Mel’s Muffuletta-ish Sandwich


This sandwich is a really yummy way to use up some of the veggies in your fridge, or just squeeze more veggies into your day.  Not in the mood for a moderately messy sandwich? Try a cozy warm bowl filled with some of the steamy veggie filling and the cooked whole grain of your choice (brown rice, quinoa, spelt, barley, or couscous to name a few).  Talk about comfort food!


Vegetable Filling

  • 1 onion, cut in half crosswise and sliced into half moons
  • 1 eggplant, cut into 1/2″-1″ chunks
  • 1 small fennel bulb, sliced (just the bulb, not the stalks or feathery fronds)
  • 2-3 carrots, sliced, or 2 handfuls of shredded carrots
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • 1-2 zucchini, cut in half, lengthwise and sliced
  • 1/2 bell pepper sliced into strips (or you can use bottled roasted peppers – YUM! )
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • salt and pepper
  • One 14.5 oz. can of diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup Fresh parsley, chopped

Sammie fixin’s

  • 4 whole grain rolls, sliced in half, horizontally
  • hummus
  • olive tapenade (optional)
  • Fresh spinach or Romaine lettuce


  1. Heat about 1/4 cup water or vegetable broth in a large skillet
  2. Add onions, eggplant and fennel.  Cook for about 1-2 minutes.  Next add carrots, celery, zucchini, and bell peppers (if using bottled, we’ll add them later).  Cook for another 8-10 minutes.  Add garlic and spices.  Cook for a minute or two before adding the tomatoes (and roasted red peppers, if you’re using them).  Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, on low for 15-20 minutes.  Uncover and cook for a little longer to cook off any excess liquid. Stir in parsley.
  3. While the filling is simmering, toast the rolls, then smear one side with hummus and top with spinach or lettuce.  Top other half of the roll with olive tapenade.
  4. Spoon a good heap of the cooked veggies on top of the leaves and place the other half of the roll on top.  Tuck in!

Honey-Ginger Baby Bellas with Ginger-Miso Kale and Quinoa

Family vacations can be inspiring on so many levels.  Recently we went to visit family in the Midwest, and while we were there, my stepmom introduced me to Honey Vinegar.  As soon as I came home I ran over to Epicurean Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegars and brought home some new ingredients to play with.  Tonight we used the honey-ginger white balsamic vinegar and blood orange olive oil to marinate baby portabellas.  They were amazing, paired with kale that was steamed and then tossed in a miso-ginger dressing.  Top it off with some quinoa, and we had a pretty delectable meal.  If you don’t have specialty vinegars lying around, this would still work very well with rice wine vinegar and olive oil.  If you would rather not use any oil and save yourself some fat and calories, simply omit the oil altogether and it will still turn out great!

Honey-Ginger Baby Bellas

6 Baby Portabellas or large stuffing mushrooms, sliced

1 Tablespoon blood orange olive oil

2 Tablespoons honey-ginger white balsamic vinegar

a splash of soy sauce

salt and pepper, to taste

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Toss ingredients together in a large bowl, then spread out in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Bake for 10-15 min.

Steamed Kale w/Ginger Miso Dressing 

Dressing recipe is adapted from one featured in The New York Times on July 22, 2009, which was adapted from How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman

1/3 cup water

1/4 cup rice wine vinegar

3 tablespoons mild miso (yellow or white)

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 medium carrot, roughly chopped

1 tablespoon honey or agave nectar

1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and cut into smaller pieces

salt and pepper, to taste

1 large bunch kale, roughly chopped

1.Put all ingredients (except kale, salt and pepper) into a mini food processor or blender and process, or blend, until dressing reaches desired consistency (1-2 minutes). Taste and adjust seasoning to taste.

2.Bring 1/2 cup water to a boil in a large pot.  Add kale, reduce heat to a simmer, cover and steam 5-7 minutes.  Drain and toss with dressing (there will be quite a bit if dressing left over). 


If you’ve never cooked quinoa (pronounced keen-wah), don’t be intimidated.  It is easier than cooking rice!  FYI: quinoa should always be rinsed before using.

Add 1 cup quinoa (rinsed) and 2 cups water to a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low.  Cover and cook for 20 min.  Done!

Pesto and Marinara Eggplant Bake

Tender eggplant, savory pesto, homemade marinara and cheezy tofu ricotta come together to make an incredible dish!  Serve with a warm crusty baguette and fresh green salad.  And don’t forget the red wine!  If you want to go the quick and easy route, just use prepared pesto and pasta sauce, and skip down to the tofu ricotta part of the recipe.


