Try These ‘Wicked Healthy’ Plant-Based Recipes To Make Lunch Less Boring
Everybody knows they should eat more plants, but most think that plants can’t be delicious or that they don’t have the kitchen smarts to make these foods taste their best.
Chefs Chad and Derek Sarno are among the world’s foremost authorities on plant-based cooking and, with prolific author & collaborator, David Joachim, are now sharing their secrets to making killer meals in The Wicked Healthy Cookbook.
Having spent decades practicing and perfecting their craft, Chad, Derek, and David share their “plant-based 2.0” approach, including drool-inducing, no-holds-barred recipes. The Wicked Healthy Cookbook celebrates the vital role that plants play in human health and vitality.
Here are a few Wicked Healthy recipes to try if your regular lunch just isn’t cutting it.
GRILLED SWEET POTATO, SRIRACHA CARAMEL, and KALE TOASTS
There are no rules when it comes to toast. It’s bread, toasted, for Pete’s sake! The sky’s the limit. It can be breakfast, lunch, or a wicked-filling snack. Make it extra ninja-like with your own freshly baked sourdough bread, and it becomes an event!
If you keep some Mango Sriracha Caramel and roasted sweet potatoes in the fridge, this toast comes together fast. I love the smokiness you get from grilling everything here, but if you’re short on time, you can sear it all in a hot cast-iron pan instead of grilling.
- 2 sweet potatoes (about 1. pounds total), preferably the Jewel variety
- 2 teaspoons everyday olive oil
- 4 kale leaves, ribs removed, torn into bite-size pieces
- 4 slices good crusty bread, preferably Rustic Walnut Bread
- ½ cup plant-based cream cheese, such as from Kite Hill
- Pinch of coarse sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 minced red Thai chile, optional
- 2 teaspoons Mango Sriracha Caramel
HOW TO MAKE IT
- Preheat the oven to 350.F.
- Roast the whole sweet potatoes (skin on) on a baking sheet on the oven rack until a skewer slides in and out easily, about 45 minutes. Let cool, then chill until cold, at least 4 hours. Or make it ahead of time and keep in the fridge for 2 to 3 days.
- Heat a grill or grill pan to medium-high.
- Remove the skins from the potatoes and slice into coins about, inch thick (8 to 9 coins per potato). Coat a large baking sheet with the oil and add the coins, flipping and rubbing to coat evenly. Push the potatoes to the side of the pan, and add the kale to the empty side. Rub the oil into the kale with your hands. Massage it in real good.
- Transfer the potato coins to the grill and grill just until grill-marked a deep brown, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Grill the bread until toasty and grill-marked, 30 to 60 seconds per side. Watch closely so you don’t burn the bread! Grill the kale just until it brightens and begins to wilt, 15 to 30 seconds.
- Smear cream cheese on the toasted bread. Top with kale and sweet potato coins and season with a pinch of salt and a grinding of pepper. Add the Thai chile, if using.
- Finish off with a little sizzle-drizzle of sriracha caramel and serve.
MANGO SRIRACHA CARAMEL INGREDIENTS
- 64 ounces (2 quarts) mango (or mango apricot) juice
- 2 cups organic cane sugar
- ¼ cup Ninja Squirrel sriracha or Homemade Badass Sriracha
HOW TO MAKE IT
- Stir together all the ingredients in a medium saucepot. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring now and then with a wooden spoon. Cook until reduced in volume to about 2 cups, 2 to 3 hours. Have patience, Daniel-san. Who gets this movie reference? You’ll have to eyeball it in the pan. It should have the consistency of thin syrup.
- Remove from the heat and let cool a bit. Pour into Mason jars and let cool completely. It will firm up some but should still be pourable, like a thick maple syrup. Seal and refrigerate for up to 1 month. Bring to room temperature or slightly warm the caramel before serving.
PLANT-BASED BLT with TOMATO HABANERO JAM and HERB AIOLI
As kids, our family had BLT nights in the summer, and everybody would make sandwiches from a giant platter of bacon, lettuce, tomatoes, squishy white bread, and a tub of mayo. Here’s our sexy, plant-pushing version.
HERB AIOLI INGREDIENTS (makes one cup)
1 cup Plant-Based Mayo or store-bought, such as Just Mayo
2 cloves garlic, pressed or finely grated with a Microplane zester
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
2 teaspoons minced or snipped fresh chives
Pinch of coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Whisk everything together in a small mixing bowl or jar. Use immediately or cover and chill in the fridge for about a week.
TOMATO HABANERO JAM INGREDIENTS (makes about 2 cups)
10 vine-ripened tomatoes, about 4 pounds
2 tablespoons everyday olive oil
1 sweet white onion, diced small (about 1½ cups)
6 cloves garlic, sliced wicked thin
6 to 10 habanero chile peppers, sliced or minced
2 cups organic cane sugar
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
½ tablespoon sea salt
Pinch of ground white pepper
HOW TO MAKE IT
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Set up a bowl of ice water.
- Cut an X in the bottom of each tomato, then drop them into the boiling water and blanch until the skins start to peel back, about 30 seconds. Use a spider strainer or slotted spoon to transfer the tomatoes to the ice water. When cool, peel the skins from the tomatoes with your fingertips and a paring knife. Remove the cores and roughly chop the peeled tomatoes. You should have about 8 cups.
- Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add the onions and sweat until soft, about 5 minutes. You don’t want to brown the onions, just soften or “sweat” them. Add the garlic and continue sweating for 3 to 4 minutes more.
- Add the chopped tomatoes and everything else and crank the heat to high. Bring the mixture to a simmer, then cut the heat to low. Let everything simmer gently until thickened to a soft jam-like consistency, 1 to 1¼ hours. With all that sugar, the jam will want to burn on the bottom. Don’t let it. Stir the pot often to keep the jam from sticking and burning. The finished consistency should be like thin jam. It will thicken up more when it cools.
- When the hot jam is nice and thick but still pourable, ladle or pour the jam into a pint-size Mason jar. Screw on the lid and let the jam sit at room temperature until cooled, 1 to 2 hours. The heat in the jar should create a vacuum, sucking down the lid. When cooled, store the jam in the fridge. It will keep for a few weeks.
MARINADE AND OIL INGREDIENTS
¼ cup tamari or soy sauce
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1½ tablespoons Homemade Badass Sriracha or other sriracha
1 teaspoon liquid smoke (mesquite preferred), optional
½ tablespoon granulated onion
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
2 cloves garlic, minced
Pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons peanut oil or vegetable oil, for frying (a bit less for baking)
TO MAKE THE MARINADE
In a bowl or jar, whisk or shake together the tamari, maple syrup, sriracha, liquid smoke if using, granulated onion, paprika, garlic, salt, and pepper.
TO MAKE THE SANDWICH
1. Choose your favorite bread, like a small ciabatta bread roll sliced in half.
2. Lather on Herb Aioli and Tomato Habanero Jam.
3. Layer the sandwich with thinly shaved red onion, thin slices of vine-ripened tomato, your favorite Plant Bacon, and then Bibb lettuce. Chomp down and enjoy with a crisp pilsner beer!
Recipes excerpted from the book THE WICKED HEALTHY COOKBOOK by Chad Sarno, Derek Sarno, and David Joachim and provided by the publisher.