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.
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
- 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.
- 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.
English scones are so tasty and easy to make that I usually bake one or two different kinds of them when I have friends for dinner. Because they usually contain cheese and butter, I’ve made some substitutions in order to create their vegan versions. For example in order to make vegan cheesy scones, I use a vegan cheddar-like cheese and olive oil instead of butter and they are amazing! Based on my experience, I strongly believe that one could eat the whole recipe until lunch, especially if they are freshly baked and hot with melty vegan cheese and this appealing flavor.
But this recipe is not about cheese, it’s about pesto! The other day I made rocket pesto, but we did not use it all. As I wanted to do something with the remaining sauce, I thought that pesto would work great in a scone recipe. I was somehow anxious about the outcome, as I had to find the right proportions of the ingredients that would make them fluffy, tasty and fragrant; so I hardly expected them to cool a little for the first gastronomic test!
These vegan pesto scones are fluffy, fragrant and delicious -excellent for brunch, for lunch or for dinner! You can even prepare the mixture several hours earlier and bake them just before.
(for 6 medium scones)
- ½ cup pesto sauce (basil or rocket)
- ½ cup soy milk (any other vegan milk will work too)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp soda
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- In a bowl mix the flour with the salt, pepper, baking soda and baking powder.
- In another bowl mix the soy milk with the pesto sauce. Pour slowly in the second mixture the flour mixture while mixing with the mixer (or by hand).
- Knead for a few minutes until the dough is soft but not sticky.
- Form a ball with the dough, cover with a plastic wrap and set aside to rest for ½ hour.
- Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to a thickness of 2 ½ -3 cm.
- Using a small metal ring form 6 scones. If metal rings not available, use a glass or a cup or shape them with your hands instead.
- Arrange scones in a baking pan covered with parchment paper.
- Brush their surface with soy (or other) milk and bake in preheated oven at 200 oC for 20 minutes or until golden and serve preferably hot. Enjoy them with some homemade nut cheese!
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.
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
- Spread the pesto over the pita breads.
- Add tomatoes, cheese and olives.
- Season with pepper and oregano.
- Bake in preheated oven at 220 ° C for 10 minutes.
- 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.