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

Spicy Roasted Cauliflower and Corn Soup

Another cauliflower recipe…We have almost got through all of them. Only 1/2 to go now. Marco hasn’t been too keen on having more cauliflower meals, but this is what he will be coming home too again tonight. I made a Roasted Cauliflower & Garlic Soup a while ago and I was really craving it again. This soup is a bit different as it has the sweetness of the corn and the heat of the cayenne pepper. I also got to try out my vitamix as a soup blender. The texture was so smooth and luscious. No more lumpy soups 🙂

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Spicy Roasted Cauliflower and Corn Soup (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1 large cauliflower

4 corn cobs, kernels sliced off and cobs discarded

1.5 tablespoons thyme leaves

1/2 cup olive oil (plus more)

2 teaspoons ground cayenne pepper

sea salt to taste

1 brown onion, diced

3 garlic cloves, diced

3 cups vegetable liquid stock

1.5 cup plant milk (I used oat milk, but you can also you coconut or rice; almond or soy if you can tolerate)

black pepper to taste

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.???????????????????????????????

2. Cut cauliflower into florets and cut corn kernels from the corn cobs.???????????????????????????????

3. Take a baking tray and add the cauliflower, corn, thyme leaves, cayenne and olive oil. Season with sea salt and toss through.

4. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large pot, then add onion and garlic and saute until softened.

5. Add liquid stock and bring to the boil.DSC06136

6. Add the oat milk and most cauliflower and corn, but reserve 4 tablespoons in the baking tray. Bring to the boil and let it cool.

7. Add the soup to the blender in two batches. Blend till smooth.

8. Place soup back into a pot and reheat if you need to.

9. Serve soup with a tablespoon of roasted cauliflower and corn, a drizzle of olive oil and season with sea salt and pepper.

*Serves 4

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

As promised another recipe with cauliflower. I just love roasted cauliflower. It doesn’t have that bitter flavor that steamed cauliflower has. I usually make roasted vegetables with potatoes, pumpkins and other root vegetables. But this variation was really nice change and the dressing gave it a bit more zing.

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Roasted Cauliflower, Beets, Capsicum and Chickpeas with Tahini Sumac Dressing (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

olive oil

1 large beetroot, sliced

1/2 large cauliflower, chopped

1 red capsicum, sliced

1 tin chickpeas

handful of italian parsley, chopped

sea salt & black pepper to taste

Ingredients for Tahini Sumac Sauce:

1 whole garlic head

3 tablespoons unhulled tahini

2 tablespoons lemon

handful of italian parsley

1 teaspoon sumac

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup water

sea salt to taste

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

2. Place beetroot in a baking dish and toss with olive oil. Bake for 20 minutes or until tender.

3. Add cauliflower, capsicum and whole garlic, drizzle with more olive oil. Bake for a further 20 minutes or until the vegetables have cooked. Remove the whole garlic once it has softened.

4. In the meantime add all the ingredients to the blender. Also peel roasted garlic and add to the process and blend.

5. Add a tin of chickpeas to the baking dish and cook vegetables for a further few minutes, then remove from the oven.

6. Toss the vegetables with the dressing, parsley and season with sea salt & black pepper before serving.

*Serves 4 as a side dish.

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On the side I made Syndian Asian Bean and Kumera Patties. This was the first Syndian product that I have tried and it wasn’t too bad. It really tasted homemade, which is probably because it had all real ingredients in it. The only thing that it needed was a sauce, as I found it was a little dry, but otherwise not to bad.

Cauliflower Cheezy Thyme Pie

Hope you all had a great weekend. Mine was pretty quiet. I was pretty hungover all Saturday after work drinks on Friday night. I haven’t drank more then a glass for over a year so I was a bit out of practice. I did go on one vegan adventure last night to Freestyle Tout. Last time I had a vegan dessert there I wasn’t too impressed. My chocolate avocado mousse was so dark, it was uneatable. But this time was a big difference. I had a Vegan Hazelnut Cake with Hazelnut Chocolate Sauce, Vanilla Cocolusious Vegan Ice cream. It was amazing and on pare with the regular desserts they offer.

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Tonight I wanted to make some kind of pie, because its so cold here. I decided on cauliflower because I had two and a half of them in my fridge. Why so much? Well I already had a half and then both mum and I went shopping again with out telling the other. So expect to see more cauliflower recipes this week.

