Winter Warm Risottos

Unless your living in Brisbane you probably don’t believe me that I am freezing right now. Winter in the sunshine state is has become bone chilling. To stay warm I’ve been drinking lots of herbal teas and warm meals of roasted vegetables, soups and risottos. These are a couple non traditional risotto’s that I have been enjoying over the past week.

I’ve never added quinoa to a risotto before. But I often cook a quinoa brown rice blend which is delicious and a pain to clean out of the rice cooker. Quinoa gives an extra protein kick to this risotto and doesn’t compromise the taste at all.

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Roasted Pumpkin and Quinoa Risotto (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1/4 kent or butternut pumpkin, sliced into thin pieces

1/2 large or 1 small head of garlic

olive oil

1 cup arborio rice

1 cup quinoa

1 medium onion, diced

1/2 cup white wine

1 litre vegetable stock

2 cups baby spinach

1/4 cup nutritional yeast (optional)

sea salt and black pepper to taste

italian parsley to garnish (optional)

Method:

1. Preheat oven 200 degrees.

2. Place pumpkin and garlic head in an baking tray and drizzle about 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Roast for 30 minutes or until both are soft.  Once both are cooked well place in a small bowl and mash with a fork. Keep it aside to add to the risotto.

3. Take a pot and fill with the vegetable stock and leave to boil, then place on a simmer.

4. In the meantime take another large pot and heat 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil. Then add the onion. Cook till it softens

5. Add aborbio rice and quinoa to pot and let it toast for a few minutes.

6. Add the wine to the pot and cook until its been absorbed.

7. By this time the liquid stock should have boiled. Begin by ladling a spoon full at a time of the hot liquid stock to the rice and constantly stir. Once one spoon full has been absorbed into the rice, add another spoon full. Continue for  cooking for 15 mins or until the rice and quinoa is cooked

8. Add the mashed pumpkin and garlic. Stir through and then add baby spinach. Continue to stir until the baby spinach has wilted.

9. Take off the heat, then add the nutritional yeast and season with extra seasalt and black pepper. Serve with some chopped parsley.

*Serves 4

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Cauliflower has historically been one of my most hated vegetables from birth. My mum use to steam or microwave it with cheese and bechamel. I never liked cheese and always found cauliflower to be strange in texture and bland in taste. But I have a new love for cauliflower now. I love using it in Italian pasta dishes to coat pasta. It also tastes amazing in soups, on pizza, roasted and in a pie.  Here are some of my favourite cauliflower dishes that get the Marco tick of approval.

Pasta al Cavolfiore

Penne al Cavolfiore

Cauliflower Red Onion and Garlic Pizza

Roasted Cauliflower, Beets, Capsicum and Chickpeas with Tahini Sumac Dressing

Roasted Cauliflower Soup

Roasted Cauliflower Steak

Broccoli & Cauliflower Pakoras

Spicy Roasted Cauliflower and Corn Soup

Cauliflower Cheezy Thyme Pie

For this Cauliflower Risotto I used both the stalks and florets of the cauliflower.  I diced the stalks and sautéed them with the onions and added the florets to the vegetable stock which I ladled to cook the risotto. I stole this idea from Jamie Oliver’s Cauliflower risotto (Risotto ai cavalfiori). Its a great way not to waste any of that cauliflower goodness.

Oh and by the way in case you haven’t tried Kale with Pine nuts and Raisins put it on your to do list. The bitter, sweet and nutty flavors make it one of my favourite side dishes and goes great on top of this Cauliflower Risotto.

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Cauliflower Risotto topped with Sautéed Tuscan Kale with Pine Nuts and Raisins 

Cauliflower Risotto (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cups arborio rice

1 medium onion, diced

2-3 garlic cloves, diced

1/2 medium cauliflower, dice stalks and chop the florets, keeping each separate

1/2 cup white wine

1 litre vegetable stock

handful italian parsley leaves, diced

1/4 cup nutritional yeast

sea salt & black pepper

Method:

1.Take a pot and fill with the vegetable stock and cauliflower florets and leave to boil, then place on a simmer.

