January has officially felt like the longest month of the year! After all of the festivities in December, treating ourselves to some lighter alternatives in January is always a great idea.
Since 2014, Veganuary has inspired and supported more than half a million people in 178 countries to try vegan for January - and beyond.
So, although we are not here to promote one lifestyle choice over another, at Fleek, we are all about finding what works for you. Often, trying a new routine takes time, and giving yourself a month can make the world of difference!
January is always a difficult month, not only because it is so long, but because we have so many expectations for the new year! So, what I wanted to give you this week were some easy Italian alternatives to your growing repertoire of vegan or vegetarian recipes that you can carry out throughout the year! I have tried to stay seasonal, and there is a sweet treat at the end to enjoy!
Italian cuisine is so versatile and focuses on using the best products that are as local and seasonal as possible. So, gives these a go and finish off in style this Veganuary!
Caponata is a Sicilian eggplant dish made from chopped fried eggplant and celery seasoned with sweetened vinegar, capers, and olives! Different variations exist all over Italy, and can be a main or side to many meals!
*I know it looks like a lot of ingredients, but it is quite simple, and this makes an abundant amount, but it keeps well in the fridge and is wonderful on top of toast as well!
1 kg of eggplant, chopped into about 2-3 cm chunks
250g white onions roughly chopped
400g celery roughly chopped
200g of tomatoes (preferably vine-ripe), quartered
200g pitted green olives, halved
50g of capers
50g of pine nuts
60g of white wine vinegar
60g of sugar
40g of tomato paste
Salt and Pepper
Basil to garnish
What To Do
Toast the pine nuts in a dry pan for a few minutes until they begin to brown. Remove from the heat.
Now, you have two options, you can either fry the eggplant in an inch of oil for about 2-3 minutes until they brown, or put them on a sheet with oil in an oven (200 degrees Celcius) for about 30 minutes. You can also just add the eggplant raw to the rest, but the taste is much better and the pre-cooking adds a lot more depth.
In a large pan, warm olive oil on medium heat. Add the onions and celery and cook until soft. Add the capers, olives, and quartered tomatoes. Cover with a lid a cook on medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes.
Whilst this is cooking, in a jar or jug, combine well the sugar, vinegar, and tomato paste.
Once the 15 minutes have passed, remove your lid, add the sauce and cook an additional 3-5 minutes. Add the eggplant, and turn off the heat. With the residual heat, add some basil leaves, and season to taste.
This is best served at room temperature or cold!
Finocchi in Padella is a simple fennel dish that is often used as a side dish. it is simple and lets the flavours speak for themselves!
2 Fennel Heads
Coarse Salt and Pepper
1/2 cup of Breadcrumbs (optional)
What To Do
Wash and slice the fennel heads into wedges.
In a large pan on medium heat, warm the olive oil, and add the fennel and season generously with salt and pepper. Cook for 5-6 minutes on medium-high heat.
At this point, add the thyme and optional breadcrumbs.
Cook for an additional 5-6 minutes or until they are tender when tested with a fork, but still have a "bite".
Serve hot, and with some crunchy bread to enjoy every last bit of the sauce in the bottom of the pan!
Sweet and Simple Amarene and Cacao is the best combination of chocolate and cherries in this vegan fudge alternative!
100g Cacao Powder
100g Coconut Oil
80g of Amarene Cherries (in syrup, pits removed)
150g Glucose Syrup (this can be a simple syrup 2:1 Click here to see how )
3g Salt (Fine)
What To Do
In a bowl, put the cacao powder, salt, simple syrup, and coconut oil. Mix until all well combined.
At this point, add the almonds left whole and the cherries.
Prepare a tin (about 20x10cm) with greaseproof paper. Put the mixture in, and level it.
Place in the freezer for 30 minutes.
Afterwards, remove and take out of the tin. Cut into squares, and serve cold.