Tag Archives: sandwich

Time for a Yummy Vegan Picnic!

It's summer and vegan picnic timeAttention all other seasons: summer kicks your booties!

With the weather warm, the flowers blooming, the sun sparkling and such an abundance of ripe fruits and tasty veggies available, it’s such a great time for a picnic. But when I add the word “vegan” to “picnic,” it creates terror in some of my carnivore friends. It’s pretty funny to watch. “But, but, but, what do you serve at a vegan picnic? Carrot sticks and raw broccoli?”  They look so horrified, so I usually respond with something like: “Of course not! We prefer cow patties sandwiched between pieces of tree bark. Duh!” Seriously, why are some people so flipped out about vegan food? It can be unbelievably delicious and a breeze to make, and bonus – it’s good for you, great for the environment, and even better for all the animals you’re saving.

To make things easier (and yummier) for your next picnic, here are my top 5 original creations of perfectly picnickable (that’s a word, right?) vegan dishes, and one spectacular summer beverage that will make your next outing out-of-this-world.

Pomegranate-Mango Guacamole

Mango-Pomegranate Guacamole and Chips

Hot damn, this guacamole will make your mouth so happy…even if you hate avocados (as my converting-carnivore husband and I do). Mmm, the lightly sweet mango and the unexpected tiny bright bits of pomegranate really make this guac amazing. Just pop it in a tupperware container and toss it in your picnic basket.

Thai Sweet Chili and Lime Edamame 

This has to be one of the easiest and yummiest thing you can whip up in 5 minutes. Can’t you just taste the lime, garlic and slightly piquant Thai sweet chili sauce? It’s lick-your-fingers good! This edamame dish is great at room-temp, so it’s perfect for summer outings.

Thai Spiced Peanuts and Smoky Spanish Cashews Smoky Spanish Spiced Cashews

No description needed, right? The title alone says it all – awesomeness awaits your taste buds! Throw these in a baggie and try your best not to eat them on the way to your picnic. (Note: do not try to eat just one. It is impossible).

Peanut-Sauce Glazed Noodles and Veggies

Let’s keep with the Thai theme, shall we? These Thai-style noodles with a truly delicious peanut sauce and sautéed veggies is an awesome cold dish, and it takes no time at all to make.

Grilled veggie sandwich with romesco sauce

Grilled Veggie Sandwiches with Romesco Sauce

If you haven’t had romesco sauce before, please, do yourself a favor and drop whatever you’re doing and make it right this very second! Your taste buds will thank you! It’s a super easy-to-make thick sauce that’s unreal as a sandwich spread, especially with roasted veggies. You won’t believe that it’s made from blanched almonds, roasted red peppers, sourdough bread, balsamic vinegar and couple spices – they blend together to make a sauce that’s even better than the sum of its parts. It is truly spectacular and will probably make you moan with joy a little bit.

And lastly, Summer Sangria

This is my most favorite and dangerous drink! Throw your favorite ripe, juicy summer fruits in there – peaches, strawberries, blueberries, melons – and savor the refreshing flavors of the season in this happy little sangria. But watch out – the light, fruity flavors are so good that you probably won’t taste the alcohol at all, so if you’re like me, you’ll likely drink one (or four) more glasses than you can actually handle. So you may be stumbling home from your picnic, but trust me, it’ll be worth it.

Happy picnicking!

Seriously spectacular sangria

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Nobu-Style Saikyo Miso-Glazed Tofu Sandwich

Miso glazed tofu sandwich

Today we’re taking a trip to Japan (via New York’s Nobu restaurant, and my kitchen here in California) for a mouth-watering savory-sweet Miso-Marinated Tofu Sandwich. This dish is so good that it presents a dilemma. You’ll eat one and feel satisfied and full, but it’s so tasty that you’ll want to immediately throw 8 more down your gullet and will make you wish you had the expandable throat of a pelican. Sorta defeats the whole healthy eating thing, but I digress…

I got a hold of Nobu’s recipe for their world-famous Saikyo Miso-Glazed Black Cod and adapted it into a to-die-for vegan dish that I think you’re going to love as much as I do. The exterior of the tofu turns slightly firm and crisp around the edges when the sugary sake/mirin miso glaze caramelizes under the broiler, while the interior stays silky smooth. Mmm, can’t you practically taste the sweet, rich, miso-infused flavor? This is just irresistible on a sugar-glazed bun with some sauteed baby bok choy and drizzled with a vegan lemon-garlic aioli.  It’s incredibly simple to make. (But please note that you’ve got to let it sit in the fridge for a few days so the marinade thoroughly infuses the tofu. Trust me, it’s worth the wait.)

The marinade makes enough for two full bricks of tofu, which when sliced, makes 6-8 sandwiches. It’s so sophisticated and unique on the palate that it makes a really wonderful meal to serve to special friends. It’s also a great dish to make on a Sunday if you want to have yummy sammies all week long. Or, you know, you could throw all of them down your mouth in one sitting, lie to your friends and say that you’re practicing for an eating contest. (You’re welcome).

Nobu style saikyo miso tofu sandwich

Nobu-Style Saikyo Miso-Glazed Tofu Sandwich

Active cooking time: 20 minutes
Marinating time: 2-3 days
Serves: 6-8

Marinade:
1/2 cup mirin (it’s a Japanese sweet rice wine – in the grocery store, it’s usually next to the sake)
1/2 sake
2 cups white miso paste (note: it’s super cheap in Asian food stores. Regular grocery stores charge three times as much for it)
3/4 cup granulated sugar

Sandwich:
2 bricks of medium-soft tofu
4 baby bok choy, coarsely chopped
Buns
1 tbsp sugar, dissolved into 3 tbsp of water

Vegan Lemon-Garlic Aioli:
3 tbsp vegan mayonnaise
2 cloves garlic, pressed
2 tsp fresh lemon juice

Prepare the marinade and tofu: 

Saikyo miso marinade

In a medium sized saucepan, combine the mirin and sake and bring to a boil for about 30 seconds to boil off some of the alcohol. Reduce heat to low and add the miso paste, stirring constantly. Once the miso has completely dissolved, turn heat up to medium high and add the sugar, stirring until dissolved. Turn off heat and cool to lukewarm before marinating the tofu.

Cut your tofu width-wise to make two big tofu squares per brick. I like to use the hard plastic tofu trays to marinate it, or you could use a pyrex dish. Place some marinade on the bottom, then alternate layers of tofu and marinade. Be sure to slather the top piece of tofu with lots of marinade. Cover and refrigerate for 2-3 days.

Broil the tofu:

After 2-3 days of marinating the tofu, wipe a little bit of the marinade off the top and place on tin foil-lined baking sheet beneath a preheated broiler. Broil about 5 minutes per side until it looks like this:

broiled miso glazed tofu

Prepare the sandwich:

Personally, I like my buns toasted (and no, I’m not talking about tanned cheeks!) (Well actually, now that I think of it, that’s not so bad either). Brush the sugar-water atop each bun and place in the oven at 350 and bake until golden.

Saute or steam the bok choy. Then whisk together the aioli ingredients. Assemble the sandwich and serve with a side salad. After a couple of polite little bites, wait until no one is looking and proceed to shove the whole thing in your mouth as fast as you can. Enjoy!