Rich Roasted Tomato Soup

During the week I was flipping through one of my Jamie Oliver book’s and I came across the most delicious looking Tomato soup. I have never had a real tomato soup. When I was a kid we use to eat a lot of can soup, including the Campbell’s Tomato soup. I never really like it though. I just found it tasted like tomato juice, which I wasn’t a big fan either.  But I thought I would give it another chance. I adapted this recipe from Jamie’s 15-Minute Meals. It was so delicious and really celebrated the essence of the tomato. The tomato and basil tasted really fresh and fragrant. It was also really creamy without the add of any dairy or dairy substitutes.

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Rich Roasted Tomato Soup (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

2 large tomatoes

500g variety cherry tomatoes (heirloom, orange, red)

4 garlic cloves

1 large red chilli (or 2 small)

olive oil

sea salt and black pepper

2 medium red onions

4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1/2 cup filtered water

1 handful basil leaves

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 220 degrees.

2. Chop the large tomatoes into quarters, crush the garlic cloves and remove the chilli seeds and stem from the chilli. Add all the tomatoes, garlic and chilli to a baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil and season with sea salt and black pepper. Place in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until tomatoes soften.

3. In the meantime, roughly chop the red onions. Then heat a pan with olive oil and add the red onions. Cook on a medium heat until the onions start to soften. This should take about 5 minutes.

4. Add balsamic vinegar to the onion and allow it to cook through so that the onions are sticky and sweet.

5. Place the onions, roasted tomatoes, roasting liquid (from the tomatoes), basil leaves, water, sea salt (to taste) in high speed processor. Blend until smooth.

6. Serve immediately or reheat in a pot.

*Makes 5 cups

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Zucchini Basil Fritters with Lemon Cumin Mayo

I have been in such a rut with cooking since I’ve been back from holidays. I have still been cooking everyday, but I have been lacking inspirations and finding it hard to get back into a healthy routine. I’m not sure if its me still being in holiday mode or because of my anger towards my electric stove (I miss mums gas stove!).  But today I’m back on the wagon.

Last night after work I went and did my shopping for the week. Normally when I shop when I’m hungry I’m DSC01738overflowing with ideas and can’t wait to get home to cook. But yesterday it wasn’t the same. So I thought I’d go back to the basics and just fill my fridge with healthy vegetables, fruit and spurge on some coconut yogurt. I came home and baked some petite potatoes, red onions and this beautiful little pumpkin that I found in my DSC01740garden. While  I was waiting for it to cook I finally got some inspiration. I made these little fritters with some leftover rice and some organic zucchini. They were very good!

This morning I pushed myself to drink a healthy smoothie.  I made delicious Mixed Berry Kale Smoothie with Coconut Yogurt and Almond Milk. Can’t believe I’ve been avoiding smoothies and juices. Now I remember how good good they are.

Do you ever get in a rut with cooking or eating healthy? What do you do to snap out of it?

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Zucchini Basil Fritters with Lemon Cumin Mayo (vegan, gluten free option, soy free, nut free)

To make Zucchini Basil Fritters:

Ingredients:

1 cup leftover basmati rice

1 medium zucchini, grated

2 garlic cloves, diced

20 basil leaves, diced

2 teaspoons egg replacer, mixed 4 tablespoons water)

1/2 cup plain flour or gluten free flour

1 tablespoon lemon juice

sea salt and black pepper to taste

olive oil

Method:

1. Take a mixing bowl and combine the basmati rice, grated zucchini, garlic and basil.

2. Add egg replacer, flour, lemon juice, sea salt and pepper to taste. Stir through well.

3. Heat a non stick pan with olive oil on medium heat. Take a heaped tablespoon of the mixture and make into a pattie with your hands, then drop into the pan. Cook fritters for a minute or two on both side.

