My favourite sources of plant-based proteins are, without doubts, beans and legumes. I’ve been eating them in abundance since I was a kid (usually in the form of soups) so they’ve never been things I’ve had to learn to like. Part of the reason why I prefer legumes over soy-based products such as tofu, for protein, is because they bring more variety of textures and flavours to the dinner table. Chillis, hearty stews, dips… there’s a whole world of possibilities with beans (and there are quite a lot different varieties to try). Besides, they’re minimally processed, something tofu isn’t.
Casseroles/stews and dips have been my favourite ways of eating beans. White beans work particularly well in veggie dips as they get really soft and smooth when blended. Plus, their taste isn’t particularly strong or dominant, so you can play around quite a bit and combine them with a lot of different ingredients (another favourite of mine is the white bean and miso combo). As far as the greens go, I used both spinach and Japanese greens in here. They were simply and quickly (no longer than 2 minutes) sautéed with garlic and olive oil and added atop of the toast for a bit of bitterness. You’ll probably end up with more bean dip than you’ll actually need for the toasts – the leftovers keep well in the fridge for a week and are really great smeared on savoury pancakes and/or as a filling for lettuce wrappers.
White Bean and Roasted Garlic Tartines with Wilted Greens
(makes 4 to 6 toasts)
for the white bean and roasted garlic dip:
1 large garlic head / 70 g, top sliced off
1 ½ cups cooked white beans (canned is fine)
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
for the wilted greens:
250 g spinach or Japanese greens or, as I used, a mixture of both in equal parts
1 big garlic clove, minced
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 pinch red pepper flakes
salt to taste
lots of freshly grated nutmeg
4 to 6 slices of a good, whole grain bread
Pre-heat the oven to 180º.
Grab a piece of aluminium foil (15 by 15 centimetres is more than enough) and add a drizzle of olive oil over it. Place the garlic head, cut side down, over the foil and add a pinch or two of salt. Wrap the foil around the garlic head and put it in the oven, in the middle rack. Roast for 30 to 40 minutes.
In the bowl of a food processor, combine the white beans, salt, dried thyme, black pepper, lemon juice and olive oil. Squeeze the roasted garlic cloves out of their skins and add them to the bowl. Process everything until very smooth.
In a cast iron pan over medium heat, add the garlic, olive oil and red pepper flakes and fry for no longer than 30 seconds. Add the greens and gently stir everything together so that the greens get evenly wilted. Cook the greens no longer than 2 minutes and, at the very last moment, add freshly grated nutmeg.
In a separate pan, toast the slices of bread.
Spread a layer of the bean mixture over the bread slices and add the greens on top. Drizzle a bit more olive oil over each toast, if desired, and eat immediately.
Miso is the kind of ingredient you either love or hate. There’s no middle ground. I strongly believe that those who don’t like it should give it a second chance, as it can be used in a lot of savory dishes and sauces (don’t restrict its use only to soups, please). It sure has a great deal of health properties too – as with all fermented foods, it’s loaded with enzymes and beneficial bacteria – and I’d like to think that a stew like this is one is a wonderful way of eating (and enjoying) this beautiful live ingredient.
I had high hopes of trying to make my own, following the recipes provided by this book, but after getting acquainted with the whole process, I easily gave up. It’s a slow process – miso should ferment from six months to a year –, which has made gain a whole new respect for the art of fermenting foods. There are a lot of types of miso. I’m not going to go deep into that – I also don’t have the knowledge to – but, basically, what you want for this dish is a mild variety, savory but with tiny hints of sweetness. The longer the miso is fermented the stronger and saltier it will taste, so you want to choose a type that’s light brown in color. I used mugi miso in here, a variety made of barley and soya beans – it’s the one I find the most versatile and not overpowering in flavor.
This stew came to live a few weeks ago as an attempt to clean the fridge – I get constantly surprised by how dishes like that seem to be the ones I’m more satisfied with – and it’s easy to put together as there isn’t a lot of prep work to do. I really loved how it came out and have made it twice since then. The recipe makes a lot, and I dare say the stew tastes even better the next day, when the ingredients have meld together and the sauce has thickened for an even yummier flavour.
