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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Pumpkin Polenta with Caramelized Onion and Fennel with Cannellini Beans

I think I spoke to soon yesterday. The lovely humid weather I have described became cool and windy again today. At least I can still eat a cosy warm meal for dinner. This is the first time I have cooked with fennel. I was a little scared because it does have a really strong aniseed taste, but it becomes more muted the longer you cook it. I was going to add some fresh silver beet from my garden but it was all burned to a crisp from the sun. So I made some lightly steamed asparagus and broccolin instead.

Between making dinner tonight and juicing for tomorrow I think I used up all the vegetables in the fridge. Luckily its the Farmers Market in the city tomorrow. Past few of weeks I have been making a stop before or after work to pick up $2 bunches of kale, fresh ciabatta breads and all the fresh fruit and vege I can carry.

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Pumpkin Polenta (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

4 cups pumpkin (chopped)

1.5 cup filtered water (use steamer water)

2 tsp dry vegetable stock

2 cups oat/plant milk

1 cup polenta

sea salt to taste

Method:

1. Steam the pumpkin till soft.

2. Place the pumpkin, steamer water and stock into a blender and blend till smooth.

3. In a large pot add the blended pumpkin and the remaining ingredients. Bring to the boil, then cook on a simmer until the polenta is cooked. This should take about 10 minutes.

*Serves 4

Caramelized Onion and Fennel with Cannellini Beans and Shiitake Mushrooms (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon coconut oil

2 small onions, sliced

1 fennel bulb, sliced thin

2 garlic cloves, diced

1 small red capsicum, chopped

1/2 cup dry shiitake mushrooms, soaked in 1 cup water

1 tablespoon dry sherry (optional)

1 can cannellini beans

sea salt to taste

handful italian parsley (diced)

Method:

1. Melt coconut oil in a large pan, then add onion and fennel. Cook on a low heat for 5-7 minutes until it softens

2. Add the garlic and red capsicum and continue to cook  for another 5 minutes so that the onions and fennel begin to caramelize

3. Add the shiitake mushrooms, mushroom stock and sherry. Continue to cook till the water absorbs.

4. Add the cannellini beans and sea salt and heat through.

5. Stir through italian parsley and serve immediately with pumpkin polenta and some steamed greens.

*Serves 4

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Shiitake Mushrooms and Caramelized Onion with Creamy Polenta

Tonight I finally used the last of my home grown shiitake mushrooms. On their last couple of days I didn’t keep the log very hydrated so they went really dry like the ones you buy. Luckily with a bit of water they rehydrated and ready to use. I paired them with creamy polenta flavored with shiitake infused water, oregano and nutritional yeast. Surprisingly Marco really liked this meal. Slowly he has grown to like mushrooms after having years of intense hate for them. So mushrooms are now back on the menu!

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Shiitake Mushrooms and Caramelized Onion with Creamy Polenta (vegan, gluten free, soy free option, nut free)

Ingredients:

1.5 cups dried shiitake mushrooms

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1 small brown onion, sliced

1 garlic clove, diced

1 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon mirin

sea salt to taste

1.5 cups water

1.5 cups unsweetened plant milk (oat or rice; soy or almond if you can tolerate)

1/2 cup instant polenta

1 tablespoon chopped oregano (more to garnish)

1 tablespoon vegan butter

4 tablespoons nutritional yeast

Method:

1. Soak the shiitake mushroom in 1 cup of water. Let it soak for 10 mins. Then remove mushrooms and slice them. Keep the water that the mushrooms were soaked in.

2. Heat a pan with olive oil, then add onion and garlic. Saute until golden, then add shiitake mushrooms. Add balsamic vinegar, mirin and sea salt. Cook until both the mushrooms and onion are nicely caramelized.

3. In the meantime take a medium size pot, add the shiitake broth water, plus another half a cup of water and the soy milk. Bring to the boil, then place on a simmer and add the polenta. Whisk the polenta while it cooks to remove the lumps.

4. Once the polenta has cooked, stir through the oregano, vegan butter, nutritional yeast and sea salt. Let it heat through then serve topped with the onion and mushrooms and garnish with oregano leaves.

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Adzuki Chili Casserole with Cornbread Topping

Last nights dinner was my attempt at an American classic, chili and corn bread. In Australia, we don’t usually cook American dishes like this. We have a lot of influence from Asia, Europe and even the Middle East, but not a lot of American cuisine. I often cook  ‘mexican’ chili con carne. In recent years I have been making my own spice mix. I am not sure if I make it the right way, but it my best attempt at emulating the Mexican spice mix that you can buy in the packet. This is also my first attempt of making cornbread. I have tried corn bread a couple of times in the past in ribs restaurants They usually serve this as a entree, with lots of butter. I have always really liked the sweet and savory taste of it.

