Cannelloni with Cashew Tofu ‘Ricotta’ Spinach Filling

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

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

Ingredients for Sauce and Pasta:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion, diced

3 garlic cloves, diced

750ml passata sauce

350ml water

2 pinches raw sugar

sea salt & black pepper to taste

10 basil leaves, diced

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

Ingredients for Filling:

1 cup cashews (raw/soaked)

1/2 cup water

250g firm tofu, cubed

3 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons lemon juice

3 tablespoons nutritional yeast

sea salt to taste

4 cups chopped english or baby spinach leaves

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*Serves 6

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(Cookbook Project) Energise Your Life – Spinach Parcels with Onion Sauce

Today I decided to launch my Cookbook Project, so that I can start to cook the recipes from the many cookbooks that I have bought and collected. I have a bad habit of collecting cookbooks and then never cooking anything from them. Although I look at them often I just don’t get around to making anything from them. To start this project I have decide to begin with Energise Your Life: Release Your Natural Energy, by Nic Rowley, Kirsten Hartvig and Emma Mitchell.51X6WM0WSYL

This was actually my first plant based recipe book that I purchased about 6 years ago at a book sale. I didn’t realize until recently that all the recipes in this book are vegan. When I first got this book I tried two recipes. The first was the  Hot Cinnamon drink. I really liked this drink and use to make it before bed. It was actually the first time I tried rice milk. I never consider back then why anyone would drink an alternative dairy milk. I quite liked it, but when I first made it for Marco he hated it. Funny thing is now rice milk is one of his favorite dairy free milks. The second recipe I tried was Sweet potato with hiziki. This recipe was a disaster. For a start I was missing most of the ingredients and also I tried to use nori instead of hiziki. The nori didn’t crisp up and just stuck to the sweet potato. I remember my family laughing at this strange thing that I had made that really didn’t taste good. I didn’t bother trying the other recipes, there were too many ingredients I had never heard of. So it stayed on my shelve until I rediscovered it recently.

The first recipe I have tried tonight is the Spinach Parcels with Onion Sauce. According to the cookbook this recipe benefits the Nervous system and is Anti stress. It contains the nutrients of Vitamin CNiacinFolate Et Pantothenate and Calcium. and is given 4/5 for Energy.

The recipe called for strudel dough sheets. I am really not sure what type of pastry this is, but I did have some special Eastern European pastry sheets from Pitstop Pastries & Pizza. Marco’s sister gave me some a couple of days ago. This dough is great for making their traditional pita pastries . Marco’s mother often uses this dough with feta and spinach or apples and makes these scrolls shape savory and sweet pastries. If you live in Brisbane and you want pastry sheets that are vegan and preservative free I recommend dropping by Pitstop Pastries & Pizza in West End to pick some up. It actually worked quite well with this recipe, as the sheets are thin, but not thin enough that the ingredients can seep out or escape. It also crisps up nicely in the oven.

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For the filling I used  the leaves from a large bunch of silverbeet. I think the recipe actually called for English or Baby Spinach, but when you need 450 g worth of leaves, its gets expensive when the spinach only comes in 100 g a packets. I also used bean curd (tofu), scallions, garlic, soy sauce, ground coriander and ground cumin for the filling. Although the tofu doesn’t resemble a feta cheese it does work really well in the pastry. The taste of the filling was really nice and the soy sauce gave it a salty flavor. The book wasn’t clear on how to wrap the ingredients in the pastry, so I just made it into a scroll.

The onion sauce was not necessary for the spinach parcels, but it was a nice touch. This was just as simple sauce of diced onion, soy sauce, flour, vegetable stock, and soy milk. We also enjoyed this sauce with the side vegetables, which were roasted potato and baby kale, and steamed peas and broccolini.

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So, the first recipe in this challenge went down well with the family. Everyone loved the Spinach parcels and the Onion sauce. There was no comments from Marco, who has been brought up on this kinds of pastries, that they needed cheese or something else. So that was a good sign. I ended up making 8 parcels all together, so we now all have lunch for tomorrow now. I definitely would make these parcels again and I am looking forward to cooking my way through the rest of this book!