Mung Bean and Kale Stew with Miso
(serves 4-6 as a main)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium sized onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 big piece of ginger / 50 g, peeled and finely grated
260 g kale, coarsely chopped
270 g cherry tomatoes, cut the larger ones in half but leave the smaller whole
1 cup / 200 g mung beans
3 bay leaves
4 cups / 1 litre stock or water
4 tablespoons mugi miso
In a large sauce pan, heat the olive oil, onion and garlic over medium heat. Sautée for 5 minutes or until the onion has softened.
Add the cherry tomatoes to the pan and crush them lightly with the help of a wooden spoon, so that they release their juices. Add the bay leaves, kale and mung beans, followed by the stock. Raise the heat to high and bring the mixture to a boil. Once boiling, decrease the heat to low, cover the pan, and let the stew cook for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the beans are thoroughly cooked and the kale is tender.
After that time, take out the lid and let the stew cool down for 5 minutes – you’re going to add the miso to the pan and you don’t want to ruin its health properties by heating it up excessively.
In a medium sized bowl, add the 4 tablespoons of miso. Then, gently pour ½ cup of the stew’s liquid over the miso and whisk everything together until you get a sauce-like mixture with a smooth consistency. Add the miso mixture back to the pan and mix well to incorporate. Serve with cooked quinoa, crunchy bread, or simply topped up with plenty of roasted almonds.
Hello guys! Sorry for my absence on the past few weeks. I’m getting used to a new working routine and, as a consequence, the blog has been a bit neglected (I’m slowly getting back into posting more regularly). But before we get into today’s post, I thought we could talk, briefly, about some of the recipes I’ve been making these days –most of them from around the web. I’ve cooked Ottolenghi’s mejadra twice now, only cutting on the oil, and even my grandmother liked it (despite its spiciness). This stew has been in high rotation around here as well, because it’s getting cold and because I love beets (and you do have to like them to truly enjoy this dish). Martha Stewart’s nori rolls are also worth trying – they’re perfect for lunch boxes –, even though the recipe takes a bit of time and you might struggle wrapping up the nori (at least I did, but probably because I was in a rush when I made them). Finally, I’m not a tea person, but I’ve been drinking this one twice a day for the last two weeks (it is that good).
Now, let’s talk roasted vegetables. Around this time of the year, there’s already a great variety of roots in the markets – carrots, turnips, beets… – and they’re perfect for roasting. It might take a bit of time – although not active time – but, in the end, you’ll have a baking tray full of tender and sweet vegetables with slightly brown bits and notes of lemon. They pair incredibly well with simply cooked whole grains and/or puy lentils, for a more complete meal. I guess nothing speaks better of autumn than that.
Lemon Roasted Vegetables
(serves 4 to 6, as a side)
380 g small carrots, halved
315 g / 3 medium sized turnips, cut into 5 -6 cm pieces
450 g / 4 medium sized sweet potatoes, cut into 5-6 cm pieces
5 garlic cloves, peeled
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons brown rice syrup
2 sprigs lemon thyme
Pre-heat the oven to 200C. Line a large rimmed baking tray with greaseproof or parchment paper.
Zest the lemon and cut the pulp into quarters. Combine all the vegetables in a large bowl and add the lemon’s pulp and lemon thyme sprigs to it.
In a mortar and pestle, combine the garlic cloves, lemon zest, olive oil, brown rice syrup, salt and black pepper. Smash everything together until the garlic cloves are broken down. Pour this mixture over the vegetables and mix, with your hands, to coat them evenly. Transfer the veggies to the baking tray and sprinkle a bit more salt and pepper over them.
Cover the baking tray loosely with parchment paper. Roast the vegetables, covered, for 45 minutes. After that time, roast, uncovered, for additional 15 minutes or until golden brown.
I had never been much into sports. As a kid, I tried swimming and gymnastics and, even though I liked the later way more than the former, it wasn’t something I was passionate about. In my teen years, I was introduced to fencing and started to realise that the kind of physical activity I liked had to be in the form of individual, not collective, sports.
In the recent years, and after a very long time – way too much time – of not exercising at all, I started to run. It wasn’t love at first sight – I had many bad runs where I practically ran out of breath and ended up giving up – but, over the time, I started to really enjoy it. These days, I can’t imagine myself not running on a regular basis. I don’t have the right emotional vocabulary to describe how good running makes me feel, but I love every aspect of it – the fresh breeze stroking my cheeks, the feeling of freedom, that sort of alienation from reality by being able to not think about anything… I’m sure most of you guys who run can relate.
