Vegan Stuffed Artichoke Bottoms

stuffed artichokes 2

Artichoke bottoms filled with a meat stuffing is a common dish throughout many countries in the Middle East, from Lebanon to Egypt, to Morocco.  In my vegan version, I used crumbled veggie burgers to stand in for the meat.  But the recipe is very flexible and you could use TVP or burger crumbles or even cooked lentils.

The brand of veggie burgers I use are made by Teva Deli.  It doesn’t matter which flavor.  These burgers are made from beans and grains and I love them.  Package looks like this:

teva-deli-burgers

You may use whatever veggie burgers you like, or any of the substitutions listed above.  I also used a Yemenite spice mix called Hawaij.  If you live in Israel, make sure you use hawaij for SOUP, not hawaij for coffee, which is a different thing entirely!  If you don’t have hawaij where you live, you may substitute cumin. Also, I used canned artichoke bottoms, but you can always use frozen.  Finally, I did not have pine nuts but really thought they were needed in this dish so I added them to the recipe.  Toast them lightly in the toaster before using.  Keep your eyes on them as they burn quickly and cost a pretty penny.

In case you missed yesterday’s post, I did a round-up of Rosh HaShanah recipes from all over the internet.  Holiday begins in T minus 2…

Vegan Stuffed Artichoke Bottoms

Vegan Stuffed Artichoke Bottoms

Ingredients

  • 2 veggie burgers, thawed
  • 1 onion, chopped finely
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil (can water saute if you prefer)
  • 1/2 hot pepper (adjust to your desired level of heat or omit entirely)
  • 3 Tbsp pine nuts, lightly toasted
  • 1/3 cup tomato sauce
  • about 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tsp Hawaij for marak (or cumin)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 12 artichoke bottoms (this is 3- 390g cans in Israel) if you use frozen, thaw them first
  • Breadcrumbs for topping (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 180C.
  2. Saute onion, garlic and hot pepper in oil for a few minutes until soft.
  3. Crumble veggie burger into pan and saute until all is mixed.
  4. Add hawaij (or cumin), toasted pine nuts, tomato sauce and just enough water to give it the consistency of a thick bolognese sauce.
  5. Simmer for 5 minutes.
  6. Spread the artichoke bottoms on a pan.
  7. Fill with filling, heaping it on.
  8. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs if desired.
  9. Bake 20 minutes.
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Round-up of Vegan Rosh HaShanah recipes

When I sat down at the end of August to plan out my recipes and posts for Vegan MoFo, (vegan month of food blogging challenge), I faced a bit of a quandary.  I wanted my theme to be Jewish and Middle Eastern foods, veganized, and with the Jewish holidays right around the corner, I wanted to share recipes people could cook and enjoy on their holiday tables.  I composed a list of Jewish and holiday favorites – things like gefilte fish, chopped liver, challah, corn schnitzel, matzo ball soup and honey cake.  Some recipes, like mock chopped liver, I was able to not just veganize, but also healthify. (Mock Liver pate recipe).  Others, such as gefilte fish, seemed like they might be too similar to the vegan tuna salad recipe I blogged.  And still others, like challah, matzo balls, cakes, and corn schnitzels…  well, I could veganize those, no problem.  But having them be healthy as well?  That just didn’t excite me very much.  Sometimes cake just needs to be cake, and challah, challah, white flour and all.  That’s the basis of my food philosophy after all, that not everything has to be “pure” and “healthy”, you can have some fun indulgences too.  And yet, those indulgences can be confusing and triggering to my clients who are struggling with balance, and having the recipes on my actual blog seems like I am PROMOTING something.

I actually DID try a recipe for corn schnitzel as evidenced by the below photos.  It was tasty, but it was fried, used canned corn, sugar, soup mix, etc etc.  I just didn’t have the heart to blog it on a health blog.

SO, I decided that I will devote today’s post to where you can find recipes for some of your Jewish favorites veganized.  Some are healthy, some are not, but ALL are vegan.  You can choose to cook what you will.

