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On Toast: A Kitchen Meditation

On Toast: A Kitchen Meditation

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Nothing makes me notice I'm in a different town than the one we live in like the sound of a freight train lowing in the distance. The horn, the cadence of the wheels, the bumping mechanical rumble of the boxcars, all takes me on a journey too. Whether it will be long or short usually depends on what other sounds or sights intersect with that magical train’s chorus. One morning in Winter Park, Florida, it was brief. New sounds arrived as I received a small enough cappuccino that I was already considering a second one. There was some road construction going on just outside the hotel parking lot. A watering hole on the Serengeti has its orchestral majesty of nature in pure forms, I know. But old white-haired, bearded “song-man” Walt Whitman was among the first to celebrate the dawning age of the Industrial Era and find beauty in those transforming things as he daringly did.

Time and time again I’m shocked at how indifferently chefs treat toast.As heavy trucks pushed still-wet cement into forms in a bass line of moaning, grinding gear shifting efforts by men in sweat-damp work shirts, I received my breakfast on a patio where classical music and a burbling fountain provided a mellowing contribution.

Along with my coffee, spring water, and Greek yogurt, I had ordered "toast". There was a choice of three kinds. I chose the one my tanned, fair-haired server shyly smiled at as she said the words, "English muffin toast." From the smile I sensed she not only liked this toast herself, but could see I was trying to square up in my mind what made this different from a standard English muffin. She said, "It's really the best of the three." I believed her smile and accepted her recommendation. Suddenly a train whistle blew three times off to the west where the light was still early-morning soft in the Florida skies. I took this as a positive sign and waited to see what this spin on toast would bring.

She brought me my toast and refilled my ice water. I took the toast into my hands and had a look. Between two lightly caramelized exterior surfaces of golden-hued bread possessing a good crumb structure was an interior that was rightly distinct in texture. So often this is a failure in the preparation of proper toast. Here a creaminess prevailed. Like in a risotto or crème brûlée, one of the bellwethers of quality is the way the food feels as you chew it. We are creatures that must break down our food somewhat before we simply swallow and take it into our bodies for succor and nourishment. If we are wise we go slowly and enjoy that time as we eat.

The hairnet-adorned ladies in the bakery section at our local Miami food market asked (in near chorus) if I wanted the multi-grain bread I was buying “cut thin or thick.” I opted for “thin.” It was presented bagged and warm, thinner-sliced than if I had done it myself. When a growling stomach got me out of my favored morning chair the next day I opted to toast some of that bread and apply a mix of leftover scrambled eggs done with sliced scallions and shredded Monterey Jack cheese. As they were all cooked but cold from a previous effort, I decided to treat the eggs as if a spread … and stirred in a luxurious spoonful of Mexican smoked chili-laced mayo to my newly christened ‘huevos frios.’ The Spanish have made me into a fan of cold egg preparations via their iconic Tortillas Paisanas. I began making them years ago when just beginning my love of all kind of Latin flavors. I eyed my toaster and knew that I would need to be more adroit than if this were a heft of hand-sliced sourdough I might have chosen instead. The critical moments of the toast having the stiffer structure than bread and it becoming a less tantalizing one would be sacrificed if I dallied. My egg mix was ready and I’d poured my juice and set it on the table near the book I was reading, so my calm was not disturbed by efforts less prepared. I spooned my egg mix on toast that had barely escaped the metal and glass box my toaster is made of and I used my heat-tolerant chef fingers to hold it in my left while I administered the spread on top of the fuming fragrant toast. The cold met the hot and the two met my mouth. The convergence was what it was all about.

Time and time again I’m shocked at how indifferently chefs treat toast. I see sheet pans lined ahead of service with toast … or croûtes if they are fancier. The expectation is that some canapés or bruschetta topping will go on top and all will be right with the world. The fact is that the toast died on top of those sheet pans in most cases. Does it take a person who has struggled to learn to bake the bread in the first place to appreciate the magical integrity of the transformations going on when dough sweeps an arc to toast? A swamp of olive oil is not the answer. Immediacy and care are. Those chefs will spend hours worrying about the consistency of an egg yolk. They will, if they have the money, buy immersion circulators to insure a flowingly luxurious outcome. I admire the egg as well. But one doesn’t put Astaire in a tuxedo and Rogers in old sweats and go on with the show. If you want to lay an egg you must find the right warm couch. The couch in this case is toast. It has been said that cheese is milk’s leap to immortality. Well, toast is bread that has been transubstantiated; holier, consecrated, and needing a friend in the kitchen who respects its ephemerality. Mind your toast. Not the opposite.