2. In the meantime take another large pot and heat 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil. Then add the onion, garlic and diced cauliflower stalk. Cook for a couple of mintues.

3. Add aborbio rice and let it toast for a few minutes.

4. Add the wine to the pot and cook until its been absorbed.

5. By this time the liquid stock should have boiled. Begin by ladling a spoon full at a time of the hot liquid stock with the cauliflower florets to the rice. Stir constantly and mash the cauliflower florets as it cooks. Once one spoon full has been absorbed into the rice, add another spoon full. Continue for  cooking for 15 mins or until the rice  is cooked

6. Take off the heat, then add the nutritional yeast and italian parsley. Season with extra sea salt and black pepper.

7. Serve with Sautéed Tuscan Kale with Pine Nuts and Raisins (recipe below)

*Serves 4

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Sautéed Tuscan Kale with Pine Nuts and Raisins (vegan, gluten free, soy free)

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1-2 garlic cloves, diced

bunch tuscan kale, chopped into ribbons

1-2 tablespoons golden raisins

1-2 tablespoons pinenuts

Method:

1. Heat olive oil in a pan. Then add the garlic cook for about a minute

2. Add the kale, raisins and pine nuts. Saute until the kale has wilted.

3. Serve on top of the Cauliflower Risotto or as a side dish.

*Serves 2-4 as a side

For more risotto recipes check these out:

Sweet Potato Sage Risotto with Hazelnut ‘Parmesan’

Green Spring Risotto

Risotto alla zucca (Pumpkin Risotto)

Risotto ai funghi porcini (Mushroom Risotto)

Red Wine Barley & Brown Rice Risotto with Mushrooms & Spinach

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

Roasted Capscium & Vegetable Lasagna

Yesterday I went food shopping and found out that my local Fruit and Vegetable shop at Mt Ommaney (Brisbane) is now selling Notzarella! I don’t buy it often since I don’t live near the only vegan grocery store that sells it. So more melty ‘cheese’ will be on the menu from now on. To celebrated I made lasagna. This is the first time I have made my own Roasted Capsicum in the oven. It is so easy and doesn’t take too long either.

For some strange reason my oven didn’t cook the lasagna on both sides, so the sweet potato on one entire side was uncooked. That was the side we ate last night. I added the extra step in the recipe to steam them first to be on the safe side.

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Roasted Capsicum & Vegetable Lasagna (vegan, gluten free option, nut free)

Ingredients:

4 red capsicum (or mixed with green)

500g sweet potato

2 large zucchini

2 cups baby spinach

1 handful basil

1 tablespoon vegan butter (I used Nutlex)

2 cups whole soy milk (thick)

1 tablespoon arrowroot flour (or unbleached plain flour)

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 bay leaf

sea salt & black pepper to taste

2 cups grated vegan mozzarella (I used Notzarella)

250g  packet lasagna sheets (use gluten free lasagna sheets if you prefer)

2 x jars 500g pasta sauce

Method:DSC04576

1. Preheat oven to  200 degrees.

2. Remove stem and seeds from capsicums. Then bake for 20-30 mins or until skin starts to blister.DSC04575

3. In the mean time thinly slice the sweet potatoes and zucchini. Steam sweet potatoes until you can put a fork through them. Roughly chop the spinach and basil.

4. Once capsicums are cooked, turn the oven down to 180 degrees and remove the skin from the capsicums and roughly chop.???????????????????????????????

5. To make bechamel, heat butter in a pot, add soy milk,  flour,  garlic powder, nutmeg, bay leaf. Whisk until combined. Then heat until it thickens, season with sea salt and black pepper.

6. Take a baking tray and add pasta sauce on the bottom. Then add pasta sheets. On top add sweet potato and then zucchini, spinach, capsicum and basil. Then top with bechemel sauce and mozzarella. Next top with pasta sheets and pasta sauce then continue to layer  the vegetables. Once you have done a couple more layers,  lastly top pasta sheets with pasta sauce and mozzarella.

