We are obsessed with salsas! Scooping up salsa with tortilla crisps has got to be one of the best ways to get kids to eat a load of fresh, raw veggies too. Putting out a big bowl of salsa and tortillas while the BBQ is getting going keeps everyone happy. And of course, salsa is a key ingredient in a taco. There are countless variations, enjoy playing around and finding a fun combination that you love. The version below is a super simple one which I know my whole family will love, but I also love adding fruit like diced pineapple, cherries, mango or peaches and adding finely sliced fresh chillies or a spoon of smokey chipotle chilli paste. Grilled corn and diced avocado are also stunning additions. Share your favourite combination with us in the comments?
Ingredients (makes enough for a whole large bag of tortilla chips)
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 lime – juiced
1 clove of garlic – crushed
a pinch of salt
1 red pepper – diced
1/3rd of a large cucumber – diced
1/2 a punnet of honey drop cherry tomatoes – diced
Fermented onions are pickled onions funky cousin. They are much easier to make than the traditional pickled onion and taste amazing. And as an added bonus, like all fermented vegetables, they are incredibly good for you! I use these beautiful, tangy onions on loads of dishes, from dals to tacos. How will you use yours? Liz x
onions (a mix of red and white or just one or the other)
optional herbs/spices (eg bay leaf, peppercorns, coriander and mustard seeds, juniper berries, thyme, rosemary, chilli… anything you like)
a cabbage leaf (or something similar)
Gather your ingredients and a clean jar, knife, measuring jug, measuring spoons and chopping board. There is no need to sterilise, but do make sure everything you are working with is nice and clean and well rinsed.
Make a basic brine in your measuring jug and put it aside to fully dissolve while you prepare the jar of vegetables. ***The basic brine recipe is 1.5 tbsp salt dissolved in 1 litre of water.*** If you are making just a small jar then halve or quarter the recipe.
Add a pinch of whatever pickling spices or herbs you’d like to flavour your pickled onions with to the jar.
Then peel and slice your onions and add them to the jar. Red onions, or a mix of red and white, will give you beautiful, bright pink fermented onions. Plain white are delicious too of course. Leave about an inch of head room in the jar.
Then pour the brine into the jar ensuring you cover the onions when they are pressed down, but still leave a little head space in the jar.
Pin the chopped onions down under the brine with the cabbage leaf. You may need to break it to size. Try and tuck it neatly under the shoulders of the jar so that everything is safely tucked under brine. Any floating bits of onion will be exposed to air and are at risk of going mouldy so tuck them under the cabbage leaf ‘follower’.
Add a weight on top of the cabbage leaf if it looks like it will float up over the brine. This needs to be something that is not corrosive when in contact with salt and water. Glass is ideal in this situation so a smaller jar or a glass ramekin is perfect. Otherwise you can buy specialist glass weights for this purpose.
Place the lid loosely on the jar to allow gases to escape during fermentation. If your lid does not fit over the weight, then cover the jar with a tea towel and secure it with string/elastic.
Put the jar in a bowl or on a tray on a shelf for one week to ferment at room temperature. It’s best not in direct sunlight as that would cause too many fluctuations in temperature.
Taste the onions after 1 week. They should taste vinegary and delicious, a lot like pickled onions. If you are happy with the flavour, remove the weight and follower and keep the jar in the fridge. Otherwise let it carry on fermenting at room temperature until you are happy with the flavour.
The onions should last for a long time in the fridge, at least a month but usually much much longer. Just keep an eye on them and no double dipping! Enjoy!
Shakshuka is a stunning dish of eggs coddled in a spicy tomato and pepper sauce. It originated in Tunisia and is extremely popular in the Middle East, in fact it’s considered a national dish of Israel. It’s served with strained natural yoghurt and you eat it by scooping it up with torn pieces of bread. It’s so delicious, the sharp, tangy, spicy sauce is perfectly offset by the rich, creamy egg and yoghurt and since going plant based, it’s a brunch option I have really missed.
So I made a vegan version of it this morning. I replaced the savoury, creamy, rich eggs and yoghurt with a cashew sauce and oh my, it works! Same satisfying scoopability, same rich-meets-sharp, soothing-meets-spicy deliciousness. It’s simple to make too! You just need a blender for the cashew cream and a frying pan for the sauce.
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An image from my cookbook, Cook Draw Feed (available to add to your cart here)
A classic vegan stalwart, the falafel, but this time with a festive twist. It’s perfect for Christmas sandwiches with some hummus, ruby red sauerkraut and peppery green leaves, or as part of a festive buffet. Middle Eastern food lends itself very well to festive flavours with its liberal use of sweet and warming spices. Or maybe it’s because baby Jesus hailed from that part of the world? Well, whatever the reason, I find myself craving lots of tangines, tabbouleh, hummus, harissa, falafels, baklava, pomegranates etc this time of year.
