Spicy Chickpea Veggie Burgers

I’ve been dreaming about the veggie burgers I had in Europe ever since I got back.


Black bean burgers, soy burgers, cauliflower burgers-ugh it’s like a vegan’s playground! Vegetarianism is pretty uncommon in Zimbabwe, so it’s incredibly difficult for me to find something to eat whenever we go out to dinner. So you can imagine my delight at finding that most European food establishments in fact have a separate menu for vegetarians/vegans. Even McDonald’s had a vegan menu. You heard me, MCFREAKINDONALDS STOCKED VEGGIE BIG MACS + VEGGIE MCNUGGETS. Absolute insanity.


On a brighter note, the supermarkets in Zimbabwe have recently started re-stocking vegan frozen foods, i.e. vegan chicken burgers, vegan nuggets and vegan sausages. These are incredible options for veggies who don’t always have the time to prepare their own burgers from scratch (I know I don’t). If you’re not big on the taste of commercially produced frozen food, then hey, this post is for you! Top tip: prepare these burgers in bulk, shape and freeze them to consume at a later date!


These burgers are packed with intense flavour, and are amped up with the addition of toppings. I’m a huge fan of loading burgers with as many toppings as possible, just look at these loaded burgers I made a couple of months ago. For these particular burgers I spread the toasted buns with some honey mustard sauce, topped with burger, followed by sliced tomato and fresh sprouts! Other alternatives include sliced avo, caramelised onions, crispy onions, an extra burger (cheeky) or even some good old tomato sauce. Make sure not to skip out on the sweet potato fries, they are heavenly! Or crack open a cold one with the boys on a warm summer afternoon with these burgers!


Spicy Chickpea Veggie Burgers

Ingredients

  • 1×14 oz tin of canned chickpeas or 2 cups dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
  • ½ red or white onion, diced finely
  • ½ cup cooked quinoa
  • a handful of fresh parsley, chopped finely
  • ¼ cup plain flour (or gluten free flour)
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (or water if you want them oil-free), optional
  • For serving: 4 bread rolls (gluten free if desired), sliced tomato, sliced avocado, fresh sprouts, sweet potato fries

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F. Add the chickpeas to a large bowl. Use a fork to mash them as best you can, it’s okay if some of them are still whole, at least half should be mashed. Throw in the rest of the ingredients, except the olive oil, and use your hands to mix until the ingredients have been evenly distributed.
  2. Shape into 4 patties. If you’re finding the patties difficult to shape or they keep falling apart then add the olive oil (or water) and try again. You should be able to shape them easily after this.
  3. Lightly grease a rimless baking sheet and gently transfer the patties to the pan. Bake for 15 minutes before gently flipping and baking for another 7 minutes. The burgers should be golden brown and crispy on the outside. Enjoy on top of a freshly baked roll topped with tomato, avocado and sprouts!

 

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Simple Couscous Tabbouleh

First new recipe of the new website! Woohoo!


A.k.a. what I’ve been eating everyday for lunch since I got back from Europe last week. It’s THAT good. This recipe has been swimming in the depths of my mind since we visited Rome about 3 weeks ago. There was an authentic Italian all-you-can-eat buffet restaurant about 500m down the road from the hostel we were staying at. So on a sunny Tuesday evening (it was 30°C, full sunshine at 7 pm, can you imagine?!) we paid a visit to this beautiful establishment. For €11 I got to enjoy a refreshing Mimosa, the scenic views of downtown Rome and all the delicious risotto, biscuits, pasta and bean salads as I could eat. How’s that for a bargain?



Believe me, there was a ridiculous number of items on offer. Pasta in tomato sauces, pasta in various pestos, pasta of all different shapes and sizes- I’m surprised I didn’t gain 2 jean sizes from just looking at it. There was one particular salad that had my tastebuds raving. A grain similar to orzo pasta, oodles of fresh herbs, juicy red tomatoes and a dressing to die for. Fast forward to a couple of weeks later, I was browsing recipes from different cultures and BAM, it was there.




Tabbouleh. The same life changing salad I had had in Rome. So of course I made it to relive a great memory. Then I made it again with a couple of tweaks to suit my taste. Then I made it again because I really enjoyed it- and you know what happens after that.


This salad makes the perfect weekday lunch, it will help you stay on track with your fitness goals and it’s also a fabulous addition to your Sunday lunch! Hold on, I think I’ve still got some leftovers in my fridge…..

