Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Zucchini, Feta, and Black Olive Lasagna


I'll admit to falling down on the MoFo job this last week, but I needed to switch my focus from vegan Greek  cuisine to early modern English infanticide. (Don't ask. Or go ahead, but don't say you weren't warned.) That said, I did spend a pleasant Sunday afternoon concocting this lasagna; it turned out so well that there were far fewer leftovers than I'd anticipated, which I chalk up to the happy combination of roasted late-summer zucchini with the brininess of the olives and tofu feta,  Now that fall is finally upon us, it's officially casserole season, so fire up the oven and get busy!


Zucchini, Feta, and Black Olive Lasagna 
Ingredients
~ 1 package no-boil lasagna noodles
~ 2 tbsp. olive oil
~ 4-6 green and/or yellow zucchini (I used a combination)
~ 2 large leeks, chopped
~ 1 tbsp. minced garlic
~ 1 tsp. each: salt, oregano, basil, chili powder
~ 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
~ Fresh black pepper
~ 1 14 oz. can fire-roasted, diced tomatoes
~ 2 tbsp. tomato paste
~ 1 cup chopped black olives
~ 1 cup water
~ 1 recipe tofu feta
~ 2 cups vegan mozzarella, divided (I recommend Daiya or Teese)
~ 3/4 cup nutritional yeast, divided
~ ½ cup chopped fresh parsley
~ 1.5 cups plain, unsweetened soy milk
~ 1 tbsp. hot sauce (I used Frank's)
~ Dash each: nutmeg, cayenne
~ 1 cup tomato sauce, store-bought or homemade

Directions
~ Preheat the oven to 475 degrees Fahrenheit and coat two baking sheets with cooking spray.
~ In a large bowl, combine the chopped zucchini with 1 tbsp. of the oil and a few grinds each of salt and pepper (I like to do this with my hands).
~ Arrange the zucchini on the baking sheets and cook at 475 for 30-40 minutes, flipping them and switching the pans around at the halfway point. The squash should be tender, browned, and just a little charred. Remove from the oven, and cool to room temperature.
~ In a large skillet, heat the remaining tbsp. of olive oil and sauté the leeks over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until quite soft.
~ Add the garlic, seasonings, canned tomatoes, and tomato paste. Stir well and continue cooking for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally; add as much of the water as needed to make a thick sauce.
~ Stir in the roasted zucchini and the chopped olives, mix well, and remove from heat.
~ In a large bowl, combine the tofu feta, 1 cup of the mozzarella, fresh parsley, and ¼ cup of the nutritional yeast and mix well.
~ Combine the soy milk, hot sauce, nutmeg, cayenne, and the remaining nutritional yeast and mozzarella in a saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until you have a smooth cheesy sauce.
~ Heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and coat a large casserole with cooking spray.
~ While the oven is heating, ladle 1 cup of tomato sauce in the greased casserole, and arrange sufficient lasagna noodles to cover the bottom of the pan (this should 4-5 sheets).
~ Spread the zucchini-tomato-olive filling over the noodles and smooth with a spatula.
~ Carefully top with the feta-mozzarella mixture, spreading it out to cover the filling.
~ Add another layer of lasagna noodles and then pour on the cheesy sauce, being sure to distribute it as evenly as possible. Sprinkle the top with a little paprika, cover tightly with aluminum foil, and bake for 30 minutes. (I put a cookie sheet under the casserole to catch any errant drips.)
~ Remove the foil and bake an additional 15-20 minutes, until the top is golden brown and bubbly.
~ Remove from the oven and allow to rest about 10-15 minutes before slicing and serving.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Savory Zucchini & Olive Bread


This easy quick-bread is a perfect use for the zucchini guts left over from kolokithia yemista, with chopped black olives standing in for the raisins or other fruit you might find in a sweet version. This bread is good served warm, at room temperature, or toasted (a toaster oven is best, since it's a bit fragile), and makes a nice accompaniment to soup, salad, or a more elaborate meal. (NB you can make this recipe as muffins, too; just reduce the cooking time to about 25 minutes.)


