Spaghetti Squash with a delicious Sun dried Tomato, Olive, Red Wine Sauce and a Lemony Cannellini bean Salad

Sometimes I get so envious of other overseas cooking blogs, with their interesting ingredients that I can’t find in Australia. One of these ingredients is Spaghetti Squash. I couldn’t believe that you could make pasta from a pumpkin. However I finally found this Spaghetti Squash in a fancy grocery store on the north side of town.

Spaghetti Squash is an oblong seed-bearing variety of winter squash. It is very nutritious and contains omega 3 and 6 essential fatty acids, vitamin C,  A and B; and is rich in beta carotene. It can be baked, boiled, steamed and microwaved. After cooking, you can run a folk through it and its flesh will separates into spaghetti-like strands.

I decided to roast my spaghetti squash, since everything tastes better roasted. It acutally turned out really well. I probably over cooked mine a little, so the strains were a little mashy. I served it with a delicious rich tomato sauce. Poor Marco missed out on this meal, but my lucky mum got to share it with me. She really enjoyed it, with a lovely glass of Lambrusco.

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Spaghetti Squash with a delicious Sun dried Tomato, Olive, Red Wine Sauce (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1 Spaghetti Squash (90g -100g)

olive oil

sea salt to taste

black pepper to taste

1 small brown onion, diced

2 garlic, cloves diced

1 red chilli, diced

6 sun dried tomatoes, chopped

1 can good quality tomato pulp (I used Mutti)

1/2 can filtered water

sea salt and black pepper to taste

pinch raw sugar

2 tablespoons red wine (I used Lambrusco)

8-10 black olives

8 basil leaves, chopped

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees.DSC01838

2. Cut off the stem of the squash, then cut it in half. Scoop out the seeds and remove some of the guts. Sprinkle some sea salt and black pepper and roast for 30-40 minutes or until cooked.

3. Heat a pan with a tablespoon or two of olive oil and add onion, garlic and chili. Saute for a few minutes until the onion starts to brown.

4. Then add sun dried tomato and saute for another couple of minutes. If you like add some of the oil from the sun dried tomatoes or olive oil.

5. Add the tomato pulp, water,  sea salt, black pepper, raw sugar. Bring to a light boil, then leave to simmer.

6. Add the red wine and black olives. Leave to cook for 20 minutes or until the spaghetti squash is cooked. Add more sea salt and pepper if you need to the sauce.DSC01842

7. Once the spaghetti squash is cool enough to handle, run a fork through the flesh to produce small strains of spaghetti.

8. Before serving add the basil leaves to the sauce and stir it through the hot sauce and to let it wilt.

9. Top the Spaghetti Squash flesh with the sauce.

*Serves 2

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On the side I made a Lemony Cannellini bean Salad. There is something so special when these simple ingredients are combined. It is lovely served with a rich main or can be jazzed up for the main event.

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Zesty Cannellini bean Salad (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1 can cannellini beans

1/2 small red onion, sliced

1/2 tablespoon lemon zest

small handful italian parsley, roughly chopped

3 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

sea salt to taste

Method:

1. Combine all the ingredients into a bowl and stir through. Can be made ahead of time.

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Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with a Creamy Turmeric Dressing

Turmeric is so good for you. It’s anti-inflammatory and is packed full of manganese, iron, vitamin B6, fiber and potassium. Scientists believe that Turmeric wards of Alzheimer’s disease, prevents cancer, reduces risk of heart attacks and strokes, flights colds and flu, helps digestion and weight loss and can help people with diabetes. But unless you eat Indian food regularly, you probably don’t include this ingredient in many of your daily meals. This little salad dressing is creamy, raw and can be paired with almost anything. Hope you like it!

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Roasted Sweet potato, Purple Carrot, Red Cabbage, Kale and Spinach Salad with a Creamy Turmeric (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

6 small sweet potatoes

olive oil

sea salt to taste

3-4 purple carrots

1/4 red cabbage

2 cups baby/other kale

2 cups baby spinach

1 cup Creamy Turmeric Dressing (below)

1-2 tablespoons roasted black sesame seeds.

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

2. Chop sweet potatoes in round pieces and toss in a mixing bowl with olive oil and sea salt. Then bake for 30 mins or until cooked. Turn once while cooking.

3. Grate the purple carrots and cabbage. Massage the kale with sea salt and chop the baby spinach.

4. Combine all the salad ingredients in a mixing bowl.

5. Serve salad topped with roasted sweet potato, drizzle Creamy Turmeric Dressing and top with some black sesame seeds

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Creamy Turmeric Dressing (vegan, raw, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1/2 medium avocado

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon crushed ginger

2 tablespoons turmeric

couple pinches ground cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon agave (more to taste)

4-5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

4 tablespoons filtered water

sea salt to taste

Method:

1. Add in the ingredients in to a processor/mixer. Mix until you have a delicious creamy dressing.

2. Serve topped with black roasted sesame seeds and top on a fresh salad or roasted vegetables.

*About 1 cup

Rolled Eggplant with Cannellini Pine nut Filling and Asparagus Green bean Salad with Caper Dressing

Now that we are so close to getting our new home, I have been trying to gather ideas for what to serve at our engagement/house warming party. Even though I got engaged back in January, we still haven’t had a formal celebration. I did want have it in a venue, but Marco has been pushing me to wait till we got a house. Although I don’t want to cater the whole thing, I think I will try make a few small things. All vegan of course. These are some of the ideas I came up with for an entree/main and a side salad. The filling for the Rolled Eggplant can also be made as a dip or spread. It was so delicious, I couldn’t stop eating it. I don’t think Marco is going to be a fan of the salad. He hates capers and green olives, but I’m hoping when he gets to try it later he will look past the salty ingredients and enjoys it as a whole. If he can’t, well then he won’t be invited to have any of my Coconana-Chia Cake that I just made! ??????????????????????????????? ???????????????????????????????