Simple Couscous Tabbouleh

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dry couscous
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • ½ cup finely diced cucumber
  • ½ red onion, finely diced
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley and fresh mint, finely chopped
  • a handful of dried apricots, chopped finely
  • a handful of chopped pecans
  • a handful of chopped sliced almonds

Method

  1. Add the dry couscous to a small Pyrex baking pan. Cover with 1 cup of boiling water. Add ½ tsp of salt and a drop of olive oil to the couscous. Stir well with a fork to combine. Cover the baking pan with aluminium foil and seal tightly. Let sit at room temperature or in a warm oven for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Make sure you’re happy with the texture- if too wet, leave it in uncovered a warm oven for another 5 minutes, if too dry then add a tablespoon of water and fluff again.
  2. Whilst the couscous is soaking, prepare the dressing. Add the olive oil, lemon juice and garlic to a small jug and allow to sit at room temperature. Taste the dressing to make sure you’re happy with it, if it’s too bitter then you can add a teaspoon of warm honey to improve the flavour, though I usually don’t find this necessary.
  3. Once the couscous is done and you’re happy with the texture, transfer it to a salad bowl or the dish you’re going to serve it in. Top with the tomato, cucumber, onion, fresh herbs, dried apricots, pecans and almonds. Use a salad spinner or 2 forks to toss the tabbouleh and evenly distribute the veggies.
  4. Drizzle in the dressing when you’re ready to serve and briefly toss the tabbouleh again. Serve with hummus or add to your meze platter! Enjoy!

Ultimate Skillet Margarita Pizza

No exaggeration here- this is the ultimate skillet pizza.


I’ve been trying to brush up on my pizza-making skills but those attempts have been anything but successful. Having a killer topping combination means absolutely nothing when the base is soggy and falling apart under it. This is where the skillet pizza comes in- watch all your soggy crust fears disappear with this simple cooking technique.


The crust is cooked on the stovetop for a couple of minutes to form the perfect vessel for the tomato-cheese topping. I started with a simple margarita this week but trust me when I say we are going to build on this- bigger and better and more complex flavour combinations. Let this serve as a guide to show you that effortless flawless homemade pizza is not a myth and truly does exist.


Ultimate Skillet Margarita Pizza

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp flour + 1 tbsp cornflour
  • 1 pound pizza dough, homemade with this recipe or storebought
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ each salt and black pepper
  • 1 and ½ cups of the best pasta sauce or any storebought marinara
  • 150g mozzarella, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp honey + 2 tsp water
  • ½ tsp chilli flakes
  • some fresh basil leaves, torn roughly (optional)

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to the highest temperature it will go to. Mine goes to 250°C/480°F. At the same time, set your skillet on the stove at medium-high heat to allow it to start heating up. You want your skillet to be hot, but not smoking. I used a 9 inch skillet but if you want a thicker crust/deep pan pizza, go with an 8 inch skillet.
  2. Once the skillet is hot, dust the bottom with the flour and cornflour. Stretch or roll the pizza dough into a circle that is roughly the same size as the skillet. Carefully lay the pizza dough in the skillet, being careful not to burn your fingers!
  3. Cook the pizza dough until it starts to form large bubbles, about 3-4 minutes. Switch off the stove before drizzling olive oil over the surface of the dough and seasoning with salt and pepper. Spread the marinara sauce evenly over the surface of the dough. It’s okay if you don’t have as much of a crust as you would like, the tomatoes will caramelise where the sauce is thin and you will end up with something so much better. Layer the cheese evenly over the tomato base before transferring to the oven to bake for 15-20 minutes or until the cheese is deep golden brown, and bubbling.
  4. In a small bowl, combine the honey, water and chilli flakes. Once the pizza has finished baking, switch off the oven. Drizzle the chilli honey over the surface of the pizza and allow to rest in the hot oven for 5 minutes. Top with basil leaves before removing to a cutting board to slice and serve. Enjoy!

Tandoori Spiced Halloumi Skewers with Mint Sauce

Halloumi definitely goes on the list of things that I wish I’d known about earlier.


It just compliments everything I put it next to. Try these Halloumi And Veggie Wraps on for size. Then come back and make this recipe and try and tell me that halloumi is not magical. I have many things planned for this salty cheese in the future but let’s talk about the NOW.


Halloumi has long been criticised for becoming rubbery and unpleasant when cooked. Not that I don’t understand, I’ve experienced this firsthand. Do I have any magical tips for avoiding this? Of course I do, you know me. These are the 3 options most recommended by the Internet. Firstly, you could make your own halloumi. Whilst I’m not against homemade cheese, I don’t have 3 days to wait. The second option, which is more convenient, is to soak your cheese in cold water for up to an hour to get rid of some of the salt. The third option is to eat that cheese as soon as it comes out the pan! Don’t let your food get cold and you don’t have to worry about that rubbery feel. This is by far my favourite option because you don’t need to tell me twice to tuck into my food.


That having been said, this recipe is no frills, no fuss. The instructions are as simple as the cooking time is short. If you’d like to turn up the heat then increase the amount of cayenne. If you’re spice-shy then I’d suggest lathering the halloumi skewers in this simple mint sauce. Enjoy!


