Today I had my first day off from cooking in a really long time… and it felt nice (and weird). Isn’t it strange that we need to take breaks from stuff we really enjoy? (Even Kitchen Nightmares marathons and a freezer full of ice cream can get old after awhile…)
The temperature reached into the ’90s today, and since it seems that the weather is going to fluctuate for the next week, I thought I’d share an appetizer that can be eaten hot or cold. It’s one of my favorite new recipes, and so far I have been able to teach it to a class and make it for a few clients. They’re little eggplant towers, stuffed with roasted tomato and tofu ricotta, and drizzled with fresh basil pesto.
Here’s the recipe. . .
Olive or canola oil
1 small eggplant, sliced into thin rings
1 large tomato, sliced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 recipe Tofu Ricotta (see below)
1 recipe Pesto (see below)
Tofu Ricotta ingredients (you’ll have a little leftover!):
1 cube of tofu, drained
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons canola, grapeseed or olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons dried or fresh thyme (oregano is okay, too)
1 pinch black pepper
1 cup whole basil leaves, washed
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1-2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons unsalted walnuts (pieces or whole, doesn’t matter)
1/2 clove garlic, diced
salt and pepper to taste
What to do:
Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil or wax paper and generously coat with the oil. Arrange the slices of eggplant and tomato on the oiled sheet and drizzle with a bit more oil to lightly coat, and sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until the edges of the eggplant darken and shrivel slightly, and the tomato looks stuck to the aluminum.
While that bakes, gather your tofu ricotta ingredients. In a big mixing bowl, squish the tofu between your fingers, mixing and squeezing until there are no clumps left. Add in the rest of the tofu ingredients and mix until it looks like ricotta cheese.
Then onto the pesto. Put the basil, lemon juice and water in a food processor and blend together. Add in the rest of the ingredients and puree again. You may need to add a few more splashes of water to reach a thin, saucy consistency.
Once the tomatoes and eggplant are out of the oven, let them cool a minute or two, then carefully slide them off the cookie sheet with a spatula. The tomatoes will mush up a little – that’s okay.
On a plate, stack one eggplant slice, one tomato slice, a stack of ricotta and another layer of eggplant. Top with pesto and repeat with remaining ingredients. Serve hot or cold.
Makes approximately 5-6 towers.
Miss Rachel’s Pantry is a vegan personal chef, meal delivery, and catering company in Philadelphia, Pa, making real-deal homestyle food. To contact her for more information, her blog is:www.missrachelspantry.blogspot.com and her website is: www.missrachelspantry.com
Editors note: We at friendlysuggestions.com are delighted to have Miss Rachel’s Pantry provide these recipes for all of us! If you can’t make them yourself, do yourselves a favor, those of you in the Philly area, call her to make something for you, and/or have her provide some healthy food for your next party or event.