Baba Ganoush with Pomegranate

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When we lived in Cairo, Baba Ganoush was definitely my favourite Egyptian dish. I never could take to the Fuul Medames though. I love the silky, smoothness of this dip and the sweetness and crunchiness that the pomegranates add. Pomegranates have just started coming into the shops in Berlin now that the summer is over and the aubergines available at the moment are huge, so this is dish is very in season. Pomegranates are so good for you. I intend to use them as much as possible in the coming weeks and months.

Makes a small bowlful
Total preparation time 10 minutes
Cooking time 30 minutes

Ingredients
A very large aubergine
A tablespoon of olive oil
A teaspoon of tahini
A quarter clove of garlic
A teaspoon of lemon juice
A few leaves of fresh coriander
Two teaspoons of pomegranate juice and seeds
Salt and pepper to taste

Cut the aubergine in half lengthways and place on a baking tray. Dry roast in the oven for 30 minutes or until the flesh is very soft inside. Leave to cool then remove the skin and discard. Place the flesh of the aubergine and all the other ingredients, except the pomegranate into a blender and blend until smooth. Adjust the seasoning and then spoon into a small bowl. Garnish with fresh coriander, olive oil and the pomegranate.

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Homemade Baked Beans on Toast with Juicy Mushrooms

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Us Brits love our baked beans. I have not made these for about 8 years and I was surprised how delicious they were. I was lucky to have a jar of molasses in the cupboard from my vegan Christmas pudding. It gives a great flavour but toucan use honey, of you eat it, or syrup or brown sugar. I made the beans the night before and when I got home from work I only had to heat and eat. It helps if you use a good fresh, crusty loaf for the toast. Leave the mushrooms whole if you want them really juicy and buy the biggest ones you can find.

I used dried, haricot beans but you can use any tinned, white beans too.
Serves 2
Preparation time 10 minutes
Cooking time 1 hour if you use precooked beans

Ingredients
A 250g tin of white beans or 150g of dried beans precooked and cooked till soft
2 medium tomatoes
A tablespoon of tomato purée
A tablespoon of molasses
A clove of garlic
Two teaspoons of oregano
A medium onion finely chopped
A teaspoon of grain mustard
Half a teaspoon of nutmeg
Olive oil for frying
4 thick slices of seeded bread
Vegan spread
10 medium mushrooms left whole
Salt and pepper

Heat the oil and add the onions. Fry until soft. Blitz the garlic and tomatoes in a blender until liquid. Add the tomato mixture, beans and all of the other ingredients to the onions. Bring to the boil and simmer for about and hour until rich and thick. Season to taste.

In the meantime, heat more oil in a large frying pan and add the mushrooms. Turn the best down and put a lid on the pan. Cook for about five minutes until the mushrooms are soft and juicy. Season to taste.

Toast the bread and spread with vegan spread. Spoon the beans on the toast and serve with the mushrooms.

Roasted Butternut Squash Samosas with a Peanut Sambal

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I love freshly cooked samosas. The best veggie samosas I have ever eaten were in a petrol station in Mombasa, Kenya. An unlikely location for great food but that is often the case. Samosas need to be crispy but not fatty and have plenty of filling inside. I cook these in the oven rather than deep frying. I had some roasted butternut squash left over from the couscous salad recipe and decided to use that. It worked really well. Proper samosa pastry is thick and lovely but ehere I use shop bought filo pastry which is easier and lighter. It does take a while to make these but you get much quicke after the first one.

The sambal can be served with curries as well as used as a chutney with cold food.

Makes 6 samosas
Preparation time 30 minutes
Cooking time 20 minutes

Ingredients
For the samosas
A small butternut squash roasted with seeds and skin removed
Half a large onion cut into fine slices
A clove of garlic, a thumbnail size piece of fresh ginger and a small chilli blitzed into a paste or finely chopped
Half a teaspoon of mustard seeds and half a teapsoon of cumin seeds
Oil for frying
12 triangular sheets of filo pastry
Salt and pepper to taste

For the sambal
2 handfuls of roasted peanuts
A handful of fresh coriander
6 cherry tomatoes
1 chilli
A teaspoon of lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the seeds. Allow to toast a little then add the onions and garlic, chilli, ginger paste. Cook until the onions are soft and starting to caramelise. In the meantime, mash the butternut squash in a large bowl and add the onion mixture when it is ready. Stir together well and season to taste.

You now need to construct the samosas by following the pictures. Use the pastry two sheets thick and keep the pastry moist by covering with a damp tea towel. Moisten the edges with water at each stage so they stick together well. Once this is done brush them all over with oil and place in an oiled baking tray. Cook at 170 degrees celsius for 20 minutes. Turn half way through so they are brown on each side.

