Taking the Teese Challenge, Part I

Recently the fine folks from Chicago Soy Dairy posted a fun challenge on Facebook for vegan food bloggers: receive some free Teese, create a recipe, photograph it, and blog about it (whether your recipe is a sweeping success or a flopping failure). I’ve been in a bit of a funk lately and this was the motivation I needed to force my usually imaginative mind back into action.

Admittedly, I am not a huge fan of vegan cheeses and very rarely purchase or eat them. I even posted about my dislike of Teese once or twice. But, I am always willing to try again, especially when it involves creativity in the kitchen. For me, it isn’t really the taste of Teese, but simply that I don’t miss cheese in my diet and often prefer to fill up on heaps of grains and veggies instead. This challenge yielded a fantastic special meal for Tim and I, the type of meal we don’t normally make, but certainly enjoy from time to time.

Chicago Soy Dairy was very generous and sent two mini logs of Teese (bloggers chose their flavors) out to participants. I chose mozzarella and cheddar. My first recipe was dinner this evening:

Pesto Parsnip Panini

This sammie had homemade hazelnut pesto, roasted red peppers, parsnip, and mozzarella Teese smooshed between chewy slices of local ciabatta bread and grilled. It was delicious!!!! Woohoo!!! My apartment was a smoky mess from the hot grill pan sitting on the stove while I snapped photos, but whatever – Teese Challenge #1 for the win!

Want the recipe?!!!

Here you go!

Pesto Parsnip Paninis -makes 2-3 sammies, depending on the size of your bread

1 batch of hazelnut pesto (recipe follows)

2 small parsnips, peeled, washed, and sliced thinly (about a cup)

1 medium red bell pepper, roasted and sliced into thin strips (about 3/4 – 1 cup)

8 slices of ¬†mozzarella Teese, sliced 1/8″ thick

4-6 slices (about 1/2″ – 3/4″ thick) of good quality Italian-style bread, such as ciabatta

extra virgin olive oil for brushing on bread and pan

Hazelnut Pesto

1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts
3 cups packed, fresh basil leaves (approximately)
2 garlic cloves, crushed
3 T extra virgin olive oil
1/2 t fine sea salt, or to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of cayenne if you fancy some heat

Directions for the pesto:

1. Place toasted hazelnuts in a food processor and process until finely ground

2. Add the crushed garlic cloves and process to incorporate

3. Add the basil and process until the mixture comes together nicely

4. Add the olive oil, 1 T at a time, processing well between each addition (you may not need all 3 T or you may need more, depending on your basil)

5. Add salt and pepper(s) and process a bit more until everything is mixed well

***You want the pesto to be a bit thicker than normal pesto so that you can spread it onto the bread***

Assembling/making the sammies:

1. Preheat a cast iron grill pan on your stove over medium heat. If you have a panini press (lucky you!!), plug it in and preheat it (or whatever you are supposed to do with a panini press).

2. Take two slices of bread and brush a bit of olive oil on one side of each slice.

3. Spread about 2 T of pesto (more or less depending on your bread size and taste preferences) on the non-oiled side of each piece of bread.

4. Pile some sliced parsnip on both slices of the bread.

5. Add strips of roasted red pepper to one slice of bread only (otherwise when you sandwich the two slices together it will make a big mess!).

6. Layer some slices of Teese over the pepper strips, overlap the slices a bit. You can sprinkle a bit of nutritional yeast on your sammie at this point if you wish (I didn’t, but Tim did).

7. Take the other slice of bread and quickly sandwich it together with the pepper and Teese topped piece.

8. Brush a bit of olive oil on your grill pan (I know olive oil smokes, but the taste is phenomenal for this sammie, so just open a window and relax a bit!).

9. Place your sammie in the grill pan and press firmly down with something heavy. I used a ceramic pie plate and it fit perfectly inside my grill pan. Just make sure to use a pot-holder when pressing down, because whatever you use as a press will get hot.

10. It will take a few minutes per side for your sammie to grill nicely and heat all the ingredients (and melt the Teese a bit). Flip carefully when the first side is crisp and golden and repeat for the other side.

11. Repeat with remaining sammie ingredients. My batch made 3 sammies, and I had a bit of leftover pesto.

Enjoy!!!

A great big thank you to Chicago Soy Dairy for creating such a fun food challenge!!! And thanks a billion for sending me some free Teese!! Check out their blog for recipes and other fun stuff.

Annnnnnnnd, stay tuned for Part II of my Teese Challenge, a recipe using Cheddar Teese!!