Over the last 2/3 months, I’ve been training for my first half-marathon. As the date of the race approaches – it will be in two weeks – I’ve been increasing my running distance. That means that, even though I have the music to keep me distracted, I also have plenty of time to elaborate ideas and projects in my head. Sometimes, I find myself thinking about recipes and ingredient combinations to try. I had the intention to make roasted chickpeas in the back of my head for a while, but it was only while running, the other day, that I thought about the particular flavour combinations I’m now sharing with you.
I’ve never thought roasted chickpeas would be so good. You’ll end up with tasty crunchy bits, packed with flavour, that not only make perfect protein-packed snacks, but are also a great addition to salads. This one’s a very straight-forward recipe, but I’d advise you not to skip the step where you have to take the chickpeas from the oven for a couple of minutes and then pop them back in again. It really makes them crunchier. I also think that home-cooked chickpeas work best for this recipe instead of canned. Canned chickpeas tend to be too soft and mushy, whereas with the dried variety, you’re in control and will likely avoid over-cooking. However, if cooking beans from scratch isn’t your thing, just make sure you really dry the chickpeas well before putting them into the oven.
Roasted Chickpeas – Two Ways
(serves 6, as an appetizer)
475 g / 2 ½ cups cooked chickpeas
for the turmeric/cumin version:
½ teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoons cumin seeds, crushed in a mortar and pestle
a pinch of dried chilli flakes
1 ½ teaspoon olive oil
salt to taste
for the nori/sesame version:
1 nori sheet
2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds
1 ½ teaspoons olive oil
salt to taste
tamari sauce to taste
Pre-heat the oven to 200C.
Spread the chickpeas over a large clean kitchen towel. Grab another towel and put it on top, gently pressing down in order for the moisture to be absorbed. Add half of the chickpeas to a bowl, and the other half to a different bowl.
For the turmeric/cumin version: Combine half of the chickpeas with the oil, followed by the spices and salt. Toss well to evenly coat them.
For the nori/sesame version: Place the nori sheet in a small baking dish. Toast it, in the pre-heated oven, for 10 minutes. Remove it from the oven and let it cool a bit until it crisps up. Now, tear the nori into pieces and add it to the bowl of a food processor, pulsing until you get a fine powder. At this stage, add the sesame seeds and pulse a few times, just to break them down a bit.
Mix the other half of chickpeas with the olive oil. Add the nori/sesame mixture, a pinch of salt, and toss everything together.
Place both chickpeas’ mixtures in two separate baking tray and roast, in the top and middle thirds of the oven, for 30 minutes, rotating halfway through. After that time, take the trays out of the oven and let them cool, at room temperature, for at least 5 minutes. Return the chickpeas to the oven for additional 10 minutes or until golden brown. Once ready and cooled, coat the nori/sesame chickpeas with a splash or two of tamari sauce. Store the chickpeas in glass jars or tightly sealed containers — they’ll keep well for a week.
What I’m about to say might sound a bit weird, especially coming for someone in her mid-twenties who lives relatively close to the sea, but, I do not like going to the beach. I don’t like walking on sand and lying down in a beach towel with the sun hitting my back. I’m also not a fan of swimming (nor I do know how to swim well), particularly when the sea is packed with people (and, this time of the year, it is most of the time). Having said that, summer isn’t the season I’ve been anxiously waiting for the whole year.
But, even thought warm weather (particularly when it’s above the 30 degrees) and salty water aren’t my cup of tea, I do love summer’s produce. Watermelon and peaches are amongst my favourite fruits and I seem not to get enough of them these days. Early in the week, I went to the market and those good looking peaches definitely caught my eye. I was probably too enthusiastic about them, having bought way more than I could realistically eat before they start to over ripe. Not wanting to turn on the oven to bake a peach tart (my original plan), a raw pudding was in order.
