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A light meal that's guaranteed to hit the spot, this soup and sandwich combo is definitely not light on flavor or color. Earthy beets, crispy carrots, sweet pear slices, and tender spinach are piled high over a tangy, fluffy spread made in a snap by combining firm tofu with a potent prepared hummus. To go along, we knew the classic pairing of creamy butter beans and dark greens bolstered by a sprinkling herbs was just the thing to go with a surplus of garlic we had on hand. Together, they're a welcome antidote to the rich fare that abounds in December. On the other hand, if you need a little more heft, simply make a larger batch of tofu spread and slather it on thick. Or save that extra room for an after-dinner dip into the Christmas cookie jar.

Stacked Vegetable and Creamy Tofu Sandwich

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serves 4, adapted from Everyday Food, November, 2010

8 slices wheat bread

2 oz extra firm tofu

2 oz prepared hummus (we use Tomato Head's)

1 medium beet, shredded

juice of 1 lime, divided

1 pear, thinly sliced

1 cup shredded carrots

2 cups loosely packed baby spinach, or green of choice

1/4 tsp sea salt

1/8 tsp cracked black pepper

In a food processor, combine the tofu and hummus until a fluffy, creamy mixture forms. Divide the tofu spread into four equal servings of about 1 TBSP each.

Stir the juice from half of the lime into the shredded beets. Pour the juice from the other half of the lime over the pear slices and toss gently. In a small dish, stir together the salt and pepper.

To assemble the sandwiches, divide one serving (1/4 of the whole batch) of the tofu-hummus mixture in half and spread a layer on two slices of bread. Top one slice with beets, carrots, pear slices, and spinach leaves. Sprinkle a little of the salt and pepper over the tofu spread on the other slice and place on top. Grill on a counter-top electric grill or on a griddle/pan on the stove top until golden.


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Garlic, Greens, and Butter Bean Soup

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serves 4

8 cups vegetable broth

1 head garlic (about 8 large cloves), minced

1 tsp dried oregano

1/2 tsp dried thyme

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1 bay leaf

freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

1 bunch Italian kale, or other dark, leafy green, chopped

1 15-oz can butter beans, drained and rinsed

Bring the broth to a boil in a covered soup pot. Add garlic, oregano, thyme, cumin, bay leaf, and pepper. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer 10 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and add the chopped kale. Cook with the lid cocked for an additional 10 minutes. Add the beans and continue to cook until warmed through.