The Forest Food Lounge and a new Aldi buy

In between studying this past weekend I found the time to drop into The Forest Food Lounge at West End for some vegan sweetness. I have been here few years ago, when I first went dairy free. We just happened to be walking down Boundary street and I saw the word ‘vegan’ and decided to see if they had any sweets. So when Marco talked me into coming for a drive to West End and mentioned taking me for afternoon tea, I bribed him with ???????????????????????????????The Forest.

The Forest offers a variety of vegan burgers, wraps, sandwiches and pies to order. They also have a salad bar and hot box of different dishes that you can order, such as ‘Fish’ Marsala, Vegetable Thai Green Curry and Ginger Dahl. They often have different faux meats dishes as well. In the dessert window they offer a variety different vegan cheesecakes. I remember a while back I had tried the ginger coconut cheesecake and it was so delicious, after been starved of sweets for so long. Yes I do remember exactly what I had as this was such a monumental day.

This place actually reminds me a lot of the New Leaf Cafe in Murwillumbah, which we visited the day before we got engaged! Another great thing about this place is that its open everyday and they stay open most nights till 10 pm. Which for Brisbane cafes’ that offer vegan food, is a rarity.

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So I ended up ordering the Chocolate Cheesecake. We were going to have it there, but Marco was hungry and didn’t want to eat there. So we took it take away and went to a the sustainable Fish and Chip place, called Swamp Dog, which by the way has great chips! I wasn’t hungry, otherwise I would of insisted on that ‘Fish’ Marsala  dish from The Forest.

So the cheesecake was nice, but I am sorry to say no where near as nice as some of the vegan cheesecakes I have had elsewhere, like the Green Edge or The Cardamom Pod. However, I still recommend this place based on the cheap vegan hot food, that I saw others enjoying and the vegan sweets options for a late night dessert.

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As I said I have been studying a lot. Only a two weeks for  my Italian exam and three more week for my research assignment which I am yet to start writing. So besides juicing and buying out local Asian food, most of my meals are ???????????????????????????????pretty boring. When I was at Aldi last week I saw this Giant Baked Beans (Gigandes plaki) and figured they would be a healthy, can free quick meal. They are actually Greek version of Baked beans is quite a popular dish, that I would like try to make soon from scratch.

So yesterday I made a pasta dish with them and this morning I had the rest heated and topped on gluten free toast for breakfast. They are not as saucy as regular baked beans, but they have a nice flavour, are in a glass jar and the actually beans are really delicious. I really hope Aldi keep carrying them, as they have a habit of not continuing some lines.

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Wholemeal Fusilli with Giant Baked Beans and Spinach (vegan, gluten free option, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

2 serves Aldi organic wholemeal fusilli/other gf pasta

1 tablespoon olive oil

1-2 garlic cloves, diced

1 small onion, diced

2 tomatoes, chopped

1/2 red capsicum, chopped

280g jar Giant Baked Beans

3 handful baby spinach, chopped

sea salt & black pepper to taste

Method:

1. Cook the pasta according to packet instructions. ???????????????????????????????

2. Heat olive oil in a pan, then add onion, tomatoes and red capsicum. Sauté for a few minute, or until onion has browned and tomatoes have softened a little. ???????????????????????????????

3. Add a 1-2 ladles of pasta water to the pan and continue to cook for a few more minutes.

4. Once the tomatoes have softened enough, so that it has become saucy, add the giant beans (including the oil and sauce from the jar) and season with salt & pepper. Add more pasta water if its is too dry. Cook for a couple more minutes.

5. Add the baby spinach and cook until it wilts.

6. Add the hot pasta to the pan, stir through and serve.

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Panzarotti Night

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

We haven’t had Panzarotti for a while. Marco is always asking for it, but I usually say no for one reason or another. However, we compromised tonight, he made the dough and agreed that we baked them.

I discovered Panzarotti in Milan on my trip last year and a relative taught me to make them while I was there. Check out my other posts with different fillings, Baked Panzarotti with Mushrooms, Sun-dried tomatoes & Pine nuts and Baked Panzarotti with Tomato, Onion & Cavolo Nero. My dream is to open a Panzarotti store, so perhaps in a few months when I graduate I might try something, but until then I will just be practicing at home.

