Happy hump day, ladies and gents.
Yesterday I had the pleasure of interviewing vegan professional triathlete and Thrive author Brendan Brazier! He was very friendly and down-to-Earth, and showed no sign of irritation at having to spend 25 minutes of his rockstar Ironman life talking to some peon-schmuck blogger. So go ahead and put me in the fan-for-life category. He gave me lots of great info that I’m sure you’ll be interested in, so as soon as I get a chance to transcribe the interview today or tomorrow, I’ll post it.
Shroomin’ with Rach
For dinner last night, I made a vegetarian version of a Rachael Ray recipe from 365: No Repeats, the book that really got me started with cooking about five years ago. We’ve made portobello burgers before and really enjoyed them, but this recipe has bonus s*** piled on top. Arugula, a carmelized onion-olive sauce, and pesto ricotta. Yummo! Delish! EVOO! Whatever else Rachael says!
Since I’m always on the lookout for new NMA-TV demo ideas, I was excited to find that this recipe calls for pitted olives. So I made a quick vid for you, and threw in a little bonus about popping garlic cloves out of their skins, which uses the same highly-technical, sophisticated technique which I like to call “bashing with a knife.” Fun for all!
Erin and I were pretty happy with the way the recipe turned out. Nothing taste-bud-blowing, but a decent, fast, mostly-healthy weeknight meal. And I realized something about Rachel Ray’s cooking. A lot of “real chefs” disrespect Rachael because she didn’t go to culinary school. But you know what? I think that’s great. She just throws stuff together that she thinks will taste good, stuff that trained chefs would never do, and lots of times it works. I mean, who puts onions, olives, and tomato paste together in a burger topping? It’s just different, not stuck in a stuffy culinary-school box, and for that reason I’m so glad that my first exposure to cooking was through Rachael’s book. Annoying phrases and all.
Pesto-Ricotta Portobello Burgers Recipe
Ingredients (for 4 burgers):
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 4 Tbsp canola/olive oil blend
- 4 large portobello mushroom caps
- 1 red onion, sliced thin
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped (don’t mince too small or it will burn)
- 1 Tbsp tomato paste
- 3/4 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
- 4 Tbsp pesto (we bought it premade, use your own if you have it)
- 1/2 vegetable stock
- 4 whole wheat rolls (we used Ezekiel sprouted wheat)
- 1/3 cup kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
- 2 cups arugula
- salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. In a wide bowl, combine the balsamic vinegar with half of the oil blend (2 Tbsp) and some salt and pepper to taste. Toss the portobello caps in the mixture to coat them. Place the mushrooms on a cookie sheet gill-side up, pour leftover oil/vinegar mixture onto the gills. Place in the oven for about 12 minutes, until they’re tender.
While the mushrooms cook, heat the rest of the oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add the red onion slices, the garlic, the tomato paste, and some salt and pepper. Mix it quickly together and stir frequently to prevent anything from burning. Let it cook for about 8 minutes to get nice and brown, but reduce the heat if things start to char.
Combine the ricotta cheese with the pesto in a bowl. When the mushrooms have each finished cooking, spread the ricotta mixture on top of them and return to the oven for one minute. Pour the vegetable stock and olives into the onion mixture, increase the heat to boil it, and let it reduce for a few minutes.
Assemble the burgers: place a portobello topped with ricotta on each bun, then top with the onion-olive mixture, then arugula.
Today, for those not scoring at home, marks the end of my 30-Day Challenge. Yee-haw! If you can’t tell, my excitement is feigned. The thing is, I realized pretty quickly that my main goal, to eat three vegan, high-raw Thrive meals per week, wasn’t very challenging at all. In addition to the dinners, we started making smoothies, salads, veggie crackers, and sports drinks and gels from Thrive, so it kind of became part of my life. In other words, I was so easy to incorporate these meals that my “challenge” didn’t take any effort at all. So some of the fun of a good challenge was lost, even though I’m so glad to have made my diet even better.
As for the foam-rolling part, my secondary challenge, I was supposed to do that on every non-workout day. Meh. It didn’t happen; I probably did it once or twice per week, on average. Still better than nothing, but I’m a little embarrassed at having not done what I committed to do. Ah well.
I know that a few of you who took on challenges, particularly Christine and Hanlie, have stuck with them, based on the evidence provided by the links. So congratulations to you! I know some of my family members who took on challenges did pretty well, modifying slightly the parts that were unrealistic. What about the rest of you? Did you make it? (I’m sure a few don’t even read the blog anymore. They suck. :))