I have never liked cauliflower, but they are growing on my. Marco still doesn’t like them. But we both loved this cauliflower pie. All three of us had seconds and I am looking forward to taking this to work. Marco even commented that it looks like something he would have at a vegan restaurant with the sprout salad. This can be made gluten free and soy free with gluten free puff pastry and almond or oat milk. The nutritional yeast isn’t essential, but definitely makes it more cheezy and delicious.

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Cauliflower Cheezy Thyme Pie (vegan, gluten free option, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more to brush pastry

1 medium onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, diced

1/2 large cauliflower, chopped

1 large potato, grated

1 cup unsweetnered plant milk (rice or oat; almond or soy if you can tolerate)

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

1/2 cup nutritional yeast

2-3 teaspoons sea salt

black pepper to taste

2 sheets of frozen puff pastry (or gluten free puff pastry)

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.???????????????????????????????

2. Heat a nonstick pot with olive oil, then saute onion and garlic for a few minutes or until it softens.

3. Add cauliflower and grated potato and saute for a 5 minutes. Stir continuously so the potato doesn’t stick to the bottom.

4. Add soy milk, thyme, sea salt and black pepper. Cook for 10 minutes or until the cauliflower has softened.???????????????????????????????

5. Add nutritional yeast and stir through. Add more salt if you need.???????????????????????????????

6. Place a defrosted puff pastry sheet in the base of a 9 inch pie pan.

7. Fill the pastry with the cauliflower mixture.

8. Top with another sheet of puff pastry and tick in the edges around the sides.

9. Brush pastry with olive oil and then bake for 30 mins or until pastry is cooked.

*Serves 6

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Cowgirl Veggie Steaks with Chimichurri, Sesame Agave Carrot, Cauliflower Garlic Mash and Sweet Green Onions

Tonight we tried out a new vegan product we haven’t had before, Viana Cowgirl Veggie Steaks. This product is imported from Germany and is a high quality vegan product. The ingredients are all certified organic, GMO-free, high in protein, and  they are really easy to prepare. This is the only vegan steak currently available in Australia.???????????????????????????????

So first impressions, the ‘steaks’ look very much like a cooked meat steak. When I first took took them out of the pack I thought they were a bit small, however they are also quite thick as well. There was not really must instruction on the box. It just had a picture of a pan with ‘5 mins’. So I just cooked it in a non stick pan with a drop of oil for about 4 mins on each side. I served it topped with Chimichurri and some vegetable sides. Once it was cooked it looked very much like a nice steak.

The taste wasn’t too bad either, definitely doesn’t taste like a real steak, but the texture is very convincing. It wasn’t dry or??????????????????????????????? chewy like meat is when its cooked as much as the texture felt like when you ate it, so it was easy to eat. It was also really filling. Its been two hours and I can still feel it in my tummy.

I think this is probably the best vegan mock meat product in terms of quality and nutrition. It tasted pretty good too, but next time I will use a heavy sauce. It doesn’t taste that beefy, so its also good for those people who don’t like the flavor of meat. I would eat it again, well I will be eating it again, since I have another packet in my fridge. I recommend for people who are transitioning or like to still enjoy meat like dishes. Marco really liked it, even though he loves real steak, so you can also share it with your carnivore friends.

This is the first time I have made Chimichurri. It is actually an Argentinian sauce, however it is also used in Uruguay. It is used for grilled meats as a topping or as a marinate. It is traditionally made with  finely chopped parsley, minced garlic, olive oil, oregano, and white or red wine vinegar. However, there are many variants using  coriander, paprika, cumin, thyme, lemon, bay leaf, tomato and red bell pepper. It was quite nice and fragrant sauce. It definitely needs to be used as a condiment. By itself its not that nice.

This is the second time I have made Cauliflower mash. The first time I made a macrobiotic recipe with millet. I told Marco it was mash potatoes. He hated it and made me promise to never make it again. He was very skeptical when I told him I was making cauliflower mash again, but he ended up loving it. It was very silky and delicious and all it needed was a bit of salt to bring it alive. It went really well with the Sweet Green Onions to give a sweet and savory taste. Even if you don’t like cauliflower, you still like this!

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Cowgirl Veggie Steaks with Chimichurri (vegan, nut free)

Ingredients:

2 Viana Cowgirl Veggie Steaks (or other vegan steak)

olive oil to cook

2 tablespoons minced parsley

1 tablespoon minced oregano

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon white or red wine vinegar

4 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper or red chilli flakes

sea salt or black pepper to taste???????????????????????????????

Method:

1. Combine all ingredients, except for cowgirl steaks, in a small bowl to make the Chimichurri. Then set to the side. If making the ahead of the time leave in the fridge to chill.