If I were going to make a vegan challah, I would make this one by IsaChandra:  Vegan Challah

9665680857_1015e5166a_z

Nava Atlas makes some delicious looking vegan matzo balls!  Vegan Matzo Balls and soup

matzo balls

Rhea over at The V Word has my vote for gefilte fish:  Vegan Gefilte Fish

geflte fish (1)

 

Mayim Bialik has a vegan honey cake on kveller that looks good.  I might substitute silan (date syrup) for the agave though.  It would be darker and more “honey” tasting.  Vegan Honey Cake

vegan-honey-cake

These are the corn schnitzels I made and then decided not to blog.  Not really applicable to Rosh HaShanah, but yes, Jewish and Israeli.  The recipe needed a lot of tweaking and is in Hebrew:  Vegan Corn Schnitzel

corn schnitzel 4

 

This Moroccan plait looks like it would make an amazing main dish for a holiday table.  Vegan Moroccan Plait

moroccanplaitslider-620x420

 

All of my Vegan MoFo posts from the past 3+ years, most of which had a Jewish or Middle Eastern theme, are here: Triumph Wellness MoFo recipe posts

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Veg Kitchen has an AMAZING round up of vegan RH recipes!  Vegan Jewish New Year Recipes

moroccan7690

 

And finally, I wrote an article on Vegan RH foods for Definition Magazine (fitness for vegan women).  It included the above chopped liver, but also my Black-eyed Pea – Pumpkin Curry and my Vegan Stuffed Cabbage!  This issue of Definition is free and entirely online.  It has amazing, amazing content – aside from my recipes – there are other yummy, healthy vegan recipes and fascinating articles on fitness and transformation.  I LOVE being a part of this publication!  You can download it here:  Definition Magazine

vegan stuffed cabbage with tempeh and mushrooms

 

I will still be back tomorrow and Tuesday with more recipes and then a short break for the holiday.  Then we will finish this MoFo off next week with 2 more on Sunday and Monday.  MoFo finish line in sight.  Holiday cooking for 12 commenced.

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Moroccan Harira Soup

Vegan MoFo Post #15 of 20.  Homestretch.

Harira is a traditional North African soup of Moroccan and Algerian origins.  It typically uses chickpeas, lentils and meat.  Obviously I skipped the meat, but I also subbed out black-eyed peas for the chickpeas because I feel like my diet often ends up being all-chickpea-all-the-time.  Black-eyed peas make a nice change and as they are served by many Jews as one of the traditional simanim for Rosh HaShanah, this soup could be a great one to serve at your holiday table.

Today’s possibly new-to-you ingredient is preserved lemon.  Preserved lemons are just lemons that have been pickled in salt.  In Israel you can buy them where pickled things are sold. (I got mine at the pickle/olive bar at Eden Teva Market).  If you cannot find preserved lemon do not despair.  Just squeeze some fresh lemon juice into the soup before serving.

Here is what preserved lemon (limon kavoosh) looks like whole:

lemon whole

 

and cut open:

lemon sliced

Moroccan Harira Soup

Moroccan Harira Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dry black-eyed peas or chickpeas
  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 potato or celery root or parsnip, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup lentils
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • pinch saffron (optional)
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro, extra for garnish if desired
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley, extra for garnish if desired
  • 3 tomatoes
  • 1 preserved lemon
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • z'chug, harissa, hot sauce or hot pepper to your taste

Instructions

  1. Soak black-eyed peas or chickpeas overnight.
  2. Drain and discard soak water.
  3. Saute onions, carrots and celery in oil until soft.
  4. Add black-eyed peas and 10 cups of water.
  5. Bring to a boil, skim off any foam that surfaces, reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes.
  6. Add lentils, cumin, cilantro and parsley (you can save a little on the side for garnish)
  7. Simmer, adding more water if necessary, for another 30 minutes.
  8. Cut open the preserved lemon and scrape out the seeds.
  9. Place in food processor.
  10. Quarter the tomatoes and scoop out their seeds.
  11. Add to food processor with lemon.
  12. Process until finely chopped.
  13. Add tomato-lemon slush to pot and cook until all the beans and tender.
  14. Season with z'chug, harissa, hot sauce or hot pepper to your desired level of spiciness.
  15. Garnish with freshly chopped parsley and/or cilantro before serving if desired.
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Rose Chai Almond Milk

