Few meals are as easy and tasty as this simple scrambled tofu, a kind of vegan omelet that you don’t even need to turn upside down! What I could not imagine though, is that this vegan scrambled tofu would be just as good -or even better- than the traditional Greek dish with eggs which is called “strapatsada”. What’s more, this amazing vegan dish does not have the heavy smell of eggs, allowing the mature tomatoes of the season to reveal their flavors and taste. Actually the secret lies in the tomatoes!
In fact, unlike the usual instructions we read in most recipes, if we want to fully enjoy a tomato, we should never remove the seeds and the peels, not only because we may lose some of the nutrients that are hidden there, but also because that’s where the plant decided to hide much of its tastefulness qualities, its fifth flavor, its umami!
Umami is one of the tastes that we do not learn at school and may not be as readily recognizable as the others, but it is the one that gives the deliciousness, the depth to our favorite dishes; it is the flavor that is hidden in some ingredients and can make our cooking unbeatable. One of the natural, vegan sources of umami, are the very mature tomatoes that, at the beginning of fall, having absorbed all the sun and warmth of the summer, are at their best. Coming near the end of their season, tomatoes can surprise us with this delicious “swan song”, as they surprised us last night and made me want to share with you our simple recipe!
(for 2-4 persons, depending on how hungry they are!)
- 400 g firm tofu
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 1 red bell pepper, cut into cubes
- 2 large, very ripe tomatoes, cut into small cubes
- 3/4 tsp ground turmeric
- 3/4 tsp ground sweet paprika
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- a pinch of dried oregano (after cooking)
1. Pour the olive oil together with the onion and garlic in a non-stick pan and sauté over medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, pepper and spices, stir and continue cooking for about 15 minutes until the vegetables soften and most of their liquids are evaporated.
2. While cooking the vegetables, crumble the tofu with a fork or with our hands (don’ t have to overdo it though, just break into small pieces!).
3. Add the crumbled tofu to the pan and mix thoroughly. Cook for 5 more minutes over medium heat. Serve warm, sprinkled with dried oregano and enjoy!
These days we are on vacation in Crete, the island with the scrumptious, juicy tomatoes and the fresh vegetables, the fluffy potatoes and the local avocados, the beautiful beaches and the warm sun! The amazing nature and the people here make me wanna spend most of the day outside, walking, swimming and talking and therefore the time left in the kitchen is minimal. However, this does not mean that we compromise on the taste and quality of our food. Simply, I choose to prepare easy, delicious and quick vegan recipes that do not require much preparation and are both nutritious and healthy.
One of them is a vegan version of the traditional Greek salad, made with potatoes and avocado. Actually this recipe is a variation of a mediterranean salad made by my grandmother during the summers, to which I replaced the animal ingredients with the delicious Cretan avocadoes and I also modified the sauce a little bit according to our taste. Although very simple in its preparation, this potato salad, which can be eaten as an accompaniment or as a light main course, is one of our favorite choices, especially when we are on vacation, when both the time and the cοoking equipment available are limited. Fortunately, all that is needed to create this recipe is freshly picked, organically grown ingredients and our happy mood 🙂
For the salad
- 2 medium ripe tomatoes cut into chunks
- 2 medium potatoes, cooked and cut into chunks
- 1 avocado peeled and sliced
- 2 medium or 1big cucumber peeled and sliced
- 1 red onion peeled and sliced
- 4 tbsp. capers or olives (or both!)
- 2-3 tbspfresh basil or spearmint leaves chopped
- 1 tsp. dried oregano, ground
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- freshly ground pepper
For the sauce
- 2-3 tbsp virgin olive oil
- 2 tbl. lemon juice
- 1 tbsp. apple or grape vinegar
- 1 tbsp. prepared mustard
For serving (optional)
2 Cretan barley rusks (paximadia)
1. In a large bowl mix all the salad ingredients slightly before serving.
2. In another bowl, mix with a fork or a mixer the ingredients for the sauce. Pour over the salad.
3. Mix the salad well and serve over barley rusks or enjoy with your favorite bread.
Vegan pasta recipes are definitely everybody’s favorites. The fact that in less than half an hour one can make – with the simplest ingredients found in the kitchen – a tasty and hearty pasta dish is something that makes some of them unbeatable. Moreover pasta is nutritious and, especially if accompanied with a light, plant-based sauce – for example a thick tomato sauce with lots of freshly grated tomato but without the excess oils and fats – it can provide you all the energy you need during a busy day.
Often, when we return back home after a long walk in Athens or after a day at work, I put a large pot with water to boil in order to cook some pasta and in the meantime I make in the food processor a pesto sauce with rocket (during this season is on its best) or a basil pesto or even a batch of kale pesto, preparing a delicious, vegan Italian pasta dish in only few minutes. Another alternative choice, especially for the sunny days like today, is a tasty tomato sauce enriched with cherry tomatoes, olives and capers and flavored with red wine and rosemary, with all these ingredients bringing together the most typical Mediterranean flavors in each bite.
The sauce has a rich tomato flavor that is beautifully combined with the slightly spicy taste of olives and capers and wonderful aromas of garlic and rosemary. One of the things that I like about this tomato sauce is that it is can be served with any kind of pasta as well as gnocchi. Fortunately, now, one can find ready-made gnocchi, without animal ingredients, packed tightly, in some large supermarkets. Since there are also brands that use eggs, check the labels first or if you have time try to prepare your own.
for the sauce
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- 1 sprig rosemary, fresh or dried
- 2 heaped tablespoons, capers
- 2 heaped tablespoons, olives (pick your favorite!)
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes cut in half
- 1/2 cup red wine
- 1 package 400g grated tomatoes (if you don’t want to use canned you can grate your own)
- salt and freshly ground pepper
500 gr gnocchi or pasta of choice
1. In a large frying pan, heat the olive oil and sauté the garlic and the rosemary over medium heat for two minutes. Add the cherry tomatoes olives and capers and sauté two minutes more.
2. Add the red wine, the grated tomato and a pinch of ground pepper and simmer for about 15 minutes until the sauce thickens. Meanwhile you can cook the pasta or gnocchi according to package instructions.
3. Taste the sauce, add salt or pepper if necessary and serve immediately. Because capers and olives are already salty, you just need a small amount of salt to achieve the right taste.