self proclaimed eggplant hater of a husband. Yes. I won him over! I so wish I had photos, but between the hustle and bustle of the party, and the rain storm that descended as we finished grilling, I don't have much, even from the party! I'm sure we'll be making them again, so I'll have to make sure I get some photos then!

Happy Monday!

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