Tonight I tried two new fillings: Tomato, Vegetarian Pepperoni, Roasted Capsicum, Garlic & Cheezy Bechamel; and Mushroom, Spinach &  Cheezy Bechamel. I used Sanitarian Vegetarian Pepperoni, which I didn’t realize until just now that it is not vegan as it contains eggs. The writing is so small on the packet that I didn’t see that. So it is a great tasting product if you vegetarian, but otherwise use a vegan pepperoni, like Tofurky Pepperoni Slices or Redwood Cheatin’ Pepperoni Style Slices, which are available in Australia. I haven’t tried them, but I hope to soon. 

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Baked Panzarotti with Tomato, Vegetarian Pepperoni, Roasted Capsicum, Garlic & Cheezy Bechamel  and Mushroom, Spinach &  Cheezy Bechamel (vegan, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients for Basic Pizza Dough-

3 cups Italian Tipo 00

1 teaspoon dry yeast

1.5 cup warm water

1 teaspoon salt

1 pinch raw sugar

1 tablespoon olive oil & more for brushing (makes 8)

Ingredients for Cheezy Bechamel:

1/2 cup unsweetened oat milk (or almond or soy if you can tolerate)

1 tablespoon arrowroot/plain flour

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon nutlex/vegan butter

sea salt to taste

3 tablespoons nutritional yeast (enough for 4 panzarotti)

Ingredients for the Filling 1:

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 handfuls of sliced mushroom

2 tablespoons chopped parsley/basil

4 handfuls of baby spinachs roughly chopped

sea salt & black pepper to taste

2 tablespoons Cheezy Bechamel (enough for 2 panzarotti)

Ingredients for the Filling 2:

1 tablespoon olive oil,

2-3 tablespoons tomato pasta sauce

8 slices vegan pepperoni

2 roasted capsicum from jar, sliced in 4-6 pieces

2 whole garlic cloves, with skin

sea salt & black pepper to taste

2 tablespoon Cheezy Bechamel (enough for 2 panzarotti)

Method:

Prepare the dough:

1. Take a large bowl & brush with oil.

2. Take a bowl and add warm water and yeast. Put some plastic wrap over the bowl and leave it  to sit for 5 mins.

3. Add flour salt and sugar to the large bowl and mix it through.

4. Slowly add water to flour and mix. (add more flour if to stick)

5. Place dough on board and knead for 10 mins.

6. Place dough in a large bowl, place somewhere warm and leave for 1 1/2-2  hours to rise.DSC04984

Prepare Cheezy Bechamel:

1. Combine oat milk, arrow root and garlic powder in a small bowl. Whisk until combined.

2. Melt vegan butter in a small pot.

3. Add oat milk to the pot and heat on medium to low heat until it thickens. Season with salt & pepper.

4. Add nutritional yeast and stir through until dissolved, then take of the heat.

Prepare fillings:DSC04982

1. First heat a pan with olive oil, then add mushrooms, and garlic cloves. Saute for 3-4 mins or until browned.

2. Then add parsley, spinach, salt and pepper. Cook until spinach as wilted.

3. Remove the mushrooms and spinach out of the pan, but leave the garlic cloves.

4. Heat more olive oil if you need and add pepperoni slices. Cook for a 1-2 minutes on both sides until it has a nice color.DSC04987

5. Then add roasted capsicum and cook on both sides (less then 30 sec on each side)???????????????????????????????

6. Remove the filling from the pan and place in another small bowl. Peel the garlic, as it should be nice and soft, diced and add to bowl.

Assemble Panzarotti:

1. On a floury board, roll out you dough balls into a flat circle shape.???????????????????????????????

2. For mushroom fillings, add 1 tablespoon Cheezy Bechamel, then top with the saute mushroom and spinach. Add another tablespoon of Cheezy Bechamel and season with salt & pepper. Fold the dough over like a half moon shape. Close the ends with your fingers or with a fork. Repeat with remaining ingredients to make a second on. ???????????????????????????????

3. For pepperoni filling, add 1.5 tablespoon of tomato sauce and then add 4 slices of pepperoni, 2-3 slices of roasted capsicum, diced garlic, 1 tablespoon Cheezy Bechamel and season with salt & pepper. Fold the dough over like a half moon shape. Close the ends with your fingers or with a fork. Repeat with remaining ingredients to make a second on.