Start with These 22 Recipes If You’re Doing the Mediterranean Diet

So, you’re thinking about trying out the Mediterranean diet? First of all, great choice. With no rigid rules around cutting out macronutrients but an emphasis on eating more heart-healthy foods, this particular diet is one of the most sustainable ones around. Widmer RJ, et al. (2014). The Mediterranean diet, its components, and cardiovascular disease. DOI: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2014.10.014

But our favorite part about it is that the kind of ingredients it prioritizes allows for some seriously good eating. With rich tahini sauce, fruity olive oil, nutty whole grains, plenty of veggies, fish and eggs, and tons of fresh herbs and spices all getting two thumbs up, just imagine the meals you can make.

But if you’re still not sure where to begin or are simply overwhelmed by the options, here are 22 of our picks for the best — and simplest —Mediterranean diet recipes.

Short of actually flying out to that sunny coastline, creating these dishes at home is the best way to kick off your new and improved lifestyle.

1. Mediterranean-flavored overnight oats

Overnight oats are all the rage, but even veteran nutrition nuts might be pleasantly surprised by this unique, Mediterranean-inspired concoction.

With ricotta cheese, blood oranges, pistachios, and lavender honey (if you can find it), it’s a fruity bowl that’s just creamy enough to make you appreciate oats again.

2. Greek tofu scramble

Honor the Mediterranean diet’s emphasis on plant-based eating with this produce-packed, vegan protein-rich breakfast.

It’s bursting with veggies, but the tahini and nutritional yeast are the real heroes for adding a ton of rich flavor to the crumbled tofu.

3. Scrambled eggs in caramelized onions and paprika

You don’t have to settle for plain old scrambled eggs when you’re on the Mediterranean diet. The whipped eggs in this recipe are stirred into a mixture of caramelized onion, tomato, and lots of herbs.

Add feta if you wish, but it’s just as tasty if you choose to go dairy-free.

4. Orange and almond granola

Extra virgin olive oil may sound like an unusual ingredient for granola, but don’t knock it ’til you try it.

It’s a seriously good complement to the honey and orange zest, and you’re still getting plenty of nutty, crunchy substance from the almonds and baked oats.

5. Breakfast tabbouleh

With bulgur, lots of parsley, and an olive oil and lemon dressing, this is pretty much your typical tabbouleh. But the addition of eggs gives it some much-needed protein that makes it all the more breakfasty.

Poaching them will require 5 extra minutes, but when you’ve got runny egg yolk to dip your pita wedges into, you’ll be grateful you took that time.

6. Honey lemon ricotta breakfast toast with figs and pistachios

Give peanut butter a break and spread your toast with a layer of whipped ricotta lemon and honey instead.

The lemon’s tart and zesty flavor liven up the entire recipe, while sliced figs and pistachios on top get that sweet and savory combo just right.

7. Mediterranean sweet potato hash

Sweet potatoes replace the white ones in this healthy hash, and while you won’t find bacon in the mix, you won’t even notice it’s missing.

This blogger changes things up by adding green olives and mozzarella balls, and let’s not forget about the juicy pomegranate seeds that make the dish totally unique.

8. Spiced chickpeas

Chickpeas are good for more than just hummus, guys!

Combine them in a pan with cardamom, cumin, and some red pepper flakes, and they become spicy, crispy, and totally addictive. Toss them into salads or eat them on their own as a delicious side or snack.

9. Muhammara

You can always find hummus at the store, but one must-have dip that isn’t so readily available at the supermarket is this traditional Syrian red pepper and walnut dip.

While there’s usually a piece of bread blended into the mix for texture, this recipe opts for rolled oats. But otherwise, it keeps the cumin-spiced, garlicky flavors of the classic.

10. Greek style lemon roasted potatoes

You’re hit with an intense craving for fries, but you’re really trying to lay off the whole deep-fried thing. Make these oven-cooked potatoes instead.

Coated in olive oil, garlic powder, and a hint of lemon juice, then roasted, they have the crispy outsides and buttery insides that are reminiscent of thick-cut wedges. We’re pretty sure they’ll hit the spot.

11. Mediterranean cauliflower salad

The Mediterranean diet doesn’t have anything against carbs, per se (you can eat pasta), but for the times you do want to cut back, opt for this “grain” salad.

Cauliflower has been pulverized and microwaved until tender, then tossed with a heap of other veggies and a ridiculously easy dressing. You’ll feel like you’re eating rice, but really it’s veggies.

