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.
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.
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.