Rolled Eggplant with Cannellini bean Pine nut Filling (vegan, gluten free, soy free)

Ingredients for Eggplant

1 medium eggplant

sea salt

olive oil

storebought/homemade tomato (pasta) sauce

Ingredients for Cannellini bean Pine nut Filling:

1 can cannellini beans

1/2 cup pine nuts (soaked/boil 10 mintues)

3 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic

sea salt to taste

20 basil leaves

Method:

1. To make the filling place all the ingredients for the filling, except the basil, in the processor. Blend until the nuts and beans break down and it becomes a puree.

2. Place the basil leaves in the process and blend so that they are finely cut but still a little chunky.

3. Slice the eggplant into thin strips (at least 12 with no skin on either side) and sprinkle generously with salt. Leave for 10 minutes, to remove the bitterness, then remove the salt and moist with a paper towel.

4. Heat a griddle pan on medium to high heat and brush with olive oil. Coat the eggplant with olive oil and cook on both sides (3 mintues per slice). While cooking apply more olive oil if the eggplant dries out. Place the eggplant in a warm place so that it doesn’t get cold while you cook all the slices.

5. Place the filling in the centre of the eggplant and then roll.

6. Serve on some warm tomato sauce. *Serves 4 ??????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????? Asparagus Green bean Salad with Caper Dressing (vegan, gluten free, soy free)

Ingredients for Salad:

30 green beans (topped & tailed)

2 bunches asparagus

2 large handfuls of baby kale/lettuce

small handful spanish green olives

2-3 tablespoons flaked almonds (toasted)

Ingredients for Dressing:

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons lemon

2 teaspoons dijon mustard

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1.5 teaspoons crushed garlic

2 tablespoons baby capers

2 teaspoons agave

1/2 teaspoon dry oregano

Method:

1. Chop the green beans and asparagus into 5 cm pieces.

2. Steam the green beans and asparagus for 5 minutes or until tender. Then place straight away into a bowl with cold water and ice for 10 minutes or until cold.

3. Strain the green beans and asparagus.

4. Massage the kale with sea salt, so that it breaks down. Slice the olives and toast the almonds.

5. Prepare the dressing by placing all the ingredients into a blender/processor and blend until creamy.

6. To assemble the salad first make a bed of baby kale, then top with green beans, asparagus, green olives and flaked almonds. Drizzle the caper dressing and serve.

New Beginnings

I’m back again after a little break from blogging. I finally have some time off after seeing the dentist. I have a few days off to recoup at home. Finally got out my last wisdom tooth. The one I begged the dentist to leave last time because I couldn’t have him take 2 at the same time again. This little break is also great timing for me to start packing up my things, because we signed papers to buy a house this weekend past! After two years of looking off and on and many disappointments we have finally found the one for Marco and I to start our adult life together. I say ‘adult’ because we are going to have to start doing things for ourselves. Although I love to cook I’m not a great cleaner. Marco on the other hand loves to keep his room in order, but we both can’t iron his shirts. But its time to grow up and leave the nest!

A couple of nights ago mum took us out to dinner to celebrate. We decided to try Rouj Modern Lebanese. I discovered them a few weeks ago at Rosalie. They were full with people and the reviews are great too, so they must be doing something right. After checking out the online menu I found a dish that was vegan friendly. I ordered the Vegetarian Delight, which included ftayer (pastry filled with spinach), Silver beet rice roll, pumpkin kebbi, hummus (instead of tzaziki) mjadra, tabouli, pickles, Lebanese bread. I was so full after this that I didn’t have room for anything else.

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Other vegan eats this weekend was brunch at The Green Edge. Marco was the one that suggested to go. He just loves their vegan burgers, brownies and milkshakes, but we still hadn’t tried their breakfast. We ordered a little too much but the food was fabulous! Marco and I shared the Big Breakfast, which had tofu scramble with garlic-sautéed mushrooms; smoky strips; breakfast potatoes; toasted Turkish bread with guacamole; seitan sausage patties, served with a homemade tomato relish. Mum had the special, smokey strip Turkish Sandwich with Roasted Capsicum Relish. We also all shared the Pancakes Stack with Dark chocolate chips and syrup. Can’t tell you what was my best part because I loved all of it. Lucky for me our new house is just down the road from here, so it won’t be such a big deal to travel over for a bite to eat or replenish my vegan pantry.

The Big Breakfast

The Big Breakfast

Smokey Strip Sandwich with Roasted Capscium

Smokey Strip Turkish Sandwich with Roasted Capscium Relish

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Pancakes Stack with Dark chocolate chips and syrup

Other then buying houses and eating out, the weekend before I visited the Organic Growers Fair.  Marco is obsessed with growing trees at the moment, so I picked up for him a dwarf Mango, dwarf Apple and Vanilla bean orchard. He also has a dwarf lemon, dwarf lime, dwarf mulberry, dwarf avocado, more avocado trees. At the moment they are all in pots, so hopefully we will plant some at a new home.

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Here a just a few of the trees we have transported to mine house. Isn’t he a gorgeous boy! Unfortunately he hasn’t been protecting our mulberries from the birds. He only chases people.

