I think I am becoming an unintended expert at micro-sizing food, mostly out of necessity. Namely becauseI am cooking for one and am a restless cook who grows bored easily if I have to eat the same thing day after day.
My omni partner, Bob, does not eat the way I do, almost on principle. We have had occasional heartfelt discussions, a story for a different day, about my feelings of rejection when he declines even a taste of the dishes I prepare because, as for many of us, cooking is a gesture of sharing and love.
But, he, a smoker for many years, truly tastes food differently and, like all of us, wants to control his own diet. Still, it is fun to cook together as long as we can tailor the ingredients for our own tastes and lifestyles. Basically, anything that can be custom-filled or -topped works well: tacos, pizzas, wontons, fried ravioli, etc. But, I can assure you, he would not go near a tomato pie.
If we weren’t in the middle of a pandemic, I would share with friends as I always have, but many of us are not too keen on eating food from other people’s kitchens right now.
So cakes become cupcakes and cupcake recipes are downsized to make only four and, in this case, a big luscious tomato pie became six luscious two-bite tartlets.
Months ago, I purchased a bag of these tartlet pans at a thrift store to make this really cool metal floral wall hanging for a friend. All of the flowers were assembled out of metal housewares And I featured the end result in my DIY Decor column. I never really thought I would use the leftovers, but they have come in handy on a number of occasions.
Ingredient note: I am a calorie-counter and an avid exerciser. So I use Walton Farms no-calorie mayonnaise available at our Harris Teeter. (It is not great on its own, but when it is mixed with other ingredients with strong flavors, it is worth it to me to save 100 calories per tablespoon.) But use whatever kind of mayo you prefer, including homemade. I make a delicious tofu mayonnaise (available here on this site) with only 10 calories per tablespoon, but I was too hungry to stop and make a batch.
I use Everything Bagel seasoning in my creamy topping because I love the mixture of dried garlic and onion, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, etc. Feel free to omit, as there will be plenty of flavor without it. But, I highly recommend.
Whatever you choose to top yours with, enjoy celebrating these glistening red gems of the season in two-bitesize format.
Mini-Tomato Pie Tartlets Press-In Crust (vegan & plant-based)
6 approximately 1.5 x 3 inch tartlet pans
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon non-dairy milk
Pinch sea salt
Pinch garlic powder
Pinch onion powder
1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise
3 tablespoons shredded vegan mozzarella cheese
1 tablespoon shredded or grated vegan parmesan cheese
1 generous teaspoon thinly sliced green onions
1 teaspoon minced fresh basil or chiffonade
Pinch sea salt
Pinch black pepper
Optional (but recommended): 1/2 tsp Everything Bagel seasoning or to taste
6 slices tomato (to fit your tart pans)
Garnish: fresh basil sprigs
Preheat oven to 350°. Place tart pans on baking sheet. In small bowl, combine flour, vegetable oil, non-dairy milk, salt, and garlic and onion powders. Mix together with a fork until moist and crumbly. Add a drop or two more oil or non-dairy milk if necessary. A little bit of the dough should hold together when pinched with your fingers. Divide into six portions, crumble into the bottom of each tart pan, and press evenly onto sides and bottom. Bake 10 minutes or until set and just beginning to turn golden. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, blend together remaining ingredients except tomatoes and garnish. After tart shells have baked, lay a slice of tomato in each one and top with 1/6 of mixture. Return to oven and bake for another 10 minutes. Garnish with fresh basil sprigs and serve warm or at room temperature.
Endlessly adaptable, this beautiful tart is “stupid easy.” The crust simply presses into the tart pan and is tender but sturdy. The bottom is spread with a layer of creaminess–vegan cream cheese, cashew cream, or even hummus–and then layered with the sauteed, caramelized or grilled vegetables–or fruit–of your choice. Or why not berries? A flurry of grated vegan cheese is the finishing touch. The recipe below includes the ingredients I used for the version in the photo, but let the seasons and your taste preferences be your guide.
