When the weather starts getting colder, I eat soups and stews for the most part of my meals. However though, salads are still welcomed, as long as they’re heartier and incorporate some cooked elements.This salad makes for a perfect, quick lunch anytime of the week. I’ve made it countless times and sometimes substitute the lentils for whole grains such as barley and bulgur and it tastes delicious as well.
One thing you should pay attention to when making this dish is not to overcook the lentils. There’s nothing worse than mushy, soft lentils. To avoid this, cook them for no longer than 15 minutes and they’ll be perfect. As far as the dressing goes, sumac is it’s key component, so please don’t skimp on that. I’ve first found out about sumac one or two years ago when I decided to make my own za’atar. It’s a hard to find and reasonably pricy spice here in Portugal (although some speciality stores sell it these days), but you don’t need to use much to feel its tangy and lemon-y flavour. I hope you enjoy the salad and the start of the new season! Have a good weekend :)
Lentil and Mushroom Salad with Sumac Lemon Dressing
(serves 4, as a starter)
105 g / ½ cup brown lentils, washed, drained and picked through
1 Tbs. olive oil
2 medium garlic cloves, crushed
300 g pleurothus mushrooms
50 g / 8 halves oil packed sundried tomatoes, roughly chopped
50 gr walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
2 big handfuls / 40 g salad leaves such as rocket, baby spinach, etc.
105 g/ ½ cup (packed) pomegranate seeds
for the sumac lemon dressing:
1 ½ tsp. sumac
3 Tbs. lemon juice
60 ml / ¼ cup olive oil
1 small garlic clove, minced
salt and pepper to taste
In a small pan over medium-high heat, add the lentils and 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil and, once boiling, reduce the heat to low-medium and cook for 14-16 minutes or until tender but still al dente. Add ½ teaspoon of salt to the lentils, stir everything, and drain. Add the lentils to a large bowl and reserve.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon of oil. Once the oil is hot, but not smoking, add the mushrooms and garlic cloves and cook for 5-8 minutes or until golden brown. Add a pinch of salt and pepper as soon as they’re cooked, remove the garlic, and add them to the bowl with the lentils.
Add the sundried tomatoes, walnuts, salad leaves and pomegranate seeds to the bowl with the lentils and mushrooms and toss everything together gently.
For the dressing, mix all the ingredients in a small glass jar. Cover the jar with the lid and agitate vigorously until everything’s combined. Pour the dressing over the salad (not all of it – 3 to 4 tablespoons should be enough) and serve immediately.
As I’ve mentioned here countless times, autumn is my favourite season. Unlike most people, I like cold weather and absolutely love one-pot and soul warming stews and soups. This stew in particular is the kind of dish I often cook when colder days arrive, as it’s quick to make and I most likely already have all the ingredients I need for it in the pantry.
It’s also very versatile: sometimes I use zucchini in place of the cauliflower and, even though I prefer the latter, it tastes lovely too. Other times, I substitute the water for coconut milk (or half of the amount of water) for a richer, creamier version. As with most curries and stews, this one tastes better the day after it’s made. The recipe below makes plenty of food, so I’m sure you’ll end up with leftovers for the next meal. I also really like to serve this dish with steamed brown rice (to soak up the sauce) and plenty of toasted cashews on top.
Red Lentil and Cauliflower Stew
(serves 4 to 6)
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 medium red chilli, finely chopped
210 g / 1 cup red lentils
375 ml / 1 ½ cups chopped canned tomatoes
500 ml / 2 cups water
175 g / 3 medium carrots, cubed
350 g / 1 medium cauliflower, cut into florets
salt and black pepper to taste
In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast the seeds for 5-6 minutes or until fragrant and lightly toasted. Transfer the seeds to a mortar and pestle and mash them until they’re finely ground.
In a medium-sized pan over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add the garlic, chilli, spices and carrots and fry for 1 minute or 2. Now add the lentils, canned tomatoes, water and cauliflower and bring the mixture to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low-medium, cover the pan and cook for 25-30 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. At the last minute of cooking, add the salt (start with ½ teaspoon, taste, and increase if you need) and black pepper.
