Veggie Redux: Po’boys

We have a local restaurant that serves a few different kinds of spicy po’boys. On Monday nights, all of the po’boys are on special. Take your pick of shrimp, chicken, crawfish, oyster, alligator; you name it, they’ve got it. Pre-vegetarian-diet, Kyle and I loved to wander over on Monday nights, grab a table on the outdoor patio, and down a po’boy with a cold pint of beer.

In case you have never had a po’boy, here’s a little lesson for you. They are traditional sandwiches from Louisiana that feature a pile of fried seafood or meat, dressed with lettuce, tomato, mayo, and mustard, in between two slices of French bread. There are several different variations, but common to all good po’boys are the crusty bread and the crispy fish or meat.

Since embarking on our veggie journey three years ago, neither Kyle nor I has had a proper po’boy. Honestly I haven’t missed them, but apparently Kyle has. The other night while we were planning our meals for the week, he said “do you think we could do a po’boy with something like. . . cauliflower?”

And you thought I was the culinary brains of the family. The man is a genius!

The recipe is mine, but the inspiration was all Kyle. So here you have it, a vegetarian cauliflower po’boy. This isn’t one of those meals that will fool you into thinking it’s meat, but it might satisfy your craving for the real deal if you are trying to find a vegetarian or healthier alternative. Of course this would probably be more authentic fried, but then we wouldn’t be any closer to achieving our goal, would we?

Cauliflower Po’boys (serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 3/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 3/4 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp minced ginger
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 large loaf of French bread or 4 sandwich loaves
  • 1 medium tomato, sliced
  • 1 tsp adobo sauce (from chipotles in adobo)
  • 2 Tbsp vegannaise (or mayonnaise if you would like)

Admit it, that lineup is kind of impressive.

Preparation

  1. Fill a large saucepan 2/3 full with water. Add a pinch of salt and 1/2 tsp curry powder and bring to a boil.
  2. Chop the head of cauliflower into florets and add to the boiling water. Boil uncovered for 2-3 minutes and then remove from heat, drain, and rinse cauliflower with ice cold water.
  3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the yogurt and all of the spices. Add the cauliflower and toss to coat. Spread into a single layer on a greased rimmed baking sheet.
  5. Bake for 25 minutes or until the cauliflower is tender on the inside and crispy on the outside.
  6. While the cauliflower bakes, combine adobo sauce and vegannaise in a small bowl. Spread one side of each sandwich with the chipotle “mayo.”
  7. Top the bottom half of the sandwich with roasted cauliflower. Top with tomato. Optional: add lettuce, onion, mustard, hot sauce, or any condiment you like.

We served this with a wedge salad topped with grape tomatoes, feta and TJ’s Goddess dressing.

In the name of getting your serving of veggies and in celebration of Mardi Gras, why not put this one on your menu for the week?

P.S. I’m baaaaaack! Sorry for the long hiatus, it’s been one hell of a start to 2011, and sometimes life gets between me and my laptop. :/

Celebration Sandwiches

Do you ever find yourself in a situation that calls for a little celebration? Like, more than a victory dance but less than a big night out? When you find yourself in a situation that calls for a little celebration, it is difficult to know what to do to commemorate the event without going overboard or ending up feeling underwhelmed.

I recently had a little victory that prompted me to call one of my friends as I drove home from work and ask, “want to have a little celebration tonight?”

“Like a champagne celebration?”

“No, like a prosecco celebration.”

I called Kyle and asked him the same thing, and he responded:

“Like a special dinner out?”

“No, like a special dinner in.”

As I drove to the grocery store and pondered what I wanted to do for my impromptu “woo-hoo!” party… celebration sandwiches were born. See, this little hurrah didn’t call for something as simple as paninis, nor did it call for something as elaborate as a gourmet meal. But gourmet paninis? Oh yes.

I also picked up a large bottle of one of my favorite celebration beverages, Duvel.

I’ll take a nice Belgian beer over a sparkling wine any day of the week. Even the special days.

I decided that in lieu of a nice dinner out, I would make a fancy feeling meal at home. Something about these tiny delicious sandwiches makes me feel like I’m celebrating. Perhaps it is the time invested in their careful assembly. Maybe it is the fact that miniature food just screams “party!” to me.