The following are some recipes I cooked during the week. This first one was my favourite. I have never cooked soup with old bread before. The first time I tried a soup with old bread was  the soup Ribollita in Sienna, Tuscany. The bread and vegetables were really mushy, but full of flavour. Pappa al pomodoro is another summer Tuscan soup. I used old ciabatta bread (finally some leftover). The rest of the ingredients were simple, evo, onion, garlic, fresh tomatoes, vegan chicken stock and fresh basil. This had to be the most delicious soup I have ever made. Marco was a really big fan and said it tasted like real Italian food.

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Pappa al pomodoro (vegan, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

900g fresh tomatoes

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, diced

200g ciabatta bread/other ‘country style’ bread, remove crust

850ml hot vegan chicken stock

20 basil leaves, diced

sea salt & black pepper to taste

Method:

1. Boil a pot of water, then add all the whole tomatoes. Cook for 1-2 minutes or until you see the skin peel back a little bit. Then place tomatoes straight in a bowl with ice water or cool down with rinse with water in strainer. Once they have cooled down, peel the skin and then dice and set aside.???????????????????????????????

2. Heat olive oil in a large pot, then add onions and garlic. Saute for 6-8 minutes on a low heat, not letting them brown.???????????????????????????????

3. Add the tomatoes to the pot. Leave on a simmer and cover the pot. Cook for 30 minutes.

4. In the meantime tear the ciabatta bread into small pieces and heat the vegan chicken stock.

5. Add the bread and stir through a couple of times.

6. Gradually add hot stock and allow it to soak up all the bread.

7. Add the basil leaves and season if you need. Cook for one more minute.

8. Serve warm or wait an hour and serve at room temperature.

*Serves 4-5

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I have finally found and eaten golden beets! I got them from the Wednesday Farmers Market in the CBD. They were only small but had the leaves attached as well. They are so delicious and sweet! I really nice change from the regular beets. I’ve never tried making coconut yogurt before, but it was really simple. I just added lemon juice to coconut cream. Just be careful to not add to much or it will be too sour. I got this idea to make chickpea nuggets from The Japanese Vegetarian Kitchen’sVegan Chicken teriyaki steak. Funniest thing was Marco took leftovers to work and some of the blokes sauce his container when he was heating the nuggets. They didn’t know whose it was but they were all trying to figure out what it was.

Sweet Sumac Tahini Chickpea Nuggets with Quick Coconut Yogurt and Quinoa Kale salad with Golden Beets and Sweet Potato (vegan, gluten free, soy free)

Ingredients for Chickpea nuggets & sauce:

1 can chickpeas

1 tablespoon arrowroot flour

sea salt to taste

Ingredients for Marinate:

1 tablespoon tahini

2  tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon sumac

1 teaspoon crushed ginger

sea salt to taste

1 teaspoon agave

Ingredients for Salad:

4 small golden beets, sliced

1 medium sweet potato, sliced

olive oil

1/2 cup cooked quinoa

2 cups tuscan kale

sea salt

pine nuts

Ingredients for Coconut Yogurt:

1/2 cup coconut cream

1 tablespoon lemon juice (more to taste)

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Then toss the golden beets and sweet potato with olive oil and sea salt and place on a tray in the oven for 30 minutes or until cooked.???????????????????????????????

2. Mash the chickpeas with a fork and add arrowroot and plenty of sea salt. Then form into nuggets. I made about 9.???????????????????????????????

3. Combine all the ingredients for the marinate. Coat the nuggets in the marinate and leave in the fridge for 20- 30 minutes. Leave any extra marinate aside for later.???????????????????????????????

4. If you have’t already, cook the quinoa and prepare the kale. Chop the kale, then massage it with sea salt until the fibers have broken down. Once the quinoa has cooled down combine with the kale.???????????????????????????????

5. Heat a non stick pan with a little bit of oil (olive/coconut). Cook the nuggets for a couple of minutes on both sides until golden.

6. Prepare the coconut yogurt by combining the ingredients the put to the side.

7. Toast the pine nuts.

8. Assemble the salad, then top with Chickpea nuts, extra marinate and Coconut yogurt.

*Serves 3

This was my veganised attempt of Sichuan Noodles. I swapped pork for brown lentils and shiitake mushrooms, egg noodles for sweet potato noodles, chicken stock for vegan stock, and hot bean paste (didn’t have any) for miso paste. Not sure how Chinese, but it was a healthier version.

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Spicy Shittake, Brown Lentil and Spinach with Sweet Potato Starch Noodles (vegan, gluten free, nut free)

Ingredients:

100g cooked brown lentils

100g sweet potato noodles

1 onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, diced

1 tablespoon ginger, diced

1 tablespoon dark soy sauce

1/2 tablespoon dry sherry

2 tablespoon sesame oil

1 small onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, diced

2 small red chilies, diced

1/2 tablespoon white miso or hot soy bean paste

1 tablespoon peanut butter

125ml vegan chicken stock

2 cups of spinach leaves  (chopped)

sea salt & black pepper to taste

Method:

1. Cook sweet potato noodles according to packet instructions.

2. In a bowl combine brown lentils, soy sauce, sherry, sea salt. Heat oil in a wok and saute brown lentils for 3-4 minutes. Then add shittake mushroom and cook for 2 more minutes. Take out of wok and place to the side.