2. Cook Cowgirl Steaks in a pan with a drop of olive oil on medium-high heat. Cook for 5 mins on each side.

*Serve steaks with Chimichurri spoon on top.

*Serves 2

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Sesame Agave Carrots (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

3-4 carrots

2 tablespoons sesame seeds

agave to taste

sea salt to taste

Method:

1. Cut the carrots into battons. Then steam until tender.???????????????????????????????

2. Toast sesame seeds in a dry pan till lightly browned.

3. Add carrots to the pan, drizzle agave and season with sea salt.

*Serves 4

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Cauliflower Garlic Mash (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1 large cauliflower

6 garlic cloves

2 tablespoons vegan butter

1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk

sea salt to taste???????????????????????????????

Method:

1. Roughly chopp cauliflower into small pieces. Then steam with whole garlic cloves  until soft.

2. Place steamed garlic and cauliflower in the processor.

3. While processor is on add vegan butter, almond milk and sea salt.

*Serve on its own or with Sweet Green Onions.

*Serves 6

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Sweet Green Onions (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1 bunch of green onions (shallots)

olive oil

1/2 tablespoon brown rice syrup

sea salt to taste???????????????????????????????

Method:

1. Roughly chop the green onions.

2. Cook green onions in a pan with olive oil and brown rice syrup for 10 mins. Season with sea salt.

*Serves 3-4

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Penne al Cavolfiore

I found this traditional Italian recipe using cauliflower, in one of my mothers old Italian cook books, The Top One Hundred Pasta Sauces, by Diane Seed. I have previously made the Sicilian recipe, Pasta al Cavolfiore, but this one is a bit different. I am not sure where the recipe originates. Diane collected her recipes from her travels and life in Italy and I have seen similar recipes on many Italian websites and blogs.

I had to adapted this recipe to veganise it. So instead of double cream, I used cashew cream and instead of chicken stock, I just used vegan chicken stock. I haven’t made cashew cream for a while. When I first made it I used my bar mix, but it wasn’t as successful. This time I used my jug blender and it made it so creamy. I did have to continue to scrape it down the sides and blend, but it was worth the wait. I think I will try to utilize cashew cream more in my cooking, as it works just as well as cream. Also boiling the cashews for 10 mins, softens them just as good as pre-soaking them, in case you forget like I always do.

As for the dish we all really liked it. It was rich and creamy and the taste of cauliflower was there, but in a good way. What I mean is if you don’t like cauliflower, like me and Marco, you will still like this.  I served it with a simple mixed lettuce and vine tomato salad and some toasted sourdough baguette. This is a really healthy recipe and would be great for picky eaters. To make it gluten free just use gluten free short pasta, as the sauce is gluten free already.

Between this recipe and Pasta al Cavolfiore, I really liked both. If I had to chose, I really liked the Sicilian version, because of the raisins and the pine nuts. Marco definitely preferred this version. He’s not a fan of fruit or nuts in savory dishes. It goes to show that sometimes the traditional dishes are the best!

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Penne al Cavolfiore (vegan, gluten free option, soy free)

Ingredients:

500g penne or short pasta (use gluten free pasta if you prefer)

1/2 cup cashews

1/2 cup filtered water

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 garlic cloves

1 small red chili

1 whole cauliflower

230g tin diced or plum tomates

250ml vegan chicken or vegetable liquid stock

sea salt & black pepper to taste

vegan parmesan to serve

Method:

1. First boil the cashews for 10 mins.???????????????????????????????

2. In the meantime cut the cauliflower into small florets and peel the garlic. ???????????????????????????????

3. Strain the cashews and rinse in cold water. Then place in the blender/processor. First grind till the cashews break up as much as they can. Then slowly add the water and process until it becomes a smooth cream.???????????????????????????????

4.  Heat a pot with olive oil, then add the garlic and a red whole chili. Cook on medium heat for 10 mins.

5. Add cauliflower florets and cook for 5 mins. Stir often.

6. Add diced tomatoes and cook for 10 mins. Stir often.???????????????????????????????

7. Add liquid stock and cook for a further 15-20 mins, or until the cauliflower is quite soft. During this time cook the pasta  and strain.

8. Take off the heat, remove the chili and stir through the cashew cream, salt and pepper. Then mash the cauliflower with a potato masher.

