Vegan Brunch Burritos With Basil Gravy

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People often ask me, “How do you come up with recipes?” To which I reply, “I meditate while holding onto a fork and a spoon and they just come to me.”

If only…

But, on rare occasion, it kind of actually does happen like this. You see, every now and then an idea will just pop into my mind that seems so perfectly formed and destined to be that I’m compelled to do something with it. One such example of this appears as an element in the recipe I’m about to share with y’all.

The other day I was reading a book (for school) about this guy who was a park ranger in Arches National Park. As he delved deep into describing the landscape and the plant life of the area, speaking nothing of food, a most random idea popped into my head: basil gravy. I set my book down to ponder for a moment this idea which was either absolute nonsense or a stroke of genius. Believing it to be the latter, I grabbed a piece of paper and a pen and I scribbled down a quick recipe for basil gravy -aka white or cream gravy with a lot of basil and a little bit of garlic in it. A couple days later I made the idea of basil gravy into a reality and my-oh-my what a damn good reality it was.

When I added the basil gravy to tofu scramble, roasted potatoes and onions, some vegan “cheese,” and then wrapped it all up in a burrito it was absolute perfection. Seriously the best breakfast burrito I’ve ever had but to call it a breakfast burrito just seemed so… inappropriate. It was so much more than just a breakfast burrito. The basil gravy had kind of elevated everything. It needed a new descriptor and so it became the brunch burrito.

It all gets started with the making of some burrito filling elements: potatoes and onions, and tofu scramble. 3 russet potatoes and 1/4 of a white onion get diced up and tossed into a pan with a little oil. In another pan, some oil and a block of firm or extra firm tofu (that’s been drained and had it’s excess liquid squished out) get combined with low-sodium vegetable broth and seasonings.

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The potatoes and onions will cook for a total of 28 minutes, over medium heat, with you stirring them every 7 minutes. The tofu scramble will cook for 14 minutes, over medium-high heat, and then for 7 minutes, over low-medium heat, with you stirring it every now and then.

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When done, the potatoes and onions will be crunchy and deeply browned to the point that they might almost appear burnt in some spots -which is perfect. The tofu scramble will be fluffy and golden brown. Set each of these aside for a moment while we warm the tortillas and make the basil gravy.

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For these burritos, I wanted them to be big and beautiful so I used tortillas that measured 1′ in diameter. The larger size makes them not only impressive (and filling) when done but also easier to fill when you’re assembling them. To get the tortillas ready for our fillings we will need to warm them. You can do this by either placing them in the microwave for a couple seconds or you can wrap them in foil and place them into a 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes.

While the tortillas are getting warmed up, grab a big generous handful of fresh basil and pop that into a blender with a clove of garlic, a nice pinch of salt, a pinch of pepper, and some almond milk. Blend until smooth then set aside for a moment.

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In a small pot over medium heat, melt some “butter.” Add in an equal part all purpose flour then stir and cook the mixture until lightly golden and foamy. Pour in the basil mixture you made a moment ago, turn the heat up a little, and whisk until thickened. This should only take about a minute and then you’ll have basil gravy.

Quick note about the thickness of the basil gravy: Because we are putting this gravy inside of a burrito, and don’t want it to drip out or sink to the bottom, I’ve elected to make it pretty thick. Should you want to use this gravy in another recipe, I’d recommend adding more almond milk until you reach the desired consistency for the dish you’re using it with.

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To assemble the burritos, grab a warmed tortilla and smear a nice amount of basil gravy in the center. (It’s hard to tell from the photos but my smear of basil gravy is about 3 inches by 5 inches.) Sprinkle on some “mozzarella” shreds as well as some “cheddar” shreds then add on an even layer of the potatoes and onions. Top the potatoes and onions with an even layer of tofu scramble and then finish the layers off with some more “cheese” and basil gravy. Close up the burrito and then enjoy!

