Vegan Spinach Empanada

I am currently writing a little vegan recipe zine called "Who Ate All the Pies" that will be available to download in PDF format in Spring/Summer 2011.
My love of all things pie like is no secret. I can think of nothing better than a tasty sumptuous filling encased in pastry.
Pies are perfect for parties, picnics, quick nibbles and satisfying meals - all in all a total win in my books.
The next couple of recipes I am going to post will be little snippety teasers out of the zine which will hopefully whet your appetites and leave you shouting "WE WANT PIES!"
First up is Spinach Empanada.
Empanadas are basically Spanish pasties that are traditionally made with meat or tuna.
Not these babies.
What follows is a vegan twist on this typically Spanish food, so enjoy.

served with salad, new potatoes and hummous
Spinach Empanada
makes 6

For The Pastry
8oz Spelt Flour
3oz Vegan Margarine
Cold Water

Place the flour into a bowl and add the margarine. Rub the margarine into the flour until it resemble fine breadcrumbs. Add water a little bit at a time and gather together to form a dough. If the dough is too sticky just add some more flour until it all comes together nicely.
Chill until needed.

For the filling

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
half a cup of chopped onion
half a cup of chopped red pepper
half a cup of chopped mushrooms
1 leek, trimmed, washed and sliced
1 clove of garlic, minced
3 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 Tablespoon Sea Vegetables
Handful of spinach
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly grated black pepper

Heat the olive oil in a pan and add the onions, peppers and mushrooms. Cook on a medium heat for 10 minutes stirring regularly.
Add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.
Then add the tomatoes and leeks and cook for 10 minutes more.
Add the spinach, sea vegetables, salt and pepper and cook for 5 minutes stirring every now and then.
Check seasoning.
Leave to cool.

Heat oven to 200 degrees.
Take the pastry out of the fridge and lightly dust a work surface. Roll out the pastry and use whatever you have to cut 15 cm diameter rounds (I have a fancy pasty maker). Place each round onto a baking tray and spoon the filling into the middle. Each pasty will take about 5 tablespoons of filling. Wet one edge of the round with a little water and fold one edge of the pastry over the filling and use a fork to bind the edges together.
Brush with soya milk and bake in the middle of the oven for 30 minutes.
Can be eaten hot or cold.

the money shot


Coeliac - a cure in sight!!

Ground breaking news for people who suffer from coeliac disease - the exact triggers have been discovered!

Three out of the four substances which trigger the immune response in coeliacs have been identified by a team of Australian and UK researchers.

The team had to work out which of a possible 16,000 gluten fragments were actually causing sickness. Now that they have detected the most poisonous suspects out of a round up of 90 toxic gluten elements. This means that they can start working on treatments and a possible cure.
It is estimated that 1 in 30 people in the UK, particularly women, live on a gluten-free diet which is a staggering number of people.
Coeliac disease can be kept under control, however it is not easy – and almost half of coeliac patients still suffer five years after beginning to eat gluten-free.

It's not going to be an overnight cure but it is a HUGE step in the right direction and excites me all the same.
Appropriate medicine may not be available for the next ten years. But with this breakthrough an end is in sight.

Guest Post - Top 5 Kitchen Must-Haves for the Frugal Vegan Chef

Top 5 Kitchen Must-Haves for the Frugal Vegan Chef

The decision to become a vegan can be a daunting prospect on many fronts.  Coming from a traditional American diet that demands five food groups, it can be difficult to figure out how to get all the nutrients you need when you begin to limit your options for intake.  In addition, most grocery stores do not cater to those seeking vegan items (or organic, or special dietary needs).  Plus, these products can be very pricey!  But there are a few inexpensive staples that every chef embarking on a vegan meal plan should have in their kitchen.

1.       Quinoa – this little-known grain has been dubbed the “Mother of all grains” and has actually been grown in the Andes Mountains for 6,000 years!  Like most grains, it can supply your body with carbohydrates, but surprisingly, it is also a great source of complete protein and essential amino acids (similar to milk).  It is also gluten-free and easy to digest.  Can’t find it in stores?  Order it online in bulk and get a better price!

2.       Whole grain bread – while a yearning for this complex carbohydrate used to require a trip to the health food store, you can now find it in any grocery store, and often as a generic brand.  Carbs provide the main source of fuel for your body and by choosing whole grains, you will avoid the ups and downs of higher fat and sugar products like white bread, that break down quickly in your body.  You’ll also get more fiber, which aids in digestion.

3.       Spinach – the healthy benefits of this super food cannot be overstated, and you can enjoy it in many forms: raw, steamed, creamed, and in a wide variety of recipes from smoothies to pasta to pie.  It is high in antioxidants and a vast array of vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, C, E, K, B2, and B6, as well as iron, calcium, folic acid, and omega-3 fatty acids (among others).  Unbelievably, you can often find coupons for this veggie if you buy the packaged grocery store brand!  Or you can just go to your local farmer’s market and haggle for a better price.

4.       Virgin olive oil – this monounsaturated fat is a good addition to any diet.  Use it to cook or drizzle on salads for a rich source of energy that helps you feel full and makes your meal more satisfying (without the health problems that you may encounter from other types of fats).  A bottle of this beneficial fluid can be fairly pricey, but most markets offer a generic brand that is just as good at half the cost.

5.       Tofu – many who choose a vegan diet worry about missing out on calcium, which is essential for strong bones and teeth.  Although milk is a good source, it’s not the only one.  Just a few ounces of tofu can offer the same amount of calcium as a cup of milk, and it is far more versatile (this soy product can pick up the flavor of almost any other food).  It is also a great source of protein.

Jennifer Kardish is a communications coordinator at RTA Kitchen Cabinets
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