I know a lot of people who find lentils boring and bland in flavour, and most of the time is because they’ve eaten them overcooked and without exciting accompaniments. I can eat a lot of lentils – typically 2 or 3 times a week – and the reason I’m a huge fan of them (both flavour and nutrition-wise) is because there are so many possibilities when it comes to incorporate them in a dish.
The other day I made a big batch of carrot purée because I needed some to bake a cake. I ended up eating the leftovers – properly seasoned with garlic and olive oil – for dinner along with (also leftovers) lentils and some quickly sautéed onions. I thought the three components got along pretty well, and decided to further explore the idea in order to come up with a recipe worth sharing here on the blog.
This dish might seem like it has a lot of elements but they actually come together pretty quickly and require ingredients you most likely already have in your pantry. What I like about it is that not only it tastes really good but also makes a nutritionally balance main course, which sometimes, for people new to vegan or vegetarian ventures, is hard to achieve with plant-based ingredients.
Hope you like the lentils, enjoy the last days of summer and warmth and fully embrace the next season. Fall is my favourite of all four seasons, and I love the flavours and produce that comes with it. No wonder it’s the time I’m the most inspired to cook and bake, and hopefully I’ll come up with some new creations that will delight your eyes and palate. See you all soon! (: J
Lentils with Carrot Purée, Caramelized Onions and Hazelnut Mustard Dressing
1 ½ cups french lentils, such as Puy
½ teaspoon salt
1 big handful parsley (22 g), finely chopped
for the carrot purée:
510 g (8 to 10) medium sized carrots, cubed
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
squeeze of lemon juice
for the caramelized onions:
600 g (4 large) onions, finely sliced into rings
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
for the hazelnut-dijon dressing:
47 g / 1/3 cup hazelnuts
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons brown rice syrup
¼ teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons water
arugula leaves, micro herbs etc., to serve
Carrot purée: Using a steamer, steam the carrots for 8-10 minutes or until they’re cooked through. When they’re cool enough to handle, add them to a food processor with the remaining ingredients for the purée and blend until it reaches a smooth consistency. Adjust the seasoning, adding more salt if necessary. If the mixture seems too thick and you’re having trouble mixing it all together, add up to 6 tablespoons of the water you used for steaming the carrots.
In the meantime, bring a medium sized pan filled with 4 cups of water to a boil. Add the lentils, reduce the heat to medium and cook for approximately 12-14 minutes, or until they’re cooked through but still have some bite. Add the salt, drain the lentils and rinse under cold water. Transfer the lentils to a bowl and mix in the chopped parsley.
Caramelized onions: Heat a large non stick skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil, onions and salt. Cook, stirring often, for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until the onions are really soft. In the last minutes of cooking, turn the heat up to high and cook for additional 3 to 4 minutes, or until they crisp up a little.
Hazelnut mustard dressing: In a skillet over medium-high heat, toast the hazelnuts until they’re golden brown (4 to 5 minutes). When they’re still hot, transfer to a clean kitchen towel and rub them against it to remove as much of its skin as possible. Transfer the hazelnuts to a food processor and process until smooth with the remaining dressing ingredients.
To serve, put a few tablespoons of carrot purée on 4 different plates, topping with the lentils, followed by the caramelized onions and a gentle drizzle of the hazelnut dressing. Add a few arugula leaves, if desired, and serve.
I know I haven’t been around for a while but, hey!, I’m still here, and today we’ll talk curry. I realize this is the first curry recipe I write about on the blog, and to be honest I don’t know how that happened because it’s the kind of dish I cook often. I know there are a lot of vegetable curry recipes on the internet and that you probably don’t need another one, but I’ve made this curry countless times and think it’s a good one to have on your repertoire.
