By veganinathens

Vegan avocado and chickpea salad - Σαλάτα με αβοκάντο και ρεβίθια (ρεβιθοσαλάτα) - Vegan in Athens

Chickpea salad with a creamy avocado sauce

Among the things that are almost always on our shopping list and of course in our kitchen are avocados. The reason? They are just amazing! Their dense, buttery flavor and their great nutritional value combined with their creamy texture makes them the most suitable and at the same time nutritious and healthy ingredients in countless vegan recipes.

Our favorite vegan, avocado dish is vegan tzatziki made with the flesh of ripe avocados, a recipe we enjoy quite often especially during summer, as well as the Greek salad with avocado. And since we love desserts, if we have plenty ripe avocados we use them in the most delicious way, making a delicate vegan chocolate avocado mousse that melts in the mouth and is 100% raw or a delectable chocolate vegan ice cream but also the raw vegan chocolate tart with avocado and coconut.

I am sure that each of you, at least those who love this particular fruit, will have at least one favorite vegan recipe based on avocados and I am sure that if we’ d put them together they would be hundreds! Such amazing fruit it is and I feel so grateful that it grows in our country as well!

Today, we combined a few ripe avocados with chickpeas and herbs to make a delicious, cool, rich, creamy salad, perfect for sandwiches or to accompany our meal. Here the avocados act as a “buttery” sauce that binds the materials together, extracts their aromas, highlights their flavors. The recipe is simple and fast. Just do not forget to mash the avocado with lemon and apple-cider vinegar to retain its fresh color.

Vegan avocado and chickpea salad - Σαλάτα με αβοκάντο και ρεβίθια (ρεβιθοσαλάτα) - Vegan in Athens

Ingredients
(for 2-4 persons)

for the salad

  • 1 + 1/4 cup boiled and drained chickpeas
  • 1 celery sprig cleaned and chopped
  • 3 tbsp fresh parsley finely chopped
  • 1 fresh onion finely chopped
  • 2-3 tbsp pickled cucumber finely chopped

for the sauce

  • 1 ripe medium sized avocado, peeled
  • juice of 1/2 juicy lemon
  • 1 tbsp apple-cider vinegar
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • optionally you can add a garlic clove finely chopped and 2-3 drops of tabasco sauce

to serve

  • 8 slices of whole wheat bread, toasted
  • 1 tbsp parsley finely chopped

Method

1. Add the avocado flesh, lemon juice, apple-cider vinegar, salt and pepper in the blender and blend on medium speed until creamy.
2. With a fork mash the 1 cup of the chickpeas just a little bit, until all the chickpeas are crushed but not pureed. It’s nice to have some bigger pieces in the end. Keep the rest (1/4 cup) to garnish your salad.
3. In a bowl, mix all ingredients and taste in lemon and salt. Leave the salad in the refrigerator covered for at least one hour to cool, so that the aromas and tastes compine. Before you put it on the table garnish with the rest of the chickpeas and parsley.
4. Bake thin slices of bread and serve with the salad as an appetizer or make delicious sandwiches!

Vegan avocado and chickpea salad - Σαλάτα με αβοκάντο και ρεβίθια (ρεβιθοσαλάτα) - Vegan in Athens

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Greek vegan Easter tsoureki with coconut milk - Πασχαλινό vegan - νηστίσιμο τσουρέκι με γάλα καρύδας - Vegan in Athens

Vegan Greek Easter Tsoureki with coconut milk – fluffy and fragrant

For most people -religious or not- Easter means the celebration of Spring and life and with my mind I think that this should mean a celebration without sacrifices and violence but with colors, flowers and joy for human and non-human animals. So today I am very excited to share with you my vegan recipe for my favorite traditional Greek tsoureki, made only with plant-based ingredients! Easter tsoureki – a traditional brioche-like bread loaded with butter and eggs- is exactly what I was looking forward to eat during Easter as a child and I imagine I was not the only one. In my family, as in most Greek homes, we usually prepared several loaves a couple of days before Easter. After letting them cool overnight, we would wrap them with a transparent film and we waited anxiously to enjoy thick slices of our favorite sweet bread during the Easter day.

