Salty Pies – Pizzas

Easy spinach pie with a homemade crust - Εύκολη, αφράτη σπανακόπιτα με σπιτικό φύλλο - Vegan in Athens

Vegan spanakopita (spinach-pie) with a crispy, homemade crust

Often I think of food as an anchor that holds my memories at the port of consciousness, protected from the ocean of oblivion, as there are several times that a specific food reminds me of moments and stories from the past. So strong is the connection of food and memory to me, that foods or ingredients associated with an unpleasant moment are not welcome in my kitchen and I do not eat them until a very tempting recipe or a chance to see them under a new, brighter angle – such as a cozy table with people I love or a journey – give me the incentive to retry them. These correlations between emotions – sensations – food is the reason why, when I share a recipe with you, I start by sharing a remembrance, a short story, filed concurrently with the specific food or dessert in my mnemonic library.

Although I could keep writing about memory and oblivion for the next few paragraphs, for the moment I will just share a memory concerning my relation to spinach-pie or spanakopita, a well-known traditional Greek food that everyone seems to like, during my childhood. Well as a child, my first reaction in front of a freshly baked, hot spinach-pie was to pinch my face, so much that several small creases were formed on my nose and around my eyes, to grit my teeth, to turn my head on the other side and with clear and loud voice to say “yuck” to anyone – usually an uncle or a grandma – who seemed to have a hard time comprehending my reaction. What if spanakopita today is one of my favorite dishes – especially this one I could eat it every day, for lunch and dinner for the next month; or that spinach was what made Popeye so strong. No matter how hungry I may was, I would not change my mind. I would never eat it simply because spanakopita was in the list of “yuck” foods. If this is not a reason not to eat spinach-pie one then what is?

Easy spinach pie with a homemade crust - Εύκολη, αφράτη σπανακόπιτα με σπιτικό φύλλο - Vegan in Athens

However today, although I find washing spinach boring, I prepare spinach pies frequently and I always smile with this funny irony, since now in the view of spinach-pie, my eyes open widely and my salivary glands become overactive – clear evidences that spanakopita has officially entered the “yum” foods list. What I enjoy most is its crust that, especially when homemade, is by itself a reason for a second and third portion. The recipe I am sharing today is an easy and delicious spanakopita (or spinach-pie if you prefer) recipe with a crispy, bread-like crust -maybe something between a tart crust and a scone- and a juicy spinach stuffing which is tender as cream and packed with the aromas of a green garden during winter (snow-free and relatively hot Greek winter of course!). Ideally, if you can find someone willing enough to wash the spinach, this pie takes minimal effort to prepare and it remains crispy and delicious even the next day.

Ingredients
(for a baking pan of 30 cm diameter)

for the dough

  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 3/4 cup lukewarm water
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 1/2 – 4 cups all purpose flour or whole wheat plus a little more for rolling out the dough

for the filling

  • 750 g fresh and tender spinach, chopped
  • 1 bunch dill, chopped
  • 5-6 spring onions, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose or whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • pepper

black-caraway and sesame seeds for sprinkling

Easy spinach pie with a homemade crust - Εύκολη, αφράτη σπανακόπιτα με σπιτικό φύλλο - Vegan in Athens

Method

1. Crust: Mix the olive oil, water and wine together with the baking powder and salt, and add the flour gradually, kneading for a few minutes until a soft, non-sticky dough forms. Cover with a towel and let it rest for at least half an hour.
2. For the filling: Mix all the ingredients with your hands so as to reduce their volume a little bit and let them stand for fifteen minutes while you are rolling out the dough.
3. Preheat the oven to 200 ° C and grease a 30 cm diameter baking pan. Divide the dough into two pieces, one slightly larger. Take the larger piece and on a floured surface roll out with a rolling pin a round sheet of 1 / 2-1 cm thickness. If the dough is sticky sprinkle with a little flour and continue rolling out. Line the pan with the dough sheet making sure it covers its sides. Sprinkle evenly the filling. Roll out the smaller piece of dough to the same thickness and cover the pie. Trim excess pastry and with wet fingers gently press the edges to seal.
4. Sprinkle some water on the pie and with a fork make several small holes on its surface. Sprinkle with caraway and sesame seeds and bake for about 50-60 minutes or until golden. Let it cool slightly and serve.

Easy spinach pie with a homemade crust - Εύκολη, αφράτη σπανακόπιτα με σπιτικό φύλλο - Vegan in Athens

Note: The dough should not be kneaded too much so as to become crispy and fluffy. If you prefer you can substitute wine with equal amount of orange juice.

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Vegan lahmacun with lentil, cauliflower and almond “mince” sauce - Λαχματζούν βέγκαν με κιμά από κουνουπίδι, φακές και αμύγδαλα - Veganinathens.com

Vegan lahmacun with lentil, cauliflower and almond “mince” sauce

Our “travels” in the world of taste, fortunately, unlike others, never stop, since we only need to implement the mood for experimentation and be open to new recipes to enjoy a unique traveler’s experience. “Travelling” in taste takes us from one place to another, leaving us pleasantly impressed and of course full.

