Purple bean Caponata

This dish was inspired by my lovely Italian neighbours who gave me some magic purple beans. I have no idea what type of beans they are, but apparently they grow all year round. They are large white and maroon beans that turn purple when you cook them. I think they may be butter beans, but if anyone knows what they are please let me know. Caponata is usually served as a vegetable side dish. I added beans and served it as a main. I also served it along side some sautéed green beans and Farinata. This was my first time cooking Farinata and along with my beans it was a big hit with the family. Its tastes like a big crunchy savoury pancake and is made of chickpea flour. Its a great gluten free alternative to bread. Its also a great lunch box filler for kids or work lunches.

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Purple bean Caponata (vegan, gluten free, soy free)

Ingredients:

olive oil

1 medium eggplant, sliced in large rounds

1 medium brown onion, diced

2 celery sticks, leaves removed, diced

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 medium zucchini, chopped

1 large tomato, diced

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 teaspoon baby capers

1 tablespoon pine nuts

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 tsp raw sugar

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1.5 cooked purple butter beans or other butter beans

1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped

1/4 cup fresh italian parsley, chopped

Method:

1. First you need to remove the bitterness from the eggplant, by sprinkling with salt (I just use table salt) and leaving to sit for 10 minutes. Moisture should come out of the eggplant flesh. Wipe the moisture and salt off the eggplant. Then cut into cubes.

2. Heat a large skillet with 2 tablespoons of olive oil on medium heat. Then add onion and celery. Sauté for 5 minutes or until the onion is translucent.

3. Stir through the eggplant and another tablespoon of olive oil. Sauté for 5 minutes and stir frequently.

4. Add garlic, zucchini and tomato. Stir through and cook for a further 5 minutes.

5. Stir through the tomato paste and capers. Cook for another minute.

6. Add 1/4 cup of water and once it absorbs a little add another 1/4 cup of water, so that the vegetables don’t stick to the skillet.

7. Add pine nuts, red wine vinegar, sugar, sea salt and black pepper. Leave to cook for 10 minutes.

8. Add the beans and another 1/4 cup of water and cook for a further 5 minutes so that the beans are heated through.

9. Take off the heat and stir through basil and parsley. Adjust the seasoning and serve hot or at room temperature.

*Serves 4-6

 

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Farinata

 

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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

Marinated Rainbow Carrots

This dish was adapted from the recipe Carote marinate from one of my favourite Italian blogs, Memorie di Angelina. Its a simple side dish that can be prepared ahead of time or while you are waiting on other dishes to cook. I used rainbow carrots because I love the colours and the more mild flavour. I chose to steam the carrots, so that they would retain more nutrients.

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Marinated Rainbow Carrots (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1 bunch rainbow carrots

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

juice of 1/2 small lemon

1 small garlic clove, crushed & diced

small handful italian parsley, diced

sea salt to taste

Methods:

1. Scrub the carrots with a vegetable brush. If they are quite large chop in half and half again the top half, so that they are equally around the same size.

2. Steam the carrots until they have softened but are still a little crunchy. Rinse in a collander, so that they are not hot.

3. Combine the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl. Stir the carrots through and cover. Leave to marinate for at least 1 hour. Leave on the bench to marinate if you don’t want them too cold or place in the fridge.

*Serves 4 as a side dish

Homemade Gnocchi with a Spicy Capsicum Sauce

I had a big craving for gnocchi last night. It’s one of my favourite comfort foods, but I don’t eat it that often. I refused to buy any store bought gnocchi. I just don’t understand why they need some many ingredients when I can make it with three. It’s acutally really easy to make. It does take little bit of time, especially if like me half of your potatoes are still hard when you try to grate them. I really have to invest in a potato ricer. But it was really fun to make, especially with someone you love. Marco helped me roll the gnocchi. They weren’t the perfect shape, but they taste the same in the end so that’s all that matters.

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Gnocchi with a Spicy Capsicum Sauce (vegan, gluten free option, soy free, nut free)

To make the Gnocchi:

Ingredients:

600 g potatoes (unpeeled)

1 cup unbleached plain flour, more for rolling (use gluten free plain flour  if you prefer)

sea salt to taste

Method:

1. Bring a pot to the boil, then cook the whole potatoes for 20 minutes or until soft.

2. Rinse the potatoes with water and once they are cool enough to handle, peel the skin off.

3. Force the potato through a potato ricer/fine grater/fine mese sieve into another bowl, so that it comes out like almost puréed and without lumps.

