Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Vegan Mediterranean Buffet Vibe

We were missing the Mediterranean food vibe after only having been back in the UK a few days.  We were also missing the whole Eurasia buffet thing.  This coupled with the delight of having a whole kitchen to stand in and an oven to cook in (as opposed to the seated cooking position over Miles' two hob kitchen), meant I had a sudden desire to spend a leisurely couple of hours of culinary creativity.

First off I really fancied tofu steaks, a simple oven baked delight we hadn't had for a while.  I also hadn't had my favourite polenta for a while so a bake was in order to slice up and enjoy hot or cold.  Seeing as I was aiming at a 'MedVeg' vibe meal I added in the treat of sun-dried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, roasted artichoke hearts and a good sprinkle of oregano to the basic crust for polenta pizza.  Before you bake it just stir in all the extras before it starts setting too much and then top off with a few naughty slices of vegan cheese (I used Mozzarella Teese).  

Then it was on to sorting out a selection of salads and healthy accompaniments.  We still had carrots growing in a patch that we needed to reseed so this was a perfect excuse to pull a few up.  Our annual rocket patch was well and truly greening up too.  This meant we had at least two of the ingredients on hand for a superfood salad so that went on the menu along with some beetroot and some lovely olives brought back from Portugal, as well as the simple avocado and tomato salad we had made during our time in Portugal.

Now it was time to venture forth and create some new things instead of just revisiting old favourites so no more links to past recipes and here are the other four salads/dishes I made to complete my little MedVeg buffet.  All the recipes below made a good quantity (enough for the two of us for this meal and also a big lunch).

Warm Mediterranean Chickpea Salad 
Splash of lovely olive oil for frying
1 small red onion 
1 can (400g) of chickpeas
Approximately 1/2 smallish jar of roasted artichoke hearts
Approximately 12 pitted olives
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons of lovely olive oil (for dressing)

Chop the onion to the size you prefer (depending on whether you like big or little chunks) and fry in the oil until slightly browning.
Add the chickpeas and stir until heated through and even slightly browning too if you like that vibe.
Roughly chop the artichoke hearts and stir in along with the olives (halved or not - it's up to you!).
As the dressing, finally add in the lemon juice and olive oil and stir.
Done.  Keep warm, or actually it tastes good cold too.

Mushrooms with Coriander and Mint
I didn't write the amounts for this dish down so I say, just make it up as you go along like I did but basically........

In olive oil fry up a small onion and some garlic then add in sliced mushrooms (perhaps about 10 or so big ones for a dish for two) and continue frying until slightly browning (not too much though).  Add in the juice of one lemon, a good handful of chopped fresh coriander and about half a handful of chopped fresh mint. Let it simmer away for about 5 minutes gently and there is only a small amount of juice left. Serve warm but as with the chickpea dish, it's good cold too.

Apple, Celery and Sesame Seed Salad
This is super quick and simple and I'm sure everybody has made this already but I'll mention it all the same.

Chop up an apple (skin on), about 3 stalks of celery and mix with olive oil and cider vinegar to taste.  Slightly roast up or dry fry some sesame seeds and then throw them in to the mix, and stir it up.  Either leave it at that or add in a sprinkle of dried flat leaf parsley and dried dill and give it a final stir.

Quinoa Nutty Raisin Salad
Again, a simple and probably much made variation on the theme but worth making a big batch up to keep for those 'healthy but snacky' moments.  As per the norm with me; amounts are random but you get the idea I'm sure.  Pretty much any other grain would work with this too.

Cook up some quinoa (if you were feeling super lazy you could buy one of those ready cooked packets).  
Soak some raisins in a bit of water to plump up.
Roast or dry fry some cashews till starting to brown.
Finely chop up a few spring onions (we had some of these in the garden growing too).
Finely chop up a red pepper.  I like to use roast pepper for this but you could just use raw too.
Add all of the above into a big old bowl.
Stir in soya sauce (or Braggs Liquid Aminos) and toasted sesame oil to taste and give it a massive mix up.  Sprinkle in some dried flat leaf parsley too if you fancy.

Phew, before I knew it that was two hours gone but in front of me on the table was an array of colourful dishes to tuck in to.  Even better was the lunch box it filled the next day too!


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