Savory Zucchini & Olive Bread
Ingredients
~ ¼ cup olive oil
~ 1 cup minced shallots
~ 1 tbsp. minced garlic
~ 1 cup plain, unsweetened soy milk
~ 1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
~ 1 tbsp. ground flaxseed
~ 2 cups mashed or grated raw zucchini
~ 2.5 cups all-purpose flour
~ 1 tbsp. baking powder
~ 1 tsp. each: salt, oregano, dill, za'ataar
~ ½ tsp. each: baking soda, thyme, white pepper
~ ¾ cup chopped Kalamata olives

Directions
~ Preheat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit and coat a loaf pan generously with cooking spray.
~ In a skillet, cook the shallots and garlic in the olive oil over medium heat for 7-10 minutes, until soft.
~ Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
~ In a bowl or beaker, whisk together the soy milk, vinegar, and flaxseed for about a minute, until the mixture becomes thick and a bit foamy. Stir in the zucchini and the cooked shallots and garlic - making sure to include the olive oil from the skillet - and mix well.
~ In a mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and dry seasonings. Add the chopped olives and stir to coat.
~ Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, gently fold in the wet ingredients, and combine thoroughly.
~ Transfer the batter to then greased loaf pan and bake in the center of the oven for 50-60 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. (Ovens vary wildly and you know yours best; just keep an eye on it.)
~ Allow the bread to rest in the pan for about 5 minutes before turning out. Transfer to a cooling rack and allow to rest at least 15 minutes before slicing.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Israeli Couscous, Chicken, and Feta Salad



Another salad! And this one is substantial enough to be a whole meal, boasting not one but two protein sources, along with a mix of raw and cooked vegetables. Make it in the morning, so when dinnertime rolls around you'll have nothing to do but pour some wine and eat, instead of slaving away in the kitchen!


Israeli Couscous with Chicken and Feta
Ingredients
~ 1.5 cups Israeli couscous
~ 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
~ 2 large leeks, thinly sliced
~ 4-5 cloves garlic, minced
~ 1 tsp. each: salt, oregano, basil, lemon zest
~ Fresh black pepper to taste
~ 1 package vegan chicken, cut into 1" pieces (I used Beyond Meat)
~ 1 red bell pepper, diced
~ 1 small cucumber, seeded and cut into quarter-moons
~ 1 14 oz. can marinated artichoke hearts, drained
~ 2 cups asparagus spears, lightly steamed
~ 1 cup fresh or frozen green peas, lightly steamed
~ 2 cups tofu feta
~ 1 cup chopped, fresh parsley

Directions
~ Prepare the couscous according to package directions (this should be 1.5 cups couscous to 3 cups water for 10-12 minutes, but this can vary). Transfer to a large bowl and set aside to cool.
~ In a skillet, cook the leeks and garlic over medium heat about 7-10 minutes, until quite soft. Raise the heat to high, add the dry seasonings, lemon zest, and chicken pieces, and cook 5-7 minutes more, until the chicken starts to brown just a bit. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
~ When the couscous has cooled, gently stir in the cooked leeks/chicken and all the remaining ingredients, finishing with the fresh parsley.
~ This dish is equally good eaten chilled or at room temperature, but it does get better as it sits, so it's worth making it a few hours (or even a day) before serving. It's especially good on top of a big pile of fresh salad greens with a squeeze of fresh lemon.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Φακές / Fakes (Greek Lentil Soup)


This soup is a lot like the one my mother used to make, although I have a heavier hand with seasonings than she did. Sometimes she added rice, sometimes orzo, sometimes a couple of cubed potatoes, and sometimes no starch at all; any or all of these work equally well, but I happened to choose rice for this batch. In some ways, a lentil soup is a lentil soup is a lentil soup, but the thing that really makes this one sing - in a distinctively Grecian sort of voice - is the red wine vinegar stirred in at the end, which adds a nice sharpness to the "earthy" flavors of the other ingredients.


