Last week I had leftover basil in the fridge and, since fresh basil can’t be wasted, I threw it in my Vitamix with some almonds, olive oil and salt: vegan pesto! We ate it all week with spaghetti squash, turkey meatballs, roasted veggies and, since it’s finally starting to feel like summer, on sweet potato bun sliders with portobello mushrooms, roasted red peppers and red onion.
In an effort to eat more whole foods recently, the sweet potato bun has become my favorite substitute for traditional burger buns or sandwich bread. The portobello mushrooms give these sliders some substance while the roasted red pepper, red onion and pesto “mayo” give it that summer barbecue feel. The pesto “mayo,” made by mixing vegan pesto with cashew “mayo,” helps hold the sliders together and elevates the flavor of the vegetables.
WHY IT’S HEALTHY// Sweet potato bun sliders are gluten-free, vegan and paleo, made with all whole, natural ingredients. Sweet potatoes are high in fiber and nutrients, including potassium, vitamin A, vitamin C and iron. This vegan pesto is made with cold pressed olive oil, which is full of healthy monounsaturated fat and has been found to lower the risk of heart disease, lower cholesterol levels, and aide in blood sugar control. Basil is extremely high in vitamin K, with 1/2 cup coming close to the 100% of the daily recommended intake. Basil has also been shown to be antibacterial and anti-inflammatory. //
For these sweet potato slider buns, I opted to use the Japanese variety for it’s slightly milder flavor, but any type of sweet potato or yam will work. Since I’m all about portable lunches these days, I’m pleased to report that these hold up perfectly; just wrap in foil or wax paper for a quick lunch on the go.
- 1-2 large sweet potato(s) (look for ones thick and round in shape: I used the Japanese variety, with white flesh)
- 8 small portobello mushrooms, stemmed and ribs scraped out
- 1 small jar of roasted red peppers
- 1 small red onion
- oil (coconut or olive)
- salt and pepper
- ½ cup roasted almonds (or sub walnuts)
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves, packed
- ½ cup olive oil
- ½ teaspoon salt
- pepper to taste
- ½ cup raw cashews, soaked at least 4 hours
- ¼ cup water
- 2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
- pinch of salt
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Slice the sweet potato into ¼ inch rounds and arrange on a baking sheet.
- Brush or spray lightly with oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake for 25 minutes, flipping after 15 minutes.
- On a separate baking sheet, arrange the trimmed and cleaned portobello mushrooms, brush or spray lightly with oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and bake for 15-20 minutes until a but shrunken and soft all the way through.
- Add all ingredients to a food processor or high speed blender (I used my Vitamix) and blend until smooth.
- Add all ingredients to a high speed blender (I used my Vitamix) and blend until smooth.
- In a separate bowl, mix the entire batch of cashew "mayo" with 3 tablespoons of the pesto and set aside (see notes about pesto).
- Assemble the sliders: place a portobello on top of a sweet potato slice and add some slices of red onion and roasted red peppers.
- On a second sweet potato slice, spread about 1 tablespoon of cashew pesto "mayo" mixture and place on top of the slider.
This recipe calls for more almond pesto than you'll need since you'll be mixing 3 tablespoons of it with the cashew "mayo." Keep leftover pesto in the fridge for about a week or freeze for later use. It's great on grilled veggies, spaghetti squash, sandwiches, pizza, eggs, etc.
After baking the sweet potato slices, I used my panini press to lightly "grill" the slices. This is optional, but if you have a panini press it gives the sliders a nice slight barbecued taste.