Tag Archive for Vegan

Roasted paprika pesto

Normally I’m not really into the making pesto from other things than the normal basil, pine nuts and parmezan cheese trend, but this recipe caught my eye. Other than being a sauce type of thing, it isn’t related to pesto, it seems more like a romesco sauce (a Catalonian-Spanish red pepper and almond sauce). So why it is called pesto instead of romesco I’m not sure, but in the end a dish should be tasty, whatever its name is. And this sauce certainly is tasty! It has the sweetness from the paprika, the richness from the almonds and because of the smoky pimenton and roasted peppers it has a lovely depth of flavour. It can be served as a sauce for seafood, chicken, meats and vegetables, but it is also delicious as a dip with bread and crudité. Because of this versatility, and that you can keep it for a week in a clean jar in the fridge, it is worth it to make the whole recipe and use it for several different dishes.

Roasted Paprika Pesto

Roasted paprika pesto (makes a large jar)
Adapted from “Annabel Langbein – The Free Range Cook”

6 red paprika’s
4 tbsp extra vierge olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, very finely chopped
1 tsp paprika powder
1 tsp pimenton de la vera
4 tbsp roasted almonds (use more for a thicker and richer sauce, and roast them for extra flavour)
salt and pepper

Place the paprika’s on a baking tray and roast them 15-20 minutes in a preheated oven of 240C, or until their skins become blistery and black. Take them from the oven and put them in a closed plastic bag, leave to cool for 20 minutes (they will be easier to peel this way).
Meanwhile heat the olive oil in a small skillet and fry the garlic and the paprika powders for a few seconds. This makes the taste more pronounced. Pour in a kitchen machine or blender.
Remove the skin and seeds from the paprika’s, but keep the juices. Add the paprika and juices to the garlic-paprika powder mixture, and add the almonds. Season with salt and pepper and blend to a smooth purée. Serve cold or gently heat it in a small pan to serve warm.

Chickpea stew with chorizo

A delicious chickpea, tomato and spinach stew flavoured with chorizo and spices. It is warming, spicy and full of bold flavours. Serve with crusty bread to soak up all the juices. I expect this to be a great vegetarian/vegan dish as well: don’t use the chorizo, use a flavoursome vegetable stock instead of chicken stock, and add a bit more of the spices for extra flavour. This dish is also perfect to feed a crowd and/or to prepare in advance (make the sauce in advance, add the chickpeas and spinach when you reheat the sauce just before serving).

Chickpea Chorizo Stew

Chickpea stew with chorizo (serves 4)
Adapted from Tom Kerridge’s Proper Pub Food

1 tbsp olive oil
200 g chorizo, in chuncks
2 onions, chopped finely
4 garlic cloves, minced very finely
2 red chillies, chopped*
2 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 can chopped tomatoes (400 g)
1 chicken stock cube
2 cans chickpeas, drained (260 g drained weight each)
400 g spinach
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy bottomed pan (like a Dutch oven). Add the chorizo and fry until it starts to release its fat. Add the oninons and fry until the onion is soft and translucent. Add the garlic and chillies, fry for another 2-3 minutes (keep stirring to prevent it from burning). Add the bay leaves, cinnamon stick, ground cumin and smoked paprika and fry for about 30 seconds. Add the chopped tomatoes, crumble the stock cube over and stir well. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down and leave to simmer for about 20 minutes. Stir occasionally. It should reduce and thicken a bit, but add a splash of water when this happens too fast or too much.
Add the chickpeas and cook for another 10 minutes. Then stir through the spinach (it should just be wilted). Taste and season with salt and pepper if necessary. Serve immediately with some crusty bread.

* Adjust this according to your tolerance and the spiciness of your chillies. I substituted the fresh chillies with 1/2 tbsp sambal badjak.

