Alicia Silverstone’s Rustic Bread and Eggplant Lasagna

If you want a good introduction to veganism, read Alicia Silverstone’s book The Kind Diet. In it she explains her vegan story as well as outlines the health benefits of an all-plant based diet— plus it has killer recipes. This recipe for Rustic Bread and Eggplant Lasagna I got from her website The Kind Life and have been dying to make it. I made my own bread for it this morning, which I posted in my last entry. I made a few changes to adapt to what I have on hand. I have posted my version, which isn’t too different from the original. Her recipe includes instructions to make your own tomato sauce, but I did not have enough tomatoes so I used jarred Prego. It’s always best to use local produce, so I used Japanese eggplant that I bought from the Hilo Farmers Market. I also did not have breadcrumbs so I made my own from toasted oatmeal.

The picture from website

Rustic Bread and Eggplant Lasagna 
6 Japanese eggplants
1 tbs olive oil
3 cloves of garlic
3 cups tomato sauce
1 tbs Italian seasoning
1/8 tps ground black pepper
1/4 tps red pepper flakes
8 thick slices of a rustic-style bread (try my Italian Herb Oat Bread)
1 cup breadcrumbs
1 large ripe tomato, cut into thick slices
Basil to garnish

Pre-heat oven to 400 degree F.
 

Japanese eggplant is less bitter than normal eggplant

Slice eggplant length wise into 1/2 inch slices. Arrange in one layer on a baking sheet, drizzle olive oil and salt on both sides. Bake for 30-40 minutes, turning over half way through, until soft and slightly golden.  Leave the oven at the same temperature for baking the assembled lasagna.

Although great as is, jazz up pre-made sauces to your tastes

While the eggplant is cooking, heat olive oil over low heat, add garlic and cook till slightly golden. Add tomato sauce, Italian seasoning, black pepper, and red pepper flakes. Heat until warm.

Extra slices make a good snack while you wait

Spray both sides of the bread slices with cooking spray and heat in a skillet over medium heat until toasted, flip and repeat for the other side. Do this in 2 to 3 batches, since all 8 slices can’t fit in at once….unless you have a very large skillet.

I almost forgot the tomato slices!

 In a large baking dish, spread 1/2 cup tomato sauce. Line the dish with half the bread without overlapping the slices. Layer half the eggplant on top of the bread, then top with 1 cup tomato sauce. Repeat another bread and eggplant layer then top with remaining tomato sauce. Sprinkle on breadcrumbs and put tomato slices on top.

Bake for 40 minutes. Let it rest for a few minutes before cutting in to it.

The eggplant has a creamy texture that totally makes the dish.

Alicia suggests garnishing it with fresh basil and balsamic vinegar, which sounds great, but I do not have either at the moment so I sprinkled it with red pepper flakes and paired with a nice green salad.

Italian Herb Oat Bread

Italian Herb Oat Bread

My mom was a baker for several years, so I grew up eating delicious homemade breads. I loved coming home from school to the smell of fresh baked sourdough or banana bread. Since I  inherited most of my cooking skills from her, I am giving baking a shot too. I found a recipe from Alicia Silverstone’s website  The Kind Life for Rustic Bread and Eggplant Lasagna (which I will be making tonight and will post later) and thought it would be a good opportunity to make the bread for it. Her recipe calls for sourdough, which is beyond my skill level at the moment so I decided to make something using the ingredients I have on hand.  I made up this recipe based on my current knowledge and some web research.  Since it is for a lasagna, I thought an Italian bread would be lovely. I also love the texture of oat bread so I decided to attempt a Italian-ish, oat-ish bread.  I drew inspiration from two recipies, both from Veg Web. The first is for Outrageously Easy BIG Bread, which I have made before, and is exactly what the title promises.  The second is for Garlic & Basil Bread, which I thought would fulfill the Italian part of desired outcome. I consulted my mom on the oats. I have instant oatmeal and old fashion oats in the cupboard, she told me that instant oats were a bad choice so I went with the old fashioned. I live in sunny and humid Hawaii, so my dough rises pretty quick and usually has the perfect texture without adding extra water or flour. You will need to adjust according to your climate. My mom told me that baking is done best by feel, so do what you feel is right.

Italian Herb Oat Bread
1 packet active yeast
1 cup warm water
1 tps brown sugar
3 cups white flour
1 tbs olive oil
1/2 tbs dried Italian seasoning
1/2 tps garlic salt
1/2 cup old fashion oats

Proof the yeast by add the packet of yeast to the warm water. I usually do this all in a measuring cup. The water should be warm to touch but not hot (about 105 degrees F if you want to measure it). My mom told me the water should be a bit cooler than you think it should be. Once it is fairly dissolved, add the sugar. It’s ready when it gets all bubbly and frothy. If nothing happens, your water was either too hot (my problem when I first started making dough) or too cold. Or, your yeast could be bad too. You will have to throw it out and try again.

