Easter coming up makes me think of my friends in Greece.
At this time of year they have four solid days of going to each other's houses, drinking copious amounts of wine, sampling whatever they may have on the spit roast in the garden, eating delicious grilled vegetables with lashings of skordalia, tzatziki or fava, oily horta straight from the hillsides and then whatever boozy dessert they can muster from the fridge leftovers whether that's fresh fruit with wine or a staple in my friends house, an extremely boozy tiramisu.
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It definitely - for me, anyway - beats tearing through a ton of Easter eggs. Well, that's if you are lucky enough to even get any.
I decided to do a veganised version of some Greek Easter favourites. There's so much amazing food to choose from and most of it is already vegan. The key thing is the spices and herbs. I am, however, lucky enough to have a stash of herbs grown by my friend's mothers and fathers and dried on an Athens veranda before ending up in a few jars in my kitchen, so I'm going with that to start off with.
Potatoes are a staple when doing any type of roast or salad: put the two together with some lemon and you have tasty lemon-roasted potatoes.
These are so delicious, I sometimes just make them on their own they're that good.
The usual Easter meat is a whole lamb roasted on a spit. Well, the closest I can come to that is roast seitan.
You can also go for marinated tofu with the same spices, either way everything together works so well. Throw in some griddled aubergine or courgette and a nice fresh Greek salad topped with creamy garlicky tzatziki and, well, you have one absolute belter of an Easter lunch.
If you have any leftovers from this I really recommend throwing it all in a toasted pitta for a late night souvlaki, and a cold beer lends itself very well to this - trust me, I know this from experience.
Greek style seitan with lemon roasted potatoes
1 tub of vegan cream cheese (toffuti or shop own brand)
8 cloves of garlic crushed
1 tub of vegan yoghurt
1 whole cucumber grated and the water drained (you can pop the cucumber in a clean tea towel and wring the water out or sit a heavy plate on top of it in a sieve)
Handful of chopped dill, mint and parsley
Salt and pepper
Juice of 1 lemon
(Throw the whole lot in a jug and blitz with a blender until its mixed)
1 bag of floury potatoes
I bulb of garlic
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
3 tbsp of the seitan herb mix
1 Cut the potatoes into wedges and throw everything in coating evenly.
2 Add a couple of cups of water and roast for around 35 minutes or until crispy and golden.
3 You can pop the aubergine in with the potatoes or do them on a separate tray or if you prefer griddle them with a little oil.
150g vital wheat gluten
40g gram flour (you can buy both types of flour in your local whole foods store, larger supermarkets, Asian supermarkets or online)
30g nutritional yeast flakes (Holland & Barratt, whole foods stores or health food shops carry this)
2 tbsp of onion powder
2 tbsp of garlic powder
2 tbsp fresh or dried herbs (I used my secret herb mix but you can use dried oregano, mint, marjoram, parsley and thyme)
1/2 tsp of cinnamon
1/2 tsp of nutmeg
300 ml of water
900 ml of stock for simmering seitan
1 Add all the dry ingredients in a bowl including herbs, garlic and onion and mix briefly to even everything out.
2 Add in the water and stir to combine all the mix
3 Work the dough for at least 5-10 min, you can pop it onto the countertop as soon as it starts binding
4 Once seitan has formed into a large piece let it sit for 5 minutes before you add it to the stock
6 This is a good time to get your stock on the stove you can use a large pot, whatever you use make sure there's enough room for the seitan to expand a bit.
7 Drop the seitan in carefully. The stock should cover it with about a few inches extra, if you need to throughout the cooking add more stock to keep it immersed
8 Cover and simmer away slowly for about 45 minutes.