As much as I love my morning bowl of oatmeal, it feels good to have something different for breakfast every now and then. Lately, I’ve been trying different breakfast foods – from salads, to socca, and steamed vegetables with panfried tofu – and while I enjoyed them all, the recipe I’m sharing with today is one of my favourite experiments.
Before I committed to making my version of a vegan frittata, I’ve searched the web for inspiration. Most of the recipes I saw called for the use of cornstarch or arrowroot to thicken the tofu “custard” and make it firmer. I have nothing against those ingredients, but since I had neither of them at home by the time I was making the frittata, I made it without them and it turned out just fine. However, if you want to be able to cut a perfect slice out of it you have to be patient and wait at least half an hour after it comes out of the oven.
The frittata also becomes firmer the longer it stays in the fridge, and I might say I actually like it better the day after it’s baked – it’s incredible how the flavours improve and become more pronounced overnight. You don’t really need to use the vegetables I used here, and I’m sure that red peppers and/or leeks would be great additions or substitutions.
Springtime Vegan Frittata
serves 6 to 8
250 g / 1 large onion, finely cubed
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 teaspoons sea salt, divided
690 g fresh firm tofu, cubed
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 Tablespoons brewer’s yeast (optional)
grated zest of one lemon
220 g / 1 small broccoli head, cut into medium sized florets
295 g / 1 large bunch spinach
240 g boiled peas (frozen is fine)
freshly ground black pepper to taste
Pre-heat the oven to 180C. Grease a springform pan with oil and set aside.
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the onion, garlic, olive oil and dried thyme. Cook, stirring often, for 5-8 minutes, or until the onion has softened and browned just a bit.
Add the broccoli florets to the bowl of a food processor and pulse 3 to 4 times, or until the florets are just broken down (you don’t want to fully blitz the broccoli).
Add the broccoli to the skillet with the onion and garlic mixture and cook for 3 minutes, stirring often. Next, add the spinach and 1 teaspoon of salt and cook until the spinach is wilted – no longer than 2 minutes.
Add the tofu to the bowl of the food processor, along with 1 teaspoon of salt, the turmeric, brewer’s yeast (if using) and lemon zest, and blitz until smooth.
Add the spinach and broccoli mixture to a large bowl, followed by the puréed tofu and the cooked peas. Gently mix the ingredients until everything is well incorporated. Season with freshly ground black pepper and an extra pinch of salt, if necessary.
Add the frittata mixture to the prepared springform pan. Smooth the top with the back of a spoon and bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes or until golden brown. Let it cool in the pan before unmolding and serving.
Every time I have guests for dinner, I typically serve some sort of homemade hummus or vegetable spread as an entrée. Most of the time I end up making the good old chickpea hummus because it’s one of favourite spreads and everyone loves it. But if I’m pressed for time (because yes, I’m in that tiny group of crazy people who actually thinks that removing the chickpeas’ skins is the secret to making the perfect hummus), I use split peas instead.
This is an incredibly easy, yet really tasty bean spread that’s perfect served on top of toasted bread or used as a dip for raw vegetables. I love to dip carrots and turnips into this hummus, but peppers (cut into strips), raw broccoli florets and/or parsnips are also excellent options.
I always have this thing going on with the blog where I try to balance more complex recipes with everyday, casual ones. That balance is hard to strive because people who aren’t familiar with vegan cooking tend to prefer simple and straightforward recipes, whereas long time vegans and/or foodies appreciate bold and unusual combination of ingredients and techniques.
At the end of the day, I always try to stay true to myself and my cooking “style”. However, I hope that recipes like this one – that do not involve a long list of ingredients but deliver on flavour – inspire people to venture into cooking more vegan food and, most importantly, help break the misconception that eating vegan is all about pricy superfoods and green smoothies (nothing against both, it just totally annoys me when I hear people saying that – and I do, all the time).
Split Pea Hummus with Capers & Red Onion
serves a crowd
195 g / 1 cup green split peas, soaked overnight, drained and rinsed
¾ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon za’atar
1 garlic clove, minced
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus a little more for serving
3 Tablespoons lemon juice
2 Tablespoon warm water
65 g / half a medium sized red onion, finely chopped
27 g / 2 Tablespoons brined capers, rinsed, dried and chopped
Add the split peas to a large pot over medium-high heat. Add enough water to cover the peas by 2 cm (0.8 inches). Bring to a boil and, once boiling, reduce the heat to low-medium and cook for 20 minutes or until soft. Some foam might naturally form on top of the cooking liquid – in that case, just take it out with a slotted spoon.
