Flavour Packed Pomegranate Basil Panini Sandwich And More Foodie Inspired Nuggets…

This & That

Vegan-based restaurant “Frsh” open for business at Ontario’s University of Waterloo campus
With my kids back in school this week planning vegan-friendly (and allergy-free) lunches is on my radar. The kids say they’re tired of sandwiches so I kicked off the first week of school by making a huge batch of vegetable noodle soup made hearty thanks to a few scoops of red lentils I snuck in (kids didn’t even notice) along with some cashew-based parmesan cheese. Each of their Thermos mugs were pretty much empty last night! Speaking of vegan meals to nourish young minds (and reduce our global footprint) the Waterloo Region Record, an Ontario-based community newspaper, reports that University of Waterloo (UW) has opened its firstalmost entirely vegan restaurant on campus. Over a year in the making, Frsh offers flatbreads, salad bowls and hot bowls that can be customized with your choice of base (naan, tortilla or focaccia), your choice of plant-based protein (vegetables, vegan or dairy cheese) and a choice of sauce.
Executive Chef for UW Food Services Gordon Colledge says in the short time the restaurant has been open there has been lots of encouraging feedback.

I’m thrilled by this news and hope this paves the way for change in our school systems.  Last year we approached the school chef at our kids’ school (K-12) here in the Vancouver, BC area to find out if they would be able to accommodate a plant-based meal (even just once a week to start) and we were simply told it was “not feasible”. This University of Waterloo story has revived my passion to advocate for plant-based meals at  my kids’ school…one email, one phone call at a time Janik and I will pursue our conviction to make vegan meals an option at their school.

“It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. It’s hard to try and make the leap fully into a vegan or vegetarian … but even cutting out one (meat-based) meal a week or two meals a week can have an impact.”
— Gordon Cooledge, executive chef for UW Food Services

For the original article click here


Feature Recipe | Flavour Packed Pomegranate Basil Panini Sandwich

A fresh grilled panini sandwich is one of my favourite ‘fast casual’ weeknight meals. My go-to recipe includes thick, sliced, juicy tomatoes and shredded vegan mozzarella layered  over a pesto-smothered ciabatta bun. As we move into the cooler Fall season I wanted to try a twist on my classic panini sandwich which summoned me to the jar of lovely ruby red pomegranate juice sitting in my fridge. After all, with Fall around the corner it seemed like the perfect time to feature the ‘jewel fruit’ of winter (pomegranates are in season September through January). The highlight of this panini sandwich is the flavour-packed pomegranate sauce,  made with a blend of avocado oil, pomegranate juice, balsamic vinegar, agave syrup & minced garlic. Drizzle over minced garlic, fresh basil and hemp seeds, this sauce delivers a burst of tart sweetness you won’t be able to get enough of! For a more indulgent experience be sure to add some grated vegan cheese (mozzarella or monterey jack) to your filling before grilling the goods!

In the spirit of deliciously simple fast casual meals you may want to try our:

Pesto-Berry Drizzled Panini Sandwich
Soy Curl BLT Sandwich with Matchstick Fries
Ultimate Vegan Hamburger Helper

Enjoy~

Ingredients

Toppings (Customize amounts to suit your taste)

  • Panini buns/Baguette/Ciabatta, halved
  • Fresh minced garlic
  • Olive oil
  • Himalayan pink salt
  • Fresh basil leaves
  • Hemp seeds
  • Vegan mozzarella shreds (optional)

Pomegranate Sauce

  • 1 Tbsp avocado oil or similar (eg, grapeseed, canola etc)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • Pinch of Himalayan pink salt
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate juice
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp agave syrup
  • 1 Tbsp corn starch
  • 3 Tbsp pomegranate arils (optional, for bolder flavour)

Instructions

Prep It
1/Heat glug of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add minced garlic, pinch of salt, pomegranate juice and balsamic vinegar. Whisk until a low simmer is reached (mixture just starts to bubble).
2/With the skillet on medium-high heat, add agave syrup and corn starch to the skillet. Whisk until mixture starts to thicken.
3/Reduce heat to low. Add pomegranate arils. Stir until well combined. Your Pomegranate Sauce is now ready!
Note: You don’t want to break up the arils otherwise you will have crunchy ‘bits’ in the sauce

Grill It
1/Line up all  the “bottom” buns (facing up); line up all the corresponding “top” buns (facing up). Spread minced garlic on each “bottom”; drizzle olive oil on each “top”. Add a pinch of salt to each “top” and “bottom”.
2/On each “bottom” add a generous amount of fresh basil leaves. Drizzle the prepared pomegranate sauce over the basil. Sprinkle a few hemp seeds over the sauce and top with shredded mozzarella (optional). Your filling is now complete.
3/Pair up the “top” and “bottoms” making sure to keep the filling inside (tuck as you go!) Place in preheated panini press. Drizzle olive oil over each “top”. Grill for 10-15 minutes or until the filling oozes outside of the bread.

Serve It
Cut each panino in half to display the gorgeous ruby-red pomegranate sauce. Serve with a side of roasted potatoes and/or salad.

Recipe Notes

*When buying pomegranates, choose ones that are deep-red coloured and are heavy for their size; this usually indicates they will be sweet and juicy.

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