4. Continue Step 3 until you have no more mixture yet. You should be able to make eight Fritters.

To Make Lemon Cumin Mayo:

Ingredients:

4 tablespoons vegan mayonnaise

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon lemon juice, or more to taste

sea salt & black pepper to taste

Method:

1. Combine all the ingredients and serve with the fritters.

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Linguine al pesto genovese

I have been wanting to make this Ligurian Pesto sauce with green beans and potatoes for a while. So when I saw fresh green beans at the Rocklea market a couple of days ago I knew what they were destine for. I  have never seen this dish prepared before so I was curious to see what it was like.

I adapted this recipe from Diane Seeds, The Top One Hundred Pasta Sauces (currently my favorite book). I had to use a lot less pine nuts and no cheese, I also included a little bit of nutritional yeast for a bit of a bite. I usually don’t use a lot of olive oil, but this recipe uses plenty and it really makes this dish delicious. The hot water and oily pesto makes this dish really creamy and the potatoes and green beans make it all the more heartier.

DSC04148I also attempted to make Focaccia alla genovese. However I didn’t let mine rise the second time, so the indents that the olive oil was meant to sit in were not as deep. I will have to attempt this again, when I have more left over pizza dough. It was still really good and really made me miss fresh foccacia that I use to have for lunch most days when I was in Milan. I got the recipe  for Foccaccia alla genovese from Giallo Zafferano.

For other who love food history I thought I would give some info on this incredibly delicious traditional Italian dish from the Ligurian region. Liguria is the coastal region in north western Italy and it is the capital city of Genova. Their most famous sauce or condiment is Pesto Genovese. It is typically made from primarily of basil with raw pine nuts, garlic, parmesan/pecorino cheese, extra virgin olive oil and course salt. Traditionally it is made with a mortar and pestle, but today most people just use a processor.

This sauce is usually used to flavor pastas dishes (trofiette, bavette, linguine, trenette, corzetti, tagliatelle, tagliolini and lasagne), troffie, or Minestrone alla genovese (soup). It is also used as a condiment to flavor some other regional ‘fast foods’, such as testaieu , testaroli and panigacci.

ver_apmoIt is thought that Pesto Genovese originated from the ancient Romans. They use to make a Moretum, a green paste, made of fresh cheese, herbs, salt, oil and vinegar. They would crush the ingredients in a mortar and eat the spread on bread.  The recipe was described in both the Appendix Vergiliana by the poet Virgil and the  De Re Rustica, book XII by Columella, an important writer on agriculture of the Roman empire, which also contained a variant with pine nuts.

genoese-trader-12th-centuryLater during the Middle Ages,  the Agliata ligure, a traditional garlic sauce, made of garlic and walnuts, was typically eaten in Genova and throughout Liguria. It was especially eaten by the Seamen, who ate this sauce in large quantities to prevent diseases and infections, as their voyages where long and their conditions unhygienic. If you remember my early post, Pesto alla trapanese used two ways, this sauce also had great influence on the people of Trapani in Sicily, who developed their own version. Mentions of this garlic sauce can be found it documents from the 17th century in Genova. However the Pesto we know today was not developed until later.

068_Falz-libro_97Prior to the 19th century Pesto recipes began to emerge, but they did not include pine nuts. The first book to publish Pesto with pine nuts was La Cuciniera Genovese in 1863, by Giovanni Battista Ratto. It was also the first comprehensive recipe book on Ligurian cuisine. The recipe calls for a clove of garlic, basil or if not in season marjoram and parsley; Gouda cheese and grated Parmesan.  The ingredients should be then mixed together and pounded in a mortar with a little bit of butter, until its reduced to a paste. It should be then melted/dissolved with a lots of oil.  This sauce is then used to dress pasta or gnocchi (troffie), with a little bit of hot water without salt, so that it is more liquefied sauce. Troffie is a type of Ligurian dumpling, which is elongated and twisted and is typically of the town Recco in the Genova province.

In the 19th century Pasta al pesto became increasingly popular. Another tradition that has continue was the addition of adding potatoes,  broad beans or green beans, and sometimes zucchini, to cook with the pasta, before being dressed in the pesto sauce. It became particularly typically in Genova, to add potatoes and green beans cook with trenette linguine. This is how this particular dish I made came about. Of course you will find variants for the pesto and the use of vegetables in Pasta al pesto, in individual households. However, this dish has lived on to become one of the popular dishes in Italian cuisine.

