Eggplant Rollatini with Tofu Basil Ricotta

Italian meals are always a favorite in our family. Can't decide on dinner, Italian it is! Eggplant Rollatini has been a standing menu item in which I've been perfecting for years. This dish was actually the first recipe I ever developed on my own and it in turn sparked the idea for my blog. I once served it for dinner without telling anyone that I had replaced the traditional ricotta with tofu and in all honesty no body was any the wiser! I call that serious success. 

Happy New Year!!! If you find yourself looking for healthier alternatives to traditional meals- look no further. This dish is an exquisite (and easy!) meal with no carb guilt involved. I absolutely love it and you will too! Don't let new ingredients such as nutritional yeast or tofu scare you off. Nutritional yeast provides the replacement cheese flavor we all know and love.

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Eggplant Rollatini with Tofu Basil Ricotta

For the Tofu Basil Ricotta:

  • 1/4 cup raw cashews
  • 14 ounces extra-firm tofu, drained and pressed (instructions below)
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil (or more if needed)
  • ¼ cup packed fresh basil or 2 tbsp dried basil
  • 1 TBSP lemon
  • ¾-½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp finely ground pepper

For the remaining dish:

  • 1 large eggplant, sliced thin lengthwise on a mandolin or very carefully cut into thin long strips
  • 2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 cups homemade or 1 jar store bought marinara sauce

Instructions:

To press the tofu: Cut the tofu block into 6 long strips. Place the tofu onto a clean kitchen towel (or several layers of paper towels). Add another clean kitchen towel on top of the tofu and top with a cutting board. Set several heavy books or really anything very heavy you have on hand to the board. Let sit for two hours. This process presses the liquid out of the tofu and is an essential step in making tofu ricotta!

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Line a large roasting pan with parchment paper. Depending on the width of your eggplant and how many strips you get, you may need two sheets.
  3. Brush each side of the eggplant strip with olive oil and sprinkle with salt pepper.
  4. Add to baking sheet and roast for 15-20 minutes, be careful to not let them burn since they are thin.
  5. Meanwhile make the tofu basil ricotta: Add the cashews to a food processor and pulse them until finely ground. To the cashew crumbles, add in the pressed tofu, nutritional yeast, olive oil, basil, salt and pepper. Process until the tofu forms a very sticky cheese type mixture. It should take about one full minute. Taste and season with more salt or pepper if needed.
  6.  Let the eggplant strips cool.
  7. Add 1/3 cup marinara sauce to an 8x8 or 9x9 baking dish.
  8. Add the ricotta (about 1 rounded TBSP) to each eggplant strip spread evenly.
  9. Roll tight and place in pan.
  10. Cover the rolls with remaining marinara sauce, you may not need it all!  
  11. If desired, top with dairy-free mozzarella, my preferred brand is Follow Your Heart.
  12. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes or until bubbling and hot.

Optional: Sprinkle with extra basil and red pepper flakes

Welcoming Changes + Roasted Cauliflower Tacos

This recipe is ideal for weeknight cooking as it takes no time at all to pull together and doesn’t involve any pre-soaking or complex tasks that sometimes get associated with clean eating. If you’ve got an oven and 15 minutes to prep, you’re holding the keys to a mouthwatering feast. You would never think that cauliflower wrapped in a hot tortilla and surrounded with a cooling sauce, creamy avocado and the freshness of cilantro could make you think you’ve died and gone to a taco lover's heaven. Just make them, see what happens!

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I find myself in disbelief that I once lived a life where I didn’t eat vegetables. These days I pile the veggies high on my plate because TBH they just make me feel amazing. Mr. No FOMO Food and I have had a few curveballs thrown our way recently and things in our house have felt a bit uprooted and off kilter. I was feeling disconnected all around but forced myself to refocus on my priorities and think about what drives me daily. 

I love being in the kitchen, I love talking to friends and family about the vibrancy whole foods bring to the art of cooking. I especially love debunking myths surrounding a healthy lifestyle. I recently came upon a passage written by Julia Child in Mastering the Art of French Cooking that felt well timed and deeply refreshing. 

“Cooking is not a particularly difficult art, and the more you cook and learn about cooking, the more sense it makes. But like any art it requires practice and experience. The most important ingredient you can bring to it is love of cooking for its own sake.”

Often times, we shy away from the unfamiliar. Instead, let’s embrace the crazy, the chaos and the unknown. I am going to brush off my doormat and welcome the changes with happy spirits and positive energy. 

Is cauliflower foreign to you? Don’t be frightened! Raw cauliflower has a very certain off-putting odor but once roasted in a hot oven this veggie turns into something you just want to keep eating. When purchasing a cauliflower head, look for one that is very firm to the touch and looks very clean. The leaves on the bottom should be green and healthy. 

My husband says this Roasted Cauliflower Taco recipe epitomizes the essence of No FOMO Food and I have to agree. The flowerets are roasted until tender and pack the perfect amount of heat for the ultimate veggie taco. As for the taco itself…crunchy, tangy, creamy and spicy all add up to one epic taco night. 

I truly love this recipe! I used Love and Lemon’s cookbook recipe as a guide the first time making these and I’ve since adjusted from there. Her book is an essential tool in my healthy eating toolbox. 

PS

You might have noticed I used the spelling flowerets instead of florets. This is the way that Julia Child recommends and I actually think it makes more since! It looks prettier written so I’m sticking to it! 