3. Add garlic, ginger, onion and chili to the wok. Stir fry for 1 minute.

4. Add miso/soy bean paste, peanut butter. Heat for a few seconds.

5. Add vegan chicken stock and bring to boil, simmer for 5 minutes or until it thickens.

6. Add lentils, shiitake mushrooms, spinach and noodles. Heat in the wok until spinach has wilted. Season.

*Serves 2

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Healthy Italian Hot Chocolate for 2 (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

2 mugs of coconut milk

1 tablespoon cacao

1 tablespoon maca

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon coconut sugar

1 tablespoon vegan custard powder (to make thicker, optional)

Method:

1. Combine all the ingredients in small pot. ???????????????????????????????

2. Heat on the stove on a medium-low heat and whisk while cooking. Cook for 4-5 minutes or until it thickens a little.

3. Serve immediately.

Falafel, Tabouli, Pita Pockets…

I have been a bit lazy lately with cooking. I have been eating out a lot more on the weekends. So this weekend I wanted to make something healthy and special. I’ve had this bag of Fava beans for a while now, so I wanted to try making Falafel. I have never made it before, so thought I’d give it ago. The Fava beans took nearly 24 hours to soak, as they are very hard and need time for the skin detach from the skin. It took me nearly an hour to peel the skins off 500 g of them, but the results were worth it.

I decided to bake my Falafel so that they would be a bit more healthier. I also filled the mixture with heaps of fresh herbs from my local Asian market. To go with it I made Wholemeal Flax Seed Pita Pockets,  Lemon Cashew Yoghurt and Kale & Quinoa Tabouli. By the time I got our late lunch on the table it was dinner time, so the whole family got to eat with us. Everyone really liked and had seconds or thirds.

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Wholemeal Flax Seed Pita Bread (vegan, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1.5 cup warm water

2 teaspoons instant yeast

1/2 teaspoon raw sugar

1 teaspoon sea salt

3.5 cups wholemeal flour (more for board)

2 teaspoons ground flax seeds

1 teaspoon olive oil

canola spray oil

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Method:

1. Take 1/4 of warm water and add yeast and sugar. Leave it for 10 mins.DSC06658

2. In a large mixing bowl add 1/2 cup whole wheat flour, ground flax seeds and sea salt.???????????????????????????????

3. Make a well in the centre and add the yeast mixture.???????????????????????????????

4. Gradually add more the rest of the flour and warm water until you have a dough.

5. Knead the dough for 10-15 mins, until it is nice and elastic.

6. Brush a bowl with olive oil and leave the dough to rise for an hour or more (the longer the better).

7. Divide the dough into 10 balls. Then roll each ball out into a flat circle shape.

8. Heat a pan on high and spray with canola. Place the flat dough onto the pan and cook it till it puffs up. Make sure you turn it regularly so it doesn’t burn. It should only take 1-2 mins per pita.

9. While the pita is still hot, slice it in half.

*Makes 10 Pita Pockets

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Baked Fava bean Falafel (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

500g fava beans (soaked 24 hrs, then peeled)

6 garlic cloves

1 brown onion

3 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

1/2 bunch coriander

1/2 bunch dill

1/2 bunch parsley

sea salt & black pepper

Method:???????????????????????????????

1. After soaking the fava beans, peel off the skin and boil for 30 mins or until softened.

2. Finely chop the garlic, onion and all the herbs.

3. Place the fava beans in a process and make into a paste. Then add all the spices, onion, garlic, herbs and sea salt & pepper to taste.

4. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

5. Make the mixture into balls and place on a nonstick tray. Bake for 20 mins.

*Makes 25-30

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Lemon Cashew ‘Yoghurt’ (vegan, raw, gluten free, soy free)

Ingredients:

1 cup cashews (pre-soaked/raw)

1 cup water

2 garlic cloves

3 tablespoons lemon juice (more to taste)

1 tablespoon olive oil

sea salt to taste

Method:

1. If you haven’t soaked the cashews then boil them for 10 mins.

2. In a Vitamix or high speed blender the cashews. Break them down, then slowly add 1/2 a cup of water. Blend till it becomes creamy.

3. Add garlic, lemon juice and olive oil and blend. If you need add more water to break down into a cream, but not too much, it should be thick.

*Makes 1 cup

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Kale & Quinoa Tabouli (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1.5-2 cups kale, chopped

4 shallots or green onions, chopped

1/4 cup cherry tomatoes, chopped

3 teaspoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 cup cooked quinoa

sea salt to taste

Method:

1. Cook quinoa according to packet instructions. Then strain and allow to cool.

2. Massage the chopped kale with sea salt to break down the fibers.

3. Combine the kale quinoa and all the remaining ingredients and serve.

*Serves 4 as side salad

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Over the weekend we ended up visiting The Green Edge on our way to visit hopefully our future house. I decided to try something different so I ordered the Noodle Bowl. It had soba noodles with twice-cooked pumpkin, served in a soy sauce-miso-shiitake broth. I doesn’t look like much but it was really nice. There was pumpkin all under the noodles as well. The rest of the family had their amazing vegan burgers, chips and salad. This was the first time my mums partner had been there. Of course his response was ‘I can believe its vegan’.

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My new favourite drink at the moment is this Frozen Peach Smoothie. I forgot about all the peaches that I froze a while ago. With the kiwi, banana and milk it tastes just like a peach ice cream.

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Frozen Peach Smoothie (vegan, raw, gluten free, nut free, soy free)

Ingredients:

1/2 cup frozen peaches

1 golden kiwi

1/2 banana

1/2 cup plant milk (coconut, rice or oat; almond or soy if you can tolerate)

Method:

1. Blend in a High speed blender and serve

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Over the weekend I finally tried something else that’s been in my cupboard for a while. Celebrate Health is a new brand that started appearing on supermarket shelves. Their range includes flavoured lentils, quinoa, recipe bases and stock. All their products are Gluten free, Wheat free, Dairy free, Tree nut free, Peanut free, 100% natural and Preservative free. Most are also vegan and Soy free. I had the Indian Marsala Lentil Packet. So I made this with some brown rice and Indian spiced greens. I just followed the packet directions, which were easy to understand. I ended up having to add alot more water, as it dried out quickly. They had more of a bite then I thought they would. Usually when I made red lentils they dissolve a little, but these ones didn’t.

