Tag Archives: olives

(Cafe) Barcelona Soup and Sandwich

Sandwich and SaladOne of the things I really enjoy about cooking is trying to recreate restaurant meals.  Sometimes I even think that I’ve gotten a recipe just a little bit better than the original – but that’s probably because I believe the best meals are those made and eaten at home.

This quick and easy salad-and-sandwich combination was inspired by a delicious lunch shared with my mom, dad and Kel during a recent trip to Marco Island, Florida.  We cooked most of our meals at our rental house, but found this vegan-friendly restaurant right in the heart of Naples.  The food was simple and very fresh and the company couldn’t be beat.

I eliminated the olive oil in both the sandwich and the salad – they just don’t need it!  And I created a kind of chopped salad for the sandwich filling rather than keeping the ingredients whole.  I thought it would be easier to eat that way (plus you get a bit of everything in every bite), but it turns out, this sandwich is just messy.  Serve it open-faced if you aren’t eating this with family!

One year ago today: Best Friends Forever: Soup & A Sandwich
One year and one day ago today: Earl of Chai: Another Drink from the Slow Cooker

Cafe Barcelona Veggie Sandwich
Serves 2

1 baguette
1 roasted pepper, chopped
2 cups romaine lettuce, chopped
6 Spanish olives, chopped
a couple of slices of red onion, chopped
lemon zest
ground black pepper

Cut the baguette in two and then slice each piece in half.  Set aside.

In a bowl, combine the roasted pepper, lettuce, olives, red onion, lemon zest and black pepper.  Divide the mixture between the baguette slices.

Salad and Sandwich collage

Cafe Barcelona Wilted Spinach Salad with Pine Nuts, Apple and Golden Raisins
Serves 2

5 oz. fresh baby spinach
1/4 cup golden raisins
1 oz. pine nuts
1/2 tart-sweet apple, cored and chopped
splash veggie broth
splash fresh lemon juice

Lightly brown the pine nuts, raisins and apple in a dry skillet.  Stir often to prevent burning.  Add a splash of vegetable broth and put the spinach in the pan, turning to gently wilt it.

Turn off the heat and remove the pan from the burner and splash the spinach with lemon juice.  Stir and divide the mixture between two plates.

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Sage & Kalamata Olive Focaccia (with roasted grapes)

FocacciaIt all came about because of the grapes.  During my brief pit stop in Oklahoma recently, I strolled up to the grape vines we have growing along trellises in the middle of the garden to see how they were fairing.  When we first planted them, we encouraged them to grow up and over a large arbor made from old oil pipe and goat fencing.  The grapes refused to comply with our wishes – though a few adventurous vines reached the top, peeked over and realized they suffered from acrophobia.  So we pruned the plants back, built trellises and crossed our fingers.  Amazingly, the vines did much better with their new growing and clinging environment and we now had bunches of plump grapes to prove it.

I harvested a big batch of purple and green grapes and wondered what to do with them other than eat them straight up.  Then I remembered seeing a recipe for grape pie.  Well, grape pie wasn’t going to happen, but the idea inspired me to try roasting the grapes.  Roasting the grapes led to thinking about using them for a kind of bruschetta which in turn led to baking up a quick and easy foccacia with fresh sage and olives – both of which I thought would nicely complement the sweet, juicy grapes.  One note of caution: be sure to use seedless grapes.  I discovered this the hard way, after I’d already roasted the grapes and took my first bite.  Crunch.

Sage & Kalamata Olive Focaccia
Makes ~12 big chunks

1/2 cup warm water
1 tsp. regular yeast
3/4 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup warm water
1 tsp. regular yeast
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 cups bread flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp. salt
~3 tbsp. fresh sage, chopped
1/2 cup kalamata olive, sliced

fresh sage, chopped, for topping
1 tsp. kosher salt, for topping

Make the sponge:
In a large bowl, pour the water and stir in the yeast.  Let stand until bubbly and cloudy.  Stir in the flour, cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 45 minutes.

Make the focaccia:
In a small bowl, combine the water and yeast and let sit until bubbly and cloudy.  Pour into the large bowl with the sponge and add the olive oil.  Stir in one cup of flour and then the sage, salt and sliced olives.  Add the remaining flour and mix well – make sure there are no dry, floury lumps.  The batter will be wet, sticky and heavy.  Do not add more flour – you are not going to be kneading this dough.

Lightly oil another large bowl and using a bowl scraper, pour the dough into the oiled bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for an hour or so.

Lightly oil an 11″ x 17″ baking sheet.  Transfer the dough onto the baking sheet and using oiled hands, press the dough to cover the pan.  Let the dough rest for about 10 minutes, then press the dough again – it tends to want to shrink and bounce back – until the pan is completely covered.  Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise again for about an hour.

Preheat oven to 425F.  Position an oven rack to the center.

When dough has risen, gently press fingertips into dough to create indents.  Sprinkle the dough with the chopped sage and kosher salt, spritz lightly with olive oil and bake for about 25 minutes.  Focaccia should be browned on the top and sound hollow when tapped.  Let cool slightly before cutting.  Serve with Sweet & Savory Roasted Grapes, if desired (see below for recipe).