Drain the peas once they are cooked and cooled. Add them to the bowl of a food processor along with the sea salt, black pepper, za’atar, garlic clove, olive oil, lemon juice and water. Run the machine until you get a very smooth hummus. If the mixture seems too dry, add 1 or 2 additional tablespoons of water.
Put the split pea hummus in a medium sized deep plate. Add the red onion and capers on top and finish with a generous drizzle of olive oil.
It’s that time of the year when the weather is getting warmer and I start craving raw and cold salads again. This week, at the farmers’ market, I brought home lots of kohlrabi and turnips with the main intention to eat them raw (which is how I like them better anyway).
I know that a lot of people aren’t particularly excited about turnips, and even though I used to share the same opinion, I’ve been rediscovering this vegetable and absolutely loving its versatility. I’ve been enjoying thinly sliced turnips with just a dash of salt and black pepper as a light snack these days – there’s something about its light and yet slightly bitter flavour that I really love.
Anyway, this salad is pretty much like a coleslaw, with lots of crispiness and different textures. I felt I needed to balance that with a smooth dressing, and that’s how I ended up making an apricot-based one. I was really pleased with how it turned out – it’s sweet and tangy at the same time, with just a hint of cumin to make it more complex and intense.
Farmers’ Market Salad with Apricot-Cumin Dressing
For the salad:
220 g /5 medium sized carrots, grated
140 g /1 large kohlrabi, thinly sliced
120 g /1 large turnip, thinly sliced
200 g /1 large orange, sliced into half-moons
15 g / half a bunch of parsley, finely chopped
15 g / half a bunch of coriander, finely chopped
60 g /1/2 cup pistachios, coarsely chopped, toasted and lightly salted
For the apricot-cumin dressing:
65 g /6 dried unsulphured apricots, roughly chopped
6 Tablespoons olive oil
6 Tablespoons lemon juice
3 Tablespoons water
1 ¼ teaspoons cumin seeds, toasted and ground in a mortar and pestle
¼ teaspoon sea salt
black pepper to taste
Combine all the ingredients for the salad in a large bowl.
Put the apricots in a small bowl. Pour 1 cup of boiling water over them, cover the bowl, and let stand for at least 10 minutes, or until the apricots are very soft.
In a blender, combine the drained apricots with all the other ingredients for the dressing. Blend until you get a very smooth mixture.
Pour the dressing over the salad (you might not need all of it, use just enough to coat the vegetables), mix with a wooden spoon or with your hands and serve immediately.
I have this little food and recipe notebook in which I write down ideas I have for dishes. Most of those ideas are for savoury concoctions, and that makes me realize, once again, how this blog is way more savoury than sweet-oriented. I want you guys to know that I really, really wanted to come up with a dessert recipe this week, but then I made this beet risotto and thought it was too good not to share it with you.
Barley is an ingredient I cook with often. I love it in salads and simply on its own as an accompaniment for vegetable stews and curries. I thought it was a good grain to use on a risotto because it holds its shape after being cooked, cooks in less time than brown rice, and has a beautiful nutty flavour.
If you like beets, you’ll certainly love this dish. But if you don’t, then I’m not sure if this is the right thing for you. Thanks to them, the risotto has that distinctive earthy and sweet flavour that I personally love but know many don’t – I actually know very few people who share my enthusiasm for beets. Topped with extra roasted beets and walnuts this is a substantial dinner perfect for rainy winter nights (just don’t freak out if you wake up in the middle of the night to pee and it’s red).
Beetroot & Barley Risotto
7 medium sized / 550 g beets, cut into quarters
2 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 large / 270 g onion, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 Tablespoons water
200 g / 1 cup shelled barley, soaked overnight
750 ml / 3 cups low sodium vegetable stock
185 ml / ¾ cup full fat coconut milk
salt and black pepper to taste
toasted walnuts for serving
Pre-heat the oven to 180c. Line a large tray with parchment paper. Add the quartered beets as well as 1 tablespoon of olive oil, the balsamic vinegar, and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Stir well, so that the beets are all coated with the balsamic and oil mixture. Put another piece of parchment paper on top of the beets and crimp the edges to form a packet. Roast in the oven for about one hour – the beets are cooked when you can easily pierce them with the tip of a knife.