Now, everyone who’s into whole foods have probably already used chia seeds to make puddings – it’s quick, almost effortless, and fits into the healthy-guilt-free-dessert category. I kind of regret having arrived late at the chia pudding party, because I definitely didn’t expect this treat to taste so good. It’s the perfect summer dessert – light, fresh and fruity. Did I say it’s also ridiculously easy to make? All you have to do is to peel and cut a couple of peaches and mix them in a food processor with chia seeds and dates. Pulse a few minutes, refrigerate for 1 or 2 hours – so that the chia start doing their magic (aka absorbing the moisture and thickening things up) – and that’s about it. Next time around I’ll be using apricots instead of peaches, and maybe trying out a different version with frozen watermelon, for an even fresher and almost sorbet-like dessert. Wish you guys a great weekend! (:
Summer Peach Pudding
3 large peaches or nectarines / 700 grams, peeled, cored, and cubed
2 medjol dates, finely chopped
55 g / 1/3 cup chia seeds
1 vanilla bean, open lengthwise and seeds scraped (optional)
Combine all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Blend for a few moments or until smooth. Have a taste and, if it’s not as sweet as you’d like, add a few more medjol dates and blend again. Transfer the pudding to small bowls or jars, refrigerate for 2 hours, and serve. Garnish with extra chopped peaches if you like.
Chickpea flour has to be one of my favourite gluten-free flours out there. It has a lot of character (don’t even try tasting it raw, by the way) but it is, at the same time, very versatile. I make crêpes with it, savoury pancakes, use it in small amounts in cake batters (its high protein content mimics that of eggs, making it the perfect egg replacer) and many other preparations.
It wasn’t long ago that I’ve heard of socca, a chickpea flatbread typical of Nice, France. I came across a recipe for it in Ottolenghi’s Plenty, but haven’t tried it out as it called for egg whites. However, and after some research on the internet, I found out that most socca’s recipes don’t use eggs at all, requiring only three basic ingredients (chickpea flour, water and salt) and, optionally, a few dried herbs and olive oil. In this recipe, I used za’atar to flavour the batter because it goes well with the pesto and all, but you could definitely build different flavour profiles by adding different spices and herbs.
Regarding the slow roasted tomatoes: I quite like raw tomatoes, but I like them even more when slow roasted. They’re sweet and tangy at the same time and can totally transform an otherwise boring leafy salad into something out of this world.
The recipe(s) for the slow roasted tomatoes and the pesto make way more than what you will need for this particular dish but that’s the point, really, so that you have plenty to play around and use in different meals (salads, sandwiches, and so on).
Slow Roasted Tomatoes + Arugula-Tarragon Pesto over Socca
(serves 4 to 6)
slow roasted tomatoes:
1 kg / 15 medium sized vine ripened tomatoes, quartered
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
4 garlic cloves, lightly crushed
40 g / 1/3 cup laminated almonds, preferably toasted
30 g / ½ cup packed arugula
6 g / ¼ cup packed tarragon
1 teaspoon salt
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons lemon juice
60 ml / 1/3 cup olive oil
130 g / 1 cup chickpea flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoons za’atar
250 ml / 1 cup water
1 teaspoon olive oil, to grease the pan
extra arugula and silvered almonds, to assemble
Pre-heat the oven to 140 C / 284 F. Line a large baking tray with greaseproof paper. Add the tomatoes, salt, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and garlic to a bowl and mix to combine. Arrange the tomatoes, cut side up, on the baking tray and slow roast for 1 ½ to 2 hours. They’re done when wilted and lightly brown around the edges.
For the pesto, finely chop, separately, the almonds, arugula and tarragon. Mix everything together in a bowl and add the salt, garlic clove, lemon juice and olive oil. Mix well to combine. Have a taste and adjust the seasonings if needed be. Alternatively, and instead of chopping up the ingredients by hand, you can use a food processor to blend them up.
Raise the oven temperature to 200 C / 390 F.
Sift the chickpea flour, salt and za’atar to a bowl. Slowly pour in the water, whisking vigorously to avoid any lumps. Let the batter sit, covered, for 30 minutes to 1 hour at room temperature.
In the meantime, grease one 25 cm / 10 inch round baking dish with olive oil and put it in the middle third of the oven for at least 10 minutes. After that time take, very carefully, the pan out of the oven and pour the batter into it. Return the pan to the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the chickpea pancake is golden brown on top. You can finish it (as I did) on the broiler for the last 5 minutes of cooking to encourage even browning.
To assemble, cut the socca into 4 or 6 equal slices. Spread the pesto on each of the slices, add a generous amount of arugula on top as well as 2 to 3 tomato quarters. Drizzle a bit more pesto on top of the tomatoes and finish off with plenty of toasted silvered almonds.