Today’s Vegan MoFo entry was inspired by my favorite tea:

rose chaiVisotsky Rose Chai

Jewish food writer Claudia Roden, writes in my all-time favorite cookbook, The Book of Jewish Food, that fragrant, rich, homemade almond milk, or Sharbat el Loz, was served in her childhood home in Egypt to break the Yom Kippur fast.  Back in the day, before you could run off to the store for a carton of almond milk, I made it like this all the time.  I also regularly made hazelnut milk, sunflower seed milk, Brazil nut milk, and more.  Now I am lazy and I buy it.  But making this today reminded me that fresh nut milk tastes nothing at all like it’s pre-packaged counterpart.  If you have never made nut milk on your own before, I hope this post will encourage you to give it a try.

You can just flavor your almond milk with dates and vanilla extract or almond extract.  In this recipe I used rose water and cardamom pods to mimic my tea favorite.  The end result is sexy and light, luscious and creamy.  But if you don’t like rose flavor, no need to use it, the recipe template is the same.

The next question I will be asked is where in Israel to get a nut milk bag.  I don’t know that answer, sorry.  I brought one with me when we came here.  But you can use those cloth bags they sell to cook grain on the top of hamin/cholent.  It’s called Sakit Bishul and sold in any cooking store.  It’s a little thicker than my nut milk bag, but it would work.  You can also drink the milk unstrained if you don’t mind a little crushed almond.

Rose Chai Almond Milk

Ingredients

  • 1 cup almonds
  • 3-4 dates, pitted
  • dash sea salt
  • 1/2 - 1 tsp rose water, depending on your taste preference
  • 3 cardamom pods, or 1 tsp ground cardamom

Instructions

  1. Soak the almonds overnight. They will puff up and look like this:
  2. Drain them and discard the soak water.
  3. Place the almonds in a blender with the cardamom pods and 4 cups of fresh water.
  4. Blend for about 2 minutes until the nuts are ground and the liquid is bright white.
  5. Squeeze the milk through a nut milk bag.
  6. (You can save the nut pulp and toast it and sprinkle it on cereals etc).
  7. Rinse the blender.
  8. Place the strained milk back in the blender and add remaining ingredients.
  9. Blend until smooth.
  10. Serve.
  11. Store remaining milk in the fridge for up to 5-7 days.
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Raw Halvah Bites

In case you don’t know what halvah is , it is a delicious devil’s brew of ground sesame and sugar, and I, its helpless servant of sin.  Here is an alter whereupon we worship it:

halvah

 Halvah in Israel is serious business.  It comes in a wide variety of flavors from marble to coffee bean to run raisin to the ever ill-advised passionfruit, poppyseed, and many many more…

Seriously though, as sweets go, halvah is not the unhealthiest, but it will rack up several hundred calories unless you keep your portion size to just a nibble.  My version, although sugarless, is also meant for nibbles.  They also have protein, and calcium and fiber, so you can feel good about that.  And because I know that at least one of you is going to write asking for the calorie count, I did it for you:  If you make 24 balls, each ball has 68 calories, 3.5g fat (ahem), 9.3g carbs, 1.2 g fiber, and 1.5g protein.

If you are not already well acquainted with tahina, I am going to suggest you re-read my tahina tutorial HERE.  This recipe calls for tahina in it’s raw, unadulterated form, sometimes called Sesame Butter, or here in Israel, Tahina Golmit.  Don’t be adding that pre-mixed tahina that has lemon and garlic and spices already in it.  That would be gross.

