Yellow Split Pea Dhal

With Indian food being so popular it is quite easy to opt for a take-away or to eat out at an Indian restaurant, but cooking delicious Indian food can be quite easy and it lends itself very well to people who follow a vegetarian and vegan diet. This dhal recipe is not only easy, but also inexpensive since dried pulses tend to be quite economical. Most if not all of the ingredients can be found in any pantry or spice rack and if not, then it’s good to have them just in case! Dhals are wonderfully aromatic and full of warm flavours that any non-veggie will appreciate and enjoy. I don’t mind spicy food but other members of my household don’t so I tend to make food mild, however you can adapt this if you like your food spicy and add a green chilli sliced in half to the yellow split peas while they are cooking. This makes a great meal that all members of the family can enjoy.

Greek style feta & spinach pie

This Greek inspired feta cheese and spinach pie recipe is inspired on the traditional Spanakopita dish, although apparently it is of Turkish origin and belongs to the burek family of dishes. Anyhow, this is a fantastic recipe to make for vegetarians and non vegetarians alike. The filo pastry is crunchy and the feta gives richness. I sometimes make this with sun dried tomatoes in oil and a foodie friend (Gastrorob) has recommended me to use the oil from the sun dried tomato jar, which I will do next time I make this. Serve with some tomato and cucumber salad or even some tzatziki for the full Greek experience! Since filo pastry does not contain any fat it is important to be generous with the oil when brushing. This will make it crispy when baked. You can also make a dairy free and vegan version of Spanakopita which is just as tasty.

Carrot cake, vegan

I always get the impression that when I bake a cake or make a dessert and say it’s vegan that people automatically make the assumption that it’s not going to be as good as the regular version. So, I came up with this version of carrot cake, vegan and obviously dairy free and gave it to some friends who came to visit as a taste test. They loved it, had no idea it was vegan or couldn’t tell there was anything different. I took that as a compliment since I was a bit nervous about the dairy free cream cheese frosting (sometimes I wonder whether it’s just me getting excited at how close vegan alternatives can be to the regular versions) but there was nothing about it that said that it was made from tofu! Yes, the cream cheese alternative was made from silken tofu and refined coconut oil which can be found in most supermarkets nowadays. I also have to say that I find that the vegan cakes can be simpler to make and have the same great taste. Overall this recipe is fingerlickingly good, moist, sweet with a tangy topping, and so satisfying,…I dare any sceptic to try it!

Carrot cake vegan

Carrot cake

I have yet to meet someone who doesn’t like carrot cake, it is such a classic dessert and it is one of those that everyone does it a little different. You can have the frosting on the top, have it as a thick layered cake with frosting in the middle, with walnuts, without…it lends itself to many variations. For a long time I have used this recipe as my ‘go-to’ carrot cake recipe, although it is based on another recipe from the BBC Good Food website called ‘Ultimate Carrot Cake Makeover‘, although I like to make things easy for myself and simplify. This recipe is quite easy to make and super delicious. However I also make a vegan carrot cake, based on this recipe which I prefer and highly recommend, and in a recent taste test between the two, my friends could not tell much of a difference between the two or which one was vegan.

Haricot & Green Bean Stew

I love legume stews in general, but I absolutely love haricot beans. They are tasty, soft and creamy, and so versatile. I have to admit I use already cooked haricot beans for this recipe, it saves time and does not need prior planning or preparation by soaking. Having said that I very much like different textures in my stews, and to contrast the creaminess of the haricot beans the crunchiness of green beans works perfectly. I also like to leave the carrots chunky for the same reason. This recipe is a relatively quick one pot wonder, light, tasty and healthy. You can serve it with rice, potatoes, on it’s own or as in this case with quick cook mixed grains (pearl barley, spelt, durum wheat, rice and oats). Any which way it is a delicious comforting meal.

Cream Cheese Frosting Dairy Free

Cream cheese frosting is a must for some cakes such as carrot cake (in my opinion) and making a dairy free and vegan version can seem to be challenging. However the magic ingredient is silken tofu which is quite smooth and neutral tasting. There is another recipe for dairy free cream cheese in the blog but I prefer to use this recipe as a topping or frosting since it is richer tasting and smoother in consistency. As far fetched as it may sound in a taste test on some carrot cake this topping was pretty much indistinguishable from the regular cream cheese topping, so I can objectively attest that few people would notice it is vegan unless you told them.

