Tempeh in a Tomato Red wine Sauce with Spaghetti

I have had the worse flu this past week. I haven’t been this sick in over a year. I never take medication for the flu or get the flu shot and and normally I’m only sick for a couple of days. This time however it has been  a lot harder for my body to spring back from. Perhaps because I’m pregnant. But slowly I’m getting better and less reliant on my tissue box.

So I haven’t been that inspired in the kitchen this past week. Today I was feeling a little better so I tried to create a delicious tempeh dish that Marco would actually eat. Marco hates tempeh with a passion. So I haven’t cook it in a while. Luckily I took a gamble today and he actually enjoyed lunch.

Tempeh Piccata from Chloe's Kitchen (Chloe Coscarelli)

I was inspired by Chef Chloe’s Tempeh Piccata that I made a while ago. I absolutely loved that dish. But haven’t made it again after the reaction I got from Marco and his mother. I assured them they would like it but they really didn’t. They aren’t big fans of capers or acidic flavors which I think made it a lot worse. I wanted to try making something similar but with a tomato based sauce with lots of flavor so that no one knew they were eating tempeh. Marco’s dad certainly didn’t know what he was eating. He asked what meat is this and then asked that I leave him some for dinner. So it was a tempeh success!

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Tempeh in Tomato Red wine Sauce with Spaghetti (vegan, nut free)

Ingredients:

olive oil

300g tempeh, sliced into thin triangular pieces (I used Nutrisoy Organic Tasty Tempeh)

1 small red onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, diced

6 sun-dried tomatoes, diced

1/2 cup red wine

2 tomatoes, diced

sea salt and black pepper to taste

250ml good quality tomato pasta sauce (I used Aldi’s Just Organic Basil and Garlic Pasta Sauce)

250ml filtered water

4 serves of spaghetti to serve

Method:

1. Take a large heavy based pan and heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil on medium. In batches brown the tempeh on each side. Remove from the pan and leave to the side.

2. Add some more olive oil and then add red onion and garlic. Cook for a few minutes and once it starts to brown add the sun-dried tomatoes and saute for a couple more minutes.

3. Add 1/4 cup of red wine to the pan. Once it has been absorbed, return the tempeh to the pan, add the tomatoes, season with salt and pepper and another 1/4 cup of red wine.

4. Once most of the wine has been absorbed add tomato pasta sauce and water. Allow it to come to a lite boil, then leave on a simmer for at least 10 minutes or until the pasta is ready. If it starts to dry out add some pasta water to the sauce.

5. Cook the pasta according to packet directions and serve with the sauce.

* Serves 4

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Bucatini all’amatriciana and Verdure grigliate

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rome

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

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

Ingredients:

2-3 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, diced

3 garlic cloves, diced

150g Tempeh pancetta (ingredients below)

1 red chili, diced

6-7 small tomatoes, diced

1 can good quality Polpa (Italian diced tomato pulp)

sea salt and black pepper to taste

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

Ingredients for Tempeh Pancetta (150 g):

2 tsp liquid smoke

1 tsp soy sauce 1 tsp agave

sea salt to taste

Method:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*Serves 4

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

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

Ingredients:

olive oil

sea salt to taste

1 eggplant

2 bunches asparagus

2 zucchini (any other vegetables you like)

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

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

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

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

*Serves 4

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

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

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

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

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

Tempeh and Mixed Vegetable Massaman Curry

Tempeh again tonight! I still had some left over so I figured I may as well add it to my curry. Marco really didn’t want me to add tempeh,  after last weeks chunky tempeh potato massman curry. But this time I cut it smaller and sauteed it till golden brown, before adding it to the curry.  It had a much nicer texture this time and Marco didn’t even realise I used it.

Graduation tomorrow! I’m so excited. I couldn’t get the whole day off tomorrow, so I’ll be in a mad rush tomorrow to make it to the convention center. I remember when Marco graduated a few years ago. It was so inspiring. My family haven’t see a graduation before, so I think they will see why its so important to me.

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Tempeh and Mixed Vegetable Massaman Curry (vegan, gluten free, nut free)

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons coconut oil

2-3 tablespoons massaman curry paste

4 small potatoes, cut in quarters

1 sweet potato, chopped into cubes

1 carrot, chopped into cubes

1 can coconut cream

3 cups vegan beef stock (I used Massel)

1 small red capsicum, chopped

200g tempeh, cut into small pieces

4-6 shiitake mushrooms, sliced

1 teaspoon raw sugar

2 tablespoons peanut butter

2 kaffir lime leaves, sliced thinly

2 handfuls of snow peas, topped and tailed

1-2 tablespoons lime juice

Method:

1. Heat oil in a large pot or wok. Add 2 tablespoons massman curry paste. Saute for 3 minutes.

2. Add potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots and half a can of coconut cream. Cook for 5 minutes.

3. Add beef stock and capsicum. Bring to the boil and cook till for 20 minutes, or until potatoes are soft.???????????????????????????????

4. In the meantime heat a pan with oil then add tempeh and 1 tsp of massman paste. Saute till lightly browned.

5. Add sliced shiitake mushroom and cook saute for another minute, then add to the curry pot.

6. Add to the pot peanut butter, sugar, kaffir lime leaves. Cook for another 5-10 minutes.

7. Add snow peas, lime juice and the rest of the coconut cream. Heat for a few minutes then serve with steamed rice and/or roti.