The strange amounts below are due to the fact that that’s what I had on hand.  Culinary genius, right there.  Must be the middle of Vegan MoFo!

Raw Halvah Bites

Serving Size: 24 balls

Raw Halvah Bites

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup dry rolled oats
  • 2/3 cup raisins, dark or light
  • 2/3 cup tahina
  • 8 large Medjool dates
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract or rose water
  • pinch of sea salt
  • sesame seeds, hemp seeds, coconut, cocoa powder etc for garnish if desired

Instructions

  1. Grind the oats in the food processor a bit to chop.
  2. Add the raisins and run the food processor until it forms a totally uniform, sticky ball. This will take a couple of minutes and will look like it's not happening, and then suddenly, it will.
  3. Add in the remaining ingredients and process until all mixed and sticky.
  4. You want the final mixture to form a large ball in your machine, so if it's not balling on it's own, add a FEW drops of water until it does.
  5. Roll into about 24 small balls.
  6. Set in refrigerator for 30 minutes or so to harden.
  7. Roll in seeds for garnish if desired.
  8. Store in the fridge.
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Freekah Pilaf with Crispy Potato Crust

freekah and potatoes plated

Free-what??  Freekah? Huh??

I promise you I did not make that up.  It’s a real thing.  Freekah, is green parched wheat that is fire-roasted, super high in fiber and nutrients, and low glycemic.  It is served throughout the Middle East, usually stuffed into pigeons, heaven help.  Truthfully, I have myself never had it before (the pigeon thing was off-putting obviously), but I must tell you that this stuff is freakin’ amazing!  Freekah amazing more like, har har.  It is smoky and nutty and chewy and yum.

In this dish, the freekah is first steeped in a flavorful broth made from veggies and another possibly new-to-you item – Persian dried limes.  Dried limes, which I think must really be lemons, because limes are rare here, are just lemons (or limes) that sat out so long they became dry and hard. (Much like that petrified orange you found in your child’s backpack on the first day of school after it sat there all summer vacation!)

OK, so I am basically telling you to flavor your dish with rotten food, but it works, you are just going to have to trust me here.

I got the dried limes at my local grocery store, Shufersol, by the G mall in Kfar Saba in the spice kiosk.  They look like this:

dried limes

 

I got the freekah at Eden Teva market, also in the G Mall in Kfar Saba, in the bulk bins and it looks like this. If you read Hebrew can see that they called it “green wheat” and then, yup, freekah. Told you so.  And also see that vegan friendly sticker in the corner?  Vegans were here.

freekah in bin

If you don’t live here, I am pretty sure these items can be found in either health food stores, Middle Eastern or Indian markets.  In a pinch you could use kamut or wheat berries instead of freekah and just leave out the dried lime, but of course that will produce a totally different result.

NOTE:   There are a couple of options for preparation here.  In the first one, which again came from Joan Nathan’s The Foods of Israel Today, the potato slices are fried in oil and then the freekah is placed on top to steam.  This produces a delicious result, no doubt, but for those of you who avoid frying and are trying to cut down on your oil consumption, you can also roast the potato slices in the oven just sprayed with a little oil spray.  In that case, you will steam the freekah on it’s own and toss the roasted potatoes into the final dish before serving.  Furthermore, if you are avoiding white potatoes for any reason, you could make this with sweet potatoes and that would be delicious also.  If you are avoiding wheat, well, just skip this one!

Also, there is a long prep time here so be sure to read the entire recipe before starting this 30 minutes before company is arriving!  There is nothing at all difficult or complicated, just that you make a veggie broth and then let it cool and steep for a few hours before proceeding.  The broth is incredible so don’t skip this.  The whole thing is incredible – I mean, seriously, we were licking the plates here – every flavor is important here, including that fresh mint, so skip nothing people!  You will really love this dish!