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, oats, basil, and garlic salt then add the oil on the top. Once your yeast is ready, add it to the dry mixture and carefully mix. Work until it all comes together into a doughy ball. The dough should be moist and pliable. If it’s too gooey, add a bit more flour until it reaches the right consistency.

Cover the bowl with a moist towel and set aside to rise for about 45 minutes.

Risen twice and kneaded

Once the dough has puffed up, put it on to a well-floured countertop and knead gently.  Try not to overwork the dough, otherwise it gets tough and chewy. Just work it until it’s smooth and soft, but not overly wet. Add additional flour as needed.

Shape into a loaf or whatever shape you desire, cover with a cloth and let it rise again for another 30 to 45 minutes.

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F.

I checked mine after 45 minutes since my oven isn’t the greatest.
After it’s done rising the second time, place on a baking sheet or baking pan. Cut a few shallow slits in the top. Brush on a little olive oil or an egg substitute so it gets golden and crunchy. Sprinkle some oats on top for decoration if you desire.

Bake for about 45 minutes, adjusting the time for your oven (I have a crappy dorm room oven so mine takes 5-10 minutes longer some times). It should have a nice golden crust on the top.

Let it cool for an hour before slicing.

 

It smells soooo good. It’s hard to resist, but let it cool a bit, it’s easier to cut.

Pad Thai Pizza

Every Friday night, my mom makes homemade pizza. She’s perfected it over the years and it’s beyond amazing. I am still working on my pizza skills but mine isn’t bad either.  I found a recipe Veg Web for Tofu Broccoli Peanut Pizza and I decided to make my own version. This pizza has no cheese.  I don’t like the texture of most vegan cheeses. When mixed in with things they are great, but most don’t melt well so I don’t like them on my pizza. This pizza is so good you don’t even need it.

Pad Thai Pizza
Pizza crust (store bought is just fine but here is a link for a nice homemade one that explains it better than I can)


Sauce:
1 tbs peanut butter (either smooth or chunky is fine)
1 cup tomato sauce (homemade or jarred, as long as it’s kind of thick)
1 tbs curry powder
1/2 tps cumin
1/2 tps tumeric
1/4  tps ginger powder
1/4 tps garlic salt powder
1/4 tps red pepper flake

Toppings:
1/4 cup fresh basil (not dried, it really does not taste the same)
1/2 cup extra firm tofu, drain and cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1/2 cup broccoli, chopped
1 green or red bell pepper, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
Fresh lime

Preheat oven to 450 degrees or the temperature specified for your dough if you are making your own. Since the pizza has no cheese to melt, it’s best to pre-bake the dough first, about 10-15 minutes.

While it’s baking, mix all the sauce ingredients together. It should make a gooey paste, similar to Pad Thai sauce.

When the crust is done prebaking, spread the sauce on in a thick coating. Then add the toppings. I usually put the basil down first so it’s doesn’t burn, then veggies and the tofu on top last.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, until toppings are heated through. Remember, this is not a normal pizza. It will not get bubbly so don’t leave it in too long because it will just burn.

Squirt with a little lime juice, just like you would for Pad Thai, cut and enjoy!

You could also top it with bean spouts, cilantro, or any other Pad Thai toppings.

What’s a vegan?

A few months ago I had a date with a guy who asked me a question I hear often, “Vegan? What’s that?” After I explain it means I eat no animal products, he asked the second most common question, “So what do you eat?Vegetables?” He seemed surprised when I answered yes.

Since I encounter these and other similar questions about veganism often, I thought I would make a blog where I can post recipes to show people exactly what vegans eat. I have been a vegetarian for 5 years, and a vegan for a year now. I went vegetarian for animal rights. I always felt guilty about eating meat growing up but I never really said anything about it. And to be honest, I never liked the taste of it, I just ate it because mom told me to eat it. But I went vegan—in addition to wanting to stop the exploitation of animals–for health reasons. My uncle died of a heart attack last year and it scared me. He was fairly young but did not take care of himself. He was a very sweet man, and although I did not known him very well, I really do miss him. I have a horrible health history on both sides of my family–heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, high blood pressure, etc. But I do not have to follow the same path my relatives took.

Before I made the official decision, I researched veganism, which lead me ultimately learn more about the food industry. I was horrified, but I will spare you the details.  I knew that I could learn from my family’s mistakes, and take proactive steps to counteract my terrible genes. I went vegan because I want to live to be 100. I want my great-grandchildren to sing to me on my 100th birthday.

However, I know that I have no right to tell people what they can and can’t do—just like no one has the right to tell me what to do either. So I am not preaching that everyone should become a vegan right this minute. In fact, to be honest, I don’t care. I believe everyone should do what is right for them. I believe eating an all plant-based diet is what is right for me.

This blog is just to help people understand that being vegan does not mean all you eat is bland salad. In fact, we eat some insanely delicious things. And if you see something you like, give it a try, you might be surprised. And feel free to alter to your tastes, even if your tastes aren’t vegan.