(From left) Tofurky, provolone, mayo, and cranberry relish; Tomato, spinach, mozzarella, and pesto; Pineapple, brie, and teriyaki sauce

I assembled the mini sandwiches and then pressed them with my electric grill/press. It’s like a George Foreman grill but its actually made by Hamilton Beach and I love it. The first sandwich was somewhat holiday inspired and included tofurky slices, provolone cheese, mayo, and cranberry relish.

I made the second sandwich with sliced Roma tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, baby spinach, and homemade pesto on Italian bread.

The final sandwich was inspired by one on the menu at Commercial Taphouse and it featured the unexpectedly delicious combination of pineapple and brie, with a touch of teriyaki sauce and a sprinkle of black pepper, pressed between two slices of herb wheat bread from Montana Gold.

We toasted to the miniature victory with a plate of miniature sandwiches and a few (not so miniature) beers. Call me crazy for cooking dinner for my friends as part of my own celebration, but I thought the festivities were perfect in every way and I could not have been happier.

Tomatillos!

That word is so much fun to say, I have to accent it with an exclamation point.

I picked up these tomatillos last week at the farmers’ market and couldn’t wait to get in the kitchen.

After a bit of research, I found some creative ideas online and I also had a recipe that had been calling my name from the bookshelf for a while. The tart green tomatillos sat on my counter in their papery husks while I searched for inspiration. I had purchased the last little container of tomatillos from the farmer’s stand, and because they were so delicate and so rare this time of year, I wanted to make sure I gave them the dish that they deserved.

Tomatillos look like small green tomatoes, but they taste quite different. Because the tomatillo is covered by a papery husk, the fruit itself has a smooth skin and is free of blemishes. Their insides are white and less juicy than a tomato. They taste tart when eaten raw, however I read that they can be very inconsistent in flavor; some are sour and tangy, while some are mild and sweet. That reminded me of a box of assorted chocolates, which made me even more excited for the challenge.

I have been holding on to this recipe for nearly two years, trying to muster the courage to a) use tomatillos for the first time, b) bake something in a pumpkin for the first time, and c) spend three hours in the kitchen for one dish. Item (c) would not be a first for me, but it definitely takes some energy and concentration to pull off. Because I didn’t want to turn the entire apartment into an oven by cooking hot stew all afternoon, and because the recipe isn’t exactly seasonally appropriate, I decided to hold off on Spicy Fall Stew Baked in a Pumpkin. That I can look forward to for just a couple months more. Instead I decided to go with a classic that we could enjoy in a variety of dishes all week: Salsa Verde!

I can thank Tyler Florence for guiding me through this meal. I used both his salsa verde recipe and his roasted corn recipe to make these delicious summer tacos.

Roasted Tomatillo Chile Salsa (adapted from Tyler Florence, Food Network.com)

Ingredients

8-10 tomatillos, husked and halved

1/2 white onion, quartered

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 jalapeno, seeds and ribs removed, diced

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup fresh cilantro

1/2 lime, juiced

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

2. Cover a baking tray with aluminum foil. Roast tomatillos, onion, garlic, and jalapenos on baking tray in oven for 10-12 minutes.

3. Transfer the roasted vegetables and any juices in the bottom of the tray to a food processor. Add the cumin, salt, cilantro, and lime juice and pulse until the mixture is smooth.

And it was delicious. Here are some of the dishes I used it in this week:

Black Bean and Corn Tacos with Roasted Tomatillo Chile Salsa

I found these great whole wheat wraps for these tacos:

First, make some oven roasted corn on the cob. I couldn’t believe how easy this was and how much better the corn tasted when it roasted in its own juices.

Next remove the corn kernels from the cob.

Heat some black beans over the stove and warm the tortillas. While the beans and tortillas are warming, prepare the following toppings:

  • diced tomatoes
  • diced avocado sprinkled with lime juice
  • grated monterey jack cheese
  • roasted tomatillo chile salsa

Lay out a buffet of ingredients and assemble your own tacos. This is one of my favorite warm-weather meals! 🙂

Green Eggs No Ham

I used some of the tomatillo salsa on this tasty breakfast that I am calling Green Eggs No Ham Sandwiches:

Here are the ingredients. I am sure you can figure out how to put them together:

  • Two slices of Arnold’s Health Nut bread, toasted
  • 1/4 cup baby spinach, chopped
  • Two cage-free organic eggs, fried (not too hard, not too runny)
  • Grated cheese (an amount that I will not admit to) – I chose monterey jack, Kyle chose cheddar
  • Salt and pepper
  • One messy dollop of roasted tomatillo chile salsa

I love Saturdays.