4. Season the potato with salt and sift 1 cup of flour slowly into the bowl (you may not need all the flour).

5. Knead the gnocchi on a floury board for about 3 minutes and add more flour if you need.

6. Divide the dough into 6 pieces and roll into logs. Then use a knife to slice the logs into smaller pieces (enough for 1 gnocchi). If you have a gnocchi paddle, then roll the dough balls to form the gnocchi. Otherwise gently press the dough balls with a fork to leave some ridges or roll along the fork. For both methods check out this video to learn how to roll gnocchi.

7. In boiling salted water, drop the gnocchi into the water. Once the gnocchi rise to the top (should take a couple of minutes), continue to cook for  a further 2-4 minutes (depending on how large your gnocchi are). If in doubt then taste then to make sure they are not over or undercooked.

To make the Sauce:

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 brown onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, diced

500g whole tomatoes (about 4 large)

1/2 red capsicum, diced

2/3 cup dry white wine

1 large red chili

sea salt and black pepper to taste

couple of pinches of evaporated cane sugar (or raw sugar)

1 handful whole basil leaves

Method:

1. Bring a pot to the boil, then drop in the whole tomatoes. Boil for a couple of minutes, until the skin starts to break. Then remove immediately and drop into an ice water bath or cool down with running water into a strainer. Peel the skin from the tomatoes and dice.

2. Heat a pot on medium heat with olive oil, then add the onion and garlic. Cook for 3-4 minutes or until translucent.

3. Add the red capsicum saute for a few more minutes.

4. Then add the diced tomatoes, white wine, and whole red chilli. Bring to the boil, then leave on a simmer for 20-30 minutes. While its cooking season with sea salt and black pepper and balance with sugar.

5. Place the sauce into a Vitamix or high speed blender. Remove the chilli if you don’t want it too hot or leave it in. Blend till its smooth.

6. Return to the pot and add the basil leaves. Cook until the basil leaves have wilted and the sauce is warm. Then serve with the gnocchi.

*3 big serves or 4 entree size

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Cannelloni with Cashew Tofu ‘Ricotta’ Spinach Filling

After that lovely living lasagne yesterday I was really in the mood for one of my favourite things I use to prepare with Marco before I stopped eating dairy. We use to often make spinach & ricotta or pumpkin & ricotta cannelloni together. I was originally going to make a spinach tofu filling with a creamy bechamel, but I had no unsweetened plant milk in the house. So I tried to make a filling of ‘ricotta’ using cashew and tofu with some fresh spinach and topped it with a home made tomato sauce. It definitely had the texture of ricotta. I was convinced it tasted like ricotta. Marco not so much, because he still indulges in dairy products, but he said it was still very delicious. He had seconds, so that’s always a good sign. Unfortunately I was not able to get a good picture of the cannelloni, but trust me what it lacks in aesthetics it made up for in taste. Looking forward to having leftovers again tonight!

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Cannelloni with Cashew Tofu ‘Ricotta’ Spinach Filling (vegan, gluten free option)

Ingredients for Sauce and Pasta:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion, diced

3 garlic cloves, diced

750ml passata sauce

350ml water

2 pinches raw sugar

sea salt & black pepper to taste

10 basil leaves, diced

250g cannelloni shells (use gluten free cannelloni if you prefer)

Ingredients for Filling:

1 cup cashews (raw/soaked)

1/2 cup water

250g firm tofu, cubed

3 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons lemon juice

3 tablespoons nutritional yeast

sea salt to taste

4 cups chopped english or baby spinach leaves

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

2. Prepare the sauce first. Heat olive oil in a medium size pot and then add onions and garlic. Saute for 3-4 minutes or till transparent.

3. Add the passata sauce, water, raw sugar and season. Bring to a boil and then leave on a simmer while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

4. If you haven’t soaked the cashews, cook in boiling water for 5-10 minutes, then rinse under cold water.

5. Place cashews in a kitchen processor. First break down the cashews a little, then add water while it is running. I used my processor instead of my Vitamix so that there would still be the texture of ricotta, rather then cream.