Vegetarian couscous

I like vegetarian dishes like this, that are meat-free by accident. It just didn’t occur to me to add any, because the dish is complete like this. Generally, couscous dishes like this one work great vegetarian, because they already have lots of flavours and textures. The preserved lemon adds a lovely, lemony freshness to the dish, but also tastes slightly salty and bitter. You can buy them online or find them in eastern shops (the lemons are an important part of Moroccan cuisine), but if you can’t find them, add a little fresh lemon peel and lemon juice as substitute. You can make them yourself (just google for recipes), but this does take a few weeks. Ras el hanout is a Morrocan spice mix, it roughly translates as “house spice mix” and can differ quite a bit. But it is always warm and spicy. You can find it in some supermarkets, in eastern shops or online. If you have saffron available, this is definitely a dish in which it is nice to use, but if you don’t have it, it is no problem at all. If you like, you can serve a fresh carrot salad with it.

Vegetarian couscous (serves 2)

Splash of olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
1 tsp ras el hanout
1 vegetable stock cube
a pinch of saffron (optional)
125 ml water
2 small sweet potatoes or 1 butternut squash, in cubes

150 g couscous
150 g water
generous pinch of salt
1 tbsp almond oil or butter
1 tbsp chopped flat-leave parsley
1 preserved lemon (flesh discarded, peel chopped very finely)
50 gram almonds, roasted
50 gram dried apricots, cubed

Sauté the onion in olive oil until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and fry another few minutes. Add the ras el hanout, fry until fragrant (max 5 minutes), then add the water, the saffron and the stock cube. Simmer for a few minutes to infuse all the flavours. Add the sweet potato or butternut squash, mix, place a lid on the pan and cook until soft. If there is a lot of liquid left, you can boil some off by placing the pan on high heat without a lid.
Heat the water with the salt in a pan with lid. When it is boiling, add the couscous, stir, turn of the heat and place the lid on top. Leave for about 5 minutes to steam and absorb all the liquid. After that, add the almond oil or butter, use a fork to mix through and fluff the couscous. Then stir through the parsley, preserved lemon, almonds and apricots.
Serve immediately.

Baba Ganoush

I never liked aubergine much. It is kinda squishy and spongy and doesn’t have much flavour. But when I recently had a very delicious aubergine curry, I was curious to see if there are other ways to make aubergine delicious. So when I found a recipe for baba ganoush, a sweet, smokey Mediterranian/Arabic/Middle-Eastern aubergine dip, I knew I had to try. Traditionally the dip is flavoured with tahini, garlic, salt and lemon, but ground cumin, chilli powder, parsley, mint and black pepper are often used as well.

I used an ingredient that is not very traditional: pimenton de la vera picante. Normal pimenton (Spanish paprika powder) is made by drying paprika with the sun and hot air, but the pimenton from the la vera region is smoked, which (obviously) gives it a delicious smoky flavour. A pinch of the spicy (picante) variety gives the baba ganoush a lovely extra smokiness and a mellow heat. This stuff overpowers easily (both the hotness and the smokiness), so make sure you use only a tiny bit!

This dip is delicious served with all sorts of flatbread, but also with vegetables, for example cucumber and carrot. It is also very tasty as a spread on a sandwich or wrap with grilled vegetables.

Baba Ganoush
3 aubergines
3 garlic cloves, crushed with a teaspoon of salt
1 tbsp tahini
3 tbsp olive oil
Pinch of pimenton de la vera picante
Optional: lemon juice
Garnish: chopped flat leaf parsley, olive oil, pomegranate seeds, pimenton

Prick the aubergines with a fork. Grill the aubergines until the skin is charred and blacked and the flesh feels soft when you press it. Turn a few times to make sure that all sides get blacked. If you have a smoke alarm in your kitchen it might be best to take the batteries out while you are grilling the aubergine, otherwise it will probably go off.
When cool enough to handle, cut the aubergines in half and scoop out the flesh. Mash with a fork (or leave it chuncky if you prefer). Add the crushed garlic, tahini, olive oil and pimenton, stir well to get an emulsified smooth puree. Taste and add some extra salt, pimenton and/or lemon juice. Place in a serving dish and finish with one or more of the garnishes, or store tightly covered up to two days in the fridge and garnish when serving; make sure you take it from the fridge in time to serve the dip at room temperature, cold it is quite icky.