12. Fattoush

With bits of toasted pita, chopped vegetables, fresh herbs, and a lemon- and garlic-infused olive oil dressing, this traditional Lebanese bread salad is the ideal light lunch.

Need some extra protein? Add chickpeas, feta, salmon or grilled chicken to make it more filling.

13. Fresh fava bean salad

Chickpeas usually take the spotlight when we think of Mediterranean food (hello, falafel and hummus), but don’t forget, there are plenty of other legumes that are worth incorporating into your meals.

This salad mixes fresh, protein-packed boiled fava beans with olive oil-flavored homemade croutons and lots of Kalamata olives for a lettuce-free salad you’ll be eating by the forkful.

14. Yogurt tahini Mediterranean carrot salad

The Mediterranean diet doesn’t have much space for mayonnaise, but if it’s a creamy carrot salad you’re looking for, this one totally delivers.

The tahini and Greek yogurt dressing offers much more healthy fat and protein than mayo, while feta and parsley amp up the Mediterranean vibe.

15. Mediterranean chickpea tuna pitas

Chickpeas step in for chicken, and once again, tahini replaces mayo in the creamy sauce for this totally vegan take on the deli salad.

And since we’re going Mediterranean, it’s tucked into pita pockets instead of sliced bread, alongside basil, cherry tomatoes, and olives.

16. Tomato and roasted Mediterranean vegetable risotto

With the Mediterranean area including Italy, how could the cuisine not be super drool-worthy? And while the cheesy pizzas and rich pasta are more famous, this risotto reflects the region’s pride in fresh produce.

It’s loaded with all sorts of vegetables in a tomato-based broth that doesn’t involve any dairy whatsoever.

17. Mediterranean veggie tacos

You can even give tacos the Mediterranean diet treatment by stuffing crunchy tortilla shells with ingredients like olives, feta, hummus, and Greek dressing.

Not only are these a nice change to typical Taco Tuesday, but the no-cook method makes them even easier to whip up for a quick meal.

18. Cumin beef fried rice

Fried rice isn’t just a Chinese take-out dish. This recipe takes a more Mediterranean route, using cumin and sumac, a lemony spice common in the region’s cuisine, to season the meat, egg, and grains.

It’s a well-balanced, nourishing meal, all ready in 1 pan and 30 minutes.

19. Mediterranean sheet pan salmon

If it’s heart-healthy and Mediterranean-diet approved, this sheet pan salmon definitely makes the cut.

The fish itself is a powerhouse of omega-3 fatty acids, but if that’s not enough, the olive oil coating and pitted olive garnish can help your system run like a well-oiled machine.

20. Mediterranean turkey burger

The Mediterranean diet isn’t huge on red meat, so these turkey patties are a great way to satisfy a burger craving instead.

Seasoned with oregano and parsley, they’re especially tasty with a hefty drizzle of the Greek yogurt tzatziki sauce — so much better than plain old ketchup and mustard.

21. Harissa pasta

Although harissa is a spice paste from North Africa, it frequently makes an appearance in Mediterranean cooking, probably thanks to the geographic proximity of the regions.

Whatever the reason, we’re grateful because it makes this pasta possible.

22. Healthy Mediterranean chicken orzo

With oregano, basil, parsley, olives, and feta, this orzo is practically a hall of fame for Mediterranean cuisine’s biggest stars.

The fresh ingredients add flavor to the whole-wheat orzo and chicken, and if the taste alone isn’t incentive enough to make it, maybe the fact that it’s ready in fewer than 30 minutes will be!

The word “diet” is loaded AF (and for good reason), so we prefer to think of this as a Mediterranean lifestyle — sounds much more appealing, doesn’t it?

Fresh fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, and lean meats, coupled with aromatic spices, herbs, and plenty of olive oil — it’s no wonder this way of eating is so delicious.

But the good news doesn’t stop there. It also has many proven benefits, from reduced risk of cardiovascular disease Rosa Casas, et al. (2014). The effects of the Mediterranean diet on biomarkers of vascular wall inflammation and plaque vulnerability in subjects with high risk for cardiovascular disease. A randomized trial. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0100084 to lowered inflammation Whalen KA, et al. (2016). Paleolithic and Mediterranean diet pattern scores are inversely associated with biomarkers of inflammation and oxidative balance in adults. DOI: 10.3945/jn.115.224048 to weight loss. Manicini JG, et al. (2015). Systematic review of the Mediterranean diet for long-term weight loss. DOI: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2015.11.028

Wash it all down with a glass of heart-healthy red wine Haseeb S, et al. (2017). Wine and cardiovascular health: A comprehensive review. DOI: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.117.030387 and close your eyes — you might just feel like you’re on vacation.

