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

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

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

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

Ingredients for Eggplant

1 medium eggplant

sea salt

olive oil

storebought/homemade tomato (pasta) sauce

Ingredients for Cannellini bean Pine nut Filling:

1 can cannellini beans

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

3 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic

sea salt to taste

20 basil leaves

Method:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ingredients for Salad:

30 green beans (topped & tailed)

2 bunches asparagus

2 large handfuls of baby kale/lettuce

small handful spanish green olives

2-3 tablespoons flaked almonds (toasted)

Ingredients for Dressing:

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons lemon

2 teaspoons dijon mustard

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1.5 teaspoons crushed garlic

2 tablespoons baby capers

2 teaspoons agave

1/2 teaspoon dry oregano

Method:

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

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

3. Strain the green beans and asparagus.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ingredients:

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

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium brown onion, diced

2 garlic, diced

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

2 tablespoons pine nuts

1-2 teaspoons capers

1 tablespoon nutritional yeast or vegan parmesan or more to taste

sea salt & black pepper to taste

Method:

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

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

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

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

*Serves 2

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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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Summer Salads for Sally’s 60th

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

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

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Jamie Oliver’s ‘Best Pasta Salad’

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

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Roasted Aubergine with Sumac and Tahini Dressing

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

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Carrot Salad with Olives, Agave and Cumin

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

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

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

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

Basil & Sun-dried Tomato Pesto with Straw and Hay Fettuccine

I still had plenty of basil from the other day and it had been weighing on my mind that it was about to go bad. So late last night I decided to make pesto again. I love pesto its so versatile. It can coat hot pasta and vegetables, be spread on bread or even used to base a pizza. It really doesn’t need the cheese. With plenty of nuts, you won’t notice. My mum, who has been making it her whole life, was skeptical that it wouldn’t be good without  Parmesan. However, she ate her words when she tried it. The sun dried tomatoes also gave the pesto a unique flavor.  I am also excited to try out my new air tight jars. It looks heaps fancier in the jar and is better to store for longer.

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Basil & Sun-dried Tomato Pesto (gf, sf)

Ingredients:

1/2 cup pine nuts

1/2-2 cups basil leaves

3 garlic cloves

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

10 sun-dried tomatoes

1/2-1 teaspoons sea salt

Method:

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

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

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

DSC00959I used the pesto for breakfast this morning on toast. The pine nuts make the pesto very filling, since they have plenty of protein. In fact there is 4g of protein per 30g serve of pine nuts, which is similar to an egg. Pine nuts are also a rich source of healthy polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats and contain natural plant sterols, manganese, niacin, plant iron and zinc [1]. They also help you to feel full for longer. I am addicted to them at the moment. I also like to dry toast them before adding them to porridge and pasta dishes or add them to the tops of baked goods.

Tonight we had Marco’s little niece and nephew stay over, so I wanted to make them something special. They can be both picky eaters, but they love pasta and pizza, which is always easy. So I decided to make them fresh Straw and Hay Fettuccine. I have heaps of baby spinach to use, but I thought if I only make spinach fettuccine they might be too scared to eat it. They weren’t too keen on it when they asked how I would make the pasta green. But I assured them that it would taste the same as the white pasta.

To make the pasta was very easy. I used the same recipe for the dough as the Spinach & ‘Ricotta’ Ravioli, but I just split it in half and added pureed steamed spinach to one part. I found that I had to add a lot more extra flour and semolina to make it more durable to put through the pasta machine. It was a lot softer since the spinach was very wet. So I patted the pasta sheets with more flour. It is also important to have some spare flour (wholemeal will do) to add to the pasta ribbons while they are resting, so that they don’t get stuck together.

For the sauce, I made the kids and Marco a Napoletana sauce with just red onion, garlic, carrot, capsicum and my favorite Aldi Organic Pasta Sauce. For me I just sauteed red onion mushrooms and baby spinach then added the hot pasta and stirred through some of my pesto. Everyone was happy with their dinner. The kids said they loved it and the little girl had a second serve. For dessert they both had two serves of last nights Stone Fruit & Berry Slice. They weren’t sure they would like that either, but after they taste tested it they demanded more. They are here for the weekend so can’t wait to make them some more treats.

Straw and Hay Fettuccine (nf, sf)

Ingredients for Pasta dough:

1 cup semolina (more for dough)

1 cup wholemeal flour (more for dough)

pinch sea salt

1 tbsp olive oil

1/2 cup warm water

80g (2 cups) baby spinach

Method:

1. Steam spinach, then puree it with 1 tbsp of the hot water from the spinach. Set to the side.

2. Take a large bowl and combine semolina, wholemeal flour and sea salt. DSC00986

3. Then add olive oil and split into  two bowls

4. Add 1/4 cup of the hot water (from spinach) to one of the bowls. To the other add the pureed spinach and 1/4 of hot water (from spinach) and a mixture of half flour half semolina if dough is too wet. Mix the water so that both become a dough.

5. On a floury board knead both lots of dough for 10 mins, so that the dough is smooth and elastic. Set aside.DSC00987

6. Split both dough’s into 4 parts (8 in total), then roll through the pasta machine to make pasta sheets, then use the fettuccine cutter to finish the fresh pasta. Leave both lots of pasta in plenty of flour, so it doesn’t stick together.

7. When water has boiled, add a pinch of salt and both lots of fettuccine ribbons and cook until the pasta has floated to the top.

