Tag Archives: Pine nut

Vegan quiche with spinach, leeks and pine nuts

6 Apr

WordPress has just reminded me that today is my blog’s first anniversary. I started the blog one Saturday afternoon, when I decided that the pea pesto recipe I’d invented a couple of days before was so good that it deserved sharing with the world. Armed with a name I plucked out of nowhere, and a slightly blurry photo of some basil, I got started. I only really expected a couple of people to look at it, that maybe I’d put one or two more recipes online, and that basically it wouldn’t really go anywhere. Over the next few weeks I did post a few more times, and I read a lot of other people’s blogs, and I got hooked. One year later, with 38 posts, 149 comments, 123 WordPress followers, I feel like I’ve become part of a community. I’ve made contact with people all over the world, stayed up late because I was having an interesting conversation with strangers on Twitter, and annoyed my husband on many an occasion by spending ages taking photos of our dinner. Other bloggers and Twitter-folk have given me the inspiration and support to go from sort-of-cutting-back-on-dairy to 99% vegan (I’m almost there), and I’m grateful to each and every one of you for that. To thank you, I’m sharing a new recipe, my first ever attempt at a vegan quiche.

Quiche is one of my favourite things to make. It does require a fair bit of multitasking, but it’s really versatile and over the years I’ve come up several different combinations, usually involving a vegetable and a cheese. Making something eggy and cheesy without eggs or cheese sounds impossible, but as firm tofu can act as a good sub for both vegan quiche is actually easier to make than the real thing. It’s not strongly cheesy – think ricotta rather than feta – but I am certain that I could feed this to omnivores and they wouldn’t realise it was vegan.

Recipe notes:

  • The filling from this recipe would also work well wrapped in puff pastry, à la my non-vegan spanokopitta sausage rolls.
  • I use frozen for spinach-heavy recipes like this. It’s better value for money by a long long way, you’d need a sack full of fresh spinach leaves to get the same amount, plus you’d still have to wash and cook it. Unless you’re growing your own and have a glut of it, just buy whole leaf frozen spinach.
  • If there is any filling left, you could use it to stuff a couple of tomatoes and bake them at the same time as the quiche.

Recipe (serves 4)

For the pastry:

  • 50g margarine (check it is suitable for pastry)
  • 100g flour (white or wholemeal, I use a mix of both)
  • Pinch of salt

For the filling:

  • 1 ts margarine or oil
  • 1 leek, white and green parts, sliced into thin half-moons, thoroughly washed
  • 50ml your preferred non-dairy milk
  • 400g frozen whole leaf spinach, thawed
  • 50g pine nuts, toasted then very roughly chopped
  • A 396g block of firm tofu, drained but not pressed
  • ¼ ts grated nutmeg
  • Plenty of ground black pepper
  • 1 ts salt
  • 1 ts cider vinegar
  • 1 ts olive oil
  • 2 tb nutritional yeast flakes

For the pastry, rub the margarine into the flour and salt. Continue mixing with your hands, adding some cold water a splash at a time until it comes together in a ball. Put it in the fridge to rest for at least half an hour.

Lightly grease a 20cm / 8 inch quiche dish. Roll out the pastry and use it to line the dish. Trim the edges but not too much, be aware that the pastry will shrink a little bit when you cook it. Prick the pastry all over with a fork, then blind bake it for 10 minutes at 200˚C. You want the pastry to be starting to go dry and golden, but not brown.

Meanwhile, prepare the filling. In a small saucepan over a medium heat, melt the margarine or heat the oil, then add the leek and fry for two minutes until it starts to cook down. Add the milk and cook for a further five or so minutes, until the leeks have completely cooked down and most of the liquid has evaporated.

Tip the spinach into a sieve or a muslin-lined bowl. Squeeze as much liquid out of the spinach as you can.

Crumble the tofu into a large bowl with your hands. You could use a fork or masher, but doing it by hand is much more efficient.

Add the nutmeg, pepper, salt, vinegar, oil, and nooch to the tofu and mix well. You could continue mixing it by hand, but it’s less messy from now on to use a spoon or spatula. Add the cooked leeks, pine nuts, and drained spinach, and mix until well combined. Tip the filling into the blind-baked pastry, and return it to the oven for around half an hour, until the top is firm and golden. Leave to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving, it will be much easier to get out of the dish. Serve hot or cold.

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Spanokopitta sausage rolls

9 Jul

2013-07-06 18.55.12

At the weekend, my mum asked me to bake some vegetarian sausage rolls for a family picnic. Normally I’d wrap some veggie sausages in puff pastry and get on with my day but on this occasion I was the only vegetarian there, and I wanted to make something the omnivores would enjoy as much as I would. I decided to make something based on my favourite Greek dish, spanokopitta (basically an AMAZING spinach and feta filo pie).

