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Caprese Sandwiches

June 28, 2011
By Wendy Monro - Food Writer , The Journal

Does absence make the heart grow fonder? I wonder? I do know that absence makes me appreciate what I am missing even more. Claud and the sunshine have been missing from my life for the past couple of weeks. Well, it hasn't actually been a couple of weeks. Actually, it has only been a few days. It feels like much longer. Yes, I miss the sunlight and I miss my husband; but, has my heart grown any fonder? I don't think that is possible. I couldn't love or grow any fonder of either.

Today, as if by magic, the sun is peeping out behind the clouds and Claud is on a plane heading home. Life is good. I wish there was a way to harness both the sun and Claud and keep them put all summer long. It is quite magical when Claud returns from a business trip. The whole family is so excited to have him back home. It is also wonderful when the sun makes a visit after many days of grey cloudy weather. Sometimes, I sit outside for no reason other than to soak in the rays.

Speaking of missing things when they are gone, I recently jumped on the bandwagon to support Meatless Monday. Ever since reading The Blue Zone, I have tried to cut down on my meat intake. What I learned from that book, as well as coming up with vegetarian dishes for my daughter, have led me to really enjoy meatless meals. However, I am not ready (nor may I ever be ready) to cut meat out of my diet completely. I just don't want to make that commitment. I don't want to be limited or prevented from trying any new dish just because I made that commitment. I love food too much...all food. I think I would regret a decision to eliminate meat all together.

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Served with crispy kale.

Then, this Meatless Monday movement came to my attention and I thought that this is a commitment I could make and keep happily. In 2003, Meatless Monday was created as a public health awareness program in association with Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Center for a livable future. Meatless Mondays have since been endorsed by over twenty schools of public health. The original goal of Meatless Monday was to help Americans reduce their risk of preventable disease by cutting back on saturated fat.

Limiting meat intake may reduce your risk of chronic preventable conditions like cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity. So, limiting meat (even if only on Mondays) is a great step in the right direction for your own health. To make the Meatless Monday idea even more impressive, you can help the health of the planet as well just by reducing the amount of meat you eat.

The United Nation's Food and Agricultural Organization estimates the meat industry generates nearly one fifth (this is well over that of transportation) of man-made greenhouse gas emissions that are accelerating climate change worldwide. Did you know that it takes 1800-2500 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef? Also, 40 calories of fossil fuels go into every single calorie of feed lot beef. The annual worldwide demand for meat continues to grow. You can help to slow this trend by cutting out meat on Mondays.

Fact Box

Recipe

Serves: 4

Time: 15 minutes

4 sandwich rolls

24 basil leaves, divided

1 clove garlic

salt and pepper to taste

cup pine nuts

2 tablespoons olive oil (a bit more to drizzle)

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

4 slices of mozzarella cheese

8 slices of tomato

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice the rolls in half and place the slices of mozzarella on four of the slices. Place in the oven for five-ten minutes to heat up the rolls and melt the cheese. While the bread and cheese heats up, combine half of the basil, the garlic, pine nuts and olive oil into a food processor. Mix this together well to make a pesto sauce. Take the bread and melted cheese out of the oven. Spread the pesto on the four bare pieces of bread. Layer on three basil leaves onto each mozzarella slice. Layer on the tomato slices. Then, drizzle on some balsamic vinegar and a bit more of olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to your liking. Place the top of the sandwich (with the pesto) onto the sandwich and cut in half. I served this with crispy kale. It would also work well with any salad.

Don't get me wrong...I love a rack of lamb with mint sauce over mashed potatoes. I would never turn down a filet Mignon topped with a red wine and morel sauce. My mouth waters just thinking about a barbecue meatloaf or braised chicken with roasted vegetables. What would a Sunday roast be without the roast? How could I ever stop making Claud's famous lasagna with Bolognese? However, if limiting something can make my health and the health of the planet benefit...then, why not? The absence of meat on Monday may not make you fonder of the meat; but, you might be pretty excited to see it on your plate on Tuesday. It may even be a magical reunion.

Here is a meal, which can be prepared for lunch or dinner on a Meatless Monday or any day of the week. It is so easy to make. Don't let the ease of this dish fool you. These sandwiches are full of flavor and very filling. You won't be disappointed and hopefully, you won't miss the meat.

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