6. While it is running add tofu cubes.???????????????????????????????

7. Once tofu has broken down a bit add olive oil, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, while the processor is running.???????????????????????????????

8.  Add 2 cups of spinach leaves to the ricotta and let the processor run until they break down into the ricotta. Then add the next to cups but don’t break down the spinach too much.???????????????????????????????

9. The sauce should be ready now, so add diced basil leave and leave to the side.

10. Put a couple of ladles of the sauce into a large baking tray, so that you can’t see the bottom.

11. Fill the cannelloni shells with the filling and place into the baking tray. I managed to use all the filling except for two shells.

12. Top with with the sauce and place into the oven for 40 minutes or until the cannelloni shells are cooked. If you have plenty of leftover sauce use to reheat leftovers the next day.

*Serves 6

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New Beginnings

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

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

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

The Big Breakfast

The Big Breakfast

Smokey Strip Sandwich with Roasted Capscium

Smokey Strip Turkish Sandwich with Roasted Capscium Relish

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Pancakes Stack with Dark chocolate chips and syrup

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

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

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

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

Ingredients:

900g fresh tomatoes

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, diced

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

850ml hot vegan chicken stock

20 basil leaves, diced

sea salt & black pepper to taste

Method:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*Serves 4-5

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

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

Ingredients for Chickpea nuggets & sauce:

1 can chickpeas

1 tablespoon arrowroot flour

sea salt to taste

Ingredients for Marinate:

1 tablespoon tahini

2  tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon sumac

1 teaspoon crushed ginger

sea salt to taste

1 teaspoon agave

Ingredients for Salad:

4 small golden beets, sliced

1 medium sweet potato, sliced

olive oil

1/2 cup cooked quinoa

2 cups tuscan kale

sea salt

pine nuts

Ingredients for Coconut Yogurt:

1/2 cup coconut cream

1 tablespoon lemon juice (more to taste)

Method:

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

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

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

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

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

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

7. Toast the pine nuts.

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

*Serves 3

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

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

Ingredients:

100g cooked brown lentils

100g sweet potato noodles

1 onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, diced

1 tablespoon ginger, diced

1 tablespoon dark soy sauce

1/2 tablespoon dry sherry

2 tablespoon sesame oil

1 small onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, diced

2 small red chilies, diced

1/2 tablespoon white miso or hot soy bean paste

1 tablespoon peanut butter

125ml vegan chicken stock

2 cups of spinach leaves  (chopped)

sea salt & black pepper to taste

Method:

1. Cook sweet potato noodles according to packet instructions.

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

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

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

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

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

*Serves 2

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

Ingredients:

2 mugs of coconut milk

1 tablespoon cacao

1 tablespoon maca

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon coconut sugar

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

Method:

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

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

3. Serve immediately.

Labor weekend recipe roundup

Happy Labor Day weekend fellow Queenslanders! The heat has finally arrived! This weekend has been hot and humid, but really breezy as well. I spent this long weekend with house hunting and spending time with the Mini Marco’s. Below are some of the meals I have prepared over the week.

I finally tried some recipes from Crazy Sexy Diet over the weekend. I adapted her Cornmeal Banana Walnut Pancakes. Since I didn’t have any banana or walnuts, I used dairy free choc chips, which of course the kids loved. I really loved the batter for this recipe. The polenta/cornmeal really gives the pancake a crunch. Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to get any photos. Another recipe I tried was her Tofu Country Scramble. Marco and I really loved this. After a year on a plant based diet and I was yet to make a tofu scramble. This tasted really similar to a real egg scramble, but better.

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We also visited The Green Edge with our Living Social Lunch Vouchers. I got Spicy Seitan Burger and a Peanut Butter Milkshake. Marco got the Satay Tofu Burger and Chocolate Milkshake. It was all so good, but I ordered far to much.???????????????????????????????

While I was there I bought a couple of new vegan products. Sweet Freedom Natural Sweetener is made of apples, grapes and carob. Its a great substitute to maple syrup and much more cost effective. Marigold Swiss Vegetable Bouillon powder is an organic dry vegan stock, which i really makes a really flavorsome stock and is the best one I have tried. It is also a lot more cost effective then buying liquid stock.

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Over the past couple of weeks when I haven’t felt like cooking I have been bring home takeaway from Vege Rama on my way home from work. For a less then $10 you can get the most delicious vegan thai, indian curries or even a lasagna, which is big enough  for two. Tonight I tried to recreate one of my favorite dishes from there.