The variations in here could be endless. I’ve made it before with spinach in place of the cabbage and it turned out good, but I prefer to use the latter mainly because of the texture it brings to the whole thing. A word on tempeh: it’s well known that steaming tempeh for 15 minutes before actually cooking with it, removes its bitterness. To be honest, I don’t mind the bitterness and I think it goes practically unnoticed in here, camouflaged by the bold flavours of all the spices and the lemon. Having said this, if you want to steam it first (or even sub it for tofu), go ahead.
Enjoy the curry, have a great summer (guess what: here in Portugal has been raining) and I promise to come back soon! (:
Tempeh Lemon Curry
3 Tbs. olive oil, divided
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp. ground coriander seeds, roughly pounded in a mortar and pestle
1 tsp. mustard seeds, roughly pounded
1 tsp. caraway seeds, roughly pounded
2 medium carrots, cut into cubes
1 Tbs. fresh ginger
1 tsp. ground turmeric
1 red chilli, finely chopped
1 large zucchini, cut into half moons
1 cup / 250 ml coconut milk
4 cups shredded cabbage
250 gr tempeh, cut into cubes
1 tsp. rice syrup
2 Tbs. mirin
zest of one lemon
1 handful toasted cashews, coarsely chopped
1 handful fresh mint, coarsely chopped
juice of ½ lemon
In a large pan over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, onion, garlic cloves and coriander, mustard and caraway seeds. Fry for 3-4 minutes or until the onion has softened and the spices have toasted a bit and smell fragrant.
Add the carrots, fresh ginger, turmeric, chilli and zucchini to the pan. Give everything a good stir and add the coconut milk. Cover the pan and cook for 5 minutes.
In the meantime, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, but not smoking, add the tempeh cubes and fry until golden brown. Turn off the heat, sprinkle the tempeh with a pinch of salt and add it to the pan with the vegetables.
Now, add the cabbage to the pan as well, pressing it gently with the back of an wooden spoon so that it’s covered by the coconut milk. If, at this point, the curry looks as if it hasn’t enough liquid, add up to 1/3 cup of it, but keep in mind the cabbage will release a lot of water too. Cover the pan and cook for additional 5 minutes, or until the cabbage is wilted. Add the salt, rice syrup, mirin and lemon zest. Stir everything together and finish off with the lemon juice, toasted cashews and mint.
Recipe adapted from The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen, by Peter Berley, published by William Morrow Cookbooks, 2008
I had some friends coming over for dinner last weekend to taste some of my fermentation experiments. Amongst kimchi, sauerkraut (which will be covered soon), a sour coconut chutney and other little things, these mung bean pancakes were served. They’re not fermented per se, but do call for the use of kimchi, one of my favourite live foods.
I looked up online for several bindaetteok recipes and they all used the same basic ingredients – dried mung beans, sesame oil, rice and water. The amount of rice called for in those recipes was so little that I actually decided to omit it altogether. I also realised that the mung beans they use in Korea to make these pancakes are peeled and split, whereas the ones I find in the stores are sold whole. Needless to say, I used them whole and had not issues at all. I assume the batter is probably coarser than if I had used split beans, but I do like the extra texture.
Kimchi is hard to find in Portugal and even though I prefer these pancakes with it – because of the tangy and sharp flavours it gives to the batter – it’s possible to use finely chopped spring onions instead. Just bear in mind kimchi is the ingredient that gives them character, so a kimchi-free version of the pancakes won’t certainly taste as authentic. Having said this, I highly encourage you to make your own (recipe here!) – it’s quite easy and, if you haven’t tasted if before, you’ll be in for a wonderful taste experience that’s unusual for the western palate.