Freekah Pilaf with Crispy Potato Crust

Freekah Pilaf with Crispy Potato Crust

Ingredients

    For the broth:
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 5 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 4 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • oil to saute (or you can water saute)
  • 4 stalks fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried)
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cups water
  • 3 Persian dried limes, pierced and/or crumbled a bit
  • The rest:
  • 1 cup frika
  • 2 Tbsp oil (if you are frying the potatoes)
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint, chopped

Instructions

    Broth:
  1. Saute onions, garlic, carrots and celery in water or oil until beginning to soften.
  2. Add spices, water and dried limes.
  3. Bring to a boil and simmer uncovered for about 15 minutes until reduced by half in volume.
  4. Turn off heat and leave everything in pot to steep for a few hours. The stronger the broth, the better!
  5. Strain the cooled, steeped broth and throw away the veggies.
  6. Put the freekah in a mixing bowl.
  7. Re-boil the broth and pour over the freekah.
  8. Cover tightly with plastic wrap for 30 minutes so the freekah can absorb all of the broth.
  9. Drain off any leftover broth.
  10. Heat oil in pan (see the post for alternative instructions if you want to skip frying).
  11. Scatter the potato slices into the oil and fry until crispy and lightly golden.
  12. Pile drained freekah on top of the potatoes, cover the pot TIGHTLY and reduce heat to low. The freekah will cook in the steam and be fluffy and delish. This is a good technique for making fluffy rice as well.
  13. Cook for 25 minutes until the freekah is al dente.
  14. When ready to serve, flip the pot onto your serving plate so the potatoes will be on top.
  15. Scrape any crusty bits up and put those on top.
  16. Top with the chopped mint before serving.
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Fava Beans and Greens

Fava beans, otherwise known as broad beans, are an ancient staple of the East African and Middle Eastern diet.  Dried broad beans have even been found in archaeological excavations here in Israel and in Egypt.  Fava beans, known in Arabic, as ful, are often served here as topping to hummus (Yes, have some beans on your beans. Sounds weird but it’s actually delicious).  They are high in protein and fiber and low in fat.  Because they have a high level of tyramine, they should be avoided by those taking MAOI’s but the rest of you can chow down!

Sometimes ful are brown, such as those in the popular Egyptian dish, ful medames, or flat and large with hard shells.  But these fava beans are young, green and shelled.  Here in Israel they are sold in the freezer case and look like this. If you do not have broad beans where you live, you could substitute lima beans, but shorten the cooking time.

ful 3

This recipe, which originally appears in Joan Nathan’s The Foods of Israel Today, calls for an indigenous wild green called milhouliya.  Not being entirely sure what that was, I decided to use kale.  Ms. Nathan also suggests Swiss chard as an option.  Use what you like. This dish is simple but absolutely delicious!

Fava Beans and Greens

Fava Beans and Greens

Ingredients

  • 800g shelled, green fava beans, fresh or frozen
  • 1 bunch of greens such as kale or Swiss chard
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup water or broth
  • 1 handful fresh cilantro, chopped (cusbara)

Instructions

  1. Clean the greens and roughly chop or tear any large pieces.
  2. Place the fava beans in a pot with garlic, olive oil, lemon, salt, pepper, and water.
  3. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes until the beans are tender.
  4. Add the greens and the cilantro and stir until the greens are wilted but still bright green.
  5. Serve hot or cold.
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Sweet and Sour Vegan Meatballs

180x180_g2

 This is post #10, meaning we are halfway through Vegan MoFo 2014.  Thank the stars above!

This recipe incorporates my absolute favorite vegan “meatball” recipe with tomato sweet and sour sauce.  You can serve it as an appetizer (I am thinking 1 sauce-coated meatball on a toothpick with a pineapple chunk ala 1975, know what I’m talkin about?) or as a main dish, as I did, here with kasha (buckwheat) or rice, noodles, etc.  These would also be a terrific appetizer for an upcoming holiday meal.