An Excerpt from Our New Kripalu Kitchen Cookbook

Have you noticed that almost every small town in America has at least one yoga studio? In bigger cities, you find dozens. According to recent research from the Yoga Alliance and the Yoga Journal, more than 36 million Americans maintain some kind of yoga practice. Why? Because it feels good! More and more studies are verifying the health benefits of yoga, such as reducing stress, lowering blood pressure, improving heart health, fighting inflammation, reducing chronic pain, and improving mental health.

More people are also hiking, paddling, and taking up activities like tai chi. Along with the increasing popularity of these physical activities, demand for healing foods such as turmeric and ginger has also skyrocketed in recent years. Again, you can chalk it up to scientific research confirming the health benefits of these time-honored curative ingredients. Plus, they taste great!

Yoga, tai chi, paddling, turmeric, and ginger are all part of the larger American movement toward healthy living—from the foods we eat to the activities we enjoy. They are also key elements of the healthy lifestyle practiced here at Kripalu, North America’s largest yoga-based healing and education center. This cookbook captures everything we do at Kripalu. It provides dozens of holistic wellness strategies and 115 deeply satisfying recipes with variations that create many more options, all of which can help you get healthy and stay healthy.

Kripalu has been teaching holistic living skills for more than forty years and attracts nearly fifty thousand guests every year. Our nonprofit facilities sit on more than three hundred acres in the picturesque Berkshire Hills of Western Massachusetts, and we offer approximately a thousand unique wellness programs a year. We also serve more than twelve hundred nourishing meals to guests every single day. In fact, the Kripalu Kitchen daily meals are one of the highest-ranked experiences among guests, aside from the beautiful grounds.

This cookbook brings the satisfaction and healing power of Kripalu’s most popular foods to your table. It also provides a personalized approach to nutrition, including an introduction to the ancient practice of Ayurvedic healing, useful tips for mindful eating, a variety of delicious cross-cultural recipes, and menus for various dietary preferences ranging from vegan and vegetarian to gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, and sugar-free. No matter how busy you are, we encourage you to incorporate more healthy foods into your current lifestyle, so we also offer dozens of six-ingredient and thirty-minute recipes.

Over the years, the food we’ve prepared in the Kripalu Kitchen has woven together the wisdom of ancient healing practices, modern nutritional science, and both classic and contemporary culinary techniques. This cookbook features a wide range of recipes, including international twists on popular favorites such as Coconut French Toast with Thai Ginger Maple Syrup (page 62) healthy versions of quick and satisfying meals like Mushroom Cheesesteaks (page 203) and Linguine with Pumpkin Sage “Alfredo” and Kale Pesto (page 192) and restorative preparations such as Morning Broth (page 279) and Cucumber, Kale, Ginger, and Apple Juice (page 292).

Our cuisine needs to please anywhere from two hundred to six hundred individual palates a day, so these recipes come with simple adaptations for special diets, allowing you to serve a single dish such as Sautéed Barramundi with Harissa, Toasted Almonds, and Honey (page 212) to vegans and vegetarians as well as omnivores by replacing all or part of the fish with plant-based proteins such as tofu. About 80 percent of the recipes are naturally vegetarian and the other 20 percent come with easy vegan and vegetarian options. Many of our guests eat gluten-free, so we also include recipes for our most tried-and-true baked goods, such as Gluten-Free Salted Double Chocolate Chip Cookies (page 253), Gluten-Free Whole-Grain Vegan Brownies (page 261), and Gluten-Free Vegan Swami Kripalu Birthday Cake (page 273).

But this is not just a cookbook. At Kripalu, our mission is to empower you to realize your full potential through the transformative wisdom of yoga, a union of mind and body. A critical part of any unified health practice is a nutritious diet, and this book helps you find the optimal diet for you. We include a simple test to determine your personal nutrition profile, and explain which foods are best for you to eat. To help you achieve and maintain your ideal health, every recipe in this book is marked as balancing or imbalancing for your personal constitution.

This concept of personal nutrition and personal choice is central to everything we do in the Kripalu Kitchen. We believe that each person has a unique path to health, and our goal is to gently guide you along that path. Let’s get started!

