Tag Archives: chard

Syrian Split Peas with Chard

A couple of years ago I just go so sick of the holidays, not because they are all are inherently shitty holidays, but just the fact that they are the same thing every year. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, Serbian Christmas, and Martin Luther King Day all go down exactly how they always have. Well, New Years changes the location quite a bit but you know what I mean; we are still celebrating the same damn holidays every year. Recently Mr. Smurf found out that he is technically Jewish and I thought it would be nice to start celebrating some of the Jewish holidays. And so I got “Olive Trees and Honey“, a book about Jewish cuisine from all over the world, which I have wanted for a while because it gets really positive reviews.

I have quickly fallen in love with this book. Every recipe is a history lesson about a particular tradition, how Jews came to live in a certain place, how cultures mingled, or even how people started to eat a certain type of food. The recipes are all clearly written and, like my other recent favorite, Viva Vegan, the book has many regional adaptations and variations after the recipe. Sometimes the variations are kind of funny, like if you want to make something Hungarian omit the other spices and add paprika. God, those Hungarians must really love their paprika because this seems to be true of every recipe I have ever read in my life. What the hell is going on over there? As someone of Serbian background I also think it is pretty ridiculous that the author always lumps the former Yugoslavia together as “The Balkans”, not really because it isn’t quite accurate but because a certain TV show that I love right now has a bad guy called “The Balkan” so I can’t help but laugh.

The only other issue that I have with the book is that, I would say, 95 percent of the recipes have eggs in them. Sometimes eggs are easy enough to get around, like if one is used as a binder in a dumpling or if they are in a pasta dough. But, other times eggs are impossible or at least very difficult to substitute for. [If you need help veganizing something with eggs check out this post on My Vegetarian Recipes”.] Someone somewhere said if a recipe calls for more than 3 eggs to not even bother veganizing it and many of the recipes call for 6!  Certainly they are not as simple as subbing for meat or cheese or milk.  But I still love the cookbook and I can easily enough make most of the recipes. So far everything has been fantastic.

I recently tried the Syrian Lentils with Chard, it is a fantastic recipe because it is totally lazy cooking but healthy too and very tasty. Also, I finally got to use my Pomegranate Molasses that I bought at least a year ago and immediately forgot what I bought it for so it has been sitting in the pantry ever since. Luckily it keeps forever so if you have been wondering what to do with yours try the recipe! I also switched it from lentils to split peas and cut wayyyy back on the oil.

Syrian Split Peas with Chard

1 TBSP olive oil
1 onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, chopped

6 cups water
2 1/3 cups split peas
1 lbs chard, shredded
1 bay leaf
1 1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

3/4 cups cilantro
1/4 cup pomegranate molasses

Heat up the oil and toss in the onion and garlic. Once the onion has become translucent add the water, split peas, chard, salt and pepper. Simmer until the peas are tender and the water has mostly evaporated. Add in the cilantro and pomegranate molasses, mix and enjoy!

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Posna Zeljanica Pita – Serbian Vegan Spinach Pie

My mom’s mom, my Baba makes the best cheese pita in the world. This is an undisputed fact, it is known among everyone whoever tried it. If you have ever had burek or gibanica it is like that. The recipe calls for half a dozen eggs, a pound of brick cheese, cream cheese, and a stick of butter. My mom more often would make the spinach version, like spanakopita, when I was a kid called Zeljanica which I preferred, probably because it is fun to say (zel E on it za). It was definitely the first dish that I can recall eating my greens and liking them. It was also one of the first things that I learned to make and when I went away to school I liked to make it for potlucks because it is so delicious and easy to make and the recipe makes more than just a few people *should* eat.