Bindaetteok (Korean Mung Bean Pancakes) with Sesame-Ginger Sauce
(makes 8-10 pancakes)
for the pancakes:
190 g / 1 cup mung beans, soaked overnight
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon tamari sauce
½ teaspoon salt
60 ml / ¼ cup kimchi juice
60 ml / ¼ cup water
90 g / ½ cup kimchi
vegetable oil for shallow frying
for the sesame-ginger dipping sauce:
20 g fresh ginger
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons tamari sauce
1 small garlic clove minced
1 tablespoon mirin
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
Drain and rinse the beans. Add them to the bowl of a food processor along with the other pancake ingredients, except the kimchi. Process until a thick batter comes together – don’t worry if it doesn’t get perfectly smooth; it’s okay if it’s only coarsely pureed.
Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and add 1 to 2 tablespoons of oil, tilting the pan to ensure the oil is evenly distributed. When the oil is hot, but not smoking, drop 2 tablespoons of the batter at a time. Cook the pancakes for 2-3 minutes on each side or until golden brown.
For the sesame ginger sauce, peel and grate the ginger. Squeeze the ginger over a bowl to extract its juices and discard the pulp. Add the remaining sauce ingredients to the bowl and whisk everything together.
I’m in a soup kick at the moment. Last week it was the butternut squash soup, the week before that the turnip-kale one and, finally, this week, the roasted carrot and garlic soup. Warm and smooth soup is hard to beat around this time of the year, particularly when you live in a part of the world that has been unlucky (and, apparently, will continue to be) with the weather for a couple of weeks now.
This soup in particular requires minimal effort to make and you probably already have all the ingredients in your pantry. All you have to do is to chop a few carrots (if using organic, like I did, you don’t even need to peel them), roast them until sweet and dark around the edges and blend them with a few cups of stock and water to make a perfect, velvety cream.
The dukkah is equally easy and straight-forward to make, adding texture and an extra layer of flavour to the soup. The recipe bellow makes way more than what you’ll actually need for this particular dish, so feel free to use it in other preparations as well. A few tried and tested ideas: as a crust to pan-fried tofu or tempeh, on top of a kale and avocado salad and blended into a roasted tomato sauce. I’m sure you can come up with more ideas on how to use it though; the possibilities are endless. Enjoy the soup and I’ll be coming back next week with another recipe for cold weather weeknight meals.
Roasted Carrot Soup with Garlic and Dukkah
(serves 4 to 6)
900 g / 11 medium sized carrots, coarsely chopped
1 Tablespoon olive oil
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
45 g / 1 garlic head
625 ml / 2 1/2 cups water
625 ml / 2 ½ cups low sodium vegetable stock
For the dukkah:
48 g /1/3 cup hazelnuts
80 g / ½ cup sesame seeds
2 Tablespoons coriander seeds
1 Tablespoon cumin seeds
½ teaspoon salt
wedges of lemon juice, to serve
Pre heat the oven to 180 C. Line a large baking tray with parchment paper. Add the carrots, oil, salt and cinnamon to it.
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, along with the carrots. Roast the vegetables for 45-60 minutes, or until the carrots are tender and golden brown.
In a pot over medium-high heat, heat the stock and the water until boiling point. Once boiling, decrease the heat to low and let it simmer until needed.
Add the carrots to the bowl of a high speed blender. Squeeze the roasted garlic cloves out of their skins and add them to the bowl as well. Add the water and stock and process until smooth (you might have to do this in batches, as a regular blender doesn’t hold such amount of food and liquid all at once). Have a taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.
In the meantime, put a large skillet over medium heat and, once hot, add the hazelnuts and toast them for 2 to 3 minutes or until golden brown. Place the hazelnuts into a clean kitchen towel and rub the towel to peel off their skins. Add the sesame, coriander and cumin seeds to the same skillet and toast until the spices smell fragrant and the sesame seeds have darkened just a bit.
Add the toasted nuts, seeds and salt to the bowl of a food processor and process until you have a sand-like mixture. Serve the dukkah over the soup along with a squeeze of lemon juice. The dukkah will keep, stored in a jar, for a couple of weeks.
