That photo of a veggie tostada makes me so happy. Perhaps it’s the festive colors, perhaps it’s the underlying knowledge that it’s incredibly healthy, perhaps it’s just a projection of my contented mood, but there’s something so lovely about a fresh, beautiful vegetable tostada.
Looking at that delicious blend of hearty, grilled vegetables and light punches of salsa and feta really reflects how I feel about this fall semester. Yes, I’m assigning emotions to to a pile of grilled veggies. Food blogger, remember?
If you’re a regular reader, you will know from my last post that I was getting a bit overwhelmed and more than a bit busy with all the recent changes in my schedule. I’m happy to say that now, almost two weeks into the school year, I’m really getting into the groove of things. There’s still a boatload of responsibilities between college, work, blogging, and the like, but I now suddenly find myself enjoying this level of activity. Rather than lazy days of summer, where the biggest obstacle of the day was doing some laundry and convincing myself that running is a fun form of exercise, having deadlines and due dates and projects has helped me reestablish a pleasant sense of structure to my days.
Now, before I sound too enthusiastic, I have to admit that this weird, peppy, “yay-more-homework!,” sort of concept does not always fit with my regular personality. Over the past two weeks, one of the hardest things that I’ve had to learn—something that I’ve struggled with throughout my years of schooling—is the art of balance. I’m sure there’s more than a few of you out there who agree with me on this, but I’m the sort of person who loves nothing more than having every chore finished, every assignment turned in, every project complete and ready to go. It is then that I feel like I can finally relax and do things that I enjoy.
While this technically sounds like a wonderful version of reality, it’s also one that I’ve had to accept does not normally exist. Whether it’s with school or work, there is always going to be a stream of things that need to be done and there will always be another task that you feel like you should be doing. In the past, I had tried different methods to remedy this predicament, from blazing through hours of homework only to find myself exhausted and burnt out, to completing a tidbit of work and then returning to the cozy comfort of my Netflix queue. As you can imagine, neither method works well. As it turns out, balance is best and compartmentalization is key.
See that college-level vocab? Two weeks in and I’m smarter already.
Vegetable tostadas figure into this idea of balance as well. If you just ate grilled veggies, the dish would feel heavy and flat. If you chose to subsist on salsa and feta cheese, well, that would be delicious, but surely such a concentration of cheesy sodium and lime acids would be ill-advised. You’d get all bloated and need to use ultra-sensitive toothpaste to deal with the enamel erosion. My point is, this dish, much like practically everything else in the world, is best when there’s a balance.
When you’ve got your priorities in order and there’s an equal amount of work and play, good things come along with it. You’re able to go with the flow and enjoy periods of productivity and relaxation. You’re able to find a bunch of Zumba videos on YouTube that make exercise more fun and you get to eat more chocolate chip cupcakes as well. You’re able to combine the healthy nutrition of portobello mushrooms, zucchini, and green onions with the equally healthy mixture of fresh tomato salsa and pungent cubes of cheese. You feel good, you look good, and you’re taking care of business. It really doesn’t get better than that.
Grilled Vegetable Tostadas
Recipe adapted from “Everyday Food: Great Food Fast”
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for grilling
3 medium zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices on the diagonal
4 portobello mushrooms, stemmed
1 bunch green onions, ends trimmed
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 flour tortillas
4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
Fresh Tomato Salsa
8 Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/2 medium red onion, finely chopped
1 jalapeño, finely chopped (seeds and ribs removed if you want less heat)
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
juice of 1 lime
kosher salt, to taste
Salsa: In a medium bowl, combine the chopped tomatoes, red onion, jalapeño, garlic and lime juice. Stir well and season with kosher salt. Allow to sit in the refrigerator until serving to develop flavor.
Tostadas: Heat a grill or grill pan to medium high and lightly oil the grates. Place the mushrooms, zucchini, and green onions on a large baking sheet and drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil to coat and seasoning with salt and pepper. Working in batches, place groups of vegetables on the grill and cook until browned and tender, turning once. Cut the cooked mushrooms into 1/2-inch strips. Cut the green onions into 1-inch pieces. Set aside.
Brush the tortillas with the remaining olive oil and grill until browned and crispy, turning frequently.
To serve, place a tortilla on each plate. Top with slices of mushrooms, zucchini, and green onions. Spoon some salsa on top and sprinkle with feta cheese. Serve with lime wedges and more salsa.