So the verdict? Well they were quite salty and the spices weren’t that strong. They were definitely not as tasty as if I made them from scratch. However, they were quick, convenient and healthy side dish. I think I will definitely try some more of their products for those nights when I am too tired to cook anything fancy.

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Sweet Potatoes and Kale: Two Ways

The last couple of nights meals have been quick easy meals using two of my favorite ingredients, sweet potato and kale. I also finally made use of the organic wild black rice that I bought from Fundies two months ago. I have a habit of collecting beans and grains and storing them for a rainy day. This was the first time I have tried wild black rice. I quite like it. Surprisingly Marco was a fan too, even though he hates brown rice. It is quite chewy, but it has a nice flavor. I combined the rice with sauteed onions, kale and spices and stuff it in a whole baked sweet potato. I topped it with the Lime Cashew Sour Cream that I made over the weekend and served it with some Baked Spicy Panko Crusted Tofu and Guacamole.

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Whole Sweet Potatoes with Wild Black Rice, Kale and Lime Cashew Sour Cream (vegan, gluten free, soy free)

Ingredients:

4 sweet potatoes

1/2 cup wild black rice

1 tablespoon coconut oil

1 small onion, diced

2 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1.5 teaspoons garlic powder

1 bag baby kale, roughly chopped

sea salt to taste

Cashew Sour cream (recipe below)

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees.

2. Wash and scrub any dirt of the skin of the sweet potatoes. Stab them a few times with a fork then bake for 40 mins or until the inside flesh is soft.

3. In the meantime cook the wild black rice in the rice cooker and leave on warm till ready to use.

4. Heat coconut oil in a pan, then add onion, cumin, cayenne and garlic powder. Cook for a few minutes or until onion has softened.

5. Add wild black rice and kale and saute until kale wilts. Season with sea salt.

6. Slice a slit across on side of the sweet potato, then stuff with the wild rice and kale. Serve with Lime Cashew Sour Cream.

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Lime Cashew Sour Cream (vegan, gluten free, soy free)

Ingredients:

1 cup raw cashews (soaked/raw)

1 cup water

2-3 tablespoons lime

1 teaspoon garlic powder

sea salt to taste

Method:

1. If you haven’t pre-soaked the cashews, then boil for 10 mins.

2. Place in a blender and grind until cashews break down.

3. Add water (little bit at a time), lime, garlic powder and sea salt. Process until smooth.

*Makes about one cup

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Tonight’s recipe was inspired by the last whole baked sweet potato that didn’t get eaten last night. I considered making sweet potato gnocchi, sweet potato pasta, sweet potato burger or even sweet potato pancakes. I was pretty tired so I just decided on Sweet Potato Hummus with kale and vegetables. Since I already had my Vitamix out I made a dressing using the hummus and peanut butter. That was the best part! I ended up drizzling a lot more then what you see below. Now I am so full and looking forward to sleeping in tomorrow for Ekka public holiday.

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Sweet Potato Hummus Salad Bowl with Peanut Sweet Potato Dressing (vegan, gluten free, soy free)

Ingredients:

1/2 cup Sweet Potato Hummus (recipe below)

2 handfuls baby kale

chopped salad and vegetables (cherry tomato, broccolini, avocado, capsicum)

sea salt to taste

2 tablespoons Peanut Sweet Potato Dressing (recipe below)

Method:

1.  Steam broccolini or other vegetables. Rinse with cold water to cool down.

2. Massage the baby kale with sea salt, until it breaks down.

3. Place baby kale on the bottom of a large bowl and top with chopped salad & vegetables, hummus and drizzle with the dressing.

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Sweet Potato Hummus  (vegan, gluten free, nut free, soy free)

Ingredients:

1 can chickpeas

1 whole roasted sweet potato (about 1 cup)

2 large garlic cloves

1 tablespoon tahini

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

sea salt to taste

Method:

1. Peel the Sweet potato, then place all the ingredients in the processor. Whiz until combined.

*Makes 2 cups

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Peanut Sweet Potato Hummus Dressing  (vegan, gluten free, soy free)

Ingredients:

4 tablespoons Sweet Potato Hummus (recipe above)

1/2 cup water

2 tablespoons smooth peanut butter

1 tablespoon maple syrup

1 teaspoon apple cinder vinegar

sea salt to taste

Method:

1. Place all the ingredients in a high speed blender and whiz till combined.

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Tempeh Tempations

I can’t believe another week has gone by so quickly. I have been counting down the days to my graduation. On Tuesday night I will finally be graduation (after I don’t even want to think about how many years) from university. I will be finishing with a Dual degree in Business and Arts, majoring in Marketing, Italian Language and History & Cultural Heritage. I have also just received an award for Academic Excellence for 2012-13. I am sad that my university days are finally coming to an end, but its nice to get the awards to finally show something for all these years. Not sure how long I will be able to stay away from studying though. I have been spending all my free time at work looking up Honors courses I want to take in the ‘future’ and have been reading anything I can get my hands on.

Will all this free time you would think I would have time to be creative in the kitchen, but actually I am usually very tire after work and have been making a lot of meals that get eaten over days for dinners and lunches. Marco doesn’t like having the same thing more then twice, but the days of having a different meal every night are over. Well at least for the moment. I have been cooking a fair bit with tempeh lately. I really like the chewy texture and the trying different ways to use it. Something I didn’t post recently was a vegan massamam curry with tempeh and potatoes. I wasn’t so sure about that combination. But for making sausages, meatballs, steaks or just to add to a chew texture to a pasta sauce it works really well.