9. Heat the sauce with the pasta, then serve with vegan parmesan.

*Serves 6-8

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Pasta al Cavolfiore

Cauliflower Red Onion and Garlic Pizza

Tonight we decided to have Pizza Night and catch up on Revenge. I really wanted to do something with cauliflower, so I came up with this. I used ajvar, but after it cooked it didn’t have that strong smokey taste. The rest of the ingredients did have a great strong taste. Marco hates cauliflower, but even he liked my pizza. Although he still preferred his smoked ham and salami pizza.

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Cauliflower Red Onion and Garlic Pizza (vegan, soy free)

Ingredients:

dough for one pizza

3 tablespoons ajvar or tomato pasta sauce

3 garlic cloves, chopped in quarters

1/2 cup cauliflower, chopped into small florets

1/2 red onion, chopped

olive oil

1 tablespoon chopped basil

sea salt to taste

vegan parmesan (cashew/brazil nut)

Method:

1. Roll out the dough to make a pizza base.???????????????????????????????

2. Combine garlic, cauliflower, red onion, basil, olive oil and sea salt in a bowl and mix through.

3. Spread ajvar on the pizza base. Then add the rest of the ingredients from the bowl.

4. Sprinkle with vegan parmesan and cook for 20 mins or until base is cooked.

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Also check out my Spicy Hawaiian Pizza and Baked Panzarotti with Mushrooms, Sun-dried tomatoes & Pine nuts

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Broccoli and Cauliflower Pakoras

Tonight I was emptying my fridge, so that I could bring our left over food to Marco’s and freeze whatever I could. I managed to freeze the nectarines, peaches, cherries and grapes. I only had a few vegetables left. I didn’t want to freeze them. I hate frozen cauliflower and broccoli. It fills up with water and tastes terrible. I was trying not to open anything new so I decided to finally try to make pakoras. Bad idea when you have been over eating for the past 3 days and wanted a healthy dinner. I think there is a reason they are served as an entree at Indian restaurants. I never really think about fatty they are when I usually order them. They did taste really good though. Just not the healthiest dinner choice. I served them with the Sweet-and-Sour Sauce that I had made to go with the Meatballs from Chef Chloe’s book. It is really sweet and has a similar taste to the sweet tamarind sauce. Otherwise you can use any kind of sweet dipping sauce you like. Since I made so much I freeze the rest. I read that if you fry them then freeze, you can just refry them when you want to eat them. Yes I know its not healthy, but a better alternative to something store bought fried foods.

This is my last cooking post for the next couple of weeks. Hopefully I will find some great vegan eats in Melbourne!

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Broccoli & Cauliflower Pakoras (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

2 cups besan/chickpea flour

1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate soda

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon garam marsala

1 teaspoon sea salt & more to taste

1.5 cups water

1/2 head cauliflower, cut into florets

1 onion, sliced

1 small head broccoli, cut into florets

Method:

1. Sift the besan flour in a large bowl then add the bicarbonate soda and all the ground spices and salt. DSC01583

2. Stir through water slowly till it thickens in to a batter.DSC01584

3. Add the vegetables and cover in the batter.

4. Heat the oil in a wok and add the vegetables with the batter into the wok to fry. Do small batches and cook for 1-2 mins on each side. Drain oil from pakoras with paper toils, season with salt and serve with sweet dipping sauce.

Roasted Cauliflower & Garlic Soup and Spinach & Mushroom Galette

Last nights dinner was inspired by what was left in the fridge. I had vegetable stock, coconut ceam,  cauliflower, spinach, mushrooms, and heaps of kiwi fruit. I went a bit over board with dinner, but now I can relax for a couple of days.

Since I had time, I  decided to roast the cauliflower and garlic before making the soup. It payed off, as the soup had the flavors from the roasting. Marco wasn’t a big fan of the soup last night, as he doesn’t like cauliflower. But today he said it tasted better. I think he just needed to get use to the taste of cauliflower. I have heard you need to try something at least 10 times till you develop a taste for it. After forcing mushrooms, spinach and avocado on him for last 5 years he has finally came around. I really like the soup. I don’t usually like cauliflower at all. My mum use to only make it steamed with a bechemel and cheese, which I hated. But lately I have been exploring more ways to cook it and have found that it is quite a tasty vegetable. It is also extremely healthy. It is a good source of vitamin C, manganese, vitamin K, and is high in fiber.  It also has a broad spectrum of antioxidant, which ‘helps lower the risk of oxidative stress in our cells’. It is a cruciferous vegetable from the same family as broccoli  kale and cabbage. It originates from the Asia Minor as a wild cabbage and later evolved and became a important vegetable in both Turkey and Italy in ancient times [1].