Excerpted from The Kripalu Kitchen by Jeremy Rock Smith with David Joachim. Copyright © 2019 by Jeremy Rock Smith. Excerpted by permission of Ballantine Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Jeremy Rock Smith, Kripalu’s Executive Chef and a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, began his career in classical French cuisine.


This is a really simple recipe. All you need to grab from the store (or your fridge, or pantry) is:

  • Yeast. All you need is a packet of active dry yeast. If you’ve never worked with yeast before, don’t worry– this truly couldn’t be easier, and the yeast is essential for getting your dough to rise for a lovely loaf!
  • Milk. Milk creates a richer, more velvety bread and allows for a softer crust, so it’s a great way to improve homemade sandwich breads.
  • Sugar. Good white bread needs a slight sweetness, but sugar actually does more than that. It creates a more tender crumb, helps feed the yeast, aids in the browning of the crust, and can even help the bread to stay fresh longer.
  • Salt. Like with sugar, salt has functions for both flavor and texture. Not only does it make your bread taste better, but it tightens gluten structure, helps the crust to brown, and even affects yeast behavior.
  • Butter. Fat is flavor, so butter makes for especially tasty bread. But it also prevents the bread from becoming overly chewy. While you might want a jaw workout from, say, a nice french bread, a good white loaf should be more pillowy and soft, and butter will do the trick!
  • Egg. You don’t need to brush your bread with an egg wash, but for a truly gorgeously golden, shiny crust, a bit of egg can make a big difference.

You’ll also need water, a bread tin, a pastry brush, and plastic wrap or a kitchen towel.

Mushrooms and greens with toast

Regarding the ever-present stacks of cookbooks around the apartment, my mother joked to me on Sunday that I should open a library. She’s probably right. I don’t think that a week goes by that I don’t* receive at least one new cookbook and I hardly know where to dive in. And don’t get me wrong, I too swoon over the currently in-demand aesthetic of vertically oriented, dimly lit photos of reclaimed weathered barnwood tables boasting sauce splatters and variations on kale on matte pages bound in jacketless books. It’s just that they’re all starting to jumble together.

But it makes it that much more exciting when one arrives in which it’s so obvious that every single recipe in it has been so carefully considered and executed in a way that clears its throat and announces Here is something new. Now, I’m not going to pretend that I’m a neutral observer of Tara O’Brady’s career. I’ve loved her Seven Spoons blog from the beginning, with its unique blend of Canadian, Irish, English, Northern and Southern Indian influences, all modernized with seasonal produce. And I’ve always wondered when she’d write a cookbook, but I’m starting to think that this, too, might be one of the quiet attributes of the best cookbooks: the wait for it felt like forever. The book does not disappoint. Yes, the pages are matte, the backgrounds are concrete and marble slab (but swoonishly so), the food looks farmers market-fresh but you won’t even be two recipes into the Lunch section — Fattoush with Fava Beans and Labneh! Messy Bistro Salad with Spanish-Fried Egg and Crispy Capers! — before realizing that this book is teeming with just the kind of inspiration we all need. What, that didn’t tempt you? How about Baked Eggs, North Indian-Style or Hummus with White Miso? And guys, I haven’t even left the Lunch chapter yet. There are six others.

The recipes are inspiring in a very specific, homespun way, clearly the product of years of honed repetition at a family table. While it was hard to choose where to begin, we couldn’t resist the idea of Mushrooms and Greens with Toast, which feels like a cross between a rustic casserole and a skillet of torn-up grilled cheese and butter-seared vegetables that could not be easier to make in that tiny margin of time between realizing dinner has yet to make itself and a small exhausted person returning from soccer practice with expectations of sustenance. You get the feeling the author has been there Tara wants you to tear everything up by hand (she thinks many mushrooms “look best when spared the blade”). She doesn’t expect you to crank up the broiler just to finish the dish with melted cheese (you just put a lid on the pot and let the heat do its thing). Serving instructions? “Hand out forks, then bring the pan to the table.” What she doesn’t say is “Repeat again tomorrow,” but we most certainly will.