So today we decided to go to the East, in order to enjoy a 100% vegan yet delicious lahmacun. I like to share this recipe as it comprises one of our favorite dinner and picnic dishes. Vegan lahmacun is very easy to prepare but in the same time it’s healthy and filling. Actually, one basic reason that make it so appealing is the fact that although it is a fast food dish, it is also packed with nutrients and beneficial substances found only in plants, making it ideal for a quick, healthy and tasty meal at home. After all, this recipe is the perfect way to get your kids to eat more vegetables!

Vegan lahmacun with lentil, cauliflower and almond “mince” sauce - Λαχματζούν βέγκαν με κιμά από κουνουπίδι και αμύγδαλα - Vegan in Athens

Ingredients

6 large Lebanese pita breads or 10-12 smaller

For the vegan “mince” sauce 

  • 2 ½ cups cauliflower florets
  • 1 carrot peeled
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 1-2 garlic cloves crushed
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ cup raw almonds finely chopped
  • ½ cup red lentils soaked for 4-6 hours and drained
  • ½ cup parsley chopped
  • ½ cup red wine
  • 400 g (1 package) slightly concentrated tomato juice
  • ¾ tsp red hot chili pepper flakes
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt and plenty of freshly ground pepper

Vegan lahmacun with lentil, cauliflower and almond “mince” sauce - Λαχματζούν βέγκαν με κιμά από κουνουπίδι, φακές και αμύγδαλα - Vegan in Athens

Method

1. Put the cauliflower in the food processor bowl and beat lightly until it shatters into mince-sized pieces. Grate the carrot on the coarse side of the grater.

2. In a saucepan heat the olive oil over medium heat and fry the onion for 1-2 minutes. Add the almonds, the cauliflower, the lentils and the carrot and sauté for 3-4 minutes. Add the wine and the remaining ingredients, reduce heat and let cook for half an hour or until the sauce thickens.

3. Assembly: In a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper, place 1-2 pita breads. Above each, spread a layer of mince sauce and bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes at 200 oC. The lahmacun is better when served hot, drizzled with lemon juice or topped with 1-2 tablespoons of vegan yogurt.

Note: In Athens, you can find fresh and cheap Lebanese pita breads, whole-wheat or white, in the central market, located in Athinas street. Alternatively, search in some bakeries or supermarkets, or try to make your own!

 

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Γρήγορη βέγκαν πίτσα με σάλτσα πέστο, φυτικό τυρί και ελιές - Quick and easy vegan pizza with pesto sauce, nut cheese and olives - Veganinathens.com

Vegan pizza with pesto sauce – quick and easy recipe!

Usually, when I return tired at home, I like to prepare a quick dinner so as to have some free time for the things that make me relax. While I love cooking, sometimes I just want to deal with something that does not include a sink full of dirty dishes! Thus I make sure I always have some pantry (and fridge) essentials for a quick, nutritious and delicious meal with the minimal effort (washing, cutting, cooking and washing again!).

Some of the things we almost always have in our refrigerator are a jar of home-made pesto – basil pesto during summer and rocket or kale pesto during winter- and some kind of nut cheese or even tofu. Last night I used kale pesto and nut cheese over two whole wheat pita breads (there are always some homemade or store-bought Greek-style pita breads in the freezer) and within minutes we enjoyed a tasty and nutritious Italian pizza, without animal-derived ingredients and with a minimal cost.

Γρήγορη βέγκαν πίτσα με σάλτσα πέστο, φυτικό τυρί και ελιές - Quick and easy vegan pizza with pesto sauce, nut cheese and olives - Vegan in Athens

For 2 mini pizzas we needed:

  • two Greek whole wheat pita breads (16 to 18 cm diameter)
  • 3-4 tablespoons kale or arugula pesto
  • ½ cup vegan nut cheese or tofu cut in cubes
  • 1-2 fresh tomatoes in slices
  • ½ cup Kalamata olives pitted
  • 1 cup chopped green salad of choice (arugula, lettuce, spinach etc)
  • ground pepper
  • ground oregano

Γρήγορη βέγκαν πίτσα με σάλτσα πέστο, φυτικό τυρί και ελιές - Quick and easy vegan pizza with pesto sauce, nut cheese and olives - Vegan in Athens

Method

  1. Spread the pesto over the pita breads.
  2. Add tomatoes, cheese and olives.
  3. Season with pepper and oregano.
  4. Bake in preheated oven at 220 ° C for 10 minutes.
  5. Garnish with the salad (I think that the arugula with its spicy flavor is the perfect choice) and serve immediately!

Note: If you are going to use frozen pita breads, defrost them first.

Γρήγορη βέγκαν πίτσα με σάλτσα πέστο, φυτικό τυρί και ελιές - Quick and easy vegan pizza with pesto sauce, nut cheese and olives - Vegan in Athens

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