Z is for…



Za'atar spice blend

There are certainly some bona fide foodies amongst my readers, since many of you guessed correctly what I would choose for “Z” !

I’ve posted a recipe using Za’atar before on the blog, my Wheatberry, Chickpea & Za’atar Salad and talked a little about it then. I’m sure there are many of you who aren’t familiar with this ingredient though so here’s some info: Za’atar is a herb and spice blend widely-used in the Middle-East.  Its specifics vary according to region but it usually includes toasted sesame seeds, dried thyme and sumac, a tangy, lemony spice.

Both Sumac and Za’atar have become much more widely known in recent years, due, almost exclusively, to the world-renowned chef, Yotam Ottolenghi, as it’s an ingredient that features in many of the recipes in his popular cookbooks. It’s used as a seasoning for grilled vegetables, salads, sprinkled on top of hummus and the traditional recipe I just made, Manakish Za’atar , which are traditional Lebanese flatbreads spread with a topping made from Za’atar combined with olive oil.

Manakish Za'atar- Lebanese Flatbreads

I basically followed this recipe from The Kitchn, making only a small batch (something I definitely regretted as they were soooo delicious) and using light spelt fLour instead of all-purpose.

The flatbreads kind of reminded me of a crispy focaccia, with the olive oil in the dough and the salt in the topping, but this is even better with its bright herbs, spices and toasted sesame seeds.

Baba Ghanoush

I had planned to make my usual hummus recipe to serve with it but remembered the meal we enjoyed at Al Shami a few weeks ago and that amazing Moutabel/Baba Ghanoush. Since then, I’ve been wanting to replicate it at home and this felt like the perfect opportunity!

Like hummus, baba ghanoush is a spread which includes tahini, garlic and lemon, but instead of chickpeas, blackened aubergine is used instead.

Grilling the aubergine until nicely charred lends a deep, smoky flavour to the dip which is divine. There are a million variations on this dish but this is the ratio of ingredients I like best:

Baba Ghanoush with Lebanese Flatbreads (Manakish Za'atar)

Baba Ghanoush (Moutabel):

2 Medium aubergines, to yield 1 heaping cup cooked flesh when drained of excess liquid
2 Cloves of garlic, minced
1/4C Lemon juice
1/4C Tahini
3/4t Salt
Dash of smoked paprika
Fresh chopped parsley and more paprika to serve

To cook the aubergine, prick all over with a fork, place on a baking sheet and cook under the grill/broiler for 20-30 minutes until collapsed and blackened.

Set aside until cool enough to handle.

Cut aubergines lengthwise down the middle and scrape out as much of the flesh as you can, leaving behind the skin (a few little flecks of skin are ok). Squeeze the flesh to remove liquid or drain in a colander for 15 minutes.

In a food processor combine all the ingredients and process until smooth.

Garnish with more paprika and chopped parsley.

Serve with Manakish, pita and crudités or other meze.


Baba Ghanoush with Lebanese Flabreads (Manakish Za'atar)

And so we’ve reached the end! A-Z complete!

Thank you to everyone who’s stuck with me this month and especially to those who’ve commented or even made one of my recipes.  As much as I love recipe creating and blogging, you lovely readers make it all the more worthwhile!

I’ll be back tomorrow for a little Vegan MoFo round-up, featuring some of my favourites from Coconut and Berries this month, as well my top picks from elsewhere, sharing lessons learnt and what the future holds for the blog.


Baby Leaf, Apple & Sunflower Seed Salad with Miso-Lemon Dressing

Babyleaf, Apple & Sunflower Seed Salad with Miso-Lemon Dressing| coconutandberries.com

Sunflower Seeds!

I chose sunflower seeds for “S” more to push myself than for any other reason. We all fall back on our staple ingredients, and sunflower seeds are not one of mine. Cashews, almonds and more recently,  hemp seeds, are my most used nuts/seeds, tending to overshadow the humble sunflower seed. After this month I hope to take heed of my advice and make the most of the variety in my pantry.