Focaccia with Roasted GrapesSweet & Savory Roasted Grapes
Mix of purple or red and green (seedless…) grapes, about 4 cups
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. vegetable broth
1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. Bragg Liquid Aminos
1 tsp. dried thyme
salt & ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400F.  Mix everything together on a big baking sheet and roast the grapes for 20-25 minutes or until soft, fragrant and juicy.  Allow to cool slightly before serving.

Grapes with Spoon

Roasted Grapes

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Build It and They Will Come: Muffuletta with Smoky Tofu & Olive Salad

Muffalette SandwichI love baked tofu sandwiches.  But one thing that has always kind of nagged at me is that the baked tofu that I remove from the oven (dark brown, crisped edges) is not the same baked tofu that I remove from the refrigerator the next day.  It’s still delicious and perfect for stuffing sandwiches, adorning salads, or filling out stir-fries, but the texture has reverted back to its soft, cushy beginnings.  I decided to see what I could do about that.

I started by freezing the tofu because this easy process apparently changes the texture of the tofu and makes it firmer, chewier.  For added moisture reduction, I pressed the tofu prior to freezing it – then sliced it very thinly.  Once it had been frozen and thawed, I gently pressed it again, just using paper towels and the pressure from my hands.  The final step in creating a crispier tofu, was to broil it briefly after baking.  I’m very happy with results: a bit chewy, and bit crispy, but still tender.  The marinade is packed with flavor and combined with the olive salad this sandwich will do all kinds of good things to your taste buds.

A note on the bread that I made for these sandwiches.  It’s a pane Siciliano from Peter Reinhart’s wonderful book, The Bread Baker’s Apprentice.  I upped the whole wheat, but otherwise stuck to his 3-day process.  This loaf reminds me of the sesame seed-encrusted Italian bread from my childhood which makes perfect sense.  What does muffuletta mean?  Round, Sicilian sesame bread.

Muffuletta with Smoky Tofu & Olive Salad
Makes enough for several sandwiches

Tofu Marinade:
Sliced Tofu1 tbsp. vegetable broth
1 tbsp. Bragg Liquid Aminos
2 tbsp soy sauce/tamari
3 tbsp. red miso paste
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. dried onion flakes
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
pinch ground black pepper
1 tsp. tomato paste
1 tsp. Liquid Smoke
1 tbsp. water

Olive Salad:
1 16 oz. jar of Italian Mix Giardianera
1 cup Kalamata olives
1 cup green olives
1/2 cup fresh parsley
1/2 cup fresh basil
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 tbsp. Bragg Liquid Aminos
salt & pepper to taste

Prepare the tofu:
A day or two before making the sandwiches, freeze the tofu.  Before I did this, I pressed the tofu for about a half an hour, drained it and sliced it very thinly. You can see that I got 17 slices out of it.  I placed the slices on a parchment-lined half halfsheet baking pan, covered it with plastic wrap and popped it into the freezer.  After a day, it got a slight yellow color which disappeared after I thawed it.  Once it’s thawed, press down lightly on the tofu to extract moisture.  Now you’re ready to marinate and bake.

Make the tofu marinade:
Combine all of the marinade ingredients and whisk together.

Bake the tofu:
Preheat the oven to 425F.  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment (if using parchment, remove before broiling – no one wants to see their tofu go up in flames).  Brush both sides of the tofu slices with marinade.  Really slather it on there.  When the oven is ready, get the tofu in there and bake – taking it out now and again to baste the slices and turn them.  I kept doing this until the marinade was gone and the tofu had started to brown and crisp.  Because I was going for a really firm, crispy texture, I finished off the tofu by popping it under the broiler for a few minutes.

Either use the tofu immediately or store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Make the olive salad:
In a food processor, combine all of the olive salad ingredients.  Process until the desired consistency.  I like it evenly pulverized, but if you like bigger chunks, have at it.  Set aside or store in the refrigerator until ready to use.  You will have more than you need for a couple of sandwiches, but it makes a tasty spread or dip, too.  You’ll think of something.

Pane SicilianoBuild your sandwich:
Grab some hearty wheat rolls or thick slices of crusty bread and start layering.  Add what you love – tomatoes, lettuce, sprouts, red onion…

Build It

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Simple Side Salad w/ No-Oil Vinaigrette

Side SaladI know, I know – a salad is to a vegan what a sock is to a shoe, or what jelly means to peanut butter: totally obvious.  But don’t underestimate a good salad!  I’m often at a loss for a quick and simple side dish after I’ve spent a lot of energy and time on a main dish (and totally forgotten – until I’m nearly ready to serve – that it needs a sidekick), so it pays to have some fresh greens and various veggies in the refrigerator with which to toss together a crispy symphony of herbaceous riches.  Salads complement nearly every entree, they come together lickety-split and they’re nutritional powerhouses.

Simple Side Salad
Enough for 2

1 medium-size tomato, chopped
handful of fresh, mixed greens
8 kalamata olives, chopped
a few thin slices of red onion
fresh basil leaves, if small, leave whole; if large, coarsely chop

1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
t tsp. fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp. soy sauce or tamari
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
~ 1 tbsp. nutritional yeast
1 small clove garlic, minced
dash black pepper

Whisk together dressing ingredients; set aside.  Divide the greens among two small plates and top with tomatoes, chopped basil, red onion and olives.  Drizzle with dressing.  Serve.

The dressing takes its cue from Rip Esslestyn’s dressing, which can be found in Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, by Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., MD.

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