Tandoori Spiced Halloumi Skewers with Mint Sauce

Ingredients

For the halloumi:

  • 250g halloumi, sliced into thick rectangular prisms (nerd much??)
  • 6 skewers
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • 3 tbsp olive oil

For the mint sauce: 

  • ¼ cup mint leaves
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 tbsp grated parmesan

Method

To make the mint sauce: combine all the ingredients for the mint sauce in a blender and pulse until combined. Store in a tightly sealed glass jar. Will keep in the fridge for 2 weeks.

To make the halloumi skewers:

Start by carefully skewering the halloumi. Set aside. Combine the spices and olive oil in a small bowl and stir until it forms a thick paste. Coat the halloumi skewers in the tandoori spice paste. Heat a skillet on high heat and brush with some vegetable oil. Grill the skewers for 3 minutes on either side. Serve with the mint sauce and some naan and yogurt to curb the heat!

Roasted Cauliflower BBQ Vegan Pizza

Boy am I mighty excited about this one. 


As you can tell, I’ve been eating a lot of pizza lately, and whilst this is probably not doing any favors for my diet, it’s doing all kinds of things for my tastebuds! Melting caramelised onions, sweet sweet barbecue sauce and a cool avocado dressing that takes it over the edge. I don’t know about you but I’m sold! 


The icing on the cake is that this pizza is 100% vegan! Is it really a pizza without cheese? The answer is YES in all sense of the word. The crust is still as soft as ever, the toppings are ever as delicious and the number of calories is a lot less. 


Roasted Cauliflower BBQ Vegan Pizza
Ingredients

  • 250g cauliflower, chopped into florets
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • ¼ tsp oregano
  • ¼ tsp onion powder
  • ¼ tsp ground cumin
  • 1/8 tsp each salt and black pepper
  • 1 red onion, sliced thinly
  • 1 yellow pepper, sliced thinly
  • 1 pound pizza dough, homemade or storebought

For the barbecue sauce: 

  • ½ cup tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp molasses (or honey if not vegan)
  • ¼ tsp oregano
  • ¼ tsp onion powder
  • ¼ tsp ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper

For the green sauce: (optional) 

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • a handful of chopped parsley
  • a jalapeno pepper, deseeded
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup water

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 200°C/400°F. Line a 9×13 baking pan with parchment paper. In a small bowl, combine the cauliflower, olive oil, oregano, onion powder, cumin, salt and pepper. Toss well to ensure the cauliflower is coated evenly in spice. Lay the cauliflower in an single layer on the baking pan and roast for 20 minutes, or until lightly toasted.
  2. Meanwhile, heat some olive oil in a large saucepan on medium-high. Add the sliced red onion and fry for 2 minutes before reducing the heat to low. Cook until moderately caramelised, about 20 minutes. The onions should be very soft and starting to turn golden on the edges. A good indicator of their doneness should be the taste, if the onion is still too bitter, then return the pan and cook for another 5 minutes or until palatable. Set aside once done.
  3. Whilst the onions are caramelising, prepare the barbecue sauce. Add all the ingredients for the barbecue sauce in a medium saucepan and whisk to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil and reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Once the cauliflower has roasted, toss with the barbecue sauce to coat in sauce.
  4. Increase the heat in your oven to the highest it will go (this is about 250°C for me). Roll/stretch the pizza dough into a circle (or a rectangle if you’re me). Transfer the dough to a pizza stone or a baking pan lined with parchment. Cover the base with the barbecue cauliflower, leaving a border of about ½ inch. Make sure that the sauce completely covers the area within the border. Top with the caramelised onions and the yellow pepper. Bake in the hot oven for 15 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. To really amp up the crust, combine 1 tbsp of maple syrup with 1 tbsp of water and brush the crust with the runny maple syrup when done. Serve immediately with the green sauce if desired. Enjoy!

To make the green sauce:

Add all the ingredients to a food processor and blend until combined. Drizzle over the pizza! Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Spicy Carrot Spinach Cakes with Avocado Dressing

Lets get down to business. 

You’ve heard me talk about the produce in my mother’s vegetable garden? Of course you have, I’ve only been talking about it for the ages. We’ve got spinach, carrots, tomatoes, leeks and onions! For previous posts about these groegiurs veggies, check out these Carrot Cake Pancakes and these Spinach Falafel. For today, we’re going to talk about how I used the spinach and carrots to prepare your next greatest lunch project.