The garlic tasted really, really good roasted  I often dice it and add to roasted vegetables, but I don’t often roast it on its own. I bought heaps of Spanish garlic from Aldi the other day. I prefer it over Chinese garlic. China exports about 75 % of the world’s supply of garlic and accounts for about 90% of garlic in Australia. Chinese garlic is very white and and very cheap. The problem with this garlic is that it doesn’t meet the food safety protocols in Australia. According to Henry Bell (Australian Garlic Industry Association), Chinese garlic  is drenched in chemicals in order to stop sprouting, to whiten it, and to kill insects and plant matter. He even states that it is often grown in untreated sewage [2]. If you can find local garlic that is probably the best option. I also prefer garlic that have a purple color, as they have a strong flavor the the whiter ones.

I recently bought wholemeal spelt flour, as I have been eating too many things made of regular flour and I needed more variety in my diet. Spelt is an ancient grain that was used Europe and the Middle East and is still used today. It is very special, because ” unlike wheat, where vital nutritional nutritional bran and germ are usually removed during milling, the vital substances of spelt are found in the inner kernel of the grain”. “Spelt also has high water solubility, the grain’s vital substances can be absorbed quickly into the body. The nutrients are made available to the entire organism with a minimum of digestive work. The body cells are then nourished, strengthened, and prepared for their optimal performance while the body is flooded with vitamins and other nutritional substances. Spelt contains more protein, fats and crude fiber than wheat and also has large amounts of Vitamin B17 (anti-carcinoma). It also contains special carbohydrates which play a decisive role in blood clotting and stimulate the body’s immune system so as to increase its resistance to infection.”

Another great reason for you to eat spelt is, if like me, you have had or have a gluten intolerance you should be able to tolerated spelt. This is due to the “larger quantities of available protein found in spelt are soluble and, therefore, can be easily assimilated by the body with the minimum of digestive work” and therefore can be tolerated by people with gluten intolerance [3]. In many cases you can use it to substitute wholemeal flour, but I always like to check online before substituting for everything. When making pizza dough with the spelt it stuck to my tray. So sometimes its better to mix it with other flours.

Anyway, when I was looking online for some ideas to use my wholemeal spelt flour, I came across this recipe, Spinach Galette with Wild Mushrooms, on Yummy Supper. So I adapted it with the ingredients I had on hand. I used spelt flour instead of plain flour for the crust. Since I couldn’t use Parmesan in the crust,  I made a paste with water and nutritional yeast. Also to make the filling more creamy and cheesing I used Tofutti cream cheese, mixed with nutritional yeast and soy milk. It turned out really well. It was also good cold today. This is definitely something I want to recreate with some different ingredients.

As for all the kiwi fruit, you can see my dessert on the next post.

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Roasted Cauliflower Soup (vegan, gluten fre, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

olive oil

1 head of cauliflower, chopped

1 head of spanish garlic, unpeeled (about 18 cloves)

rosemary leaves from 5 sprigs of rosemary, minced

1 yellow or white onion, diced

4 small potatoes. peeled & diced

3.5 cups vegetable liquid stock

sea salt & black pepper to taste

3/4 cup coconut cream (about 1/2 can)

Method:

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1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Take a baking tray and add cauliflower, garlic and 2 tbsp of oil. Cook for 15-20 mins or until cauliflower is tender. Once cooked peel the garlic cloves.

DSC010262. Take a large pot and add 1 tbsp oil. Add onion and rosemary and cook for 3mins or until garlic is browned.

3. Add potato and cook for another 3 mins. (add a little bit of  water if it begins to stick.

4. Add cauliflower, garlic and vegetable stock, salt & pepper.  Cover and bring to the boil, then let it simmer for 30 mins or until vegetables are soft.

5. Blend the soup so that it is smooth and silky.

6. Add coconut cream to the soup and heat through, then serve.

*Serves 5

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Spinach & Mushroom Galette (vegan, nut free)

Ingredients for Crust:

1.5 cup wholemeal spelt  flour

pinch of sea salt

5 tablespoons cold nutlex (vegan butter)

6 tablespoons ice water

Ingredients for Filling:

olive oil

1 medium red onion

160 g baby spinach

100g sliced mushroom

3 tablespoons nutrtional yeast

1 tablespoon water

5 tablespoons toffutti cream cheese

2 tablespoons soy milk, sea salt to taste

Method:

1. First you need to make the crust. Take a large mixing bowl and add flour and salt. Stir through. DSC01028

2. Then add vegan butter and use your hands to mix it all through.DSC01038

3. Add water and make it into a dough. Roll into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap and leave in the fridge for at least 1 hour.

