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
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
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.
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.
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!
Buckle up kids, we’re about to go on a journey. Let me set the scene for you. It’s one of those summer days that feels like it’s going to last forever, the golden heat doesn’t make you hiss and recede into the shade but is just enough to warm your skin and make you feel warm and fuzzy inside. It’s one of those days when you’d like to sit back and relax by the pool with your family. Just as the sun starts to fade into the horizon, you retreat to your kitchen and start to think about what will satiate your tastebuds; what you could possibly throw together that will put the cherry on top of this glorious day.
That’s when it hits you: homemade pizza. It requires minimal effort, will make everyone at the table happy and is the perfect excuse to add heaps of mozzarella to a dish! Unfortunately, we’ve all had the cooking mishap where the crust comes out soggy, the toppings aren’t quite done or it just lacks the pizzazz that you were expecting.
Lucky for you, I’ve finally cracked the code to achieving the ultimate homemade pizza every single time. Today, I am sharing the secrets with you! So get your apron and rolling pin ready because we’re about to get into this dough.
This is the vessel that will deliver your toppings to the dinner table. You could just buy any old frozen dough from the supermarket but that’s not how we do things around here. I find that storebought crusts bake much faster than the toppings and are either grossly underdone and soggy or are burnt and inedible. No my friend, if we’re going to do things the right way then we’re going to make our pizza dough from scratch.
‘But isn’t that time consuming?’ you lament. Homemade pizza dough only requires 15 minutes of hands-on time – even less if you have a stand mixer.
I always use my trusty recipe for homemade pizza dough, and it makes enough dough for 2 pizzas, so you can freeze one and defrost it whenever you get the pizza craving. In fact, that’s what I usually do and it is the most convenient thing on this planet. You never know when you’ll feel the irresistible desire to have hot cheese in your belly, but I promise you that the day will come. When it does, you will be overcome with gratitude that you made an extra pizza dough. That doesn’t nearly compare to the disappointment you feel when you thought that you had an extra pizza dough lying around and realise that you used it last week. #oops.
Alas, homemade pizza dough isn’t the only hurdle you need to jump over to attain that perfect golden crust. one must also consider their toppings. If you overload your pizza then you are assured of a soggy crust. If you can’t help it and you need to pile your crust with spinach, avocado, mushrooms, pineapple, caramelised onions, olives, sweetcorn AND chickpeas (adds a nice crunch to pizza I must admit)- then you can alleviate the situation by cooking some of the toppings first. I normally don’t cook spinach before I add it to a pizza but I will briefly saute mushrooms, peppers or onions before adding them to a pizza. Toppings such as broccoli, chickpeas and eggplants would be better off roasted in the oven before going on top of a pizza.
Another strategy that I recently employed is to bake my pizza in a skillet. To see this tactic in action, head over to this recipe. The method is simple: heat a large skillet on the stove until it is sizzling. Dust the hot pan with cornflour and quickly toss the dough onto the hot skillet, making sure not to burn your fingers. Cook the dough for 2 minutes on the stove before adorning with your toppings. That’s simple enough, right?
The Crust- Part Two
There’s more to the crust than you thought. There are several ways to prepare a pizza dough, one doesn’t have to adhere to the standard yeasted dough technique. If you find yourself short of yeast then my homemade pizza dough recipe includes a yeast-less option though I have to tell you that it isn’t nearly as good as the yeasted version. There are other options out there!
For those of you who are gluten free, cauliflower crust is a viable option. It’s easy to prepare, even if you don’t have a blender then you can use a cheese grater to get the cauliflower down to mini-florets. This crust is perfect for those of us who are fans of super-thin crusts, it produces a beautiful thin crust that is golden, crunchy and all for a fraction of the calories! There a couple of drawbacks with the cauliflower crust- it is much easier to yield a soggy crust. To avoid this dilemma, you have to make sure to squeeze all the water out during preparation. You also can’t go topping crazy with this crust because of how thin it is. Overload the crust and the pizza will just fall apart in your hand. You have to exercise restraint with this one. Ready to give it a go? In the photo below, I made this Chickpea Cauliflower Crust Pizza by Tieghan over at Half Baked Harvest. It’s well worth a try!
Other options include a broccoli crust (similar to the cauliflower crust, the only difference is the colour which could potentially offset small children), chickpea crust and quinoa crust all of which I am yet to try. Another option would be to grab a piece of naan bread, spread some of the best pasta sauce on it, sprinkle some cheese and a couple of toppings before baking in the oven. Can we call it a pizza when it is technically a flatbread? Why yes, yes we can.