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Linguine al pesto genovese (vegan, gluten free option, soy free)

Ingredients:

4 serves linguine/spaghetti

bunch of basil (36 leaves)

3 garlic cloves

65 g pine nuts (about 1/2 cup)

3 tablespoons nutritional yeast

200ml extra virgin olive oil

sea salt & black pepper to taste

3 small potatoes, peeled

180g green beans, roughly chopped

Method:

1. First make the Pesto. Wash and light dry the basil leaves, then place then in the processor with garlic cloves. While the processor is running add the pine nuts, nutritional yeast and olive oil. Process until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.

2. Cook the pasta according to packet directions. While the pasta is cooking add potatoes and beans. I boiled them separately to get the timing right, then sliced the potatoes

3. Once pasta is finished strain, leaving about 1/4 cup of hot pasta water in the pot. Then return the pasta to the pot and add the pesto,  potatoes and green beans. Adjust seasoning then serve.

* Serves 4

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Pesto alla trapanese used two ways

I have been wanting to make Pesto alla trapanese for a while. 8003267902010_A_L This is a traditional Western Sicilian pesto that is used to make Pasta con il pesto alla trapanese or pasta cull’agghia in the Sicilian dialect  This is a typical dish from the province of Trapani, in Sicily. The pesto is also a traditional Sicilian food products, which is recognized by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, in Italy.

F030_trapaniPesto alla trapanese is an ancient sauce, that originated from the the port of Trapani. It was influenced by the Genovese, who arrived on ships to the Trapani ports with their Agliata ligure, a traditional garlic sauce, made of garlic and walnuts. The Trapanese sailors, then developed their own interpretation using typical produce from their region, tomatoes and almond.

The main ingredients of this pesto is basil , tomato and almonds. Other ingredients that are added to classic recipes include red garlic, extra virgin olive oil, black pepper and sometimes grated Sicilian Pecorino cheese.

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Busiati

The pasta that is traditionally paired with this pesto is fresh Busiati pasta, which is also typical of Trapani. It is a type of macaroni-like pasta that has been twisted around a branch of the Mauritania grass (dis grass).  Another pasta that is often use is Gnoccoli, which is about 15 cm long and has a large cavity. They also use Linguine or Bucatini, which are also long pastas. Pasta con il pesto alla trapanese  can be served hot or cold and is usually served along side Eggplant, Fried Potatoes or Fried Fish.

Making this pesto is really easy. I have never blanched almonds before, but it doesn’t take long and worth the effort, as blanched almonds usually cost more. I noticed initially the color of my pesto was quite green, unlike many recipes I saw online which had a yellow-orange colour. However, this color changed the next day, after it had been sitting in the fridge in a sealed container. Nevertheless still tasted the same.

I first used the pesto to make a sauce for my pizza. It went really well with the spicy red chili  salty black olives and slightly bitter rocket. I ended up eating my whole pizza. It was so moresome. Today I used the pesto again to make Pasta con il pesto alla trapanese . I just used spaghetti, as this pesto requires long pasta as it coats it better, than short pastas. I added some vegan cashew parmesan, more salt and pepper and a handful of olives again. The almonds in the pesto make this dish really filling and the tomatoes and cashew parmesan bring a beautiful creaminess to the dish.

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Pesto alla trapanese (vegan, gluten free, soy free)

Ingredients:

50g almonds

250g cherry tomatoes

1 bunch of basil

1 red garlic clove

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

sea salt and black pepper to taste

Method:

1. First blanch almonds by bring a small pot to the boil, then cooking them for 2-3 mins. Remove almonds and rinse with cold water, then remove the brown skins.

2. Peel the tomatoes by placing them in boiling water for 1 minute, then emerging them in cold water. The skins should easily peel off now.

3. In the processor (or mortar and pestle) add the almonds, basil, and garlic. Process until they are ground down.

4. Then add the tomatoes, followed by the olive oil, salt and pepper. Processor until it liquefy into a dense consistency.

