Wally’s Pub – An Unbeatable Veggie Burger Experience

 

I think it’s safe to say that every vegetarian enjoys a good veggie burger. But have you ever had one that you CONSTANTLY think about and know that you’ll never ever find another veggie burger that romances your taste buds the same way? I have.

For those of you who don’t live in Arizona, I’m sorry that you don’t have access to this veggie burger:

 

It’s crafted by one of my favorite restaurants here in Arcadia, Wally’s American Pub n’ Grille. Not only is this a great place to grab a beer with friends, the menu boasts favorites with an extremely high success rate. I can vouch that I’ve never taken somebody here that didn’t want to go back the next day. Simply put: This place is fabulous.

I’m always trying to impress my grandparents with my choices about where we lunch. My grandfather, who we affectionately call “Pop”, LOVES his hamburgers. Among some other favorites like meat loaf, pot roast and Fish n’ Chips, Wally’s is known for their awesome hamburgers.  Served with a confetti of sweet potato and regular fries, a beer-bettered onion ring and a dill pickle spear, Wally’s burgers are no joke. And it was most definitely “Pop Approved.” And the same can be said about the veggie burger.

This house-made black bean and rice patty is slathered in an Asian glaze, topped with melted swiss, a large helping of crisp iceberg lettuce, tomato, red onion, avocado, roasted red peppers and a black olive aioli. All of this sandwiched between a toasted asiago bun. YUM.

Needless to say, I was in a food coma for the rest of the day. What a blissful state to be in. 😉

Baked Gemelli with Pecorino and Smoked Mozzarella


Yeah… so you may have noticed that I’m kind of in the middle of a love affair with smoked cheeses. They are just so gosh darn yummy!

Since it’s birthday season in my world, my wallet has been a little tight – not to mention Mondays are usually very long days for me with work, gym, boy toy, loving on my dog… you get the picture. I had slacked on my running schedule over the weekend so I really pushed myself yesterday. When I left the gym, all I really wanted to eat was a big heaping bowl of pasta. I wanted a recipe that was full of flavor but required minimal effort.

Enter the simple and oh-so-scrumptious Baked Gemelli. As simple as it was, this is one of my favorite things I’ve made so far. I think Nick would have to agree…

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound dried Gemelli pasta
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 1/2 cups My Favorite Tomato Sauce (or any type of tomato/marinara sauce)
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan, divided
  • 1/4 cup grated pecorino romano
  • 1/2 pound fresh mozzarella, half cut into 1/2-inch cubes and half thinly sliced
  • 1/2 pound smoked mozzarella, half cut into 1/2-inch cubes and half thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. EVOO
  • Thyme, to taste (I like A LOT)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper or to taste

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt generously, and boil the pasta until al dente, tender but still slightly firm. Drain.
  2. While the pasta is boiling, heat the EVOO in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic and thyme. Saute until the onions are transparent, about 5 minutes.
  3. In a large bowl, toss the cooked pasta with the tomato sauce, sauteed onion/garlic/thyme mixture, 1/4 cup of the Parmesan, the pecorino, and the cubed mozzarella pieces. Season with the black pepper and red pepper to taste, and mix until well combined. Transfer the pasta to an oiled 9- x 13-inch baking dish. Cover the top of the pasta with the sliced mozzarella, and sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan. Bake until lightly browned and hot, about 30 minutes. Serve immediately.

Grilled Tofu with Marinated Tomato Salad and Wilted Spinach

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Tofu ingredients:

  • 1 block of extra-firm tofu, drained
  • 1 tbp. Light Soy Sauce
  • 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
  • 3/4 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1/4 tsp. sesame oil

Tofu instructions:

  1. Mix all ingredients together in a shallow bowl.
  2. Once the tofu has drained, slice five 1-inch strips and toss them in the marinade.
  3. Allow to sit for 5-10 minutes.
  4. Throw strips on a medium-high heat grill pan and cook for 3 minutes on each side.

Marinated Tomato Salad ingredients:

  • 6 to 8 ripe tomatoes
  • 4 green onions
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Handful fresh parsley leaves, lightly chopped
  • 12 fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
Marinated Tomato Salad instructions:
  1. Cut the tomatoes into 4 wedges, then cut the wedges in half and add to a bowl. Lop off the tops of the green onions, then slice the white and mostly light green parts really thin. Add to the tomatoes.
  2. Add the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, dash of salt and pepper to a jar. Screw on the lid and shake to combine. Pour the dressing over the tomatoes and toss.
  3. Add the herbs and gently toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate for a couple of hours before serving.
Wilted Spinach with Fried Garlic ingredients:
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, sliced
  • 1 pound spinach, washed and stemmed
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste
Wilted Spinach with Fried Garlic instructions:
  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Add garlic and stir until golden, about 30 seconds.
  3. Add greens in batches, if necessary, and toss until just wilted, 2 to 4 minutes.
  4. Season with salt and pepper.

Cucumber, Tomato and Avocado Salad

This recipe is a great starter or side-dish. The flavors are light and crisp, and the fact that you can prepare this dish in about 5 minutes makes it even more lovable. You see that post below this one for the Baked Fontina and Smoked Mozzarella? Yeah, I served this bad boy alongside that sizzling and savory dish. Can you say perfection? 🙂

Recipe:

2 cucumbers
1 cup diced tomato or cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup thinly diagonally sliced green onion or thinly sliced sweet onion (or more)
1 avocado (ripe)
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice (optional, for tossing with avocado)
about 1 T good-quality balsamic vinegar
about 1 T good-quality olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

Chop up your cucumbers, tomatoes, onion and avocado and toss them in a salad bowl. Squeeze the lemon juice on top of your veggie mixer to prevent the avocado from browning – and who doesn’t like a little lemon flavor? I know I do! Next, drizzle your mixture with the vinegar and olive, season with salt and pepper. Enjoy!