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Easy Thai Pumpkin Curry (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon coconut oil

1 small onion, chopped

1 tablespoon ginger, diced

1 garlic cloves

3 tablespoons thai red curry paste

1 small red capsicum, chopped

4 cups pumpkin, chopped

2 cups carrot, chopped

2 teaspoon vegan vegetable stock mixed with 2 cups of water

400ml coconut cream

1 tablespoon soy sauce

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

1. Heat coconut oil in a wok, then add onion, ginger, garlic and curry paste. Saute for 3-4 minutes, until the oil separates from the curry paste. Then add 1/4 cup coconut cream and heat for few more minutes.???????????????????????????????

2. Add capsicum, pumpkin and carrot and saute for a 5 minutes.

3. Add vegetable stock and bring to a boil, then simmer for 20 minutes.

4. Add coconut cream and soy sauce and cook for a further 10 minutes or until the pumpkin is soften.

*Serve with brown rice or another other gluten free grain, or some wholemeal roti

Ever wondered how asparagus risotto gets that beautiful green color? I found this tip in an Italian cook book, to blend the stems of the asparagus spears with the liquid stock before cooking the risotto. I always find that I need more then a litre of stock, so added some of the steamer water to make use of the vitamins that get lost in the water. I haven’t made risotto in so long, so this was a nice treat.

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Green Spring Risotto (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1 bunch asparagus

1 bunches of broccolini

1 litre vegan chicken liquid stock

1 tablespoon vegan butter (I used nutlex)

2 cups risotto rice

1/2 cup white wine

1 onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, diced

1 cup frozen peas

sea salt and black pepper to taste

Cashew Parmesan/vegan parmesan (optional)

Method:

1. Cut the woody ends off the asparagus and the broccolini. Then cut into each spear into 4 parts.

2. Place the asparagus and broccolini in the steamer, except for the tops of them. Leave them to the side for later. Steam for 5 mins or until tender.???????????????????????????????

3. Place steam asparagus and broccolini in the blender with the liquid stock and blend until smooth. Then place on the stock to boil, so that it is ready for the risotto.

4. Heat butter in a large pot, then once its melted add the risotto rice. Toast for a few minutes.

5. Add white wine, onion and garlic to the risotto and allow it the wine to absorb into the rice.???????????????????????????????

6. Now begin adding boiled liquid stock, a ladle at a time. Allow it to absorb into the rice, until adding more. Stir the risotto continuously.

7. About 5 minutes before the risotto is ready, steam the tops of the asparagus, broccolini and the peas. If you need more boiling water for the risotto, you can used this steam water once your finished with it.

8. Take the risotto off the heat and add in the steamed asparagus, broccolini and peas, and season with sea salt and black pepper.

9. Serve with some home-made vegan parmesan.

*Serves 4 main serves, or 6 entree serves

I love eggplant, but I find I don’t it as much as I like because I need to use so much oil to cook it. This recipe is a bit lighter on the oil, but is just as flavorsome. Its also really easy to prepare and is gluten free.

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Stuffed Eggplants with Sun dried Tomatoes & Pine nuts (vegan, gluten free, soy free)

Ingredients:

1 Italian eggplant

olive oil

2 small red onions

3 garlic cloves

10 sun dried tomatoes

2 tablespoons pine nuts

small handful of basil

2 tablespoons quinoa crumbs (or gluten free bread crumbs)

sea salt to taste

Method:

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

2. Slice eggplant in half, then use a pairing knife and a spoon to scoop out most of the flesh from the eggplant, just leave the shells.???????????????????????????????

3. Brush the eggplant shells with olive oil, then place in the oven for 20 minutes.

4. In the meantime chop the eggplant flesh into small pieces and dice the red onion, garlic, sun dried tomatoes and basil.

5. Heat a pan with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and saute the onion and garlic for a few minutes, until they start to soften.???????????????????????????????

6. Add the eggplant flesh to the pan and saute for 5 minutes, until its cooked. Add another tablespoon of olive or water if the eggplant is too dry.???????????????????????????????

7. Take off the heat and add the sun dried tomatoes, pine nuts, basil, quinoa crumbs and sea salt. Stir through till combined well.