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Pizza with Pesto alla trapanese, Chili, Black olives and Rocket (vegan, soy free)

Ingredients:

1 pizza base

3 tablespoons pesto alla trapanese

2 small red chili, diced

1/4 red onion, sliced

small handful of black olives (deseeded and halved)

cashew parmesan

large handful of rocket leaves

sea salt and black pepper to taste

extra virgin olive oil to taste???????????????????????????????

Method:

1. Roll out pizza dough, then cover the base equally with the pesto.

2. Add red onion, garlic, black olives. Sprinkle vegan parmesan, then cook the pizza in the oven until base is cooked.

3. Add the rocket, salt, pepper and lightly drizzle some olive oil.

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Pasta con il pesto alla trapanese (vegan, gluten free option, soy free)

Ingredients:

1 serve spaghetti (use gluten free if you prefer)

3 tablespoons Pesto alla trapanese (recipe above)

2 tablespoon cashew parmesan

sea salt & pepper to taste

small handful of black olives, deseeded

Method:

1. Cook 1 serve of pasta according to pack directions.???????????????????????????????

2. Once the pasta is cooked, use a tongs to move it from the pot into a mixing bowl.

3. Add the pesto, vegan parmesan, black olives, sea salt and black pepper. Toss until the pasta is coated. Then serve immediately.

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Hasselback Potatoes with Lemon Almond Pesto and Beans, Broccoli & Spelt Croutons

I have been wanting to try Hasselback Potatoes for a while. I came across this recipe one day and was intrigued  I have never seen potatoes prepared like this before. This recipe was adapted from Joy the Baker’s Hasselback Potatoes with Spinach Cashew Pesto. I had to change the recipe for the pesto a bit, since I was missing some key ingredients. For some strange reason my processor wouldn’t liquefy all the ingredients and left it a bit chunky. I was so frustrated that I just gave in to it. It turned out to still taste good and Marco said he liked it chunky, so I guess it wasn’t that bad.

The potatoes themselves were so delicious. They were a bit of a pain to cut and stuff with garlic. I did go all the way through on a couple of them.  I ended up served them with these simple vegetables and some leftover risotto, as I was in a hurry to watch My Kitchen Rules.

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Hasselback Potatoes with Lemon Almond Pesto (vegan, gluten free, soy free)

Ingredients for Hasselback Potatoes:

4 large potatoes

4 garlic cloves

4 tablespoons vegan butter

olive oil to coat

sea salt

Ingredients for Pesto:

2 cups basil

2 garlic cloves

1/4 cup toasted almonds

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1/3 cup vegan parmesan

sea salt & pepper to taste

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 220 degrees.???????????????????????????????

2. Thinly slice a layer from the bottom so that the potato can sit on its side. Then slice slits in the way along the potato. Be careful not to cut right through to the bottom.???????????????????????????????

3. Thinly slice the garlic and stuff a piece in each slit in the potato.

4. Put the potatoes in a small baking dish and top with vegan butter and coat in olive oil. Roast in the oven for 1 hour. If you can check the potatoes a few times and baste in the olive oil.

5. In the meantime place all the ingredients for the pesto in the processor, except for the evo. Process until smooth. Lastly add the olive oil.

*Serve the potatoes topped with the pesto

*Serves 4

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Beans, Broccoli & Spelt Croutons (vegan, nut free, soy free)

Ingredients:

1 head of broccoli, roughly chopped

2 handfuls green beans

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 slice of old spelt bread, toasted and chopped

extra virgin olive oil

sea salt & pepper to taste

Method:

1. Heat olive oil in a pan then add garlic and spelt bread. Saute for 2 mins.

2. Add broccoli and green beans and saute for 4 mins or until tender.

*Serves 4

Summer Salads for Sally’s 60th

Hi all, as promised, these are the salads that I prepared for Marco mother’s 60th party last night. All of these are from recipes that I have been collecting on Pinterest. In my household we have always had our salads with olive oil, salt and pepper and sometimes balsamic vinegar. So I am not very experienced in salad dressings.