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Vegan Brunch Burritos With Basil Gravy

  • Servings: 4 large burritos
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Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com

Ingredients

    For the potatoes:
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 3 medium size russet potatoes, washed and small diced
  • 1/4 of a white onion, small diced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • For the tofu scramble:
  • 1 (14-ounce) package firm or extra firm tofu, drained and pressed to remove excess liquid
  • 2/3 cup low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Oil for pan
  • For the basil gravy:
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • Generous handful of fresh basil
  • 1 large clove of garlic
  • Generous pinch of salt
  • Pinch of pepper
  • 1/2 stick vegan “butter”
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • For building the burritos:
  • 4 (12″ diameter) tortillas
  • Daiya “Mozzarella” shreds
  • Daiya “Cheddar” shreds

Directions

  1. Small dice the potatoes and onions if you haven’t already done so. Drain and press the tofu if you haven’t already done so. For the potatoes: Pour oil into a pan over medium heat. Add potatoes, onions, salt, and pepper, and cook for 28 minutes, stirring every 7 minutes. While the potatoes are cooking, get the tofu scramble cooking as well. For the tofu scramble: In another pan over medium-high heat, combine tofu with vegetable broth, seasonings, and a drizzle of oil, and cook for 14 minutes, stirring occasionally. After 14 minutes, turn the heat down to low-medium and cook for a final 7 minutes. When both the potatoes and tofu scramble are done set each aside for a moment.
  2. Warm the tortillas by either placing them in the microwave for a couple seconds or by wrapping them in foil and baking them at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes. While the tortillas are warming up, make the basil gravy. For the basil gravy: In a blender combine almond milk, basil, garlic, salt, and pepper, and blend until smooth. Set this mixture aside for a moment. In a small pot over medium heat, melt the vegan “butter.” Once melted, add in the flour and stir. Cook the “butter” and flour until lightly golden and foamy. Pour in the basil mixture you made a moment ago, bring the mixture to a boil, and whisk until thickened. This should only take about a minute.
  3. To assemble the burritos, grab tortilla and smear a nice amount of basil gravy in the center. Sprinkle on some “mozzarella” shreds as well as some “cheddar” shreds then add on an even layer of the potatoes. Top the potato layer with an equal layer of tofu scramble. Top it all off with another sprinkle “mozzarella,” “cheddar,” and some more basil gravy. Close up the burrito and enjoy!

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Vegan “Ribs”

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Remember a couple weeks back, when I shared my recipe for coconut cornbread and said that I would be making that for my brother’s birthday along with something else? Well, this was that something else, and this something else stole the whole damn show.

My brother loves all things meaty so I knew that a mock meat would be the perfect thing to pair with my coconut cornbread. I decided to do “ribs” even though I hadn’t eaten a rib a day in my life -nor had I ever cooked ribs (or “ribs”). As I stood in my hot kitchen, working my butt off to give my brother an amazing birthday meal, I started to worry that my mock meat selection may have been a bit of a stretch for me. However, all of my worry turned out to be totally misplaced. #AsUsual

My brother loved these so much that he was literally speechless because he wouldn’t stop shoveling them into his mouth. When he finally took a breather, he told me that this may just be his new favorite dish of mine. That means a lot coming from a man who would probably sell a kidney if he thought it would get him some more of my tofu scramble. My brother wasn’t the only one who loved these though. My mom, who isn’t the biggest fan of vegan “meats,” proclaimed that this was the best vegan “meat” that I had ever made.

So now you’re probably curious what my secret is, right? Because surely there must be some great big secret to these “ribs” that makes them so rant worthy. Well, folks, there is no great big secret. There isn’t even a great little secret. This is really just a basic seitan recipe combined with store-bought barbecue sauce. I kid you not. It all begins with the making of the seitan and, real quickly for those of you who aren’t familiar with what seitan is, seitan is just a fancy name for any mock meat made of vital wheat gluten.

In a large bowl, the vital wheat gluten gets combined with some seasonings. Once that has all been whisked together, water and low-sodium tamari get added and the whole thing gets worked by hand to create a spongy, dough-like mixture. (I like using food-safe gloves for the “worked by hand” part of this operation.)