* despite repeated pleas to not send me comped stuff, trusting that if I’m excited enough about a cookbook to want it, I don’t mind paying for it, which serves the added bonus of keeping this apartment from the next Hoarders casting call

Mushrooms and Greens with Toast
Adapted just a little from Tara O’Brady’s Seven Spoons Cookbook

I resisted, for once, but I think this would be lovely with some crispy eggs on top. But I’d otherwise consider this a one-pan meal. No, a one-pan miracle. For mushrooms, O’Brady suggests chanterelles, shiitake and oyster mushrooms and I admit I got carried away, buying a few fancy ones (a trumpet mushroom too!) along with creminis, but you could make this entirely with small white or brown mushroom and it would still be delicious. For the greens, kale, chard, spinach or nettles are suggested I use lancinato kale leaves. And for a cheese, it really doesn’t matter what you use, only that you like it and it likes to melt. Chèvre, mozzarella, burrata, taleggio and fontina are all “fair game,” she writes. I went with a soft, melty fontina and it was perfect here. I used the bread I’m most obsessed with, massive whole wheat sourdough loaves that you can buy in quarters at Balthazar’s bakery on Spring Street or in Englewood, NJ or at any outlet of the Le Pain Quotidien chain, but of course any bread you enjoy eating will work well here too.

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 pounds mixed mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed and torn into bite size pieces (see suggestions above)
2 thick slices bread from a large, crusty loaf (I’d use 4 from a smaller loaf)
2 cloves garlic or 1 shallot, minced
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar, or more to taste (I used 2)
1 fresh red chile, stemmed, seeded and minced or red pepper flakes, to taste
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 ounces chopped fresh greens (see suggestions above)
8 ounces of a good melting cheese, thickly sliced (suggestions above)

Melt 2 tablespoons butter and olive oil together in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. One fully hot, add mushrooms to pan and cook, stirring regularly, until they’ve released their water and started to turn golden brown, about 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, grill or toast your bread.

One the mushrooms have a nice color on them, add the garlic or shallots and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Drizzle with vinegar, most of the chile or chile flakes, salt and pepper and stir to combine. Add the greens pretty much any kind aside from baby spinach will benefit from about 5 to 8 minutes cooking time, just until collapsed. If you’re me, you’ll add 1 more tablespoon vinegar for brightness at this point. Stir in remaining tablespoon butter and adjust seasonings to taste. Rip bread into irregular croutons and push them into the sauteed vegetables. Lay pieces of cheese atop everything. Turn the heat down to medium low, place a lid on the pan and let the cheese melt, which will take 5 to 10 minutes, depending on the pan and the kind of cheese you used.

Sprinkle with remaining chile, “hand out forks, then bring the the pan to the table.”

Excellent Vegetarian Sandwich Ideas

Food Network Kitchen’s Healthy Vegetarian Pan Bagnet for Healthy Dishes Every Grown Up Needs to Know, as seen on Food Network.

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Sandwiches are a well-loved quick meal option for good reason — bread plus a few fillings and condiments add up to an easy-yet-satisfying lunch (or dinner!) — but sandwich fatigue can set in quickly. You might think that this rings especially true for vegetarians but there are actually heaps of great filling ideas for meatless sandwich fans.

With a little creativity and ingenuity (hint: Start by raiding your pantry!), you’ll have a new line-up of simple and delicious vegetarian sandwiches at your fingertips, which we’re willing to bet will impress even the staunchest meat-lovers.


Photo by: Antonis Achilleos

Meat-Free Pantry-Based Sandwich Ideas

Fresh sandwich inspiration can be found right in your pantry. Take chickpeas, for instance. The protein-packed legumes are supremely satiating and they’re so easy to prep — just mash ’em up or lightly crush with the back of a fork. You could combine with a little lemon and olive oil, then pile on toast and call it lunch, sprucing it with fresh herbs or cheese crumbles if you have them.

For some composed chickpea sandwich creations, try Trisha Yearwood’s healthy Chickpea Salad Sandwiches. Pita pockets are stuffed with a creamy concoction of mashed chickpeas and avocado dressed with a mayo-mustard mixture, then festooned with sliced radishes, sprouts and shredded lettuce. The Smashed Chickpea and Eggplant Pressed Sandwich takes a little prep and assembly work, but the resulting sandwich reads like the vegetarian mezze platter of your dreams: ciabatta layered with chickpeas, hummus and roasted eggplant, plus carrots, cukes and red onion for crunch.

Marinated artichoke hearts are another all-star pantry ingredient. For his Grilled Artichoke Sub, Jeff Mauro grills jarred marinated artichoke hearts till just-charred, then arranges them on a baguette schmeared with roasted garlic ricotta. Grilled Spinach-Artichoke Sandwiches (pictured) are inspired by the classic dip combo — sauteed onions, artichoke hearts and baby spinach are bound together with a mayo-Asiago-goat cheese mixture. Mounding everything onto sliced bread and grilling it till gooey makes it next-level.