The meatballs are made from mushrooms, walnuts, bread crumbs and spices and are in my regular rotation.  I like making meatball subs as in the original recipe which you can find HERE.  The meatballs themselves are sweet (although I cut the dates back to only 2 from 4 in the original recipe), so you do not need to add anything other than raisins to sweeten the sauce.  You could also add that iconic pineapple to give this that retro sweet and sour meatball taste!

Sweet and Sour Vegan Meatballs

Serving Size: 16 meatballs

Sweet and Sour Vegan Meatballs

Ingredients

    Meatballs
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1 package mushrooms
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 4 sprigs fresh parsley
  • 2 dates, pitted
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs, made from 2 slices of any whole grain bread (or 1 cup ground oats)
  • 1 flax egg (1 Tbsp ground flax in 3 Tbsp water, mixed and set aside for 5 minutes)
  • Sauce
  • 1 400g jar of tomato sauce
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 200C.
  2. Lightly toast the bread in the toaster and let it cool.
  3. Finely grind the toast into crumbs in a food processor - transfer crumbs to a small bowl & set aside.
  4. In the food processor, finely grind 1 cup walnuts, half of the mushrooms, seasoning & parsley until well mixed. The mixture should be a bit moist from the walnuts.
  5. Transfer mixture to a medium mixing bowl.
  6. Add dates and remaining mushrooms to the processor until well ground.
  7. With a rubber spatula transfer date/mushroom mixture to the bowl with the walnut mixture.
  8. Add bread crumbs, olive oil, salt and flax egg - mix well.
  9. Using about 1 Tbsp of mixture, form into about 12 balls.
  10. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  11. Bake for 15-20 minutes until brown.
  12. Sauce
  13. Mix all ingredients in a saucepan and heat over medium heat.
  14. Cook 10-15 minutes and taste. Adjust seasonings to suit your preferences.
  15. Gently stir in meatballs until coated.
  16. Serve.
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Frosty Mint Lemonade (Limonana Garoos)

I live in central, coastal Israel, a 20 minute drive from the Mediterranean Sea.  Every single day from May through October, the temperature outside at mid-day is exactly 30C (86F) and sunny.  Oh sure, occasionally it’s 33 or 34 and that’s called a heat wave.  When it drops to 27 it’s called unseasonably cool.  But the fact that there are people who actually go to school here for meteorology and then show up on the evening news every night as though they have something to actually report other than 30C and sunny, boggles my mind.

temps

 ANY time I look at it, this is what it shows.

I know that other parts of this tiny country have slightly different weather, and sometimes there is fog or variations in humidity levels, or even sand storms, but seriously, 6 months of the year are pretty much identical weather-wise.  Starting in November it begins to cool off a bit and by the end of that month it rains.  With the splash of those first heavy raindrops, you suddenly realize how glorious rain is.  You might even cry. You will definitely stop and stare.  If you are under 10, you’ll run outside and dance in it.  Judaism even has a prayer for the occasion of the first rain fall and Hebrew has a word for it. That very first rain of the year is called Yoreh and it is a deeply glorious moment, even more so I imagine for the thirsty plants!

But back to 30C and sunny:  I don’t know where the tradition of putting fresh mint and ice into lemonade and blending it all up began, but I do know that without a doubt it’s the coolest, most refreshing thing you could ever drink on a hot day.

limonana on the beach logo

 A typical Friday afternoon beach repast.  Pickled veggies in the foreground, beer and labaneh (a yogurt dip) for hubs, mint lemonade and hummus for me.

The good news is that you don’t have to go to the beach for Mint Lemonade, you can make it at home too no matter where you live or what the weather is there!