4. Cook in the oven for 15 mins or until the dough is cooked and golden brown.

*Dough make 8 panzarotti, the filling  ingredients makes 2 of each, but both can be doubled for more.

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Loaded Sweet Potatoes with Spinach, Tempeh ‘Bacon’ and Cashew Sour Cream

I am so obsessed with Roasted Whole Sweet Potatoes right now. They are so sweet and delicious and taste great with almost anything. I stuff them tonight with silverbeet and red onions and topped them with tempeh ‘bacon’. I am also in love with Tempeh. Its so delicious and really nutritious! This is the first time I tried to use it to make bacon. I really wanted to make it to substitute a piece of chicken or beef, but I didn’t have enough. I would definitely make this bacon again thought. It was really like bacon, but it did have a meat like taste.

By the way, I finished watching another documentary today called Vegucated. If I needed some more incentive to keep on going vegan this definitely gave it to me. It also had a great important message in the end that eating no meat or even less meat is helping the planet. Even Marco was really touched by this documentary.  Its about 3 people who love meat and aren’t vegan, who agree to try going vegan for 6 weeks. After learning about the food industry and trial out a vegan diet, they are all changed forever. There is a trailer on the website and also some great recipes. I was really shocked by some of the images I saw. It wasn’t just about the terrible conditions and death of the animals, but what you did see really makes you sick. Another video I watched which is a little closer to home was a 60 Minutes segment ‘Roam Free‘. I still can’t get the images out of my head of Steggles  live chickens eating other dead chickens in their pen and their terrible conditions. The Coles representative was really crafty as well and didn’t wanting to take ownership of those kinds of practices. Anyway I recommend viewing these if you want to know more about whats really going on behind the scenes.

For more whole roasted sweet potato recipes check out my Black bean & Corn Chili with Whole Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Broad bean GuacamoleWhole Roasted Japanese Sweet Potatoes with Almond Cinnamon Butter and Whole Roasted Sweet Potato with Mixed Bean Chili.

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Loaded Sweet Potatoes with Spinach and Tempeh ‘Bacon’ (vegan, gluten free, nut free)

Ingredients for Sweet Potato & Spinach:

4 medium or 8 small sweet potatoes

canola oil

1 tablespoon coconut oil

1 red onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, diced

1 head of silverbeet, roughly chopped (leaves only)

Ingredients: Tempeh ‘Bacon’:

100 g tempeh

1 teaspoon agave/maple syrup

1 teaspoon liquid smoke

1 teaspoon tamari/soy sauce

pinch of ground cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon coconut oil

Method:

1. Preheat the oven. Clean and scrub sweet potatoes.???????????????????????????????

2. Coat in oil and place in a baking tray. Piece a few times with a fork along the sweet potato, then bake for 45 mins or until soft inside.

3. Chop tempeh into small pieces and place into a small bowl.

4. Add agave, liquid smoke, tamari and cayenne, to the tempeh. Stir through and leave to marinate for 5-10 mins.???????????????????????????????

5. Heat coconut oil in a pan then add tempeh. Cook on medium heat for 7-10 mins or until golden. Leave to the side.

6. In another pan heat coconut oil. Saute red onion and garlic on medium heat for 5 mins.

7. Add silverbeet to the onion and garlic. Saute for 5 mins or until silverbeet is wilted.

8. Once sweet potatoes are ready, slice them down the center and stuff with silverbeet and onions. Sprinkle with Tempeh ‘bacon’ and serve with Cashew Cream and Guacamole.

*Serves 4

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Cashew Sour Cream (vegan, raw, gluten free, soy free)

Ingredients:

1 cup cashews (pre-soaked for 2 hours)

1/2 cup water

juice of 1 lemon

1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Method:

1. If you haven’t pre-soaked the cashews, then boil for 10 mins.

2. Place in a blender and grind until cashews break down.

3. Add water, lemon, apple cider and salt. Process until smooth.

*Makes about one cup.

