French lentil and Kale Ragout with Pesto Polenta

Another week has nearly gone by and I just can’t wait for the weekend. Today was the kind of day that made me want to run away from my responsibilities and crawl into my cupboard. Normally after a day like this I go home and become a couch potato. However today I came home inspired to cook a healthy wholesome meal for one. Probably because I spent my long bumpy bus ride home reading my new book that I just couldn’t put down. This book is Starch Solution, by Dr John A McDougall and Mary McDougall.  If you haven’t heard of it look it up. Its a great book for anyone looking for answers on how to be healthier and shed some pounds. I was just happy to have someone agree that carbs should be on the menu tonight. Especially since I’ve been eyeing the organic polenta in my cupboard ever since I bought it and been putting it off for a lighter alternative. And boy did it make me feel better. I also got to use left overs vege in my fridge, right in time for my organic set box delivery tomorrow from Home Fresh Organics. I just found out earlier this week that I won a free box, after attending the Inspiring Living Events last week. Looking forward coming home to fresh produce tomorrow! 

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French lentil and Kale Ragout with Pesto Polenta (vegan, gluten free, soy free)

Ingredients: 

1/2  cup french lentils

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 brown onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, diced

4 large tomatoes, diced or 1 can good quality crushed tomatoes

1 cup vegetable stock/water

1/2 cup white or red wine (optional)

1 teaspoon raw sugar

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1/2 cup filtered water

2 cups tightly packed curly kale leave (chopped)

1 cup intant polenta, preferably organic

3 cups filtered water

1/2 cup home-made pesto (more to serve) (made from pine nuts, garlic, basil, evo, nutritional yeast, sea salt, black pepper)

italian parsley to serve (optional)

sea salt and black pepper to taste

Method for the French lentil and Kale Ragout:

1. Bring a small pot to the boil and add the lentils. Cook for 25-30 minutes or until tender.

2. In the meantime heat olive oil in a large pan and add onion and garlic. Saute for a few minutes until they soften.

3. Add diced tomatoes, vegetable stock and wine. Bring to the boil, then place on a simmer.

4. Add raw sugar, basil and sea salt to taste. Leave sauce to simmer for 25 minutes or until it has reduced and tomatoes have completely softened.

5. Add another cup of water and the kale and lentils. Stir through until the kale has wilted.

6. Serve French lentil and Kale Ragout over Pesto Polenta with some extra pesto sauce and italian parsley

Method for Pesto Polenta:

1. Place polenta and water in to a pot on a medium heat. Stir polenta continuously for 3-4 minutes, until the water has been absorbed and the polenta has become thick.

2. Add the pesto and sea salt to taste.

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Sweet Potato Sage Risotto with Hazelnut ‘Parmesan’

Now that I know the secret to making a good risotto it is one of my favourite midweek meals to make. I have never made it with sweet potato or sage before and to be honest I was a bit worried how it was going to turn out. However this has to be one of the best risotto’s I’ve ever made. I was worried that the sweet potato would be  too sweet, but it rather completed the risotto rather then overpowering it. The sage also gave the risotto a really nice aromatic flavour. With the addition of hazelnut ‘parmesan’ it was a winning combination.

What’s your favourite ingredients to add to Risotto?

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Sweet Potato Sage Risotto with Hazelnut ‘Parmesan’ (vegan, gluten free, soy free)

Ingredients:

3 medium sweet potatoes (about 3 cups), peeled and roughly chopped

2 tablespoons hazelnuts

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

sea salt to taste

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cups risotto

1 large brown onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, diced

1/2 cup white wine

1 litre boiling vegetable stock (I used steamer water and Marigold Swiss Bouillon Powder)

20 sage leaves, roughly chopped

Method:

1. Steam the sweet potato. Once it is cooked set aside and mash.

2. In the meantime place the hazelnuts and nutritional yeast in a coffee grinder. Grind into a flour and add sea salt to taste.

2. Heat olive oil in a large pot, then add risotto. Toast the risotto for a minute, then add the onion and garlic. Saute for another minute.

3. Add the white wine and allow it to absorb into the rice. Stir continuously.

4. Ladle spoons of boiling vegetable stock into the pot, one at a time. Allowing the rice to absorb the stock and before adding another ladle. Stir continuously. After you add a couple of ladles of stock, add the sage leaves.

5. Once the rice is just about cooked, add the mashed sweet potato and stir through. Adjust the seasoning with sea salt to taste.

