Lettuce Pesto–Why Didn’t I Think of This Before? (Vegan & Plant-Based)

After a recent (vegan) Burger Night, we had all but 5 or 6 leaves of a head of red leaf lettuce left over. Yes, I could have made salads, but I am more of a slaw and mezze kind of gal.

I have made delicious kale pesto before and it suddenly occurred to me that lettuce is just another green and could be substituted. A stop by friends’ home and stroll through their bountiful garden left me with a small handful of mostly basil. I couldn’t wait to get home and whip it all into pesto for a TGIF mezze happy hour that evening with another dear friend.

It is so good, you may want to eat it as a little side dish!

Approximately 12 cups very loosely packed clean lettuce leaves, torn in half (I used all but a few, previously eaten, leaves of a head of red leaf lettuce)

1 very loosely packed cup basil leaves or mixed herbs or same amount lettuce leaves

3/4 cup roasted and salted sunflower seeds or pine nuts (I can rarely find the pine nuts in our grocery

3 large cloves garlic, peeled and halved

1/4 cup olive oil

Juice of 1 medium lime or lemon (start with a half and taste)

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Optional: 2 to 4 tablespoons vegan parmesan (I like Follow Your Heart, but didn’t use any in this recipe)

Place all ingredients in bowl of food processor and process until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary. Store in airtight container in refrigerator.

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Day 11: Vegan Broiled Tofu Sandwiches with Broccoli Pesto–“Cooking ‘The Blooming Platter Cookbook’ Julie & Julia Style”

Broiled Tofu Sandwiches with Broccoli Pesto

(A sequential installment from Kim Hastings, my photographer friend and, along with her vet husband, owner of Independence Veterinary Hospital, who decided on her own to cook her way through The Blooming Platter Cookbook: A Harvest of Seasonal Vegan Recipes Julie & Julia Style for her omnivorous family as a strategy for more healthy eating.)

Today is a big day in my challenge. I feel it is time to face my fears and choose a recipe with …. tofu.

Now the truth is I have no opinion on it and no valid reason to dislike it because I don’t even know what it is. So I’m going into this with an open mind! I chose the Broiled Tofu Sandwiches with Broccoli Pesto. I was lucky enough to have seen tofu in the produce section the week before so I knew right where to get it and thankfully the recipe told me what type to get. So that was easy.

My biggest challenge in the grocery store was trying to locate pine nuts. After 20 minutes of searching I gave up and went home….and that’s exactly where I found pine nuts! I forgot they were in my pantry all along. So shopping is out of the way.

I started by slicing the tofu and preparing it as directed for the broiler. Next step was to break out the food processor. Again. Quite honestly, wrestling with that heap of plastic was the hardest part of this recipe.

I have to admit that when the instructions said season to taste, I threw in a clove of garlic. I do love putting garlic in almost everything. That was my only deviation I swear. I even used the nutritional yeast. We put the sandwiches together and we were ready to try them. I chose an evening when my husband would not be home because I knew I would have to provide other options if he were there.

My youngest son was as curious as me so we sat down to dinner hoping the other one would take the first bite. We discussed what tofu was while we studied it. He reported that it was plant protein but seriously, that doesn’t tell me anything. What plant? How it it made? I have a lot of googling to do obviously. Bored with all my questions, he finally took the first bite and said “Not bad!” That was enough for me.

I tried it and thought it was surprisingly good. I confess I had tried it just out of the oven and was not that impressed but together with the pesto and ciabatta…Wow!! In my son’s words – Not bad! He had to leave for work but when he got home later he took the leftovers out of the fridge and finished them off – that’s says a lot. So now the big question…

Will I give up my omnivorous ways? No, but I will definitely not be afraid to eat tofu again.

~Kim Hastings

Kim Hastings

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Vegan 3-Layer Savory Sweet Potato Cheesecake with Kale, Pepita and Sage Pesto Ribbon–The PERFECT Use for Leftover Mashed Sweet Potatoes! (A Tofutti Exclusive!)

Savory 3-Layer Mashed Sweet Potato and Kale Pesto Cheesecake

Yield: 8 servings

This elegant-but-easy (stupid easy!) dish is the perfect way to use leftover mashed sweet potatoes after Thanksgiving or any time.  Though leftover sweet potatoes are almost unheard of in our house, we did have a little remaining after a recent dinner party, and this luscious cheesecake was the result.  It is perfect for brunch, lunch, dinner, or sliced thin for an appetizer.

For the recipe, just click HERE!


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