Guacamole with Coriander & Lime (vegan, raw, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

2 large avocado

juice from 1 lime

2 handfuls coriander, minced

sea salt & black pepper to taste

Method:

1. Mash avocodo flesh in a small bowl.

2. Add lemon juice, coriander, sea salt and black pepper.

*Serves 4

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Pumpkin Mac and Cheese with Spring Vegetables

Happy Easter Sunday everyone! It doesn’t really feel like Easter for me. Without chocolate or gifts its just another weekend. We use to celebrate by having a picnic and gorging on chocolate, but this year everyone’s been busy. In a way I am happy I didn’t get any unwanted chocolate. No one ever buys me dairy free chocolate. I don’t know if I should just be grateful that people think to give me something or I should be annoyed that they know I can’t eat it and give it to me anyway. Marco usually eats any dairy gifts I get so he’s happy either way.

Since Marco has had a couple of days off with me, we finally watched the new documentary Hungry for Change (trailer). If you haven’t seen it, I really recommend trying to get a copy and taking the time to watch it. If you know me personally I would be happy to give you a copy. According to their Facebook page “HUNGRY FOR CHANGE exposes shocking secrets the diet, weight loss and food industry don’t want you to know about; deceptive strategies designed to keep you coming back for more.” If you need some guidance or a refresher to get you back in the right direction it is really motivational. I really needed a refresher to get back into a routine of increasing my fruit and leafy green vegetable intake and exercising more. Marco needed a reminder to stop eating so much sugar and consider eating more fruit and vegetables.

???????????????????????????????So after watching this doc, Marco and I decided we need to start juicing. I haven’t pulled out my juicer for over a year. I originally got it to make cocktails, when I use to love to drink, then I started using it to make juices to loose weight. Now I really want to juice so I can get more vegetables and fruit into my diet for overall wellness. It really doesn’t take long to do, so I am making a commitment to start juicing more. Its back on my counter top now, so no more excuses.

This morning I made a delicious juice for us, made of watermelon, apple, carrot, lime and ginger. It was so refreshing. Still it didn’t have a lot of vegetables, but I am going to work us up to it. I felt really great after and didn’t need my usually morning coffee. In fact I am trying to cut down on coffee, if not for the sake of my insides, but for the sake of my teeth. I noticed about a months back I didn’t have coffee for a few days and my teeth were looking so much whiter. So it was incentive to consider cutting back. I don’t drink a lot of coffee, only one flat white once day, but I shouldn’t be relying on that boost. I should be getting from enough sleep, more nutrients and not forgetting to take my pyroluria medication.

Although it was raining all day we still managed to get some exercise  We went to Forest Lake to walk around the lake. Even though it rained the whole time it was really worth getting out of the house. After that we were quite hungry, so I made this comfort dinner. Marco begged me not to add in the vegetables to the pumpkin ‘cheese’ sauce, since he loved it so much, but in the end he was happy he ate them together, rather than apart. This is a great dish to sneak in some vegetables for your kids or veggie hating partners. It is also low fat and gluten free. I also baked the seeds from the pumpkin for some extra Vitamin E. For more info on the health benefits of pumpkin seeds check out WHFoods.

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Pumpkin Mac and Cheese with Spring Vegetable (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

500g thinly sliced pumpkin (I use kent and butternut)

4 serves of gluten free macaroni or other short pasta

olive oil

1 tablespoon vegan butter (I used nutlex)

1 tablespoon corn flour (or arrowoot flour)

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

2 teaspoons dijon mustard

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon ground tumeric

8 tablespoons nutritional yeast

sea salt & pepper to taste

1 head of broccoli, roughly chopped

1 cup frozen peas

2 cups baby spinach

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Place slices of pumpkin in a tray and toss with olive oil. Cook pumpkin for 30 mins or until soft.???????????????????????????????

2. In the meantime prepare the cheese sauce. Melt the butter in a large pan on low heat. While it is melting combine the almond milk and corn flour and whisk. Then add the plant milk to the pan with the melted butter.???????????????????????????????

3. Add the dijon mustard, garlic powder, tumeric and whisk until it thickens.

4. Add the nutitional yeast, salt and pepper and whisk.

5. Cook the macroni according to packet directions.

6. Add the roasted pumpkin to the cheese sauce. Use the whisk or potato masher to blend it through. Alternativly you could put it in the processor if you want the sauce to be smoother.???????????????????????????????