Babyleaf, Apple & Sunflower Seed Salad w/Miso-Lemon Dressing

As well as being just as versatile and nutritious as other nuts and seeds out there, sunflower seeds are one of the cheapest. A particular bonus for someone like me, who likes to think of themselves as rather frugal…!

Over here sunflower seeds are normally seen hulled but I know that in other countries they’re especially popular roasted in their shells, salted, and eaten as a snack.

The way I normally eat them is as a salad-topper for a little crunch and a nutrition boost and came up with a simple side or starter salad for today’s post.

Babyleaf, Apple & Sunflower Seed Salad w/Miso-Lemon Dressing

I knew I wanted to include apple in my salad since we were given these gorgeous ones from a neighbour. The same kind neighbour who gave us the plums!

Aren’t they pretty? I love how pink they are, even the flesh has a pinkish hue as if the colour from the skin has somehow seeped into it.

This is really quick to put together so ideal for when you want a salad to go with your main meal but more than just some unadorned greens. I used a mix of baby leaves for the base,  added some very thinly sliced red onion, slivers of apple and a generous handful of sprouted sunflower seeds. I like to sprout seeds and legumes as I like their fresh, crisp taste and it also makes their nutrients more bio-available (see here for more info and a handy guide to sprouting) but toasted, or even just raw seeds would still be tasty.

I dressed the salad with a miso-lemon dressing which was a nice slightly salty, tangy contrast to the sweet apple.

Babyleaf, Apple & Sunflower Seed Salad w/Miso-Lemon Dressing

Babyleaf, Apple + Sunflower Seed Salad with Miso-Lemon Dressing:

2 Generous handfuls of Baby leaves (or mild greens like spinach or pea-shoots)
1 Medium dessert apple, thinly sliced
3T Sunflower seeds (sprouted, toasted or raw)
1/4 Red onion, very thinly sliced

Miso-Lemon Dressing:

1T Lemon juice
1/2T White miso
1/2T Olive oil
1/2t Tamari

Whisk together the lemon juice and miso until completely smooth then add the other ingredients and whisk to emulsify.

In a large bowl toss the salad leaves with as much dressing as it needs (add it slowly as you don’t want it to be soggy and you probably won’t want all of it)

Plate the salad: Place a layer of leaves on the plate(s), then scatter over the red onion and seeds. Finally, arrange the apple slices on top.

Serves 1-2


Babyleaf, Apple & Sunflower Seed Salad w/Miso-Lemon Dressing

As usual, I’m sharing some of the sunflower seed recipes I’ve come across which appeal to me or that I’ve made an enjoyed:

Firstly something sweet from The Kitchn: Sunflower-Date Raw Cookies

This Broccoli Raisin Sunflower Seed Salad is a favourite

Sunflower seeds are soft, so, after a soak, blend up well. They are a nice, cheaper alternative to cashews in vegan, creamy sauces like this Creamy Herb Sunflower Dressing/Dip. This recipe also uses them, along with cashews, to make a sour cream of sorts, then swirled into black bean soup. I’ve made this one and can vouch for its yumminess!

2 more dips/spreads I want to try are: this Super-Simple Gingery Sunflower Seed Paté and this Raw Carrot, Almond and Sunflower Seed Paté

I am loving Vegan MoFo but it’s leaving me no kitchen time at all for trying all the  wonderful creations from other bloggers and my cookbooks. The creativity around the blogosphere this month has been so phenomenal that I’m amassing a rather overwhelming number of recipes too!

Have you picked up any great recipes, tips or info this month?


Nutty Crusted Tofu, Mediterranean Israeli Couscous Pilaf, Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Nutty Crusted Tofu, Mediterranean Israeli Couscous Pilaf, Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Israeli Couscous!

