Tag Archives: tomato

It’s Still Summer. Make an Eggplant Salad!

The days are getting shorter, kids are back in school, Labor Day just passed… but, hey! It’s still summer! And we still have fresh veggies from the backyard so I made a refreshing roasted eggplant salad to accompany dinner the other night.

eggplant salad

This is so easy to make (once you’ve roasted the eggplant) and goes with just about anything as a nice side dish.

Roasted Eggplant Salad

1 eggplant, roasted, cooled and chopped (use the skinny eggplants, not the fat ones)
1 large or 2 medium tomatoes, diced
1/2 small onion, diced
1 tbsp bit of fresh lemon juice1 tbsp olive oil
salt & pepper, to taste


You’ll need to roast the eggplant first and then let it cool. There are a few methods for toasting eggplants — grilling, carefully roasting over an open flame, or broiling in the oven (which is my personal preference).

eggplant salad

Put all your ingredients into a bowl and then mix it up. Easy as pie! Mmmm… pie…

I’m happy to say that I am back in the cooking spirit. Maybe it’s because the weather is starting to cool. Maybe it’s because I’ve been inspired. I’m just glad to start getting busy in the kitchen again!


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Monika’s Roasted Tomato Soup


The weather in Chicago has been crisp and cool and sometimes rainy. The leaves are changing color and we’ve started to curl up under our comforters. We are also – HORROR! – wearing socks again. It’s definitely the type of weather that makes me crave warm comfort food.

Do you know what’s more comforting than comfort food? Good friends! And good friends share awesome vegan recipes with their vegan friends. Today’s recipe was graciously shared with me by Monika, my good friend and colleague. Tomato soup is definitely a great comfort food and a great way to use up those summer tomatoes that are still lingering in your kitchen!

Monika’s Roasted Tomato Soup

8 Tomatoes
1 tbsp Balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp Olive Oil
1-1/2 tsp Pepper
1-1/2 tsp Salt
1-1/2 tsp Sugar
2-3 Garlic cloves finely chopped
2 tbsp Basil leaves finely chopped (fresh or dry)
1 Onion finely chopped
1.5-2 Carrots finely chopped

3 cups hot water
1.5 veggie bouillon cube

Vinegar or lemon (if soup tastes too sweet)

Clean the tomatoes  and remove the stem.  Place in an oven safe dish and pour boiling water over the tomatoes. Keep the tomatoes in the dish for approximately 30-60 seconds. Remove from the dish and peel the skin. Cut the tomatoes in half and set aside.

Turn on the oven to 350F as you prepare the baking sheet. Place the tomato halves on  the sheet. Sprinkle tomatoes with salt, pepper, sugar, balsamic vinegar and olive oil.  Bake in the oven for 30-60 mins or until completely soft.

Melt olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add onion, carrots, garlic, and basil. Cook, stirring, until golden brown, set aside.

Mix the stock, set aside.

Remove the tomatoes from the oven, set aside to cool and bring out the food processor/blender.

In a large bowl add: roasted tomatoes, onion/carrots/garlic/basil and process with blender. Add stock, and process again.

Pour the soup into a saucepan and cook over medium-low heat for 15-20 mins. Add salt, pepper as desired. If soup tastes too sweet add a splash of vinegar or lemon.

Super duper tips from Monika:

  • The more time the soup is “cooked/warmed up” the better it will taste.
  • The soup was even more tasty the next day!

I’m so grateful that Monika shared this recipe with me and gave me the chance to share it with you. I can’t wait to try this at home! –Melissa

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Sounds funny, tastes delicious… This is a simple cold summer soup that is loaded with good nutrients and packed with flavor. It should be a staple in your diet whether you’re vegan or not. Ours is made from the following ingredients:
2 bell peppers, stems and seeds removed (I like 2 different colors, in this case yellow and red)
1/2 cup of cilantro stems
2 cucumbers
juice from 1 lemon
5 tomatoes, stems removed
1 jalapeño (optional for the brave)
6-8 scallion onions, chopped just as the bulb turns green, stems diced
4-5 strawberries (optional)
hot sauce and salt to taste

Brent cut up the vegetables into sizes that fit easily in our food processor. The skins can be left on the cucumber for a richer flavor if they’re organic, otherwise I remove most of it if not all.

The tomato, cucumber, peppers, strawberries, lemon juice, scallion bulbs and cilantro stems all went into the processor and was blended until smooth. Afterward I added salt and hot sauce to taste, garnished with scallion onion (you can use cilantro too, if you like). and served with grilled cashew cheese sammiches. It hit the spot after a day in the muggy Florida heat. Let me know what you think!

This is Christie, signing off!

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Epic Vegan Queso

We decided to take queso to the next level. Fortunately the preparation wasn’t epic; it is incredibly simple to make your own awesome queso at home.

You can start with Nacho Mom’s Vegan Queso or any other pre-made vegan queso or make your own.

Take your vegan queso and combine it with the following:
1 15 ounce tin of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 onion, diced and microwaved until soft
1 15 ounce tin of diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 package of Tofurkey soy Chorizo

Then we microwave it until it’s hot, stirring every thirty seconds. This is perfect for a gathering with friends, even omnivores!

This is Christie, signing off!

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Tunaless Melt!

