portobello pups & macaroni salad

Portabello Pups / @loveandlemons

In honor of Labor Day weekend we’re making fun, un-fussy (yet still yummy!) food. This is my vegi-ful take on a few cookout classics – grilled “hot dogs,” with all the fixins, and a lighter take on creamy pasta salad.

Portabello Pups and Macaroni Salad / @loveandlemons

We’ve partnered with French’s as part of their Mustard Mixology program to share a few grilling recipes focused around one of my favorite ingredients - mustard. I brushed slices of portobello mushrooms with olive oil, yellow mustard and balsamic vinegar… and grilled them until charred and juicy.

I’ll be honest, I originally planned to serve these in hot dog buns for the novelty of it – but it turns out that portobellos really work better in dog form than in burger-form. They get more fully covered in the flavorful marinade and (because they’re thinner strips) they cook a lot quicker and more evenly.

Portabello Pups and Macaroni Salad / @loveandlemons

This macaroni is a brighter, more fresh version than the mayo-laden one we all know (but no one really loves). It’s full of crunchy vegetables and tossed with a light dressing made of olive oil, lemon and mustard. If you’re vegan you can stop there, or you can add a big scoop of greek yogurt to make your salad creamy.

Happy long weekend!

Portabello Pups  / @loveandlemons

As part of the #FrenchsMixology program, one reader will win a fun grilling prize pack including: a Napoleon TravelQ 285 Portable Grill, Assortment of French’s Mustard Sauces, Coupons and a French’s T-shirt, bag and hat. (Prize package is valued over $450!). 

To enter, leave a comment below sharing your own Mustard Mixology ideas!

crispy pesto baked zucchini

Crispy Pesto Baked Zucchini / @loveandlemons

And the zucchini blogging continues…

This has been one of my go-to dishes this summer (or at least a few variations of it). Like many recipes, this started out more complicated - each time I made it, it became more and more simple. This, (my favorite version!) is all about the zucchini & summer squash… and it uses up lots of it. The concept is simple - toss squash with pesto, top it with panko, and then bake it until it’s lightly crisp on top.

Crispy Pesto Baked Zucchini / @loveandlemons

It starts with lots and lots of thinly sliced zucchini. This is a good time to break out your mandoline if you have one.

Crispy Pesto Baked Zucchini / @loveandlemons Crispy Pesto Baked Zucchini / @loveandlemons

I put a layer of plain tomato sauce on the bottom, and topped it all with panko and parmesan. Aside from the topping, it’s almost vegan and almost gluten free. (See recipe notes for a few adaptations). Bake it until it’s nice and crispy.

This is more of a side dish than a one-pan dinner, but it’s super tasty with some grilled fish or whatever sort of protein you like.

Crispy Pesto Baked Zucchini / @loveandlemons

spicy sweet potato avocado tostadas

Spicy Sweet Potato Avocado Tostadas (vegan, gluten free) / @loveandlemons

There are no cool breezes in the air, but fall feelings are starting to happen in Austin by way of our local produce selection. This recipe was created from as many things from my Farmhouse Delivery (a local CSA-like farm share) box that I could fit into one meal. I received a sweet potato the size of my small dog Annie, and a bunch of tiny grape tomatoes - so I thought hearty tostadas with fresh, spicy salsa would be fitting for an in-between seasonal dinner.

Spicy Sweet Potato Avocado Tostadas (vegan, gluten free) / @loveandlemons

The okra here isn’t totally necessary but I had tons to use up so in it went. Feel free to sub in a veggie you might have (too much of!) on hand.

Spicy Sweet Potato Avocado Tostadas (vegan, gluten free) / @loveandlemons

This salsa has 6 ingredients and it’ll take you about 5 minutes to make. Mix it together, roast some sweet potatoes, and you’re almost there. Pulse it in a food processor if you want a smoother salsa, I kept mine chunky.

Here’s a new tip for spicing sweet potatoes: Try roasting them normally – with olive oil, salt, and pepper – and then wait until after they bake (while they’re still hot) to toss them with your ground spices. I find them to have a bigger & better flavor this way without the chance of them burning in the oven. Here, I used McCormick Gourmet’s cumin and chili powder. Make them even spicier with pinch of cayenne – but keep in mind the spice level of your salsa.

Spicy Sweet Potato Avocado Tostadas (vegan, gluten free) / @loveandlemons

When your sweet potatoes are nearly roasted, add your tortillas and bake until they’re super crispy.

Assemble tostadas with smashed avocado on the bottom so that your tostada stays cohesive when you take a bite. I should also add that refried beans, (while not pictured here) are a nice addition underneath the avocado.

Spicy Sweet Potato Avocado Tostadas (vegan, gluten free) / @loveandlemons

heirloom tomato sun-cheese toasts

Heirloom tomato sun-cheese toasts (vegan) / @loveandlemons

You may have noticed that I love making non-dairy sauces & spreads of out cashews, walnuts, and almonds (to name just a few). Every time I post a nutty sauce, I get a comment or two from readers who are allergic to dairy and nuts. (And I totally feel for you). Hopefully, you are not also allergic to seeds because my current obsession is this spread made from sunflower seeds.

Heirloom tomato sun-cheese toasts (vegan) / @loveandlemons Heirloom tomato sun-cheese toasts (vegan) / @loveandlemons

Sunflower seeds blend up to become a similar texture to ricotta, although the flavor of this spread is a bit more rich & tangy. I’ve posted similar recipes in the past - this time I’ve altered it to use easier-to-find ingredients. I’m hoping you love it as much as I do.

I made this last weekend and slathered it on grilled baguette along with some beautiful brandywine heirloom tomato slices. It would also work well as a dairy/nut replacement on this fig pizza, on this peach salad, on these avocado tartines, and also dolloped onto these baked sweet potatoes. (If you can’t tell by now, I make this all the time).

Heirloom tomato sun-cheese toasts (vegan) / @loveandlemons

Of course, summer snacks are best enjoyed on pretty plates! These Cool Montecito Salad Plates from Q Squared are a fun & festive way to serve brightly colored appetizers. Love and Lemons readers will receive 20% off purchases. (enter code: LOVEANDLEMONS)

Heirloom tomato sun-cheese toasts (vegan) / @loveandlemons

eggplant recipes

Eggplant Recipes / @loveandlemons Eggplant Recipes / @loveandlemons

I’ve been cooking eggplant like crazy lately, but you know what? It’s not the easiest vegetable to photograph. So today I’m rounding up some old favorites as well as some recipes from around the web that are on my to-make list before summer is over. Do you have a favorite way to cook eggplant/aubergine?

Pictured above:

Eggplant & Summer Squash Tian

Nasu Dengaku (Miso-Broiled Eggplant) (*my favorite way to cook eggplant!)

More eggplant recipes:

Ginger Miso Eggplant Noodles

Easy Peanut Noodles

Alice Water’s Ratatouille (on Food52) 

Grilled Eggplant with Herbed Quinoa and Cherry Tomatoes (A Couple Cooks)

Quinoa Crusted Eggplant Parmigiana (Kitchen Confidante)

Chickpea stuffed eggplant with couscous and tahini sauce (Dishing up the Dirt)

Pan-Fried Eggplant with Balsamic, Basil, and Capers (Saveur)

Grilled Eggplant Rolls with Cream Cheese and Herbed Millet (Naturally Ella)

One pot vegan pasta (Minimalist Baker)

Zucchini, Eggplant, Tomato Gratin (Simply Recipes)

Ricotta-Stuffed Grilled Eggplant (Food52)

Smoky Eggplant Dip (Smitten Kitchen)