Greek vegan Easter tsoureki with coconut milk - Πασχαλινό vegan - νηστίσιμο τσουρέκι με γάλα καρύδας - Vegan in Athens

After I became a vegan, I was very much involved in making different types of homemade breads and bread-rolls and among other things, I experimented several times, using different recipes and ingredients, in order to get a vegan tsoureki just the way I wanted it – fluffy, fragrant, chewy, with a nice texture and a freshness that could be retained for several days after baking. Finally I came to the recipe I wanted to and so in the last few years, the days before Easter our house is filled with the smell of the baked sweet bread, with the aromas of mastiha and cardamon and for several days we enjoy this delicious bread every morning. My joy is indescribable every time I take a slice of tsoureki and I pull it apart just to see how it separates into strands, every time I push its surface a little bit just to feel the fluffiness, in every bite when it melts in my mouth and its amazing taste takes me back to my childhood. Actually making the perfect vegan tsoureki is not that difficult but there are some secrets that I’m going to share with you. First of all we have to choose the right flour. In Greece you can find packaged flour special for tsoureki and I guess that in other countries there must be a flour special for brioche (but even if you cannot find it I have the solution, just keep on reading!). Second we have to knead the dough like a lot, in order to make gluten develop and get that nice strands – one main characteristic of this sweet bread , third it’s extremely important to use the right amount of yeast and last but not least, we have to add the coconut oil or the vegan butter in the right time and with the right way (see the instructions).

Greek vegan Easter tsoureki with coconut milk - Πασχαλινό vegan - νηστίσιμο τσουρέκι με γάλα καρύδας - Vegan in Athens

Sometimes I like to add stuffing inside my tsoureki. Usually we prefer chestnut jam or sliced fresh apples and cinnamon (apple-pie stuffing), as I did in one of the two loaves I made this time. You can also stuff with chocolate or a vegan nutella – all these things are going to add to the recipe and it’s not too complicated to try!

One more thing I really appreciate about vegan tsoureki as with vegan brioche and especially in this particular recipe is the absence of animal-derived ingredients that allows the aromas of spices to emanate and combine perfectly with the distinctive essence of coconut. Moreover the yeast and gluten work much better to give volume to the baked product and most importantly all the natural flavors explode beautifully in your palate!

Enjoy baking!

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cups (180 ml) lukewarm full-fat coconut milk, homemade or from tin
  • 3/4 cups (180 ml) lukewarm water (or additional plant-based milk)
  • 1 cup (150-160 g) raw cane brown sugar
  • 1 level tsp dry yeast
  • 8 drops of natural mastic oil
  • 1 tsp ground mahlepi
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • zest from 1 lemon
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) melted coconut oil + 1 tablespoon extra coconut oil or sunflower oil for greasing the bowl (we can also use vegan margarine)
  • 4 1/4 cups (625 g) flour for tsoureki or brioche *

for brushing & sprinkling

  • 2-3 tbsp coconut milk or soy milk
  • almond flakes or coconut flakes

Greek vegan Easter tsoureki with coconut milk - Πασχαλινό vegan - νηστίσιμο τσουρέκι με γάλα καρύδας - Vegan in Athens