Pizza is not baked in a 180°C oven. Pizza is not baked in an oven that you turned on 30 seconds before baking it. This is non-negotiable. If you have an open fireplace (lucky you) then you can can prepare yourself an authentic oven roasted pizza. The rest of us peasants will have to settle for preheating our ovens a full 30 minutes before baking the pizza, and setting the oven temperature to the highest setting- for me this is about 225°C/575°F. I know that all you conservative penny-wise readers out there are already whining about the electricity bill, but believe me, you will not yield a golden crust with gooey cheese in a cold oven.
The oven has to turned on in advance to ensure that heat spreads to every corner of the oven, we want it to be at a relatively even temperature. On that note, try and keep your nosy hands from opening the oven several times whilst the pizza is baking. You want to keep the heat locked in for maximum crust crunchiness. The only time that your oven door should be open is to put the pizza in the oven- and that shouldn’t be more than 30 seconds. That is all! If you happen to be the proud owner of a pizza stone, this should be preheated at the same time as the oven. Watch your fingers!
Oh man, pizza is as much about the sauce as it is about the crust. If the crust is the vessel then the sauce is the captain. Sure if the vessel is strong enough then that may be good enough to disguise a bad captain but there’s not much in the way that can save a sauce that’s too acidic, too spicy or just lacklustre in nature. The sauce is what taints the flavour of the toppings. No amount of cheese could remedy this situation. My go-to pizza sauce is also my go-to pasta sauce because everybody loves versatile options! Great sauces include barbecue sauce, any sort of pesto and Bechamel sauce.
Mozzarella will never not be good on pizza. If you’d like to stray from the safe zone then there are other cheeses waiting with open arms! I’ve used ricotta before and combined it with a killer balsamic reduction to give you this delectable pizza. Burrata, provolone and white cheddar are also really good on cheese.
Another thing I’ve grown to love this year is huge puddles of gooey cheese on pizza. Can’t get enough of them. To achieve this, cheese is sliced thinly, rather than grated and is layered on top of the crust before baking. Heaven, I tell you, heaven.
Now that you know all my pizza making tips, go forth into the world and enjoy your pizza! Is there anything I missed? Let me know in the comments! I’m always looking to gather information from different sources and I’d love to hear what you think makes a great homemade pizza! Until next time loves,
It’s taken me way too long to get a falafel recipe right. believe me, I’ve tried almost everything this year from lentils to mushrooms to wild rice. I just could not create a falafel recipe that
a) Didn’t fall apart in my sandwich
b) Wasn’t drier than the Sahara desert
c) Worked every single time
UNTIL this one happened.
Believe me, I’d long given up on the falafel dream, resigning myself to order from the Lebanese lady at the farmer’s market. If you’ve read my vegan carrot cake pancakes post then you’ll know about the abundance of home grown produce in my home. Among these vegetables, we have some leafy green spinach hanging around. To put it to good use, I blindly added it to my food processor with some chickpeas and quinoa. And whoa. And I mean WHOA. These beautiful things came around.
I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that this is all I ate for a week. I could not believe that they were this good and came from my own kitchen. And now, I’m posting the recipe here so that you too can experience heaven in a bite!
Falafels are traditionally eaten in a pita with cucumber and a yogurt sauce. Today we’re keeping it strictly vegan with an avocado sauce that I will also be posting soon. I didn’t have any pitas on hand, but there was some naan dough that I had frozen, so I whipped up a batch of fresh naan and can I just say, BEST LUNCH EVER. So I encourage you today, reader: go forth and make delicious falafel balls!
Baked Spinach Quinoa Falafels makes about 20 falafel
½ cup dry quinoa
2 cups soaked chickpeas, rinsed
½ cup fresh spinach
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground coriander
½ tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp ground black pepper
Start by cooking the quinoa. Add the quinoa to a medium saucepan and cover with a cup of boiling water. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the water has evaporated, about 15 minutes. Remove the cooked quinoa to a bowl and allow to cool.
To a food processor, add the cooked quinoa, chickpeas, spinach and olive oil. Process until combined, about 5 minutes. Remove the vegetable mixture to a large bowl before adding the flour, baking powder, cumin, coriander, cayenne pepper and black pepper. Use a rubber spatula to fold the dry ingredients into the vegetable mixture, stirring carefully to ensure there are no pockets of flour.
Lightly grease a 9×13 inch baking pan or line with parchment paper/aluminium foil. Dampen your hands to make it easier to shape the falafel. Use a tablespoon to portion out the falafel and use your hands to shape into a sphere before adding to the baking pan. Repeat until you’ve used up all the mixture. If the mixture fails to hold together, add flour 2 tbsp at a time until it does. Refrigerate the falafel for 20 minutes whilst you preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F.
