Arakas – peas the Greek Way
Arakás is a dish ideal for a quick and easy complete vegan meal any day of the week, throughout the year. It is a garden pea, carrot and potato stew with simple, clean flavours and beautiful textures, characterised by the fruity flavour of olive oil and the aromas dill and parsley.
Arakás belongs to Laderá, a category of dishes which is a staple in the weekly Greek diet and which literally translates to ‘with oil’ or ‘oily’. Rather than cooking vegetables as a side, the vegetable of choice is the main event, with a similar process of preparation for each Ladero dish but different vegetable and herbs starring in each recipe depending on the seasonality and accessibility of vegetables, e.g. Okra, aubergine, green beans, etc.
Modern Greeks still eat copious amounts of Laderá despite their increasing gyros and souvlaki eating habits – they are healthy, affordable and delicious staples of a balanced diet. And for convenience it is ingenious to have dishes which provide you with a whole meal in a pot making vegan and vegetarian food easily accessible throughout the year. With frozen peas available this dish can help you make the most of small quantities of carrot and potato you have left over. Just bag yourself some dried dill and parsley to use in this recipe in the future so that you don’t have to find fresh herbs each time.
- 500g frozen garden peas
- 2 carrots, sliced in thick rings or cubed
- 1 large potato, peeled and cubed (walnut size cubes)
- 1 onion, chopped
- 200g chopped tomatoes or passata (or 1 large fresh tomato grated or 1 Tbsp. tomato paste)
- ½-1 small bunch of dill (up to 20g)
- A few sprigs finely chopped parsley
- 2 tsp sea salt
- Coat the bottom of a medium sized pot with the olive oil.
- When hot add the chopped onion with a teaspoon of salt and sauté on low heat until translucent.
- Add the potatoes, carrots and pepper. Stir well to coat the oil.
- Add the frozen peas and stir well until they are also well coated with oil.
- Add the tomato of your choice stirring well for a couple minutes to start the cooking process and release the tomato flavour.
- Finally add the herbs and up to 1.5 cups boiling water with another teaspoon of salt.
- The water should cover the ingredients but should not be too much as you are aiming for a dry stew rather than a soup or saucy dish.
- Stir well and when the contents come to the boil simmer the stew for 30 to 45 minutes.
- The food is ready when liquid is absorbed. There should be enough liquid to sponge up with nice slice bread but not so much as the vegetable swim in it.
- Cool down the dish for 10-15 minutes before serving. This dish is delicious in room temperature or reheated up to two days from cooking. It also freezes well.
The Carrot and Cumin soup that stole your heart
MDuring Love Food Hate Waste Project 2016 (roadshows and workshops included) there was one soup that definitely stole everyone’s heart both in terms of taste and simplicity of preparation.
An easy recipe to help you use that bag of carrots you bought when you really only needed a couple. Nutritious, warming and satisfying it is versatile in its use of pulses, I actually make it with yellow split peas more often than with red lentils, but if you are in a rush lentils are a better option. If you do not have ras-el-hanout spice mixture you can increase the cumin dose, add some paprika, ground coriander, a pinch of chilli powder and a squeese of lemon. Fresh coriander or spinach complements the recipe very well. The use of almond milk is in my opinion what really makes this soup (use sweetened). And if you serve with toasted almonds it and coriander pesto you have a luxury version to indulge in.
Makes 2.5lt soup or 6 portions for main
- 700g carrots
- 350g red lentils or split yellow peas
- 2.5 litres stock
- 250ml almond milk
- 2 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 pinch chilli flakes
- 1.5 tsp Ras El Hanout spice mix
- Olive oil
- Fresh coriander or spinach (Optional)
- Wash carrots well with a vegetable brush and chop finely.
- Coat the bottom of a pot with enough olive oil.
- When hot add the cumin seeds and chilli flakes and fry for a few
- Add the carrots, with a couple of pinches of salt and stir fry for
- Add the lentils and Ras El Hanout and stir well until well coated
- Add the stock, bring to the boil and simmer for 20-30 minutes.
- Remove from the heat, add the almond milk and blend to a creamy
- Add the chopped spinach and/or coriander for a soup that will make you as strong as Popeye!
Lia’s Tips: Mix parsnips or potatoes with carrots to use up leftover vegetable. This soup is great with split yellow peas. Served with pesto and nuts it is a very filling meal. Serve with savoury muffins or toasted stale bread or croutons.