Vegetarian Chickpea Salad

What's your cooking style? I don't mean the kind of food you cook or diet you follow, but how do you cook? A lot of people rely of mixes, cans and pre-packaged/pre-made ingredients. There's nothing wrong with that, I too, from time to time, use organic scone mixes, no-chemical-added pancake mixes and I love no-salt-added beans; they are great time savers and taste delicious. Some people swear by mise en place and I can certainly see the appeal in it - everything is clean, pre-measured and convenient.

I, however, developed my own way of cooking from years of making dinners and hosting dinner parties. It's most closely resembles Jamie Oliver's cooking philosophy in his 20-minute meals. I always try to maximize time: while water is boiling, I'll dice the veggies, while onions are sautรฉing, I'll prepare the chicken. I usually think through the recipe and try to come up with the sequence of steps where a few things are done at the same time. It's sort of anti mise en place kind of cooking. It's messy, but it's time saving and this way I can have (on rare occasions) a three course dinner  on the table on a week night. One of those days I'll do a post about how I prepare and cook for dinner parties. And when I say dinner parties, I mean Russian style dinner parties. What's the difference? Well, I don't consider that I made enough food for a dinner party if I can't have leftovers for the next 2-3 days. 

This Chickpea Salad is delicious, healthy, filling and satisfying. It can even be  made vegan by using eggless mayo.

What does it have to do with this Vegetarian Chickpea Salad? Not much, except that I fell in love with it so much, that I started making it for lunch to take to work... In the morning. This particular version I made last week. I got up at 6am and left home by 6.50am. In those 50 minutes I took a shower, dried and styled my hair, got dressed, put on make up, fed the cats and made this. 

I first saw a Chickpea Salad on Oh She Glows site last week. Then I saw another version of it on Pinterest a day later (unfortunately I did not save the link). I got obsessed with trying, but I made my own version which I am now pronouncing my favourite food ever! Ok, I exaggerate a lot, but it's really good, delicious, spicy, creamy, filling, satisfying, healthy, vegetarian. Oh, and if you use egg-less mayo, then it could be made vegan too. It reminds me of a potato salad with less guilt. Yummy!

This Chickpea Salad is delicious, healthy, filling and satisfying. It can even be  made vegan by using eggless mayo.

Vegetarian Chickpea Salad

2 servings

Chickpeas, drained and rinsed - 1 can (540 ml)
Onion powder - 1 tablespoon
Cayenne pepper - 1/4 teaspoon (or less depending on how spicy you like it)
Dried green onion - 1 teaspoon
White wine vinegar - 1 teaspoon
Dijon mustard - 2 teaspoons
Mayo - 2 tablespoons (or a bit less if you'd like to save a few calories)
Dill, finely chopped - 5 tablespoons
  • To make this salad in only 5 minutes, first wash the dill and wrap it in a paper towel to remove the moisture.
  • Drain and rinse the chickpeas and leave them in a colander to drain more.
  • In a medium sized bowl, combine the onion powder, cayenne pepper, dried green onion, white wine vinegar, dijon mustard and mayo. Mix well.
  • By this time the dill should get dry, so chop it finely and add to the mayo mixture and mix.
  • Add the well-drained chickpeas and mix with a fork, mashing half of the chickpeas with the fork.
  • Serve on toast, with crackers or with vegetables.
This Chickpea Salad is delicious, healthy, filling and satisfying. It can even be  made vegan by using eggless mayo.
Posted on August 31, 2015 and filed under Recipe.

Banana Bread

You say Banana. I say... Well, I say many things. Waffles, pancakes, muffins, puddings, caramelized and roasted bananas. With my new-found food intolerances I try not eat raw bananas too often, but as it often happens when something is not allowed, you tend to crave it. So, hence all the delicious banana flavoured concoctions. 

This recipe is adapted from Ina Garten's How Easy is That? cookbook. I absolutely adore her and her recipes. I have, however, tried to lighten this cake-bread up a little bit. I didn't do too much in terms of making it healthy as I really love how moist the crumb is, but I reduced the amount of sugar, subbed some oil for non-fat greek yogurt and removed sour cream. I also added my favourite Orange Oil to the batter. I've mentioned it numerous times before, but I'll say it again - it's a magical ingredient!!! The result is absolutely scrumptious. I've made this recipe into a real cake, frosted with my lightened-up Cream Cheese icing to serve at a dinner party and I've made it in a plain loaf pan too and served with a glass of cold milk. Both are delicious!! 

Edit: It turned out that I posted this recipe on the National Banana Lovers Day!!

