Riverford sent me some celery. I don’t hate celery, per se, but I don’t like it cooked in stews or anything like that and I certainly don’t want to make a soup out of it and I don’t really like it raw in salads either. As far as I can see, celery’s only role in life is to be an edible spoon for hummus. Which, as roles in life go, isn’t a bad one – in fact, it’s to be commended, but I didn’t have any chickpeas with which to make the best hummus in the world ever so I was stuck with celery and nothing to eat it with.
So, as I knew I had a tin of green lentils, I pondered on Twitter whether green lentil hummus was a thing.
I haven’t got any chickpeas – is lentil hummus a thing?
and I reckoned she (actually, I have no idea if it’s a girl or boy Hornett so, if you’re reading this, @healthyhornett, sorry for assuming you’re a she) was right and, after promising to report back, I went off and made some green lentil hummus.
Well, two days later I did, anyway. And, do you know what? Green lentil hummus is most definitely a thing and an excellent alternative to the more traditional chickpea one.
I made this hummus in my Optimum G2.1 blender which whizzed it into smooth and creamy hummusy perfection in a minute but if you haven’t got a high powered blender, you might want to add a bit more olive oil to help it along.
Aah, tinned tomato soup. Or, more specifically; aah, Heinz Cream of Tomato Soup. Everyone loves cream of tomato soup, don’t they? I have it when I’m ill, when I’m hungover and it was all I could face when my house got burgled a few years ago (well, soup and alcohol, anyway). In fact, it’s more of a comfort blanket than a soup, really. I suspect it’s because I don’t see tomato soup as an ‘everyday’ soup, I don’t make homemade tomato soup very often and, if I do, it’s usually ‘tomato and something’, rather than just tomato.
But I had a few tins of chopped tomatoes taking up room on the kitchen worktop, so I decided I’d make a homemade tomato soup. I wasn’t expecting it to turn out like Heinz because mine would be a vegan version and therefore it wouldn’t contain any cream. I’d thought about thickening it with cashews but, thanks to my Froothie Optimum G2.1 high powered blender, it turned out beautifully creamy and smooth without needing to add any thickeners (I know it doesn’t look silky smooth in the photo but, trust me – it is).
You could, for a creamier taste, replace half the stock with soya milk (or dairy milk if you’re not fussed about it being vegan), but I don’t really think it’s necessary and I only swirled on a bit of soya milk for a prettier photo.
A cheap, creamy, comforting bowl of soup; even if you don’t need comforting.
A cheap, creamy, comforting bowl of vegan tomato soup
Author: Cathy @ Planet Veggie
Recipe type: Soup
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 400g cans chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato puree
500ml vegan stock
A few basil leaves, torn
salt and pepper
Heat the oil in a large saucepan
Add the onion and garlic and fry for about 5 minutes, until soft
Add the tinned tomatoes, tomato puree and stock, then season to taste with the salt and pepper
Stir through and simmer for 10 minutes
Add the basil, stir through and transfer to a blender and blend until smooth
*Disclaimer: I am an Ambassador for Froothie and any links to their products in this post are affiliate links which, if you purchase through, won’t cost you any more but will earn me a small commission. I only endorse products I am happy with and I have not been paid for this post.
I got a bit carried away while I was making tonight’s dinner. Originally, I’d planned to cook a simple aubergine melt (mozzarella melted on top of half a roasted aubergine) to use up the mozzarella that was in the fridge but, while I was taking out the mozzarella, I saw the spring onion that also needed to be used up, then I saw the mushrooms, then I thought it looked like I was heading towards making a pizza out of an aubergine, so I thought I might as well go all the way and give it a tomatoey base, too. The only pizza-y thing I held off from adding was chilli, but that was only because I thought a chilli, cabbage and potato combo would confuse The Meat Eater who doesn’t like his food to be too much of a ‘challenge’ (his word for anything that doesn’t involve potatoes).
I wouldn’t usually serve pizza with cabbage and new potatoes – I mean, why do you think garlic bread and onion rings were invented? – but it worked well. Obviously, you can choose your own toppings based on your own preference or whatever you have in your fridge that needs using up.
My cheese consumption has gone down massively recently but when The Meat Eater said he was going back to the old chippy for our usual Friday night chippy chips, I thought I’d give their battered halloumi another go. This was the second time I’d tried battered halloumi from the chippy and the first time, I wasn’t keen, despite me usually loving halloumi. I don’t know whether it just seemed a bit odd getting it from the chippy, along with chips that’d been chucked in a huge vat of oil, or maybe I thought it was trying to fool me into thinking it was fish but, whatever it was, the first time just didn’t do it for me.
This time, however, I loved it and remembered how much I love halloumi (to be honest, I hadn’t forgotten. How could anyone forget how delicious it is?) and so when I saw a link to this recipe for vegan tofu halloumi on the Little Vegan Kitchen Facebook group, I knew I had to give it a go, slightly adapting the recipe to my own taste and preference.
I wasn’t expecting it to be much of a convincing replica for halloumi but, I’ve got to say, although it doesn’t have the ‘squeak’ of dairy halloumi, it’s a salty and tangy, perfectly acceptable alternative. I’ve enjoyed it so much, I’ve been having it for lunch stuffed in pitta bread with hummus and salad for the last three days.