Mediterranean Israeli Couscous Pilaf

Israeli couscous, also called pearl couscous, is similar to regular couscous in that it’s actually not a grain, (although many people think so), but a pasta, as it’s made from from semolina or wheat flour. It has a slightly chewy texture, similar to barley, and is toasted so has a slightly nutty flavour. It cooks quickly, in about 10 minutes so is useful to have on hand.

Mediterranean Israeli Couscous Pilaf

It’s not something I use often but it works great in hearty salads and you can use it to make a risotto-like dish etc. I also stumbled across this innovative breakfast recipe from Janet at The Taste Space for Israeli Couscous with Almonds and Coconut. How good does that sound?

This time I decided on a simple pilaf with bold Mediterranean flavours- slow-roasted tomatoes, black olives, capers and plenty of fresh parsley. It’s a cinch to put together and can be a meal in itself, especially if you bulk it up with some chickpeas or lentils.

I was feeling like a slightly fancier meal this particular day so added a few other components to take it to another level…

Nutty Crusted Tofu, Medterranean Pilaf + Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Nutty Crusted Tofu and Roasted Red Pepper Sauce! The tofu is marinated before dredging in the nutty coating so it’s packed with flavour. The red pepper sauce is a lighter variation on my Romesco sauce, sweet and rich-tasting. Along with the couscous pilaf and some greens for good measure this meal was exactly what I was hoping for.

Mediterranean Israeli Couscous Pilaf:

1/2C Israeli couscous (whole-wheat preferably)
1/2T Olive oil
1/2 Red onion, diced
1 Large clove of garlic
3/4C Water
1/2C Slow-roasted tomatoes ( I’ve been making a lot of these with all my garden tomatoes. Simply halve a load of cherry tomatoes, spread on a baking sheet cut side up, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, cook in the oven on low- 100C/210F for approx 3 hours until shrivelled and delicious!)
1/3C Black olives, halved
1T Capers, chopped if large
1-2T Chopped fresh parsley
Salt + Pepper
1/2T Lemon juice
Drizzle of olive oil (optional)

Sauté red onion in the oil in a pot over medium heat until softened. Add garlic and Israeli Couscous and continue to sauté for another minute. Add water and bring to the boil. Cook, covered, for approx 10 minutes (or follow directions on package) until water is absorbed and couscous is cooked but with a bit of bite. Stir through all the remaining ingredients and seasoning. Serve warm.

Nutty Crusted Tofu:

(Adapted from The Vegan Foodie)

1/2 400g/1lb Pkg Tofu, drained and pressed for at least 30 minutes, then cut in to 4 triangles

For the Marinade:

1 1/2T Tamari
2T Vegetable broth
1T Dijon mustard
1t Tomato paste
2T Fresh orange juice
1/2T Olive oil

Whisk together marinade ingredients, place tofu in a dish and cover with marinade for at least 1 hour

For the Crust:

1/2C Cashews (or other nuts)
3T Flour (any kind)
1t Dried Italian herbs (i.e. oregano, basil, thyme)
Dash of paprika
Salt + Pepper

Preheat oven to 200C/400F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a food processor or spice grinder jar pulse cashews until a coarse crumb. Stir in other ingredients.

Dip the marinated tofu triangles in the crust mixture to coat on all sides and place on the baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, carefully turn over and bake a further 10-15 minutes until golden brown. You can also place them under the broiler/grill for a couple of minutes to get it crispier.

Roasted Red Pepper Sauce:

2 Medium red peppers
1 Large clove of garlic
1-2T Vegetable broth
1T Olive oil
1/2t Agave nectar
1t Red wine vinegar
Large pinch of salt

Combine all ingredients in a blender until smooth.

Nutty Crusted Tofu, Medterranean Pilaf + Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

To Serve: Top pilaf with nutty crusted tofu and add a generous drizzle of the red pepper sauce to the plate. I served it all over some steamed kale.

Hmmm, looking through my instructions I’ve probably made this meal sound really complicated, but honestly there’s nothing difficult about it, just quite a lot of steps.