Note about the name:  Limonada is lemonade in Hebrew.  Nana is mint in Hebrew.  Therefore, limonana is the hybrid name for this concoction.  Garoos means ground up, as in the ice.  A limonana garoos then, is an icy, slushy minty lemonade.  Now, come visit and you can order it yourself!  I am saving you a beach chair…

Frosty Mint Lemonade (Limonana Garoos)

Serving Size: 2

Frosty Mint Lemonade (Limonana Garoos)

Ingredients

  • 2 standard ice cube trays of ice (about 2 cups ice)
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 4 lemons)
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 4-6 Tbsp sugar or agave or you could even try dates or stevia if you are avoiding sugar

Instructions

  1. Put everything in a blender that can crush ice.
  2. Blend until bright green and frothy.
  3. L'chaim!
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Vegan Spanakopita with Nut Feta


spanikopita opener

Spanakopita is a Greek pie/casserole, made of phyllo dough layered with a spinach and feta filling.  In my vegan version, I have substituted my own nut cheese instead of the feta, and it tastes just as delicious.

A couple of words about phyllo:  First of all, don’t be scared of it.  Although it seems complicated, it is very forgiving.  You could have a total mess in the pan but when you bake it, all will come out just fine.  Secondly, traditionally, each phyllo sheet is brushed with butter or olive oil before layering the next sheet on top of it, and buttering again, and so on.  You do not need to oil every single sheet.  You can oil say every 2nd or 3rd sheet and when you do, you brush VERY, VERY lightly!  You do not need to have it dripping with grease (although that is undoubtedly tasty!).  If you’re a fan of oil spray, you can use that instead of brushing.  It’s all good.

I have simplified the nut cheese recipe here significantly, so although you should start it first, you can make this all one one day in just a couple of hours total time.  Just pay attention to the instructions on the phyllo you buy.  Most require an overnight thaw in the fridge and then a couple of hours on the counter to come to room temp.  Plan accordingly.

As for greens, I had one bunch of spinach and one bunch of kale.  Again, totally flexible.  You can use whatever you have and even try other vegetables to make a different sort of dish altogether.

I’m sure there is whole wheat phyllo.  I did not find any when I was shopping for this and didn’t have time for a separate health food store run.  Use whole wheat if you have it.  If not, use regular.  It will all be OK.

Vegan Spanakopita with Nut Feta

Vegan Spanakopita with Nut Feta

Ingredients

  • 1 box phyllo dough (contains 14 sheets)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 large bunches spinach or other greens, chopped
  • 1 batch Nut Feta (see below)
  • olive oil for sauteing and brushing
  • 2 tsp dill, fresh or dried (optional)
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Nut Feta
  • 1 1/2 cups cashews, almonds or walnuts or a mix thereof
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt

Instructions

  1. Follow instructions on the phyllo package. Most require that you thaw in the refrigerator overnight and then on the counter for a few hours prior to using.
  2. Nut Feta
  3. If you have time, soak the nuts for a couple of hours in water. If not, proceed with step 4.
  4. Drain water off of soaked nuts and place in food processor.
  5. Preheat oven to 180C and oil a small casserole dish.
  6. Add all remaining cheese ingredients to food processor with nuts.
  7. Process until smooth.
  8. Plop into casserole dish and bake for 40 minutes until golden and firm.
  9. Set aside to cool while you prepare the rest of the dish.
  10. Spanakopita
  11. Preheat oven to 180C. (350F)
  12. Saute onions and garlic in a little oil until soft and beginning to caramelize (5-10 minutes)
  13. Add greens and cook until wilted
  14. Add dill, salt and pepper and adjust to your taste preference.
  15. Open phyllo package and lay the stack of sheets on the counter.
  16. Cover the phyllo with a clean kitchen towel whenever you are not using them. Work quickly so they won't dry out.
  17. Oil a large rectangular pan, the size of your sheets. Or line it with baking paper and oil the paper.
  18. Lay the first 7 sheets of phyllo in your pan, lightly brushing or spraying with oil between every 2nd or 3rd layer.
  19. Spread the greens evenly over the sheets.
  20. Crumble the nut cheese on top of the greens and spread evenly.
  21. Cover with remaining 7 sheets of phyllo, again brushing or spraying with oil between every 2nd or 3rd sheet.
  22. The top sheet should be brushed with oil.
  23. Place in 180C oven and bake for 30 minutes or until golden and puffed.
  24. Cut with a very sharp, serrated knife.
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