7. Heat another pan with olive oil, then saute the broccoli and frozen peas until tender.

8. Add the broccoli, peas and spinach to the cheese sauce. Heat through until the spinach has wilted.

9. Stir through the macaroni then serve.

*Serves 4

*I garnished mine with pumpkin seeds from the butternut & kent pumpkin. Just coat in canola/olive oil, salt & pepper and bake for 5 mins or until golden. Also makes a great snack.

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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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Pumpkin, Sweet Potato & Red Lentil Curry and Spinach Koftas with Yogurt Sauce

Tonight I wanted to make use of the Kingland Plain Soy Yogurt that I bought over the weekend. I wanted to use it to make something that I usually can’t have. So I found a recipe for these Spinach Koftas with Yogurt Sauce, from the recipe book The Food of India. This was quite easy recipe to make and was a crowd please. I had to guess how much of everything I had to use, as I didn’t have the correct amount of spinach and yogurt. My batter was very wet and I was unable to roll them, so I used an icecream scope and dropped them into the oil. So they didn’t turn out like balls, but still taste great.

I also used my yogurt to make Potato and Pea Curry with Yogurt, Cumin, and Ginger, from Serious Eats. I didn’t have cumin seeds, so I used ground cumin. I am not sure what I did wrong, but it didn’t turn out very ‘Indian’. It was nice but the of the cumin was not strong. I also ran out of cumin by this point so there was no saving it.

My favorite dish of the night was the the curry, which I adapted from North Indian chickpea, lentil and squash curry recipe, from Woman&Home. I really liked the combination of the spices. I had to tweak the ingredients, due to lack of some and not enough of others, but it came together really nicely. I forgot to add mint or coriander to the finished dish. I was just trying to get everything ready in a rush and then I got grated ginger in my eye, which didn’t feel so good. Luckily I got everything together before My Kitchen Rules and even got in a short walk before. I served these dishes with steamed basmati rice and wholemeal chapati (frozen).

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Pumpkin, Sweet Potato and Red Lentil Curry (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons coconut oil

1 onion, diced

1 tablespoon grated ginger

1 teaspoon ground tumeric

1 teaspoon chili flakes

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon garam masala

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon black pepper

470-500g pumpkin & sweet potato, cubed

3/4 cup red lentils

juice 1 lemon

700ml filtered water

2 teaspoon vegan chicken dry stock (optional)

sea salt to taste

Method:

1. Heat coconut oil in a large pot, then add onion. Cook for couple of minutes until it has softened.???????????????????????????????

2. Add the ginger, all the spices and sea salt. Cook for a few minutes till fragrant.???????????????????????????????

3. Add lentils, pumpkin, sweet potato, water and dry stock. Bring to the boil. Then leave on a simmer for 20 mins or until lentils are mushy. (I cooked mine for nearly an our for more flavor).

4. Add lemon juice and adjust seasoning. Add coriander or mint leaves to serve (optional)

*Serves 6

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Spinach Koftas with Yogurt Sauce (vegan, gluten free, nut free)

Ingredients for Sauce:

1 cup soy yogurt

3 tablespoons chickpea flour

1 tablespoon coconut/canola oil

2 teaspoons black mustard seeds

1 teaspoons fenugreek seeds

6 curry leaves

1 small onion

1.5 garlic cloves

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1/4 teaspoon chili powder

Ingredients for Koftas:

120 g baby spinach

1/2 cup + reserve 1.5 cups chickpea flour

1/2 small red onion, diced

1/2 cup tinned diced tomato or 1 tomato, diced

2 garlic clove, diced

1 tablespoon coriander leaves, diced

Method:

1. To make sauce, take a pot and whisk yogurt, chickpea flour and water (don’t cook).???????????????????????????????

2. In a wok heat oil and add mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds and curry leave. Cover and cook for 1 minute.

3. Add onion, garlic, turmeric and chili powder. Saute uncovered for 5 mins.

4. Place the ingredient of the wok and place in the pot with the yoguart. Bring this pot to the boil then leave to simmer for 10 mins.???????????????????????????????

5. In the meantime, place spinach in boiling water, so that it wilts, then rinse with cold water and cut. ???????????????????????????????

6. Place the rest of the ingredients for the koftas in a mixing bowl (1/2 cup chickpea flour), then add the spinach. Add more chickpea flour if the mixture is too wet.

