Taramosalata is a Greek meze made from tarama, the salted roe of the cod, carp or grey mullet mixed with plenty of olive oil, lemon juice, maybe some vinegar and a starchy base which usually is mashed potatoes or stale bread.
Inspired by the traditional recipe, I created a vegan taramosalata recipe, which tastes like the real thing but it is totally cruelty-free. Actually the taste is so similar to the original stuff that probably no one will ever realize that it does not contain animal-derived ingredients.
In order to achieve the plant-based seafood flavor I used nori – my favorite edible seaweed which provides us also some valuable nutrients – and flaxseed oil that is very rich in omega-3s (but you probably know that already). These two ingredients, apart from being very healthy, they also give a nice summer flavor to the dish, reminiscent of seafood, making its taste very similar to the non-vegan taramosalata.
Taramosalata is prepared mostly during the Clean Monday and the subsequent Lent, but you may decide that its vegan version is very delicious to be eaten only once a year.
- ½ cup sunflower seeds or walnuts or cashews soaked for 2-4 hours
- ½ cup sundried tomatoes in oil
- 1 ½ cups stale bread (crusts removed)
- ½ cup olive oil
- 4 tablespoons flaxseed oil
- ½ cup lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons dried edible seaweeds (usually I use nori) coarsely chopped -or more for enhanced sea flavor
- ½ -1 tsp salt (depending on how salty our sun-dried tomatoes are)
- freshly ground pepper
1. Soak the seaweeds in a cup of hot water for 10-15 minutes. Drain them and keep the soaking water, as it retains all the flavors of seaweeds as well as a strong umami taste that will make your taramosalata unbeatable!
2. Cut the bread in cubes and soak in the water you’ve saved for 5 minutes. Strain and put aside.
3. Strain the nuts and blend in a blender together with the olive oil, the lemon juice and the vinegar for 2-3 minutes until smooth.
4. Add the sun-dried tomatoes and seaweed and blend for 2 more minutes, until you have a homogeneous mixture. Finally add the soaked bread and the flaxseed oil. Taste and add some salt, lemon or pepper if necessary. The sun-dried tomatoes and the bread I used were not salted and so I added about 1 tsp of salt to achieve the right taste. However most sun-dried tomatoes are very salty, so I would suggest a test before adding extra salt. However keep in mind that taramosalata has to be salty.
Note: Enjoy your vegan taramosalata as a meze or appetizer with fresh bread, preferably lagana bread, as Greeks do during Clean Monday! And don’t forget to add it in a sandwich with grilled vegetables and maybe the leftover lagana bread. It’s amazing!
Being vegan does not mean being deprived of one’s favorite meals. The transition to a vegan diet can lead us towards an amazing world of new flavors and healthy recipes that not only relish our life, without involving animal-exploitation, but also nourish us, especially when we prepare our meals from scratch, without relying on store-bought, ready-to-eat products.
One of the dishes that I enjoyed as a vegetarian was the classical spaghetti with cream and mushrooms and for this reason I wanted to create its vegan version. Thus, vegan spaghetti with mushrooms is now one of the dishes we prepare often, not only for its wonderful taste –it is much better than the original- but also because it can be prepared easily.
The cream can be made either with sunflower seeds or with cashews -depending on what we have in hand. However we prefer the sunflower seed cream, since sunflower seeds have a great nutritional value and their cost is very low compared to cashew nuts -sunflower seeds cost three times less than cashews.
For extra flavor we can simply rely on our precious kitchen’s “little helpers” : some herbs and spices, a little bit of white wine, few pieces of sun-dried tomatoes, along with the mushrooms create a satisfying, unique complex of flavors and fragrances.
1 packet of spaghetti, 500 g (choose gluten-free if you like)
For the white sauce
- 1 cup shelled sunflower seeds, soaked for 2 hours and drained
- 2 cups water or vegetable broth
- 500 g white Agaricus mushrooms sliced
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ cup sun-dried tomato cut into thin strips
- ½ cup white wine
- 2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 2-3 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons white vinegar or apple cider vinegar
- 1 handful chopped parsley
- 2-3 tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
- ½ tsp Cayenne pepper
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- In a large skillet sauté the mushrooms with the olive oil over medium-high heat for a few minutes. Add crushed garlic, cayenne and wine, salt and pepper and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Put in the blender the drained sunflower seeds with the two cups of water, the nutritional yeast, the vinegar and lemon juice and blend on high speed for 3-4 minutes or until is formed a smooth cream.
- Add the sunflower cream in the skillet, along with the sun-dried tomatoes and the chopped parsley, stir and cook for 10 minutes until the sauce thickens. Taste and if necessary add salt or lemon juice.
- Boil the pasta according to manufacturer’s instruction and drain. Mix with the creamy sauce and serve while hot.
Note: If you do not have time to soak sunflower seeds, pour over them plenty of boiling water, let for 15 minutes to soften and drain. The rest of the process remains the same
Sometimes during the day, I like to chew something, especially when the next meal seems to be much later and so does my dog! So I tried to create a recipe that would satisfy both of us and of course everyone else that would try it.
Since Petra –my dog- is very active playing all day long in the park and in the house, when I cook for her, I always try to combine the highest quality, most nutrient-dense ingredients, in order to give her the best she can get.
For this easy recipe I used ingredients that we both like and not surprisingly the result satisfied us both!
- 1 cup olive oil
- ½ cup lukewarm water
- ½ – 1 tsp salt (omit it if your dog is going to eat the whole bunch)
- 2 tbsp carob powder
- 1 cup whole-wheat flour
- 1 cup chickpea flour
- ½ cup oat flakes
- ½ cup sunflower seeds
- ½ cup finely ground flaxseed
- 2 tsp baking powder
- extra flour for dusting
- Combine the chickpea flour, whole-wheat flour, carob powder, baking powder and oat flakes and set aside.
- Add olive oil, water, salt in a bowl and combine with a wooden spoon.
- Add gradually the flours and the flaxseed, stirring with the spoon until a soft, non-sticky dough has been formed.
- Add the sunflower seeds and knead the dough lightly on a floured surface until smooth.
- Form the dough into a ball, cover with clear film or greaseproof paper and chill for half an hour or more.
- Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to a thickness of ½ -1 cm.
- With a cookie cutter or a knife cut out shapes and place them on a large baking sheet.
- Bake in preheated oven to 180 oC for 20-25 minutes.
- Cool on a wire rack and keep in an air-tight container.