Appetizers – Accompanying

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

Facebookpinterestmail
Κρητικός ντάκος με ξινομυζήθρα αμυγδάλου - Veganinathens.com

Cretan dakos with raw almond mizithra cheese

Dakos (or ntakos), also known as koukouvagia (which means owl!) is a traditional Cretan meze consisting of a thick slice of soaked barley rusk (paximadi), topped with olive oil, chopped, fresh tomato and mizithra or xinomizithra, a kind of traditional Cretan cheese. The recipe I’m sharing today is very similar to our traditional Cretan dakos apart from that I substituted the traditional cheese with a homemade vegan mizithra cheese. Traditional vegan cheese varieties such as the Cretan xinomizithra are always very interesting and I am really happy I made vegan the kind of cheese with which I grew up!

Cretan dakos, is one of the things that brings to my mind sweet memories from my grandmother. The reason for that is that she used to make three or four times each year a huge (really huge) batch of barley bread with her own sourdough and she used to bake it in her wood oven twice, in order to make barley rusks (paximadia). These would serve as our bread for the next two or three months, till the next time she would bake (as in many other Cretan households). Barley rusks are between the most common foods found in every Cretan home and the basis to the traditional dish that is called “dakos” ( some tourists by mistake call it “tacos” but it has nothing to do with that!). As a child, when I was hungry, sometimes my grandma would make me a dakos, by soaking a barley rusk for a few seconds in water (the traditional Cretan rusks are so hard that they cannot be eaten unless they dampen!) and then she would drizzle it with olive oil, a little salt and a little chopped tomato and oregano.

This vegan version of the Cretan dakos is an delicious idea when our time is scarce and we need a quick, delicious and tasty lunch or when we are looking for a stunning appetizer.

Ingredients
For the fermented raw, almond, soft cheese (vegan mizithra or xinomizithra)

  • 2 cups almonds, raw
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp apple-cider vinegar or other white vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp soy yogurt (optional) or a probiotic capsule

Method

  1. Soak the almonds for eight hours in filtered water. Usually I let them soak overnight. The next day drain and peel them. To remove the peels more easily, soak for 5 minutes in boiling water and peel while they are stil hot.
  2. Put the almonds in the blender along with the rest of the ingredients and blend until creamy. To make things easier, stop the blender every few seconds and with a wooden or silicone spatula, clean the walls of the bowl and mix slightly.
  3. To obtain the salty, sharp taste similar to the xinomyzithra, mix in the soy yoghurt and let the almond cheese sit in a warm place for 8-10 hours to ferment.

Almond xinomizithra can be kept in the refrigerator for 5-6 days or more and from day to day its taste will become sharper.

Ingredients for 2 dakos:

  • 2 barley rusks
  • 2 medium ripe tomatoes grated or chopped
  • 2 tsp of olive oil (or more)
  • oregano
  • salt
  • 4 tbsp vegan mizithra cheese

Method

If your rusks are too hard -like the traditional- just soak them in a bowl of filtered water for 2 seconds (not more) before consuming. Pour one teaspoon of olive oil over each rusk and with a spoon top with a pretty large layer of tomato. Salt the tomato and add 2 tbsp of xinomyzithra in every dakos. Garnish with ground oregano and perhaps a few olives and serve immediately.

Note: Feel free to use the almond pulp left from making almond milk in order to make your own vegan mizithra. In that case, I would suggest mixing in one tablespoon of olive oil after fermentation, for a really rich flavor.

Facebookpinterestmail
The perfect oil-free baked French fries - Τέλειες τηγανιτές πατάτες χωρίς λάδι - Vegan in Athens

The perfect baked french fries

For those of us who like french fries but keep our fat intake low, this is definitely a recipe to try. A few years ago I read about this healthy version of “fried” potatoes and to be honest I was dubious about the success of the recipe. This is why I first made these healthy “fried” (actually baked) potatoes, with my own blend of spices and herbs, much later. But since then we never went back! The secret of making them soft inside with a savory, golden crust outside is to cut them just like we cut the classic french fries – neither smaller or larger – and sprinkle them with the spices of your choice. These potatoes, although oil-free, are just as tasty as the best french fries we’ve ever eaten without the heavy smell and taste of the fried oils.

The perfect oil-free baked French fries - Τέλειες τηγανιτές πατάτες χωρίς λάδι - Vegan in Athens

Ingredients

  • 5 medium potatoes peeled
  • 1 tsp. fine salt
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. ground sweet paprika
  • 1 tsp. ground smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • pepper

The perfect oil-free baked French fries - Τέλειες τηγανιτές πατάτες χωρίς λάδι - Vegan in Athens

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 225 oC.
2. Cut the potatoes into thick wedges and put them in a deep bowl along with all the spices and salt. Mix with your hands very well until they are evenly covered with the spices.

The perfect oil-free baked French fries - Τέλειες τηγανιτές πατάτες χωρίς λάδι - Vegan in Athens

3. Line a baking pan with non-stick baking paper and arrange the potatoes, leaving few millimeters space between each other.
4. Bake for about 30 minutes or until golden brown. Enjoy while still hot!

The perfect oil-free baked French fries - Τέλειες τηγανιτές πατάτες χωρίς λάδι - Vegan in Athens

Note: Instead of smoked paprika you can also use the same amount of your favorite carry powder for a more complex taste!

Facebookpinterestmail