Thursday, August 7, 2008

Pita + Pesto + Portobello = Perfection

No more wondering what the hell you're going to make for vegetarian friends next time you have a cookout! :) These were fantastic!
I think next time, though, I'll add some more veggies - maybe some grilled eggplant and tomato... Yum.
Just be sure to make extra - the meat-eaters may get jealous ;)

I found these recipes in the most recent (August 2008) issue of Cooking Light magazine and just made a few changes. The original recipe for the pita things called for "commercial pesto." First of all, it's one of the easiest things to make so I'd never go buy it. Second, I had two different types of pesto in the freezer. :) One was a vegan version - parsley and lemon pesto which I decided to use since I figured it would work well with the lemon rice. It did. :)
For the rice, I didn't have mustard seeds and thought that may be a bit weird anyway... I did, however, have saffron which worked wonderfully! Saffron may be the world's most expensive spice but it's worth every penny. I highly recommend keeping a jar in the pantry!
Saffron also imparts this great yellow colour which I think makes it look like totally fake FD&C coloured lemon yellow rice... lo
l :) It's absolutely not fake but it makes for a good conversation starter ;)

Speaking of vegan... this isn't a hard meal to convert to vegan. The only non-vegan components as it is right now are the sour cream or mayonnaise and the feta. Easy fix! You can get "Vegannais
e" (seriously, that's the brand name.. I may be spelling it incorrectly but you get the idea) which you can use in place of the regular mayo or sour cream. Or, you can just spread hummus on the pitas and then throw the veggies in.
I'm also wondering what a hummus and lemon-parsley pesto combination would be like.. that could work, too! :)
Obviously, you would just leave the cheese
off. While the cheese was a nice addition, I didn't think it was 100% necessary (yes, I had one sans cheese just to see). This would also make the dish lower in fat which is nice for everyone.

Here are the recipes!
Lemon-Parsley Pesto (Vegan)
This will make a bloody boat-load of pesto b
ut it freezes rather well so make the whole thing! :)
It thaws in no time and is great on pasta, white beans, sandwiches, as a dip...

4 cups loosely packed parsley leaves
1/4 cup olive oil

2 small garlic cloves
1/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
3 tbsp. freshly-squeezed lemon juice
2 tsp. grated lemon peel
2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
Pinch of sea salt

1. Place all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as neede
d. The volume will reduce to about 1/2 cup.
You can change the amounts to taste (salt, vinegar, lemon juice) but the predominant tastes should be the lemon and parsley.

Grilled Vegetable Pitas with Feta Cheese and Creamy Pesto
4 servings

Another photo, this time with the cheese.

1/4 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise, Vegannaise, or sour cream (I always use sour cream in place of mayo)
1 tbsp. lemon-parsley pesto
4 whole-wheat pitas, halved
Lettuce leaves
4 portobello mushroom caps, sliced
2 medium bell peppers, thickly sliced
1 medium red onion, thickly sliced
Cooking spray
Pinch of sea salt
Good sprinkle of freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

1. Combine the mayo/vegannnaise or sour cream with the pesto. Place in the refrigerator until ready to use.

2. Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Arrange the mushrooms, bell peppers, and onions on a baking sheet. Coat the veggies with cooking spray and then sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper. Drizzle the vinegar over the vegetables and place the baking sheet on the grill rack. Grill 5 minutes on each side or until tender.

3. Spread the pesto mixture onto each pita half and then stuff with lettuce and grilled veggies. Sprinkle crumbled feta into each pita half.

Lemon-Saffron Rice (Vegan)
4 servings

Rice (long-grain or basmati)
Sea salt
2 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
1 1/2 tsp. grated lemon rind
1 1/2 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
Couple pinches of saffron

1. Cook the rice according to package directions, adding saffron when you add the rice (crumble it a bit between your fingers as you add it).

2. Once the rice is cooked, stir in the lemon juice, lemon rind, and cilantro.

The lemon-parsley pesto recipe is from JoyGotDots on the Nest. The grilled veggie pitas and the lemon rice are based on the "Grilled Vegetable Pitas with Goat Cheese and Pesto Mayo" and "Fresh Lemon Rice" recipes from the August 2008 issue of Cooking Light magazine.


Joelen said...

Yum!! I'm definitely going to try making these since its chock full of veggies... but what tops it for me is adding cheese :)

annie said...

This looks excellent!!