Meatless Monday: Caprese Stacks

Hello from New York City! After lots of family time on Long Island, I escaped on the train and have been enjoying a little bit of time with friends in the Big Apple. Highlight so far (besides their amazing rooftop lounge…amazing views!) is definitely meeting Zachary Levi. Ummm he is most definitely in my top 3 celebrity crushes. I walked around the rest of the day saying “oh my god…oh my god…” and “Hey Alex, remember that time when Zachary Levi touched my shoulder?” Haha. I never want to leave!

Aaaaanyway…a few weeks ago, I was planning on heading over to a friend’s house to hang out with da guys, and our host was planning on BBQing a lot of meat. I decided, since I had just picked up lots of produce at the Farmers Market, that I would bring something fresh and healthy. With beautiful heirloom tomatoes and a basil plant at my disposal, Caprese Salad was the obvious choice!

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I know Caprese Salad isn’t exactly the most novel side dish (vegan Caprese? That’s another story! 😉 ), but it is seriously the ultimate summer salad.

Unfortunately, those plans fell through and I didn’t end up going to hang out with the guys. But I had already made the Caprese stacks…

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Guess what Katie ate for dinner that night? 😉

In my opinion, making them in stack form instead of the typical salad makes them a finger food – just shovel ’em into your mouth like a tomato-mozzarella-basil finger sandwich! Totally socially acceptable.

Caprese Stacks

2 heirloom tomatoes (or similar meaty tomato…you don’t want lots of seeds and water!)
8 oz fresh mozzarella cheese
~15 basil leaves
1 cup balsamic vinegar
drizzle olive oil (optional)

Put balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Let it simmer at a low boil for about 15 minutes, until reduced down to about 1/4 cup. Set aside to cool.

While balsamic is simmering, slice tomatoes into 1/2 inch slices. Discard the rounded ends. Slice mozzarella into similarly-sized rounds. (Pro tip: if you are having trouble cutting the mozzarella, stick it in the freezer for a bit to make it less soft!)

ASSEMBLE! Layer one tomato slice, a basil leaf, mozzarella, and another basil leaf (if desired). Repeat with all the tomaters. To top it all off, drizzle the cooled balsamic vinegar (which will now be more like a glaze/syrup) over the stacks, as well as a couple of drops of olive oil.

Meatless Monday: Vegan “Caprese” Pizza

If you follow me on Instagram/Twitter/Facebook you probably saw this picture on Friday:

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I went to the store after work intending to buy white wine and avocados (standard Katie-Essentials) and somehow 2 bottles of kombucha and a tray of tofu found their way into my basket (um, not so standard Katie-Essentials). Most normal people, when strolling through the grocery store, will pick up “impulse purchases” like chocolate….cookies…chips…

Me? I’ve apparently gotten to a level of healthy blogger status that my impulse purchases are tofu and kombucha. Really…who am I?!

As far as the kombucha goes, I’m trying to incorporate more non-alcoholic and non-caffeinated beverages into my diet. I realized when filling out that Healthy Living Survey on Friday that the only drinks I consume on a regular basis are water, tea, wine & beer. Whenever I sit down to read blogs or watch my TV shows in the evening, I often pour myself a glass of wine out of boredom more than anything else. Apparently, I can’t just sit and watch tv – I need to be sipping on something! I figure kombucha is a healthy alternative, since I don’t drink soda or juice.

The tofu though…I can’t really explain. I guess I was just buying it as an experiment and a challenge, since I’ve never cooked with it before. I also might have been inspired by Becky’s BBQ Tofu Pizza. 🙂

I am actually often not a fan of tofu. I used to actually pick out the slimy pieces of tofu in my miso soup as a kid, the slippery texture really freaked me out. However, I’ve challenged myself to figure out a way to cook it in a way that I like, and I’ve discovered it’s actually really easy!

My first trial involved the stove and I tried sauteing it in a stir fry – not so great.

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My second try was a success, and made its home on this pizza. I decided to let tofu stand in for the more traditional mozzarella cheese and call this baby a caprese pizza! It does have all the other traditional ingredients – giant tomatoes from my boss’s garden, and a kick of basil in the [cheeseless] pesto. I drizzled a little balsamic on top and voila! Vegan pizza.

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Baking the tofu in the oven gives it a nice crispy exterior and an all-around firm texture. Plus, it’s a perfect meal for one that will be ready in less than 30 minutes. Winner winner chicken tofu dinner?

Vegan “Caprese” Pizza
serves 1
inspired by Becky’s BBQ Tofu Pizza

1 whole wheat tortilla or pita
2-4 tablespoons vegan pesto (I whipped one up that did not include cheese)
2-3 slices tomato (about 1/4-1/2 inch thick)
5 oz extra firm tofu, cubed (about 1 cup)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

Begin by preparing your tofu – preheat oven to 375F and grease a baking sheet. Place tofu on baking sheet (if you’d like to roast the tomatoes, you can add them too) and bake for 20 minutes, flipping all the pieces once halfway through.

Meanwhile, prepare your pesto (if making yourself) and the balsamic drizzle. Heat balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat and boil for about 5-10 minutes, until it becomes syrupy and reduces in size by almost half. Remove from heat and set aside until needed.

Place tortilla in oven for last few minutes of baking the tofu. Remove the tortilla and tofu (slash tomato) and start assembling: spread pesto on the tortilla, and top with tomatoes and tofu. Drizzle with balsamic glaze. Cut into slices and eat like a pizza, or just dig in!

Have you ever cooked with tofu?