In a large pot over medium heat, add one tablespoon of oil and cook the onion and garlic for 8 to 10 minutes, or until soft. The mixture will dry out, and to keep it from sticking to the pan add 4 tablespoons of water halfway through the cooking time. Next, add the barley and the 3 cups of stock. Cook, uncovered, on a low-medium heat for 15 minutes.
Add 125 grams of the cooked beets and the coconut milk to a blender and puree until smooth (I do not bother peeling the beets at this point, but do that if you prefer). Pour this mixture over the barley , stir well, and cook for additional 5 minutes. Have a taste and adjust the seasoning if needed – I added extra salt (about 1/2 teaspoon) and a grind of black pepper. Serve immediately with the remaining roasted beets and plenty of toasted walnuts on top.
As I’ve said before, I don’t plan in advance the recipes I’m going to post here on the blog. I like to be inspired by the seasonal ingredients I buy every week and just create something with them. This week I’ve brought home lots of mushrooms and nettles, so the idea was to post a recipe here that highlighted one of these ingredients (I’m not quite sure if mushrooms and nettles go well together, hence why I didn’t attempt to put both in the same dish – probably a wise decision).
When I cook with mushrooms I like to keep things very simple. I usually just panfry them with lots of garlic and that’s it. However, I kept thinking about a delicious mushroom soup that I’ve made once, following this recipe, and because it’s still incredibly cold around here, I was craving something similar.
My original plan was to use millet in the soup, but I’ve found in the pantry a bag of quinoa 2 days past expiration date (ups) and used it instead. I was lucky enough to find the mushrooms I’ve used in this soup for a very good price, but I don’t want you to spend a fortune on these guys, so feel free to substitute the shiitake and pleurotus for creminis if you like. Also, you can definitely use millet in place of the quinoa, or even brown rice (you’ll just have to adjust the cooking times and probably add a bit more stock than the amount suggested bellow).
Last but not the least: I still have those nettles in the fridge and I’m not sure what to do with them. Have any of you cooked with nettles before? What should I do with them? Suggestion board is open. Thanks in advance! : )
Mushroom & Quinoa Soup
250 g / 1 large onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tablespoon olive oil
25-30 g / 1 big chunk fresh ginger, peeled and minced
6 grams dried porcini mushrooms, soaked in 1 cup hot water (do not discard the water)
140 g / 1 large portobello mushroom, chopped into medium sized chunks
105 g shiitake mushrooms, coarsely chopped
200 g pleurotus mushrooms, coarsely chopped
150 g / ¾ cup quinoa
4 cups low sodium vegetable stock
3 Tablespoons tamari sauce
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
In a large pan over medium heat, add the oil, onion, garlic and ginger. Cook for 3-4 minutes, or until the onion has softened.
In the meantime, heat a dry skillet over medium-high heat and, once hot, add the quinoa. Toast the quinoa, stirring often, for 3 minutes or until it’s fragrant and only slightly brown in color.
Add the rehydrated porcini followed by the portobello, shiitake and pleurotus mushrooms. Give the mixture a good stir and add the quinoa, followed by 1 cup of the porcini soaking water and 4 cups vegetable stock.
Bring the liquid to a boil and, once boiling, decrease the heat to low-medium and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until the quinoa is cooked. Add the tamari sauce, stir, and have a taste. If it’s not salty enough to your liking, add salt (I had about ½ teaspoon).
Right before serving, add the lemon juice and freshly ground black pepper. Serve immediately garnished with chopped parsley and panfried tofu, if desired.
I always do my food shopping on Saturdays. I go to the farmers market in the early afternoon and buy fresh fruit and vegetables for the week. Unless I have friends coming over for dinner, I almost never plan what I’m going to bring home – I just buy seasonal and fresh produce. Last Saturday, the market stalls were filled with tons of oranges, grapefruit, tangerines and lemons. Being a citrus lover, I couldn’t help but buying some, and on the way back home I even manage to peel and eat a giant orange while at the same time carrying all the bags packed full of fresh produce.
Back at home, I fantasized about baking an old fashioned orange cake with a beautiful orange glaze, but then I just thought that the fruit was so delicious and fresh that throwing it into a cake wasn’t the best way to make it justice.
I remembered years ago seeing Jamie Oliver on a show making a savoury basil sauce to go with a raw tomato salad, and that idea kind of got stuck in my head and ended up being the inspiration for this dish. The combination of flavours might seem unusual but it works incredibly well. I ate the salad as an afternoon snack but it could easily be served as a light dessert. Needless to say, there’s room for adaptations here: you can omit the grapefruit if you want to (subbing it for more orange and tangerine), or you can take a different route, by using pineapple instead of all the citrus (I bet it’s equally delicious).
