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Vegan pesto

I'm sure you all know, at the very least more or less, how to make pesto. This is just to remind you that pesto is always a good idea: for a quick pasta dinner, as an addition to a sharing platter, on what to do with herbs from your garden.

Traditional Ligurian pesto is made with basil, but I went for a blend of different herbs: basil, thyme, oregano and a bit of rosemary and mint. I skipped parmesan, but kept pine nuts from the original recipe. Feel free to experiment with herbs and nuts - try almonds, cashews, pumpkin seeds or walnuts.

Recipe: Vegan pesto

Ingredients
  • one cup fresh herbs: basil, thyme, oregano, rosemary, mint
  • 1/2 small clove of garlic
  • 3 tbsp pine nuts, roasted on a dry pan
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp soli morskiej
Method
  • Blend all the ingredients to a smooth paste using pestle and mortar or a food processor.
  • Feel free to add more olive oil, depending on what kind of consistency you like.
  • If not using immediately, place the sauce in a jar, top with a layer of oil and refrigerate until needed..

Moroccan Mint Tea

I will bet you 30 dirhams that you cant's spend one day in Marrakech and not have at least three cups of sweet mint tea. Moroccans drink hot tea all year round and all day long. Bars and cafes are always filled with tea-sipping crowd, souq merchants offer tea to the toughest negotiators and a pot of tea prepared and served by the man of the house is a display of Moroccan hospitality.

If offered tea, it is polite to have at least three cups. The drink is poured from high above glasses to make tea nice and frothy. And to show off a little bit, too.

The drink is made with Moroccan mint and Chinese gunpowder tea. The tea-drinking tradition is younger than it might seem. Moroccans were first introduced to Chinese green tea in 1854. British merchants, frustrated with blockades resulting from Crimean War and unable to transport the wares of tea to the Baltic region, decided to start selling their chests of tea in ports of Morocco. It turned out to be a marketing success, as Moroccans had fallen in love with the tea, creating a new market for tea from the Far East.

Traditionally, the tea is served three times. Since the tea leaves are left in the pot, the taste evolves and each glass has its unique flavour. According to a Moroccan proverb, the first glass is as gentle as life, the second one is as strong as love, the third - as bitter as death.

Recipe: Moroccan mint tea

Makes 6 small glasses
Ingredients
  • 3 tsp green tea
  • 3 tsp brown sugar
  • 10 springs fresh mint
  • 4 cups water
Method
  • Place the tea in a pot. Boil the water and pour the water to the pot. Set aside for 2 minutes.
  • Stir in sugar and add mint. Set aside for 3-4 minutes.
  • Pour with the teapot a high distance above the glasses. Garnish with fresh mint.

Pho soup

Delicious, aromatic and wonderfully warming, Vietnamese pho soup is a perfect remedy for a spring cold and a bad mood. As you can probably imagine, there are numerous variations and regional modifications of the recipe. The one I propose is my way of quickly making a satisfying bowl of soup.

I’ve made mine with shrimp, but you could use thin slices of beef instead. If you want your version to be vegan, go for cubed tofu. You can substitute mint and cilantro with your favourite fresh herbs and spice things up with Sriracha sauce.

It is consumed at any time of day in the North of Vietnam, whereas Southern Vietnamese usually serve it in the morning. It might seem weird to have a bowl of soup for breakfast, but trust me - it really is the best way to start your day. Especially on Mondays.

Recipe: Pho soup

Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 4 cups homemade vegetable stock
  • 1 onion, peeled and cut in half
  • one piece (ok. 5 cm) ginger
  • one green chili
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 anise stars
  • 1 tsp cloves
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp cardamom pods
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • To serve: rice noodles, raw shrimp, green chili, lime, fresh mint and cilantro
Method
  • Char the onion and ginger over an open flame.
  • In a large pot, dry-roast cloves, cinnamon, anise, coriander and cardamom.
  • Add onion, ginger, chili and stock.
  • Bring to a boil, reduce heat, simmer, covered, for about an hour.
  • Season with sugar, soy sauce and lime juice.
  • In each bowl, place some noodles, shrimp, sliced green chillies, lime wedges, fresh mint and cilantro.
  • Top with hot broth.

Winter tangerine salad

It's so simple that it shouldn't even be called a recipe. Let's say that I have an idea for a delicious and presentable winter salad that will help us keep the right level of Vitamin C. Works great as a light dessert or a topping for a sweet breakfast, like porridge or pancakes.

Recipe: Winter tangerine salad

Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 3-4 tangerines
  • 2 tbsp. of pomegranate seeds
  • a handful of fresh mint leaves
  • juice of 1/2 tangerine
Method
  • Peel and slice the tangerines, arrange them on a plate.
  • Top with pomegranate and chopped mint, drizzle with tangerine juice.

Herby feta pasta rotolo

Rotolo di pasta - pasta roll, in my case cut into small pieces and baked with tangy tomato sauce. Hearty casseroles make you think of chilly autumn evenings, but the filling of ewe feta with freshly chopped cilantro and mint definitely tastes like summer.

I used Scotch bonnet pepper to make the sauce. It's fairly hot - according to Scoville scale, which compares the capsaicin concentration in chili peppers, it's on a par with habanero. Those who can sense more than just a fire in their moth claim that its taste is very deep and distinctive. This time I didn't want a very pungent and overpowering sauce, so instead of chopping the pepper, I added the whole thing to the simmering sauce. It resulted in nice, slightly smoky flavour. Give it a try!

Recipe: Herby feta pasta rotolo

Serves: 2 rather hungry people
Ingredients
  • 5 fresh lasagne sheets
  • one tbsp. of olive oil
  • ground parmesan, to taste
Method
  • Place the filling on lasagne sheets, roll and cut into small pieces.
  • You might need to slightly cook lasagne sheets first, depending on how soft they are.
  • Spread the sauce on the bottom of an oiled baking dish. Top with pasta rolls.
  • Bake at 180C for about 35-40 minutes.
  • Before serving, top with grated parmesan.

Recipe: Filling

Ingredients
  • 400 g of ewe feta
  • one tbsp. of crème fraîche
  • 2 tbsp. of chopped cilantro
  • 2 tbsp. of chopped mint
Method
  • Combine all the ingredients of the filling. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Recipe: Tomato sauce

Ingredients
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • one small onion, diced
  • Scotch bonnet pepper, whole
  • 5 large tomatoes - scalded, peeled and diced
  • one tsp. of sugar
  • a pinch of sea salt
  • one tbsp. of olive oil
Method
  • In a saucepan heat the olive oil, add onion and garlic and cook until soft and golden.
  • Add tomatoes and whole Scotch bonnet pepper, season with sugar, salt.
  • Simmer over low heat for about 20 minutes, until the sauce slightly thickens.
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