Press-In Crust (recipe follows)
1/2 cup vegan cream cheese, thick cashew cream, or hummus
2 cups tightly packed spinach, sauteed lightly with 1/2 teaspoon grated ginger and sea salt
1 medium onion, thinly sliced and caramelized (to caramelize, I sauté the onion in 1/2 cup water, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon vegan Worcestershire sauce or Liquid Aminos, 1 teaspoon molasses, 1 teaspoon tamarind molasses or a second teaspoon of regular molasses, 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar, and 1 large clove garlic, minced)
1 medium grilled peach, halved, cut into 16 wedges, and grilled (I use an indoor grill pan)
Approximately 1/4 cup shredded vegan parmesan
Optional garnish: fresh sprigs of basil
Prepare crust according to directions below and remove from oven. Dollop with tablespoons of cream cheese, return to oven for about 3 minutes, remove, and spread cream cheese with an offset spatula or back of a spoon to cover bottom. (If using cashew cream or hummus, only return to oven if you want it heated.) Layer, in order, with spinach, onion, peaches, and parmesan cheese. Garnish, if desired, with fresh basil.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon granulated sugar or stevia
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
Optional: 1 teaspoon Everything Bagel seasoning
8 tablespoons vegetable oil
Approximately 4 tablespoons non-dairy milk
Preheat oven to 350°. In a medium bowl, stir all ingredients together with a fork, adding more milk if necessary to create a soft, but not sticky, dough. Crumble evenly over an 8-in tart pan and press evenly onto bottom and sides, using the floured bottom of a glass to help press if desired. Place tart pan on a baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes or until lightly golden brown.
Yield: 4 4-inch mini tart shells or 1- 8 or 9″ tart shell
Wow! My recipe contains no eggs or dairy, no fat, no nuts, and no pre-cooking of cauliflower. But it boasts so much flavor with so few ingredients.
Note: this recipe is also gluten-free IF oats have not been cross-contaminated during processing.
The resulting crust is more tender than crispy, though it does yield delightfully crispy top edges. The doigh is so easy yo work with and the bsked crust holds its shape beautifully. It is now my go-to savory crust.
2 1/2 cups cauliflower florets, the size of a walnut or smaller
1/2 cup old fashioned oats
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
2 tablespoon chia or flax seed meal
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon each garlic powder, onion powder, sea salt, and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease 4 4-inch mini tart pans with nonstick cooking spray–or 1 8- or 9-inch–and place on a baking sheet. Place all ingredients in bowl of food processor and process until mixture comes together in a homogeneous dough, approximately the consistency of cookie dough. Divide dough evenly among tart pans–or transfer to single tart pan–and press into bottom and sides to achieve an even thickness throughout. Bake for 10 minutes, remove from oven, fill as desired, and bake as directed in your recipe, optimally about 15 to 20 minutes at around 400 degrees.
If you would like to make the tasty version depicted, here is my simple recipe:
Cherry Tomato Tarts
16 ounces firm tofu, drained
Optional but recommended: zest of 1/2 large lemon
2 tablespoons Liquid Aminos
2 tablespoons stone ground mustard
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1/4 teaspoon each garlic powder, onion powder, and smoked paprika
14 grape tomatoes, halved (I like the tri-color variety)
Optional: 2 teaspoons vegan shredded parmesan
Leave oven heated to 400 degrees. Place all ingredients except tomatoes and cheese in food processor–there’s not even any need to clean it out after making the crust dough–and process until smooth. Divide evenly among tart shells–or scrape into one large tart shell–and gently smooth the tops. Arrange grape tomatoes over on the surface, sprinkle with cheese, and bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool until pans can be handled and then remove tarts from pans by pushing up on the removable bottoms. Serve warm, room temperature, or cold garnished as desired.
By now, you probably know that I like all ny foid lightened up and brightened up. So, recently, when I was reading my new issue of Savor Virginia, I was enchanted by an article on Red Truck Bakery, including their recipe for Green Tomato Pie.
I love tomato pie as much as the next gal, slathered with mayonnaise mixed with cheeses and layered into a buttery crust and bacon, all vegan of course.
But just now, I wondered what would happen if I dispensed with the crust and simply slathered thick slices of green tomato with my 10 calorie per tablespoon Blooming Platter Mayo combined with a moderate amount of vegan grated cheddar and vegan shredded parmesan. A few smoked almonds would lend the flavor of the tempeh bacon.
What happened was one of the quickest, lightest, and tastiest lunches in recent memory!