I used my George Foreman to get it crispy but I would imagine it’d also be great fried in a little olive oil.
Don’t forget to press your tofu first – either by using the ‘pile a load of heavy stuff on top of it’ method or with a tofu press, such as this one from TofuBud.
Man, these are as good as regular cheese and onion crisps, but vegan and healthy! The only thing I dislike about these dehydrated spinach chips is that they take twenty-four hours to make but only approximately twenty-four seconds to eat. Still, that’ll teach me to forget that a large handful of raw spinach shrinks down small enough to fit on a five-pence piece when cooked (or, as in this case, dehydrated).
Although the spinach was dehydrated at under 45C, I can’t call this a raw vegan recipe as it contains nutritional yeast which is pasteurised to kill the yeast so if you want to make it raw vegan, leave out the nutritional yeast.
Recipe: Vegan Cheese and Onion Flavour Dehydrated Spinach Crisps
A bag of kale seems to last forever, doesn’t it? If you’ve got a never-ending bag of kale in your fridge, here’s something to do with it. This recipe is loosely based on the one in Ani’s Raw Food Essentials – it was her idea to add the agave nectar. I won’t bother with the agave nectar next time as, although it added a nice sweetness, it made the chips too sticky for my liking.
I’ll also fill up all the dehydrator trays with kale next time because a couple of large handfuls (two trays’ worth) of kale seemed like a lot at the time but it shrank down loads and only made a ramekin’s worth of chips. And you’re going to want more than one ramekin’s worth, I can tell you. If you’re in the market for a dehydrator, I can recommend the Froothie Optimum P200 Dehydrator.
I’ve been hankering after a food dehydrator for years. Mostly, I’ve got to admit, because it’s a kitchen gadget and, despite what The Meat Eater says, you can’t have too many kitchen gadgets.
The thing is though, what exactly does one do with a dehydrator? Yes, I know you dehydrate food in them, but what? and – more importantly – why? I know raw foodists find them essential for their diet, as I found this out a few years ago when I briefly pondered whether to do a ‘raw food week’ challenge and picked up a raw food recipe book and saw it mostly contained recipes using a dehydrator to make, amongst other things, pizza bases (which led me to briefly ponder whether I wanted a raw pizza, decided I didn’t and put the book down and phoned Papa John’s instead).
Then Vida got in touch and asked me if I wanted to try out one of their appliances; one of which being a food dehydrator. The time had come to release my inner raw foodist, hurrah!
After googling ‘what do I do with a food dehydrator’, I looked at a few websites, got thoroughly confused, so I asked on the Little Vegan Kitchen Facebook Page what people there did with theirs. One reply I particularly liked the sound of was courgette crisps. I did some more googling and found a whole load of recipes with varying drying times ranging from 5 hours to 15 hours, so back I went to the Little Vegan Kitchen and asked how long they usually dry for and was told 24 hours. Oh. That’s a long time. But I was going to make my courgette crisps, no matter how long they took.
Anyway, before I tell you about my courgette crisps, let me tell you about the Vida Food Dehydrator.
The first thing you need to know is that it’s big. I thought food dehydrators were about the size of a shoe box. This is more the size of a post box. Okay, that’s a slight exaggeration but this is not a small machine, so it’s not going to sit unobtrusively on your kitchen worktop.
I also thought food dehyrators were silent. I don’t know why I thought this but I did and they’re not. They’re not washing machine noisy but you will notice the sound, so my dehydrator has been banished to the conservatory where it can whirr away without disturbing anyone.
As with most kitchen appliances, the instruction manual is useless. Saying that though, you don’t need a manual for this machine, as there is absolutely nothing to working out how to use it: Put on the trays whatever fruit or veg you’re drying, put the lid on top, switch it on, turn the dial to the required temperature and press a button to tell it how many hours you want it to be on for (23 is the maximum but you can just turn it off and start it again if you want it to be on for longer – the instructions do say though not to have it running longer than 72 hours without giving the machine a bit of a rest). So, yeah, you don’t really need a manual, it just seemed a bit odd to get an appliance with no suggested recipes in the manual with which to start you off.
But I already had my suggested recipe from my friends at the Little Vegan Kitchen anyway, so I prepared my courgette crisps and about a day later they were ready and I ate them all in one go, they were that good. I don’t usually like dried fruit or vegetable crisps, so I probably only liked them because I made them, in the way a mother loves her ugly baby, but, hey ho. They didn’t come out properly crispy like a crisp, but I’m assuming the longer you leave them dehydrating, the crispier they get.
You’ll see from the photo above that I lined my trays with baking paper. Some recipes said to do this, some didn’t. I decided to, I don’t know why. I probably wanted to keep the trays clean.
I currently have some cashew, onion and sunflower seed crackers in the dehydrator and I’ll let you know what they turn out like.
The Vida Food Dehydrator is available from ebuyer.com for (at the time of writing) £29.99.