Fakes (Greek Lentil Soup)
Ingredients
~ 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
~ 1 large red onion, diced
~ 2 large stalks celery, diced
~ 2 large carrots, diced
~ 5-6 cloves garlic, minced
~ 1 tbsp. each: dried dill, marjoram, oregano
~ 1 tsp. salt
~ A few generous grinds black pepper
~ 2 bay leaves
~ 1 cup brown lentils
~ 1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes
~ 2 tbsp. tomato paste
~ 8 cups no chicken broth
~ ½ cup basmati rice
~ 2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
~ ½ cup chopped, fresh parsley

Directions
~ In a large, deep pot, sauté the onion, celery, and carrot in the olive oil over medium heat for about 5 minutes.
~ Add the garlic and dry seasonings and cook another minute or so, then stir in the lentils and allow them to toast for a few minutes, stirring constantly.
~ Add the canned tomatoes and tomato paste and cook 5-7 minutes, so the flavors can blend a bit.
~ Pour in the broth, cover the pot, and raise the heat to high just long enough to bring the soup to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
~ Stir the basmati rice, replace the lid, and continue cooking 20-25 minutes more, until the rice is cooked and the lentils are soft.
~ Remove the bay leaves, add the vinegar and fresh parsley, mix well, and serve hot.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Patates Lemonates (Lemon Potatoes)


Because I deplore insincerity and dissimulation, I won't even affect modest humility: these potatoes are amazing. My goal was the ineffable lemony, garlicky, herby, slightly-crisp-but-not-too-crunchy goodness of Greek restaurant patates lemonates, and I absolutely nailed it. So run, don't walk, to the kitchen and roast up some of this carb-based nirvana; your stomach (and anyone's you choose to share with) will surely thank you.


Patates Lemonates
Ingredients
~ 3 lbs. Yukon gold potatoes (about 8 large potatoes)
~ ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
~ ⅓ cup fresh lemon juice
~ 1-2 tsp. lemon zest
~ 3 cloves garlic, minced
~ 1 tsp. each: oregano, paprika, chickpea flour (or semolina)
~ ½ tsp. each: salt, marjoram
~ 1 cup "no chicken" broth
~ 2-3 tbsp. each: chopped, fresh parsley and dill
~ Fresh black pepper

Directions
~ Preheat the oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit and coat a large, rimmed baking dish with cooking spray.
~ Pierce the potatoes and microwave for about 8-10 minutes; set aside until cool enough to handle.
~ In a bowl or beaker, whisk together the oil, lemon juice and zest, garlic, and dry seasonings.
~ When you can handle the potatoes, cut them into approximately 2" chunks and arrange them in the baking dish.
~ Pour the oil mixture over the potatoes and make sure they are coated thoroughly. (I find this easiest to do with my hands. Bonus: moisturizing!)
~ Add ½ cup of the broth, give it all another stir, and bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.
~ Add the remaining broth, stir the potatoes around, and bake another 15 minutes or so, until they are quite tender but brown around the edges.
~ Remove from the oven and mix in the fresh parsley and dill, and a few healthy grinds of black pepper.
~ Allow the potatoes to rest for a few minutes and transfer to a dish for serving; be sure to include any remaining liquid and/or browned bits from the pan.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Kolokithia Yemista (Stuffed Zucchini) Papoutsakia-style


Back in my vegetarian neo-hippie adolescence, I made lots of stuffed vegetable recipes from classic cookbooks like Moosewood, The Enchanted Broccoli Forest, The Vegetarian Epicure, and Laurel's Kitchen, most of which tended to be 1. time and labor intensive, and 2. dairy-and-egg-laden gut-bombs. (For instance, one of the Moosewood recipes crams its zucchini full of three kinds of cheese, three beaten eggs, and - in a Hannibal Lecteresque touch - its own guts, sautéed in butter with onions and garlic. Yow.)

In recent years, I've found pleasure - and a few fairly significant challenges - in veganizing and lightening up those old favorites, and I devoted MoFo 2013 to doing exactly that. But with today's recipe I was going for a traditional papoutsakia-style stuffed zucchini, which features a meaty filling and cheesy béchamel topping (think little, individual moussakas, only less time and trouble). And at the risk of being immodest, I have to say this dish turned out really well: delicious, filling but not heavy, and massively well-received. On the whole, an excellent way to use some of our zucchini overstock, and a definite keeper.

(FYI, "papoutsakia" means "little shoes," and is used in reference to stuffed eggplant as well as zucchini. I assume that once upon a time the scooped-out vegetables reminded some waggish Greek of footwear; one could look it up, but this theory will suffice because it pleases me. Another popular approach is kolokithakia avgolemono, which I'll tackle another time; since zucchini season isn't over yet, maybe even before the month is out!)


Stuffed Zucchini
Ingredients
The Stuffed Zucchini
~ 4 medium-size zucchini squash
~ 1 tbsp. olive oil
~ 6 large shallots, diced (about a cup)
~ 3 large cloves garlic, minced
~ 2 cups chopped, fresh tomato
~ ½ tsp. each: salt, oregano, basil, marjoram, chili powder, smoked paprika, white pepper
~ Pinch nutmeg
~ ½ cup each: water, dry red wine
~ 1 package TJ's or Nate's veggie meatballs, cooked and mashed
~ 3 tbsp. tomato paste
~ ½ cup chopped, fresh parsley

Directions
~ Preheat the oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit and spray a 9 x 13" baking dish with cooking spray.
~ Trim the ends of the zucchini and scoop out the flesh to make a little squash canoe - or shoe! - leaving about a ¼" thickness around the perimeter. (Set the zucchini guts aside and store for use in muffins or bread; recipe to follow).
~ In a large skillet, sauté the shallots in the olive oil over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, chopped tomato, and dry seasonings, and continue cooking another 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes are breaking down.
~ Stir in the water, wine, and tomato paste, and add the mashed meatballs. Combine thoroughly, reduce heat to low, and cook another 8-10 minutes, until you have a thick "sloppy joe" texture.
~ Remove from heat, add the fresh dill, and allow to cool for a few minutes.
~ Fill the scooped-out zucchini with the meatball mixture (make sure it's packed in pretty densely; you should use all the filling) and arrange them in your prepared baking dish.
~ Cover tightly with foil and bake at 375 degrees for 30-35 minutes.
~ While that is happening you can make...

The Sauce
Ingredients
~ ⅓ cup plain, unsweetened soy milk
~ 1 cup vegan mozzarella (I used Daiya)
~ ¼ cup tahini
~ ¼ cup nutritional yeast
~ Fresh parsley for garnish

Directions
~ In a saucepan, heat the soy milk over medium heat until almost at a simmer, then add the mozzarella and stir until melted.
~ Add the tahini and nutritional yeast and continue cooking a few minutes more, stirring constantly to make a smooth, thick sauce.
~ After it's been baking for 30-35 minutes, take the casserole out of the oven and ladle the sauce evenly over each of the stuffed zucchini and sprinkle with fresh parsley.
~ Return the whole business to the oven and bake, uncovered, for another 15-20 minutes, until browned and bubbling.
~ Remove from the oven and allow to rest about 10 minutes before serving.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Old-Fashioned Rice Pilaf


Today's recipe is basically my home-made rendition of that ubiquitous supermarket staple, Near East rice pilaf mix. Dear to the hearts of American grocery shoppers, the classic original version is pretty old-school, without superfluous fripperies like nuts, raisins, dates, saffron, or exotic grains to complicate the situation. And that is exactly what I offer here: with just rice, orzo, chopped onion and celery, a handful of basic spices, and some decent broth, this recipe is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser that makes a perfect accompaniment to other Middle Eastern dishes, and a damned fine snack all on its own. (Even as a nightmarishly picky toddler, my youngest son would never turn down a dish of pilaf, and I've been known to make a meal of it myself more than once!)


Old-Fashioned Rice Pilaf
Ingredients
~ 1.5 cups basmati rice
~ ½ cup orzo
~ 1 tbsp. olive oil
~ 1 small yellow onion, diced
~ 2 stalks celery, diced
~ ½ tsp. each: salt, thyme, sage, white pepper
~ ¼ tsp. turmeric
~ 2 tbsp. nutritional yeast
~ ½ cup chopped, fresh parsley
~ 2 ¾ cups vegan "chicken" broth

Directions
~ Rinse the rice in several changes of water, and then set aside aside to soak for at least 30 minutes (an hour or so is even better).
~ In a saucepan, sauté the onion, celery, and dry seasonings in the olive oil over medium heat for 5-7 minutes, until soft. Add a little more oil or a splash of water or broth if things get sticky.
~ Drain the rice and add it to the pan along with the orzo, nutritional yeast, and fresh parsley. Stir well, cook another minute or two, and pour in the broth.
~ Cover the pan, bring to a boil, and lower the heat to simmer.
~ Cook over low heat for 12-15 minutes, or until all the broth is absorbed and the rice is still a bit firm but fluffy (the longer you've soaked it, the  more quickly it will cook).
~ Remove from heat, fluff with a fork, and serve.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Summer Squash with Tomatoes, Onion, and Dill

Look, just as I promised - it's not a salad! Instead, we have this simple, delicious side dish of yellow summer squash cooked with red onions, tomatoes, and fresh dill. We ate this as part of a fairly elaborate dinner of noochy kale, stuffed zucchini, and rice pilaf (recipes for the latter two to follow), but if you add chickpeas or white beans it's easily a main course, especially with a salad and/or some good bread thrown in to round things out.


Summer Squash with Tomatoes, Onion, and Dill
Ingredients
~ 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
~ 3 yellow summer squash, sliced into ¼" half-moons
~ 1 red onion, rough dice
~ 1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, quartered
~ Salt and pepper
~ ¼ - ⅓ cup chopped, fresh dill

Directions
~ Place a large, nonstick skillet on medium-high heat and coat generously with cooking spray. Add the summer squash in batches and cook for about 3-5 minutes on each side, until just starting to char. Remove each batch from the pan and repeat with the rest of the squash.
~ When all the squash has been cooked, add the olive oil to the skillet and cook the onion for 5 minutes; stir in the tomatoes and cook about 3 minutes more.
~ Return the cooked squash to the pan along with ½ tsp. kosher salt, a few grinds of black pepper, and the fresh dill.
~ Stir well, remove from heat, and serve hot or at room temperature.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Fainting Couch Potato Salad


I swear before all the gods on Mount Olympus that I will post something other than salad recipes during my Greek-themed Vegan MoFo, but the weather remains so hot and humid that the idea of making (or even eating) anything above room temperature is distinctly unappealing. Then again, this is a really good potato salad, and it makes a nice change from more traditional mayonnaise-based versions, which may have lost some of their luster after a long, hot summer.

So I promise to be back with something more complicated - or at least warmer - once I'm feeling less languid. For the present, the fainting couch beckons, and the Elizavegan Month Of Salad Days continues!


Fainting Couch Potato Salad
Ingredients
~ 2 lbs. waxy potatoes (I used Yukon Gold)
~ ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
~ 1 red onion, sliced into thin quarter moons
~ 6 large scallions, sliced
~ 2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
~ ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
~ 2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
~ 1 tbsp. yellow mustard
~ 1 tsp. each: salt, basil, dill, oregano
~ ½ tsp. each: thyme, white pepper
~ 1 red bell pepper, diced
~ 1 heaping cup fresh parsley
~ 3/4 cup sliced black olives (optional)

Directions
~ Cook the potatoes until cooked but still a bit firm; cut into approximately 2" chunks and set aside to cool. (I made this on a really hot day, so I stabbed and microwaved them for 10 minutes.)
~ While the potatoes are chilling, heat the olive oil in a large, deep skillet, and cook the onion over medium heat for 5-7 minutes, until quite soft.
~ Add the scallions and garlic and cook another minute or so. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
~ When the onion mixture has cooled, stir in the lemon juice, vinegar, and dry seasonings and mix well; this is your dressing.
~ Place the cooled potatoes and diced bell pepper in a large bowl, and pour the dressing over them. Add the fresh parsley and olives (if using) and mix well, being careful not to break up the potatoes.
~ Cover and refrigerate for at least a couple of hours and serve cold.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Crowd-Pleasing Couscous Salad

Yes, it's another salad, this time one that I've been making for ages: a tried and true, fail-safe contribution for potlucks, cookouts, and family occasions (as pictured below), with the signal virtue of being endlessly forgiving. You can use almost any vegetables you have on hand, although obviously, one should draw the line thing at something like turnips. You can substitute quinoa instead for couscous to make it gluten-free. You can use more or less or entirely different seasonings. You can let your imagination run free! But do be aware that this recipe makes a ginormous, bacchanal-size quantity, so go ahead and half, third, or quarter it if you like. That said, it gets better as it sits, and leftovers are well worth having in the fridge in warm weather, when we all have more diverting things to do than cook.
Crowd-Pleasing Couscous Salad
Ingredients
~ 3 cups cooked couscous, prepared according to package directions
~ 1 cup thinly sliced scallions (I can't tolerate raw onions so I cook them briefly first)
~ 1 red bell pepper, diced
~ 1 large carrot, chopped
~ 2 small or 1 large cucumber, diced
~ 1 small zucchini, diced
~ 1.5 cups each: quartered grape tomatoes, chopped Kalamata olives
~ 1 14 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
~ A few grinds of black pepper
~ Juice of 2 lemons (about 1/3 cup)
~ 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
~ 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
~ 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
~ 1 tbsp. dried mint
~ 1 tsp. each: salt, marjoram
~ ½ tsp. each: thyme, oregano
~ 1 cup each: chopped, fresh dill and parsley
~ 1 cup chopped, toasted walnuts or pine nuts
~ 1-2 cups tofu feta (optional; adjust quantity to taste)

Directions
~ Prepare the couscous according to package directions, fluff with a fork, and set aside to cool to room temperature.
~ In a large bowl, combine all the fresh vegetables.
~ Add the chickpeas, fresh herbs, and dried spices; stir well.
~ In a bowl or beaker, mix the lemon juice, oil, vinegar, garlic, and dried seasonings.
~ Pour the dressing over the couscous mixture, add the fresh herbs, and mix thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate at least a few hours to let the flavors blend. (Overnight is even better; I usually make this salad a day ahead.)
~ When ready to serve, stir in the toasted nuts and tofu feta (if using).
~ Mix thoroughly and serve cold or at room temperature, alone or with leafy salad greens.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Greek-Style Pasta Salad


The calendar and general back-to-school atmosphere may say "September," but the thermometer is firmly stuck on "summer," which means that salads are still far more appealing than the autumnal soups, stews, and casseroles we'll be craving in a month or two. Which is fine, since the farmers markets (and my refrigerator) are bursting with beautiful fresh produce, just waiting to be tossed with some oil, vinegar, garlic, and spices and eaten with a nice cold glass of what you fancy. The inclusion of chickpeas and/or white beans in today's pasta salad makes it a perfect warm weather meal all on its own, but it would also be a welcome addition to cookouts, potlucks, or a more elaborate lunch or dinner (even without a spectacular view of the Aegean).


Greek-Style Pasta Salad
Ingredients
~ 1 lb. penne, fusilli, or similar-sized pasta
~ 1 large red onion, cut into large dice
~ 1 generous cup each: chopped tomato, diced cucumber, artichoke hearts, chopped kalamata olives
~ ¾-1 cup each, chopped fresh: basil, parsley
~ 1 15 oz. can chickpeas or white beans, drained and rinsed (about 1 ¾ cups cooked)
~ ¼ cup each: extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar
~ 2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
~ 1 tbsp. prepared yellow mustard
~ 1 tsp. each: salt, oregano, marjoram, dill
~ A few grinds fresh black pepper

Directions
~ Cook the pasta according to package directions. About two minutes before the pasta is done, add the diced red onion. Drain in a large colander and rinse with cold water and set aside.
~ Place the tomato, cucumber, artichoke hearts, kalamata olives, fresh basil and parsley, and the chickpeas or beans in a large bowl (optimally one with a lid), and stir well.
~ In a separate bowl or beaker, mix together the oil, vinegar, garlic, mustard, and dry seasonings.
~ Add half the cooked pasta and onions to the vegetables in the bowl, pour over half the dressing, and mix well. Stir in the remaining pasta and dressing and give the salad a good stir to make sure everything is coated.
~ Cover and chill for at least a few hours before serving cold or at room temperature.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Tofu Feta Cheese

I posted this recipe earlier in the summer in the context of a Greek Salad, but since lots of Mediterranean dishes call for feta cheese, it occurs to me that sharing this method on its own might be a good idea, especially given my current MoFo theme. So here you go; mix up a batch of this stuff, keep it handy in the refrigerator, and you can easily add a little Grecian something to salads, sandwiches, and pizzas, in recipes like spanakopita and tyropita, or wherever you like.


Tofu Feta Cheese
Ingredients
~ 1 14 oz. package extra firm tofu, pressed for at least an hour
~ 2 tbsp. each: red wine vinegar, lemon juice, dill pickle brine
~ 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
~ 1 tsp. each: prepared mustard, vegan Worcestershire sauce
~ 2 cloves crushed garlic (or ½ tsp. garlic powder)
~ 1 tsp. each: salt, oregano, basil, mint
~ ½ tsp. dill

Directions
~ Once your tofu is well pressed and has given up most of its water, crumble it into small, rough cubes.
~ Mix all the remaining ingredients thoroughly in a container with a lid, then add the tofu.
~ Put the lid on and give it a few good shakes to make sure all the tofu is coated with the marinade.
~ Refrigerate for at least a day (a few days is better) before using, to let the flavors infuse the tofu.
~ Use anywhere you'd have used dairy feta back in the days of pre-enlightenment!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Tourlou Tourlou (aka "Dooda")

Welcome to Vegan MoFo 2015! This marks my - GASP - eighth time participating in this annual event, and after careful deliberation I've decided on a Greek theme for this year's blogging challenge. Since starting this blog, I've veganized and posted a number of fondly remembered dishes that my (Greek) father and (British-but-Hellenic-friendly) mother used to make, and my goal for the coming month is to expand this repertoire while revisiting some already tried-and-true favorites. So without further ado, let's get down to business, shall we?

To kick things off, I happily present an incidentally vegan casserole that was one of my mother's signature dishes. Its real name is tourlou tourlou - which apparently means something like "all mixed up" - and it has a close Turkish analogue called briam, but for some now-forgotten, almost certainly baby-talk-related reason our family has always called it "dooda." Its combination of eggplant, peppers, zucchini, garlic, and tomatoes - along with its endless adaptability -  is reminiscent of ratatouille, but unlike that Provençal stew, this vegetable melange is baked. It also calls for potatoes and sometimes rice, and employs more "Greeky" seasonings like dill and rosemary (I give the envelope an extra push by adding za'ataar, because I am Officially Obsessed With It).

Of course you can add or subtract ingredients to suit availability and personal taste. Some versions call for okra, but my dad hated it so it never appeared on our dinner table; others call for capers, which strikes me as totally weird, but if you're into that sort of thing, by all means go for it. My mother always included butternut squash, so I've followed her lead here and, as ever, I tend towards a generous hand with seasonings; you should feel free to adjust quantities according to your own likes and dislikes. 

The main thing to remember with a dish like this one is that it is both informal and extremely user-friendly: precision and fastidiousness need not apply, just a craptonne of fresh vegetables! This admirable flexibility extends to serving as well, because it is equally good hot, cold, or (my personal favorite) room temperature. The finished product makes a delicious meal all on its own, or you could add a salad, or some white beans, or some green beans, or some crusty bread, or even all of the above for an extravagant Greek feast just like Yia Yia (and Papou) used to make.

Tourlou Tourlou
Ingredients
~ ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
~ 1 large red onion, rough dice
~ 8 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
~ 1 large eggplant
~ 1 large green zucchini
~ 1 large yellow zucchini
~ 1 small butternut squash
~ 2 large potatoes
~ 2 bell peppers (any color)
~ 1 28 oz. can plum tomatoes, drained, with liquid reserved
~ 2 tsp. each: dill, oregano, marjoram, basil, parsley, salt
~ 1 tsp. dried rosemary, crumbled in your fingers
~ 1 tbsp. za'ataar
~ A few healthy grinds black pepper

Directions
~ Oil a large, deep casserole and preheat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.
~ Chop all the veggies except the onions and garlic into approximately 1" chunks.
~ In a large, deep pot, heat the olive oil and sauté the onion over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until softened. Add the sliced garlic and cook about one minute more.
~ Remove the pot from the heat and gradually mix in the chopped vegetables, drained tomatoes, and seasonings, making sure everything is well combined and coated with the seasonings.
~ Transfer the vegetable mixture to your oiled casserole and cover the whole business tightly with aluminum foil.
~ Bake at 350 degrees for about 90 minutes, checking once at about the halfway point. The vegetables should provide plenty of moisture, but if things do seem to be drying out, you can add up to a cup of the reserved tomato liquid and/or water to a corner of the pan (don't pour it over the vegetables!).
~ Remove the foil and test for "doneness"; the vegetables should be soft, and the potatoes fork tender.
~ Stir well, test for seasoning (you might want to add more of something; adjust to taste), and continue baking uncovered for another 30 minutes.
~ Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before serving. This dish gets better as it sits, so if you have sufficient time and/or organizational skills, you can make it a day or two ahead with excellent results.