Stuffed Zucchini with Quinoa and Mushrooms

Zucchini Stuffed with Quinoa and Mushrooms in Tomato SauceOn the Balkans they LOVE stuffed veggies – from eggplants , tomatoes and onions, to vine leaves in the summer and fermented cabbage leaves in the winter.

Although there are some variations in the different parts of the region, the basic idea is the same – if you can carve it or roll it and put something in it – just do it. And it’s delicious every time – each veggie gives it’s distinctive flavour to the rice based filling and the filling itself can vary according to the product availability for the season. Such a richness in taste and substance!

For this vegan culinary endeavor to the Balkans, I have created a zucchini in basil tomato sauce recipe and replaced the traditional rice with quinoa, to make the meal gluten-free.

What you need for 2 people is:

2 large zucchini, they should be about 5 cm (2 inch) in diameter at the widest part

200 grams of white mushrooms, cut into slices

150 grams of quinoa (I have used red quinoa here, but white will be fine as well)

300 ml water

3-4 pieces of spring onions, chopped

2-3 cloves of garlic, chopped

a pinch of black pepper, paprika, cumin seeds and turmeric

olive oil

For the basil tomato sauce

4 average tomatoes, peeled. If there aren’t any nice ones available, tomato passata is fine, just make sure it’s made of tomatoes, not corn flour

2-3 cloves of garlic, crushed

a handful of fresh basil leaves + some for decoration

ground black pepper to taste

olive oilThe Ingredients Before

Cut the zucchini into 5-7 cm (2-3 inches) cylinders. Use a teaspoon to carve them and make them like little cups and put aside for now. The sides should be 2-3 mm thick, but try not to crack them. I’ll call these”the zucchini cups”.

Put some olive oil (or other vegetable oil that you prefer) into a frying pan to heat it. Add the black pepper, the paprika, the turmeric and the cumin seeds into the cold oil and wait until tiny bubbles start to appear – now it is hot enough and the spices have released their magical flavours.

Add the mushrooms and mix well. Once they start to soften, in about 4-5 minutes, put the garlic and the spring onions in, cook for another minute and then add the quinoa. Mix well and pour the water in. Cover it and lower the heat – cook for approximately 20 minutes until the quinoa is tender.

In the meantime, you can prepare the basil tomato sauce – put all the ingredients into a large bowl and make it into a puree with a food processor.  And that’s it.

Once your quinoa is ready, use the teaspoon to fill the zucchini, try to stuff them tightly. Put the zucchini cups in a baking tray and pour the basil tomato sauce around. Cover with aluminium foil and bake in a preheated oven (180 C/360 F) for 30 minutes.

Serve decorated with some basil leaves. Bon Appetit!

Vegan Is Good!

Minty Skewers with Tahini Sauce

One word: simplicity.

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What you need for 2:

300 g cherry tomatoes

1 average zucchini

1 eggplant

1 onion

300 g mushrooms

3 tbsp sesame tahini

1 lemon

a handful of fresh mint leaves

4 tbsp olive oil

3-4 cloves garlic

black pepper

skewer sticks

Mix the tahini, the olive oil, the lemon juice, the black pepper, the minced mint and garlic  in a bowl and put aside. In a larger bowl put the chopped zucchini, eggplant, onions and mushrooms. Try to cut them into cubes similar in size. Make a small incision on the side of the cherry tomatoes and add them in the bowl. Pour on the veggies 2/3 of the tahini sauce, mix well and put in the fridge for at least one hour. Keep the remaining tahini sauce aside.

Just before grilling take out the veggies and put them on the skewer sticks. Discard the remaining liquid. Put the skewers on a hot grill and cook until the zucchini and the eggplants are tender – the rest cooks faster.

Put them on a plate, pour the remaining tahini sauce on top and serve.

Bon appetit and Vegan Is Good!

Easy Sambhar with Red Lentils

Indian food provides a diversity of vegan meals, filled with good proteins and yummi veges. And are suitable for improvisation. The truth is all you need is some Indian spices and your imagination. So, here I am, making my favourite walk along the vegetable-abundant nearby farmer’s market, thinking: ” How about trying something with that Sambhar masala my friend brought from India? Oh, let’s get those eggplants, and carrots. And yes, definitely some string beans and radish…” In the end I found myself with more luggage that I could possibly carry home on my own, but the result was worth it and spicy.

Here’s how it goes – just make sure you’ve prepared all the ingredients in advance, as it cooks quite quickly once started:

What you need for 2-3 hungry people (40 minutes):

1 tea cup of red lentils

1 large eggplant cut into long slices

1 average carrot, diced

300 g of pumpkin, peeled and cut into large cubes

1 average white radish, dices

1 onion, minced

some garlic, minced

2 red chilis

2 tbsp of sambhar masala

2 teacups of water

3 tbsp vegetable oil

Heat the oil in a large pan with cover. Add the Sambhar masala and let the oil absorb its divine taste for 30 seconds.

Put in the garlic and the onions and mix. now add the carrot, the radish, the pumpkin, mix well, cover and let it cook for 3-4 minutes.

Next – add the chilis, the aubergine slices, and again – mix and cover for another 2 minutes.

Then add the lentils and the water, lower the heat. Let it simmer for 15-20 minutes until the lentils are soft and the liquid is almost absorbed.

Serve with flat bread or rice.

Sambhar with Read lentilsVegan is Good!

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