The richness comes from the coconut oil which makes it creamy and provides the necessary fat that would naturally be present in regular cream cheese. I prefer to use refined as it is odourless and does not have any taste, and raw coconut oil has a slight coconutty smell and taste which I personally do not care for in things that should not require coconut (but that is just my personal preference). Coconut oil has quite a low melting point so depending on the time of year it happens to be a liquid or a solid in my pantry. If yours is solid you can warm this up in the microwave or in a water bath, enough so it is soft or just melted, but without it being hot.

This recipe creates a yield of 450g of dairy free cream cheese, and can be scaled up or down as required.

Vegan Green Bean & Potato Salad

I like to make vegan versions of dishes whenever I can, and there is no reason why the green bean and potato salad cannot be veganised without compromising on taste. It is as easy as replacing the egg with extra firm tofu, and if you happen to have it some Himalayan black salt (Kala Namak) which actually tastes of egg. The high sulphur content gives it the flavour but because it is salty I only use as much as I would use regular salt. If you don’t have this it is still worth doing and it will taste great regardless. I use the tofu as a protein source but the star of the dish should be the green beans so it is worth getting good quality fresh tasting beans. You could also use mangetout for a sweeter taste and add other ingredients such as roasted red peppers, baby corn, asparagus, olive oil…the choice is yours!

Green Bean & Potato Salad

This is a very typical salad in Gibraltar, and even though I have this at any time of the year it always reminds me of summer for some reason. it requires a bit of advance preparation (cooking the potatoes and green beans in advance and allowing them to cool), but it is so worth it. The original version of this salad usually contains tuna, but this is something I obviously omit. However it is perfectly good as a vegetarian salad. In this recipe I am giving the basic ingredients for the salad but I many times use it as a base and include other ingredients such as olives, roasted red peppers, baby corn or asparagus. I like to be creative when it comes to my salads (although I am more of tossing in whatever I have in my fridge that may go with it), and I invite you to do the same. Add whatever you might find tasty.

The star of the dish though should be the green beans. Fortunately we get good quality produce here and there are several varieties; the round green beans and the larger flat green beans. The latter are crunchier and sweeter which is my preference. You could even use mangetout which I know is popular in the UK and used in stir fries. It would only need a slight modification in the cooking time, but I’m sure it will be delicious. You can also easily make this green bean and potato salad egg-free and vegan.

Carrot & garlic salad

This is a classic salad of southern Spain, in particular the southernmost tip and also typical of Gibraltar, known as ‘zanahorias aliñadas‘ (or ‘aliñás‘), which literally means marinated carrots. The carrots are cooked first, then cooled and marinated in olive oil and vinegar. However I have an aversion towards vinegar (there aren’t that many things I  don’t like) so I tend to marinade most salads with lemon juice instead but the choice is yours, it can be done both ways. It may seem that having raw garlic in a salad may be a little strong flavoured but together with the smokiness of the sweet smoked paprika and the sweetness of the carrots, the flavours balance out perfectly. This can be had on it’s own or as an accompaniment to other dishes.

Artichoke hearts ‘al ajillo’

Artichokes are very versatile and can be the star of any meal. They are very nutritious and have a lovely tangy taste and in this recipe they are cooked in a mellow garlic and wine sauce, very typical of Spanish cuisine. There is a fair bit of preparation in peeling and cutting the artichokes but the end result is worth it. It is quite important to rub lemon juice when you have peeled them to prevent oxidation (turning brown) and to soak them in a bowl of water and lemon juice if you are preparing them in advance. The stalks are an extension of the heart which is the best part of the artichoke, so it is best not to cut them off. Once you start peeling you may find that there quite a lot that goes to waste, but these leaves can be used to make soups and infusions. I like to give them to my guinea pig, he loves them! Waste not, want not. This recipe makes 2 generous main dish servings or 4 starters.