While the samosas are cooking, make the sambal by combining all of the ingredients in a food processor and blitzing until it is smooth. Season to taste.

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Luca’s Green Pea and Avocado Guacamole

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This recipe is for baby Luca. I hope he likes it. I spent a bit of time looking into what babies eat and I think this is safe. It is very fashionable now to make baby food from fresh ingredients and I think that is a great thing, giving babies a wonderful start in life and hopefully helping to minimise the chance of developing a taste for sugary and salty food.

I started making pea guacamole as my husband, Dave, cannot eat avocado. As Dave is away at the moment I am able to make it with avocado but adding sweet, baby peas makes it even fresher tasting. As this is for a baby, I have left out the chilli but you could add fresh or dried chilli to your taste.

I ate this on toast for breakfast and as a side dish to the pea and leek risotto I made earlier in the week.

Serves 2-3 people
Total time 10 minutes

Ingredients
Half a large, ripe avocado
150g of frozen baby peas defrosted
A tablespoon of olive oil
Quarter of a clove of garlic
A medium spring onion roughly chopped
A few leaves of chopped, fresh herbs – coriander, parsley or basil would work
Half a medium tomato roughly chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Place all of the ingredients in a blender and blend to a smooth paste. You will need to shake the blender quite a bit and you can add a tiny bit of water if needed.

Avocado and Tahina Breakfast Toasts

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This week I am trying to focus on quick, easy recipes that anyone can make and enjoy in 10-15 minutes as I am back at work and still eating alone. Vegans get hungry easily and a good breakfast is essential. I often eat hummus or avocado on toast in the morning. I got the idea of avocado on toast as a breakfast dish in Chiang Mai, Thailand where there are some great veggie cafés. Served with a banana and coconut smoothie it provided a great start to the day.

I have used tahina for extra flavour and protein here but pesto also works well as a layer under the avocado. It is also delicious topped with slices of tomato or sprinkled with sesame seeds or linseeds or indeed chopped walnuts.

Serves 1
Total preparation time 5-7 minutes

Ingredients
2 slices of rye or wholewheat toast
Half an avocado
A squeeze of lemon juice
4 teaspoons of tahina
Chopped fresh basil to garnish
Salt and pepper to taste

Spread the toast with the tahina. Mash the avocado with a fork and add the lemon juice and season. Spread onto the toast. Garnish with basil leaves.

Roasted Pumpkin and Avocado Hummus

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I had half a roasted pumpkin left over from the Roasted Pumpkin and Walnut Salad. I also had an avocado that needed eating up. They are both quite rich foods so I was not sure about combining them. I was wowed by the results. The dip is rich and creamy but light and sweet too.

I blend the pumpkin with the skin left on but you can remove it if you prefer.

Makes a medium sized bowl
10 minutes total time not including roasting the pumpkin

Ingredients
Half a large baby pumpkin, roasted with the skin on and left to cool
A whole avocado
A tablespoon of tahini
A quarter clove garlic
A tablespoon of olive oil
2 teaspoons lemon juice
A little water
Salt and pepper to taste

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Add a little water if necessary to get things moving. Serve with a sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds and paprika to red chilli powder.

Caramelised Onion and Red Pesto Quiche

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This is the first vegan quiche I have made. I never make pastry if I can help it so I bought a mix from the organic supermarket. By adding olive oil, instead of margarine, it can be made vegan. Some frozen pastry is vegan, check out the ingredients on the label. A friend told me that Waitrose stores will provide a list of all of its products suitable for vegans. If all else fails then you will need to make vegan pastry from scratch.

In Berlin we can get all kinds of tofu. I used pesto rosso tofu but if you cannot get this then use plain tofu and add a dessert spoonful of vegan red pesto. I used melting caramelised onions for this quiche but you could use asparagus, broccoli, mushrooms, peppers or spinach. All of these would need to be precooked, except asparagus.

Ingredients
Enough vegan pastry to line quiche dish
A packet of pesto rosso tofu
250 ml of soya cream or rice cream
1 large onion finely sliced
A clove of garlic
Olive oil for frying
Salt and pepper to taste
Tomato slices for decoration

Blend the cream and tofu in a blender to a thick paste. Season to taste. Fry the onions and garlic gently in a heavy pan which will retain the heat but not burn the onions. Fry until they are soft and melting.

Grease the quiche dish and line with the pastry then spoon in the onions and spread them across the base. Add the tofu and cream mixture and spread evenly.

Preheat the onion to 180 degrees centigrade and cook the quiche for about 25 minutes until the pastry is golden and the filling has risen a little and has firmed up.