I invited a lot of people to my La Brea bread banquet thinking I'd get a lot of "no" RSVPs. After all, the invite was last minute and the party was the Sunday night before the last week of school. Not exactly a "recipe" for a night of festivity. (bam-bam-CHING! I'm here all week, people.) Of the ten or so people I invited, I expected about five to come. Rookie mistake, Ensley. Rookie mistake. Everyone RSVP'd yes. Everyone. Plus I had mentioned to invite roommates and kids, which brought my grand total up to...twelve guests. Dear Lord.
This was after I'd already shopped for food, so let's just say I panicked a bit. Would my guests arrive expecting dinner and I would only be able to provide a few small morsels? Sending people home starving wasn't exactly the advertisement for veganism that I was hoping to make. (Welcome to my home, where I send guests home hungrier than when they arrived!) I sent a few histrionic mass texts to guests asking them to bring salad ingredients, in the hopes I could fill them up on foliage so they wouldn't notice the lack of actual food.
In the end, I should have just chugged a glass of pinot and calmed it down. Not only was there plenty of food (salad ingredients aside), there was enough for seconds and leftovers. We sipped wine, ate slowly, and enjoyed each other's company with the relaxed air of the last week of school before us. The two recipes below especially took on a sort of loaves-and-fishes quality, where there seemed to always be plenty no matter how many times guests went back for more. While I didn't deliver a Sermon on the Mount (much to the relief of my guests), the night was most definitely a success.
And the next time I decide to host a party? I'll have the pinot chilled and waiting.
4 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1 La Brea French Baguette, thinly sliced
1 container cherry tomatoes, rinsed and halved
1 avocado, pitted and diced
About 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar, for drizzling
1/4 cup basil leaves, finely diced (I know everyone does them chiffondale, but who wants a strip of basil hanging out of your mouth while you're trying to eat? Not I.)
1. Preheat oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Place baguette slices on baking sheet and drizzle with 2 Tbsp olive oil.
3. Bake 8-10 minutes, or until golden brown.
4. While baguette slices are baking, chop tomatoes and avocado and mix until evenly combined. (The best way to do this may be with your hands, so wash up.) Toss with remaining olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.
5. Spoon tomato/avocado mixture evenly onto baguette slices, then sprinkle with basil. Serve immediately.
Vegan Caprese Sandwiches
2 ripe tomatoes, sliced
6-10 basil leaves, whole but with stems torn off
1 package Vegan Gourmet mozzarella shreds (what I used) or 2 packages of Vegan Gourmet mozzarella (what I probably should have used because shredded cheese can make a mess)
2-3 Tbsp vegan mayo, like Veganaise
(Note: I elected to make this as essentially one big sandwich and then slice it to make it a little easier. Ciabatta can be a beast.)
1. Slice ciabatta loaf hamburger style so you essentially have one huge sandwich "bun".
2. Spread a bit of the Veganaise onto the bottom slice, then layer basil slices to completely cover the slice.
3. Layer tomatoes on top of basil.
4. If you're using mozzarella slices, slice them wide instead of narrow (so they are more of a square shape than narrow slices) and evenly layer them over the tomatoes. If you're using shred like I did, good luck. (Kidding. But a little serious.) Just sprinkle them over the tomatoes and hope that half of them end up in the sandwich.
5. Slice ciabatta loaf into 6 individual sandwiches.
Click here to find La Brea at a store near you. And enter below for a chance to win some free bread for yourself!
If you're in Charlotte, catch the #BreakingBread tour Uptown @ S. College St. & E. 3rd St. on Friday, June 20th at 8:30am.
Cheers to great parties, even with hysterical hosts!