So here’s what I came up with. They went down really well, even with the meat-eaters. The children didn’t really like them (my two-year-old niece ate half of one and politely shoved the rest in my mouth); perhaps a milder, less freaky cheese would make them more child-friendly.

2013-07-06 18.43.04

Recipe (makes 24 mini rolls)

  • 500g puff pastry
  • 300g frozen spinach, defrosted, preferably the whole-leaf stuff
  • 200g feta cheese
  • 30g pine nuts, toasted
  • Two eggs (one for the filling and the other to use as eggwash)
  • One clove of garlic, mashed to a pulp, or a handful of finely chopped garlic scapes
  • A good grinding of black pepper and nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 200˚C.

Roll the pastry out into two long rectangles, roughly 20cm x 40cm each, about 0.25cm thick.

Mash the drained feta with one of the eggs, then add the garlic, pepper, nutmeg, and pine nuts.

Drain the spinach in a sieve, and press as much of the water out of it as you can. Stir it into the feta mixture. It should be fairly dry, otherwise the pastry will end up soggy and the filling will spill out of the edges.

Spread half the filling down the middle of one of the sheets of pastry. Brush some beaten egg along one of the edges. Roll the sheet of pastry into one long sausage, ending on the side that you brushed with egg. Cut into 12 mini sausage rolls and place them onto a greased baking sheet. Repeat with the rest of the filling and the second sheet of pastry. Brush all of the sausage rolls with beaten egg. Bake for 20-25 minutes until puffed up and golden. Enjoy hot or cold.

Pesto pasta salad

19 May

I’m pretty good at making the effort to make a packed lunch to take to work, usually some salad or home-made soup. But no matter how disciplined you are, there will be some days when you find that (a) you don’t have the time (b) you’ve run out of food at home, or (c) a certain person has taken your lunchbox to work and accidentally left it there. I recently found myself in this position and decided to pop into the shop on the way to work to buy a nice healthy salad. The vegetarian choice wasn’t great that day and I ended up with this:

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It filled a hole, but it was a bit disappointing. It looked really good but tasted bland, didn’t have enough vegetables in it to justify calling it a salad and it was coated in an unhealthy slick some kind of green oil that claimed to be pesto dressing. I was left feeling I could have done a much better job of it myself.

So here is my version: healthier, tastier, cheaper, and not swimming in oil (recipe below).

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Serves 1

  • 75-100g wholewheat pasta (dry weight)
  • A good dollop of vegetarian or vegan pesto (good quality shop bought, or home-made)
  • A handful of something green and leafy, sliced (the shop version used spinach, I used chard, but anything green would be great)
  • A handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 tablespoon pine nuts, toasted

Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet. Drain and leave to cool.

Steam the green veggies, leave to cool.

Combine the pasta, greens and pesto. Top with the tomatoes and pine nuts.

Avocado toast

21 Apr

Vegetarian snack of champions!

Avocado Toast

My favourite snack at the moment is half an avocado mashed on a slice of toast, with a sprinkle of pine nuts. Avocado has a really luxurious taste and texture, but this actually counts as one of your five-a-day. Amazing.

A note on buying avocados: I never ever buy them from a supermarket. They tend to have been refrigerated and that makes them more likely to be horrible and brown inside. They’re much better if you can get them from somewhere that knows what they’re doing with their veg, like a market or greengrocer, plus you’ll be supporting a local independent business too!

Pea pesto, or as I like to call it, pea-sto (sorry).

6 Apr

Basil

It’s early April, flowers are beginning to bloom, leaves are coming out on the trees, the wildlife is getting a little frisky, and the weather is starting to think about getting a bit warmer. Yes, it’s my favourite time of year, and as it gets warmer and lighter in the evening it’s time to ditch the stodgy comfort foods and to eat something fresh and exciting that makes you feel amazing. What could be better than something full of lovely green things?

This has the added advantage of being low in fat, as some of the pine nuts are replaced by peas, and because I don’t like to use too much oil (although you could add more if that floats your boat).

This makes a generous portion for two, best served over pasta and/or some seasonal veg. Maybe some purple sprouting broccoli or early asparagus. You need a small blender, like a mini chopper or smoothie maker. Here’s the recipe.

Put the following in your blender:

One clove of garlic, crushed.

A quarter cup each of:

  • defrosted peas
  • mint leaves
  • basil leaves
  • vegetable stock

2 tablespoons of toasted pine nuts or cashews

1 tablespoon each of the following

  • olive oil
  • lemon juice
  • parmesan, vegetarian parmesan-style cheese or vegan nutritional yeast flakes (or anything else cheesy as you see fit)

A pinch each of salt and pepper

Blend together until just chopped, you don’t want it ultra smooth. Pour over the pasta/veg in the pan it was cooked in, heat through for a couple of minutes and serve. Yum!

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