Sauces – Dips

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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Vegan mayonnaise with olive oil - Βέγκαν μαγιονέζα με ελαιόλαδο - Vegan in Athens

Vegan mayonnaise with olive oil

I guess we all agree that mayonnaise is not a healthy food. But who cares when it’s about real, velvety, savory and slightly sweet and sour mayonnaise and what’s more when it’s about a vegan, easy and quick recipe that is going to add flavor to our potato salad and deliciousness to a tomato sandwich -to mention just two recipes. Well about this vegan mayonnaise we are going to talk today!

The idea for this delicious, vegan mayonnaise is not mine and although I tried to search the origins of the recipe today in order to write my post, googling the phrase “vegan mayonnaise”, I found similar recipes in several blogs and websites, but I couldn’t find the person who firstly conceived the idea. So I will give the credits for this recipe to my best friend Lena, since she is the person from whom I first heard about it. One day I was telling her that I wanted to make a salad that calls for mayonnaise and urgently needed real mayonnaise, with mayonnaise flavor, with all the qualities required in order to be called mayonnaise and of course not to cost its weight in gold (this is a Greek expression we use when we want to say that something is very expensive). When she told me the recipe I hardly believed that it would work and to be honest, the main reason I decided to make was just to call her later, grumbling that her recipe was a disaster, that it turned out watery, smelled like soy, turned out fuchsia, the mixture exploded or whatever. But despite my predictions, her recipe made a divine, thick, delicious, real mayonnaise! A fattening dream!

Vegan mayonnaise with olive oil - Βέγκαν μαγιονέζα με ελαιόλαδο - Vegan in Athens
Lena’s recipe calls for sunflower oil (and tastes more or less like a store-bought mayonnaise) but this time I prepared it with extra virgin olive oil, which makes this mayonnaise an exceptional addition to Mediterranean dishes and especially salads. Besides olive oil, is considered one of the healthiest choices among the various oils, so if you are planning to use mayonnaise frequently it is advisable to take it into account, together with the fact that although vegan and rich in healthy fats, mayonnaise is also rich in calories. On the other hand, I cannot imagine of a more simple and tasteful dressing for a salad. For optimal result use good quality, light olive oil since – as the main ingredient of mayonnaise – it is going to give its characteristic touch to the sauce.

Vegan mayonnaise with olive oil - Βέγκαν μαγιονέζα με ελαιόλαδο - Vegan in Athens

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) soy milk at room temperature
  • 1 cup (240 ml) light olive oil (or sunflower oil)
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar or white vinegar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice (or equal amount of vinegar)
  • 1 tbsp prepared mustard
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 3/4 tsp salt

Vegan mayonnaise with olive oil - Βέγκαν μαγιονέζα με ελαιόλαδο - Vegan in Athens

Method

1. Add in a blender soy milk, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, sugar and salt and blend at low speed for one minute.
2. While stirring, add the oil slowly until incorporated. Taste and add salt if you want.
3. Transfer to a sterilized jar and store in the refrigerator. If it seems a little bit watery do not worry! It will thicken even more few minutes after you let it rest.

Note: Use plain sugar-free and flavorless soy milk.

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Tyrokafteri -hot cheesy spread- vegan & raw with nuts -Βέγκαν τυροκαυτερή με κάσιους και αμύγδαλα - Veganinathens.com

Vegan & raw tyrokafteri -raw vegan, hot and cheesy spread

The appetizers -or “mezedes” as they are called here- are a characteristic and basic element of the Greek table. I can’t imagine of a Greek person who would say “no” to a meal with friends, composed of many -hot or cold- small appetizers accompanied with ouzo or raki, instead of a main course.

However, eating a variety of appetizers as a meal, apart from being a Greek custom, is more or less a common way of spending time with friends as well as eating out, in other Mediterranean countries too. For example the Spanish “tapas” are correspondingly small appetizers and in Spain people often order many different tapas and combine them to make a full meal. I guess there must be a reason for that. Maybe it’s that the appetizers we share with our fellow diners may bring us a little closer: firstly we learn how to share our food, we approach each other to take a few bites from each saucer, we experience the same tastes and we eat, drink, talk and relax together with our friends or our family.

One of the most famous delicacies of northern Greece is tyrokafteri (spicy and creamy white cheese spread). As my partner is a huge fan of anything “cheesy”, we often make the raw vegan version of the original recipe. The basic ingredients that we use are various soaked raw nuts blended with olive oil, salt and fresh spicy and sweet peppers for a delicious raw vegan snack.

Tyrokafteri -hot cheesy spread- vegan & raw with nuts -Βέγκαν τυροκαυτερή με κάσιους και αμύγδαλα - Vegan in Athens

 Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups raw mixed nuts, soaked for 4-6 hours and drained (I usually use: ½ cup cashew nuts, ½ cup blanched almonds and ½ cup Brazil nuts)
  • 1 fresh red hot chilli pepper
  • 1 red sweet pepper
  • 1 garlic clove (optional)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2-3 tbsp water (only if necessary for blending)

Tyrokafteri -hot cheesy spread- vegan & raw with nuts -Βέγκαν τυροκαυτερή με κάσιους και αμύγδαλα - Vegan in Athens

Method

  1. Wash the chilli and the sweet pepper and half them lengthways. Remove the seeds and the stalks and discard them. Chop them coarsely.
  2. In a blender put all the ingredients and blend at medium speed for several minutes until a relatively smooth and creamy mixture is formed.
  3. Keep in a glass container in the refrigerator for several days.

Note: This vegan spicy cheese dip can be also made with soaked blanched almonds only, in case no other nuts are available.
If your skin is sensitive you’d better prepare the chilli wearing rubber gloves, as chillies contain a substance that burns sensitive skin. Of course, never rub your eyes or lips after handling chillies and wash the knife, board and your hands with hot soapy water.

 

 

 

 

 

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