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

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

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

Ingredients for Eggplant

1 medium eggplant

sea salt

olive oil

storebought/homemade tomato (pasta) sauce

Ingredients for Cannellini bean Pine nut Filling:

1 can cannellini beans

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

3 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic

sea salt to taste

20 basil leaves

Method:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ingredients for Salad:

30 green beans (topped & tailed)

2 bunches asparagus

2 large handfuls of baby kale/lettuce

small handful spanish green olives

2-3 tablespoons flaked almonds (toasted)

Ingredients for Dressing:

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons lemon

2 teaspoons dijon mustard

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1.5 teaspoons crushed garlic

2 tablespoons baby capers

2 teaspoons agave

1/2 teaspoon dry oregano

Method:

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

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

3. Strain the green beans and asparagus.

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

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

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

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Pasta with Green Beans, Caramelized Onions, Capers and Pine nuts

Over the past week I have managed to get back on the juice train and juice everything in my fridge. This is how my latest favourite pasta dish was born. With only green beans and onions I tried to make something appetizing enough, that keep me away from my mums Rigatoni Bolognese. I ended up making this again for Marco and I. Even though he though he would hate it, he ended up liking it.

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Pasta with Green Beans, Caramelized Onions, Capers and Pine nuts (vegan, gluten free option, soy free)

Ingredients:

2 serves penne or other short pasta (use gluten free pasta if you prefer)

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium brown onion, diced

2 garlic, diced

2 handfuls of green beans, topped,tail and cut into thirds

2 tablespoons pine nuts

1-2 teaspoons capers

1 tablespoon nutritional yeast or vegan parmesan or more to taste

sea salt & black pepper to taste

Method:

1. Heat olive oil on medium heat in a non-stick pan, then add the onion and garlic. Cook for 5 mins till they are slightly browned. Turn down the heat while cooking so it doesn’t burn.

2. Add the green beans and cook for a further couple of minutes.

3. Add the capers and pine nuts. Continue to cook until the green beans are tender.

4. Take off the heat then add the hot pasta, nutritional yeast, sea salt and black pepper.

*Serves 2

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Hansell and Gretel Espresso Bar

This weekend we tried another ‘vegan friendly’ cafe, Hansell and Gretel Espresso Bar at Gaythorne. This place is was only newly opened this year and has lots of glowing reviews on Urbanspoon. I couldn’t find their menu online, so I thought we would be surprise when we got there.

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When we arrived I could not believe how busy it was. We ended up having to wait for a table. This gave me some time to appreciate the decor. I especially loved the mural above the kitchen and the old tea sets along the walls. They really did an excellent job of setting themselves apart from other regular breakfast and lunch cafes. Luckily we didn’t have to wait too long for a table. We spotted a couple of free seats on a shared table that we slipped into.

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The menu also carried on with the fairy tale theme, with names like The Step Mother and the Woodchopper’s Breakfast. I only found one dish that specifically had a vegan option, Persian Veg Fritters. They also offered a couple of vegetarian dishes and some side dishes to complement. In regards to sweets, they didn’t offer anything vegan. However they did have a couple dairy free, which had eggs or honey, such as the Cherry ripe quinoa pudding, Choc Quinoa Muffin and Carrot Cake. They also offered a range of House Specialties cappuccinos, fresh juices and teas.

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I decided to go with the vegan Persian Veg Fritters. These fritters had 15 ingredients including sweet potato, zucchini, raisins, carrot, ginger, garlic, and cumin. They were served with beetroot coulis and a herb salad. All that was omitted was the tatziki. I also ordered the Avocado smash with coriander, lime juice chives. Marco ordered the Steak & Philly 12 inch sub.

My dish was nice. The fritters were small, but had flavor. However they really did need the beetroot coulis to complement it. I was happy I also ordered the avocado on the side, as the meal would of been a bit small without it. As much as I love avocado, there wasn’t really much punch of flavor from the lime. The salad was just a bit of baby spinach, onion and some parsley. Compared to Marcos dish, mine was a little average. He was really enjoying his sub with hickey smoked beef, gherkins and cheese.

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Since I still had room I decided to order coffee and dessert. I ordered the Cherry ripe quinoa pudding for dessert. This was not vegan as it had honey. I still do eat honey, but a lot less then I use to. I know this is a very controversial topic with vegans though. My sweet coffee on the other hand was vegan. I ordered a Soy Queenslander, which was a cappuccino with macadamia inside and macadamia praline on top. The dessert was ok, but I couldn’t eat much of it. I guess it tasted more like breakfast then dessert for me, as the quinoa had a bit of a bite and it was a little heavy. Marco really didn’t like it. I think their other desserts would of tasted a lot better. The coffee on the other hand was really nice and very sweet. To be honest I am not sure the coffee it was worth the price in comparison to other cafes I’ve been to recently.