7. Bake for 40-45 mins then serve.

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Pumpkin Soup Mantua Style, Broccoli Salad; Mushroom, Walnut and Spinach Pesto Spelt Pizza

I have heard about liquid smoke from other blogs for a while, but its not something that is easy to find in Brisbane. I really miss smokey flavour that cured meats bring to soups and stews. I have noticed in a few Italian recipes and many Serbian ones, that smoked meats or bones are often added to dishes for flavor and then removed before serving. However, the food wouldn’t really be vegan if I added them just for that reason.The only place I have seen liquid smoke is the Green Edge Vegan Supermarket, as it is imported from America. So I finally remembered to buy some a couple of days ago before they close for their move.

First thing I want to try with the liquid smoke was this hearty pumpkin soup from Mantova, Italy. I found this recipe in my mums old recipe book, Giuliano Bugiallis Foods of Italy. According to Bugiallis, this soup is famous in Mantova/Mantua. There are many variations of this soup, although most use milk. This version with the broth instead and is made in nearby towns.

I adapted the recipe slightly, adding liquid smoke instead of prosciutto and using vegan butter and vegan beef stock. The  liquid smoke really gave that smokey taste that cured meats bring to soups. Together with the ‘beef’ stock this soup tasted fantastic. Its was unlike any pumpkin soup I have ever had before. I couldn’t stop eating it and the rest of the family loved it. They couldn’t figure out what was in it and when I told them they were surprised. Marco especially loved that smokey flavor, as that is what he has grown up on.  If you can’t get hold of liquid smoke, I still recommend trying pumpkin soup with ‘beef’ stock for more heartier flavor.

Another recipe I found in Giuliano Bugiallis Foods of Italy was Broccoli in insalata. I haven’t made a salad like this before, but it was quite easy to put together. Suprisingly Marco really liked it. I didn’t mind it either. Broccoli and lemon go really well together.

The Pizza is adapted from In Vegetables We Trust, Rocket pesto cookie sheet pizza. I didn’t have any rocket or pine nuts left, so I tried it with spinach and walnuts, which worked really well together. I also used spelt flour, so it would be more nutritious. If you haven’t checked out In Vegetables We Trust, then you should! There are so many delicious dishes you wouldn’t know are vegan by looking at the photos.

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Minestra di zucca alla mantovana (Pumpkin Soup Mantua Style) (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

800-900g pumpkin

8 tablespoons nutlex/vegan butter

1 teaspoon liquid smoke

3 cups vegan beef liquid stock (I used Massel)

sea salt & black pepper to taste

basil/oregano leaves to serve (optional)

Method:

1. Remove the skin and seeds from the pumpkin. Cut it into small pieces. Then place it in a bowl with cold water for 1/2 hour.???????????????????????????????

2. Melt nutlex in a large heavy based pot over a low heat. Once it has completely melted add pumpkin pieces and liquid smoke. Cover and cook on medium heat for 15 mins.???????????????????????????????

3. Add vegan beef stock, then cover it again and simmer for 15 mins or until pumpkin is very soft.

4. Take the pot of the heat and puree it. Then adjust seasoning with sea salt and black pepper. Cook for a further 10 mins then serve.

*Serve soup topped with a few basil leaves. I didn’t have so I used oregano leaves.

*Serves 6

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Broccoli in insalata (Broccoli Salad) (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1 bunch of broccoli

2 small carrots

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

juice from 2 lemons

1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes

sea salt & black pepper to taste

Method:

1. Soak broccoli in cold water for 1/2 hour.

2. Bring a pot of cold water to the boil. Meanwhile separate the florets from the broccoli stems and cut into bite size pieces.

3. Place broccoli stems in boiling water and cook for 5 mins.

4. Then add the brocolli florets and cook for a further 4 mins.

5. Remove all the broccoli and place into cold water for 10 mins.

6. Peel and grate the carrots then place in a bowl with cold iced water and leave for 5 mins.

7. Combine the oil, lemon juice, chili flakes, salt and pepper in a small bowl.

8. Strain the broccoli and carrots. Then combine half of both into a bowl, add half of the dressing. Then add the rest of the vegetables and dressing, then serve.