Unfortunately, this didn’t go down too well with The Meat Eater. I loved it – I especially loved the pastry because – round of applause, please – I made it all by myself. I don’t think I’ve ever made pastry before; I might have made some at school I suppose, but that would have been a *cough* few *cough* years ago now.
You’ve got to hand it to The Meat Eater though – he’d do well on Masterchef’s palette test. He said the pastry had an odd taste to it and as I thought back to what had gone into it, I remembered the coconut oil, so that was probably the ‘odd taste’ he was referring to. He did admit to liking ‘bits of it’ though.
Hopefully, the coconut oil hasn’t put you off, so I’m going to post the recipe below as I made it (which is pretty much as it appears in Greens 24/7 by Jessica Nadel, which I talked about a bit more in yesterday’s post – my version is only slightly simplified). The end result is a kind of quiche-like dish which I reckon would be just as nice cold, as hot.
Please don’t be put off by making your own pastry – this was about as simple as it gets and if I can be bothered to do it, so can you.
Although the recipe below states 240g tofu, I used a normal (normal for the UK, anyway) sized block of Cauldron tofu and pressed it (nothing fancy – just between two saucers), this left me with 275g tofu and I used all of it.
Make the pastry. In a large bowl, mix together the flours and ½ tsp salt. Work the coconut oil into the flour, leaving small lumps. Add the water gradually and work until the dough comes together. Roll into a ball, wrap in clingfilm and leave in the fridge for 20 minutes.
Heat 2 tbsp oil in a large frying pan, add the crushed garlic, mushrooms and a generous pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15-20 minutes, until the mushrooms release their juices and the juices evaporate. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Meanwhile, steam the spinach until partially wilted, then leave to cool.
Place the tofu, lemon juice, 1½ tsp olive oil, nutritional yeast and the whole garlic clove in a food processor and process until fairly smooth (you might need to add a bit more oil). Season to taste with salt and pepper, then add the spinach and fold in by hand.
Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas mark 6. On a piece of baking paper, roll out the pastry to a 30-cm (12") round. Transfer the pastry and baking paper onto a baking sheet and spread the spinach-tofu mixture over, leaving a 5cm (2") border. Top with the mushrooms and gently fold the extra pastry up and onto the toppings, pleating as you move around the outside.
Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown. Remove from the oven and leave for 5 minutes before slicing and serving.
I know, this doesn’t really look like ciabatta. Ciabatta should have a holier texture (that’s ‘holier’ as in ‘full of holes’, not some religious thing) than that and this just looks like your average loaf of bread. The crust, however, does have a ciabatta texture and the bread on the whole is a perfectly decent and light loaf which went beautifully toasted with my soup for lunch today.
The recipe I used is similar to this one at Frogeatstown except I added two large, chopped, sundried tomatoes out of a jar (I would have used more but I only had two left) after a couple of minutes into the cycle on the bread machine. I’m wondering now if maybe the oil from the sundried tomatoes is the reason for the un-ciabatta-like texture? It could also be because I’m not particularly accurate when it comes to measuring so my volumes were probably a bit off. Breadmakers out there – if you know about these things, please leave me a comment!
Bread machine sundried tomato ciabatta
1 ½ cups water
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 tsp white sugar
1 tbsp olive oil
3 ¼ cups strong white flour
1 ½ tsp fast acting yeast
2 large sundried tomatoes out of a jar, chopped
Place all ingredients except the sundried tomatoes into your bread machine in the order specified in your instruction manual.
Choose the dough program and press ‘start’.
Add the sundried tomatoes after a few minutes.
After the dough program has finished, turn the dough out on to an oiled baking sheet and bake in the oven at 220C/200 fan/gas mark 7 for about 20 minutes.
We’ve all had olives and olive oil and are aware of the benefits they contain – now here’s another way to get that goodness. The Ovio Organic Olive Leaf range delivers a combination of a unique premium olive leaf health and wellness daily shot with organic botanicals.
Each 500ml bottle contains a daily 70ml shot to boost your energy and immune system with up to 30 beneficial plant compounds and phytochemicals found in the Mediterranean diet.
It can be drunk neat or in juice or smoothies; and it was in a smoothie in which I tried it for a week. I had been worried it was going to taste like spirulina but I’m happy to report it didn’t – it had a perfectly pleasant taste. Another aspect I liked was the lack of having to mess around with measuring spoons or jugs as, as you can see from the photo, there’s a handy measuring strip on the bottle – just pour out that day’s shot up to the next line – which can also act as a reminder as to whether you’ve taken that day’s shot or not.
Ovio is made with 100% organic ingredients, is GM-free and contains no pesticides. All it contains is freshly picked olive leaves from Italy, soothing calendula, grape, lemon juice and spring water. Sounds good enough to drink, doesn’t it?
If antioxidants are your thing, Ovio contains hydroxytyrosol, oleuropein and tyrosol. I’m not going to pretend I know anything about that kind of thing but all the information you need is on the Ovio website.
Ovio carries the Vegan Society trademark, is approved by the Vegetarian Society, has an RRP of £13.99 (at the time of writing) and is available from Boots, Ocado, Holland & Barrett, Whole Foods, Planet Organic, John Bell & Croyden, and The Nutricentre.