These salads were a big hit at the party. The Roasted Aubergine only lasted about 15 mins till it was all gone. The pasta salad was also popular. All of these salads were quite quick and easy to prepare. The only cooking involved was for the pasta and grilling the eggplant.

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Jamie Oliver’s ‘Best Pasta Salad’

The original recipe for Jamie’s pasta salad is here (gfo, sf, nf)). The only thing I did different was using small vine ripened tomatoes, rather then yellow and red cherry tomatoes. I wasn’t able to get them for a reasonable price. But it didn’t make a difference with flavor, just with color. I especially loved the fresh herbs and zesty lemon flavor. This is a great salad if you have a large group of people and is big enough that everyone gets to have firsts and seconds.

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Roasted Aubergine with Sumac and Tahini Dressing

The recipe for this dish can be found here. This salad was really loved by all the Serbians. The dressing is earthly and zesty, the toppings are nutty and fragrant and the eggplant is soft and creamy. It can be served warm or at room temperature, which is how I served it. The dressing should be chilled and added just before serving. I have never used pomegranate in ???????????????????????????????a salad before. It went really well with the pine nuts. Unfortunately it isn’t in season at the moment in Australia. These were a USA import, so they were expensive and had some bad bits inside, but it was a must have ingredient to complete this dish. I really liked the dressing as well, it was dairy free, but really creamy. I used unhulled tahini, so my dressing is a lot darker then the picture in the original recipe. For the eggplant I removed the bitterness before grilling it. I just added table salt to the slices of eggplant and left them, so that the moister would come out. Then I wiped the moisture off before cooking it. Only thing I would do differently next time is make double the amount.

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Carrot Salad with Olives, Agave and Cumin

The recipe for this salad can be found here. The only things I changed was using agave instead of honey and italian parsley instead of coriander  The birthday girl is not a fan of coriander  but loves italian parsley, so I thought for her party it was better to go with what she likes. This is also a really easy salad to put together. It did take me a while to cut these carrots into tiny matchsticks, but worth it. The dressing was sweet and zesty.

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I was really lucky last night. There were plenty of fresh salads, roasted potatoes and baked bread for me to eat. I definitely didn’t go hungry. Of course they had their lamb on the spit, which they serve at big celebrations, but I didn’t feel like it. Some of the salads they made were Cabbage and Pickles; Cabbage, Beetroot and Carrot; Tomato and Red onion; and Radish and Cucumber. They all had vinegar, oil and salt to season them. There was also a traditional Serbian homemade bread, which is called Pogača. Usually at the beginning of the meal everyone takes an edge and pulls to get their piece. It is quite a heavy, dense bread, but it is nice and airy inside and soft on the outside.

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Marco’s sister made Sally’s birthday cake. This cake isn’t vegan, but it was dairy free. It is also a traditional Serbian recipe. It consists of 3 layers of baked sponge cake, which is only made of ground peanuts and eggs and between the layers are crushed peanuts. On the outside was chocolate and strawberry flavored marzipan. The humidity got to it a bit, but it still looked great and most importantly tasted amazing.

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It was a great night for everyone. The older ones ate, drank and danced all night. Marco, the kids and I ended up watching a movie together to get out of the heat. Most importantly Sally had a great time and it was a birthday to remember.

Calm after the storm

After torrential rain and gail force winds last night we finally got some calm weather today. So today we had to focus on cleaning the mess from the storm. Mum was drying the leaks  and sweeping the water away. Marco was vacuuming up Albie’s hair from all over the house, after his sleepover inside. And I tried to cook up all the left overs in our fridge and went shopping for  more supplies. I’m not so good at the cleaning, but I like to make sure we are eating well in this stressful time. We also got a student at 2 am  this morning. I am really surprised she made it here with the storm and the road closures. I’m even more surprised there were taxi’s working last night. Although the rain stopped this afternoon, we still have to worry about the  flood tonight, now the dam’s are being released. We are hoping that our suburb isn’t going to flood, since we are so close to the river. Our house will be safe, but I’m hoping we don’t loose power.

