Marinated Olives, The Family Tree Restaurant Style

This easy recipe is all about mixing olives with dried herbs, chilli flakes, olive oil, vinegar and lemon juice. In two hours, it is ready. The recipe came from the chef of Family Tree Restaurant, Turgutreis.

100 gram Kalamata olives, drained
2 tbsp virgin olive oil
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tsp dried chilli flakes
1 tsp dried oregano

In a clean, sterilised jar, combine Kalamata olives with chilli flakes, oregano, lemon juice, vinegar and olive oil.
Shake well and store in a cool cupboard.

Note: Olive oil, in general, go cloudy when kept in the fridge. Here, you need 2 hours for flavours to develop. Then, you can keep your left over marinated olives in a dark, cool place, like the pantry.

Vegan Wild Rocket Salad with Cherry Tomatoes and Avocado

In case, you haven’t noticed, I love my salads. I could literally live on salads for as long as they are up to my standards. The recipe below was my lunch on the day I received our fresh produce for the week –I get them delivered.

2 handfuls wild rocket
6 cherry tomatoes
1 ripe avocado
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Freshly squeezed juice of ½ lemon
1 tbsp sesame seeds

• Prepare the salad dressing by mixing olive oil, lemon juice and salt. Set aside.
• Wash the wild rocket. Process them in a salad spinner. Wash and quarter the cherry tomatoes. Mix the tomatoes and wild rocket in a salad bowl.
• Place avocado on cutting board. Insert knife into stem end; slice into halves lengthwise to the pit, turning avocado while slicing. Remove knife blade; twist both halves to pull apart. Slice the inside of the avocado halves into sections. Don’t worry if you cut right through the peel. Use your fingers to separate the avocado segments from the peel.
• Add avocado slices to the salad bowl.
• Sprinkle the salad with sesame seeds.
• Mix well and serve.

Vegan Lemon Chicken Casserole

First attempt. And it turned out to be great. The vegan pieces soak up the marinade so well, they taste almost like they are drenched with lemon juice. Serve this Vegan Lemon Chicken Casserole with Sister of My Heart or with garden salad or perhaps with rice.

1 pack The Redwood Vegideli Gourmet Meat Free Chicken Style Pieces
1 tbsp fresh rosemary leaves
1 large garlic clove, crushed
1 spring onion, finely chopped
Juice and grated rind of 1 lemon
1 tbsp vegetable oil of your choice (I used corn oil)

• In a bowl, combine rosemary, garlic, spring onion and lemon rind and juice. Whisk in the vegetable oil, then pour over the vegan chicken pieces. Leave to marinate for two hours.
• Preheat the oven to 150°C. My oven is brutal; if yours is not then try 180°C.
• Transfer the marinated vegan chicken pieces on a baking tray and bake 25 minutes or until the pieces are heated through and the sauce is thickened.

Vegan Shepherd’s Pie, Mum approved

I used to own a restaurant in Turkey where we did English food –including the real Shepherd’s Pie- so far away from the Motherland, England. Well, the recipe below is vegan and it is my Australian version of the one I used to make back in Turkey during my early vegetarian days. I made this when Mum was visiting and she –as a meat eater- approved.

1 tin Sanitarium Casserole Mince
1 onion
1 small carrot, peeled and diced
1 cup garden peas, frozen
3 potatoes
Bonsoy Soy Milk
2 tbsp vegetable oil
Nuttelex, to glaze
2 tsp Massel Gravy Mix Supreme
Salt and pepper

• Peel the potatoes and cut them into small pieces. Place them in a pot with some salt and boil until they are cooked thoroughly.
• Heat some oil in a pot. Fry the onions and the carrots until they are tender. Add the peas and casserole mix, stir well.
• Sprinkle the gravy mix and add just a little bit of water so that it dissolves properly. Season with salt and pepper.
• While you are giving the mince enough time to become acquainted with the other ingredients, prepare the mashed potato.
• Drain boiled potatoes and put them back into the very same pot with 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Mash them well with a potato masher and add soy milk. I like my mash very soft so add the soy milk gradually until you reach the consistency you like.
• In individual ramekins, arrange the mince and cover them with mashed potato. Place the ramekins under the grill and grill for 5 minutes. Take them out and spread some Nuttelex with a knife and put them in the oven. Brown the top and serve immediately.

Hectors, Vegan Fine Dining in Auckland

Hectors is the hotel restaurant of the Heritage Hotel in Auckland. We chose Hectors because they had 4 vegan starters and 4 vegan mains on their menu at the time –even some of their desserts are vegan- which is quite rare for a fine dining restaurant. And, to be honest, this was exactly what I was looking for; vegan fine dining.

The restaurant is beautiful with the glass roof and big open space decorated with native palm trees in large pots, sails used as shades and even a waterfall! The kitchen is designed to be an open kitchen where you can see their award winning chefs preparing the food down to every single detail.

It was a quiet night due to some big match on the television so they had only 3 tables to serve. Needlessly to say, we had all the attention. At some stage even Executive Chef Jinu Abraham came out to talk to us about their upcoming vegan wine list as well as their separate vegan menu.