Bake the falafel for 15 minutes before gently turning over and baking for another 10 minutes. Serve warm in a pita with cucumber and tomatoes. Enjoy!
When your dessert is made of avocados, you can eat as much as you’d like without feeling guilty #score.
Fair warning though: this dessert is not as sweet as my other vegan cheesecake recipes. If you’re looking for something on the sweeter side, look here for some golden caramel goodness and over here for a sweet passionfruit glaze. Everyone who’s up for a tangy dessert stay with me!
I finally found a use for the Weetbix biscuits that were taking up space in the pantry and that is ——–> the base for these lime cheesecake bars! At the end of last year, we ran a triathlon for women’s cancer and every team that competed won a box of Weetbix biscuits and a Snickers bar (you can guess which one I went for). Unfortunately that means the Weetbix has been at the back of the pantry, feeling lonely and ignored. To be honest with you, I hadn’t thought about it until I ran out of almonds to use for the crust and had to look to alternative methods. Needless to say, it worked out well! You can still go with almonds if you wish, it will still yield a delicious dessert!
Here’s to friends who come over to hand model food for you!
Line a standard loaf pan with parchment paper. Combine the crushed Weetbix biscuits and dates in a food processor and blend until it forms a sticky dough. Press the dough into the bottom of the loaf pan in an even layer. Freeze whilst you prepare the filling.
Rinse out the food processor and proceed to blend together the avocados, cashews, lime juice, syrup and water. If the mixture is too thick to pulse, add more water 2 tbsp at a time until the machine can smoothly process it. Pulse for 2 minutes or until smooth and creamy.
Spread the mixture in an even layer on top of the base. The mixture should be very thick. Freeze for 1 hour or until solid. Store in the fridge, do not freeze after it has set. Let sit at room temperature for 10 minutes before slicing and serving. Drizzle with melted chocolate and enjoy!
I know, I know, it’s the middle of summer, yet, here I am with a cozy winter soup recipe. Something doesn’t add up here. Allow me to elaborate: the past 2 weeks have been plagued by heavy rains and violent thunderstorms. It’s cold and windy and I’ve had to resign myself to staying indoors. That is sort of like winter, right?
Whilst I was messing around in the kitchen, my heart was screaming for me to try soup. And why shouldn’t it? There’s nothing better than a warm hug in a bowl, and that’s exactly what this is all about. This wasn’t my first encounter with soup having posted this Spicy butternut and coconut soup a year ago on the blog. My fridge happened to be overflowing with broccoli at this point so I chose to go down that route. Then my imagination got the better of me and I threw in carrots, garlic, peas and some mint just to keep it interesting. You know how it is with me, always got to take it from 0 to 100.
Minty Peas and Broccoli Soup with Cheese Toasties serves 4
For the soup:
2 tsp olive oil
½ yellow onion, diced
2 gloves garlic, minced
2 cups loosely chopped broccoli, with the stems
1 cup roughly chopped carrots, unskinned
a handful of fresh mint or 1 tsp dried mint
2 cups vegetable stock
½ cup coconut milk + extra for garnish
optional add ins: ½ tsp turmeric, ½ tsp ginger, 1 tsp cayenne pepper
For the cheese toasties:
2 slices bread, sliced diagonally in half
1 cup cheese, I used a mixture of mozzarella and white cheddar
In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil on high and fry the onion until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about a minute. Throw in the broccoli, carrots, mint and vegetable stock. Bring to a boil then season with salt and pepper. Use an immersion blender to puree the vegetables, whilst pouring in the coconut milk. Alternatively, you can add all the contents of the pot to a food processor and pulse until no large chunks of vegetable chunks. Add the coconut milk then pulse again. Taste and season with salt and pepper if required.
Return to the stove and heat on medium until the soup is hot again. If desired, you may serve the soup cold. When serving, drop coconut milk on the surface of the soup and swirl with a toothpick to create a pattern.
To make the cheese toasties: Grate the cheese and distribute it evenly over the sliced bread. Broil/grill the cheese for 7 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbling and is just starting to brown.
Adjusting to a new diet has proven to be quite the challenge, but one of the most enlightening things is being introduced to a whole new section of the grocery store. 2 months ago, I probably would have scoffed at you if you brought chickpeas, lentils or butter beans anywhere near me. Now I embrace these staples as part of my daily regime.
The shocked looks I get when I tell people about my meat-less habits haven’t ceased to amuse me. I’m sure that most people have visions of me sitting on the kitchen floor, crying whilst clutching my bowl of lettuce and carrots. Little do they know that I curl up on the love seat with a hot bowl of curry in my lap, warm naan to my left and cold yogurt to my right. The grass is indeed greener on this side.
