Appetizers

Βεγκαν ταραμοσαλάτα με φύκια - Vegan in Athens

Greek vegan taramosalata

Taramosalata is a Greek meze made from tarama, the salted roe of the cod, carp or grey mullet mixed with plenty of olive oil, lemon juice, maybe some vinegar and a starchy base which usually is mashed potatoes or stale bread.

Inspired by the traditional recipe, I created a vegan taramosalata recipe, which tastes like the real thing but it is totally cruelty-free. Actually the taste is so similar to the original stuff that probably no one will ever realize that it does not contain animal-derived ingredients.
In order to achieve the plant-based seafood flavor I used nori – my favorite edible seaweed which provides us also some valuable nutrients – and flaxseed oil that is very rich in omega-3s (but you probably know that already). These two ingredients, apart from being very healthy, they also give a nice summer flavor to the dish, reminiscent of seafood, making its taste very similar to the non-vegan taramosalata.
Taramosalata is prepared mostly during the Clean Monday and the subsequent Lent, but you may decide that its vegan version is very delicious to be eaten only once a year.

Greek vegan taramosalata with nori - Βεγκαν ταραμοσαλάτα με φύκια - Vegan in Athens

Ingredients

  • ½ cup sunflower seeds or walnuts or cashews soaked for 2-4 hours
  • ½ cup sundried tomatoes in oil
  • 1 ½ cups stale bread (crusts removed)
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons flaxseed oil
  • ½ cup lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons dried edible seaweeds (usually I use nori) coarsely chopped -or more for enhanced sea flavor
  • ½ -1 tsp salt (depending on how salty our sun-dried tomatoes are)
  • freshly ground pepper

Method

1. Soak the seaweeds in a cup of hot water for 10-15 minutes. Drain them and keep the soaking water, as it retains all the flavors of seaweeds as well as a strong umami taste that will make your taramosalata unbeatable!
2. Cut the bread in cubes and soak in the water you’ve saved for 5 minutes. Strain and put aside.
3. Strain the nuts and blend in a blender together with the olive oil, the lemon juice and the vinegar for 2-3 minutes until smooth.
4. Add the sun-dried tomatoes and seaweed and blend for 2 more minutes, until you have a homogeneous mixture. Finally add the soaked bread and the flaxseed oil. Taste and add some salt, lemon or pepper if necessary. The sun-dried tomatoes and the bread I used were not salted and so I added about 1 tsp of salt to achieve the right taste. However most sun-dried tomatoes are very salty, so I would suggest a test before adding extra salt. However keep in mind that taramosalata has to be salty.

Note: Enjoy your vegan taramosalata as a meze or appetizer with fresh bread, preferably lagana bread, as Greeks do during Clean Monday! And don’t forget to add it in a sandwich with grilled vegetables and maybe the leftover lagana bread. It’s amazing!

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Festive, fat-free chestnut and chickpea hummus with orange and garam masala - Χριστουγεννιάτικο χούμους με πορτοκάλι και γκαράμ μασάλα χωρίς λιπαρά - Vegan in Athens

Chestnut & chickpea hummus with orange and garam masala – fat free

During this time of the year, the days between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, I like to prepare foods with a special, maybe more festive touch, no matter if they are simple or complex to make. My purpose is to welcome the winter and to honor it using the materials available at this time, combined with spices and herbs that bring warmth to our body and heart. As I love hummus and I often make it in various variations, the latest couple of years I like to make an edition especially for these days.

So for this festive, Christmas, New Year’s, winter hummus I used chickpeas and chestnuts as a base, lemon juice and orange juice to emphasize the slightly sweet taste of boiled chestnuts and garam masala, a mixture of spices that create a sense of warmth and well-being, such as cinnamon, cloves, cumin and cardamom. Its taste is special – earthy and slightly sweet, its texture like a mousse and the aromas of orange and herbal spices make a huge difference.

 

Festive, fat-free chestnut and chickpea hummus with orange and garam masala - Χριστουγεννιάτικο χούμους με πορτοκάλι και γκαράμ μασάλα χωρίς λιπαρά - Vegan in Athens

Chestnut hummus, in addition to its particular flavor, is both nutritious and low in fat and calories. Chestnuts, unlike what many people think, are low in fat and therefore do not contain many calories and so do chickpeas. To keep my recipe light, I have decided to avoid adding any kind of fatty ingredients, but sincerely that’s totally up to you.