If you don’t know what tempeh is don’t feel silly, I only discovered it a couple of years back when I read about it in my first vegan cookbook. After I while I finally got the courage to use it and now I love it. “Tempeh is a traditional soy product that is originally from Indonesia. It is made by a natural culturing and controlled fermentation process that binds soybeans into a cake form, similar to a very firm vegetarian burger patty. It originated in Indonesia, and is especially popular on the island of Java, where it is a staple source of protein. Like tofu, tempeh is made from soybeans, but it is a whole soybean product with different nutritional characteristics and textural qualities. Tempeh’s fermentation process and its retention of the whole bean give it a higher content of protein, dietary fiber, and vitamins. It has a firm texture and an earthy flavor which becomes more pronounced as it ages. Because of its nutritional value, tempeh is used worldwide in vegetarian cuisine, where it is used as a meat analogue”. It tastes and looks completely different to tofu. There are also many differences, which you can see below (source).

tempeh

My Shiitake mushrooms have been doing really well. I finally have a few that I could try out. I though they would have a really strong taste like the dried variety, but they are actually quite mellow. They are more flavorsome then the regular white mushrooms and have a kind of meaty chewy texture.

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Last night we had the kids over. They all wanted to have pasta so I made them a delicious tomato sauce with red onion and capsicum. For Marco and I wanted to make something a little more interesting. So I decided to make a pasta dish with tempeh, shiitake mushrooms and french lentils. I thought that it would be like a vegetarian bolognese. It didn’t really turn out like I thought, but it was really tasty. I felt a bit bad that the kids was so simple, but that’s what they wanted and I was too scared they wouldn’t like ours. Marco was a bit envious of the kids, until he tried ours. On the side I made some Frys Meat Free Pops. Everyone loved them and they were a good incentive for everyone to finish their dinner. Not that they needed much, all the kids had seconds of the pasta.

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The kids pasta dish

Frys Meat Free Pops

Frys Meat Free Pops

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For this pasta I used an Italian brand of finely diced tomatoes, Mutti from Parma. I am pretty sure this is the same one that we were cooking with when we lived in Italy. I asked my Aunty in Milan what her secret was to her delicious pasta sauce and she told me it was the quality of the diced tomatoes. She showed me this brand that she used and I finally found it in Coles of all places.

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Pasta Shells with Tempeh, Shiitake Mushrooms and French Lentil in a Tomato Sauce (vegan, gluten free option, nut free)

Ingredients:

4 serves pasta shells (use gluten free pasta shells if you prefer)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 red onion, diced

3 garlic cloves, diced

1/2 red capsicum, diced

3/4 cooked french lentils

100g tempeh

3-4 shiitake mushrooms

1 can good quality finely diced tomatoes

1/2 teaspoon raw sugar or more to taste

2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves

sea salt & black pepper to taste

Method:

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1. Heat olive oil then saute red onion and garlic for 5 mins on medium heat. Then add capsicum and saute for another few minutes till all is caramelized.

2. Add tempeh and shiitake mushrooms and saute for a few more minutes.

3. Add the french lentils,  a can of finely diced tomatoes and oregano. Season with sugar, salt and pepper and cook for 30-40 mins (the longer the better).

4. Cook the pasta until al dente and then serve with the pasta sauce.

*Serves 4

After dinner we made New York-Style Crumb Cake from Chloe’s Vegan Desserts. This was amazing! I will be definitely making this again. It tastes store bought but completely vegan. If you don’t have the book, you can see the recipe here.

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During the week I made Baked Rigatoni with Tempeh Sausage. I made a similar combination to the Tempeh Sausages from Sweet Mixed Tomato and Tempeh Sausage Casserole. However I didn’t add any oil or flour to the sausages and just form the mixture into balls. The tempeh gave that meaty texture that I really miss from my mums baked pasta with sausage.

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Baked Rigatoni with Tempeh Sausage (vegan, gluten free option, nut free)

Ingredients Italian Tempeh Sausages:

300g  tempeh

3 tablespoons Italian seasoning

1/4 cup tamari or light soy sauce (more to taste)

Ingredients for Italian seasoning (makes 1/2 cup):

1 tablespoon dried basil

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon onion flakes or powder

1 tablespoon ground fennel (grinded fennel seeds)

1/2 tablespoon dried thyme

1/2 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes

1/4 tablespoon ground black pepper

Rest of Ingredients:

500g rigatoni (use gluten free rigatoni if you prefer)

1 tablespoon olive oil

700 ml passata sauce

1 red onion

3 garlic cloves

1 red capsicum

2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves

sea salt, black pepper and raw sugar to taste

vegan mozarella, grated (I used Notzarella)???????????????????????????????

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

2. To make the Tempeh Sausages, cut the tempeh into cubes and steam for 15 mins. Then allow it to cool or if your impatient rinse with cold water. Then break up into crumbs and place into a mixing bowl.DSC06246

3. Add the Italian Seasoning and tamari, add more to make more salty.

4. In the meantime, take a pot and saute red onion, garlic and capsicum with olive oil till caramelized.  Then add passata sauce, oregano leaves sea salt, black pepper and raw sugar. Bring to the boil then leave to simmer for 20-30 mins.

5. While the sauce is cooking bring a pot to the boil and cook the pasta according to the directions on the packet.

6. Take a baking tray and put some sauce on the bottom. Then add the pasta and some more sauce and toss though, so the pasta is coated in sauce.