When God gives you blueberries…. you either a) eat them in one sitting on a particularly lazy Sunday night (as if they were popcorn), or b) drag yourself into the kitchen and, despite the hot temperature (the thermometer has been reaching – and even passing – 30º degrees these days) decide to bake a blueberry cake. After giving the issue some thought and, frankly, not without a few doubts, I went with the last option.
I haven’t baked anything with any sort of berries before, mostly because I can’t help myself from eating them in their natural state, as they taste so incredibly good when in season (as now). However, I most say, if you’re going to make this cake you’re into something. Because, that night, I didn’t bother to check up online recipes and ratios for this particular baked good, I approached it in the same way I work with savoury foods – tasting as I go, paying attention to the amount of liquid added in order to reach the right batter’s consistency…. that sort of intuitive thinking.
I know (as we all do) that berries love coconut, so that really was my starting point. The cake is full with blueberries (that you could easily substitute with raspberries or blackberries), not too sweet, and with that nutty-crunchy finish that gives it character and an extra boost of flavour. Now, you guys can definitely call me inconsistent – I deserve the title – because I’ve been saying way too many times that baking is not my cup of tea but, honestly, and what I’m about to say is quite a statement, this is probably the best and most accomplished sweet treat I have ever made and shared on this blog.
Just a little last note: you can definitely serve the cake with some coconut whipped cream on the side. I don’t have a particular recipe for it but this is how I generally do it: freeze, upside-down, a can of coconut milk for a few hours; open the can, pour the creamy part into a bowl (discard the liquid), add a sweetener (I usually go with agave) and maybe the seeds of half a vanilla bean, mix everything together, et voilà!
Enjoy the summer, do not forget the sun protection cream, and eat your berries (they’re full of antioxidants and other good things that google will be more than happy to tell you). ;)
Blueberry Coconut Cake
(makes 1 cake in a square 20 cm pan)
for the dry mixture:
1 ½ cups / 180g brown rice flour
½ cup / 40 g desiccated coconut
¾ cup / 80 g quinoa flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
zest of one lemon
for the wet mixture:
¼ cup / 60 ml melted coconut oil
1/3 cup /55 g coconut sugar
¼ cup / 60 ml agave nectar
2 tablespoons flaxseed meal mixed, in a bowl, with ¼ cup / 60 ml water
1 ½ cups / 375 ml light coconut milk
for the topping:
½ cup / 52 g coarsely ground walnuts
½ cup / 40 g desiccated coconut
2 tablespoons coconut oil
4 tablespoons coconut sugar, divided
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
2 cups / 290 g blueberries
extra coconut oil, for greasing the cake pan
Pre-heat the oven to 180ºc /350 F. Grease a square 20×20 cm pan with melted coconut oil. Set aside.
In a medium sized bowl, mix the topping’s ingredients, adding only two tablespoons of coconut sugar instead of the four written above (you’ll use the remaining two tablespoons later).
Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients. Pour the wet mixture over the dry one and mix slowly until everything’s well incorporated and you end up with a slightly thick batter.
Pour half of the cake batter into the bottom of the pan. Add one cup of blueberries on top, making sure to distribute them evenly. Add the remaining half of cake batter, followed by the last layer of blueberries. To finish things off, cover the cake with the coconut-walnut topping.
Bake the cake, in the pre-heated oven, for 45 minutes. After that time, take the cake out of the oven and scatter the remaining two tablespoons of coconut sugar on top of it – make sure you cover all the cake’s surface with the sugar, so that you end up with a crisp and caramelised layer. Return the cake to the oven for an additional 5 minutes. Once done, let it cool to room temperature, cut into squares and serve. Even though I like to eat it plain, it goes particularly well with coconut whipped cream.
I think I just found out the reason why I don’t normally post breakfast recipes in here. I love breakfast and, in fact, mornings are the time of the day when I feel the most hungry. However, shooting breakfast foods is, for me, a bit painful because that means I have to hold back my hunger and only eat after I’ve taken pictures of said foods (which can take a while).
