Sweet potato and lentil empanadas with a sofrito-avocado sauce

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This week, Sophie from Vergingonvegan and I teamed up for a mystery ingredient challenge. We each asked our audience to recommend 4-5 ingredients that they’d like us to use, and we’ll come up with two separate vegan recipes. And I’ll tell you right now, it was actually a lot more challenging than I thought it would be.

The ingredients that were chosen, were: chickpea flour, almond meal, nutritional yeast, and lentils.

Sounds simple enough, but trying to think a little bit out of the box, and fighting off that urge that you have to just go for the recipes that are tried and tested is harder than you would think.

Finally, I settled on a recipe that I hope would do my Puerto Rican family proud. Empanadillas also known as empanadas. Which literally translates to wrapped stuffing in bread or dough. It’s a dish that almost every Latin-American country has a variation of, and Puerto Rico is no different.

It’s a dish I grew up helping my mother and grandmother cook, and a dish I loved to eat. Traditionally, it’s made either with a meat and onion filling, or stuffed with a potato mixture and deep fried in oil. I decided to find a way to utilize the ingredients given to me, but also make it a little cleaner.

And because in my house, empanadas are usually always eaten with Tobasco sauce, I decided to make a spicy version of my mother’s sofrito. Sofrito is basically the base flavor that’s used in all Puerto Rico dishes. I have distinct memories of my mother in the kitchen, whipping up a quick batch of her sofrito–a medley of green peppers, cilantro, lemon, onions, and garlic blitzed up to make a paste. Then, when you’re cooking (literally anything), you add some oil to the pan, cook off some sofrito till the house smells like heaven, and then add whatever it is you’re cooking.


So here’s how I made it:

The dough:

  • 1 cup of chickpea flour
  • 1 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup of melted coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup of nut milk/water
  • A pinch of sea salt

 

The filling:

  • 2 medium-sized sweet potatoes
  • 1 cup of red lentils
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • Cilantro sprigs
  • 1 spring onion
  • 3 tablespoons of smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon of sweet paprika
  • 1/4 cup of nutritional yeast (this is totally optional)
  • 1/4 cup of almond meal
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Chopped yellow bell pepper (half a bell pepper)

The sauce:

  • 1 spring onion
  • Cilantro sprigs
  • Half a green bell pepper
  • The juice of 1 lime/lemon
  • 2 teaspoons of tahini sauce
  • Half an avocado
  • 1/2 clove of garlic
  • 2 teaspoons of water

 

Here’s how to make it:

  • Start by making the dough. Mix all the dough ingredients together and knead until it becomes well incorporated and a tacky to the tough (not too dry or too wet). If you feel the mixture is still too dry, add more milk or water (A LITTE BIT AT A TIME). Then, cover with beeswax paper/cling film and set aside at room temperature and start with the filling.
  • For the filling, I started off by peeling the sweet potatoes, dicing them relatively small, and boiling them in water until they were soft enough to mash with a fork.
  • In a separate pot, I boiled the red lentils until they too were tender enough to mash up.
  • In a large bowl, I added the sweet potatoes, lentils, almond meal, sea salt, nutritional yeast, and paprika and mashed the mixture with the back of my fork until they became a nice, smooth mixture.
  • Then, in a pan, I fried the garlic, cilantro, and onion and added them to the filling mixture.
  • Set the filling aside and let it cool off a bit, while you work on the dough again.
  • Set your oven to 200C and allow it to preheat while you make the dough.
  • On a clean surface, roll out the dough as thin and uniform as possible — always making sure to flour the surface and your rolling pin so that it doesn’t stick.
  • Then, with a small plate, place the plate on your dough and cut a circle around it, saving all the scraps.
  • Grab all the scraps left, knead them a bit again and roll them out to make another empanada.
  • Put about 3 large spoons of the filling inside the circle of dough, fold to one side and shut using the back of a fork.
  • Place the empanada on a baking sheet, brush with coconut oil and bake for 20-25 minutes, until they get nice and golden brown.
  • While the empanadas are baking, it’s time to make the sauce.
  • In a container, add all the sauce ingredients and using a hand blender, blitz them all together till nice and creamy.
  • Allow the empanadas to cool a bit before you eat them, and dust some paprika on top.

The recipe sure does sound more complicated than it actually is. And it sure did take me a lot of trial and error to get the dough right. But it’s worth it to be able to see a plant-based, cleaner version of one of your childhood favorite flavors.

I hope I’ve made my abuela proud with this one!

Since you’re here, why not follow me on Instagram Straight-up Bananas

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Quick Mexican Chopped Salad with a lime and yogurt dressing

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If it’s got avocado, count me in any day, son! This super simple and very filling chicken Mexican chopped salad is perfect for lunch–at work or at home.

Ingredients:

  • Crunchy greens of your choice (I used Boston lettuce)
  • 1 can of kidney beans
  • 1 can of sweet corn
  • 1 cup of cooked quinoa
  • 1 grilled chicken breast (seasoned with salt, pepper, paprika, and cumin)
  • 1 mashed avocado
  • 7 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • Chopped coriander
  • Chopped spring onions
  • ½ an orange bell pepper, sliced thinly

Dressing ingredients:

  • The juice of 1 lime
  • 1 cup of yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • Sea salt and pepper
  • 3 tablespoons of water

Method:

First of all, season the chicken breast with salt, pepper, cumin and paprika and grill till cooked through.