6. Serve the risotto topped with a generous couple of spoons of the Hazelnut ‘Parmesan’

*Serves 6

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To complement the risotto I made a great big salad with fresh organic lettuce, kale, pea sprouts, cherry tomatoes, cucumber and red onion. To dress it I used my homemade Sun-dried Tomato Basil and Almond Pesto.

Pesto is also my new weekly obsession. Every week when I go to the Farmers Market I get a big bunch of basil and just blend it with olive oil, nutritional yeast and what ever nuts I have on hand. It’s great to use as a spreads, salad dressings, to add to sauces, etc. Actually tonight I used the remaining pesto to give my homemade burgers an extra kick. I am too tired to post that recipe tonight, so it will be coming out soon.

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Risoni with ‘Chicken’ and Mushrooms in Creamy Pistachio Pesto Sauce

I made this dish a couple of nights ago, before we flew to Sydney. Creamy Risoni pasta with Chicken and Pesto is one of my favorite dish that I use to often get at my fathers restaurant when I was a teenager. I haven’t thought about it in years, but I was really craving it. I tried to make it with a Pistachio Pesto, which I have never tried to make before. I used italian parsley instead of basil and less oil. The pistachios didn’t break down as quickly as pine nuts usually do, but the end result was still delicious. To make the cream sauce I used Aldi’s Organic Soy Milk, which becomes so thick, if its been sitting in the fridge before opening, that its great for creamy sauces.

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Risoni with ‘Chicken’ and Mushrooms in Creamy Pistachio Pesto Sauce (vegan)

Ingredients for Pistachio Pesto:

2 garlic cloves

40g shelled pistachios

1 cup italian parsley

2.5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons water

sea salt & black pepper to taste

Remaining ingredients:

2 serves of risoni pasta

olive oil

1 small onion, diced

6-8 mushrooms, sliced

1 cup Fry’s Chicken-style Strips, chopped

1 cup thick organic whole soy milk

sea salt & black pepper to taste

Method:

1. First make the pesto by first adding the garlic and pistachio to processor. Process until mostly broken down, then add italian parsley, olive oil, water and season with salt and pepper. Keep scraping the sides and continue to process until it becomes a pesto. May take up to 10 mins.

2. In the mean time heat the water to boil for the pasta, dice the onion and mushrooms. Roughly chop the Chicken-style strips.

3. Cook the risoni pasta according to packet directions, then strain. ???????????????????????????????

4. In a pan add about a tablespoon of olive oil, then cook mushrooms until they have browned. Remove from pan.

5. In the same pan, add some more oil, then saute onion for 2 mins. The add the Chicken-style strips. Cook for about 6-8 minutes or until golden.

6. Add the mushrooms, thick soy milk and pesto and heat through, until it comes to a light boil. Place on simmer then season with salt and pepper.

7. Lastly, add the risoni pasta to the pan and heat through, then serve.

*Serves 2

*Ingredients for Pistachio Pesto makes about 1/2 cup

???????????????????????????????As I mentioned, we flew to Sydney yesterday to pick up a car. It was a really, really early 4 in the morning that we had to get up to get a 6 am flight. We left from International airport, which ended up being a lot more daunting then a domestic flight. Luckily we didn’t need our passports, but there were lots of checks done and waiting in lines. Anyway after we got the car we made our way back to Brisbane. On the way we stopped at a place we have stopped before and I really loved, Oliver’s Real Food. This is a natural, organic fast food stop that has 3 locations through New South Wales, outside of Sydney. They have heaps of vegan options for breakfast, lunch, sides, snacks and drinks. Some include Fresh Seasonal Fruit Salad, Organic Wholemeal Toast, Vege Patch Pita Pocket, Vegetarian Suishi, Organic Pumpkin Soup, Steamed Edamame Beans, Raw Organic Nut Mix, a range of fresh juices, coffees and bottled drinks. They also have a large range of Gluten Free, Dairy Free and Lacto-ovo Vegetarian options, as well as meat dishes.

Last time we picked up a car I had the Vege Patch Pita Pocket. Unfortunately this time I wasn’t quite ready for lunch just yet. So I got the best and most expensive fresh juice I’ve ever bought. After seeing the ingredients of this juice I really didn’t mind paying $9.90. It included raspberry, strawberry, blueberry, pomegranate, goji, carrot, beetroot, tomato, rosehips’s echinacea, cranberry, blackcurrent, passionfruit, blackberry, coconut water, orange juice and banana. I can’t believe they managed to cram that much goodness in one serve of juice. It really woke me up and kept me alert for most of the trip. Marco really regretted getting the MacDonalds after I told him off, but I still shared my juice so he could get some nutrients in his body. So lucky me didn’t miss out on a juice day.