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[1] http://www.nutsforlife.com.au/index.php?option=com_docman&task=cat_view&gid=157&Itemid=165&mosmsg=You+are+trying+to+access+from+a+non-authorized+domain.+%28www.google.com.au%29

Penne con pesto di zucchine

I recently found this great site with traditional Italian dishes. I love Italian food and I especially love to try regional specialties.  When I was in Italy and traveling around Europe I always made sure I tried the dish that the town was known for. So you may have guessed, I was eating plenty of meat. I did find some vegetarian and seafood dishes occasionally.

I adapted this dish from Garganelli con pesto di zucchine. I’m not sure where this dish originated from or if it is a traditional dish or a modern creation. The pasta garganelli is from the region Romagna. It is similar to shape to penne, but it has a strip indent marked by the riga-gnocchi tool and  flap from being folded. The name comes from the word garaganel, which means chicken’s oesophagus in dialet. This pasta dates back to 1725 and apparently was created by mistake by a Cardinal Cornelio Bentivoglio d’Aragona ‘s cook. Traditionally it was served in a broth, but today it can be cooked in a variety of  ingredients [1]. As for the zucchini pesto, I think this is a variance of the typically Ligurian classic Pesto alla genovese. This pesto is raw, really tasty and a great way to use your left over zucchini.

I adapted the recipe to be vegan and changed the amount of ingredients. I found with out Parmesan it needed more nuts. In the original recipe there are prawns. If you want to try this with them, just add to the sauteed garlic and pinenuts, then add pasta and  take off the heat before adding the pesto. I made Marco’s today with the prawns and he loved it. I recommend using the left overs as a pasta salad. I find pesto usually doesn’t reheat as well, especially if intend on microwaving it at work.

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Penne con pesto di zucchini (vegan, gluten free, soy free)

Ingredients:

400g penne (use gluten free penne if you prefer)

250g zucchini (1 large)

60g + 2 tablespoons of pine nuts

20g slivered almonds

20g fresh basil

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2-3 garlic cloves

1-2 tablespoons pure olive oil

sea salt & black pepper to taste

Method:

1. Take a pasta pot and boil water. Once boiled add pasta and a big pinch of salt. Then cook according to pack directions and set aside.

2. Grate the zucchini then squeeze out the water (through a strainer). DSC00922

3. Take your processor and add pine nuts, almonds, basil, extra virgin olive oil, sea salt to taste. Process till all ground together.

4. Add zucchini to processor and process till combined and creamy. Adjust seasoning if you need to.

5. Take a large pan or pot and heat olive oil. Then add garlic and extra pine nuts and saute for 2-3  mins or until browned.

6. Add pasta and heat through till warm.

7. Turn off the heat and add zucchini pesto and stir through.

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[1] Great Garganelli Pasta, blog.cookitaly.com/2011/01/great-garganelli.html

Baked Panzarotti with Mushrooms, Sun-dried tomatoes & Pine nuts

Tonight’s Panzarotti were the best vegan version I have made thus far. In the past I have made them with fakin ‘bacon’, vegan cheese & tomato; onion, cavolo nero & tomato; or potato, vegan cheese & tomato. But they were never as good as Marco’s tuna & potato or ham, cheese & tomato. But I think tonight’s filling  topped his  (so long as you like mushrooms of course).

If you haven’t seen my early post and wondering what Panzarotti is, it is like a miniature calzone pizza, which can be fried or baked. If you are in the USA or Italy you probably heard of it, but I discovered it in Milan, Italy. It is one of my favorite dishes and is a great crowd pleaser. We use to fry them, but now we bake them. Baked they are way more healthier.  They can be made with gluten free or whole wheat pizza dough.

Marco made the pizza dough this afternoon and he used this Taste recipe. Considering the yeast is not activated separately in warm water before being added to the flour, the dough rose very well and baked perfectly. He made his with tomato (passata sauce) ham/salami and mozzarella cheese. But for mine I used the filling below. I really love this Redwood Co ‘mozzarella’ style cheese. It taste really good uncooked and melts really well. But if you don’t have any vegan cheese, you can go without with this filling.

Baked Panzarotti with Mushrooms, Sun-dried tomatoes & Pine nuts (vegan, soy free)

Ingredients:

Pizza dough (recipe made 13 Panzarotti)

garlic

mushrooms

sun-dried tomato

fresh basil

pine nuts

sea salt

tomato passata sauce

vegan ‘mozzarella’ cheese

Method:

1. After making dough, letting it rise,  separate the dough into 13 small balls and preheat oven to 200 degrees. 

2. Cut the garlic, mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, basil.

3. Take a pan and heat the olive oil, then add the ingredients you just chopped and the pine nuts. Saute till the mushrooms are browned then set to the side.

4. On a floury board, roll out you dough balls into a flat circle shape. Then add 1 tbsp of passata sauce and then add the cooked ingredients and seasalt. Top with vegan cheese and fold the dough over like a half moon shape. Close the ends with your fingers or with a fork.

5. Cook in the oven for 15 mins or until the dough is cooked.

Pasta al Cavolfiore

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

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

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

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

Ingredients:

small cauliflower (about 3 cups)

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

1/2 tin cannellini beans

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

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 small red onions, finely diced

3 garlic cloves, finely diced

2 tablespoons tomato paste

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

1/2 cup raisins

6 tablespoons nutritional yeast

sea salt & black pepper to taste

4 tablespoons pine nuts, pan toasted

2 tablespoons minced parsley

Method:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

9. Add pasta and heat through.

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