To put this dish together I used the left over rice and Eggplant & Capsicum Pasta Sauce from the day before. I also soaked some adzuki beans over night and cooked them up, so they were ready to add to any dishes. I used the rice to make a crispy base for the casserole. I was considering making a pie, but I didn’t really feel like making dough. I was also worried that if I used puff pastry, then it the sauce would go through it. I saw some recipes using rice with eggs to make pie or quiche bases, so I tried to do that. It turned out to be a really solid base and held the chili well. 

???????????????????????????????For the chili I made my usually spice mix and added the cook adzuki beans and the pasta sauce. The spices really helped give the sauce a more southern taste. It was really easy to prepare and quick.

Lastly, for the top of the casserole I decided to do cornbread, because I had seen it somewhere, but then I couldn’t remember where. So after doing a lot of research and trying to find a vegan version, I came across this recipe for Black Bean Chili Pot Pie with Cornbread Topping from Chipped Bowl. I decided to also add cinnamon to the batter, as I saw this in another recipe by Nigella Lawson. I had to make a double the portion for the size of my casserole, which I adapted below. This was my favorite part of the casserole. It was so sweet and fluffy. I could of just eaten this on its own.

My family were really blown away by this dish, as it was like nothing else they had tried before. I definitely want to make this a regular meal. I’m sure it would be great to serve for guests or family dinners. Let me know what your think of my attempt and how you make this American classic?

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Adzuki Chilli Casserole with Cornbread Topping  (vegan, gluten free option, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients for Rice Base:

2 cups of cooked rice

1/2 cup polenta or corn meal

1/4 cup water

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

sea salt to taste

Ingredients for Chili:

2 cups of cooked adzuki beans

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon onion flakes or onion powder

1 tablespoon ground sweet paprika

1/2 tablespoon ground cayenne pepper

1/2 tablespoon dried oregano

3 cups tomato pasta sauce (I used leftover Eggplant & Capsicum Pasta Sauce)

1/4 cup water

2 tablespoons vegan worcestershire sauce

Ingredients for Cornbread Topping:

1 1/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (use gluten free flour if you prefer)

1 cup polenta or corn meal

3 tablespoons raw sugar

4 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon sea salt

4 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1.5 cup water

4 tablespoons sunflower or canola oil

Method:

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

2. First make the spice mix for the chili. Combine the cumin, garlic powder, onion flakes, sweet paprika, cayenne and oregano in a small bowl.???????????????????????????????

3. Heat 2 tablepsoons of olive oil in a large pot. Then add the all the spices. Cook for 3 mins on medium heat.

4. Add the cooked adzuki beans to the pot and coat in the spices.  Cook for another 3 mins.

5. Add the sauce, water and worcestershire sauce. Adjust seasoning and cook for 15-20 mins.???????????????????????????????

6. In the meantime, prepare the rice base. Place cooked rice and polenta in a large bowl. Combine the water with the nutritional yeast, then add to the bowl. Add salt to taste and stir it through.

7. Take large casserole dish and grease with some oil, then place the rice mixture and press down so it is equally distributed as a base. Bake for 10 mins, then remove from the oven.???????????????????????????????

8. In the meantime, prepare the cornbread topping. Take another large mixing bowl combine the flour, polenta, sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Stir well.???????????????????????????????

9. Then make a well in the centre of the bowl and add the water and vegetable oil and stir till combined.

10. Take the Casserole dish and place the adzuki chili on top of the rice base.

11. Then add the cornbread topping on top of the chili. Bake in the oven for 20-25 mins or until you can place a toothpick inside the topping and it comes out clean.

*Serves 8

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Sweet Potato Croquettes with Spicy Pineapple & Black beans Rice

You know how I was saying I was looking forward to using the leftovers. This is what inspired today’s lunch. I cooked the leftover the rice in a similar way to the Spicy Black bean and Rice stuffing, but I added some pineapple and a few more veggies. To go with it I made these croquettes. The polenta and corn crumbs really go well with the flavor of the sweet potato. Since I can’t use cheese, I used Tofutti instead to stuff it. This was nice and creamy inside. I also served it with last nights left over Coleslaw and a french stick that my mum turned up with, just in time for lunch. The dressing actually tasted better today and closer to the real thing.

I recently added a Recipe page, so you can all find the recipes easier. I also added a Eating out Vegan Page. These are some places that I have experienced. So far only places in Queensland, Australia and a couple in Milan. But I am hoping to add some more when I go to Melbourne next week. Now I’m off to do last minute Christmas shopping!