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Roasted Cauliflower Tacos

Serves 4-6 tacos

You need:

  • 1 medium/large head of cauliflower, broken or cut into small flowerets rinsed and dried well (an 8-inch cauliflower head serves 4-6)
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 2 TBSP Chipolte pepper adobo sauce (I used the Frontera Grill brand)
  • 2 TBSP fresh cilantro 
  • 1 avocado, sliced  
  • 4-6 Tortillas (I used almond flour Siete tortillas, my fave EVER!)
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced red cabbage

For the cool lime sauce:

  • 1/2 cup vegan cream cheese (or mayo) 
  • 1/2 lime, juice squeezed 
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt 
  • 1/2 tsp honey
  • 1 garlic clove, minced 

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Line a large roasting pan with parchment paper
  3. Add the (dry) cauliflower flowerets to the roasting pan.
  4. Drizzle the flowerets with olive oil and toss to coat evenly. I used my hands, I find it easiest! 
  5. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, toss again. 
  6. Sprinkle over the 2 tablespoons of adobo sauce and toss to coat evenly. 
  7. Slide roasting own into the oven and roast for 25-30 minutes. The edges of the cauliflower will become perfectly caramelized and turn a crispy golden brown.
  8. Meanwhile, add all sauce ingredients to a small bowl and whisk until creamy. Taste and adjust salt as needed!
  9. Heat tortillas in a hot skillet then wrap in a clean kitchen towel to preserve flexibility while continuing to heat remaining tortillas.
  10. Construct each taco by adding 1 TBSP Cool Lime Sauce to the bottom of the tortilla, layer with cauliflower, cabbage, avocado, cilantro, a squeeze of lime and a few dots of extra chipolte sauce if you like it hot! 

Recipe inspired by Love and Lemons Roasted Cauliflower Tacos with Chipolte Cream Sauce 

THE BEST KALE SALAD (vegan)

The best part of this salad is that it’s almost too simple to be soooo good. How can it be? I don’t know but y’all it just is. The key to this salad is all in the preparation of the kale. It must be treated with care, massaged with love and I promise you will rewarded with the most tender, fluffy, bright plate of nutrient dense kale you could ever possibly need. I don’t title recipes the best without much careful consideration. I’ve yet to ever post anything with such high praise right there in the title. But with the ample benefits that kale provides in conjunction with the ridiculous taste of this salad- I hereby present to you the BEST KALE SALAD.

I know, I know…a kale salad recipe. What is this 2014? I’m sorry but honestly, I only recently jumped on the kale salad bandwagon. Sure, I’ve been juicing it and pureeing it into oblivion in my smoothies because everyone and their mother knows that kale is a superfood. I don’t live under a kale-less rock!

 

I just never ordered kale salads- it was too rough for me. I always preferred light, kind of sweet spinach. BUT… things changed recently. I visited Kayne Prime in Nashville and was told that the kale salad was a must. Which is sort of confusing—heading to the best steakhouse in Tennessee for a kale salad? Oxymoron much? But who am I to resist what is touted as the BEST KALE SALAD. Well, I’m here to set the record straight. Kayne Prime really does have the best kale salad. Who knew that a salad could be described as….fluffy?

 

I scarfed down this infamous plate of greens back in June and it has taken me multiple tries and some for-sure fails (blanched kale too long, boiled kale, finely shredded kale) before I hit the nail on the head. Now, I can’t tell you my recipe is exactly like Kayne Prime’s because it’s been two months since I had that ridiculous amazing salad but I swear this is SO CLOSE.

 

 If you are still shying away from the oh mighty kale because you think it’s too hearty, too trendy, too tough. WELL. Stop your hesitation and board the kale train because I’m taking you on a ride to kale town baby. Next stop, taste bud heaven!

 

The Best Kale Salad

You need:

  • 1 head kale, destemmed, washed and torn roughly into manageable handfuls
  • ¼ cup good extra virgin olive oil
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • ½ tsp fine sea salt (this is to taste- if you’re sensitive to salt go ahead and start with ¼ tsp)
  • ¼ cup heaping raisins
  • ¼ cup vegan parmesan

Get cooking:

  1. In a small bowl, add oil, lemon zest, lemon juice and salt. Whisk until emulsified.
  2. To a large food processor (if you have a smaller food processor, just work in small batches) add 1/3 of the kale. I have a 10 cup Ninja food processor so I find that it works to my advantage to work in batches of three so that the chops are uniform.
  3. Pulse the kale until it has been chopped into small pieces. You’re looking for each piece of kale to be about 1 inch long or smaller. Once all the kale is chopped. Add it to a large mixing bowl.
  4. Pour the dressing over the kale. With clean hands, massage the kale no less than five minutes! You will feel that kale begin to soften at your touch as the acid from the lemon juice and your swift hand technique begins to break down the hearty fibers.  
  5. Don’t stop massaging, 5 full minutes! It’s SO worth it.
  6. Pop the kale salad into the fridge and let it rest for 15-30 minutes.
  7. Add the raisins and vegan parmesan immediately before serving. Toss to incorporate.
  8. Enjoy this heavenly plate of green goodness. Leftovers? This kale salad keeps surprisingly well overnight – the raisins take on a bit of the dressing plump it and the vegan parm disappears a bit. Still fabulous though!