8. Take out the eggplant shells from the oven and fill with the eggplant stuffing.

9. Bake the eggplants for 20 minutes.

* Serves 2 to 4 depending on the size of the serve.

What to do when you have heaps of canned pineapple leftover from pizza night? I made this delicious dressing for my work salads. Well it only turned out to be one work salad, since I accidentally poured most of this dressing on my kitchen bench.

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Pineapple Poppy seed Dressing (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1 cup pineapple pieces

3/4 cup pineapple juice

1 teaspoon dijon mustard

3 tablespoon olive oil/other mild oil

sea salt to taste

1 tablespoon poppy seeds

Method:

1. Place all the ingredients, except the poppy seeds in a high speed blender.

2. Stir in the poppy seeds last and serve with salad.

*Makes 250 ml

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Bucatini all’amatriciana and Verdure grigliate

The past couple of days Marco and I have been going into work really early. When I say early I meet leaving the house at 6 am. It wouldn’t be so bad if I went to bed a little early and didn’t get woken up by students showering at 3 am and getting up to turn off the fridge beeping twice around 4 am every night. Strangely enough once I get up I actually feel pretty good. Yesterday we decided to have an early breakfast at a local cafe near my work. While we were waiting for our meals I lrg_2400was flicking through an old addition of Jamie Olives Magazine from April/May 2010. Marco was looking over my shoulder and when I went past Jamie’s Bucatini all’amatriciana he snatched the magazine and said I am making this tonight!

Considering he only knows how to cook eggs and toast I was surprised about his enthusiasm. Then I realized that it was because he wanted this dish because it had meat. He knows there no chance I was going to make something with Pancetta. Besides the fact that I don’t eat meat anymore, I also remember the sweet delicious flavor of Italian pancetta and proscuitto and quite frankly its still too temping for me to prepare for someone else.

Later that afternoon we went to the supermarket on Marco’s mission to buy Pancetta. We went to two big supermarkets and once we finally found it I managed to talk him out of it. From a health persective I don’t understand why ingredients like gluten, soy, lactose, sodium nitrate, glucose, preservatives, etc, need to be included. Italian hams do not include any of this. So after scrutinizing the ingredients he agreed to go with my promise of making a vegan alternative.img30l

Bucatini all’amatricana is famous traditional dish from the region of Lazio in Italy. L’amatriciana (matriciana in Roman dialect) gets it’s name from the Italian town Amatrice, Lazio. The dish is made from the ingredients typical of Lazio, cured pork jaws (Guanciale di maiale), pecorino cheese, and tomatoes.

L’amatriciana is actually derived from another older dish, La gricia. This is also one of the most famous Italian dishes from the same region. This dish is considered its ancestor, as it predates the importation of tomatoes to Europe. La gricia is also made with cured pork jaws and pecorino cheese. It is  believed that it was named after the Grici, who use sell bread and groceries to the Romans. The were perhaps called Grici because they had emigrated from the Swiss canton of Grisons. Alternatively it is thought that the dish was named after the hamlet of Grisciano, which is in a comune of Accumoli, near Amatrice.Apicius_1709

Tomatoes were not introduced to Europe until the 18th century. In fact the first written record of tomatoes being used as a sauce with pasta was from the 1790 cookbook L’Apicio Moderno by Roman chef Francesco Leonardi. The L’amatriciana later became one of the most famous sauces during the 19th to early 20th century in Rome. This was perhaps because of its close proximity  between Rome and Amatrice. Thus, it became a classic dish of Roman Cuisine. Although La gricia is still prepared throughout central Italy, the L’amatriciana is more well known throughout and outside of Italy.

The recipe of the sauce does vary throughout Lazio. The main ingredients are pork jaws, tomato and pecorino and olive oil. are always used, Olive oil is generally used, but some recipes call for strutto (canned pork lard) instead. The cheese type of pecorino cheese used is Pecorino romano or Pecorino amatriciano. Other ingredients such as black pepper or chili pepper, onion (not used in Amatrice)  and garlic are also acceptable.bucatini

This dish is typically prepared with Bucatini pasta. This is a thick long pasta with a hole through the center. The name is derived from the Italian word ‘buco’ meaning ‘hole’. This type of pasta is very common throughout Rome and Lazio. It is made of hard durum wheat flour and water. It usually takes about nine mintues to cook and is often served with buttery sauces, pork jaws (guanciale), pancetta, vegetables, cheese, eggs, anchovies or sardines. This dish is also typically prepared with Rigatoni or other dry pastas, but never fresh pasta.