Then, prepare the dressing by mixing all the ingredients together in a bowl.

Place the crunchy greens in a salad bowl and top with all the toppings listed above.

Slice grilled chicken over salad and drizzle the yogurt and lime dressing on top.

Enjoy 🙂

 

Oh, and since you’re here…check me out on Instagram paleezzzz

 

 

Rainbow Couscous Bowl

rainbow-couscous-bowl-straightupbananasThis here is a recipe that’s been featured on WKND Magazine and Khaleej Times. It’s a little something I came up with when I had absolutely no clue what to make for dinner.

I just started laying on the flavors and it all kind of worked out.

You can eat this rainbow couscous bowl fresh or as leftovers the next day and it’s absolutely perfect. This recipe is not set in stone, so do play with it.

rainbow couscous salad

Here’s what you’ll need:

For the couscous:

  • 1 cup of fine couscous
  • 2 teaspoons of turmeric
  • 1 sliced spring onion
  • Coriander
  • A pinch of seasalt
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • A pinch of cinnamon
  • A pinch of red chili flakes

For the toppings:

  • Toasted almonds
  • Pomegranate seeds
  • More coriander
  • Mint leaves
  • Roasted chickpeas
  • Grilled chicken breasts (seasoned with sea salt, cinnamon, chili flakes, sumac and zaatar)
  • Grilled halloumi cheese

For the sauce:

  • Yogurt
  • Olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of crushed garlic
  • Coriander
  • The juice of a lime
  • 1 tablespoon of tahini

 

How to prepare:

  1. In a glass bowl, place the couscous along with all the couscous ingredients and fill with 2 cups of boiling hot water. Cover the bowl with a plate or plastic wrap and let set for 10-15 minutes.
  2. After the couscous has set, remove the plate or plastic wrap and with a fork lightly fluff the couscous.
  3. In a large flat plate, place the warm couscous and layer on the toppings. To ensure that each bite is tasty, mix half of the topping ingredients together with the couscous and leave the rest for the top.
  4. Pour yourself a few spoonfuls and layer on the yogurt sauce.
  5. ENJOY!

 

Oh is this not organic enough for you? Just had my farewell at #fumedubai what a lovely night it was. Thank you to everyone that went out of their way to come see me off. ♡

#dubaimarina #moscowmule #straightupbananas #dubai #dinner #farewell #goodtimes #pier7 (at Fume Neighborhood Eatery Dubai)

Bateel’s warm lentil and arugula salad with Umbrian burrata is a thing of beauty! Never get over the quality of food and sensible pricing of that place.

This post is in no way sponsored. I just genuinely love their quality of food.

#bateel #umbria #italian #salad #fresh #dinner #yum #delicious #hungry #eat #food #foodporn #foodgasm #dubaifood #dubaifoodie #foodblogger #straightupbananas #arabianranches (at Bateel)

Delicious Moroccan-inspired Tagine

So I got back from an
amazing trip. Add Morocco to your list! Oh my gawd, what a place, what a trip!

And as is customary to hear from anyone who’s got back from
Morocco–the food there is ridiculously delicious! I. Can’t. Even. begin to
explain!

I had this delicious chicken, olive, and preserved lemon tagine
and the taste has been in my mouth ever since. Naturally, I decided to try and
give it a go at home and I must say, I was pleasantly surprised with the
outcome and so was the hubsters! 

Here’s what you need
for this recipe:

1- 2 Chicken breasts

2- 1 preserved lemon

3- 1 sliced onion

4- 3 cloves of garlic, chopped

5- 1 cup of pitted green olives

6- Ras al Hanout spice which consists of:
powdered cumin, cinnamon, ginger, and turmeric.

7- A drizzle of olive oil

8- A cup of water

9- A handful of almonds

10- Chopped parsley


How to cook it:

1- Put some olive oil in a skillet, and sautee
the chicken for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown

2- Add the onions and garlic to the chicken
and sweat out for another 5 minutes

3- Add the spices and cook out for 2 minutes

4- Add the cup of water, cover, and let simmer
for 30 minutes until chicken is tender

5- Toast the almonds in a separate skillet
with some olive oil

6- Top the chicken with the chopped parsley
and toasted almonds

7- Serve on fresh cous-cous or brown rice

8- Enjoy!


This recipe was an
absolute winner in my house. I think you should give it a go!

Nothing will ever quite compare to the party in your mouth that is this squid Ramen noodle burger wuth kimchi labaneh from @tresind_dubai

Absolute yum!

What’s the last delicious thing you’ve had in your mouth? Oh wait..don’t answer that.

Go straight-up bananas with me ya’ll! Straight-upbananas.com 🍌

#dubai #dubaifood #foodporn #foodgasm #nomnom #love #igers #zomato #burger #radissonhotel #royalradisson #dinner #lunch #fastfood #delicious #instagood #picoftheday #straightupbananas #foodlover #gastronomy