Saag aloo and roasted gobi curry

I’m not really into cauliflower, it doesn’t have much flavour and it tends to get mushy really quick. Until I found this recipe… Roasting the cauliflower gives it lots of extra flavour and will not get mushy at all. Together with spinach, potatoes and a simple tomato based curry sauce, it makes a delicious meal. I served a lean beefburger with it for protein, but a grilled chicken breast would also be great. Or add some lentils or chickpeas for a vegetarian meal.

Saag Aloo with Roasted Gobi

Saag aloo and roasted gobi curry (2 generous servings)
Slightly adapted from The Hairy Bikers

1/2 head white cauliflower, in florets (also works with romanesco cauliflower; you can roast the whole head and use the other halve in another dish)
2 tbsp olive oil
optional: other spices like garlic powder, onion powder, chilli powder

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2cm ginger, grated
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp black mustard seeds
5 fresh or dried curry leaves (fresh are best, but difficult to get hold of)
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp fenugreek
1 generous tsp sambal (I used sambal badjak)
500 g small potatoes (or larger ones cut in cubes)
300 g spinach
400 g tomatoes, chopped (I used canned, because they have more flavour than fresh tomatoes)
1 chicken or vegetable stock cube
pepper to taste
squeeze lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 200C.
Place the cauliflower florets in a baking tray. Drizzle with the oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and any spices you fancy. Mix until everything is combined. Roast for 20 minutes, or until golden-brown and tender.
Heat the oil in a pan and add the onions, fry for a few minutes until soft and translucent. Add the ginger, garlic, mustard seeds, curry leaves, turmeric, fenugreek and sambal. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently, until the mustard seeds pop and become aromatic. Add the potatoes and stir to coat in the spices. Add the tomato, stock cube and pepper, stir to combine, place a lid on the pan and cook for about 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are cooked, while stirring occasionally.
Add the spinach and place the lid back on. Cook until wilted. It will not stir through very well, so dumping it on top will enable you to take it out easily and divide it equally over plates. Add a splash of lemon juice to the sauce, taste and add some more, and/or adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve together with the roast cauliflower (the recipe suggested to mix it through, but when serving it separately, it will stay crisp longer).

Note: to make this recipe truly vegetarian/vegan, make sure you use a sambal that is suitable for vegetarians (i.e. does not contain fermented shrimp (trassi/belacan)). And of course you need to use vegetable stock and not chicken stock.

Marinated courgette

A very easy side-dish, perfect for the summer abundance of courgette. As it is an Italian-style dish it works best as a side to other Italian (or southern France) dishes, like pasta and fresh, summery fish. But it would be also very delicious as a side for a BBQ, or even as part of a mezze-style starter. Just slice a courgette and grill the slices. Meanwhile, mix a very finely crushed/pureed clove of garlic with a little salt, pepper and good olive oil. Dump the grilled slices of courgette in the oil and leave to cool and infuse. This method would also work great with aubergine and paprika.

Pea Soup

On Honest Cooking I wrote about traditional Dutch pea soup, a sturdy winter soup made with dried peas, winter vegetables and lots of meat. This is something completely else: a bright green, light and fresh soup made from frozen peas and lots of parsley, optionally garnished with a splash of cream that mixes beautifully with the green of the soup. The flavour is very clean, the soup exactly tastes like what you put in, the sweetness of the peas and the fresh, herby parsley. The parsley is not only added for the taste, but also for the colour: by blanching the parsley you will keep the lovely bright green colour. As with my previous post, this is a lovely fresh, healthy and summery dish. On very hot days it will be nice to chill the soup and serve it cold.

