Roasted Apple and Carrot Salad with No-Carb Deep Dish Veggie Lasagna

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Today’s dinner was good exercise for my cutting board. Embracing the cooler weather, I was craving something hearty, warm and included the fresh local apples my mom recently brought back from the orchard. I was also not particularly picky about how much prep time went into this, because it was basically all chopping. Not that I mind, I find it therapeutic (interestingly, although I’ve been chopping my own vegetables since about first grade [I know!] I’ve only cut myself once, and that was last year). This was a two birds, one stone scenario. What a delicious way to blow off steam.

The resulting dish was a delicious warm roasted carrot and apple salad with dried cherries & cranberries, walnuts, and a horseradish & apple cider dressing.

roast salad

Basically take baby carrots, three apples, and 2 oz each dried cherries and cranberries and toss them in a bowl with salt and pepper to taste.

Then mix in 2 Tbsp. horseradish, 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar, and 4 Tbsp. olive oil.

Next roast in the oven at 450 for 20 minutes.

Finally add in some walnuts (you may toast them separately if you like, I didn’t want them to burn in the oven) sprinkle with garnish of choice, and promptly consume. Or wait until a deep-dish vegetable lasagna is finished getting all hot for ya.

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A cheese-less, noodle-less vegetable lasagna is constructed by layering eggplant, orange bell peppers, tomatoes, pesto and “tofu cream” in a deep pan. After alternating a sufficient number of layers to fill the pan, top it with some vegan mozzarella, bread crumbs, italian seasoning, and a drizzle of olive oil.

lasagna

Bake at 450 for 40 mins to achieve the following:

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I livened up the visuals of mine and added another layer of flavor with some fresh basil on top (to make it more italian?).

Altogether, I’m not sure I’ve ever consumed such a wide variety of vegetables in one dinner before. The flavors were so vibrant, fresh, unique and perfect for the season.

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The only way to follow up such a dinner of course, was with some apple crisp lovingly prepared by mom last night. She even specifically looked for a vegan recipe!

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We’re starting to understand each other.

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Bon appetit.

P.S. Tofu cream is made by food-processing some firm tofu with a 1 Tbsp. of apple cider vinegar, some salt and pepper, 1 tsp lemon juice, 1/2 Tbsp. sugar or sweetener and 1 Tbsp. nutritional yeast. This is a delicious ricotta alternative, but can also be used as an excellent dip.

Eggplant, Hummus, Roasted Red Pepper and Basil Panini

You should never underestimate the power of the eggplant. Not unlike myself, with a little love and attention this spongy, bitter nightshade transforms into a glorious, succulent, and dare I say, meaty dish. It goes in everything: dips, salads, pasta, casseroles, or my personal favorite, the king of convenience – sandwiches.

Being vegan, vegetarian, or even just hungry isn’t a hardship when you’ve got savory eggplant loaded with hummus, sweet basil, and roasted red peppers. Ready to level-up? Grill it. Press it, smash it, heat it and don’t stop until this baby is a golden, crusty masterpiece that has your tastebuds screaming “get on me.”

This panini is simple, elegant, delicious, and the best part is you don’t even need a fork; just two hands and an appetite for awesome.

Bon appetit.

Eggplant Panini

Ingredients

2 ciabatta rolls

Olive oil

2-3 1/2” eggplant slices

4 fresh basil leaves

2 Tbsp. prepared hummus

1 roasted red pepper, halved

Method

Preheat a large non-stick skillet to medium/medium-high heat.

Brush each side of your eggplant slices with some olive oil using a basting brush or clean hands, and transfer to the hot skillet.

Cook each side of the eggplant about 5 minutes, until they’re golden brown and soft but not mushy.

Meanwhile, slice ciabatta rolls in half and spread 1 Tbsp. of hummus on the top of each.

Next, layer 1 large or 2 small fresh basil leaves, followed by 1/2 of a whole roasted red pepper (mine were from a jar) and cooked eggplant slices.

Top with the other half of the ciabatta roll and either brush each side with more olive oil and return to your hot pan (pressing with another pan weighed with whatever heavy item you have in your kitchen, usually cans) or transfer to panini press.

Cook 3 mins on each side if using the homemade press method, or 4 minutes on a panini press set to medium heat.

Serving suggestion: Hot, with copious amounts of vegetables.

And a side of dog. (Or a dog by your side!)