This dish starts with a homemade red curry paste that takes 5 minutes to prepare and can be stored in the fridge for all your future curry needs. YES.
What I love about lentils is their insane nutritional points and incredible versatility. These are easily slipped into any curry, wrap or salad. I look forward to exploring all the fun ways to exploit this sneaky little bean but for now, I’ll start with this curry.
Spicy Cashew Coconut Lentil Curry
For the red curry paste:
1 red bell pepper, deseeded and roughly chopped
3 cloves of garlic
2 tbsp, grated ginger
2-6 chillies, I used 3
1 tbsp lemongrass, I used fresh from the garden but you can use pre-packaged
¼ cup fresh cilantro
½ tsp coriander
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp each salt and black pepper
For the curry:
1 tsp cumin seeds
½ yellow onion, sliced thinly
½ red onion, sliced thinly
between 2 and 4 tbsp red curry paste, I used 3
1 14 oz can tinned tomatoes
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup dried brown lentils
2 cups water
½ cup chopped spinach, optional
salt and pepper to taste
rice + naan for serving as well as natural yogurt
cashews, parsley, lemon wedges for garnish
Make the red curry paste
In a blender, combine all the ingredients for the red curry paste and pulse until combined. Add a tablespoon or two of water if it’s not blending well. Keep sealed in a glass jar and refrigerate until use. Will keep for up to 2 months in the fridge but you can freeze individual portions in ice trays if you would rather keep them frozen.
Make the lentil curry:
Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a deep saucepan and toast the cumin seeds for a minute before adding both the yellow and red onion. Fry the onions until translucent then add the red curry paste. Coat the onion in the paste and cook for another 2 minutes before adding the tinned tomatoes and coconut milk. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil before adding the dried lentils and 2 cups of water. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes.
If after 30 minutes the curry is still very watery or is not at your desired consistency, increase heat to high and boil for 5-10 minutes or until it’s thick enough. Before serving, add the spinach to the curry and cook on low for 5 minutes, or until wilted. Serve hot with rice, naan and cashews, dollop natural yogurt on top if the curry is too spicy for you.
Regarding today’s recipe, nothing could be easier. Even calling for takeout. Because that involves scanning the menu, deciding what you want, calling the takeout place, waiting 30 minutes for the delivery- and even then, it might not be as good as you anticipate. In that same space of time, you could have prepared these easy peasy chilli bowls. They are packed with protein, loaded with nutrients and crammed with flavour. They are all kinds of good for you- gluten free, meat free, cruelty free. In case you missed my big announcement, check out this post.
These bowls are absolutely perfect on a cold winter’s eve, as leftover lunch at work the next day or a post-workout meal. You can prepare this in bulk and freeze individual portions to eat over the course of the week. These are incredibly versatile in the sense that they can be served as comfort food whilst still being formal enough to be served at a dinner party. And with the festive season approaching, these would be perfect for any vegetarian guests who might find themselves at your dinner table this Christmas.
30 Minute Vegetarian Chilli Bowlsserves 2-4
1 tbsp olive oil + extra
1 yellow onion, diced
½ red onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup butternut squash/pumpkin, chopped into ½ inch cubes
1 medium baby marrow, chopped into ½ inch cubes
1 medium carrot, diced
1 red pepper, sliced thinly
1 green pepper, sliced thinly
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt
1 tsp paprika (or less if not comfortable with spice)
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp rosemary
½ tsp thyme
½ tsp oregano
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tsp brown sugar
1 14 ounce tin of red kidney beans- any other kind of bean will work e.g butter beans, sugar beans, even a mix of beans is fine
1 14 ounce tin of chopped tomatoes
about ½ cup cheddar for garnish
about ¼ cup mozzarella for garnish
a handful of fresh rosemary for garnish
In a large cast iron pot on high heat, fry the red and yellow onion in the olive oil, until the yellow onion is translucent, about 2 minutes
Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the butternut squash, baby marrow, carrot, green and red pepper to the pot and cook for 10 minutes, or until the squash has softened, stirring occasionally.
Add the black pepper, salt, paprika, coriander, cumin, rosemary, thyme and oregano to the pot. Stir to coat the veggies with spices and cook for about a minute before adding the tomato paste and brown sugar to the pot and cooking for another minute.
Add the red kidney beans and tinned tomatoes to the pot, bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. At this point you can choose to serve immediately, continue to simmer for another hour if you’re not ready to serve, or you can freeze individual portions to serve later. To serve: spoon the desired amount of chilli into a bowl, top with cheddar, mozzarella and rosemary. Can be served with crusty bread and rice.