For some reason I can’t yet figure out, my cats love tempeh. They could be sleeping on the farthest room from the kitchen but, as soon as I open the tempeh package, they come running and meowing like crazy. I always give them little bits of it, and they always give me back “the face”, meaning they want seconds. Maybe it’s tempeh’s yeast-y and nutty flavour that drives them mad. Anyway, I have hardly ever seen them being so enthusiastic about a particular food as they are about it (don’t get me started on the organic and expensive as hell wet food I once bought them, which they sniffed and walked away from). Unlike the kitties, and through my years as a vegetarian/vegan, I never cared much for tempeh. Today, however, I’ve been cooking with it much more often. Through practice, I guess I’ve come up with some pretty good dishes that feature this fermented soy-based and, most of the time, underrated ingredient. The recipe for this patties is, out of the things I’ve made recently using tempeh, the one I like the most. They’re complex in flavour as well as in texture, with different spices thrown in for a bit of a spicy kick. A couple specifics: you really have to refrigerate them for at least two hours before cooking. It pays off, really: their consistency will improve and it’ll be easier to shape them. The chutney, on its side, won’t take you more than 5 minutes to make and it’s sweet and tangy character goes really well with the patties’ earthy flavours. Chickpea and Tempeh Patties with Lemon Chutney
(makes 6 to 8 patties)
for the patties:
1 medium sized onion, finely chopped
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil 5 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in 1 cup warm water for at least 15 minutes
1 tablespoon cumin seeds, crushed in a mortar and pestle
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons turmeric
1 ½ teaspoons dried thyme
3 tablespoons tomato puree/paste
1 ½ teaspoons harissa
½ teaspoon sea salt
145 g /1 cup frozen corn
250 gr tempeh, crumbled
1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas
for the lemon chutney:
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
210g /2 medium sized lemons
125 ml / ½ cup brown rice syrup
For the patties: In a pan over medium heat, add the olive oil, onion and garlic. Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until the onion is soft. Add the mushrooms, crushed cumin seeds, paprika, turmeric and thyme, followed by ½ cup of the mushrooms soaking water. Give everything a good stir and add the tomato puree, harissa, salt, frozen corn and tempeh. Cook for, over a low-medium flame, for 8-10 minutes. Add the chickpeas to a large bowl and mash them with a potato masher. They will work as the “glue” that holds the patties together, so they should be well mashed. Add the tempeh mixture to the chickpeas and stir everything together until you have a firm mixture. Taste to check the seasoning and add a bit more salt if needed. Refrigerate the burgers mixture for at least 2 hours. When you’re ready to cook them, add a generous drizzle of olive oil to a frying pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the burgers and let them cook for 4-5 minutes on each side, or until they’re golden brown. Serve with the lemon chutney on top.
For the lemon chutney: In a small pan over medium heat, toast the mustard seeds for 1-2 minutes or until brown but not burnt. Set aside. Using a y-shaped peeler or a small sharp knife, remove the lemons’ skin. Cut the skinless lemons into quarters and remove as much as the white part as you can (you only want the pulp). Remove any seeds as well. Cut the lemons’ pulps into smaller pieces and their skins into very thin strips. Add the lemons’ skin and pulp and the rice syrup to the pan with the toasted mustard seeds. Cook for 5 minutes, uncovered and over medium heat, or until the liquid is reduced a bit (it will reduce even more after it’s cooled, so don’t overcook it). Serve with the burgers.
You know the phrase “Don’t judge a book by its cover”. The same principle can be applied to food – there are dishes that don’t necessarily look good (like black bean soup or chilli, for instance) but do taste amazing.
On my laptop, there’s a folder with all the recipes from the blog, organized by categories. Inside that folder, there’s one titled “?” where I keep the recipes I’m not exactly sure if I should post up here. More often than not, those recipes fit into the “ugly-but-oh-so-tasty” category that I mentioned above. There’s the tempeh and mushroom loaf, a version of greek baked beans, and a couple others. They were a nightmare to shoot and I always think they deserve a second chance (photography wise) but, for that to happen, I have to make them again.