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The mixture is then plopped down onto a well greased sheet pan and pressed out to create a large, rectangular-ish shape. Next, the pan goes into a preheated oven for 30 minutes.

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When the seitan comes out of the oven it will likely be puffed a little -this is totes normal so don’t panic. Grab another pan and carefully (because we’re dealing with hot stuff here) press the seitan so that the puffed parts go flat. Now let the seitan cool for about 5 minutes so that you can handle it with ease.

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After 5 minutes, cut the whole thing into 6 pieces and get a lightly oiled grill pan preheated to low-medium heat. (If you didn’t want to grill these up inside you could take them outside and use an actual grill but, with an average temperature of over 100 degrees here in Phoenix during this time of year, I opted to stay inside.)

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Using a silicone basting brush, brush some of your favorite store-bought (or homemade) barbecue sauce onto one side of a seitan piece. Place the piece into the preheated grill pan, sauce side down, then repeat this step until your pan is full but not overly crowded -my pan comfortably fit 2 pieces at a time. Cook this first side for 3 minutes then brush barbecue sauce onto the bare tops of the pieces and flip them over with a spatula to cook for another 3 minutes.

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When done, remove the seitan pieces from the pan, cut each piece into strips or “ribs,” and then brush on a final, generous slather of barbecue sauce. Repeat these final steps until all 6 of your seitan pieces are done then enjoy your cruelty-free “ribs.”

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Vegan 'Ribs'

  • Servings: 4-6
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Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com

Ingredients

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk the vital wheat gluten together with the salt, smoked paprika, chili powder, black pepper, and ground cloves. Add in the water and tamari then work by hand to create a spongy, dough-like mixture. (I like using food-safe gloves for this part.)
  2. Plop the mixture down onto a well-greased sheet pan and press it out to create a large, rectangular-ish shape. Place the pan into your preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove pan from oven -seitan may be puffed a little and, if it is, just grab another pan and carefully press the seitan so that the puffed parts go flat. Let the seitan rest for 5-10 minutes.
  3. When cool enough to handle, cut seitan into 6 pieces. Preheat a lightly oiled grill pan to low-medium heat then, using a silicone basting brush, brush some of your favorite barbecue sauce onto one side of a seitan piece. Place the piece into grill pan with the sauce side down then repeat this step until your pan is full but not crowded. Cook on first side for 3 minutes then brush barbecue sauce onto the bare tops of the pieces and flip them over with a spatula to cook for another 3 minutes.
  4. When done, remove seitan pieces from pan, cut each piece into about 1 inch wide strips or “ribs,” then brush on a final, generous slather of barbecue sauce. Repeat these final steps until all 6 of your seitan pieces are done. “Ribs” will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Vegan BBQ “Pulled Pork” Sandwiches

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Last week I shared with y’all my recipe for broccoli coleslaw and, upon seeing that post, I’m sure some of your minds instantly thought of barbecue. I mean sure, coleslaw is great with fried chicken (or my vegan version of fried chicken), but let’s face it, it’s most oftentimes paired up with barbecue -namely, pulled pork. So, with coleslaw and pulled pork totally being BFF’s, it was pretty much mandatory that I share my “pulled pork” sandwich recipe this week and that’s just what I’m gonna to do -but first let’s talk about carrots and sauce.

For my “pulled pork” I use shredded carrots. Yes, you read that correctly, shredded carrots. The carrots have a nice tender meaty texture when cooked and they’re the perfect delivery system for my sauce because they soak up some of it making them not just flavorful on the outside but on the inside as well. Speaking of my sauce, it’s a tomato-based sauce that’s thick, sweet, and tangy. From what I know about barbecue sauces, mine is closely related to what they call a Kansas City-style sauce so, if you’re into that style, you’ve come to the right place.

It all gets started with you peeling and washing up some large carrots. Once you’ve got those all prepped and ready to go, it’s time to shred those bad mama jama’s. You can do this in your food processor or by hand on a box grater like I did this time -it was my arm workout for the day! Either way, you’re just going to want to make sure that you do thicker shreds so that they hold up in the cooking process and provide a more meaty bite.