*Serves 4 as a side dish

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Mushroom, Walnut and Spinach Pesto Spelt Pizza (vegan, soy free)

Ingredients for pizza base:

1.5 cups wholemeal spelt flour

1 cup tipo 00 flour

2 1/4 teaspoon dry active yeast

1 teaspoon raw sugar

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 cup warm water

2 tablespoons olive oil

Ingredients for pizza topping:

2 cups baby spinach leaves

2 garlic cloves

1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves

1 teaspoon dried basil leaves

sea salt & black pepper to taste

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

4 tablespoons chopped walnuts

6 medium/10 small mushrooms sliced

Method:

1. Combine the spelt and 00 tipo flour in a bowl.

2. Combine the warm water, yeast, salt and suger. Leave for 5 mins or until it has bubbled.

3. Add olive oil and yeast water mixture to the flour.

4. On a floury board knead the dough for 10 mins. Then leave for at least 1 hour in a warm spot.

5. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 200 degrees and place the spinach leaves, garlic, basil, oregano, olive oil and salt and pepper in the processor. Process until it is all ground together.???????????????????????????????

6. Stir in the walnuts then set to the side.

7. Once dough is read, spread it onto a rectangular pizza pan.

8. Saute the sliced mushrooms with a little bit of oil in a pan for a few minutes.

9. Lather the pesto onto the pizza base, then top with mushrooms. Cook in the oven for 20 mins, then slice and serve.

*Makes 1 pizza base, cut into 12 smal slices

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Summer Protein Smoothies

These are some of the smoothies that I have been making to cool me down and fill me up first thing in the morning in this summer heat. I don’t even feel like I need the coffee after I have one of these. Because of my pyroluria, protein is very important for me to have in the morning to kick start my brain. Since I don’t eat eggs anymore, I try to find other foods that are rich in protein, such as nut, nut butters, nut milks, grains, legumes and avocado. A really quick and easy way to get the protein I need to to put it all in a smoothie, with other fruits and vegetables.

The Protein that I have been using in my smoothies is Vanilla Vital Protein Pea Protein Isolate. It is vegan, 82% Vegetable Protein and is world’s highest source of vegetable protein. It is downloadgluten free, lactose free, GM free. It is also 88% Bio-available Protein, Low-Carbohydrate Level 0.1%, , Low Allergenic, Low in Anti-Nutritional Factors, High Tolerance, 100% Vegetable Origin, Balanced Amino Acid Profile, Not deposited in the body as fat, Rich in valuable Amino Acids for weight control, sports or medicinal purposes; High-digestability (98%), Amino Acid Score 0.9 (norm FAO 1991), High Alkalinity level (ph 7.5).

I have only found a couple of protein products available in Brisbane that are vegan. Such as  Tony Sfeir’s Pea Protein Isolate, Lotus Australia Organic Brown Rice ProteinHemp Foods Australia Hemp Protein.

What protein do you use?

How do you use it (smoothies, baking, etc)?

Do you have any good recipes?

Here are some of the smoothies I have been making over the past weeks. If you are a bit hesitant like I was to add some vegetables to your smoothies, I promise you won’t notice them in these recipes. These are what I call “Marco friendly” smoothies. He always gets nervous when he sees what I am putting in, but he ends up loving them.

Dragon Cherry Protein Smoothie- 1 small Dragon fruit, 1/2 cup cherries 3 dessert spoons vanilla protein, 1 cup almond milk, agave to taste (1-2 serves)

Spinach & Summer Fruit Protein Smoothie– 1 frozen banana, 1 cup frozen nectarine, 1/2 cup frozen grapes, 1/2 cup baby spinach, 2 1/2 cups almond milk, 9 dessert spoons vanilla protein, agave to taste (3 serves)

Green Minty Cooldown Protein Smoothie– 8 grapes, 1/2 lebanese cucumber (peeled), small handful of baby spinach, leaves from 2 sprigs of mint, 1 cups almond milk, 3 dessert spoons vanilla protein, agave to taste (1 serves)