7. Heat the wok with oil to fry, then drop balls of the mixture into the hot oil and cook until golden. (I had to use an ice cream spoon to drop them in, as my mixture was too wet, but it still worked well). Place the koftas on a paper towel, to absorb the oil.

*Serve koftas with the yogurt sauce.

* I made about 22 koftas.

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There was heaps left so lucky Marco gets to take some for work tomorrow.

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‘Ricotta’, Spinach and Sun dried Tomato Cannelloni

Hi all! Last nights dish was inspired by one of my favorite dishes that I use to make regularly before I was dairy free. I use to buy the pre-made cannelloni and stuff them with ricotta & spinach or ricotta and pumpkin. I decided to be more adventurous this time and make vegan ricotta and make the tomato flavored pasta sheets. I added  tomato paste to the pasta dough, so that the pasta would be colored and have more flavor. For the vegan ricotta I used the recipe from my favorite book at the moment, The Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions. In the past I have made Chef Chloe’s Garden Ricotta and used Tofutti Ricotta. This recipe probably doesn’t taste as much like ricotta, but it is easy to make and tastes pretty good. I also prefer it to store bought because there are no added questionable ingredients. I served the cannelloni with a simple salad of green oak lettuce, red  onion, cucumber, black olives and evo. Luckily this recipe makes a big batch so everyone’s got lunch for today.

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‘Ricotta’, Spinach and Sun dried Tomato Cannelloni (vegan)

Ingredients for Ricotta:

375-400g firm tofu

1/4 cup ground cashews

1/4 cup nutritional yeast

2 tablespoons fresh basil or 1 tablespoon dried basil

salt & pepper to taste

Ingredients for Tomato Flavored Pasta dough:

1 cup semolina (more for dough)

1 cup wholemeal flour (more for dough)

pinch sea salt

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 cup warm water

4 tablespoons tomato paste

Remaining Ingredients for filling & baking:

batch of ‘ricotta’

4 big handfuls of baby spinach

20 sun dried tomatoes

2 x 500g passata sauce (keep extra for reheating)

vegan mozzarella (optional)

Method:

Firstly make the ‘Ricotta’DSC02584:

1. Take a bowl and crumble all the tofu, so it looks like ricotta.

2. Then add the remaining ingredients and stir through. Place to the side till ready to use.

Secondly make the Pasta Dough:

1. Take a large bowl and combine semolina, wholemeal flour and sea salt.DSC02578

2. Add olive oil and tomato puree and stir through.

3. Then slowly add warm water. Combine so that it becomes like a dough.

4. On a floury board knead the dough for 10 mins, so that the dough is smooth and elastic. Set aside for 10 mins.

Thirdly, make the filling

1. Chop the baby spinach in ribbons and drain and chop the sun dried tomatoes.DSC02591

2. Take a pan, add a small amount of water and add the baby spinach and cook on a low heat for 1-2 mins, until it has wilted.

3. Take pan off the heat and stir through sun dried tomatoes and the ‘ricotta’.

Fourthy make pasta dough, assemble the cannelloni and bake

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Take two baking trays and place to the side (I used one large and one medium)DSC02592

2. Divide the pasta in to 6 balls and use the pasta machine to make dough balls into pasta sheets. Place the sheets on damp tea  towels.

3. Once all the pasta sheets are made, divide them with a knife, so that they are about 10 cm wide.DSC02588

4. Take baking trays and spoon passata sauce on the bottom, so that you can place the cannelloni in as you are making them in following steps.DSC02593

4. Fill the center of the pasta sheets with the filling and roll the sides in, so that it makes a cylinder shape (you can over lap the pasta sheets). Then place in baking trays side by side.

5. Once trays are filled with cannelloni, top with passata sauce. You can add vegan mozzarella if you want on top.

6. Bake in the oven for 30 mins or until pasta is cooked.

*Serves 8, makes about 36 cannelloni

*Goes well with a simple salad

Roasted Cherry Tomato, Spinach, Lentil & Buckwheat Stew and Pumpkin Spelt Loaf

For this stew and the Roasted Cherry tomato Sauce I used Sweet Solanato Cherry Tomatoes. They are probably the best cherry tomatoes I have tasted in Australia and are exclusive to Woolworths at the moment. They just became available, so I picked up heaps of these 200 g punnets for only $0.48 each. They are really, really sweet and are addictive to eat fresh. They are a new variety, bred in the Netherlands and are grown hydroponically in Bundaberg, Queensland and Gosford, New South Wales. If you are in Australia and want to find out more about them I have included a nice clip below.