This could have made an amazing sandwich but it made an awesome wrap. I’ve been missing tuna melts, not for the fishy tinned tuna but for the melty goodness and crunchy celery. To make the filling I combined the following:

1 32oz tin of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

2 tbsp vegan mayo

1 cup of chopped celery

1/2 chopped onion

a generous pinch each of tarragon and thyme

1 tbsp marmite or vegemite

salt and flake red pepper to taste

I started by adding the celery and onion and microwaving it until the onion was soft.


I actually used a fork to mush the chickpeas. I liked the texture it provided since it reminded me more of real tuna that way. Once it was all mixed together, I microwaved it until it was hot and then adjusted the seasoning.


We combined this on a wrap with some Daiya cheddar which we melted by microwaving and then topped with some spinach and tomato. It hit the spot, EXACTLY!

This is Christie, signing off!

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Cuban can be vegan too!

Miami is immersed in Cuban culture. From the coffee to the art, Cuba’s heartbeat is felt in this city. We decided to honor our love for Cuban contributions (namely a colleague of mine who recently got his American citizenship!) by creating a Cuban inspired vegan meal; black beans, pork, rice and plantains are stereotypical in local cuisine.


For the black beans, all we did was drain a tin of black beans and combine with some roughly chopped peppers, onions and tomato.


We prepared some frozen Goya maduros in our oven. They’re basically fried mature bananas. They’re SUPER tasty.


We made Vigo yellow rice.


Instead of pork, we had maple bacon tempeh. A traditional preparation of pork in Cuban cuisine might be topped with sauteed onions and cheddar cheese. We decided on the rest of those peppers instead. All of this was really easy. It took less than an hour to prepare everything and it was also delicious, nutritious and satisfying.

Thank-you to our neighbor to the South for the inspiration and a good friend who is finally official!

This is Brent and Christie, signing off!

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Chickenless Salad Wraps

This was an inappropriately easy dinner. We’ve been busy trying to find a friend for our bunny so we haven’t had a lot of time to make anything elaborate. All we did was combine the following:

2 cups soy curls

1 cube bouillon

1/2 tsp herbes de Provence


We covered them in water and microwaved one minute at a time until the water was absorbed. Then I added 2 tbsp vegan mayonnaise and a generous squeeze of lemon juice.


We added it to a wrap with some spinach (I added that after I took this picture), home-grown sprouts, tomato and bell pepper.

It was sweet, savory, crispy, chewy, and satisfying.

This is Christie, signing off!

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Spicy Peanut Chili Pizza!

This was our first in a line of experiments involving some of our favorite ingredients: PB2, Sriracha and tofu. We wanted pizza but didn’t have any of he traditional ingredients so we decided to wing it and make something Thai-inspired. We used a pre-made gluten-free pizza crust from the ZenCat bakery but you can use a storebought variety or make our home-made crust.
For the sauce, I combined the following in our blender:
1 block of silken tofu
3 tablespoons of Sriracha or suitable substitute (or to taste)
2 Thai chilis, I used one red and one green (I also buy them in bulk and freeze them)
2 tbsp PB2 or regular peanut butter
I blended it until it looked smooth while Brent prepared some soy curls.


We topped it with some sliced tomato and Thai basil (cilantro would work well too) and then baked it until it had started to brown around the edges.


A sprinkling of chopped peanuts (or cashews) really made this pizza interesting but it won’t suffer if you leave it off. It was creamy, spicy and decadent. It felt a lot naughtier than it was in terms of nutrition. The next time we do this, I’ll probably add some fresh cilantro or Thai basil after baking. I just love the cinnamon flavors it adds.

This is Brent and Christie, signing off!

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Italian Wraps!

We had some awesome looking sausage from Pure Market Express and we decided to make something simple with it so we could really appreciate the flavor.
This was crazy easy, all we did was pile up some Muir Glen fire-roasted tomato, black olives, and sausage on a lightly greased foil-lined baking sheet and topped it with some oregano and some Follow Your Heart mozzarella. I toasted it under our broiler until the cheese was melty and bubbly and then we scooped it onto a spinach lined wrap. I added some extra oregano and some flake red pepper. Brent added some vegan parmesan.


It was as tasty as it looks. The sausage was a little sweet but I think I can balance it in the future with some garlic salt. This might make a better sub sandwich if you’re not sensitive to gluten or have easy access to gluten-free rolls but we’re using wraps since it’s what we’ve got.

This is Christie, signing off!

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Chopstick Kebabs

If you’re like me and Brent, you’ve got a drawer filled with chopsticks from your favorite Asian takeout or delivery. We decided to try and get rid of some by making kebabs. Along with those we used the following:
1 block of tofu, pressed and cut into 1 inch cubes (omit or replace with seitan if you’re got a soy allergy)
2 medium zucchini, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 onion, cut into 1 inch squares
1 bell pepper, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 carton baby bella mushrooms
1 carton of cherry tomatoes
Other things that can make kebabs awesome include basil leaves, sliced jalapeños and other hot peppers, and any other veggies that can withstand being skewered. We assembled the kebabs and then placed them into a dish filled with marinade (tamari seasoned to taste with ginger extract and garlic works well, but store bought varieties work well too) until we were ready to cook them (at least an hour). Bake at 350F/175C for 45 minutes or grill until the veggies are tender if you’re so inclined.


Wait for them to cool and EAT THEM! Now there’s space in our drawer for more chopsticks.

This is Brent and Christie, signing off!

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