theGrio’s healthy cooking series: Chef Bryant Terry

Chef Bryant Terry has focused the last 10 years of his career on food justice activism. And the first step toward food justice, he says, is to empower people to cook at home and share meals with family and friends. Through his efforts, Terry works to create a healthy, just, and sustainable food system.

His books are evidence. His most recent project, The Inspired Vegan: Seasonal Ingredients, Creative Recipes, Mouthwatering Menus, showcases recipes and cooking tips using whole, fresh, seasonal ingredients — complete with a focus on nutrition.

Three years ago, he transformed the tenets and flavors of traditional African-American cuisine into vegan recipes in Vegan Soul Kitchen: Fresh, Healthy, and Creative African-American Cuisine.

Originally from Memphis, Terry’s interest in cooking and farming can be traced back to his childhood. He furthered those experiences with training in healthy cooking at the Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts in New York.

Terry shares with us one of his favorite vegan recipes.

theGrios healthy cooking series: Chef Bryant Terry health grilled eggplant sandwich e1354103145692

Open-Faced Grilled Eggplant, Red Onion, and Heirloom Tomato Sandwiches with Creamy Celeriac Sauce (8 servings)

 Terry says: “While a slice of rustic bread supports the vegetables on this open-faced sandwich, grilled eggplant is the real foundation. Grilled eggplant has a sweet, smoky flavor and would be delicious eaten alone. But I layer tangy sweet grilled onions and ripe, seasonal heirloom tomatoes into the mix to add beautiful colors and additional flavors that meld well with the buttery eggplant. Right before serving, the sandwich is brightened with Creamy Celeriac Sauce.”

Creamy Celeriac Sauce

Ingredients:

1/2 pound silken tofu

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

1 garlic clove, minced

1/2 teaspoon agave nectar

1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon paprika

A few pinches of cayenne

Coarse sea salt

Freshly ground white pepper

1/4 cup minced green onions (green and white parts)

1/2 cup loosely packed peeled and coarsely grated celery root (celeriac)

Instructions:

1. In an upright blender, combine the tofu, lemon juice, 1 tablespoon of the parsley, garlic, agave nectar, mustard, olive oil, paprika, cayenne, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper and blend until smooth.

2. If necessary, season with additional salt and pepper to taste.

3. Transfer the sauce to a bowl, stir in the green onions and celery

root, and garnish with the remaining parsley.

Sandwiches

 Terry says: “If you can’t grill, the eggplant and onions can also be cooked in an oven. Just place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet 3 to 4 inches from the heat and broil for 3 to 4 minutes, until browned and slightly crisp. Turn them with a fork and broil for another minute or so. After removing the vegetables, place the bread under the broiler for about 1 1/2 minutes per side, until lightly browned.”

 Ingredients:

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon coarse sea salt

1/4 teaspoon cayenne

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 medium-size eggplant (about 1 pound), sliced crosswise into 1/2-inch rounds

2 medium-size red onions, sliced crosswise into 1/2-inch rounds

4 heirloom tomatoes, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch slices

1 loaf of rustic bread cut diagonally into eight 1/2-inch slices

Freshly ground white pepper

Fine sea salt

Instructions:

1. Preheat a grill or broiler. Soak eight 12-inch wooden skewers in water for at least 30 minutes.

2. In a mixing bowl, combine the olive oil, salt, cayenne, and black pepper and mix well with a fork.

3. Add the vegetables to the bowl and toss to coat.

4. If grilling, thread the onion slices onto two skewers each. Transfer the onions and the eggplant rounds to the grill and cook, turning once with tongs, until browned and slightly crisp, 3 to 4 minutes per side.

5. After turning the vegetables, add the bread to the grill. Cook, turning once, until crisp and golden on the surface but still soft inside, about 4 minutes.

6. Assemble the sandwich by layering a slice of eggplant, a slice of tomato, and several slices of onion. Slather on some celeriac sauce, then sprinkle with salt and pepper before serving.

Dr. Tyeese Gaines is a physician-journalist with over 10 years of print and broadcast experience, now serving as health editor for theGrio.com. Dr. Ty is also a practicing emergency medicine physician in New Jersey. Follow her on twitter at @doctorty or on Facebook.

Read more healthy cooking tips from other chefs here.