The recipe I’m about to share was just an inch away from going into the “?” folder. I took lots of pictures of it, from different angles and with different plates, but only managed to get two or three that I think are just ok. Part of the reason for that is because this is a recipe that has its roots on the british classic bubble and squeak, a dish well known for its lack of sexiness. In this version, white beans replace the potatoes for a kick of protein, and leeks are used instead of greens just because it was what I had around. The patties come together almost effortlessly and do deliver a lot on the tasting front. Don’t sweat trying to make them look perfectly shaped, though – this is meant to be a simple, uncomplicated dish, where the hearty and rustic flavours are all that matters.
White Bean and Leek Cakes
(makes 4 to 6 patties, depending on the size)
2 large / 250 g leeks, white parts only
450 g cooked white beans (canned is fine)
3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 small bunch / 15 g parsley, finely chopped
salt and black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil plus more for seasoning the pan
Cut the leeks in half and wash the halves thoroughly to remove any dirt. Cut each half into thin half moons.
In a frying pan over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, the leeks, garlic and parsley. Cook for 5 minutes or until the leeks are soft.
Transfer the leeks to a large bowl. Add the white beans and mash everything together with a potato masher (don’t overdo it and leave some parts just barely broken down for a bit of texture). Season the mixture with a bit of salt and lots of freshly cracked black pepper.
Clean the pan in which you have cooked the leeks with kitchen paper towels. Add a generous glug of olive oil to the pan, making sure it covers its surface, and turn the heat on medium. Shape the white bean and leek mixture into patties and add them to the pan. Season each cake with a bit more salt and cook for 5 to 7 minutes on each side, or until golden brown (I like mine almost on the verge of being burnt). Serve with pickled cucumber, mustard, fried capers or whatever you fancy.
Even though I have a few favourite foods and I’m, at times, fixated over some specific ingredients (this time around, pomegranates is what I’m obsessed with), I pretty much like to vary what I eat. I do not usually plan what I’m going to have; I’d rather go to the market and, based on what I find and seems to be the freshest produce, I make my own choices.
However, this “go with the flow” attitude doesn’t apply to breakfast. For breakfast, I almost always have oatmeal porridge with raw cacao and a sliced banana. When I say “almost always” I actually mean I’ve been having this very same breakfast, everyday, for almost 3 months in a row. Coming from a person who’s pretty curious when it comes to try plant-based foods and ingredients, this is a bit embarrassing. However, having acknowledged that, I’ve been trying to be a bit less predictive when it comes to breakfast fares. This millet bowl, even though sharing the same spirit as my dearest oatmeal porridge (creaminess, warmth…), is a totally different thing. Its flavour profile reminds me, somehow, of Halva, the greek dessert, because of the nuts and dried fruits. It’s sweet, creamy, comforting… and pretty much everything I crave in the cold autumn mornings.
I already have a couple more ideas for different breakfasts on my mind and, as this blog is lacking breakfast foods, I’m eager to share a couple more with you in the meantime. I’ll also come back soon with a few Christmas-inspired recipes. (;
Millet Breakfast Bowl
(serves 4 to 6)
200 g / 1 cup millet
1 tablespoon olive oil
45 g / ¼ cup dried apricots, chopped
35 g / ¼ cup golden raisins
1 big handful /35 g walnuts , finely chopped
1 strip of lemon or orange rind
500 ml / 2 cups unsweetened almond milk
125 ml / ½ cup water
80 ml / 1/3 cup brown rice syrup
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
In a medium sized pot, over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add the millet and fry it in the oil, stirring constantly, until golden brown (about 3-4 minutes).
Add the cinnamon, lemon or orange rind and salt to the millet, followed by the almond milk and water. Bring the mixture to a boil, and once boiling, decrease the heat to medium-low. At this point, add the brown rice syrup, apricots, golden raisins and walnuts and give everything a good stir. Cook over low heat for 20-25 minutes. It’s ready as soon as the mixture is soft and creamy.
Serve and eat while warm, with an extra drizzle of brown rice syrup, a few more walnuts and some pomegranate seeds.