It’s evening and the sun is setting behind the skyscrapers as I am walking in the Centre of London, thinking about what to cook for dinner. I suddenly find myself in front of a large window, where smiling people are biting something apparently tasty. The customers are mostly children, putting their chubby little fingers in paper containing fries and licking their lips dirty of ketchup. I look up to the sky noticing the large yellow sign: is the entrance of a McDonald’s fast food.
I grew up in a town in the heart of the Murgia (southern Italy), where a small bakery, with its authentic traditional tastes and smells was able to compete with the only one McDonald’s fast food of the city, which later went bust. (the story is told in a documentary film with the title of Focaccia Blues, the true story of thefocaccia that ate the hamburger).
This fact happened in 2002 and I’m still surprised how, even today, a large number of people are still “enjoying” their meals at fast food restaurants. Moreover, even the vegetarian version of such restaurants should be avoided if you want to follow a healthy diet.
That is a junk food affair. Main of its ingredients are passed off the quality products, with low nutritional value and high in calories. Disgusting food, chemical in its composition, fried and refried in palm oil used for days. Do we really want all this for our health?
It only takes ten minutes to prepare a valid alternative to the traditional and often unhealthy hamburgers. Vegetable burgers are healthy, tasty and dietary. You can often eat them, since there are lots of ingredients you can use: chickpeas, lentils, quinoa, potatoes, spinach, beans and many others.
Today, I decided to prepare the beet burger. This recipe is very quick and easy: it will surprise you, almost as much as its yummy flavor!
Ingredients for 4-5 people:
400 cooked lentils;
3 tablespoons bread crumbs;
2 garlic cloves;
A pinch of salt and pepper.
Boil the beetroots, peel and cut them. (to avoid this step, you can buy precooked beetroots);
Puree the lentils and beetroots in a blender and add bread crumbs, cashews and garlic. (If the mixture is not compact enough, add more bread crumbs);
Add salt, pepper, olive oil, a sprinkling of chopped parsley and lemon juice;
Leave the mixture in the fridge for about 30 minutes, cover it with a cloth or a layer of plastic wrap;
Try to make at least 5 hamburgers, help yourself with hands or with a mold for hamburgers;
Put over the heat a non-stick pan with a little oil and cook for a few minutes for each side;
Preferably serve them hot.
I love to have my hamburger in a fresh sandwich with vegan mayonnaise, salad and baked potatoes as side dish.
They are excellent if served with a mustard sauce and toasted pine nuts.
Yogurt, cucumbers, garlic, lemon and mint. What’s better on a hot day like this? A few ingredients for a simple fresh and quick sauce typical of Greek tradition: the tztatziki.
I often prepare this recipe, especially during the summer. It is very versatile and I love to combine it with falafel, to use it as a dressing for salads or just to enjoy on a slice of bread or spread on a pita.
This sauce is perfect as an appetizer or a snack. Its vegan version is much more appreciated and it keeps the same creamy texture and taste than the original. Moreover, between the basic ingredients of tztatziki sauce, there are cucumbers, as everyone knows, vegetables rich in beneficial properties. In fact, the cucumber is one of the plants with the highest content of water, rich in vitamins and minerals, useful for skin hydration and detoxification.
The recipe. Ingredients for 4 people:
500 g natural soy yogurt;
2 garlic cloves;
Just enough salt;
2 tablespoon mint leaves;
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil.
Shave and grate the cucumbers with a large hole grater and put the pulp into a colander, pressing it down with a spoon, to eliminate water. (I prefer to set aside some chunks of diced cucumbers and leave them whole in the sauce);
Finely chop garlic and add it to the yogurt, along with some lemon juice, salt and olive oil;
Add to the mixture the cucumbers and finely chopped mint leaves;
If you don’t appreciate the strong garlic flavour, you can halve the cloves, leave them to rest for half an hour in the yogurt and then remove them from it.
It is nice to wake up with a ray of sunshine on the eyelids, a sigh of wind on your cheeks, craving for ice cream and the song “Emozioni” by Battisti in your ears.
Happiness is like a glass of red wine, like the geraniums hanging from the grandmothers’ balconies, like my cat’s cover, and the flavour of watermelon in Summer. Dilated pupils, dimpled cheeks, crow’s feet at the sides of the eye: those are the symptoms of a natural state of serenity.
But what colour is the melancholy? This term is a combination of two Greek words: mélanos (black), and mélas, cholé (bile), so its meaning is “black bile”. It often happens in life to fall into negative emotions, but food can be useful in case like this. Today, we take from the pantry an ingredient that has the colour of happiness and at the same time is able to fight against the dark sides of melancholy: the beetroot.
In fact, in addition to its high content of minerals and vitamins and to its purifying and energetic properties, this root also contains betaine, a substance that can affect the brain, improve people mood and fight against a state of moderate depression.
The beetroot can be consumed in various ways, but I suggest you to blend it with lemon, olive oil, garlic, chickpeas, salt and tahini sauce, to obtain a creamy tasty hummus which is beneficial to the physical and mental health!
“Capire tu non puoi, tu chiamale se vuoi: Emozioni.”
Ingredients for 4-5 people:
400 g beetroot;
300 g precooked chickpeas;
1 garlic clove – chopped;
Some lemon juice;
1 table spoon extra virgin olive oil;
2 table spoons of tahini sauce;
Some mint leaves;
Some parsley- finely chopped;
A pinch of salt;
A sprinkling of pepper and turmeric.
In a food blender, pour all the ingredients: beetroot, chickpeas, garlic, lemon juice, oil, tahini sauce, mint, and salt;
Blend until you obtain a smooth cream, if it is too thick, add more oil;
Serve with a sprinkling of turmeric, pepper and chopped parsley.
There are different types of bread that originally accompanied hummus in the Middle East, such as unleavened bread orpita, however slices of toasted bread are also fine;
This hummus is perfect alongside falafel (you can find my recipe here). It will give the dish a touch of freshness and the scent of Summer.