My festive falafel would make a nice little Christmas starter served on some leaves with a dip (a smokey baba ganoush or a spicy harissa perhaps), a sprinkle (some crunchy hazelnut dukka or a zingy z’atar) and some juicy red pomegranate seeds.
My kids also love a falafel as a burger. Just make them into burger sized patties and serve them in a bun with whatever toppings you like and with a side of potato wedges. Here I’ve served it as a lovely lunch with toasted pitta breads, salad, babaganoush, z’atar and sauerkraut.
Enjoy! Liz x
Ingredients (makes around 15 – 20 falafels)
1 can of chickpeas – drained (reserve the aquafaba to make this cake?)
180g cooked, peeled chestnuts (carefully pierce each nut and roast or boil until soft, then cool and peel)
Pulse all the ingredients except the gram flour and sunflower oil together in a food processor until combined into a rough paste then taste for seasoning. Add more salt, pepper or spices if needed.
Stir through enough gram flour to make a manageable dough. Be careful not to make the dough too dry though.
Then heat up a heavy bottomed frying pan with a generous slick of sunflower oil.
Form the dough into little balls – I find the easiest way to do this is to use two dessert spoons – and drop them into the pan of hot oil.
Turn the heat down to medium-high and once the falafels are cooked on the bottom, flip them over with a spatular and squish them down into little discs. Cook them on the other side until golden brown. You may wish to flip them once more to cook the first side a little longer.
Repeat until all the dough is used up and keep the falafels warm. Then serve with salad, dips and breads to your liking.
I often have an aubergine in my weekly large veg box from the farm so I made a baba ganoush this time. It’s very easy. Simply roast the aubergine in a very hot oven until it’s beautifully charred, smokey and silky soft all the way through. Then once it’s cool enough to handle, remove the skin and pop the flesh in a food processor with a small clove of garlic, a tbsp of tahini, a tbsp or two of lemon juice, a big pinch of salt, a small pinch each of smoked paprika and ground cumin and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Then blend until smooth, taste for seasoning and adjust as needed.
Z’atar is a stunning Middle Eastern sprinkle, so perfect with falafel and dips. I make my own very simply with an even blend of toasted sesame seeds, dried thyme and sumac. The combination of toasty sesame seeds, herby thyme and zingy sumac is so delicious. It’s well worth hunting down some sumac and making some yourself.
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This soup is very simple, but delicately sophisticated. I would say it’s even good enough for the festive table! Parsnips and pears are a match made in heaven and I think you’ll agree that my hazelnut dukka really makes the dish sing. The spiced, toasty crunch of dukka offsets the sweetness of the parsnips and pears, and a little drizzle of peppery extra virgin oil rounds off the bowl.
In a pot, gently soften the leeks, parsnip and pear with the olive oil, butter and a pinch of salt. Once the vegetables start to soften and wilt down, just cover them with water and simmer until the parsnips are cooked through. Then blend the soup until very smooth with a handheld stick blender (or let it cool down and blend in a food processor). Taste for seasoning and add more salt and a fragrant pinch of nutmeg if you like (this just makes it extra festive). Serve with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of hazelnut dukka.
Dukka is an Egyptian nut and spice blend which is absolutely delicious. You’ll be hooked once you try it so it’s worth learning to make your own. My version is fairly simple to make.
I find an empty jar that I want to store it in and half fill it with hazelnuts. Walnuts or mixed nuts are great too. Then toast the nuts (for hazelnuts, I do this in a tray in a hot oven – just keep an eye on them and give the tray a shake every now and then so that they toast evenly – it should only take around 10 minutes).
Then tip the hazelnuts onto a clean tea towel on your work surface, place another tea towel on top and rub your hands quite firmly on the tea towel and the skins will just flake off. Then pick out the skinned and toasted hazelnuts and chop them with a large, sharp knife and put them in the jar.
The rest of the jar space should be taken up with toasted sesame, cumin and coriander seeds in fairly equal proportions. I just eyeball it and toast these one at a time in a dry frying pan, or altogether in the oven. I like to bash up the toasted coriander seeds a bit with a pestle and mortar first.
Then give the jar a shake to mix up the ingredients, let it cool completely with the lid off before popping the jar on your shelf to use on lots of different dishes. Your dukka should stay fresh for at least a month.
Did you make this soup? Let us know how it went in the comments and feel free to share the recipe with your friends and family. Share photos of our recipes on the Green Earth Organics Healthy Eating Facebook page or tag us @greenearthorganics1 over on Instagram. We love to see our recipes leave the page! Liz x