Citrus Salad with Basil-Coconut Sauce
Note: all the fruit was weighted after being peeled.
For the salad:
185 g / 1 large grape fruit
166 g / 1 large orange
75 g / 2 small tangerines
2 Tablespoons dried coconut
a small handful of goji berries
for the basil-coconut sauce:
18 g / 1 medium bunch basil leaves
4 Tablespoons coconut milk
2 Tablespoons brown rice syrup
In a small skillet over medium-high heat, toast the coconut until it’s fragrant and just beginning to brown.
Cut the orange and grapefruit into 0,5 cm round slices. Split the tangerines into segments and remove the pits (if they have any).
In a blender, combine all the ingredients for the sauce and process until smooth. If it’s too thick, add an extra tablespoon of coconut milk.
Put the sliced fruit in a serving plate and sprinkle with the toasted coconut and goji berries. Drizzle with the sauce and serve immediately.
People often ask me how long it takes me to make a blog post. The short answer is: it depends. Some dishes take longer to prepare than others. Some foods look naturally good (like fruits and vegetables), while others need a little help (and time) to look appetizing (such as beans or tempeh, for instance). Sometimes, I know straight away what I want to do when it comes to photograph the dishes I prepare – I kind of have the pictures I want to take in mind –; other times, I have no clue of what I’m going to do.
Having said all this, I think stews such as the one I’m sharing with you today are the hardest meals to photograph. I love this kind of food, but stews in general look like an indiscernible (but incredibly tasty) mess of ingredients and are usually brown-ish in colour. This particular one demanded a lot of work. I cooked and shoot the recipe in the morning, but then, in the early afternoon, I looked at the images and wasn’t pleased. I ended up starting all over again, only to get images that I’m just relatively happy with.
But when it comes to how the dish tastes though, that’s a whole different story. I actually make this kind of mushroom and bean stew very often because of how easy, quick and tasty it is. The addition of brewer’s yeast (you could use nutritional yeast instead) gives it complexity and complements the mushrooms’ earthy flavour beautifully. You don’t have to stick to the varieties I used here – shiitakes or the regular white button mushrooms work well too.
White Bean & Mushroom Stew with Thyme
serves 3, as a main
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 large / 180 g onion, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced
300 g baby Portobello mushrooms, sliced
285 g pleurothus mushrooms, roughly chopped
6 thyme sprigs
255 g / 1 ½ cups cooked white beans
310 ml / 1 ¼ cups water
2 Tablespoons brewer’s yeast
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
3 Tablespoons tomato puree
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cassava starch (or corn starch)
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until the onion is soft (about 5 minutes). Add the mushrooms and thyme sprigs and cook, stirring often, for additional 10 minutes, or until the mushrooms shrink considerably.
In a medium sized bowl, combine the water, brewer’s yeast, lemon juice and tomato puree. In another bowl, gradually mix the cassava starch with ¼ cup of the brewer’s yeast and tomato sauce. Add the cassava mixture back to the bowl with the sauce and whisk until thoroughly combined.
Add the beans and the sauce to the skillet with the mushrooms and let it boil for 5 minutes or until the sauce thickens and reduces a bit. Remove the thyme sprigs and serve immediately with crusty bread on the side.
The other day I was going to dinner at my brother’s and was asked to bring dessert. My first plan was to bake a cake – a carrot one – but I didn’t have much time and ended up improvising these raw truffles with the ingredients I already had at home. By now you already know that I’m the kind of cook who likes to “freestyle” in the kitchen, combining ingredients, adjusting here and there, and tasting as I go. The truffles I bring you today were made just like that, with the sort of approach I usually use when cooking savoury dishes.
Turns out, everyone at the table loved the truffles. The cashew, currant and turmeric version is inspired in one of my all-time favourite protein bars, while the one with sunflower seeds and maca powder in it is my brother’s personal favourite (he likes warmer, toasty flavours). I’m particularly happy with the hemp seed, coconut and lime combo though, because it’s fresh and exotic at the same time.
Needless to say, you don’t have to stick with the ingredients I used and should feel free to make your own combinations too. Instead of sunflower seeds, you could use toasted hazelnuts, and if you’re not a fan of maca, you could probably substitute it for a combination of spices such as ginger and/or nutmeg (although not in the same proportion). The possibilities are endless here, just have some fun mix and matching and I’m sure you’ll come up with something delicious.