Here is my simple recipe:
Vegan Green Tomato Crustless Tarts
Yiekd: 4 tarts
4 1/2-inch slices green tomato
1/4 cup Blooming Platter Mayo or your favorite brand of vegan mayonnaise
2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons vegan grated cheddar
2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons vegan shredded parmesan
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Optional garnish: 12 smoked almonds, coarsely chopped
4 sprigs fresh Basil
A-few grains of coarse sea salt
Preheat oven to broil. Place tomato slices on a baking sheet. In a small bowl, whisk together mayo, 2 tablespoons of both cheeses, and black pepper. Divide evenly among the tomato slices and spread to within 1/4 inch of the edges. Sprinkle each with 1/2 teaspoon each of cheddar and parmesan. Broil for approximately 6 minutes or until cheese is melted and beginning to brown. Serve topped with a sprinkling of chopped smoked almonds, a sprig of fresh basil, and a whisper of coarse sea salt.
1 vegan pie crust, prepared or homemade (I use Achatz brand, available at Whole Foods)
1/4 cup naturally vegan Thai peanut sauce, prepared or homemade (I use a prepared brand from the grocery store)
1 package Tofurky Slow Roasted Sesame Garlic Chick’n, cut or torn into bite-size pieces
3/4 of a large red bell pepper, but into 12 thin slices (reserve remainder)
1/2 of medium red onion, cut into thin slices (reserve remainder)
Garnish: roasted and lightly salted peanuts or cashews and cilantro or Thai basil sprigs
Cucumber Salad (recipe follows)
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or Silpat or use a terracotta baking stone. Lie pie crust on prepared baking pan or baking stone, Spread 3 tablespoons peanut sauce in center to within 1-inch of edges. Sprinkle evenly with Chick’n pieces and then arrange bell pepper strips in a pinwheel over the top and sprinkle evenly with red onion slivers. Drizzle remaining 1 tablespoon of peanut sauce over the top and then fold in edges of crust, crimping and pinching as you go. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and serve garnished with peanuts and cilantro sprigs. Serve cucumber salad on the side or piled on top, which is my preferred method.
1 8-inch cucumber, sliced lengthwise and then crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces (I leave the seeds in for nutrition, but remove with a spoon if desired)
Reserved red bell pepper, diced
Reserved red onion, cut into thin slices and then 1-inch pieces
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon natural sugar (I use demerera)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
In a medium bowl, combine all salad ingredients. Check for seasoning, adjust as necessary, and refrigerate in an airtight container, stirring occasionally, until serving time.
This delicious crispy crust was inspired by one of my favorite indulgences at the Naro theatre in Norfolk, VA: popcorn with nutritional yeast. The only problem is that I can’t put it on my debit card because it doesn’t meet the minimum charge amount. So, what’s a girl to do, but buy some warm cashews and sprinkle them over the top. Hence, my crust capitalizes on all of those ingredients…except the debit card.
The filling is a simple tofu, scallion, and fresh basil mixture seasoned with garlic, Liquid Aminos, and just the right amount of lemon juice and zest for a zippy and creamy contrast to the crust. Halved cherry tomatoes and garnishes of microgreens and a few cashew halves deliver big flavor and texture and an Instagram-worthy photo finish.
Scallion-Basil-Tomato Tarts with Popcorn-Cashew Crust
Popcorn-Cashew Crust (recipe follows)
1 bunch scallions with all but about 2 inches of green removed (approximately 6 scallions), cut into 2-inch pieces
1/2 cup semi-firmly compacted fresh basil leaves
14 ounces extra firm tofu, pressed with paper towels and cut into hunks
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon Liquid Aminos
Zest and juice of 1 large lemon
6 cherry tomatoes, halved lengthwise
Garnishes: microgreens and roasted, lightly salted cashew halves, and an optional drizzle of maple syrup
Prepare crust. Then, in the bowl of a food processor, process scallions and basil until coarsely chopped. Add tofu, garlic powder, Liquid Aminos, and lemon zest and juice. Process until smooth with small green flecks. Divide mixture evenly among baked shells and gently spread to edges. Top with 4 cherry tomato halves and bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Let sit until cool enough to handle and then remove tarts from tart pans (bottoms of pans will still be attached.) Serve garnished with microgreens and roasted and lightly salted cashew halves. Though this may sound odd, a scant drizzle of maple syrup over the top is a delectable contrast.
