We love Mediterranean food. It’s what we each grew up eating A LOT. Being 1.5 Italian, there’s always a mix of Southern Italian, Sicilian and Middle Eastern flavors happening. So, we have to have essential ingredients on hand.
One of our favorite places to shop is Fattal’s in Paterson, New Jersey. It’s a Syrian grocery store, where we get some of our favorite spices, seeds, and treats. We also can grab a quick bite at their luncheonette for falafel and spinach pies. Of course, when we can’t make it out to Fattal’s, we have to recreate these dishes at home.
One of the things we love about the food is that it’s REAL FOOD! None of that fancy-shmancy inflated stuff. You get the real deal with simple dishes, full of flavor, culture and za’atar! Za’atar is one of the best spice blends on the planet.
What’s za’atar? It’s a combination of ground dried oregano, thyme, marjoram, sumac, sesame seeds and sea salt. Some add fennel seed or coriander to it.
Za’atar is amazing on plain flatbread with olive oil or on a spinach pie, which is made with spinach, shallots, spices and lemon juice on top of a delicious flatbread! While we make our own flatbread on a rare occasion, you can simply use store-bought, like Trader Joe’s pizza crust (which is more flatbread than pizza crust, if you ask us)
So, here’s our recipe for Spinach Za’atar Pie. Please give it a try and let us know what you think in the comments!
Spinach Za'atar Pie
Inspired by the spinach pie made at Fattal's Syrian Grocery in Paterson, NJ
Ever try a recipe you found online and have it go wrong? We’ve all been there, right? One of the greatest feats in the kitchen is trying to salvage any part of that dish into something everyone will enjoy.
Certainly, my most recent “fail” in the “Don’t Try This at Home” recipe category was with S’mores Pinwheels. I was attempting to veganize the version I had seen online, but it just didn’t work for me. The proportions seemed rather “off,” with WAY too much cereal and not enough chocolate.
I couldn’t just toss it. As much I was would have loved to eat an entire jelly roll of this rice cereal, chocolate and marshmallow, that wasn’t going to happen either, even sharing with Carlo. Since it was Christmas Eve, I decided to switch things up and play around with the idea of a pulled “bread,” but made with the rice cereal instead.
And that’s how the S’mores Jingle Balls were born!
Hey friends! We hope you’ve been enjoying this holiday season, no matter what you celebrate!
As a kid, I grew up absolutely hating the idea of egg nog during the holidays. Eggs in a drink? NOPE! While I hated it, I couldn’t drink it anyway, because my mom would make it with brandy or rum for our family holiday gathering. Nevertheless, the idea of egg nog was gross to me.
Even as an adult, I couldn’t fathom the thought of it. I remembered how my mom made it with milk, sugar and eggs warmed up to make it “safe” and then added the booze. NOPE, not for me. Yes, the alcohol was tempting, but NOT that tempting. My aunt even tried to serve me an “egg-free” version which was just spiked milk, sugar, vanilla with spices. It was “okay.”
Isn’t it odd that I would love nog as a vegan? Well, I’m an odd person. Without the eggs and dairy, vegan nogs made me feel “safe.” Nog is now something I could enjoy during the holidays and enjoy however I wish.
With veganism on the rise, the number of vegan holiday nogs are the market have grown: Soy, coconut, almond, etc. You can also make your own, which I haven’t attempted to do…yet…there’s always next year right?
While I try to work out making my own nog, I played around with the idea of a yummy take on it, using store-bought nog and a bit of inspiration of having all the ingredients to make S’mores at home.
May I present to you the S’mores Holiday Nog “Frostie.” It’s a semi-frozen treat to drink with a straw or eat with a spoon! Give it a try and let us know what you think!
Roasts are not just for special events or holidays. They can be a great dish that can spread across a couple of meals, especially if you’re in a smaller household like we are. With Thanksgiving right around the corner, there’s no better time like now to plan for how to deal with those leftovers! We’ve got a plan in place to make you go #OMGardein, using the Gardein Holiday Roast!
The Gardein Holiday Roast is one of the best vegan roasts we’ve had, and it’s quick and easy to make! You can cook from frozen and all will be ready in about 60-75 minutes. The gravy packets only require steeping in hot water. Nothing more is needed, unless you want to do more.
What we really enjoy about the roast are the breadcrumb coating and the cranberry and wild rice stuffing. They really put the “holiday” in Gardein Holiday Roast. Not to mention, the roast itself is juicy and tender, which may seem odd for something made of soy protein and vital wheat gluten. There’s a lot of flavor in there! Yup, #OMGardein
Sorry, if you’re gluten-free, but Gardein does offer a number of gluten-free option in its line!
Gardein Holiday Roast nicely serves up to 8 and comes with 2 gravy packets! So, there may just be plenty for everyone to make your holiday compassionate and cruelty-free. If not, a second roast won’t hurt you. Compared to others on the market and the animal kinds, you can’t beat a price of around $14.99 for this roast!