Carrot Cake Protein Smoothie– 1 frozen banana, 1/2 cup grated carrot, 1 teaspoon diced fresh ginger, 2 tablespoon ground pecans/walnuts, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 3/4 cup almond milk, 6 dessert spoons vanilla protein, agave to taste (2 serves)

Dragon Cherry Protein Smoothie

Dragon Cherry Protein Smoothie

Spinach & Summer Fruit Protein Smoothie

Spinach & Summer Fruit Protein Smoothie

Green Minty Cooldown Protiein Smoothie

Green Minty Cooldown Smoothie

Carrot Cake Protein Smoothie

Carrot Cake Protein Smoothie

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Basil & Sun-dried Tomato Pesto with Straw and Hay Fettuccine

I still had plenty of basil from the other day and it had been weighing on my mind that it was about to go bad. So late last night I decided to make pesto again. I love pesto its so versatile. It can coat hot pasta and vegetables, be spread on bread or even used to base a pizza. It really doesn’t need the cheese. With plenty of nuts, you won’t notice. My mum, who has been making it her whole life, was skeptical that it wouldn’t be good without  Parmesan. However, she ate her words when she tried it. The sun dried tomatoes also gave the pesto a unique flavor.  I am also excited to try out my new air tight jars. It looks heaps fancier in the jar and is better to store for longer.

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Basil & Sun-dried Tomato Pesto (gf, sf)

Ingredients:

1/2 cup pine nuts

1/2-2 cups basil leaves

3 garlic cloves

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

10 sun-dried tomatoes

1/2-1 teaspoons sea salt

Method:

1. Place pine nuts in the processor and whiz till they are broken down and start to form a paste.

2. Then add the rest of the ingredients, one by one, as the processor is whizzing, until it is all combined and creamy.

* Place in an airtight jar or container and top with a bit more olive oil so that it last longer.

DSC00959I used the pesto for breakfast this morning on toast. The pine nuts make the pesto very filling, since they have plenty of protein. In fact there is 4g of protein per 30g serve of pine nuts, which is similar to an egg. Pine nuts are also a rich source of healthy polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats and contain natural plant sterols, manganese, niacin, plant iron and zinc [1]. They also help you to feel full for longer. I am addicted to them at the moment. I also like to dry toast them before adding them to porridge and pasta dishes or add them to the tops of baked goods.

Tonight we had Marco’s little niece and nephew stay over, so I wanted to make them something special. They can be both picky eaters, but they love pasta and pizza, which is always easy. So I decided to make them fresh Straw and Hay Fettuccine. I have heaps of baby spinach to use, but I thought if I only make spinach fettuccine they might be too scared to eat it. They weren’t too keen on it when they asked how I would make the pasta green. But I assured them that it would taste the same as the white pasta.

To make the pasta was very easy. I used the same recipe for the dough as the Spinach & ‘Ricotta’ Ravioli, but I just split it in half and added pureed steamed spinach to one part. I found that I had to add a lot more extra flour and semolina to make it more durable to put through the pasta machine. It was a lot softer since the spinach was very wet. So I patted the pasta sheets with more flour. It is also important to have some spare flour (wholemeal will do) to add to the pasta ribbons while they are resting, so that they don’t get stuck together.

For the sauce, I made the kids and Marco a Napoletana sauce with just red onion, garlic, carrot, capsicum and my favorite Aldi Organic Pasta Sauce. For me I just sauteed red onion mushrooms and baby spinach then added the hot pasta and stirred through some of my pesto. Everyone was happy with their dinner. The kids said they loved it and the little girl had a second serve. For dessert they both had two serves of last nights Stone Fruit & Berry Slice. They weren’t sure they would like that either, but after they taste tested it they demanded more. They are here for the weekend so can’t wait to make them some more treats.

Straw and Hay Fettuccine (nf, sf)

Ingredients for Pasta dough:

1 cup semolina (more for dough)

1 cup wholemeal flour (more for dough)

pinch sea salt

1 tbsp olive oil

1/2 cup warm water

80g (2 cups) baby spinach

Method:

1. Steam spinach, then puree it with 1 tbsp of the hot water from the spinach. Set to the side.

2. Take a large bowl and combine semolina, wholemeal flour and sea salt. DSC00986

3. Then add olive oil and split into  two bowls

4. Add 1/4 cup of the hot water (from spinach) to one of the bowls. To the other add the pureed spinach and 1/4 of hot water (from spinach) and a mixture of half flour half semolina if dough is too wet. Mix the water so that both become a dough.