After waking up and drinking a few glasses of water, I go into the kitchen and, usually, cook myself a big bowl of porridge. When I’m feeling lazy, granola with almond milk will do. I like routine and I’m pretty good at sticking to it, so my breakfast doesn’t vary much. Actually, and that might come as shock to some of you, I only tasted pancakes a few years ago, when this book came out and I tried its recipe (which I highly recommend) for the well known breakfast treat. This time around, though, I decided to create a pancake recipe following my own instinct. I’m not quite sure that was a good idea: my early attempts didn’t come out well, so I kept trying through the whole last week and ended up eating pancakes for breakfast for the most part of it.
There’s no actual science behind making pancakes and you can definitely adjust the process a bit to your own liking. There are people who prefer theirs fairly thick, while others might like them more on the thinner side. I fit into the former category. For this recipe, and in order for the pancakes to have a good height, I used a metal ring so that the batter didn’t spread to the sides. This is, of course, an optional extra step. For serving, I topped mine with a raspberry-date compote I’ve made early last week, but they do taste heavenly with just a good drizzle of maple syrup on top.
Buckwheat and Hazelnut Pancakes
(makes 4 to 8 pancakes, depending on their size)
50 g / 1/2 cup hazelnut meal
120 g / 3/4 cup buckwheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon coconut sugar
310 ml / 1 1/4 cups oat milk (or any other dairy-free milk)
melted coconut oil for greasing the skillet
Add all the ingredients (except the oat milk) to a bowl and mix well. Slowly pour in the oat milk and whisk to combine. You’ll get a fairly thick batter, which is what you’re looking for.
Using a pastry brush, grease a large non-stick skillet with the melted coconut oil. Turn the heat to medium and, when the pan is hot, drop for each pancake 3 to 4 tablespoons of the batter. Cook the pancake for 2 to 3 minutes or until its top has just started to set. With a spatula, turn it over and cook for one additional minute.
Repeat the process with the remaining batter. Make sure you grease the pan with additional coconut oil each time you drop the batter into the skillet. Serve the pancakes with agave nectar or maple syrup or, as shown above, with a raspberry-date compote and banana slices.
I had the idea for this recipe on my mind for a few weeks now, but was holding back to try it out because sweet goods “don’t really suit my style”. Chocolate desserts, in particular, are far from being my forte. Don’t get me wrong though, I think this one is a great dessert. For chocolate fans. I mean, not the milk-chocolate-candy-bar ones, but for those who appreciate chocolate’s bitterness and more authentic flavour. Let’s say the hardcore fans.
Cardamom is one my favourite spices (followed by cinnamon) and I recently found out it pairs incredibly well with chocolate. These two, coupled together as a filling for a nutty crust, give the little tarts a lot of depth and intensity in flavour. Having said that, and even though this recipe only makes four small tarts, you’ll probably be fine, as I was, with only half of one. A couple specifics: the crust used in here is gluten-free, and because gluten-free doughs tend to be temperamental and hard to work with, you won’t need to roll it, but to press it directly into the tart shells. It won’t look as perfect as if it was rolled but, really, there’s no need to complicate things unnecessarily and only for the sake of presentation…
You might also realise this recipe doesn’t call for any sugar and for me it’s fine as is. However, your taste buds are certainly different than mine and if you find the filling too bitter, one or two tablespoons of coconut sugar or other sweetener of your choice won’t hurt. Lastly, do add the flaky salt or fleur de sel on top of the tarts – it really makes a difference, as salt is known to work as chocolate’s flavour enhancer.
Chocolate Cardamom Tarts
(makes 4 tarts, using small tart shells of 7,5 cm in diameter)
for the crust:
70 g / ½ cup chestnut flour
50 g / ½ cup hazelnut meal
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon flax seed meal
60 ml / ¼ cup melted coconut oil
2 tablespoons cold water
for the filling:
6 cardamom pods, green shells removed and crushed in a mortar
and pestle into a fine powder
100 g / roughly ¾ cup 70% dark chocolate, cut into small pieces
125 ml / ½ cup coconut milk
extra coconut oil for greasing the tins
flaky sea salt or fleur de sel
Pre-heat the oven to 175º/350ª degrees.
Sift the chestnut flour, hazelnut and flaxseed meals and salt into a bowl. Add the melted coconut oil and the water, and work the mixture with your hands until you get a firm dough. Divide the dough into 4 equal portions.
