This is a guest blog post from local vegan chef and food writer, Carolyn Flower. You can follow Carolyn at https://instagram.com/nutritiouslyplantful/.
Lately I’ve noticed that tomatoes are coming in aplenty at our local farms; telling me that tomatoes are finally in season! It’s time to celebrate this bounty with some easy but flavorful and nutritious plant-based recipes.
Both recipes that I’m featuring focus on the deliciousness that is tomatoes! In my cooking, I’m kind of obsessed with mixing raw ingredients with cooked ingredients. Not only can you derive the nutritional benefits of raw and cooked foods at once, but the textures and flavors are even more varied and intense.
There are plenty of local farms that you can buy tomatoes from especially since they’re in season right now. Check out LFA’s Good Food Finder AZ to find some farms near you!
Roasted Oregano Sweet Potato Wedges with Garlicky Tomato Puree
1 large sweet potato halved and then cut into small wedges Some fresh or dried oregano ½ a large tomato 1 tablespoon of nutritional yeast* Two slices of fresh squeezed lemon juice 1-2 cloves of fresh garlic A few drops of Braggs Liquid Aminos**
- Preheat the oven to 450°F and prepare the sweet potato by cutting it into small wedges. Cover a baking tray with aluminum foil and spray the foil with nonstick oil (I recommend coconut, olive, or avocado oil spray). Then place the sweet potato wedges onto the tray and sprinkle oregano on top. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes or until they begin to brown.
- For the fresh puree, slice half a large tomato and place it in your food processor. Then add the nutritional yeast, lemon juice, garlic, and Braggs to the processor. Pulse a few times and then select the puree button. Puree until most of the tomato chunks are smooth. I like to leave mine a little bit chunky though!
You can now pour the puree into a bowl to use as a dipping sauce. The zesty coldness of the puree works so well with the warming sweet potatoes.
Fresh Tomato Stacks with Garam Masala Tofu Ricotta and Shaved Zucchini
1 large or extra-large tomato, sliced thickly 1 zucchini 1 package of extra firm tofu (you will have leftovers for other dishes!) ½ teaspoon of Garam Masala spice (optional) ½ tablespoon of nutritional yeast (optional) ½ tablespoon of fresh lemon juice 1 clove of fresh garlic
- It’s most important to press your tofu so that you can get rid of excess water. I like to stack heavy books on top of my tofu to squeeze out the water. I do this by covering the tofu in some paper towels, placing the tofu on one plate, covering it with another (bottom of the second plate against the tofu) and then covering it with books.
- Then cut the tomato into thick slices. You want them to be cut thick so that they can support all the toppings!
- Using a peeler, cut thin slices of zucchini by running the blade from top to bottom over and over again, set aside for later.
- In the processor, crumble your tofu with the garlic, lemon juice, Garam Masala spice, and nutritional yeast. Then pulse several times until the tofu starts to stick together and crumble. It should look smooth but also crumbly.
- To serve, place a slice of tomato on a fresh plate, then a couple of dollops of the tofu ricotta. Put some of the zucchini slices on top. Then repeat. You could even make a leaning tower of tomato!
You can make several of these for a nice “raw-ish” lunch or dinner. I served mine with some extra zucchini, tomato, and tofu ricotta. You could also serve this with a grain salad, or a nice spinach and kale salad with beans or lentils.
It’s also worth highlighting how nutritious and refreshing tomatoes can be whether you cook them or eat them raw! Tomatoes contain all three antioxidants: beta-carotene, vitamin E, and vitamin C. Tomatoes are also rich in potassium, and contain the major carotenoids: alpha and beta-carotene, lutein, and lycopene. Carotenoids are the organic pigments found in plants and a major dietary source of vitamin A for humans.
* Nutritional yeast is made from Saccharomyces cerevisiae which is a type of yeast grown on molasses. The yeast is then washed, dried, and deactivated through heat. So, no, you won’t be susceptible to yeast overgrowth from it. Quite the contrary, nutritional yeast or “nooch” is rich in B-vitamins, folic acid, selenium and zinc. It lends a real cheezy flavor to dishes as well as umami or savory taste.
** Braggs Liquid Aminos is a great lower sodium option to soy sauce. It also contains essential and non-essential amino acids and is gluten free.