almonds

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.

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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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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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