Delicious Banana Bread with Pecans - moist, soft and tender. Add some cream cheese icing to make it into an dinner party worthy dessert

Banana Bread

adapted from Barefoot Contessa How Easy Is That?

Bananas, very ripe - 3 large
White sugar - 1/2 cup
Brown sugar - 1/2 cup
Vegetable oil - 1/4 cup
Non-fat plain Greek yogurt - 3/4 cup
Eggs - 2 extra-large
Orange oil - 1/2 teaspoon
Vanilla - 1/2 teaspoon
Flour - 2 cups
Salt - a pinch
Baking soda - 1 teaspoon
Pecans, roughly chopped - 3/4 cup
Cream Cheese Icing (optional)
  • Preheat the oven to 350F.
  • Butter and flour a 9-inch cake pan or a regular loaf pan.
  • In a large bowl, mash the bananas with a fork, add both sugars, oil, Greek yogurt, eggs, orange oil, vanilla and mix with a mixer or a whisk until smooth.
  • Add the flour, baking soda, salt and mix just until combined.
  • Stir in chopped pecans.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Delicious Banana Bread with Pecans - moist, soft and tender. Add some cream cheese icing to make it into an dinner party worthy dessert
Posted on August 27, 2015 and filed under Recipe.

Vegetarian Frittata

I've written about my love for breakfast and brunch before. When I think about brunches, it all goes back to a Holiday Brunch that I hosted for my girlfriends about 7 or 8 years ago. I don't remember how I came up with an idea about doing a brunch instead of dinner, but there I was a night before, listening to carols and cheerful holiday music, baking, whisking and chopping for hours until after midnight, just so that everything would be ready the next day and I wouldn't have to slave in the kitchen right before the guests came. That brunch, which took many hours and lasted way into the evening, was magical - filled with gossip and laughter, good food, coffee, mulled wine, presents and friends. Before long, that Holiday Brunch became an annual tradition.

A few years later, somehow we decided to extend our girlie brunch tradition and started doing it a few times a year, changing locations, sometimes meeting at one friend's place, sometimes another and on occasion even going out for brunch to a restaurant where the owners already recognize our loud and cheerful group. Of course we still see each other for dinners, lunches, birthdays, but those gatherings have friends, husbands, brothers, kids, whereas our Girlie Brunches are just for us, girls, gossiping, eating, laughing.

This past weekend I hosted another Brunch. It was small, only three people, but we had a lot of fun. There was cheese, veggies, crackers and hummus for appetizers and waffles with maple syrup and Vegetarian Frittata for main course. Well, and dessert, of course! We had Peach Cookies, homemade ice cream, chia pudding and fruit.

This Vegetarian Frittata is something I make relatively regular, varying the ingredients from time to time to accommodate what I have in my fridge. It's a perfect dish for an easy and light dinner, lunch or brunch. Easy to make, healthy and filling.

Delicious Vegetarian Frittata is perfect for breakfast, lunch or even dinner. You won't miss any meat with this perfect combination of eggs, vegetables and cheese

Vegetarian Frittata

Olive oil - 1 tablespoon
Onion - 1 large
Garlic - 2 cloves
Bell peppers - 2 large
Frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and drained - 300 g
Italian seasoning - 1 teaspoon
Salt, pepper to taste
Eggs - 7, extra-large
Milk - 1 cup
Cheddar, shredded - 80 g
Cherry tomatoes - 300 g
  • Preheat the oven to 375 F.
  • In a large pan, heat the oil on medium heat.
  • While oil is heating, dice the onion, mince garlic and dice peppers.
  • Sautรฉ onion in the oil for about 10 minutes, until soft and starting to turn colour. Add garlic and cook for another one or two minutes.
  • Add peppers and cook for 5 more minutes until they soften.
  • Add spinach, mix and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
  • Add italian seasoning, salt, pepper, mix well and cook to make sure that there's no liquid.
  • Place the vegetable mixture into a pie plate (8 or 9 inch in diameter).
  • Sprinkle half of the cheese over the veggies.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together eggs and milk until fully smooth.
  • Pour the egg mixture over the cheese and place in the oven for about 15 minutes.
  • After 15 minutes, eggs should just start to turn solid, take the pan out and place tomatoes on top. This way they will stay on top instead of sinking inside the frittata. Alternatively, you could put tomatoes over vegetables and pour egg mixture over too.
  • Sprinkle the rest of the cheese over the eggs and tomatoes and return back to the oven.
  • Bake for another 30-45 minutes depending on your oven or until the eggs are fully cooked.
Delicious Vegetarian Frittata is perfect for breakfast, lunch or even dinner. You won't miss any meat with this perfect combination of eggs, vegetables and cheese
Posted on August 24, 2015 and filed under Recipe.