Vegan hummus with chickpeas and chestnuts along with baked pittas is a perfect appetizer, provided that we like the earthy flavour of chestnuts and the spices found in garam masala. Usually, I like to garnish my hummus with orange zest and pomegranate seeds, but we could also garnish with finely chopped nuts such as walnuts!

So, wherever you are, whatever you do, I am sending wishes for a beautiful, calm and peaceful new year.

Festive, fat-free chestnut and chickpea hummus with orange and garam masala - Χριστουγεννιάτικο χούμους με πορτοκάλι και γκαράμ μασάλα χωρίς λιπαρά - Vegan in Athens

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cooked chickpeas (or canned), drained (keep the water)
  • 1 cup chestnuts boiled and peeled
  • 1/2 cup chickpea water (or brine)
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • juice and zest from 1 orange
  • 1 tsp. garam masala *
  • 1/2 -1 tsp. salt
  • freshly ground pepper

for serving

  • 2-3 chestnuts peeled
  • seed from 1 pomegranate
  • the zest from the orange
  • a little freshly ground pepper
  • baked pittas cut in pieces

Festive, fat-free chestnut and chickpea hummus with orange and garam masala - Χριστουγεννιάτικο χούμους με πορτοκάλι και γκαράμ μασάλα χωρίς λιπαρά - Vegan in Athens

Method

1. Put all the ingredients in the blender and blend at moderate speed for 2-3 minutes until a creamy, uniform mixture is formed. If necessary add 2-3 tablespoons of chickpea broth and blend. Taste and add lemon or salt if needed.
2. Serve on a plate and garnish with the zest of the orange, pomegranate seeds and a little freshly ground pepper. Alternatively you can garnish with chopped walnuts or nuts of your choice.

Festive, fat-free chestnut and chickpea hummus with orange and garam masala - Χριστουγεννιάτικο χούμους με πορτοκάλι και γκαράμ μασάλα χωρίς λιπαρά - Vegan in Athens

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Μακαρονάδα με ζυμαρικά ολικής και πέστο ρόκας - Veganinathens.com

Vegan rocket pesto spaghetti

Rocket or arugula is one of my favorite green leafy vegetables and luckily it is abundant in all the Mediterranean regions as it grows in different soils and areas provided that it gets enough water. What I love in rocket is its spicy taste and its peppery aroma but on top of that this is one of the most nutritious greens -it belongs to the crucifers together with broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower etc.
All through the year I like to grow my own arugula on pots but my plants seem to love autumn and spring as they grow faster and bigger. This is when we usually make vegan arugula pesto in place of basil pesto. Pesto sauce takes only two minutes to make it and with minimal effort we have a delicious, colorful sauce for our pasta. Making your own pesto is impressively easy: just put all the ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Nutritional yeast is totally optional in this recipe, but I like to use it whenever I have some in hand, as it adds a discrete “cheesy” touch.

Vegan arugula pesto spaghetti - Μακαρονάδα με ζυμαρικά ολικής και πέστο ρόκας - Vegan in Athens

Ingredients
(5 portions)

500 gr whole wheat spaghetti or your favorite pasta

for the pesto sauce

  • 1 big bunch of arugula
  • ½ cup good quality olive oil
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • ½ cup cashews or sunflower seeds or pine nuts
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
  • ½ tsp freshly ground pepper

Vegan arugula pesto spaghetti - Μακαρονάδα με ζυμαρικά ολικής και πέστο ρόκας - Vegan in Athens

Method

  1. Wash thoroughly the rocket and drain. In a food processor add the rocket along with the garlic and liquid ingredients and process for 1 minute at high speed. Then add the rest of the ingredients and process for another minute or until a homogeneous mixture is obtained.
  2. In the meantime, cook your favorite pasta  in salted water (we prefer whole wheat spaghetti for this recipe) for 8 minutes or until they become al dente. Strain and rinse with cold running water to keep them from sticking. Put them back in the saucepan, pour over the sauce and mix with two forks. Served immediately!

Note: This sauce comes out less greasy and at the same time much more tasty and aromatic than store-bought. Nutritional yeast, although not necessary, replaces the cheese which is used in the non-vegan version.

When we have a tone of rocket we like to prepare a large amount of pesto and keep it in glass jars in the freezer for quite some time. Just remember to put it out of the freezer a couple of hours before using it.

 

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