Roasted red peppers are fairly simple to make, but it’s even easier to grab them from a jar. Regardless of how you come by them, follow Ina’s lead and layer them with goat cheese and fresh basil on ciabatta, as she does with her Roasted Pepper and Goat Cheese Sandwiches recipe, or pair with shredded sharp white cheddar and mayo for a deconstructed take on pimento cheese.

For the ultimate pantry picnic sandwich, opt for this fiber-packed Healthy Vegetarian Pan Bagnat (pictured up top), which calls for artichoke hearts, black olives, roasted red peppers, plus a medley of fresh veg (use whatever you have on hand), all piled onto a hard roll (ciabatta or baguette works too). The longer the sandwich sits and soaks up all those juices and oils, the tastier it’ll be.

Saucy Vegetarian Sandwich Upgrades

Prepared sauces like pesto or marinara give sandwiches a flavor boost and are a thrifty way to finish up those half-used jars. Giada De Laurentiis’ pesto-slicked Grilled Vegetable Panini is chockful of grilled zucchini, eggplant and onions, making the case for batch cooking the next time you fire up the grill. Ree Drummond takes inspiration from a classic Caprese salad, piling thick slices of mozzarella and tomatoes onto ciabatta rolls and pulling in pesto instead of fresh basil to create her Tomato, Mozzarella and Pesto Sandwiches. Each side of the roll is generously slathered with pesto, and using a prepared version means it comes together in just minutes.

You could easily swap in pre-made marinara in Giada’s Italian Egg Sandwich, where garlic-rubbed toast is spread with a layer of tomato sauce before being crowned with a sunny-side up egg. For her Eggplant Parmesan Hero recipe, Amanda Frietag uses warmed-up marinara to anchor layers of mozzarella and fried eggplant between bread, yielding an irresistible hand-held take on a vegetarian classic.

Smashed Sardines on Toast Recipe

S ardines may not immediately strike you as a happy food, but these little guys are sky high in mood-boosting omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin B12 as well as being loaded with minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium and zinc. Although fresh is best, canned sardines in extra-virgin olive oil are a convenient option, as they require minimal preparation.

  • ½ avocado, peeled & pitted
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tsp chopped red chilli (optional)
  • Pinch Celtic sea salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 slices gluten-free bread, toasted
  • Small handful rocket leaves
  • 120g tinned sardines, smashed
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  1. Place avocado, lime juice, chilli, salt and pepper in a bowl and mash together with a fork.
  2. Spread avocado mixture over bread and top with rocket and smashed sardines.
  3. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and serve.

Lee Holmes is a nutritionist, yoga and meditation teacher, wholefoods chef, Lifestyle Food Channel’s Healthy Eating Expert, blogger and author of the best-selling books Supercharged Food: Eat Your Way to Health, Supercharged Food: Eat Yourself Beautiful, Eat Clean, Green and Vegetarian, Heal your Gut, Eat Right for Your Shape and Supercharged Food for Kids.

Lee’s food philosophy is all about S.O.L.E. food: sustainable, organic, local and ethical. Her main goal is to alter the perception that cooking fresh, wholesome, nutrient-rich meals is difficult, complicated and time-consuming. From posting recipes, her passion to share her autoimmune disease story and help others has snowballed and the blog has recently taken home the overall prize at the Bupa Health Influencer Awards as well as the best blog in the Healthy Eating category. She also runs a four-week online Heal Your Gut program.

Mock Tuna Open Sandwich Recipe

Late-morning breakfasts that turn into lunch are a great excuse to combine flavours and textures, and this vegan tuna sandwich.

Bruschetta with Pomegranates & Bocconcini Recipe

The fresh burst of pomegranate in this breakfast bruschetta offers a fantastic taste explosion for the ultimate brekkie, brunch or.

Coconut & Peanut Granola Clusters Recipe

This gluten-free granola recipe has plenty of crunch and flavour and makes the ultimate brekkie fix. Simply make it, store.

Lavender Chia Pudding Recipe

This lavender chia pudding recipe is super healthy, delicious and so easy to make! A hint of lavender gives this.

Creamed Asparagus on Toast

I was so hungry for creamed asparagus, I just had to make some. I mentioned it to my daughter and she said “YES”!!

We are still on “stay-at-home” orders because of the Covid-19 virus, even though we have been out a very few times, I did have some frozen asparagus.

This is so easy and so yummy, you must try it! It is asparagus season after all.

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 lb. asparagus, fresh or frozen (I only had 10 oz.)

