Archive for Vegan

Vegan Date Squares

Grief is a weird animal. 

It’s been eleven years since I lost my mom… a lifetime, almost. Sometimes, when I tell people that I lost my mom to cancer, they say “oh, I’m sorry!” and I get it, that’s a natural reaction. 

I usually brush it off. It has been, after all, a long time. More than a decade. And I did a bunch of therapy, which was really good. 

And mostly, it’s okay. I’m happy, my life is good, and I don’t think about her too much. 

But Mother’s Day is one of those times that I do. How can you not? 

Vegan Date Squares Recipe

The weirdest thing is, I have discovered myself craving certain foods leading up to days that could be emotionally loaded. Like earlier this year, in February, I had the weirdest, obscure craving for pea soup. It’s not something I would normally crave, but crave it I did. I was halfway though making a pot of pea soup when I remembered that it was one of her faves. She made giant pots of it with hamhocks gently bubbling in a green sea. 

My inexplicable craving was actually a longing to be close to my mom, but it played itself out in food. 

More recently, just before Mother’s Day, I had a really strong craving for date squares. Another thing my mom made all the time, and loved. She called them “Matrimony Squares,” though. 

Nobody quite knows where the name came from, but they were popular on the Prairies, where my mom grew up. Supposedly the two layers “sandwiched” together represent marriage. 

Most people today just call them Date Squares, and honestly, they are a really simple and tasty treat. What I love about these is that they require very little processed sugar, a few simple ingredients, and almost no technique. 

They are a simple, rustic, comforting dessert. 

My mom, of course, made these with butter, but I’ve substituted coconut oil, which works great. 

Date Squares Recipe

Vegan Date Squares

Ingredients 

  • 1 cup AP flour
  • 1 cup oats (the quick cooking kind work better here)
  • ½ cup +2 tbsp melted coconut oil
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 cups pitted dates, chopped
  • 3/4 cup water
  • ½ tsp baking soda

Method

  1. Mix together the flour, oats and brown sugar, then add in the melted coconut oil and mix everything together, using your hands if need be. 
  2. Line a square baking pan with parchment, or grease it well. Dump about half of the crumble mixture into the bottom of the pan, and then press it down firmly with your hands. 
  3. In a medium saucepan on medium heat, place the dates, water and baking soda. Stir well, and bring up to a boil, then immediately reduce the heat to low. Allow the dates to cook and soften, stirring occasionally, until they become a jam-like consistency. Turn off the heat and place to the side to cool a little. 
  4. Scrape the date mixture onto the bottom crumble layer in the pan, and then smooth overtop in an even layer. 
  5. Sprinkle the remaining crumble mixture over top and scatter it around so that it coats the date layer evenly. You don’t need to press it down. 
  6. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes, or until golden. 
  7. Allow to cool, then cut into squares. 

 

Red Lentil and Harissa Hummus {Vegan}

Oh hummus. It just might be the most perfect food. 

Let’s recap: 

  • It’s entirely plant-based
  • It’s cheap
  • It’s full of protein
  • It’s full of fibre
  • There are a million different variations.

Yeah! Hummus is freakin’ amazing! 

Red Lentil and Harissa Hummus

I can’t prove this without doing a bunch of work (and I’m too lazy for that), but my guess is, hummus is the recipe I have made more of for this blog than anything else. Let’s see… there was Roasted Squash Hummus, a lovely pink Roasted Beet Hummus, a pale green Edamame Hummus, and even Chocolate Dessert Hummus! Oh yeah, and then there was the time I tried the Hummus Milkshake

I feel like I need this shirt: 

Okay. I think we’ve safely established my love for hummus. Let’s get on to the task at hand. 

I’m playing with lentils a lot this week, and there will be more lentil recipes forthcoming. The thing about hummus, is that you can make it with basically any kind of pulses. People tend toward lighter beans, because the colour is more pleasing, but you could technically make hummus with black beans or kidney beans. Most people use chickpeas or cannelini beans because the flavour is a little more neutral, too, so you can make the hummus taste however you want. 

I’ve been exploring Persian and middle eastern flavours quite a lot lately. I was cooking from Bottom of the Pot for a while, and there’s this Persian Market in West Van that I am visiting now once a week. They have a great selection of middle eastern ingredients, and I buy them because I’m curious. Barberry, halva, lavash bread… and harissa. 

Harissa is a paste made from roasted chilies blended with garlic and spices. I get mine at the Persian Market in a tube, similar to how you’d buy tomato paste or anchovy paste. It’s spicy and smoky, and a little goes a long way. 

It’s great on potatoes, mixed with oil (kinda like Patatas Bravas), mixed in with mayo for a spicy dip or sandwich spread, or folded into scrambled eggs. 

Here, I used it to kick up my hummus. 

The weird thing about red lentils, is, they are quite orange when you buy them in the store, but they basically turn white or beige after cooking. So I thought I’d enhance the redness of the hummus (and also add a touch of sweetness) by adding roasted red peppers. 

The end result is a dip that’s a little sweet, a little smoky, and a little spicy. Yee-haw! 

Hummus

Red Lentil and Harissa Hummus {Vegan}

Ingredients

  • 1 cup split red lentils
  • water
  • salt & pepper to taste 
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp olive oil 
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp harissa paste
  • 2 roasted red peppers (jarred)
  • 2 tbsp–1/4 cup water or aquafaba 

Method

  • First, quickly rinse the lentils, then you need to cook them. I did mine in the instant pot, by adding the lentils, garlic, some salt, and 1/2-1 cup water to the bottom of the pot, and then cooking on manual for 4 minutes. If you don’t want to cook them in the instant pot, you can just add the lentils and garlic to about 3 cups of water on top of the stove. Bring to a boil, then simmer till the water is absorbed. You can even strain the lentils if there is too much water and the lentils themselves are cooked. 
  • Once the lentils are cooked, add all the ingredients except for the water to your blender or food processor. Process and scrape down the bowl. With the motor running, begin to slowly stream in the water or aquafaba, until your hummus gets to the desired, creamy consistency. 

 

 

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