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Place the shredded carrots into a pot of boiling water and boil them for 10 minutes. While the carrots are boiling (and turning the boiling water a lovely shade of orange), we are going to get the sauce started.

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In a dutch oven or other large (and lidded) pot, tomato puree is going to get combined with amber ale, apple cider vinegar, molasses, and a few other things. Whisk everything together to break up any clumps and then bring the mixture to a full boil. Once boiling, reduce to simmer and then check on your carrots.

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When the carrots are done boiling, use a strainer scoop or fine colander to retrieve them and then toss them into the simmering sauce. Stir to combine it all together.

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Cover the pot and cook the mixture for 20-30 more minutes to thicken the sauce and get the carrots to their final level of tenderness. Be sure to stir the mixture occasionally and, when not stirring it, keep the pot covered to keep the moisture in. When it’s all done, serve the “pulled pork” on a hamburger bun and top it off with some of that delicious coleslaw I linked to at the beginning of this post.

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Vegan BBQ 'Pulled Pork' Sandwiches

  • Servings: 4-6
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Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com

Ingredients

  • 7-9 large carrots, peeled, washed, then shredded into large shreds (upon shredding, you should have about 2 generous cups worth of carrot shreds -don’t use less or more than this amount for this recipe or there will likely be too much or too little sauce for the shredded carrots)
  • 1 1/2 cups tomato puree
  • 1/2 cup amber ale
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon spicy mustard
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • Hamburger buns
  • Broccoli coleslaw (optional)

Directions

  1. Peel, wash, and thickly shred the carrots if you haven’t done so already. Bring a pot of water to boil then put the shredded carrots into the pot and boil for 10 minutes. While the carrot shreds are boiling, follow the next step to get the sauce started.
  2. In a dutch oven or other large (and lidded) pot, whisk the tomato puree with the amber ale, apple cider vinegar, molasses, brown sugar, lemon juice, paprika, spicy mustard, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, black pepper, and chili powder. Bring the sauce to full boil, then reduce to simmer.
  3. When the carrots are done boiling, use a strainer scoop or fine colander to retrieve them and then toss them into the simmering sauce. Stir to combine then cover the pot and cook the mixture for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. When done, carrots will be tender and sauce will have thickened. Serve topped with coleslaw (optional) on a hamburger bun. Leftover “pulled pork” mixture will keep in an airtight container in fridge for 3-4 days.

Vegan Easy Black Bean Burgers

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While it isn’t officially summer just yet, it’s summer in my book. Summer starts for me the moment we here in Phoenix hit the 100-degree mark. From that day forward, until we start to dip back below that temperature, it’s full swing summer, baby! I’m talking about the flip-flop wearin’, pool dippin’, family and friend gatherin’ kind of summer that causes time to slow way down. #AhhYeahh

Food is a big part of summer for most of us and there’s one meal in particular that is the poster child for all summer food -the humble hamburger. Of course, being vegan, you know that my burger recipe is going to be a little less… shall we say, barbaric? Made of mostly black beans and quinoa, it’s a nutritious and delicious cruelty-free alternative to the traditional non-vegan burger found on grills across America.

Just how delicious are my burgers? They’re so delicious that my non-vegan, meat loving brother actually prefers them over burgers made from animal protein. He asked me for the recipe shortly after he took his first bite and then proceeded to discuss the recipe with me for 2 days afterwards until he made them in his own home for his roommates (none of whom are vegan) and himself. #BestEndorsementEver

Now while most black bean burger recipes out there get a little crazy with the add-in’s and flavor combinations, I wanted to keep mine super simple. I did this so that you could go all out with your favorite burger toppings and not have too many competing flavors in your mouth. #YoureWelcome

This insanely easy recipe begins with you whipping out your food processor -I used a mini one and I found it to be the perfect size for this recipe. In said food processor, you’re going to dump in the black beans, quinoa, onion, flax meal, water, and hamburger seasoning (store bought), then pulse to combine. You’re looking for the mixture to have a little texture still but for the most part be nicely blended together.