I remember that we did eat this pasta somewhere when we were in Italy, so I was going back through my photos and found these (below). This is in a restaurant in Trastevere, Rome. We ordered Bucatini all’amatriciana, Patate arroste and Polla alla Romana. The pasta was definitely the best part.

Rome

So how to make this vegan? I used tempeh as a meat substitute. This is my favorite thing to substitute bacon, meatballs and sausages. To give it the smokey taste I used liquid smoke. After marinating the tempeh and frying it it really did have that smoked meat flavour. Then with the wine and tomatoes and really helped it come together as a delicious sauce. Marco loved this dish and said he was happy to have this instead. He was a bit worried while I was cooking it but once he tried my sauce he was very pleased.

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Bucatini all’amatriciana (vegan, gluten free option, nut free)

Ingredients:

2-3 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, diced

3 garlic cloves, diced

150g Tempeh pancetta (ingredients below)

1 red chili, diced

6-7 small tomatoes, diced

1 can good quality Polpa (Italian diced tomato pulp)

sea salt and black pepper to taste

4 serves of Bucatini/gf long pasta (400 g)

Ingredients for Tempeh Pancetta (150 g):

2 tsp liquid smoke

1 tsp soy sauce 1 tsp agave

sea salt to taste

Method:

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1. First make the Tempeh Pancetta. Slice the tempeh into thin strips, then slice it the other way so they you have small strips. Place the tempeh in a bowl and drizzle liquid smoke, soy sauce, agave and sea salt. Toss through so that it coats all the tempeh. Leave to marinate at least 10 minutes.

2. Bring a small pot to the boil, then drop in the whole tomatoes. Boil for 1 minute or until the skin slighly brakes. Then remove them from the water and plunge into ice water. Peep the tomatoes, remove the seeds then dice the flesh.

3. Heat a large pan or pot with 2-3 tablespoons olive oil on medium heat, then add onion and garlic. Fry for 3 minutes or until translucent.???????????????????????????????

4. Then add Tempeh Pancetta and fry for another 5 minutes.???????????????????????????????

5. Add white wine and cook until it evaporates. Should take about 5 minutes.

6. Add the diced tomatoes, chili and can of polpa. Fill the half the can with water and add that to the pan as well.

7. Season generously with sea salt and bring to a light boil, then place on a simmer and leave to cook for 30 minutes.

8. Before the sauce is ready cook the pasta in boiling salty water, until al dente. Then move the pasta from the water straight into the hot sauce. Toss through and serve with cracked black pepper.

*Serves 4

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On the side I made grilled vegetables. This is also something we ate a lot in Italy as contorni (side dish). Although I was still eating meat back then, I still craved vegetables. So simple to prepare and really delicious!

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Verdure grigliate (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

olive oil

sea salt to taste

1 eggplant

2 bunches asparagus

2 zucchini (any other vegetables you like)

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

1. First slice the eggplant into thin strips and then halve again if you like. Add salt onto the eggplant and leave for at least 10 minutes to remove the bitterness. After wipe off the moisture and the salt from the eggplant.

2. In the meantime prepare the rest of the vegetables. Chop the zucchini in half, then slice into thin strips. Remove the woody end of the asparagus then chop in half and slice in half again, so they are thin and long.

3. Brush the griddle pan with olive oil and heat. Brush the vegetables with olive oil, then add in batches to the griddle pan. All the vegetables have difference cooking time, between 2-5 minutes. I cooked the eggplant first and brushed with extra oil while they cooked if there were dry parts. Then I cooked the zucchini and asparagus in batches.Season with sea salt while cooking or after the vegetables are cooked to serve

*Serves 4

Amatriciana, 2013 <http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amatriciana>

Bucatini, 2013 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bucatini>

Jamie Magazion 2010 April/May 2010, Amatriciana Pasta Sauce, 2010 <http://www.icanhascook.com/amatriciana-pasta-sauce/>

National Bacon Week – Bucatini Amatriciana, 2013 <http://www.loverofcreatingflavours.co.uk/category/features/food/vegetables-food/grow-your-own/herbs-grow-your-own/parsley/>