4. Preheat the oven 180 degrees.

3. Take a pan and heat 1 tbsp oil, then add onion. Cook for 3 mins, then add baby spinach. Cook for 1-2 mins (till soft) Place in a strainer, to strain out the water.

DSC010404. In same pan heat 1 tbsp oil, then add mushrooms. Cook for 3 mins then add to strainer.

DSC010415. Take large chopping board and place parchment paper with sprinkle of flour and roll out dough on top. Roll into a large circle. Trim edges and add to the centre and roll into dough.

6. Take two small bowls. In one bowl place 2 tbsp nutritional yeast and 1 tbsp of water and make into a paste. In the other bowl add 5 tbsp tofutti cream cheese, 2 tbsp soy milk and 1 tbsp of nutritional yeast and stir with a fork.

7. Place the paste around the outside of the dough, leaving a little bit of room around the edges. This will be in the crust of the galette.

DSC010438. Take the pan and add the vegetables and cream cheese. Stir through and adjust seasoning.

9. Place the mixture in the centre of the dough and then fold the edges up to form a crust.

10. Cook in the oven for 35-40mins. Serve warm or cold.

*Serves 4-8, depending on the serving size.

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[1] WHFoods, Cauliflower,  <www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=13>

[2] The Age, Fresher and smellier, <http://www.theage.com.au/news/epicure/fresher-and-smellier/2005/07/18/1121538895265.html>

[3] Bio-Distributors, Spelt grain, <http://www.biodistributors.com.au/ProdInfFiles/spelt.php>

Pasta al Cavolfiore

Tonight I used the rest of the cauliflower from last night to make a Sicilian classic. I’ve never made this dish before, so I consulted a few different recipes online. I also found a veganised recipe for this in my Forks Over Knives book. I tweaked it a bit so the cauliflower was made into a creamy sauce. Usually the cauliflower florets are kept whole.

Typically this dish needs six main ingredients: pasta, cauliflower, raisins, saffron, pine nuts and anchovies. Sicily was occupied by the Arabs in the 10th & 11th century, so that’s where the influence of the raisins, saffron, pine nuts come from. The raisins give a sweet taste every so often and the pine nuts, well they are just delicious as they are. Since I couldn’t use anchovies I used white miso paste. I didn’t have any saffron. It’s really expensive here, so we don’t keep it, but I don’t think it really needed it for flavour.

I pureed the cauliflower, and added cannellini beans and almond milk, to make the sauce more creamy. I wanted to be like a bechamel, to satisfy my creamly pasta cravings. It didn’t turn out as creamy as Marco would of liked, but there was enough sauce coated the pasta. Real Italian pasta dishes are usually not as saucy as we eat them in Australia. So for me it was more similar to the food I enjoyed over there. The sauce is gluten free and a great alternative to make use of cauliflower, even if you usually (like me) don’t like it.

Pasta al Cavolfiore (vegan, gluten free option, soy free)

Ingredients:

small cauliflower (about 3 cups)

500g spaghetti or other long pasta (use gluten free pasta if you prefer)

1/2 tin cannellini beans

3/4 unsweetned plant milk (I used almond, but you can also use oat or soy milk)

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 small red onions, finely diced

3 garlic cloves, finely diced

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 tablespoons white miso paste, mixed with 3 tablespoons of hot water

1/2 cup raisins

6 tablespoons nutritional yeast

sea salt & black pepper to taste

4 tablespoons pine nuts, pan toasted

2 tablespoons minced parsley

Method:

1. Take a large put and boil the cauliflower for 10 mins or till tender.

2. Remove the cauliflower and place to the side. Then cook the pasta according to packet instructions in the large pot (add salt to water). When its cooked place to the side.

3. In the meantime, place cauilflower in the processor and add 1/2 cup of almond milk and pureed. Then add cannellini beans and add 1/4 cup of almond milk.

4. In a large pan heat olive oil on medium heat, then add red onion and garlic. Cook for 10mins or until soft.

5. Add the tomato paste and cook for further 2 to 3 mins (add water if too dry).

6. Add miso and raisins and cook for 2 more minutes.

7. Add pureed cauliflower and cannellini beans to the pan and stir through.

8. Add nutritional yeast, salt & pepper and cook for 2 mins.

9. Add pasta and heat through.

10. Serve pasta with pine nuts & parsley on top.