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Once you have the burger mixture all made up then it’s time to actually make up the burgers. Carefully remove the blades from your food processor then, using a 1/3 cup measuring cup, scoop out a slightly mounded amount of mixture and plop it down onto a parchment lined sheet pan. You should have enough mixture to scoop out 4 burgers. Divide any remaining mixture evenly among the 4 burgers. Make sure to leave some space between each burger because in a moment we’ll be flattening them out.

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To get the burgers flat, I like to grab another sheet of parchment paper, lay it over the mounds of mixture, then gently press each out until they reach the desired level of thickness -about 1/3-1/2 of an inch thick.

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Pop your burgers into a preheated oven to bake for 35 minutes, flipping each over at the halfway point. When they’re done, serve ’em on hamburger buns with all of your favorite burger toppings and enjoy! (I told you this recipe was insanely easy!)

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Vegan Easy Black Bean Burgers

  • Servings: 4
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Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com

Ingredients

  • 1 (16 ounce) can of black beans, preferably low-sodium, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup cooked plain quinoa (I like to use the quinoa from the freezer section that gets cooked in it’s bag in the microwave then, once it’s cooked, I just scoop out the 1/2 cup I need for this recipe.)
  • 1/3 of an onion, diced
  • 3 tablespoons flax meal
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 3/4 tablespoon hamburger seasoning (I like Emeril’s because it has salt and pepper already in it but if yours doesn’t have those included then you’ll need to add salt and pepper to taste.)
  • Hamburger buns
  • Hamburger toppings

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375-degrees. Prepare a sheet pan by lining it with parchment paper. In a food processor toss in the first 6 ingredients and pulse to combine. You’re looking for mixture to be smoothed out a little but still have some texture to it.
  2. Remove the blades from the food processor then, using a 1/3 cup measuring cup, scoop out a slightly rounded mound of mixture and plop onto the prepared sheet pan. Repeat to create 4 mounds being sure to leave some space between each for when they get pressed out. Divide any remaining mixture up evenly among the 4 mounds. Lay another sheet of parchment over the mounds then gently press each flat to reach desired level of thickness -about 1/3-1/2 of an inch thick.
  3. Place burgers into preheated oven and bake for 35 minutes, flipping each over at the halfway point. When done, serve on hamburger buns with your favorite burger toppings. Cooked burgers will keep in an airtight container in fridge for up to 3 days but are best when eaten right away.

 

Vegan Italian “Chicken” Panini

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While there are some vegans out there who don’t care to eat even fake meats and cheeses, I am not one of them. I appreciate the flavors and textures fake meats and cheeses bring to the table. I also appreciate how these things can make transforming a non-vegan recipe to a vegan one an even easier task. Now, every vegan I know who enjoys these cruelty-free substitutes has their own opinion on which ones are the best -and there are so many options to choose from now! I too have some favorites and for these sandwiches I will be using one of my favorite chicken substitutes and one of my favorite cheese substitutes. (I’ll also be using another favorite vegan cheese o’ mine in the pesto needed for these sandwiches!)

Say hello to one of my favorite chicken substitutes, Tofurky’s Slow Roasted Chick’n, and one of my favorite cheese substitutes, Field Roast’s Chao slices in creamy original flavor -which to me tastes similar to like provolone cheese blended perhaps with white American cheese. (But of course this cheese is 100% vegan which means it’s automatically 100% better than either one of those other cheeses I just mentioned!)

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Those are only 2 of the 5 components that make up these delicious, and insanely easy to make, sandwiches though. The other components are a pesto that is made from scratch, tomatoes, and, of course, the bread -I used ciabatta rolls.