Using a pastry brush, grease your tart tins with extra melted coconut oil. Press one piece of dough into one of the tart shells and, working with your hands, make it evenly cover its bottom and sides. Using a fork, pinch the dough a few times. Repeat this procedure with the remaining dough and shells.
Cover the pastry shells with greaseproof paper, fill it with baking beans or pie weights and bake blind for 15 minutes. After that time, remove the beans and paper and bake the tarts for additional 10 minutes, or until they’re golden brown.
In a small pan, heat the coconut milk with the ground cardamom until it almost starts to boil (don’t let it boil, though). Remove from the heat and add the chocolate. Stir around with a wooden spoon until the chocolate has fully melted. Let the mixture cool a bit, but not to the point of starting to set.
Divide the mixture evenly between the four tart shells. Let it set for 1 to 2 hours at room temperature. After that time, you can refrigerate the tarts for 1 additional hour if you prefer them cold (I actually ended up eating a forth of one at room temperature and enjoyed it). Unmold before serving and sprinkle with cocoa powder and flaky sea salt or fleur de sel.
If you check this blog regularly, chances are you’ve probably noticed that I have a soft spot for veggie burgers. Out of the 62 recipes posted to date in here, 6 of them consist of some sort of patties – and being honest, I think there will be a lot more to come. What I mostly like about veggie burgers is that you can play around with ingredient and flavour combinations – mixing spices, nuts, whole grains, legumes and vegetables – and end up with a protein-packed component of a dish. When paired with a salad of sorts, they make quite a satisfying meal.
This burger in particular came out of the need to clean up the fridge: there was this neglected pepper in the bottom shelf that would go bad in a matter of days, halves of onions wrapped up in parchment paper for a supposed later use, a nearly empty large jar of olives… I could go on. I strongly encourage you to give these a try as they have a contrast of flavour and texture – soft and salty olives / crunchy and nutty seeds – that really seals the deal for me.
When it comes to serve them, this time around I thought of something different from “the classic” – in between two pieces of bread – and came up with the idea of wrapping the patties in thin slices of grilled eggplant. The eggplant adds extra moisture and a distinct smoky flavour that I’m particularly fond of. In case you want to up the patties’ (already high) protein content, an open-faced “sandwich” made with grilled Portobello mushrooms – just like this one – would be an excellent choice.
Black Bean and Red Pepper Burgers
(makes 6 patties)
2 large onions / 300g / 2 cups, finely chopped
1 medium sized red bell pepper / 220g / 1 cup, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon coriander seeds, lightly crushed in a mortar and pestle
1 ½ teaspoons cumin seeds, lightly crushed in a mortar and pestle
2 tablespoons olive oil
¼ teaspoon smoked paprika (1/2 teaspoon if using regular paprika)
240 g / 1 ½ cups cooked black beans, rinsed and drained
60 g / ½ cup buckwheat flakes (you can substitute with rolled oats)
55 g / 1/3 cup green olives, coarsely chopped
40 g / 1/3 cup sunflower seeds
1 big handful chopped coriander
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sunflower seeds and toast them for 3 to 4 minutes, or until they’re golden brown and smell fragrant.
In the same skillet you used for toasting the seeds, add the finely chopped garlic cloves, coriander and cumin seeds, smoked paprika and olive oil. Cook the spices and garlic over a medium-high flame for 1 minute.
Add the onions, pepper and salt to the skillet, give it a good stir, and turn the heat down to medium-low. Cover the skillet with a lid and let the mixture cook for about 15 minutes, or until the onion and pepper bits are soft and slightly caramelised. You should check the skillet every 5 minutes to avoid burning the mixture – if the latter seems dry, add up to 2 tablespoons of water each time you check it out.
Once the onion mixture has been cooked and cooled down, add half of it to the bowl of a food processor. Add the beans as well. Pulse a few times, or until you get a sticky but consistent paste.
Transfer the bean and onion mixture to a bowl. Add the buckwheat flakes and incorporate well using a wooden spoon. Add the chopped green olives, toasted sunflower seeds and coriander as well. Mix again. You’ll end up with a slightly moister mixture, but it should still be possible to make patties out of it. To make the job easier, wet your hands with cold water and shape the mixture into 6 burgers (or more, depending on the size you choose).
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil, over a medium flame, in a large skillet. Add the patties and cook them for 3-4 minutes on each side. Serve with your favourite condiments and fixings or as suggested above.