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Simple Vegan Tzatziki

Simply Vegan Tzatziki by Veganopoulous

Another family recipe, courtesy of my Mum and Dad! Their tzatziki ‘recipe’ (it’s in their hearts and hands, not on paper) uses Greek dairy yoghurt and for a long time I held off making a vegan version because when I veganise family recipes, I prefer to use ingredients that result in an almost identical tasting match to the not-vegan version of my youth. Coconut yoghurt was immediately ruled out because, well, it ends up like a coconutty tasting thing and not at all like my family’s dish. Cashew cream ends up too sweet. Silken tofu would have the tofu after taste. Right?

Well, I think I was a bit harsh on the old silken tofu. Today I decided to go for it and see how it would taste and boy am I pleasantly surprised. I do like my tzatziki heavy on the garlic and lemon and that does help mask any soy flavour. Still, I couldn’t detect a strong soy taste like I feared and so I’ve been fist pumping around the place, waiting to see my parents so I can get them to try this.

Simply Vegan Tzatziki by Veganopoulous

So when my parents make this, they break out the big guns and by that I mean their big huge Greek mortar and pestle. The thing that will break your toes if you drop it on your foot. Mum and Dad put peeled garlic gloves in the mortar with salt, then pound away with the pestle. The salt prevents the mashed garlic from flying out everywhere. Family events always involved the banging sounds of mortar and pestle the day before, while Mum got the tzatziki prepared. Before the days of less watery Greek yoghurt being sold in supermarkets, Mum would hang an old pillowcase of yoghurt over the sink and let it drain.

I don’t have a mortar and pestle, so I used a microplane for my garlic. You can also use a garlic press if you prefer, though it should be as close to mashed-like as possible.

For the cucumber, Mum and Dad always use Lebanese cucumbers that have been peeled, cut lengthwise and the seeds scooped out with a spoon, then excess liquid squeezed out. If they can’t find Lebanese, they use regular cucumbers. The cucumber is always grated, never chopped. Ha, they snort and shake their heads when they see TV chefs making tzatziki with massive chunks of cucumber!

For us, the flavour always comes from the garlic, lemon and extra virgin olive oil. Mum and Dad have never used herbs. Some people like dill, others use mint. Feel free to add those in if you like. I enjoy the tastes of herbs, but I enjoy my parents’ tzatziki without them because this is what I grew up with and faffing around with the flavours kinda feels wrong when it’s a much loved family recipe!Simply Vegan Tzatziki by Veganopoulous

This is a medium-ish serving but I only say that because Mum and Dad make a huge amount, so this amount seems wee in comparison. I wanted to base my recipe on a 300g block of silken tofu.

I would recommend that you keep this in the bowl you prepared it in (in the fridge), then if you’re going to serve it give it a good stir and put it in a nice bowl. In terms of how it compares to the dairy version, you can see in the photo the colour is more yellowy than white but taste wise? This tastes exactly like what my Mum and Dad make. I watched them making tzatziki many, many times so the process is pretty automatic for me and I’m super happy there’s no big strong tofu taste. I wonder if that depends on the brand of tofu, perhaps some are more soy tasting than others. I used Earth Source Japanese style silken tofu.

 

Simple Vegan Tzatziki
Print Recipe
This vegan tzatziki uses traditional Greek flavours of garlic, lemon and olive oil. Silken tofu is used in place of dairy yoghurt. You can change the amount of garlic or lemon to suit your tastes.
Servings Prep Time
4 people 15 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 people 15 minutes
Simple Vegan Tzatziki
Print Recipe
This vegan tzatziki uses traditional Greek flavours of garlic, lemon and olive oil. Silken tofu is used in place of dairy yoghurt. You can change the amount of garlic or lemon to suit your tastes.
Servings Prep Time
4 people 15 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 people 15 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: people
Instructions
  1. Peeling the cucumber is optional. Cut the cucumber down its length and use a spoon to scoop out the seeds (seeds aren't needed in this recipe). Coarsely or finely grate the cucumber (your choice, I use fine but my parents prefer coarse). Squeeze out as much liquid from the grated cucumber as possible and set aside.
  2. In a small blender or food processor, whiz the silken tofu (with excess water pressed out) to make it all smooth. You don't want any lumps.
  3. In a small or medium bowl, combine the smoothed tofu, cucumber, garlic, half the lemon juice and salt. Stir to combine then add lemon juice to taste. I like mine lemony so start with half first!
  4. Before serving, give the tzatziki a good stir and put on a fancy plate or in a bowl. Drizzle with a little extra oil and garnish with some thinly slice cucumber.
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16

Gigantes: Greek Giant Baked Beans

Veganopoulous Gigantes Greek Giant Baked Beans

I’m really pleased to share another of my family’s recipes with you, this time my mum’s awesome Greek giant baked beans. Known as Gigantes or Yigantes, this is a perfect autumn-winter dish and pretty simple to make. The word ‘gigantes’ in Greek means giant, and if you’ve seen these on a menu listed as Gigantes Plaki, the ‘plaki’ refers to a dish being cooked in a tomato based sauce.