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Sweet Potato Croquettes (vegan, gluten free, nut free)

Ingredients:

2 small sweet potatoes

1/4 cup polenta

1 tablespoon water

1  tablespoon coriander leaves, minced

sea salt to taste

5 teaspoons Tofutti cream cheese

corn crumbles

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Method:

1. Peel the sweet potatoes and steam them till they are really soft.DSC01376

2. Place sweet potato into a mixing bowl and mash with a fork.DSC01377

3. Stir through the polenta, water, coriander leaves and season with salt.

4. Place 1 tablespoon of the sweet potato mixture in the palm of your hand and flatten it. Then add 1/2 tsp cream cheese in the centre and close it into a ball, so that the cream cheese is in the center.

5. Rub the balls in corn crumbs.

6. Heat canola oil in a pan. Then add the croquettes and turn them as they go golden brown.

7. Once they are completely golden brown on all sides, place them on a plate with a paper towel to drain the oil. Then serve.

*Makes 10 balls.

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Spicy Pineapple & Black beans Rice (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

2.5 cup cooked basmati rice (cooked in vegetable liquid stock &  turmeric)

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1 red onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, diced

2 large stalks of celery, diced

1 red chilli, diced

1/2 red capsicums, diced

2 tablespoons ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika

sea salt & black pepper to taste

1 small zucchini, chopped

1/2 cup cooked black beans

1/2 cup pineapple, diced

Method:

1. Take a pan and heat olive oil. Then add the onion, garlic, celery and chilli. Cook for 5 mins.DSC01378

2. Then add the zucchini, pineapple and all the spices (cumin, cayenne, cinnamon, paprika, salt, pepper). Cook for another 3 mins or until zucchini is tender.

3. Stir through the black beans and cooked rice. Cook until all is heated through, then serve.

*Serves 4

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Vanilla Maple Breakfast Polenta

Good morning everyone! I am addicted to PInterest at the moment. I’m a bit of a late adopter. While I was going through all my long lost recipe book marks I came across this recipe, Vanilla Brown Sugar Breakfast Polenta, from Joy the Baker. I adapted it, to make it vegan and a bit healthier.

It is really warm, sweet (but not to sweet) breakfast that makes you feel all fuzzy inside. Since there was only two of us for breakfast this morning, I took the tip from Joy and put the rest of the polenta in a loaf dish with plastic wrap. This way I can store it in the fridge and later when it has set I can slice it and fry it for dessert. Hope you like it 🙂

Vanilla Maple Breakfast Polenta (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients: 

1 cup polenta (instant)

3 cups cold water

2 cups plant milk (coconut or oat; almond or soy if you can tolerate)

3/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/3 cup maple syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or 1/2 vanilla bean)

sprinkle of cinnamon

fresh berries and extra plant milk  to serve

Method:

1. Take a small bowl and combine 1 cup of cold water and 1 cup of polenta.

2. Take a pot  and add 2 cups of cold water and 2 cups of soy milk. Put on medium heat and bring to a light boil.

3. Add salt and stir through.

4. Add polenta slowly and stir through. Then cook for about 10mins or until the polenta has thickened. Stir often.

5. Take of the heat and stir through maple syrup and vanilla essence.

6. Serve in  bowls add garnish with a touch of cold soy milk, sprinkle of cinnamon and fresh berries (I used blueberries).

* Serves 4

Sweet Potato & Rice Veggie patties

Today is another lazy day of procrastination so far. I figure if I’m on my computer I am one step closer to doing some work. I didn’t plan on cooking some major for lunch, but then I got temped to make something with the leftover  basmati rice. I didn’t want to have fried rice again like I did last night, so I came up with this. I added the polenta, as I found when I made Chloe’s Mexicali Sliders, that it helps to bind patties like egg does. I think this would serve about 10 patties (size of mine) or perhaps 5 large one. I just made a simple sweet chilli mayo to go with it. This is just a ratio of 2 parts vegan mayo to 1 part sweet chili sauce and a pinch of ground cayenne.

Sweet Potato & Rice Veggie patties (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1 cup leftover basmati/other rice

1 cup mashed sweet potato (about 2 small)

2 tablespoons polenta

1 onion diced

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

handful coriander leaves minced

2 tablespoons sweet chilli sauce

sea salt to taste

Methods:

1. First steam sweet potato and once finish mash.

2. Take a large bowl and add sweet potato and rice.

3. Add 2 tbsp of polenta (better if sweet potato is warm, otherwise add 1 tbsp of hot water to polenta before adding).

4. In a non-stick pan heat 1 tbsp of olive oil and cook onion on medium heat for 4 mins or until browned. Then add to bowl.

5. Add cumin, garlic powder, cayenne, sweet chili sauce, coriander leaves and salt to the bowl.

5. Make balls of the mixture in hands and place on baking paper (or straight into the pan)

6. Heat nonstick pan with 1 tbsp of olive oil and place balls into the pan. Flatten balls with a flip, so it forms a pattie. Cook a few minutes on each side, then serve.