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Antioxidant Red Miracle

Today I tried something different. I added pumpkin to my morning juice. It was quite nice and didn’t have an overpowering taste. I also added orange, apple, ginger, cucumber, celery and carrot.

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The last thing I wanted to share is an Ice cream shop that I went to with the kids today, that serve vegan ice cream at Southbank! Geláre is a quality ice cream cafe, that is along the main drag in Southbank on Grey Street. They have dairy free vegan Sorbets, such as Mango, Raspberry and Lemon. The kids both had Mango Sorbet and the really loved it. I had the Naked Coconut Ice cream, which is organic, dairy free, vegan and naturally Sweetened with Organic Agave. This was the best Ice cream I have had in Australia. I was really impressed. They also have Vegan Dark Chocolate and Cappuccino Bliss (soon), which are also vegan, organic and naturally sweetened with organic agave. I am looking forward to meeting friends here and actually getting to have Ice cream out again.

Mango Sorbet

Mango Sorbet

Naked Coconut

Naked Coconut

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ingredients:

800-900g pumpkin

8 tablespoons nutlex/vegan butter

1 teaspoon liquid smoke

3 cups vegan beef liquid stock (I used Massel)

sea salt & black pepper to taste

basil/oregano leaves to serve (optional)

Method:

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

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

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

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

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

*Serves 6

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

Ingredients:

1 bunch of broccoli

2 small carrots

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

juice from 2 lemons

1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes

sea salt & black pepper to taste

Method:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*Serves 4 as a side dish

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

Ingredients for pizza base:

1.5 cups wholemeal spelt flour

1 cup tipo 00 flour

2 1/4 teaspoon dry active yeast

1 teaspoon raw sugar

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 cup warm water

2 tablespoons olive oil

Ingredients for pizza topping:

2 cups baby spinach leaves

2 garlic cloves

1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves

1 teaspoon dried basil leaves

sea salt & black pepper to taste

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

4 tablespoons chopped walnuts

6 medium/10 small mushrooms sliced

Method:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*Makes 1 pizza base, cut into 12 smal slices

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Linguine al pesto genovese

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ingredients:

4 serves linguine/spaghetti

bunch of basil (36 leaves)

3 garlic cloves

65 g pine nuts (about 1/2 cup)

3 tablespoons nutritional yeast

200ml extra virgin olive oil

sea salt & black pepper to taste

3 small potatoes, peeled

180g green beans, roughly chopped

Method:

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

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

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

* Serves 4

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Pesto alla trapanese used two ways

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

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

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

Busiati

Busiati

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

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

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

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

Ingredients:

50g almonds

250g cherry tomatoes

1 bunch of basil

1 red garlic clove

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

sea salt and black pepper to taste

Method:

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

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

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

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

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

Ingredients:

1 pizza base

3 tablespoons pesto alla trapanese

2 small red chili, diced

1/4 red onion, sliced

small handful of black olives (deseeded and halved)

cashew parmesan

large handful of rocket leaves

sea salt and black pepper to taste

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

Method:

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

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

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

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

Ingredients:

1 serve spaghetti (use gluten free if you prefer)

3 tablespoons Pesto alla trapanese (recipe above)

2 tablespoon cashew parmesan

sea salt & pepper to taste

small handful of black olives, deseeded

Method:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ingredients for Hasselback Potatoes:

4 large potatoes

4 garlic cloves

4 tablespoons vegan butter

olive oil to coat

sea salt

Ingredients for Pesto:

2 cups basil

2 garlic cloves

1/4 cup toasted almonds

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1/3 cup vegan parmesan

sea salt & pepper to taste

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Method:

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

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

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

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

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

*Serve the potatoes topped with the pesto

*Serves 4

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

Ingredients:

1 head of broccoli, roughly chopped

2 handfuls green beans

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 slice of old spelt bread, toasted and chopped

extra virgin olive oil

sea salt & pepper to taste

Method:

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

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

*Serves 4

Pesto Soda Bread and Pumpkin Rosemary Soup

Good evening everyone! Tonight I made my first successful Italian bread. I love this recipe because it doesn’t require rising time, so its quick to prepare and it has a very dense texture. Marco really liked it. This is similar to the kind of bread they make in Serbia and how his mother prepares it at home. It’s not a bread that will be as good the day after, but it complements a hearty soup.

