Monday, August 9, 2010

Opa! It's a Summertime Greek Fest

Seitan Souvlaki with Vegan Tzatziki

Summer's glut of fresh vegetables practically begs you to make some Greek food, doesn't it? What else are you going to do with all that eggplant, zucchini, peppers, tomatoes, and fresh herbs? Apparently I'm not the only one who thinks so, both VegNews and Saveur magazines recently featured some Greek dishes that as soon as I saw them, I just knew I had to try.

The Seitan Souvlaki skewers pictured above, amazingly started out from this blob of dough:

It's only recently that I started making my own homemade seitan, and I'm still surprised by how easy and versatile it is. This recipe is from VegNews July/August 2010 (I would link to it if I could, but it's not online. Contact me if you'd like me to send it to you.) After making the seitan, which is already filled with plenty of seasonings, you then toss it in a mix of olive oil, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, dried oregano, and dried rosemary. Then you thread it onto skewers along with pieces of bell pepper, onion, and tomato.

Then you grill it. Seeing as we live in a Brooklyn apartment with no yard, this is how we grill:

Yes, that is my panini maker. Clearly it's time for me to invest in, at the very least, a grill pan. Grilling kabobs like this isn't too bad, but you know what's difficult? Grilling eggplant.

Grillin' eggplant, Brooklyn-style

Looking at these pictures gave me a flashback to the days when I used to make grilled cheese in my dorm room with my iron. When it comes to food, I will find a way to get things done!

To go with the Seitan Souvlaki, I made the Tzatziki Sauce recipe also from VegNews. It's just a mix of cucumber, garlic cloves, vegan yogurt, lemon juice, and fresh herbs - I used dill. It was super easy and delicious, adding a nice cooling contrast to the heavily seasoned "meat." If I would change one thing though, I might swap the vegan yogurt for some silken tofu. I found the vegan yogurt to be too thin and watery for this sauce. It is traditionally made with Greek yogurt, which is very thick, and I think silken tofu might be a better match for the consistency.

Along with the skewers, I also made the Melintzanosalata and Kolokithokeftedes recipes from Saveur magazine (that would be Eggplant & Parsley Dip and Zucchini Fritters to you and me). The Eggplant Dip was already vegan, so I made that according to the recipe, starting with the eggplant you see grilling above. After cooling, peeling, seeding, and chopping up the grilled eggplant (a lot of work, but it's worth it), you saute some bell pepper and jalapeno, then process everything together with olive oil, parsley, red wine vinegar, and garlic, until it slightly chunky. This dip far exceeded my expectations, it was intensely flavorful and fresh tasting. And - best of all - my normally eggplant-hating husband loved it too! Definitely the sign of a good recipe.

The Zucchini Fritter recipe I had to veganize, so I'll give you my recipe below. These are AMAZING. Not since I made the Indonesian Corn Fritters have I had something that packed so much flavor into such a small bite. If you are wondering what to do with that surplus of zucchini from your garden (or that you bought at the farmer's market), look no further.

Zucchini Fritters
serves 4 (12 fritters)

1 lb. zucchini, grated
2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 cup minced flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup grated vegan Parmesan (like this one from Galaxy)
1/2 cup dried bread crumbs
1 medium yellow onion, grated
1 1/2 tsp. Egg Replacer + 2 Tbsp. water, mixed (equivalent of one egg)
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Pinch of cayenne, to taste
Olive or canola oil, for frying

1. Mix zucchini and salt in a strainer; set a weighted plate on top; let drain for 30 minutes. In a flash of genius, I had the idea to use my tofu press for the zucchini. It worked like a charm and pressed all the moisture out much faster, and without all the cumbersome heavy-stuff-on-a-plate crap. If you do use the strainer method, after 30 minutes transfer the zuccchini to a tea towel and squeeze out any remaining liquid.

2. Mix the zucchini with all other ingredients (except oil) in a medium-sized bowl. Divide mixture into 12 patties, about 3/4" thick.
3. Pour oil into a non-stick pan until it's about 1/2 inch thick, heat over medium-high until oil is shimmering. Fry patties until they are browned and crisp, about 5-6 minutes total. Transfer fritters to paper towels. Can be eaten warm or at room-temperature.

And here you can see the final results, the Eggplant & Parsley Dip on the left, Zucchini Fritters on the right, along with some store-bought hummus, dolmades, olives, and whole wheat pita bread. The only thing that could have made this better is if we were eating it outside by the azure blue waters of Santorini...


  1. You outdid yourself Leinana! This looks so delicious and fantastic! You are speaking my cuisine for sure. Many of those things I have not veganized so I am going to have to try your recipes soon! Thanks for posting!

  2. Thanks Noelle! It was definitely one of the best meals we've had this summer!

  3. This meal looks so very delicious! My mouth is watering, and I'm wondering if I have time to make a batch of those zucchini fitters for dinner tonight. Probably not, but they'll be on the menu this week for sure!

  4. I love Greek food. This looks delicious. I honestly did a double take when I saw the picture because I couldn't imagine that could be vegan. What a great recipe and post!

  5. Everything looks absolutely delicious!!!

  6. oh wow, I just happened across your blog & was taking a look around... and you have a recipe for kolokithokeftedes!!! You have no idea how much I've missed these from my little Greek restaurant, and I've never made them myself, vegan or not - the bar was just too high. I can't wait to try these!! Thanks for sharing :)

  7. Thank you for the wonderful comments everyone! :)