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So the verdict? I was happy I tried this place and I think they have some great ideas. Its great they offer a vegan option on their menu, unlike other cafes. However I wasn’t blow away by my meal. For a  vegan meal I am not sure I would be in a hurry to go back to Gaythorne. However if I was to go back with friends I would be happy to know I wouldn’t go hungry. They staff were really nice and helpful in helping me make my choices. They menu caters really well for vegetarians and omnivores, so hopefully their vegan options will improve in the future.

Tempeh Pine nut ‘Meatballs’, Green beans and Potatoes

The weather has really cooled down at night here in Brisbane, so tonight we needed something warm and hearty. I tried to recreate an Italian meatball dish using tempeh. I have once tried using a mixture of  tempeh, lentils and walnuts to make Chef Chloe’s Sweet-and-Sour Meatballs. I was so impressed with the texture, that I thought it could be recreated in other ways. This is a much healthier alternative  if you don’t like using store bought mock meats and it is just as satisfying.

These ‘meatballs’ are very soft and delicate. I didn’t want to add flour or too much corn crumbs to them, in case it ruined the flavor  So be careful when flip them. I paired them with this rich red wine tomato sauce, instead of the usually napoletana sauce. I found my tinned tomatoes were a bit bitter and acidic, even though I added salt and sugar to balance them. So I added a bit of worcestershire sauce, which worked very well. It also worked well in the meatballs, to get a meat like flavor.

I also made Green beans with Tomatoes and Cashew Parmesan and Roasted Rosemary Potatoes. I actually adapted the recipe for the Green beans from the Leggo’s recipe book, Cook Italian. I’m not sure where I got this book, it just turned up one day in my recipe book collection. This recipe makes green beans a bit more exciting. I really loved the combination of tomatoes, lemon, pine nuts and cashew parmesan. Since I didn’t have pesto on hand, I just made a small amount with my mortar and pesto. It also gave a rich flavor to the sauce.

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Tempeh Pine nut ‘Meatballs’ with Red Wine Tomato Sauce (vegan, gluten free)

Ingredients:

225g tempeh

2 tins diced tomatoes

1/2 cup red wine

1 cup water

sea salt & pepper to taste

raw sugar to taste

1 onion, diced

2/3 cup pine nuts, roughly chopped

2 garlic cloves, diced

1 cup walnuts

1 tin brown lentils

1.5 cups fresh herbs (basil, parsley, oregano)

3 tablespoons vegan worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

zest from 1 lemon

1/3 cup nutritional yeast

1/3 cup corn crumbs (or other gluten free bread crumbs)

olive oil

Method:

1. Cut the tempeh in cubes then steam for 20 mins to get out the bitterness.???????????????????????????????

2. In the meantime make the sauce. Place diced tomatoes, red wine and water in a pot and bring to the boil. Season with salt, pepper and sugar.  Place on a simmer, until the rest is ready. If the sauce is too bitter or too acidic and you can’t balance with salt and sugar, then add 1 tablespoon of worcestershire sauce.

3. Take a pan and heat with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add onion and pine nuts and cook for 4-5 mins or until onion is soft and pinenuts are golden brown. Remove from the pan and set to the side to cook.

4. In the same pan add more olive oil and saute diced garlic for 2 mins.

5. In the processor add tempeh, lentils, walnuts, garlic and fresh herbs. Process until combined well.???????????????????????????????

6. Place mixture into a large bowl then add onions and pine nuts, worcestershire sauce, fennel seeds, lemon zest, nutritional yeast, corn crumbs and sea salt to taste.

7. Form the mixture into large balls in your hands, then cook them in olive oil in a large pan in batches. You should be able to make 12 ‘meatballs’.

8. Serve ‘meatballs’ with sauce.

*Makes 12 large meatballs, Serves 4-6

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Green beans with Tomatoes and Cashew Parmesan (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 garlic clove, sliced

1 large tomato, diced

3 tablespoons tomato sauce (from recipe above) or 1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 tablespoon pesto (or grind 1 teaspoon pine nuts, 1 tablespoon basil and 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil)

500g green beans

1/4 cup vegetable liquid stock

1 tablespoon lemon juice

pine nuts and vegan parmesan to serve (Cashew Parmesan)

Method:

1. Wash, top and tail the green beans.

2. Heat olive oil in a large pan, then saute garlic for 1 minute.

3. Add diced tomato, tomato sauce/paste and pesto. Cook for 5 mins or until tomatoes are soft.

4. Add green beans, liquid stock and lemon juice. Cook for a further 4 mins or until green beans are tender.

5. Serve green beans with pine nuts and vegan parmesan.

*Serves 4

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Roasted Rosemary Potatoes (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1 kg kifler potatoes

1/3 cup olive oil

3 springs of rosemary

sea salt to taste

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees.

2. Peel potates and cut them into cubes.

3. Place potatoes in a baking tray, add olive oil and sea salt. Then top with whole rosemary sprigs.

4. Roast for 30-40 mins. To make more crispy turn oven up to 200 degrees and cook for a further 5-10 mins.

5. Before serving remove rosemary leaves from stems and reseason with sea salt.

*Serves 4

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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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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