7. Form balls with the tempeh mixture and place them on top and between the pasta.

8. Lastly top with more pasta sauce and grated notzarella. Bake for 30-40 mins.

*Serves 8

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For more Tempeh recipes check out my Sweet Mixed Tomato and Tempeh Sausage CasseroleLoaded Sweet Potatoes with Spinach and Tempeh ‘Bacon’, Tempeh Pine nut ‘Meatballs’ with Red Wine Tomato SauceFettuccine alla bolognese and Mock Tuna Salad.

Last thing I want to share is the amazing Cherry Pita that I had at Pitstop Pastries and Pizza over the weekend in West End. Best part was that it was completely vegan! I think I am going to have to order some more to keep for mid week morning teas.

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Early birthday gift…

Hi all, hope you’ve had a lovely weekend. Mine has been nice and relaxing. I got my early birthday present this week from Mum and Marco. They both put in to get me a Vitamix! So I finally got to try it out last night and have been blending ever since.

Last night I made some cashew cream, which was so lovely and silky. It was much nicer then what my Kenwood blender usually produces, plus it didn’t leak, which was a bonus. I showed my mum, who is also dairy free, but not as strict as me that cashew cream can be used just like cream for pasta. She was amazed. Sorry no photos of the actually pasta, we were so hungry by the time it was ready.

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I’ve only had a week of early mornings but my body clock has already changed which is great. This morning we got up early and went to the Northey Street Organic Markets at Windsor. We haven’t been here since before I went to Europe, which is over a year ago. I was really big on organics back then and am trying to get back into buying organic.

Before we left I made a special morning smoothie, with my garden Tuscan Kale. This is a Chocolate Peanut butter Kale Smoothie. I was delicious! Mum and Marco weren’t keen on the kale for breakfast, but they agreed it was a good way to get the kale in firs thing.

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Chocolate Peanut butter Kale Smoothie (vegan, raw, gluten free, soy free)

Ingredients:

1/2 bunch tuscan kale

3 cups almond milk

2-3 tablespoon peanut butter

2 tablespoons cacao

2 tablespoons chia seeds

2 tablespoons agave or honey

Method:

1. Whiz all the ingredients in your blender until all the kale has broken down and the smoothie is nice and smooth. Then serve.

At the market I didn’t buy too much. Just two bunches of Red Russian Kale ($6 plus free bok choy), daikon, cherry tomatoes and sunflower sprouts. Unfortunately there was no more organic vegan brownies left, so we better be a bit earlier next time. I love these markets there are always so many interesting people and great food.

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I did get to see this in action and it looks like hard work to earn your smoothie.

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I have seen purple carrots but never these golden ones before. Regretting now that I didn’t get any.

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There are also a communal veggie patch here and the grounds are quite nice too.  This is mum and Marco as we are leaving.

For dinner I thought I would try out a few more meals with my new Vitamix. These patties are similar to my Red Lentil Patties with Kale Pesto, but I used cannellini beans and sweet potato puree. I also tried to make my delicious Kale Pesto. As beautiful as it looks, it came out really bitter. I think next time I won’t use the stems. On the side I made this a delicious mash to make use of my green cauliflower and a sunflower sprout salad. So in love with my new Vitamax! So expect to see it around a lot more.

Do any of you guys have one?

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Cannellini Bean & Sweet Potato Patties (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

2 medium sweet potatoes

1 tin cannellini beans

1 tablespoons grapeseed/olive oil

1 medium red onion

1 tablespoon cajun spices/other spices you prefer

sea salt to taste

1/2 cup quinoa crumbs (or other gluten free breadcrumbs)

1/2 cup sesame seeds

Method:

1. First cut and steam the sweet potato, until soft. Transfer into a bowl and place to the side.

2. Meanwhile,  preheat oven to 180 degrees  and heat a pan with olive oil. Saute the red onion and garlic for 5 mins or until the onion has softened.

3. All the  sweet potato, cannellini beans, red onion, garlic, cajun spices (or other spices)  and sea salt into the processor. Blend until smooth.

4. Place the mixture into a bowl then add quinoa crumbs and stir through the mixture.

5. Form the mixture into 10 patties. Place the sesame seeds in a small bowl and dust the patties in the sesame seeds.

6. Place patties on a nonstick cookie tray, then bake for 20-25 mins. Turn once while they are cooking so that the seasame seeds on both sides get a little browned.

*Makes 10 patties

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Green Cauliflower, Potato & Leek Mash (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1 small green cauliflower

3 potatoes

1 tablespoon grapeseed or olive oil

2 garlic cloves

1 leek

Method:

1. Cut the cauliflower and potato into small pieces, then place them in a steamer until tender.

2. Dice the garlic and chop the leek.

3. Heat a pan with oil, then saute the garlic and leek for 5 mins or until lightly browned.

4. Place cauliflower, potato, leek and garlic in the processor and blend until smooth.

5. Transfer into a pot and add sea salt to taste (and water if too thick). Heat through then serve.

*Serves 5-6

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Sunflower Sprout Orange Salad (vegan, raw, gluten free, soy free)

Ingredients:

2 handfuls of sunflower sprouts

1 handful snow pea sprouts

segments of 1 orange

2 tablespoons orange juice

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon agave

sea salt to taste

1-2 tablespoons pepitas seeds

Method:

1. Wash all sprouts and roughly chop the snow pea sprouts. Place all in a bowl.

2. Juice orange for the orange juice and cut the segments from 1 orange.

3. Add the orange segments to the spouts.

4. In a small bowl, add the orange juice, sesame oil, agave and sea salt.

5. Drizzle the dressing on top of the salad.

6. Dry toast the pepitas seeds in a pan. Then top onto the salad and serve.

Linda McCartney Sausages

???????????????????????????????I have heard lots of other blogs and vegan cookbooks mention that their favorite vegan sausages are Linda McCartney Vegetarian Sausages. I finally got around to trying them tonight and now I can see what everyone is raving about. These sausages are fantastic. They have a very similar texture and taste to real sausages, both on the outside and inside. Both mum and Marco also really liked them as well. ???????????????????????????????