These are some of the things I made up today out of the leftovers:

Salad: red onion, tomato, grated carrot, baby spinach, rocket, chickpeas and a Sweet Garlic Mayo

Salad: red onion, tomato, grated carrot, baby spinach, rocket, chickpeas and a Sweet Garlic Mayo

For lunch I made salad  for everyone, as we had so many pre-cut ingredients, that my mum brought home from her work. I also had the tiniest bit of silken tofu leftover in the fridge, so I tried to make a homemade vegan mayo. This mayo only made enough dressing for 3 salads. So I will try to make up a bigger batch next time.

Sweet Garlic Mayo (vegan, gluten free)

Ingredients:

100g silken tofu

1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon brown rice syrup

1 tablespoon parsley

1 tablespoon ground pecans (optional)

sea salt to taste

Method:

1. Combine all the ingredients in the processor and pulse until all is combined.

*Makes about 1/2 cup.

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After lunch I made this pesto to keep in the fridge as a condiment or to dress pasta. We had so much basil in the fridge that was starting to go bad and a jar of artichokes that I had started and forgot about. These ingredients went really well together. I had it as an afternoon snack with the left over Spelt Buttery Biscuits. I kept offering it to Marco to have on toast, but he’s not to excited about it.

Basil & Artichoke Pesto (vegan, gluten free, soy free)

Ingredients:

1/2 cup pine nuts

1.5-2 cups basil leaves

3 garlic cloves

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

6-8 artichokes from jar

1 tablespoon nutritional yeast (optional)

1/2-1 teaspoon herbamare/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.

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Even though we had the leftover the Spicy Peanut Stew with Sweet Potatoes and Eggplant with steamed rice and Achar de legumes (Ted’s Mauritian pickled vegetables) for dinner, I wanted to use up the rest of the ingredients that were on their last legs in my fridge. So I made this sauce so I can put together a quick meal tomorrow night.

Eggplant & Capsicum Pasta Sauce (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1.5 cup diced red onion, diced

5 garlic cloves, diced

1 medium eggplant, chopped

1 large red capsicum, chopped

1 cup grated/diced carrot

1 cup fresh diced tomato

2x 500ml jars passata sauce

500ml filtered water

sea salt, black pepper & raw sugar to taste

3 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped

Method:

1. Take a large pot and heat olive oil, then add the red onion and garlic. Saute for 3 mins on medium heat.

2. Add the eggplant and red capscium and saute for a further 5 mins. Add more olive oil if the eggplant is too dry.

3. Add the carrot and tomato and cook for saute for 2 more mins.

4. Add the passata sauce and water and bring to the boil.

5. Then place on a simmer. Adjust seasoning, by adding salt, pepper and sugar to taste. Add basil and continue to cook for 1-2 hours (the longer the better).

* Serve with pasta or if not using today let the pot cool (so it doesn’t go bitter) then store in the fridge for later use.dsc02738

One last thing I prepared tonight, which I am looking forward to tomorrow is my Apple Pie Over Night Oats. This is my first time making them, so curious how they are going to turn out. I made a container each for me and Marco. It really is a convenient breakfast that you can prepare the night before if you are in a rush, like Marco will be, in the morning. I will post the recipe tomorrow and tell you how it turned out.

Orange, Mint and Basil Noodles Stir fry with Assorted Mushrooms and Cabbage

I am addicted to mushrooms at the moment. Dried and fresh, I love them all. These little fungi are low in carbohydrates, calories, and sodium. They are cholesterol and fat free. They are also high in fiber, protein, a good source of B vitamins, potassium, riboflavin, niacin, and selenium. They are good for our metabolism and if consumed regularly are proven to decrease the amount of cancerous cells in our bodies [1].

I like to use them in pasta and noodle dishes to substitute where I would normally use meat. Dried mushrooms especially have a meat like texture and they help to make a balanced filling dish. I bought a packet of assorted mushrooms from the local Asian supermarket. They are really affordable and easy to work with. Another one of my go to recipes with dried mushrooms is Risoni Pasta with Sun-dried Tomatoes & Mushrooms. 