This is a really easy stew to make and full of flavor. I think roasted the tomatoes first really makes the different in the taste. I tried to make use the white parts of the spinach. Initially I sauted them with the onions, carrots and chili, and then pureed them with the tomatoes, so that they wouldn’t be crunch in the stew. I wanted to leave the leaves whole so I added them at the end, but if you have picky eaters you can puree them as well and they will be none the wiser. The red lentils and buckwheat went really well as they are both soft, quick cooking ingredients that are really healthy and have a mild taste.

For the Pumpkin Spelt Loaf I took some inspiration from this Taste recipe, but I changed it a lot so I could utilize my spelt flour. I added the dry ingredients to the pumpkin, rather then the other way around, which made it a lot less bread like, but I got rave reviews at home. So maybe it was a good mistake. It was even better the next day once it had set more in the fridge and we toasted in the sandwich press and served it with butter.

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Roasted Cherry Tomato, Red Lentil & Buckwheat Soup (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

olive oil

600g cherry tomatoes

8 garlic cloves

sea salt

1 onion

2 carrots

2 small red chili

4 leaves of silverbeet (3 stems chopped and 4 of just green leaves)

½ cup red lentils

½ cup buckwheat

3 cups of vegan chicken liquid stock

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees. DSC01119

2. Wash and cut in half all the cherry tomatoes.DSC01121

3. Take a baking tray and add cherry tomatoes, whole garlic cloves and sprinkle with sea salt. Cook for 15-20 mins, so that garlic is soft.

4. In the meantime, dice the onion, carrots, red chili. Separate the white stems and spines of the spinach from the green leaves. Then dice white stems (from 3 of whole leaves, discard one).

5. Take a pot and heat 1 tbsp of olive oil. Then saute the onion, carrots, red chili for 3 mins. Then add the spinach stems and saute for a further 3 mins. DSC01122

6. Once tomatoes & garlic are ready, peel the garlic and place both in to the pot. Then use a bar mix to blend all the vegetables together with the tomatoes to form a sauce (can also be done in a processor.

7. Put the buckwheat to cook in another pot. This should take 20-30 mins according to packet instructions.

8. While the buckwheat is cooking, add the red lentils and liquid stock to the pot with the pureed sauce. Bring to the boil, then place on simmer for 20-30 mins or until lentils are cooked.DSC01128

9. Lastly, cut the green spinach leaves (from 4 whole spinach leaves) into ribbons. You can do this by scrunch them up and in a cigar shape, then cutting them thinly.

10. Before serving add the spinach leaves and buckwheat and heat through, so the spinach goes limp.

*Serves 5

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Pumpkin Spelt Loaf (vegan, nut free)

Ingredients:

500-600 g butternut pumpkin

1.5 cup wholemeal spelt

½ cup white unbleached flour

1 teaspoon sea salt

3 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons fennel seeds

2 eggs worth of egg replacer

5 tablespoons melted butter

½ cup soy milk

1 big sprig of rosemary

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

1. Wash and cut pumpkin into small pieces, remembering to remove the seeds and skin.

2. Place pumpkin in a steamer and cook for 20 mins or until soft.

3. Mash the pumpkin with a fork.

4. Take a large bowl and mix the spelt, white flour, sea salt, baking powder, fennel seeds and 2/3 of the rosemary leaves.

5. Then add egg replacer, melted butter and soy milk. DSC01115

6. Lastly add the pumpkin and mix through.

7. Place the mixture in a loaf tin and top with the remaining rosemary leaves.

8. Place in the oven and bake for 60 mins.

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Fresh Food Update – Sweet Solanato, http://cooking-recipes4u.blogspot.com.au/2012/11/fresh-food-update-sweet-solanato.html

AU: Spring into Sweet Solanato tomatoes, www.freshplaza.com/news_detail.asp?id=102489