Each of the components is tasty on its own though so feel free to mix and match. Simply serve the pilaf on its own as I suggested above, have the nutty crusted tofu just alongside a grain and greens and some marinara  or whatever sauce you have on hand, make only the roasted red pepper sauce and smear on anything and everything!

Serves 2 (with leftover pilaf + sauce)

I’m submitting this recipe to Wellness Weekends

Nutty Crusted Tofu, Medterranean Pilaf + Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

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Grilled Peach, Courgette & Walnut Salad

Grilled Peach, Courgette + Walnut Salad

Grilled Peach, Courgette & Walnut Salad |coconutandberries.com

Last week in Edinburgh was probably the first time in weeks that I’d eaten an apple. During the summer I try to eat as much seasonal produce as I can and since it will be back to apples before long there’s no room for them in my diet right now!

Peaches are one of my favourite summer fruits and I tend to enjoy them on their own, best eaten standing over the kitchen sink with juice running down your chin, but I have started trying them in different ways more recently.

I loved the nectarine/peach salad with blackberry dressing, basil, and hazelnuts I made last month and decided on anothe- a Grilled Peach, Courgette & Walnut Salad.

Grilled Peach, Courgette + Walnut Salad

I’m still struggling to keep on top of the supply of courgettes from the garden. Although initially I was cross when I discovered the muntjac deer were sneakily munching our vegetables during the night, I ended up grateful for some help in eating them!

As well as being very tasty, this grilled salad used 3 courgettes, a nice bonus, for me at least.

It would make a lovely side dish or starter salad, or enjoy it for lunch just as is. Grilling the fruit and vegetables brings out their natural sweetness and some fresh herbs and nuts finish it off nicely. I loved walnuts in this and don’t use them enough, but if you’d prefer another kind just swap them in.

Grilled Peach, Courgette + Walnut Salad

Grilled Peach, Courgette & Walnut Salad

Yield: 2 Servings

Grilled Peach, Courgette & Walnut Salad


  • 3 Medium-sized courgettes
  • 2 Peaches
  • 1 Tbsp Olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp Chopped parsley
  • 2 Tbsp Chopped mint
  • Salt + pepper
  • 3 Tbsp Toasted walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 Tbsp Red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 Tbsp Extra-virgin olive oil (optional)


  1. Slice courgettes into thin slices vertically using a sharp knife, discarding the very outside slices.
  2. Peel, remove stone, and quarter peaches.  Preheat a stove-top grill pan (or use an outdoor grill) and brush courgette slices and peaches with the olive oil. In batches, grill the courgettes for approx 3-4 minutes on both sides. Try not to move them while they cook so they get nice dark grill marks. Set aside in a bowl while you grill the peach quarters.These are obviously more delicate and only need about 2 minutes on each side.
  3. Season courgettes well and toss with red wine vinegar and fresh herbs. Transfer to a serving dish, place grilled peach quarters on the top, sprinkle with walnuts and drizzle with extra olive oil if using.


I grilled an extra peach while I was at it and it was fantastic with non-dairy yogurt and a little drizzle of maple syrup for dessert.



If you’re growing vegetables this year or get a veg box/csa delivery are you being overwhelmed by an abundance of any in particular?

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Book Review: Let Them Eat Vegan

Hempanana Smoothie- Let Them Eat Vegan

I’d been doing so well on resisting buying any more cookbooks. I seem to have amassed a rather large number over the recent years since I’ve developed an interest in cooking, and as much as I love to have them, I don’t use them nearly enough, tending to get my inspiration from other blogs or restaurant menus.

All the same, I’ve been following Dreena’s blog, Plant-Powered Kitchen, where she’s been sharing recipes from her book “Let Them Eat Vegan”,  and reading write-ups elsewhere, and knew I couldn’t resist. I don’t feel one bit guilty about this purchase either, I only wish I’d got it sooner (it was published over a year ago in May 2012) as I know it’s going to be a book I come back to time and time again. There are a whopping 200 recipes to work through as well!