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Orange, Mint & Basil Noodles  Stir fry with Assorted Mushrooms and Cabbage (vegan, gluten free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1 serve of brown rice noodles

1 garlic clove

2 shallots

1 red chili

1/2 cup cabbage

handful assorted mushrooms (dried & fresh)

1/2 cup vegan chicken or vegetable stock (or water)

10 basil leaves

10 mint leaves

segments from 1/2 an orange

1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce

1 teaspoon sesame oil (plus extra for wok)DSC02630

Method:

1. Cook the noodles according to packet directions, then strain and set to the side.

2. In the meantime dice the garlic, shallots and chili. Chop the cabbage and fresh mushrooms. Soak the dried mushrooms.DSC02632

3. Prepare the herb sauce. Place basil, mint, orange in a mortar and pestle. Then add sesame oil and tamari.

4. Heat the wok with a little bit of sesame oil. Then add garlic, shallots and chili. Cook for 1 minute.

DSC026345. Add all the mushrooms with stock and cabbage. Cook for 3-4mins or until cabbage has wilted and stock has dried up.

6. Add the herb sauce and noodles. Heat through for one more minute, then serve.

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[1] Leslee Dru Browning 2008, Mushrooms: The Underestimated Super Food, <http://www.naturalnews.com/024548_mushrooms_cancer_food.html>

Sizzling ‘Chicken’ with Kale, Peas and Noodles

Now I am back home I am back to cooking.  Don’t have much left in the fridge, but making use of the fresh kale and basil that I got from the farmers market at Murwillumbah yesterday  I wanted to make something different then my usually standard stir fry. I was looking through a Chinese cookbook and found Sizzling Beef dish. I used similar flavors for the sauce, but adapted the rest of the ingredients. If you don’t have vegan mock chicken strips, like  Fry’s Chicken Style Stripes, then you can substitute with tofu or shiitake mushrooms.

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Sizzling ‘Chicken’ with Kale, Peas and Noodles (vegan, nut free)

Ingredients:

1/3 cup mock chicken strips

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

1 teaspoon evaporated cane sugar

1.5 tablespoon corn flour,

soba noodles or prefered other noodles

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 small red chilli, chopped

2 garlic cloves, chopped

3 shallots, chopped

10 pieces tuscan kale, chopped

1/3 cup frozen peas

2 tablespoons vegan oyster sauce

Method:

1. Place mock chicken in a bowl and add the soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sugar and corn flour. Stir through so that the mock meat is all covered and let it marinate for a few minutes

2. Cook the noodles according to packet instructions then place to the side.

3. Heat sesame oil in the wok then add garlic, chilli and shallots. Cook for 2 mins.

4. Add the mock chicken and cook for few more minutes.

5. Add kale and peas, vegan oyster sauce and cook until peas are tender.

6. Add noodles and cook only till noodles are heated through and coated in the sauce. Take off heat and serve.

This makes two large serves. If making for four you can use the same amount of ingredients for marinating the mock meat, increase by a little bit or double it. It depends how strong you want the taste to be.

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For dinner I used the huge bunch of basil to make pesto. I make the same recipe that I did last time for the Basil & Sun-dried Tomato Pesto, but I used 1/4 pine nuts, 1/4 pecans, couple of pinch of cayenne and only pulsed the sun dried tomatoes through. I just served it with some hot fettuccine pasta. So simple and so delicious.

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Before I go a big thanks to Miss Marzipan who nominated me for the Blog of 2012 the Year Award. She nominated back in on 31 December last year and have been meaning to thank her since then. If you haven’t seen her blog she is a very creative girl, who lives in Sweden and blogs about her diy projects and her delicious recipes. I especially love her sweets recipes!

Thanks to her I have received my 6th star for the award! I promise I will reply to the other awards my blog has been nominated by fellow bloggers and share the love soon!

Blog of the Year Award 6 star jpeg

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