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Μπάμιες φούρνου με τόφου - Baked okra with marinated tofu - Vegan in Athens

Mediterranean baked okra with marinated tofu and spices

Stewed okra in tomato sauce or okra casserole is one of my favorite traditional Greek foods, eaten mostly during spring and summer, when local okra production reaches a pick. To make okra casserole, okra are cooked in tomato sauce until tender and then they are baked, to get a thicker sauce and develop an extra delicious, umami taste (thanks to the tomatoes).

In this recipe I use okra together with fresh, local tomatoes as well as marinated tofu, in order to create an authentic vegan Mediterranean taste. The addition of some Indian spices such as spicy curry powder, make this simple vegetable dish unbeatable! We usually enjoy it together with fresh homemade or store-bought, whole wheat bread, but it can be served with rice as well.

Μπάμιες φούρνου με τόφου - Baked okra with marinated tofu - Vegan in Athens

Ingredients

  • 1 kilogram of fresh or frozen okra
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 3-4 medium tomatoes, grated
  • 1 package (400 g) tomato passata
  • ½ cup fresh parsley chopped + 1 handful to sprinkle
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup red wine
  • 3 tbsp vinegar
  • 1 tsp spice curry powder
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • salt and freshly ground pepper

For the marinated tofu

  • 300 g of hard tofu cut into about 5 slices of 2 cm thick
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2-3 tbsp soy sauce (optional)
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • freshly ground pepper

 

Μπάμιες φούρνου με τόφου - Baked okra with marinated tofu - Vegan in Athens

Method

1. Marinate the tofu: In a bowl put the tofu. Mix the marinade ingredients and pour the tofu slices. Cover and let sit for at least 1-2 hours.
2.Prepare the okra: If you have fresh okra, wash them, remove the stalk and cut off the “hat”. Put them on a dish and let them sunbathe for 3-4 hours to wither. If you don’t live in a sunny area, put them in the dehydrator or in the oven at 50 oC for 5-6 hours. If you use frozen okra, use them as they are.
3. In a large saucepan, add the olive oil and saute the onion 1-2 minutes until it becomes translucent. Add the okra and stir for a few more minutes. Add the wine, the vinegar and the remaining ingredients and mix. Simmer over low heat for 30-40 minutes or until the okra is tender.
4. Transfer the okra with the tomato sauce into a baking pan and lay the tofu slices on top (without the marinade). Garnish with a handful of parsley and bake for half an hour at 225 oC or until the sauce gets a nice deep red color and thickens. Serve hot with a piece of marinated tofu and a few drops of lemon juice.

Μπάμιες φούρνου με τόφου - Baked okra with marinated tofu - Vegan in Athens

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Pasta or gnocchi with mediterranean olive, caper and rosemary tomato sauce - Ζυμαρικά ή νιόκι με μεσογειακή σάλτσα ντομάτας με ντοματίνια, ελιές, κάπαρη και δενδρολίβανο - Vegan in Athens

Vegan pasta with cherry tomatoes, olives, rosemary and capers

Vegan pasta recipes are definitely everybody’s favorites. The fact that in less than half an hour one can make – with the simplest ingredients found in the kitchen – a tasty and hearty pasta dish is something that makes some of them unbeatable. Moreover pasta is nutritious and, especially if accompanied with a light, plant-based sauce – for example a thick tomato sauce with lots of freshly grated tomato but without the excess oils and fats – it can provide you all the energy you need during a busy day.

Often, when we return back home after a long walk in Athens or after a day at work, I put a large pot with water to boil in order to cook some pasta and in the meantime I make in the food processor a pesto sauce with rocket (during this season is on its best) or a basil pesto or even a batch of kale pesto, preparing a delicious, vegan Italian pasta dish in only few minutes. Another alternative choice, especially for the sunny days like today, is a tasty tomato sauce enriched with cherry tomatoes, olives and capers and flavored with red wine and rosemary, with all these ingredients bringing together the most typical Mediterranean flavors in each bite.
The sauce has a rich tomato flavor that is beautifully combined with the slightly spicy taste of olives and capers and wonderful aromas of garlic and rosemary. One of the things that I like about this tomato sauce is that it is can be served with any kind of pasta as well as gnocchi. Fortunately, now, one can find ready-made gnocchi, without animal ingredients, packed tightly, in some large supermarkets. Since there are also brands that use eggs, check the labels first or if you have time try to prepare your own.

Pasta or gnocchi with mediterranean olive, caper and rosemary tomato sauce - Ζυμαρικά ή νιόκι με μεσογειακή σάλτσα ντομάτας με ντοματίνια, ελιές, κάπαρη και δενδρολίβανο - Vegan in Athens

Ingredients
(serves 4)

for the sauce

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 sprig rosemary, fresh or dried
  • 2 heaped tablespoons, capers
  • 2 heaped tablespoons, olives (pick your favorite!)
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes cut in half
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1 package 400g grated tomatoes (if you don’t want to use canned you can grate your own)
  • salt and freshly ground pepper

500 gr gnocchi or pasta of choice

Pasta or gnocchi with mediterranean olive, caper and rosemary tomato sauce - Ζυμαρικά ή νιόκι με μεσογειακή σάλτσα ντομάτας με ντοματίνια, ελιές, κάπαρη και δενδρολίβανο - Vegan in Athens

Method
1. In a large frying pan, heat the olive oil and sauté the garlic and the rosemary over medium heat for two minutes. Add the cherry tomatoes olives and capers and sauté two minutes more.