Method

1. In a cup stir the yeast with the lukewarm water (or plant-based milk) and one tablespoon of flour and allow for about fifteen minutes in a warm place. If the yeast is active, you will see tiny, dense bubbles appearing on the surface of the cup. Because we put a small amount of yeast we do not expect too many to form, but these few are the indication that the yeast works!
2. In a bowl or (preferably) in a strong mixer add the lukewarm coconut milk, the yeast mixture, the salt and the sugar and stir until sugar dissolves. Add the spices, the mastic oil and the flour in 4-5 doses by kneading very well each time to activate gluten. This way you’ll get an elastic, soft dough that does not stick to hands, without adding more flour than what is really needed.
3. Form a ball with the dough, grease a bowl with a little coconut oil and put it in. Press the dough with your hands to expand, melt the coconut oil (it should not be too hot) and pour spoonfuls of oil over the dough, pulling and folding each time until all the oil is absorbed. At this point, do not knead but only pull and fold in order to create “layers” of oil and dough that will give an amazing consistency to your final baked good. Alternatively, put the dough on an oiled surface, dip our hands in the melted coconut oil and press over the dough to spread it. Fold the four sides like an envelope, re-dip the hands into the oil and press the dough again. Repeat the process until all of the coconut oil is used. Cover it with a humid towel or clear film and let it rise and double in volume for 2-3 hours in a warm place (eg in the oven at 40 ° C together with a bowl of water that will provide the essential moisture).
4. When the dough is ready, press it to deflate and form a ball. Divide it into two equal parts (or four depending on how many cords you want in your breads). Roll the pieces of dough gently into cords. I made two large cords, folded each one in the middle and made two “plaits” with two cords each. Place the breads carefully on a tray lined with non-stick baking paper. You can put each tsoureki on its own non-stick paper so it’s easier to move it if necessary. Brush them with plenty of milk.
5. Put the breads in a lightly warm oven at 40 ° C along with a bowl of water and allow them to double in volume. It will take about 45 minutes. If you want you can carefully and softly brush them with milk one more time to get a more shiny result (I forgot to do it this time!).
6. Bake at 200 oC degrees for about 40-45 minutes or until they get a nice golden brown color.
7. Let cool on a wire rack and enjoy!

Greek vegan Easter tsoureki with coconut milk - Πασχαλινό vegan - νηστίσιμο τσουρέκι με γάλα καρύδας - Vegan in Athens

 

Stuffed tsoureki

Follow the whole procedure but when you make your cords use a rolling pin to roll each cord out vertically until about 10 cm wide and spread uniformly on the one side of the strip the filling of your choice, leaving 2 cm from each end to seal it. Then fold in a roll, seal the edges well and form your tsoureki. For my stuffing I used one peeled red apple cut into slices mixed with 1 tbsp of brown sugar and a pinch of ground cinnamon.

* Note: If you cannot find a special flour for brioche or tsoureki, you can use all-purpose flour but you will substitute half a cup of it with an equal amount of gluten flour (the same flour that we use to make seitan).

Greek vegan Easter tsoureki with coconut milk - Πασχαλινό vegan - νηστίσιμο τσουρέκι με γάλα καρύδας - Vegan in Athens

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Σπιτική βέγκαν φέτα αμυγδάλου - Homemade vegan almond feta cheese - Vegan in Athens

Homemade, fermented almond feta cheese

Homemade vegan cheese of some kind is found almost always in our refrigerator. We love vegan cheese as it adds taste to our meals and can also serve as a fantastic, quick snack together with some bread or even better between two slices of bread when we crave for a sandwich. Besides, making anut or seed cheese at home is neither difficult nor expensive. Not to mention that homemade plant-based cheese, such as today’s almond feta, contains only pure ingredients without the added refined oils and processed starches of most commercial varieties. So besides tasty, homemade nutand seed cheeses enrich our meals with a plethora of nutrients and fill us up.

Today I want to share with you the recipe for our favorite one, an amazing fermented almond feta cheese, that looks and tastes very close to the real feta. Actually this almond feta is the closest to taste and texture to the traditional cheese I’ve tasted, it can be cut into nice slices without crumbling, it has a salty and tangy, strong flavor, a rich texture reminiscent of a soft feta, it mixes perfectly in salads and recipes and last but not least, it’s very easy to make, though it takes some time to ferment.

Σπιτική βέγκαν φέτα αμυγδάλου - Homemade vegan almond feta cheese - Vegan in Athens

The almonds
My favorite nut to make a vegan feta cheese is raw, fresh almonds. Almonds are white in color – just like white cheese, their taste matches perfectly to vegan cheeses, they are rich in vitamins such as vitamin E and minerals such as calcium, we love them and we find plenty of local fresh almonds on the market. In addition, almonds retain a texture after blending that adds an extra bonus to the texture giving the sense of real feta. For our recipe I soak and then peel the almonds but if you do not have time for this, just buy blanched almonds, soak them and follow the instructions below.