These sausages don’t contain any soy, however they do contain gluten, wheat and sulphar dioxide. Sulphar dioxide often use in processed meats, like salami, sausages and hams.  This is definitely not healthy. I am not sure how much are in these sausages, but considering that I would not eat these regularly. In saying that, as a transitioning food these do hit the spot.

I made these sausages tonight with the leftover Onion Sauce from the Energise Your Life recipe, Spinach Parcels with Onion Sauce. On the side I made Sautéed Broccolini with Potatoes and a Spinach, Alfalfa and Cucumber Salad with Sweet Sesame Dressing.

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Sausages with Onion Sauce (vegan, nut free)

Ingredients:

Linda McCartney Vegetarian Sausages/other brand

grapeseed oil/other oil

Ingredients for Onion Sauce (makes about 1 1/2 cups):

2 tablespoons olive oil

225 g onion, finely chopped

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons flour

400 ml liquid vegetable/vegan chicken liquid stock

100 ml soy milk

sea salt & black pepper to taste

Method:

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1. Heat a griddle pan with oil. The cook sausages according to packet directions. These ones took 15 mins.

2. In the meantime,  heat olive oil  in a pot on medium heat, then add onions. Cook for 5 mins or until soften and browned.

3. Add soy sauce and flour, stir through.

4. Gradually add the stock, stiring constantly. Simmer for 3 mins.

5. Add soy milk and heat through.

6. Season with salt and pepper then serve on top of sausages.

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Sautéed Broccolini with Potatoes (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

4 small potatoes

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 garlic cloves

brunch of broccolini

sea salt to taste

Method:

1. Place potatoes in a pot of water. Bring to the boil, then cook on medium heat for 20 mins or until cooked.

2. In the meantime, slice the garlic and cut the broccolini into thirds.

3. Peel the skin off the potatoes, then slice.

4. Heat olive oil in a large pan on medium heat. Add the sliced garlic and sliced potato. Then cook for 5 mins or until the potato begins to brown.

5. Add the broccolini and cook for a further 5 mins or until its tender. Season with salt then serve.

*Serve 3 as a side

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Spinach, Alfalfa and Cucumber Salad with Sweet Sesame Dressing (vegan, gluten free, nut free)

Ingredients:

50 g baby spinach

handful of alfalfa

1 small cucumber

2 tablespoons vegan soy mayo

1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon toasted black/white  sesame seeds

agave to taste

1 teaspoon dijon mustard

sea salt to taste

Method:

1. Slice the cucumber, roughly chop the spinach and combine together with alfalfa.

2. Combine the remaining ingredients in a small bowl.

3. Add the dressing to the salad then serve.

*Serves 3-4 as a side

Colorful Superfood Salad with Cheesy Brown Lentil Hummus

In preparation for the this weekends raw food conference with David ‘Avocado’ Wolfe, I am trying to eat more raw foods. I have been enjoying lots of raw fruit and veggies in juices, but I have to push myself incorporate more meals with raw ingredients. When I get some free time I want to give my dehydrator a try. I got it for Christmas and its still in its box. I have started collecting recipes on Pinterest, so there should be some experimentation next month.

This delicious brown lentil hummus is not raw, but it did make use of the leftover brown lentils that I haven’t had time to consider what to do with. I paired it with a fresh salad full of sprouts and colorful vegetables and some warmed wholemeal lebanese bread. This was so filling and a perfect quick dish before going back to studying.

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Cheesy Brown Lentil Hummus (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1 cup cooked small brown lentils

2 small cloves of garlic

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons tahini

1/2 cup italian parsley

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon curry powder

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

sea salt to taste

black sesame seeds to garnish (optional)

Method:

1. Place brown lentils and garlic in the processor and blend.

2. While its processing add olive oil and tahini.

3. Then add italian parsley and continue to blend.

4. While its still processing add garlic powder, curry powder, nutritional yeast and sea salt.

5. Once  all the ingredients have broken down in a dip, serve and top with black sesame seeds.

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Colorful Salad Bowl with Cheesy Brown Lentil Hummus and Wholemeal Lebanese Bread (vegan, gluten free option, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

rocket

snow pea sprouts

alfalfa spouts

red cabbage (sliced)

red onion (sliced)

radish (thinly sliced)

mini roma tomatoes quartered

cucumber (thinly sliced)

pepita seeds

wholemeal lebanese bread (or gluten free)

sea salt to taste

black sesame seeds to garnish (optional)

Method:

1. Wash and toss rocket, snow pea sprouts and alfalfa and any other leafy greens you have. Place on the bottom of serving plate.

2. Top with thinly sliced red cabbage, red onion, radish, mini roma tomato and cucumber.

3. In a pan spray with spray canola oil or olive oil and lightly toast wholemeal lebanese bread. Then slice into desired shape.

4. Dry toast the pepita seeds in the same pan.

5. Top salad with Brown Lentil Hummus, pepita seeds, black sesame seeds, sea salt and serve with toasted lebanese bread.

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