Complementary olive oil with corn & sage bread


Red pepper and tomato tartlet $15
Apple with plum dressing and small leaves salad

Warm radicchio with potato and bread salad $15
Macadamia ricotta and balsamic with flax seeds

Baby beet and orange salad *** $16 (photo above)
Beet paint with cashew cheese and dehydrated black olives

Roasted swede soup $12
Pickled hazelnuts and cabbage


Bread crusted tofu $29 (photo above)
Potato and avocado mash with raisin purée and herb dressing

Macadamia and herb roasted eggplant filo *** $28 (photo above)
Braised winter greens with corn mousse and wakame tea powder

Mung bean noodles $24
Spinach with mung beans, crumbed bean curd and sesame seeds

Truffled field mushrooms $28
Seared polenta, spinach sauce and wakame seaweed

*** Indicates signature dishes

Vegan Potato and Mung Bean Soup

I came up with a recipe for this soup long time ago when I was first introduced to mung beans –like 12 years ago. But I didn’t write the recipe down anywhere. At least I thought I didn’t. So, every time I made it, I had to rediscover everything. While I was tidying up my recipe archive recently, I came across this recipe –miraculously- typed in Turkish and put aside. The recipe below contains wisdom from the previous one as well as the latter versions. By the way, it is gluten free.

1 large potato, peeled and diced
1 cup mung beans
2 tsp Massel Stock Powder Chicken Style
1 tbsp corn starch
1 tsp cumin
½ tsp turmeric
A handful flat leaf parsley, chopped
Freshly squeezed lemon juice

• Pick over the dry beans first to remove stones, dirt balls, beans with worm holes, and other foreign mater. Wash the mung beans to remove dust. Wash a second and third time if necessary although they should shine after their bath.
• Add 3 cups water to the beans and boil. Turn the heat down and simmer for 30-40 minutes. Drain and set aside.
• Boil 1 litre of water –good quality, drinking water.
• Heat the oil in a soup pot and add the cumin and turmeric. Stirring constantly add potatoes. Add boiled water and stir well. When it boils, add cooked mung beans. Check and season accordingly.
• Dissolve the corn starch in a small bowl with cold water. Add to the soup and stir well. Let it boil for a few seconds. Turn the heat off and add chopped parsley.
• Drizzle with freshly squeezed lemon juice and serve hot.

Stir-Fried Okra with Onion and Spices

This was a side dish to all the other Indian dishes we had two days ago. Because, I already posted some of the other recipes before I thought this one, too, deserves the same fame as the others.

300 gr okra
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
½ tsp turmeric
Fresh coriander leaves to garnish

• Soak the okra in a large bowl of lightly salted water for about 5 minutes.
• Trim away the stem just above the ridge, then slice the okra into miniature wheels.
• Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat, add the onions until the onions are browned. Add the spices and fry for about 30 seconds, then add the okra and season with salt. Stir well and cook , stirring frequently to prevent the okra from sticking to the pan, for about 8 minutes or until done.
• Drizzle lemon juice just before you remove the dish from the heat.
• Garnish with fresh coriander and serve.

Vegan Baby Beans with Carrot and Onion

Serve Vegan Baby Beans with Carrot and Onion with rice or bulgur pilaf.

2 cups frozen baby beans
1 small carrot (diced or sliced)
1 small onion (chopped)
2 large tomatoes (peeled and chopped)
1 tbsp tomato paste (plain variety)
Chopped flat leaf parsley
1 tsp sweet paprika
Salt and pepper

• Mix tomato paste, chopped tomatoes, sweet paprika, salt and pepper in a bowl. You may like to add some boiled water to dissolve the tomato paste to the mixture.
• Heat the oil in a pot, add the onion, the carrot and salt. Fry them until onions are brown and carrot are soft. Add frozen beans straight from the freezer without thawing.
• Add the tomato paste mixture and half the parsley, adjust the water and simmer until the sauce thickens.
• Garnish with the rest of the chopped parsley and serve.

Vegan Tomato Soup

There is nothing more comforting than a cup of hot soup in the winter. I noticed that I had a few tomatoes in my fridge that needed to be used up so I made this fresh tomato soup for lunch. If you choose your bread carefully, the soup is gluten-free.

2 tbsp vegetable oil
5 medium size tomato
800 ml water (boiled)
1 tbsp corn starch
A handful flat leaf parsley (chopped)
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp sweet paprika
2 tsp salt

• Peel the tomatoes and cut them into small pieces. In a large pot, heat the oil and add tomatoes, sweet paprika, onion powder and salt.
• Cook tomatoes until the mixture is more like a sauce. Add boiled water and stir.
• In a very small bowl mix corn starch with cold water. Stir well and gradually add to the soup.
• By using either a hand blender or a full size one, whizz up the whole soup until all the lumps and bumps are gone. Return to the heat and boil one more time. Add chopped parsley and serve hot immediately.

Vegan Cannellini Bean Stew

This stew is easy to make and it tastes even better the next day. Serving suggestions: pilaf with raw onion or green salad.

1 tin Woolworths Select Cannellini Beans
½ tin Sanitarium Casserole Mince
1 small brown onion
1 clove garlic (crushed)
1 tbsp concentrated tomato paste
1 tbsp vegetable oil
Chopped flat leaf parsley to garnish
1 tsp Massel Stock Powder Beef Style
1 tsp sweet paprika
½ tsp black pepper
1 tsp chilli flakes

• Peel and chop onion.
• Drain the cannellini beans and rinse well. Put them aside in a colander.
• In a small bowl, dilute the tomato paste with boiled water.
• Heat oil in a pot and brown onions with salt and stock powder until they are fried thoroughly.
• Add veggie mince and garlic. Fry them all together for 3 minutes and add the spices –sweet paprika, black pepper and the chilli flakes.
• Add the beans and diluted tomato paste. Add more boiled water to a level just above the ingredients and once it’s boiled cover and reduce the heat. Simmer until the sauce is slightly thick.
• Garnish with chopped parsley and serve.