After I went vegan I sadly realized I would never eat it again since there was just too much to substitute. Plus, the eggs make it puff up and I didn’t want a bunch of green muck which happened to me once before when I didn’t have the recipe right. A few weeks ago Chicago Soy Dairy sent me some mozzarella Teese and it eventually got me thinking that now I had the perfect cheese element wrapped up in front of me! I could easily replace the cream cheese with tofutti cream cheese and olive oil replaced the butter (I didn’t want to use melted earth balance but I think it would be great). The only problem was the cottage cheese and egg so I replaced both with big tofu crumbles marinated for a couple of minutes in salt and lemon juice and some pine nuts. I also thought that I would have more texture using Swiss Chard, spinach’s sturdier cousin. Then since it is spring time I added a giant leek.  I really couldn’t believe how well it all turned out, I still can’t. It is just perfect, even better than I had hoped. The teese worked perfect, there is no weird taste and it is decidedly rich. I don’t want to say “you won’t believe it is vegan” but dammit, I have to!  I am also excited because I have my go to potluck dish back!

The Zeljanica also works great as an easter dish, especially if you want to serve it to your Serbian Orthodox friends for American easter since they will still be fasting for another week. You can also sing along with them to this video or enjoy 3 X Love and everyone can have a laugh. You could also serve it for your equinox festival, to celebrate the opening of the first public library (in 1833, in Peterborough, NH), your 4/20 throwdown, Buddha’s birthday or for brunch. It is a dish that will work for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack, appetizer, or feast. Hot or cold, it doesn’t matter.

Zeljanica

1 lbs extra firm tofu
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp lemon juice
10 oz Mozzarella Teese, grated
1 bunch swiss chard, stems removed and leaves torn
8 oz plain toffuti cream cheese
1 large leek, white part cleaned and chopped in skinny half moons
Box of Filo Dough, defrosted*
olive oil or melted earth balance
*the fresher the filo dough the better it will work. If you have a greek store you can usually find it there in the refrigerated section as opposed to the freezer. Otherwise, get the frozen kind and let it completely thaw in the fridge for a day before you use it. Don’t try any other method (trust me) it doesn’t work you have to wait.
Crumble the tofu into a bowl with your hands squeezing the water out as you go. You want pretty big chunks, like tablespoon size. Next, add the salt and lemon juice and mix together and let marinate while you prep the rest of the ingredients. Add the Teese, the chard, the leek and the toffuti to the bowl and mix everything together with your hands until everything is incorporated but not blended.
Next, Preheat the oven to 375 and assemble your workstation. You want everything at hand because once you get the filo out of the packaging it dries quickly. Get a baking sheet out and oil the bottom and put about a third of a cup of oil in a bowl with a pastry brush. Get a towel slightly dampened with no wet spots, you don’t the filo to get wet because it will stick together so make sure that your damp towel is not that damp! Open the filo and unfurl it and place it under the towel.Carefully peel off the first layer of filo. Usually the first layer doesn’t come off well so I end up putting it to the side. Don’t worry about messing it up because you have more dough in the box than you will need and the bottom layers don’t have to be perfect. Lay the first sheet down on the oiled pan, cover the remaining filo back up with the towel and oil the top of the first layer of dough. The oil works like mortar sealing everything together. You can patch pieces together and seal holes with any excess you have moved to the side. When you are done get the next piece out and repeat the process until you have 6 layers down. Then spread the filling out over the dough. Top with pine nuts and then, using the same process add 6 more layers to the top. . You can also use the filo in alternative ways with this filling although this is the easiest. Sometimes I do something decorative on the very top with the leftover filo, just use a lot of oil. I have spelled things out, tried to make flowers, and made a thicker crust around the edge. Or you can top with asparagus pieces and they will roast right on top and then when it is done you can cut it into little squares if you want to be fancy. Once it is assembled you can also refrigerate for a day or two and bake it the day you need it. Another fun thing to do is fold it into triangles and deep fry.

Bake at 375 for about 30 minutes. The edges will be the first thing to burn so keep an eye on them after 20 minutes. After it has cooled you can cut it into pieces to serve cold or you can keep it whole and warm it up back in the oven if you are not serving immediately. Enjoy!