Sugo all’amatriciana, 2013 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sugo_all’amatriciana>

Tempeh Tempations

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

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

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

tempeh

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

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

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The kids pasta dish

Frys Meat Free Pops

Frys Meat Free Pops

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

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

Ingredients:

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

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 red onion, diced

3 garlic cloves, diced

1/2 red capsicum, diced

3/4 cooked french lentils

100g tempeh

3-4 shiitake mushrooms

1 can good quality finely diced tomatoes

1/2 teaspoon raw sugar or more to taste

2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves

sea salt & black pepper to taste

Method:

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

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

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

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

*Serves 4

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

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

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

Ingredients Italian Tempeh Sausages:

300g  tempeh

3 tablespoons Italian seasoning

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

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

1 tablespoon dried basil

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon onion flakes or powder

1 tablespoon ground fennel (grinded fennel seeds)

1/2 tablespoon dried thyme

1/2 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes

1/4 tablespoon ground black pepper

Rest of Ingredients:

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

1 tablespoon olive oil

700 ml passata sauce

1 red onion

3 garlic cloves

1 red capsicum

2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves

sea salt, black pepper and raw sugar to taste

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

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*Serves 8

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

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

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Sweet Mixed Tomato and Tempeh Sausage Casserole

After pretty average meals all week I wanted to do something a bit more creative last night. I had so many beautiful tomatoes that I bought from the asian market the other night. I had orange grape tomatoes, kumato tomatoes and roma tomatoes. While I was busy at work (like I am now) I came across this Jamie Oliver recipe ???????????????????????????????for Sweet Cherry Tomato & Sausage Bake. I am not a big fan of store brought vegan tomatoes and at short notice its hard to get hold of them. So I thought I would try make them out of tempeh. I found this recipe by Vegan Chef, Italian Tempeh Sausages. So this recipe is adapted from both of these recipes to make something hearthy and delicious for a cold winters night. I paired it with some sauteed baby spinach, pureed potatoes and fresh Ciabatta bread.

I got good reviews from Marco and both of us thought the tempeh was a pretty close to the meat flavor of regular sausages. The tomatoes were also really sweet and delicious baked. My pureed potatoes were meant to be mashed, but I thought I would try out the vitamix. It came out pretty pastey, but it was still ok with the rich taste of the oil and tomatoes. I enjoyed the cooking juices to with the fresh bread as well. Marco thought I looked like an old Italian woman eating over the baking tray, but that’s the best part!

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Sweet Mixed Tomato and Tempeh Sausage Casserole (vegan, gluten free option, nut free)

Ingredients Italian Tempeh Sausages- 

300g  tempeh

3-4 tablespoons Italian seasoning

3/4 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup tamari or light soy sauce (use gluten free soy sauce if you prefer)

1/4 cup olive oil or grapeseed oil

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Ingredients for Italian seasoning (makes double):

1 tablespoon dried basil

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon onion flakes or onion powder

1 tablespoon ground fennel, or grind fennel seeds by hand

1/2 tablespoon dried thyme

1/2 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes

1/4 tablespoon ground black pepper

Remaining Ingredients: 

1 kg (or more) mixed cherry tomatoes and larger tomatoes, halved

2 sprigs fresh thyme

2 sprigs fresh rosemary

2 dried or fresh bay leaves

1 tablespoon dried oregano

3 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped

extra virgin olive oil

1.5 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (or more to taste)

sea salt and ground black pepper to taste

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees.???????????????????????????????

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

3. Add the Italian Seasoning to taste, then add 1/2 cup flour, tamari, olive oil and then 1/4 flour again. You shouldn’t need any salt, the soy sauce is quite salty.

4. Place all the tomatoes in a baking dish. Add fresh thyme and rosemary, bay leaves, oregano and garlic. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Season with sea salt and black pepper. Toss together.

5. Take about 1/4 of a cup worth of the sausage mixture and form into a sausage shape or patties with your hands, then lightly place onto of the tomatoes. You should be able to make about 10 sausages/patties. Don’t worry if they are difference sizes and shapes.

6. Bake in the oven for 30 mins. Then turn the sausages and bake for a further 15-20 mins. The sausages should be golden brown color. Serve with some sauteed spinach, mash potatoes and/crusty bread.

*Serves 6

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