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I find that the ciabatta rolls squish down nicely in your panini pan or panini maker without falling apart, and they get good and crisp on the outside (without the need for oil) which is how the perfect panino (sing. form of panini) should be. #IfItAintCrispyItAintRight

So I mentioned that this recipe is insanely easy but one might prefer to call it shamefully easy. Seriously, I feel silly even calling it a recipe because the only real recipe part is making the pesto -which sounds a whole lot more difficult than it is.

To make the pesto all you have to do is put all of the pesto ingredients (except the olive oil) into a small (mine is called a “mini”) food processor and start processing them. As they are being broken down and combined you are simply going to drizzle in some extra virgin olive oil to help the pesto come together and get to the right consistency.

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The right consistency being kind of liquidy but not runny, and not smoothed out into nothing but rather it should have a little texture still -sort of like grainy mustard.

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Next, you’re going to get the fixin’s ready (laid out) so that you can easily assemble the sandwiches. Here all you’re really doing is taking the “chicken” and the cheese out of their respective packages and then slicing up 2 tomatoes.

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To assemble, first load up one side of the bread (the bottom half preferably) with the “chicken,” a couple slices of cheese, and a couple slices of tomatoes. Smear the opposite side of the bread with a generous bit of pesto and then put the two sides together. Huzzah! We have a sandwich! Repeat this process with the remaining rolls (3 more to go for a total of 4 sandwiches) and then it’s time to cook ’em up.

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To cook my sandwiches I used a cast iron panini pan but if you have a panini maker you can use that if you wish.

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I was able to fit 2 sandwiches in my pan at once. You’ll want to preheat your pan or panini maker before you put the sandwiches in and when cooking them you’ll want to do it low (as in low or low-med. heat) and slow -don’t rush these beauties or the cheese wont have time to get soft. And I know you want soft cheese.

While they’re cooking I do keep the lid on them and I also press firmly straight down on the lid every now and then to help them squish down.

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After 3-5 minutes they should be ready to flip. In the photo below, I have flipped one over and am about to flip the next one over. When flipping them I use flat tongs so that I can get a good grip on the sandwiches and hold them together tightly as I flip them. After they’ve been flipped I then put the lid back on them, press it down firmly, and cook for 3-5 more minutes. When done, remove the sandwiches from the pan (or panini maker) and let them rest for 5-7 minutes before you cut them in half and serve them.

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Vegan Italian 'Chicken' Panini

  • Servings: 4
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Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com

Ingredients

    For the pesto:
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, washed
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 1/3 cup vegan shredded Parmesan cheese (I used Follow Your Heart brand)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled but left whole
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • For the panini:
  • 4 ciabatta rolls
  • 1 (8-ounce) box of Tofurky Slow Roasted Chick’n
  • 1 package of Field Roast Chao slices in creamy original flavor
  • 2 tomatoes, washed and cut into slices
  • Pesto

Directions

    For the pesto:
  1. Combine everything but the olive oil in a small (aka mini) food processor and slowly start to combine them. (You may need to scrape the sides down a couple times throughout this process.) As they combine, slowly drizzle in olive oil until you have reached the desired consistency which is wet but not runny. Set aside when done.
  2. For the panini:
  3. Get your panini pan (or panini maker) preheated to low or low-med. heat and lay out the panini ingredients so that assembly is quick and easy.
  4. Cut a ciabatta roll in half and on the bottom half load on a layer of “chicken,” a couple slices of cheese, and a couple slices of tomato. On the top half, smear on a generous amount of pesto. Flip the top half over onto the bottom half then set aside. Repeat this step until you have all 4 sandwiches made and ready to be grilled.
  5. Place as many sandwiches as you can fit, without crowding them in, into your preheated panini pan (or panini maker). Cover and press down firmly on the cover to squish sandwiches down. Cook for 3-5 minutes then flip each sandwich over and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes. Continue to press down every so often on the lid to flatten the sandwiches as much as possible. If sandwiches are browning too fast, as in before the cheese has had time to get soft, be sure to turn the heat down a little lower. When sandwiches are done let them rest 5-7 minutes before cutting in half and serving. Best enjoyed right away but can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for 1-2 days.