Swiss Chard & Pine Nut Couscous with Sicilian Olives

I have been trying to get my kitchen organized and it is a lot harder than I thought it would be which is making cooking really challenging. When it comes to food I am definitely a horder. I have every bean every grain and practically every spice I have ever heard of. I don’t know how it all started but I have been a horder since I was a little kid, you would think I was raised during the depression or something. For example, olives have always been my favorite food and I usually keep a back up jar but if I don’t have one I keep a lone emergency olive in the jar until I replenish my supply. That’s right folks it is no lie; at any time you can open my refrigerator and you are guaranteed to find at least one olive. And if there is one olive and you eat it…. well let’s just say you won’t make that mistake again.

I also have had an unlabeled bag of an unknown grain since I moved in to the last house. Mr. Smurf was trying to convince me that if I haven’t used it in 5 years I was never going to use and it was time to throw it out. Instead, it came to the new house and now with many more years of cooking experience I immediately identified it as couscous and decided it was time to make magic happen. First, I was going to toast some coriander and make kind of a Greek-style dish but then I couldn’t find the coriander anywhere so the old standbys of garlic and Italian seemed to be the perfect solution.

This dish turned out to be everything I had hoped: fast, easy, healthy and we were able to make gigantic portions and save some for lunch this week. I was going to use mushrooms too but they weren’t any good so if you try this add them in before the chard leaves if you have them around. And if you don’t love olives you might want to try raisins or another dried fruit instead.

Swiss Chard & Pine Nut Couscous with Sicilian Olives

1 medium yellow onion, cut into half moons

1 bunch of Swiss Chard, stalks chopped and separated from the leaves
1 Tablespoon of pine nuts
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/2 cup of sundried tomatoes, rehydrated with water reserved
1 cup (or so) of vegetable stock
2 cups couscous
juice of one lemon
1/4 cup Sicilian marinated olives chopped

Saute the onions in a cast iron skillet for a couple of minutes and then add the chard stems. Once they are all starting to brown shove everything to the side of the pan and toast the pine nuts over the hot spot. Make sure they don’t go from golden to burned, it can happen rather quickly and then move them to the side of the pan. Add the garlic, saute for 30 seconds, mix everything together and then add the chard leaves. Once the chard leaves cook down (like a minute) add the sundried tomatoes and their re-hydrating water, and about a cup of stock depending how much reserved water you have. Add the couscous and mix everything together. You don’t need to have the whole mess under water but you need enough that nothing is going to burn while you reduce the heat, put the lid on, and cook for about 10 minutes. Check on it and stir things up once or twice. Add the olives & lemon juice and enjoy!

Italian Feast, some Broccoli Quiche, and a Swiss Chard Fritatta

I have been cooking up a(heat) storm from Vegan Brunch so I thought I would share the wonder that is this books. First I made the Broccoli Quiche which was surprisingly creamy but somehow the Broccoli flavor wasn’t strong enough for me. I think next time I will saute it for longer with more liquid to bring out the flavor. It could have been a problem with my broccoli too. I love this picture I think it looks like some sort of a broccoli space ship.I also made the Italian Feast Sausages with Spinashed Potatoes and the Jalapeno corn gravy from the Veganomicon. I loved these sausages! It is so nice to have the recipe right there too, so I don’t have to come up with one on my own or look it up on my blog. We used these the next day for some Seitanic Jambalaya and they really elevated the whole dish. And the gravy was kind of magical despite its somewhat off putting yellow color. It uses only corn and cornstarch for thickening so it might be a good choice if you are trying to avoid flour or beans.  Finally the real star of the show, the Swiss Chard Frittata. I don’t know why this was so yummy, I think the only spice was Thyme or Oregano but I just loved it! I also made the lemon pepper roasted potatoes and they were really easy and good. Homemade Iced coffee has become my new staple and I am really excited to have it always on hand, but that is another post!I do wish this book had come out in the winter when I had nothing do all night besides cook, now that it is a hundred degrees outside and about a thousand in my kitchen is getting really hard to cook but I want to make everything from Vegan Brunch. What a conundrum.

The dog days of summer have arrived.