5. On a floury board knead both lots of dough for 10 mins, so that the dough is smooth and elastic. Set aside.DSC00987

6. Split both dough’s into 4 parts (8 in total), then roll through the pasta machine to make pasta sheets, then use the fettuccine cutter to finish the fresh pasta. Leave both lots of pasta in plenty of flour, so it doesn’t stick together.

7. When water has boiled, add a pinch of salt and both lots of fettuccine ribbons and cook until the pasta has floated to the top.

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[1] http://www.nutsforlife.com.au/index.php?option=com_docman&task=cat_view&gid=157&Itemid=165&mosmsg=You+are+trying+to+access+from+a+non-authorized+domain.+%28www.google.com.au%29

Penne Alfredo with mushrooms, peas, spinach

I have finally got over my fear of making my own nut cream. I know it’s easy, but I kept putting it off. I thought my hand-mixer wasn’t up to the job and I guess it probably isn’t if I intended to drink it. I have made my own cashew pesto and cashew cheese before, but with only 10mins of boiling the cashews, they were still quite chunky. This time I finally remembered to soak my cashews overnight, so I could make cashew cream. Ever since I saw Ellen and Portia’s chef making meatless “southern fried chick’n”, I have been eager to try it. Although I’m happy how it turned out, I think it’s still not as creamy as their looked.

Anyway it was pretty easy. Just a cup of cashews soaked in water for 8 hours, then blended with 1/2 cup of water. I didn’t add anything as I thought I would do this when I went to use it. It was still a little lumpy, but after I re-blended it today and added a bit more water it was much less dense.

I think using the cashew cream made was a lot closer to real cream. I’ve tried vegan cheese sauce, soy carnation and rice cream, but this was definitely the most thickest and creamiest of the lot. My boyfriend gave it the tick of approval, so I think it was a success. I served it with garlic french stick. I used my favorite vegan butter, Melrose Organic Omega Gold Spread. As far as I know its the healthiest dairy free butter we can get in Australia and it contains palm oil or hydrogenated fats. It probably taste the best as well. Another new discovery for me was Enoki mushrooms. I saw them on sale finally at the supermarket, so I thought we would try them. They are Japanese, but they are very versatile and can be added to any meal. They can be served raw or cooked.

Penne Alfredo with mushrooms, peas, spinach (gfo, sf)

Ingredients for Cream Sauce: 1 1/2 Cashew cream, 1/2 water, 1 tsp white miso paste, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1 tbsp lemon juice, 1/2 tsp onion flakes, sea salt & cracked pepper

Cashew cream, mushrooms and garlic bread

Ingredients: 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped, 1 onion finely chopped, 3 tbsp olive oil, mushrooms sliced chunky strips (I used large 6 white mushrooms &  1 bunch enoki), 1 cup frozen peas, 2/3 cup baby spinach chopped, 1 tbsp basil, 1/2 cup almond milk, 2 tbsp nutritional yeast, sea salt & cracked pepper to taste, penne or gf pasta.

Sauteing mushrooms

1. Boil water for pasta and cook according to pack instructions. Also boil small pot of water, to cook peas for 3 mins.

2. Heat large pan, add olive oil, garlic and onion. Cook for few minutes till the onion have browned. Then add the mushrooms and saute for 5mins. Then turn off the heat.

Heating sauce

3. Add to cashew cream (already prepared) water, miso paste, lemon juice, garlic powder, onion flakes, salt and pepper and then blend. Add more of any ingredient to adjust the taste.

4. Turn back on the heat to the pan and add the peas, cream sauce and baby spinach, basil, almond milk and nutritional yeast. Bring to the boil then put on a simmer. Add seasalt & pepper to taste.

5. Heat pasta through the sauce and then serve.