Pea soup
From James Martin – Saturday Kitchen (BBC)

small bunch flatleaf parsley, leaves picked
50 g butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
250 g frozen peas
500 ml chicken stock
Optional: cream (I used pouring)

Bring a pan of salted water to the boil, blanch the parsley for 30 seconds then refresh in iced water. Drain, squeeze dry then roughly chop and set aside. Heat a sauté pan until hot, add the butter and onion and cook gently for a few minutes until just softened. Add the peas and stock, bring to the boil then add the chopped blanched parsley.Use a food processor or a blender to blend the soup. Strain back into the saucepan then return to a simmer and check the seasoning. Garnish with the cream and serve hot.

Note: to make this recipe vegan, use olive oil instead of butter and leave out the cream (or use a plant-based cream).

Lentil soup

I have been a very lazy cook for a while… Usually that involves the less healthy choices, since not thinking about what you will eat for diner the whole day and than shopping for groceries while you still don’t know what to eat while you are already hungry is just not a very good plan. But, today I decided to cook and eat something healthy, and it was very easy and tasty as well. So plans for the future: plan diner when not hungry, then shop with grocery list and only buy what’s on the list. See how long I can stick to this…
Then, the dish. I combined the many recipes (Arabic/Moroccan) I found online for lentil soup into something I liked. It is very important to use quite strong and spicy flavours, since lentils tend to be a bit bland. The spice mix I used succeeded in this, but was still very delicate.
I like my soups nice and smooth, so I blended everything after cooking and then sieved it, pushing every bit of moisture and taste from the sieve, but preventing all the tough bits to be in my soup. This step is not necessary, you can just blend everything, or even let it chunky or mush it a bit with a masher. To give the whole a bit texture, I added some cooked quinoa to the soup.
I also added some leftover chicken from yesterday, but leaving the soup vegetarian is a very good possibility (then switch the chicken stock cube for a vegetable stock cube). I also served some raita and naan (but mine came from the shop) with the soup. But just the soup and no add-ons works also perfect.

Lentil soup (2 big bowls)

1 cup yellow lentils (use a coffee mug if you don’t have cup measuring cups)
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 stalk of celery, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 cm fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 tomato, chopped
2 bay leaves
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/4 tsp nigella seeds
1/4 tsp ground coriander (ketoembar)
1/4 tsp kurkuma
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp chili powder
3-4 cups vegetable stock (depending on the preferred consistency)
juice of half a lemon
fresh coriander (optional)

Rinse the lentils, then soak them. The longer you soak them, the more moisture they take up and the thinner your soup will be. I soaked my lentils for about an hour, since I did not have much time.
Slowly cook the onion, carrot and celery, until translucent. Add the ginger and garlic, cook for a bit more. Add the tomato, bay leaves, lentils and stock, bring to the boil. Meanwhile, roast the seeds in a dry frying pan and add them with the other spices to the soup. Cook the soup for about 30 minutes, till the lentils are tender. Blend (don’t forget to take out the bay leaves!), and if you want, sieve. Taste, add the lemon juice, salt if necessary and pepper/chilli powder if necessary. Garnish with fresh coriander (if using).

Aloo gobi

This is a very nice, slightly spicy vegetarian (vegan) curry with cauliflower and potato. I hate cauliflower, but by preparing it this way, I love it. The preparation is very simple, but the result is superb.

Aloo gobi
From the Hairy Bikers

vegetable oil
1 onion, diced
4 cm fresh ginger, grated
1 tsp mustard seeds
5 curry leaves
1/2 tsp kurkuma
1/2 tsp fenugriek
2 green chilies, whole
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 potatoes, peeled and cubed
250 gram tomatoes, diced (or use from a tin)
1/2 small cauliflower
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tbsp water

Fry the onion in the vegetable oil until soft.
Add the ginger, mustard seeds, curry leaves, kurkuma, fenugriek, green chilies, chili powder and salt, fry for a while. Then add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for 25-30 minutes. Serve with basmati rice, naan and raita.