I adapted this recipe from one of my cook books, Mama’s Italian Cookbook. I veganised it and used my delicious Basil & Artichoke Pesto, that I prepared early this week. The original recipe also calls for green olives. I didn’t use them for Marco’s sake, plus my pesto was quite chunky. But I’m sure that would also be delicious as well.

To go with the bread, I made a simple Pumpkin Rosemary Soup and topped it with Roasted Pumpkin Seeds & Rosemary Leaves. It was a nice thick soup and it didn’t need any thing else to make it more creamy.  The soup is gluten free, but obviously the bread isn’t. It can probably be made with gluten free flour and it doesn’t need yeast. Unfortunately for me there is no more soup left, but I managed to take one piece of the bread for tomorrows lunch.

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Pesto Soda Bread (vegan)

Ingredients:

350g plain bread flour

250g wholemeal flour

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

3 tablespoon Basil & Artichoke Pesto (or other vegan pesto)

300ml soy milk (more to glaze)

1.25 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup water (optional)

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees and take a nonstick baking tray or grease a baking tray. ???????????????????????????????

2. Take a large bowl and sift the flours, bicarbonate soda and salt into it. Add any bran that may not of gone through sieve.

3. Combine the soy milk and apple cider to make ‘buttermilk’, then add the pesto to the buttermilk and stir through.

4. Slowly add the pesto buttermilk to the bowl with the flour. If it is too dry add some water.

5. Place the dough on a floury board and knead the dough for a couple of minutes then shape into a large circle or square. Use a shape knife to cut a large cross in the centre of the dough, then place the dough onto the baking tray. ???????????????????????????????

6. Glaze the dough with soy milk, then bake for 30-35 mins or until golden brown. When it is read the base should sound hollow if you tap it.

* Serves 8 slices.

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Pumpkin Rosemary Soup (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

2 tablespoon olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, diced

2 tablespoon diced rosemary leaves

5 cups chopped kent pumpkin

1 litre vegetable liquid stock

sea salt & pepper to taste

Method:

1. Take a large pot and heat olive oil. Then add onion, garlic and rosemary leaves. Saute on medium heat for 3 mins.

2. Add the pumpkin and stir through with the other ingredients. Saute for a further 3 mins.???????????????????????????????

3. Add the vegetable stock and bring to the boil. Then place on a simmer for 30 mins or until the pumpkin is soft.

4. Once the pumpkin is soft take off the heat and wait until there is no steam, then use the bar mix or a processor to blend the soup, so it is a silky consistency.???????????????????????????????

5. Adjust seasoning and reheat in the pot and serve. Top with Roasted Pumpkin Seeds & Rosemary Leaves and Pesto Soda Bread (optional)

*Serves 4

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Roasted Pumpkin Seeds & Rosemary Leaves (vegan, gluten free, soy free)

Ingredients:

2-3t ablespoon seeds from kent pumpkin

leaves from 3 sprigs of rosemary

1 tablespoon olive oil

sea salt

Method:

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1. Place the seeds and rosemary in a small bowl and add olive oil and sea salt. Stir through.

2. Place the mixture on to a baking tray with baking paper and roast in the oven for 3-5 mins or until pumpkin seeds are golden brown and crunchy.

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Calm after the storm

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

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

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

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

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

Sweet Garlic Mayo (vegan, gluten free)

Ingredients:

100g silken tofu

1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon brown rice syrup

1 tablespoon parsley

1 tablespoon ground pecans (optional)

sea salt to taste

Method:

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

*Makes about 1/2 cup.

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

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

Ingredients:

1/2 cup pine nuts

1.5-2 cups basil leaves

3 garlic cloves

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

6-8 artichokes from jar

1 tablespoon nutritional yeast (optional)

1/2-1 teaspoon herbamare/sea salt

Method:

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

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

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

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

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

Ingredients:

1.5 cup diced red onion, diced

5 garlic cloves, diced

1 medium eggplant, chopped

1 large red capsicum, chopped

1 cup grated/diced carrot

1 cup fresh diced tomato

2x 500ml jars passata sauce

500ml filtered water

sea salt, black pepper & raw sugar to taste

3 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped

Method:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sizzling ‘Chicken’ with Kale, Peas and Noodles

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

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

Ingredients:

1/3 cup mock chicken strips

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

1 teaspoon evaporated cane sugar

1.5 tablespoon corn flour,

soba noodles or prefered other noodles

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 small red chilli, chopped

2 garlic cloves, chopped

3 shallots, chopped

10 pieces tuscan kale, chopped

1/3 cup frozen peas

2 tablespoons vegan oyster sauce

Method:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blog of the Year Award 6 star jpeg