I’m on a roll right now as far as meatballs and patties are concerned. Falafels, burgers, meatballs, I’m really taking advantage of all the vegan foods. Now it’s no fun to just throw a couple of vegetables in a food processor, pulse and throw it in the oven. No my friends, we have to make it interesting! That’s where the various spices I’ve thrown in here come in. Added bonus: they really bolster the nutritional value of this dish. Trust me when I tell you that you need to get into adding spices to your food. Take for example this Golden Spiced Pineapple Cooler I made a couple of weeks ago. It’s delicious, insanely healthy for you and has a gorgeous colour! So before you start to think twice about the number of spices involved in this dish, remember how every little ingredient contributes to the goodness of these cakes. 


These carrot cakes are delicious tucked into a pita or between 2 pieces of naan with a side of roasted vegetables. The avocado sauce is a must and helps take some of the heat off if you find that they’re too spicy for you. Make these in bulk and freeze just before baking so that you can defrost and cook as you need them! Enjoy! 


Spicy Carrot Spinach Cakes with Avocado Dressing

Ingredients

For the carrot spinach cakes:

  • 1 cup dried red or brown lentils
  • 4 medium carrots, grated
  • 1 cup rolled oats, divided in half
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 3 tbsp fresh lemon juice 
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda 
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper 
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup roughly chopped spinach 

For the avocado dressing:

  • 1 whole avocado, roughly mashed
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes 
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lime juice 
  • A handful of fresh parsley
  • A handful of sliced almonds 

Method 

Start with the carrot spinach cakes: 

  1. Add the lentils to a medium saucepan and cover with 2 cups of boiling water. Cook on medium heat for 12-15 minutes or until they have soaked up all the water and are soft. Remove and allow the cool. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the carrots, cooked lentils, 1/2 cup of the rolled oats, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil. Pulse a couple of times until the ingredients are well combined and you have a thick batter. 
  2. Remove the batter to a large bowl. Add the other half cup of oats, bicarbonate of soda, cumin, coriander, cayenne, black pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg and spinach. Use a large wooden spoon to blend all the ingredients together, making sure that there are no pockets of dry spice. 
  3. Line a 9×13 inch pan with parchment paper/aluminium foil and preheat your oven to 180C/350F. Grab a heaping tablespoon of the carrot spinach mixture and shape into a patty with your hands. It’s much easier if your hands are damp. Add each patty to the baking sheet as you form them, making sure to leave some space in between them. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until slightly golden brown. Serve hot with the avocado dressing, some naan and extra roasted veggies. Enjoy!

To make the avocado dressing:

Add all the ingredients to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until combined. Keep leftovers tightly sealed in the fridge for up to 10 days. 

Cosy One Pot Spinach Pesto Pasta Bake

Yes I know, this one is a mouthful.

But hear me out about this one: it will be one of the most, if not the most delicious dinner you will have this year. And for the amount of effort that goes into it, it’s almost unbelievable how delectable it is.  


Everything gets thrown in one pot and left to simmer and in 30 minutes you have a winning dinner. This was my first attempt at homemade vegan cheese, and it could not have gone better. I’ve linked the recipe that I used below, I really think that it’s worth the effort! It’s simple, cashews are soaked overnight and then blended with nutritional yeast, garlic and fresh herbs. The texture is similar to that of a cream cheese dip, and the flavour is simply outstanding. 


I paired this with a sweet white wine; one of the perks about vegetarianism is not having to rely on the meat dish for the choice of wine. I’m sure there are several other nuances that go into this decision such as the amount of spice in the dish and the richness of the sauce but I’m going to go with what feels good. Sometimes food doesn’t have to have restrictions, its all about what makes your tummy happy. This dish definitely makes my tummy happy!



Cosy One Pot Spinach Pesto Pasta Bake

Ingredients

  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 250g mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 medium carrots, roughly chopped
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1×14 oz can of tinned tomatoes
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 400g farfalle pasta, uncooked (you can substitute any other short pasta like tortellini, rigatoni, macaroni or fusilli)
  • ¼ cup spinach pesto, homemade or storebought
  • ¼ cup vegan ricotta (this is a good recipe)
  • Optional for serving: fresh basil, 2 tbsp nutritional yeast, glass of white wine, crusty bread

Method

  1. Heat some olive oil in a large, deep saucepan. Fry the onions and mushrooms until the onions are soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and carrots and cook until the garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the tomato paste, tinned tomatoes and vegetable stock to the pot. Stir to combine, making sure the tomato paste has dissolved, and bring the mixture to a boil.
  2. Add the pasta to the pot and stir well to ensure that the pasta is submerged in liquid. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the pasta is cooked al dente. Stir the pot occasionally, if the pasta is not yet done and the sauce is close to burning then pour in ½ cup of vegetable stock or water. When the pasta is done, the sauce should be very thick.
  3. Drop tablespoons of spinach pesto and ricotta over the top of the pasta bake. Cover the pot and cook for another 5 minutes. Serve hot with some nutritional yeast and fresh basil. Leftovers will keep well if tightly sealed in the fridge for up to 4 days.