3 Plant-Based Meals to Take Advantage of Summer Vegetables

 

Summer is in full swing! I suppose summer didn’t officially begin until June 20, but has certainly felt like it longer than that here in Houston. School is out, pools and splash pads are open, and the air is permanently infused with the scent of sunscreen. My favorite hallmark of summer, however, is the veritable bounty of summer vegetables available to make plant-based meals. Sun-warmed tomatoes, crisp cucumbers, velvety eggplant, tender okra. I have yet to meet a vegetable that I do not like, and, in my opinion, summer offers the best produce of the year. 

I’m currently pregnant with my third child, and this time around, I’m experiencing my first bout with food aversions. The culprit? Meat. So this year, I’ve been digging into the summer bounty with a renewed vigor. It’s been a fun challenge to compose different and satisfying meals using plant-based ingredients. As I head farther into my second trimester, the aversion has decreased in intensity, but I’m still eating mostly plant-based meals because they’re just so darn good. Even my husband and kids are enjoying them! So today, I thought I’d share some of my favorite plant-based meals that I’ve put together over the last couple of months. You’re definitely not limited to the veggies in each recipe; these are just my favorite!

3 Plant-Based Meals to Take Advantage of Summer VegetablesMediterranean Tofu Scramble
{Serves 1}

I made this one morning out of necessity. I was low on our typical breakfast food, and I opened the fridge to see a handful of mixed veggies and some leftover tofu. And for some reason, inspiration hit. I sautéed some onions and garlic in a bit of olive oil, threw in the veggies and cubed tofu, and added some chopped herbs from my garden. I rounded it out with some Mediterranean classics:: olives and a bit of crumbled feta cheese {I know, not plant based. If you’re strict vegan, just leave it out!} And it was just so satisfying and delicious. I now make this plant-based meal on the regular. It is great with whole grain sourdough for breakfast or a light salad with your favorite vinaigrette for lunch or dinner. 

Ingredients::
1 tsp olive oil
1/4 lb extra firm tofu, cut into cubes 
a cup of mixed veggies:: onion, garlic, bell pepper, tomatoes, banana peppers, okra, zucchini, or whatever you have on hand
1-2 tsp of herbs {I use oregano and basil}
3-4 green olives, sliced
1 tablespoon of crumbled or diced feta cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Directions::
1. Heat olive oil in a small sauté pan on medium heat. Add onions and garlic {if using} and cook for 1-2 minutes, until onions have a bit of color. Add in mixed veggies and tofu and cook for 5-6 minutes, until veggies soften slightly and tofu is slightly browned. {If you like softer veggies, give them a head start and then add the tofu.}
2. Add in herbs. When ready to serve, turn off the heat and add olives and feta. The residual heat will slightly melt the feta and warm the olives. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately. 

Hummus and Tomato Sandwich
{Serves 1}

My father-in-law is an amazing cook. He creates beautiful pot pies, wonderfully spiced soups, and the most delicious bread with that immensely satisfying crackly crust. He’s taught me a lot about cooking in the time since I met my husband. Truly though, the most important skill I’ve developed from eating in his kitchen is the art of the simple meal. Enter this sandwich. One evening, he set the table with fresh sourdough bread, homemade hummus, and juicy red tomatoes on the vine. Add in some salt and pepper, and that was it. And oh my, I still think about that sandwich. So recently, when I opened the fridge and saw that same mix of items, I was hit with nostalgia and a bit of inspiration for this plant-based meal. 

Ingredients::
2 slices of sourdough bread
2 tsp of olive oil
2 tablespoons of hummus
2-3 slices of beefsteak tomatoes 
2 radishes, sliced
A small handful of broccoli sprouts
Romaine lettuce
Salt and pepper

Directions::
1. Heat 1 tsp of olive oil in a small pan. Toast 1 slice of sourdough until golden and toasted on each side. Repeat with 2nd slice. 
2. Spread hummus on both slices of bread. Layer sliced radishes on each side. Add tomatoes to one side. Salt and pepper to taste. Top with lettuce and sprouts.
3. Close sandwich. Eat. Enjoy!

Roasted Tomato and Eggplant Bruschetta
{Serves 4 {or 1- I won’t tell!}}

Two summers ago, my garden was teeming with tomatoes, eggplant, and basil. It was a culinary delight, except for one problem:: no one in my family eats eggplant. However, everyone in my family eats roasted veggies. And bread. With the inspiration that only pure summertime can give, I experimented and came up with this plant-based recipe. It was a hit. The blend of the sweet, almost candy-like tomatoes, the caramelized eggplant, and fresh basil with balsamic and garlic was like a burst of sunshine. I highly recommend eating this one outside, ideally with a refreshing glass of wine, while watching your kids play from a distance. 

Ingredients::
Olive oil
2 pints of grape tomatoes
1 small-medium size eggplant, peeled and cut into cubes
3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup of basil leaves, thinly sliced
1 baguette, sliced into 1/2 inch slices
Salt and pepper

Directions::
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 
2. Add tomatoes, eggplant, and garlic cloves to a sheet pan. Generously coat with olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Roast 20 minutes, until the tomatoes are burst and eggplant is golden and caramelized. Remove and switch the oven to broiler. 
3. Combine eggplant and tomatoes in a bowl. Lightly smash the tomatoes. Roughly chop the garlic and add to the mix. 
4. Mix in chopped basil and balsamic vinegar. Taste, and season with more salt and pepper if needed. 
5. For bread:: place slices on a sheet pan and drizzle lightly with olive oil. Place under broiler and be sure to watch! The bread slices will burn quickly. Toast until golden, about 1-2 minutes. 
6. Top bread slices with tomato and eggplant mixture. Serve with a side salad. 

If you haven’t already, check out your local farmer’s market for the best of local summer produce to create one of these delicious plant-based recipes!


 

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Rebecca S. is a born and raised Houstonian; she grew up in Katy, graduated with a BS in Hotel and Restaurant Management from the University of Houston {go Coogs!}, and made a home in West Houston with her native Houstonian husband. She quickly realized that the chaotic lifestyle of the hospitality industry was not for her and soon found her calling in education. She taught while earning her masters in Library Science from the University of North Texas. Currently, she is staying home with her son, Thomas {2016} and daughter Charlie {2020}. In her free time, she loves to read, write, run, and roam the world. While her roots are firmly planted in H-town, she takes every available opportunity to go on an adventure and explore historic cities, hike and run new trails, and, of course, try beers from every country.

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