Σπιτική βέγκαν φέτα αμυγδάλου - Homemade vegan almond feta cheese - Vegan in Athens

The texture
What I usually want when making nut cheese at home is a firm texture, so I can cut it without ending up into a crumbled cheese or a cream cheese. I really love vegan cream cheese, but sometimes I just want to have a real, chewable piece of cheese with my bread. To make a vegan cheese that is really sliceable I use agar agar, the magical powder made from seaweed, combined with rice flour (I choose this flour because it has white color and so it is not altering the color of our recipe, it does not contain gluten and does not has a strong taste). Both of these ingredients make our cheese firm, giving it a perfect texture very much like a soft feta cheese.

Σπιτική βέγκαν φέτα αμυγδάλου - Homemade vegan almond feta cheese - Vegan in Athens

The secret of taste
A key characteristic of each and every delicious cheese is the tangy taste which regularly is achieved by long-term maturation. So theoretically, we could allow a few weeks our cheese to mature, to let certain microorganisms cause its fermentation and add by this way the desired, sligtly sour and umami flavor. But there is no reason to make our lives difficult with complicated and time consuming procedures when we can speed things up. So to get a taste very close to that of mature cheese, we can take advantage of all the good microorganisms found in a plant-based kefir or vegan soy yogurt! So, after draining and peeling my almonds, I blend them with a cup of vegan yoghurt or kefir (the last one can be prepared by leaving our little kefirs for a few hours in a cup of almond milk or soy milk, in a warm place).Then – and here is the time-consuming part of the process – we should let the mixture ferment at the right temperature for at least twenty-four hours or more to achieve the desired flavor. If you are about to make the recipe, I would suggest a 24-hour fermentation in a warm place (eg near a radiator) and if you decide that you want it even more tangy, you can extend the fermentation for 12 hours or more the next time you make it. Take into account that during summer a 24-hour fermentation in the warm climate of Greece is enough to me, while during winter the time depends heavily on the temperature of our home.

Σπιτική βέγκαν φέτα αμυγδάλου - Homemade vegan almond feta cheese - Vegan in Athens

The salt
Feta is a salty cheese and if we want a cheese very close to feta, we should take this into consideration. If we really have reason to avoid salt, we can only add 1 tsp of sea salt. But if we want a stronger result I would say 1 1/2 – 2 tsp. My suggestion is to start with 1 1/2 tsp and the second time you make it add more or less as you desire (I say so because I am sure that if you’ll try this recipe you’ll make it again and again!).

Σπιτική βέγκαν φέτα αμυγδάλου - Homemade vegan almond feta cheese - Vegan in Athens

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (approximately 200 – 220 g) raw almonds, soaked for 6 hours and drained
  • 1 cup (240 g) of soy yogurt or plant-based kefir made from almond milk or soy milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 1/2 tbsp agar agar in powder
  • 4 tbsp rice flour

Method

1. Peel the almonds. If you leave them for a few minutes in hot water, they are peeled much easier. Alternatively, choose blanched almonds, soak them and use them directly.
2. Pour the almonds, salt and vegan yogurt or kefir in the blender and beat them at medium speed at first and then at a high speed until almonds are fully blended. You’ll need to help with a spatula by cleaning the blender walls.
3. Transfer the mixture to a clean bowl, cover and leave in a warm place for at least 24 hours.
4. The next day mix the rice flour well with the almond mixture and leave it aside.
5. In a saucepan, add the water and the agar agar and stir until it dissolves. Simmer over high heat and when it comes to a boil lower the heat, add the almond mixture and stir for about 10 minutes until the mixture thickens and comes to a boil.
6. Line a square bowl with a plastic wrap suitable for foods and transfer into the cheese mixture. Cover the surface with more wrap or baking paper and let it cool for a few hours.
7. Turn the cheese over to a platter, remove the wrap, slice and enjoy!

Σπιτική βέγκαν φέτα αμυγδάλου - Homemade vegan almond feta cheese - Vegan in Athens

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