Good Old Beans Soup

Traditional cuisine is often vegan. All over the Balkans beans soup is considered local meal, there may have even been a few fights over this claim. The ingredients may vary but the core is the same – last year’s beans call feed the whole family all through the cold winter with precious protein.

My personal touch to this classical recipe are the spring onions and garlic which add a pinch of fresh, sunny mood.

What you’ll need to feed well 2-3 people is:

300 g beans

2 small carrots, grated

1 average onion

1 large red pepper

100g canned, peeled and diced tomatoes

2 pcs of spring onion, chopped

2 pcs of spring garlic, chopped

3-4 pinches of dried mint

2 pinches of savory

2 pinches of cumin

2-3 tbsp vegetable oil

1 teaspoon flour

grounded black pepper and paprika

Soak the beans the night before in cold water. On the next day rince them and bring to boiling. Throw away the first water, add another 2.5l and boil for 45 minutes in a pressure cooker. Take off the stove and put aside.

Heat the vegetable oil in a pan with the cumin, the back pepper and the paprika and add the onions. Let them fry for 1-2 minutes and add the carrot. Sprinkle the flour on top and mix well. Add the tomatoes and let it cook for another 2 minutes.

Pour the content of the pan in the boiled beans and the remaining water. Now add the spring onions and the garlic, the pepper as it is, just make a small  incision in the middle, the savory and 1/3 of the mint.

Bring to boiling and then lower the heat. Let it cook for 10-15 minutes, just stir occasionally.

Sprinkle the rest of the mint just before serving, so that it releases its heavenly scent.

Vegan is Good!

Vegan Pie with Winter Veggies (aka Jah Pie)

Now let me make this clear – this is a strictly vegetable pie and there are no “funny” ingredients in this recipe, I promise. Read along:

What you need for two-three is:

For the homemade phyllo dough (if you don’t feel confident enough to try kneading this on you own you can always get some from the shop):

400 g of all purpose flour

4 tbsp vegetable oil

pinch of salt

2 pinches of thyme

1 teacup warm water

a rolling pin and a pastry brush (these two can be replaced by a clean bottle of wine and your palms)

The veggies:

300 g potatoes 

one average beetroot 

250 g spinach leaves 

1 tbsp dried thyme

grounded black pepper

Let’s start with the dough…

…because there’s a secret I’ve learned from my granny and it is that when left to rest for 20 minutes, the phyllo dough becomes more supple and easier to knead and flatten. Grannies are always right when it comes to pastry, at least where I come from.

Put the flour in a bowl, form a small well in middle. Pour in the oil, the salt and the thyme and mix with a fork until absorbed. Then start slowly adding the water and continue mixing. When it becomes too difficult, start using your hands.

Continue kneading it for several minutes. The dough should be soft but not too sticky. Cover the bowl with a clean towel and leave aside.

Now the veggies.

Wash all the veggies, chop the spinach, put it in a pot bring to boiling and cook for 5-6 minutes. Then pour out the water and let it drain.

Peel the potatoes and the beet, and grape them in separate recipients. Put all aside. There will be some liquid coming out of the veggies – just remove it.

Flattening the dough – separate it in two parts (volume 2:1), the larger part will be used as a bed for the pie, the smaller as a cover.

Sprinkle some flour on a clean surface and use first your palms to form a disc of the larger part of the dough, then the rolling pin to get a nice circular form. It should get 1/4 larger that the bottom of the pan you’ll be baking the pie in. As for the thickness – you should be able to see the light through, but be careful  not to tear it.

Do the same to the smaller part of the dough as well and put aside.

Use the pastry bush to cover the bottom of the same pan with some vegetable oil and put in carefully the flattened dough.

It’s time to add the veggies! You can certainly use your imagination to arrange the filling as you wish. I decided to put it in three layers – green/yellow/pink so it would look like the Ethiopian flag and this where Jah comes from. 🙂

Now here’s my way:

Put in the beet, distribute it evenly and sprinkle with the pepper and the thyme.


 

 

 

 

 

Put in the potatoes and do the same, finish with the spinach and cover with the remaining flattened dough.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bend the bits of dough towards the inside and use the pastry brush to smear the surface with a thin layer of oil.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bake in a preheated oven for 20 minutes. Take the pie out, sprinkle some water on it and cover with a clean towel. Leave it this way until it’s cold.

Use a sharp knife to cut it in a shape you like.
Vegan is Good!

Easy Lentil Hummus

Not having any chickpeas in the cupboard and feeling too lazy to go to the market, and get some, I decided to finally use the large amounts of lentils that were just standing there.

The lentil hummus is prepared in pretty much the same way as the traditional hummus, except for that it is faster and easier. And is surprisingly tasty.

Now here’s what you’ll need (for two very hungry people):   

1 small cup of lentils

2 tbsp tahini

3 tbsp olive oil

3 grains allspice (crushed)

1/2 teaspoon of both cumin and paprika

4-5 cloves of garlic

Boil the lentils in 3 cups of water for 20 minutes.

Put them in the food processor, add the garlic, the tahini, the spices and the olive oil and process until it’s all homogeneous. Just have in mind that lentils can’t get as smooth as chickpeas.

Put in a large bowl and consume with some pita bread.

That’s it.

Vegan is Good!

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