  • 6 Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 4 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 sweet red pepper, choped
  • 4-6 oz. white mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 large can of whole tomatoes (or 1 qt.)
  • 1 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary (1 tsp. dried)
  • 1-2 tablespoons fresh oregano (1 1/2 tsp. dried)
  • 1 tsp. fennel seed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • crushed red pepper and black pepper to taste


  1. Heat about 3 Tablespoons of water in a large pot.  When bubbly, add onions and garlic.  Stir until fragrant.
  2. Add peppers and mushrooms. Cook until moisture from mushrooms is released and evaporates.
  3. Add remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 20 min – 1 hour.
  4. Turn off heat and if you desire a smoother sauce, blend with an immersion blender to reach desired consistency. You could also just transfer some of the sauce to a blender and puree it there, if you prefer.


  • 3 cups packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1/3- 1/2 cup raw slivered almonds (or walnuts)
  • juice of 1/2 lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup water


  1. Place all ingredients in the blender or food processor and blend or pulse until it reaches your desired consistency.
  2. Store in an air-tight container.  You will have a lot left over. 🙂

Tofu Ricotta

  • 1 large package firm tofu, drained
  • juice of 1 large lemon
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1-2 shakes of garlic powder
  • drizzle of extra virgin olive oil (optional)


  1. In a medium size bowl, mash drained tofu until roughly the consistency of ricotta cheese.
  2. Add remaining ingredients to the bowl and stir to combine.

Tofu Bake Assembly

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9×13 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Slice 1 large eggplant into 1/2 inch round slices.
  3. Spoon just enough marinara in to cover the bottom of the pan
  4. Lay eggplant in a single layer (or double up if necessary) on top of the sauce.
  5. Top eggplant with ricotta mixture, then the rest of the sauce.
  6. Drop spoonfuls of pesto onto the top and gently spread them out a bit with the back of a spoon.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-60 minutes.

Yummy Veggie Pad Thai!

I looked around for a good vegan Pad Thai recipe for what seemed like forever.  I finally took what I liked from a few different recipes and added some extras that I liked and here is the result.  It is honestly one of my favorite meals…easy, full of flavor, and tons of veggies!

NOTE: If you can find them, try to use flat brown rice noodles.  I use the Annie Chun’s brand found in the asian food section at Whole Foods Market.  Unlike regular flat rice noodles, these ones don’t tend to get as sticky and gummy as the regular ones, and they are whole grain!


3 tablespoons water or vegetable stock

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and minced (Take a piece about the size of your thumb and try peeling it with a spoon.  It’s a lot easier and safer than using a knife.  You end up saving a lot more of the ginger too!)

1 package of baked tofu (recipe to follow)

3 green onions, sliced

2 cups broccoli florets cut into bite-sized pieces

1/2 to 1 cup each of the following

  • shredded carrots
  • sliced celery
  • snow peas
  • bean sprouts

1 package of  flat brown rice noodles, soaked in warm water for about 10-20 min (or as directed on the package), then drained.

1/2 teaspoon chili powder (less if you like it mild, or are serving to kids)

1/2 teaspoon garlic chili sauce (optional)

1/4 cup low-sodium tamari or soy sauce

2 tablespoons lime juice

3 teaspoons sweetener (agave, honey, evaporated cane juice, etc. will do)

12-15 sprigs of cilantro, chopped

1/4 cup coarsely chopped (unsalted) peanuts


BAKED TOFU – If you are going to bake your own tofu, you can do it well ahead of time.  Just keep in the refrigerator until ready to use.  If using packaged baked tofu, then just cut it into bite-sized cubes and it’s ready to add!

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Drain tofu and wrap with 2-3 paper towels and place on a large plate. Place another plate on top and top the plate with something relatively heavy, like a can of beans.  Press the tofu for anywhere from 10 min. to 1 hour, depending upon how much time you have.
  3. Cut tofu into bite-sized pieces and place on a parchment or silicon mat lined baking sheet.  Brush or spray the tofu with tamari or soy sauce and sprinkle with  n0-salt seasoning, like Mrs. Dash (Costco has a great salt-free seasoning under their Kirkland brand too).
  4. Bake for 20 minutes, turning tofu pieces over half-way through.  Set aside.  If not using right away, wait until they are completely cool and refrigerate in an airtight container for later use.
  1. Heat a dry non-stick skillet over medium low heat.  Place chopped peanuts in skillet and stir regularly.  Keep an eye on them and cook until fragrant and toasted.  Then remove from heat.
  2. Place water or stock in a large pan or wok over medium-high heat until it starts to bubble.  Add garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant (about 1 minute).
  3. Add tofu, veggies and noodles one at a time, stirring for about 1 minute before adding each additional ingredient.  This keeps the skillet from cooling down too much as the ingredients are added.
  4. Whisk the chili powder/sauce, tamari, lime juice and sweetener together in a small bowl and add to the party in the wok or skillet.  You can even just add them straight into the veggies without whisking together first.  You’ll end up with one less bowl to clean up.  
  5. Stir everything together until well combined and remove from the heat.  If your Pad Thai looks a little dry, try adding a little more water or vegetable stock.
  6. Place in bowls and garnish with plenty of toasted peanuts and cilantro.
  7. DIG IN!!!!