Veganopoulous Gigantes Greek Giant Baked Beans

Everyone makes this differently and as always, you can add a little of this or that. My mum doesn’t use garlic in her recipe and I think they’re fine without it but if you want to add some when sauteeing the veggies, go ahead! If you don’t like dill, you can add a little fresh parsley instead. If you want to make this an oil free dish, that’s fine too– you can just do the sautee step in a little broth or water.

Some recipes in cookbooks and online include the addition of sugar. I personally don’t think it’s needed and when I’ve tried the tinned ready made gigantes, they’re always a bit too sweet for me.

The cooking process is pretty straightforward and I’ve put together this little step by step photo illustration to tie in with the instructions further down:

Veganopoulous Gigantes Greek Giant Baked Beans

If you want to soak your giant beans overnight, go ahead. Mum says she never bothers and when she has soaked the beans, it makes no difference to the finished meal. Not soaking may mean your stove top cooking takes a bit longer.

The gigantes shown in my photos here are quite thick without a heap of sauce. We kinda forgot to take the beans out of the oven earlier so there’s not as much liquid butttt this isn’t necessarily a problem because I love them this way too! If you like slightly more soupy, you can reduce the cooking time. Veganopoulous Gigantes Greek Giant Baked Beans

Simple, delicious and nutritious! These beans are great on toast too  🙂

Veganopoulous Gigantes Greek Giant Baked Beans

Gigantes: Greek Giant Baked Beans
Print Recipe
Perfect for autumn and winter, this classic Greek dish is both easy to make and delicious. No need for the tinned versions or waiting for your next trip to a Greek restaurant!
Servings Prep Time
8 serves 15 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
45 minutes in the oven 30-40 on stove
Servings Prep Time
8 serves 15 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
45 minutes in the oven 30-40 on stove
Gigantes: Greek Giant Baked Beans
Print Recipe
Perfect for autumn and winter, this classic Greek dish is both easy to make and delicious. No need for the tinned versions or waiting for your next trip to a Greek restaurant!
Servings Prep Time
8 serves 15 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
45 minutes in the oven 30-40 on stove
Servings Prep Time
8 serves 15 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
45 minutes in the oven 30-40 on stove
Ingredients
Servings: serves
Instructions
  1. Optional step: Soak your beans overnight if you prefer. Make sure the beans are well covered in water. Drain and rinse the beans.
  2. Put the beans in a large pot and fill the pot with water until the water is about one and half inches above the beans. Bring to a boil then simmer until the beans are tender, about 30-40 minutes. Test three beans by gently squeezing them. If you've soaked your beans beforehand, check around the 20 minute mark onwards. The beans should not feel mushy. Drain the beans in to a colander and let them sit while you prepare the veggies.
  3. Preheat your oven to 180C (or the 'moderate' setting).
  4. In the same pot, heat the 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Sautee the carrots, onion and celery until tender on a medium heat.
  5. Add the drained beans to the veggie mixture in the pot. Sprinkle over the paprika and stir gently.
  6. Put the 500ml of passata in a large jug and add enough water to make one litre. Stir the tomato-water mixture and mix it in with the beans and veggies.
  7. Add another litre of water to the beans and veg and stir gently. Add in the salt, chopped dill and optional 2 tablespoons of olive oil. It will look like a very runny watery soup-- don't despair!
  8. Mix everything well then pour in to a large baking dish or casserole dish. Add pepper to taste if you like or more salt. Cover the dish tightly with foil and cook for about 40 minutes, checking at the half hour mark.
  9. Remove the foil and cook for another ten minutes. Keep an eye on the level of liquid in the beans. You don't want them to dry out!
  10. Remove from the oven when the beans are to your liking-- either with a fair bit of sauciness or more a thick stew. Keep in mind the mixture thickens more the next day.
  11. Serve the gigantes on their own, or with thick chunks of bread.
Recipe Notes

I've listed 30 to 40 minutes as the passive cooking time-- this is for the beans cooking on the stove before they go in the oven.

If you don't like dill, add in a little chopped flat leaf parsley to your liking.

If you are oil-free, sautee the veggies in some broth or water.

If you want more of a garlic flavour, add a large clove of finely chopped garlic to the pot when you sautee the veggies.

Some people like to pre-cook the beans with a dried bay leaf in the water.

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