2. Add the red wine, the grated tomato and a pinch of ground pepper and simmer for about 15 minutes until the sauce thickens. Meanwhile you can cook the pasta or gnocchi according to package instructions.

3. Taste the sauce, add salt or pepper if necessary and serve immediately. Because capers and olives are already salty, you just need a small amount of salt to achieve the right taste.

Pasta or gnocchi with mediterranean olive, caper and rosemary tomato sauce - Ζυμαρικά ή νιόκι με μεσογειακή σάλτσα ντομάτας με ντοματίνια, ελιές, κάπαρη και δενδρολίβανο - Vegan in Athens

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Vegetables, mushrooms and chickpeas in homemade sweet and sour sauce - Λαχανικά, μανιτάρια και ρεβύθια με σπιτική γλυκόξινη σάλτσα - Vegan in Athens

Vegan sweet and sour vegetables and mushrooms

When I started my blog “Vegan in Athens”, as a small contribution to animal rights and veganism, I had decided that I would share Greek and Mediterranean vegan recipes and indeed that’s what I try to do. On the other hand, I could not abstain from writing about recipes that, although not created under the Mediterranean sun, are an important part of our modern (vegan) eating culture. One such example is the vegan Russian salad, for which I wrote about in the previous post, and now the well-known sweet and sour sauce from China for which I am going to write today. In fact I will tell you about my Greek and vegan approach of the sauce, which can be used either as a dipping or pouring-over for a meal or as a sauce which is cooked together with various ingredients such as vegetables and tofu.

Vegetables, mushrooms and chickpeas in homemade sweet and sour sauce - Λαχανικά, μανιτάρια και ρεβύθια με σπιτική γλυκόξινη σάλτσα - Vegan in Athens

Since the ingredients traditionally found in Chinese cuisine are quite different from those found in Greece, I adjusted my recipe in order to create an easy, budget, vegan sweet and sour sauce, mainly made with ingredients that grow locally. So when we are in the mood for something more “exotic” I often stir-fry some fresh vegetables and mushrooms, adding a source of plant protein, such as chickpeas and afterwards I mix with my Greek-Chinese sweet and sour sauce. For this purpose I use local, fresh products that are easy to find and affordable to purchase. Thus instead of using pineapple, I use freshly squeezed orange juice, instead of sesame oil, olive oil and instead of rice vinegar, apple-cider or white vinegar. When I want to keep the recipe sugar-free I like to use agave nectar instead of sugar.

Vegetables, mushrooms and chickpeas in homemade sweet and sour sauce - Λαχανικά, μανιτάρια και ρεβύθια με σπιτική γλυκόξινη σάλτσα - Vegan in Athens

Sweet and sour vegetables and mushrooms are delicious, easy and quick to prepare. Basically you only have to saute the vegetables together with the mushrooms and then add the mixture of the sauce. The addition of corn starch is a trick that is used in order to thicken the sauce without adding large amounts of fat. Another useful little secret to maintain your vegetables crunchy and tasty, is to saute them in a large frying pan over medium-high heat, stirring regularly, for a few minutes (if you have a large wok that’s fantastic, but mine was ruined long time ago and till then it serves as a flower pot). After sauteing, you simply add the sauce and simmer for a while before serving. This delicious dish can be served with rice or noodles.

Vegetables, mushrooms and chickpeas in homemade sweet and sour sauce - Λαχανικά, μανιτάρια και ρεβύθια με σπιτική γλυκόξινη σάλτσα - Vegan in Athens

Ingredients

  • 1 large red bell pepper cut into strips
  • 1 large orange bell pepper cut into strips
  • 2 medium carrots cut into strips
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped cabbage (we can use regular white or Chinese cabbage or bok choy)
  • 2 cups (250 g) white mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 spring onions or 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 piece of ginger about 4 cm peeled and chopped
  • 2 cups chickpeas, cooked and drained
  • salt and freshly ground pepper

Vegetables, mushrooms and chickpeas in homemade sweet and sour sauce - Λαχανικά, μανιτάρια και ρεβύθια με σπιτική γλυκόξινη σάλτσα - Vegan in Athens

for the sauce

  • 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar (preferably apple-cider)
  • 2 tablespoons agave nectar or other sweetener
  • 1/2 cup slightly concentrated tomato juice
  • 2 level tablespoons cornflour
  • salt and freshly ground pepper

Vegetables, mushrooms and chickpeas in homemade sweet and sour sauce - Λαχανικά, μανιτάρια και ρεβύθια με σπιτική γλυκόξινη σάλτσα - Vegan in Athens

Method

1. Add the olive oil in a large frying pan and saute the vegetables and ginger over medium-high heat, stirring often, for about fifteen minutes or until slightly tender but crunchy. Add the chickpeas, salt and pepper and stir.
2. In a bowl, mix the orange juice, tomato, vinegar and lemon. Add the corn starch and mix well until completely dissolved.
3. Pour sauce mixture to the pan, stir and as soon as it comes to boil reduce the heat and simmer for five minutes, until the sauce thickens. Serve immediately with cooked rice or noodles.

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