Cut asparagus into 1-inch pieces cover with water and boil until tender.

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat, add flour and whisk until smooth. Add milk slowly and keep whisking until all milk is used. It will start to thicken. Turn down to low, drain your asparagus and add to the milk mixture.

Toast some bread (I used sourdough), anything you like. Top asparagus sauce over it.

“When we come to Christ in our brokenness, He makes us whole.”


Roughly mash the avocado in a bowl. Add the fresh lemon juice and salt.

Spread the avocado over toast.

Top with sprouts, cucumber, and another slice of bread.

Try other variations, such as adding tomato or replacing the cucumber with grilled zucchini.

Learn how to make your own mung bean sprouts.

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13 Vegan Toast Hacks That Will Literally Change Your Life Forever

Whether you&rsquore rushing out the door in the morning or trying to show off your foodie photographer skills, nothing does the job quite like a slab of toast. And what versatility too! Smear on your favorite nut butter for a quick, nutritious, on-the-go bite, dress up your bread with trendy, eye-popping ingredients, or whip out a sweet potato (yes, you heard that right&mdashread on to have your mind blown). However you slice it, there are endless possibilities to be had. So let&rsquos toast to toast &hellip with toast!

1. Ever heard of sweet potato toast? Basically, you slice one of the orange spuds lengthwise, carefully toast in your toaster, and pile on whatever your heart desires. @themakeshiftmermaid slathered on chipotle mayo, avocado, bacon bits, onions, and tomatoes for this savory vegan masterpiece. We&rsquore jealous.

2. Not convinced yet? Like your sweet potato toast on the sweeter side? @thedishonhealthy&rsquos recipe with almond butter, cinnamon, banana, and pumpkin spice coconut chips will get the job done.

3. Sometimes, simplicity is key. @thepositivethread sticks to peanut butter, but pairs it with cinnamon raisin bread and a homemade iced almond milk latte for an easy brunch that&rsquos perfect for lazing around on a weekend.

4. @talinegabriel&rsquos spread of sliced figs, coconut yogurt, pistachios, edible flowers and maple syrup on spelt sourdough bread is almost too pretty to eat, but we&rsquoll find a way.

5. A healthful take on a classic combination. @cookeatcompete is lowering the sugar and upping the fiber and protein by opting for a homemade chia-fruit purée jam, a thin smear of peanut butter, and 100 percent whole wheat bread. (Bonus, subscribe to VegNews Magazine today and get the recipe for your own Blueberry Sangria, Strawberry Lime Jalapeño, and Bing Cherry Vanilla chia jams in the upcoming Health + Wellness Issue!)

6. Kadota figs, Kite Hill&rsquos almond cream cheese, and a balsamic drizzle make for a super easy, yet totally divine spread from @myveganplate.

7. HELLO hazelnut chocolate spread, cranberries, pecans, and coconut! This gluten-free marvel from @breadsrsly is topped with a bunch of nutritious ingredients, so it&rsquos more like a healthy snack rather than a dessert, right?

8. Well, this puts anything we make to shame. @mynuttydelights&rsquo indecision led to this gorgeous pile-up of strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, granola, coconut yogurt, grapes, hazelnuts, peanut butter, jam, chia seeds, and cacao nibs, and we&rsquore not afraid to admit that we&rsquore a little intimidated.

9. @edgarraw pulled out all the stops with homemade beet hummus, roasted chickpeas, sprouts, sliced heirloom beets, tomato, avocado, and parsley for these wonderfully raw beauties.

10. Topped with a pepita spread, butter pickles, and a smorgasbord of raw and roasted vegetables, @losvegangeles&rsquo gorgeous restaurant-quality find at the Go Get Em Tiger coffeehouse in Los Angeles makes us want to book a plane ticket to SoCal immediately.

11. Okay, we&rsquore #obsessed with #sweetpotatotoast, so here&rsquos one more. @clean_body_ made a fruity cream with red banana protein powder and coconut yogurt, then added peanut butter, fresh fruit, yacon syrup, and cinnamon spice to their potato creation. Bookmarking!

12. Super simple but deliciously unexpected, @healthyisfunky&rsquos toast is topped with tomato sauce, baked for five minutes, and topped with freshly shaved fennel and herbs. We can&rsquot say it&rsquos pizza, but it sure hits all the right notes.

13. Who know buttery mushrooms, roasted hazelnuts, extra virgin olive oil, avocado, and spinach could make for such an impressive meal? @avocadolovefood is on to something here.

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Watch the video: French Avocado Toast (May 2022).