4 cups popcorn (I use Skinny Pop, but any vegan brand will do nicely)
1/4 cup roasted and lightly salted cashew halves and pieces
4 tablespoons coconut oil, vegan butter or, my preference, a combination, melted
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
Pinch sea salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place four 4-inch tart pans with removable bottoms on a rimmed baking sheet, and set aside. Process popcorn and cashews in food processor until very fine. Pour in butter and/or oil, nutritional yeast, and salt, and process until mixture comes together. Divide evenly among the tart pans and press evenly only onto the bottom. I use a piece of plastic wrap over the surface and press with the bottom of a glass to compact the mixture. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool while you make the filling.
Note vegans, vegetarians, and omnivores: if you have a peanut allergy, substitute the nut of your choice OR an additional half-cup of flour. And if spicy isn’t your jam, feel free to use plain nuts or more mildly seasoned ones. Have fun exploring and matching different nuts with different vegetables in the filling.Wraps are all the “wrage” and have been for at least a couple of years. Me? Not a wrap girl. Not much of a sandwich gal either, and I prefer my (vegan) burgers as a lettuce wrap. I’m not carbphobic, but I am just not much of a bread eater…that is, unless someone places some top shelf foccacia and olive oil in front of me. Generally I prefer to consume my calories in other forms.
So a savory tart perhaps? Now we’re talking. Yes, it requires a fork, but that’s a small sacrifice to make from my perspective. And my “no fail” press-in tart crust may make a convert out of you. Especially with its 2-layer filling–vegetables on the bottom, creamy custard over the top–that goes together in a snap. Using half water and half oil in the crust does not adversely affect the finished product and dramatically reduces calories.
For the filling, use whatever vegetables you prefer, but be sure to include some kind of onion, green onion, or shallot, if not the leek that I favor (probably a nostalgic nod to my late mother’s leek quiche).
Vegan “No Fail” Press-In Spicy Peanut Pie Crust:
1 cup flour (white, whole wheat, or white whole wheat)
1/2 cup spicy peanuts (I purchase at Whole Foods, but substitute another nut, another flavored nut, or an additional half-cup flour)
2 tablespoons unsweetened non-dairy milk (I use soymilk)
4 to 6 tablespoons water
4 to 6 tablespoons vegetable oil
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a food processor, pulse flour and nuts together to make a course meal. Add non-dairy milk, and pulse a few times. Then, add 4 tablespoons each water and olive oil and pulse to form a moist dough that clumps nicely, but is nowhere near a batter. If needed, add up to two more tablespoons of both water and oil. Turn out intoan 8-inch tart pan with removable bottom and press evenly onto sides and bottom. Place tart pan on a baking sheet to avoid drips and bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until set and lightly browned. Remove crust from oven and leave oven on.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small leek, washed and thinly sliced (white bulb and about half of the green part, removing and discarding coarser ends
2 cups spiralized or sliced/diced vegetable(s) of choice (I like zucchini or yellow squash especially well, but experiement)
Freshly ground black pepper
14 ounces firm or extra firm tofu, drained
1/2 cup unsweetened nondairy milk
Zest of 1/2 a large lemon
1 tablespoon vegetable base or 1 vegan/vegetable bouillon cube
1/2 teaspoon grainy mustard
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
Garnish: baby or micro greens, halved tri-color cherry tomatoes, a drizzle of olive oil, maple syrup, or balsamic reduction, flaky finishing salt like Maldon or just more sea salt
In a large skillet over medium to medium high, heat olive oil. Add leeks and saute for a couple of minutes, stirring frequently. Add spiralized vegetables and a pinch of salt and pepper, and continue sauteeing for a couple of minutes or until tender. Transfer into bottom of crust and distribute evenly.
Place all remaining ingredients except garnish in the bowl of food processor and process until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary. With a rubber spatula, distribute mixture over the vegetables in the crust and gently smooth the top. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until set. Remove from oven and let rest for at least 10 minutes. Carefully remove sides of pan and serve slices warm or room temperature garnished with a few baby or microgreens and tomatoes; a scant drizzle of oilive oil, maple syrup, or white balsamic reduction; and a sprinkling of flaky salt.
Picking a favorite of my Vegan Valentine’s Recipes to post would be like picking a favorite dog. So, I want you to pick.
From a breakfast of Red Velvet Pancakes to Red Velvet Brownies for kids or a little savory “Heart Tart” for lunch or dinner–plus lots of sweets, including mints and truffles that are perfect little heart-felt gifts from your kitchen–I think you’ll find something here to love.