Little Energy Bites, Three Ways
makes 24 truffles, 8 of each flavour
Sunflower Seed, Figs & Maca
55 g / 1/3 cup + 1 Tablespoon sunflower seeds, lightly toasted
95 g / about 12 small dried figs, chopped
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 Tablespoon Maca powder
1 Tablespoon Water
pinch of salt
cocoa powder for coating
Add the sunflower seeds to the bowl of a food processor and run the machine until they’re finely ground. Add the remaining ingredients and process once again until a paste comes together. Form 8 truffles with your hands. Roll the truffles in cocoa powder and store in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before eating.
Cashew, Currants & Turmeric
78 g / ½ cup cashews
40 g / 1/3 cup currants
1 ½ Tablespoons brown rice syrup
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
zest of one orange
pinch of salt
Pulverize the cashews in a food processor. Add the remaining ingredients and run the machine until a paste comes together. Shape the mixture into 8 balls.
Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before eating.
Hemp Seeds, Coconut & Lime
60 g / 1/3 cup + 1 Tablespoon raw shelled hemp seeds
2 Tablespoons brown rice syrup
5 Tablespoons dried shredded coconut, plus extra for coating
zest of one lime
pinch of salt
Combine all the ingredients in the food processor and run the machine until you get a paste-like mixture. Shape the mixture into 8 truffles – this mixture will be a softer than the other two, but the truffles will harden in the fridge. Roll the truffles into shredded coconut (I like to mix some extra lime zest with coconut). Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before eating.
I love a good bowl of soup anytime of the year, but I tend to eat a lot more soup during the cold winter months. Usually people tend to think of soup as the kind of dish where they can throw in as many vegetables as they have lying around in the fridge. I tend to think the opposite actually, and like to take a “less is more” approach when it comes to soup making.
This soup in particular is made with three different greens (spinach, cabbage and turnip tops) and has sweet potatoes and a little amount of rolled oats in it to make it creamier and balance the greens’ natural bitterness. There’s also ginger for some heat, and a crunchy seed topping to keep things exciting. I usually make this soup using solely cabbage and chard, but I couldn’t find the latter this week on the market, so I just replaced it with spinach and turnip greens.
Turnip greens are very easy to find in Portugal, but my (little) travel experience tells me it’s not an ingredient that’s easily available in other parts of Europe. If you can’t find them, use chard instead. I’d just advise you against making this an all spinach soup – maybe it’s just me, but I find spinach a little bitter (specially the new Zealand variety, which is the one I’ve used here) and that’s why I like to pair it with another green partner. I want to thank all of you who visit this blog regularly and wish you a wonderful new year. I’ll be back soon. In the meantime, eat your soup! :)
Green Monster Soup with Za’atar Toasted Sunflower Seeds
For the soup:
2 Tablespoons olive oil
230 g / 1 large thinly sliced onion
5 garlic cloves, minced
23 g fresh ginger, peeled and grated
240 g / 2 medium sweet potatoes, diced
225 g / half a medium sized cabbage, thinly sliced
25 g / ¼ cup rolled oats
5 cups water
225 grams spinach leaves
180 g turnip greens
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
For the za’atar toasted sunflower seeds
55 g /1/3 cup sunflower seeds
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon za’atar
extra olive oil, lemon juice and za’atar for serving
For the za’atar toasted sunflower seeds: In a small bowl, combine the sunflower seeds with the oil and za’atar. Transfer the seeds to a skillet over medium-high heat and toast until they’re golden and fragrant (about 5 minutes). Reserve.
For the soup: In a large pot over medium heat, add the oil, onion, garlic and ginger and cook for 10 minutes, or until the onion has softened. If the vegetables dry out during this time, add a few tablespoons of water to loosen things up.
Next add the diced sweet potatoes, cabbage, rolled oats and 5 cups of water. Bring the soup to a boil and, once boiling, decrease the heat to medium. Cover and cook for 10 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked through.
Finally add the spinach and turnip greens as well as the salt and freshly ground nutmeg. Cook for additional 5 minutes, or until the spinach and turnip greens have shrunk considerably.
Transfer the soup to the bowl of a food processor. Working in batches, puree the soup until it’s creamy and smooth. Serve with plenty of za’atar sunflower seeds on top, an extra dizzle of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice.