Egyptian lentil soup (vegan)

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Lentil soup. I love red lentils. I find them particularly tasty. And I adore the vibrant golden color that they have. Lentils came a long way along with humans. The first mentioning of us eating lentils dates back 13,000 – 9,500 years ago. Paleolithic and Mesolithic caves in Greece, then Syria, Palestine, Turkey, and the many other sites in the Middle and Near East. Aristophanes said “You, who dare insult lentil soup, sweetest of delicacies.” (Source: www.cliffordawright.com). Lentils been used to make soups, porridge, breads. It is such a versatile food that is also loaded with protein, fiber and micro nutrients. It tastes even better when heated the next day!

In this recipe I use Egyptian spice called dukkah. It is a mixture of toasted nuts, sesame seeds, herbs and salt. It is also great to just add it to olive oil and dip fresh bread in it. But today we are going to use it to make soup.

Yield: 4- 6 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups red lentils (rinsed)
  • 1 medium yellow onion (chopped)
  • 1 large carrot (diced in small cubes)
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 4 cups veggie broth
  • 4 cups filtered water
  • 2-3 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves (minced)
  • salt & black pepper to taste

Spice:

  • 2 tbsp Dukkah (oven roasted hazelnuts, almonds, coriander, cumin, sesame seeds, salt)

Recipe how to make this aromatic spice could be found here.

Heat up olive oil in a large pot. Saute onions until golden and soft. Add garlic, carrots and all the spices. Cook for 5 minutes. Now add tomato sauce. Cook for another 5 minutes. Add broth, water and lentils. Bring to boil. Reduce the heat let let simmer for about 25-30 minutes. While cooking you may need to add more water to reach the desired consistency. Add lemon juice at the very end. That’s pretty much it. Garnish with micro greens, cilantro and sesame seeds. Enjoy!

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Vegan spinach and zucchini lasagna

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I am so excited to share this recipe with you!! When I was creating it I deeply felt a sense of being an artist (I do work in many different mediums). This time lasagna noodles were my canvas. A truly magical experience!

I love lasagna. It is one of my favorite dishes in Italian cuisine. It is so flavorful, juicy in the middle, and crunchy on the top. My recipe is very light, yet it has all those qualities that we like in lasagna. The noodles are soft, the sauce is flavorful, and zucchini and spinach create this wonderful play of textures. This is where we get to put to use the amazing Vegan bechamel sauce that I’ve shared with you in the previous post. This recipe also uses freshly made cashew cheese. It does take time and a little extra effort. Trust me, it will be worth it!

Here is how to make this delicious lasagna.

Ingredients:

  • 4 medium zucchinis
  • 2 lbs spinach
  • 1 sweet Italian onion
  • 1 package no-boil lasagna noodles
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • sea salt to taste

Cheese:

  • 1 cup raw cashews (soaked overnight or at least for 6 hours)
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/2 cup filtered water

Bechamel sauce recipe could be found here.

1.In a large pot on a medium heat saute chopped onion with olive oil for about 2 minutes. Add washed spinach, salt and then cover the pot with a lid. Spinach will start wilting, mix it up, saute for another minute or 2 then turn the heat off. Set cooked spinach in a colander to get rid of excess liquid.

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Fresh spinach from farmers market.

2. Cut zucchinis in 1/4 inch thick slabs, use mandolin or just a sharp knife. Cook on a medium heat in a large pan with olive oil. About 3 min on each side. Zucchinis should get a golden brown crisp, and become softer, but not too soft. Do not over cook! Set them aside when done.

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3. In a large food processor blend together all the cheese ingredients. Do nut put all the water in at once. Put a half, blend, then see if you need to add more. It should be a consistency of a light whipped cream cheese.

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4. Prepare your bechamel sauce.

5. Preheat oven to 350F.

6. Now we are ready to do the assembly! Get your lasagna pan (any square baking dish would do with high sides), oil the bottom of the pan. Place noodles on the bottom, overlapping them a little. Then create a layer of zucchinis, bechamel sauce on top.

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Then noodles again, bechamel sauce, layer of spinach, cashew cheese.

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Continue repeating layers until you run out of ingredients. Make sure each layer has bechamel sauce. You want your noodles to be moist with the sauce. The last, top, layer would be the noodles and the sauce.

7. Now here is a trick that I’ve learned: let the assembled lasagna sit for at least an hour. This would make the noodles soak up some liquids.

*You can also do all of these steps the day before you will be serving lasagna. Even better! It will have a whole night to stay in the fridge and soak up all the flavors for a little longer.

8. Bake for 30 minutes covered with foil. And then another 15-20 minutes uncovered. Test lasagna with a knife to ensure that the noodles are soft.

9. Voila! Enjoy your delicious spinach and zucchini lasagna! 🙂

 

Vegan bechamel sauce (white cream sauce)

Ciao amici!

Today I’m going to share with you my love for Italian food. Oh it is so comforting and hearty! Most of dishes are made out of simple ingredients with a nuanced play of flavors. What is not no love?! What I realized for myself is that Italian food is about balancing the flavors, using the right proportions, and most importantly, extra fresh, high quality ingredients. That is my success formula. Many of you know that bechamel sauce is a base for various Italian dishes. Well, we don’t have to refuse ourselves of making an Italian dish that uses a white cream sauce because now we know how to make it vegan without compromising the flavors. And that is the key! Pastas, pizzas, lasagnas, vegetables, you name it. It makes any dish more tastier and creamier. And healthier, of course, since there is no dairy involved.

Here is how I make it.

Ingredients:

  • 4 tbsp vegan butter (or sub vegetable oil)
  • 4 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 2 cups unsweetened almond milk (homemade preferably)
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • freshly grated nutmeg to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a saucepan on a medium heat melt vegan butter. Start adding flour one spoon at the time, mixing it in with a wooden spoon. The mixture will be bubbly. When flour and butter combine well take the saucepan off the heat. Whisk in 1/2 cup of almond milk, mix well and return to the heat. Slowly start adding the rest of milk while still mixing. Keep on whisking for about 4-5 minutes until the sauce becomes thick and creamy with a silky gloss. Add salt, black pepper and nutmeg. Turn off the heat. Your bechamel sauce is ready!

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My bechamel.

Soon I will share a delicious spinach lasagna recipe that uses this bechamel sauce.

But don’t wait for that! Experiment with your favorite pasta dish and use this great white cream sauce. Or smother it on top of roasted vegetables, asparagus or broccoli rabe. Let me know the results 🙂

 

 

Jenya’s hash browns (Vegan and Gluten free)

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Being born and raised in Russia I have a special relationship with potatoes. Well, before Peter the Great there were no potatoes in Russia. There were other root vegetables, but no potatoes. At the end of 17th century things has changed. For the better. Modern Russian cuisine still relies pretty heavily on potatoes. So many dishes have potatoes in them, soups, salads, pierogies, you name it. And so I have this inherited love for potatoes. Also an inherited talent for cooking them. 😉

I am going to share my secrets with you. This recipe is not very complicated. It takes little time but the results pay off. It is an absolute staple on my Sunday brunch menu!
Here is how I do it.

Ingredients:

  • 6 medium to large potatoes
  • 2 tbsp sprouted garbanzo flour
  • 2 tbsp potato starch
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil (I use organic sunflower oil)

Yield 2 x 8-inch rounds.

Peal potatoes and shred them. Squeeze all the excess liquid. The mixture should be glossy and wet, not super dry and not swimming in liquid. Now add the flour, potato starch, salt and pepper. Mix well using two hands. Split the mixture in two halves.

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Heat up oil in a cash iron pan on medium heat, I use 8″ pan. Spread one half of the potatoes mixture on the entire surface of the pan in 1/2-inch thick layer. Press with your hands so it is not airy and would stick and hold together. Cook on one side for about 5 minutes. It should be crispy and golden. Flip and cook the other side for about the same time.

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Do the same with the remaining half. That is it!

I usually cut hash brown circles in 4 or 8 parts like a pie.

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Serve hot with your favorite ketchup and/or hot sauce. Enjoy!!