If you’re lucky to have leftovers (or have a second roast on hand), we found a great way to enjoy them in a fun way…DIY Holiday Leftovers Sandwiches. This may seem like a lazy recipe, which it is, but who wants to put in any additional effort after a busy week or a massive family feast? So, here we go! It really is an anything goes type of creation!
DIY Holiday Leftovers Sandwiches
Using Gardein Holiday Roast, we came up with our idea of "lazy" "the day after" dish that takes little prep. Just use what you already have! Cooking is optional!
Traditions can mean many things when it comes to food. Those traditions don’t necessarily have to be conventional. Not a lot in my family was!
As a kid, most people in our family knew my mom, aka Momma Mac, to be an amazing baker. What many don’t know is that she taught me how to cook pasta, which she learned from her travels in Europe…and then later marrying my Italian father. At the same time, she was a busy lady, not really having time to make her own pasta sauce except on a rare Sunday. She would often pick up a jar of Ragú®, do some kitchen magic by adding her own blend of spices and serve up a plate of popping flavor. Little did she know that her “tradition” would be passed down to me.
Mom often played around with jarred sauces by adding various ingredients and trying different cooking styles. I think she felt like a star chef on a shoestring budget. And when she would cook dinner, it was often good and weird. Pizza grilled cheese? Uhh yeah! Her creativity made up for her working late nights and being too tired to cook. Now that I’m vegan, I’ve found my cooking game has been improved by being able to be as creative as my mom and enjoying my time in the kitchen.
While there are many pasta sauces on the market, you have to be careful as many are not vegan, often having cheese/milk or even chicken broth (say WHAT?!?!). However, being vegan doesn’t mean you have go for the expensive sauces either. Ragú® Old World Style® Marinara* is an affordable vegan option, which is often around $3.00 for a 24oz jar. It makes for a good base for a variety of dishes from lasagne to pizza pillows. You can go basic or add your favorite ingredients to kick things up a notch.
The marinara has a lot of real tomato flavor! Ragú® believes in using no artificial flavors, colors or high-fructose corn syrup. The sauce is made in a slow-cooking, simmering style to really appreciate that red fruit! While we find the sauce a bit thin for our liking, we use it as a base to which you can your favorite veggies, spices and even vegan cheese! You know how we roll in doing kitchen whip-ups, which are becoming our “tradition.” So, of course, we did one with this sauce!
I was having pizza cravings, but didn’t want an actual slice or pie. Thanks to Ragú® for providing us with the sauce, I was inspired by my mom’s cooking style, her love of cast-iron and favorite pizza spice blend. Hence, the Vegan Cast-Iron Pepperoni Pizza Dip was born!
The marinara sauce set the platform for a creamy, “cheesy” dip mixed with vegan cream cheese and vegan mozzarella shreds. Whisked together with vegan pepperoni, later topped with more cheese and then broiled, you have no idea excited we were to eat this right out of the pan!! It was pizza…and really good pizza…where you could taste all of the ingredients, especially the tomatoes in the sauce.
To serve this dip, Carlo sliced an Italian bread loaf and made some easy-peasy pan-fried bread!
Want to give this a try at your next party or raging pizza craving? Here’s the recipe!
Vegan Cast-Iron Pepperoni Pizza Dip
Got a pizza craving? Here's a fun way to satisfy it, featuring Ragú® Old World Style Marinara sauce! Share with family and friends or eat it by itself!
Heat cast-iron pan with olive oil. When hot, add half of the pepperoni slices and cook for 2 minutes on each side
Pour in marinara and bring to a boil. Then, stir in cream cheese and 1c. of vegan mozzarella shreds until melted into the sauce
Lower heat to a simmer and stir in nutritional yeast and spices (except black pepper). Simmer for approximately 10 minutes, stirring occasionally as sauce thickens
Set oven to broil on high
Remove pan from heat. Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella shreds and layer the remaining pepperoni slices
Place pan in oven for 5-7 minutes until the cheese gets slightly brown
Remove pan from oven. Sprinkle fresh cracked pepper and torn basil on top before serving
Mix garlic powder and olive oil into a small bowl
Heat a large skillet with the oil. When hot, arrange bread slices cut-side down
Cook for 4 minutes. Turn over. Cook for another 4 minutes.
Sprinkle with sea salt before serving (optional)
You can serve this dish right in the pan on a trivet
Yummy ways to enjoy: Scoop with pan-fried bread, spoon into a bowl with fresh veggies or spoon on top of your favorite pasta
Psst. This taste good cold too next day!!
By The Food Duo
The Food Duo http://thefoodduo.com/
Have you heard about Food.com’s Ready. Set. Cook! contest? It challenges home cooks to create new and unique recipes featuring Ragú® sauce plus a set list of other ingredients. The contest runs between now and November 30, 2015! Click here to enter!
Note: Not all of the Ragú® Old World Style varieties are vegan. Check the label before you buy!!