This is actually my first of Dreena’s books, although she has written 3 previously- The Everyday Vegan, Vive le Vegan! and Eat Drink & Be Vegan, all of which have been big hits. If you don’t know Dreena’s recipes they’re creative and satisfying, vegan of course, and based on wholefoods (no processed ingredients).

I’ve only made a few recipes so far but was keen to share my thoughts and encourage anyone who doesn’t have the book to get it! Even if you’re not vegan or even vegetarian this is a good book for you as there’s tonnes of advice and tips on how to get started on a vegan diet and a good range of easy, everyday recipes and more complicated, time-consuming ones.

Mediterranean Bean Burgers (Let Them Eat Vegan) Mediterranean Bean Burgers

These were very tasty indeed. I’ve not had much luck with veg burgers in the past. They either seem to crumble to pieces when I cook them or else they’re mushy in the middle. These have the perfect texture, based on kidney beans and oats, and are packed with Mediterranean flavour- oregano, olives and red pepper.

Oh, and I was pretty proud of myself for making my own burger buns too. It seems impossible to buy buns or wraps which aren’t full of chemical preservatives around these parts. I used this recipe from Holy Cow Vegan and they turned out really well, nice and fluffy with a good rise. Now I’ve learnt how easy it is to make my own burger buns I’m sure I’ll soon be trying all Dreena’s other burger recipes- there’s a whole chapter devoted to them!

Raw Strawberry Pie (Let Them Eat Vegan)

Raw Strawberry Pie

In the interest of a comprehensive review….I of course had to delve into the dessert chapter. These pretty little tarts are a mini version of Dreena’s Raw Strawberry Pie. I just divided the recipe to make a smaller amount and used tartlet shells.

I’m very familiar with raw desserts already and this one’s very simple. It’s also delicious and a bit lighter than most which can use a lot of nuts in the filling.

Kale Slaw with Curried Almond Dressing (Let Them Eat Vegan)

Kale Slaw with Curried Almond Dressing

This salad had been getting rave reviews and after trying it I could definitely see why. With kale as the base ingredient you can really add any other vegetables you like, although the apples and raisins listed really added to this I thought. The sweet curried almond dressing is what makes this really special though- I cleaned out my blender as best I could so as not to waste any of it. I did change it a little bit just because maple syrup is very expensive here so I usually save it for on pancakes/waffles! Instead I used dates which I can buy very cheaply in the international stores near me.

Here is my version if you’re interested:

Curried Almond Date Dressing:

1/4C Dates
3/4C Water
1/2C Almonds, soaked
2 1/2T Apple cider vinegar
1t Fresh grated ginger
1 Small clove of garlic
1/2 (heaping) t Salt
1/4t Curry powder
Black pepper
First blend together the dates and water in a high-power blender, until smooth and creamy. Add in all the other ingredients and blend again until very smooth. You may prefer a thinner dressing, if so, add more water.

I didn’t need all this for my salad but loved the leftovers as a dip (yes again….) for raw veggies.

Apple Hemp Pancakes (Let Them Eat Vegan)

Apple Hemp Pancakes

I adore pancakes and these are very yummy. They are made from spelt flour and are packed with nutritious hemp seeds and diced apples so you can feel good about eating them too.  With my new morning routine I can see I’ll be working my way through the “Breakfast Bites and Smoothies” chapter.

I’m particularly excited to get stuck into the “Proud to be Saucy and Dippy” chapter. You know how much I love a good dip! And the main dishes, including warming soups and stews, casseroles, tarts, one-pots and pasta are all going to make the move towards colder weather that bit more welcome.

As I mentioned, Dreena writes the blog plant-powered kitchen where she generously shares some of the recipes from her cookbooks as well as an abundance of useful information and cooking, nutrition and vegan parenting advice.

Do you have a copy of “Let Them Eat Vegan” or any of Dreena’s other books?  Which are your favourite recipes?