*Serves 6

Tempeh Tempations

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

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

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

tempeh

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

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

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The kids pasta dish

Frys Meat Free Pops

Frys Meat Free Pops

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

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

Ingredients:

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

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 red onion, diced

3 garlic cloves, diced

1/2 red capsicum, diced

3/4 cooked french lentils

100g tempeh

3-4 shiitake mushrooms

1 can good quality finely diced tomatoes

1/2 teaspoon raw sugar or more to taste

2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves

sea salt & black pepper to taste

Method:

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

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

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

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

*Serves 4

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

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

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

Ingredients Italian Tempeh Sausages:

300g  tempeh

3 tablespoons Italian seasoning

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

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

1 tablespoon dried basil

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon onion flakes or powder

1 tablespoon ground fennel (grinded fennel seeds)

1/2 tablespoon dried thyme

1/2 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes

1/4 tablespoon ground black pepper

Rest of Ingredients:

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

1 tablespoon olive oil

700 ml passata sauce

1 red onion

3 garlic cloves

1 red capsicum

2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves

sea salt, black pepper and raw sugar to taste

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

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*Serves 8

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

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

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Sweet Mixed Tomato and Tempeh Sausage Casserole

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

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

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

Ingredients Italian Tempeh Sausages- 

300g  tempeh

3-4 tablespoons Italian seasoning

3/4 cup whole wheat flour

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

1/4 cup olive oil or grapeseed oil

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Ingredients for Italian seasoning (makes double):

1 tablespoon dried basil

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon onion flakes or onion powder

1 tablespoon ground fennel, or grind fennel seeds by hand

1/2 tablespoon dried thyme

1/2 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes

1/4 tablespoon ground black pepper

Remaining Ingredients: 

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

2 sprigs fresh thyme

2 sprigs fresh rosemary

2 dried or fresh bay leaves

1 tablespoon dried oregano

3 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped

extra virgin olive oil

1.5 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (or more to taste)

sea salt and ground black pepper to taste

Method:

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

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

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

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

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

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

*Serves 6

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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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Tempeh Pine nut ‘Meatballs’, Green beans and Potatoes

The weather has really cooled down at night here in Brisbane, so tonight we needed something warm and hearty. I tried to recreate an Italian meatball dish using tempeh. I have once tried using a mixture of  tempeh, lentils and walnuts to make Chef Chloe’s Sweet-and-Sour Meatballs. I was so impressed with the texture, that I thought it could be recreated in other ways. This is a much healthier alternative  if you don’t like using store bought mock meats and it is just as satisfying.

These ‘meatballs’ are very soft and delicate. I didn’t want to add flour or too much corn crumbs to them, in case it ruined the flavor  So be careful when flip them. I paired them with this rich red wine tomato sauce, instead of the usually napoletana sauce. I found my tinned tomatoes were a bit bitter and acidic, even though I added salt and sugar to balance them. So I added a bit of worcestershire sauce, which worked very well. It also worked well in the meatballs, to get a meat like flavor.

I also made Green beans with Tomatoes and Cashew Parmesan and Roasted Rosemary Potatoes. I actually adapted the recipe for the Green beans from the Leggo’s recipe book, Cook Italian. I’m not sure where I got this book, it just turned up one day in my recipe book collection. This recipe makes green beans a bit more exciting. I really loved the combination of tomatoes, lemon, pine nuts and cashew parmesan. Since I didn’t have pesto on hand, I just made a small amount with my mortar and pesto. It also gave a rich flavor to the sauce.

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Tempeh Pine nut ‘Meatballs’ with Red Wine Tomato Sauce (vegan, gluten free)

Ingredients:

225g tempeh

2 tins diced tomatoes

1/2 cup red wine

1 cup water

sea salt & pepper to taste

raw sugar to taste

1 onion, diced

2/3 cup pine nuts, roughly chopped

2 garlic cloves, diced

1 cup walnuts

1 tin brown lentils

1.5 cups fresh herbs (basil, parsley, oregano)

3 tablespoons vegan worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

zest from 1 lemon

1/3 cup nutritional yeast

1/3 cup corn crumbs (or other gluten free bread crumbs)

olive oil

Method:

1. Cut the tempeh in cubes then steam for 20 mins to get out the bitterness.???????????????????????????????

2. In the meantime make the sauce. Place diced tomatoes, red wine and water in a pot and bring to the boil. Season with salt, pepper and sugar.  Place on a simmer, until the rest is ready. If the sauce is too bitter or too acidic and you can’t balance with salt and sugar, then add 1 tablespoon of worcestershire sauce.

3. Take a pan and heat with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add onion and pine nuts and cook for 4-5 mins or until onion is soft and pinenuts are golden brown. Remove from the pan and set to the side to cook.

4. In the same pan add more olive oil and saute diced garlic for 2 mins.

5. In the processor add tempeh, lentils, walnuts, garlic and fresh herbs. Process until combined well.???????????????????????????????

6. Place mixture into a large bowl then add onions and pine nuts, worcestershire sauce, fennel seeds, lemon zest, nutritional yeast, corn crumbs and sea salt to taste.

7. Form the mixture into large balls in your hands, then cook them in olive oil in a large pan in batches. You should be able to make 12 ‘meatballs’.

8. Serve ‘meatballs’ with sauce.

*Makes 12 large meatballs, Serves 4-6

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Green beans with Tomatoes and Cashew Parmesan (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 garlic clove, sliced

1 large tomato, diced

3 tablespoons tomato sauce (from recipe above) or 1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 tablespoon pesto (or grind 1 teaspoon pine nuts, 1 tablespoon basil and 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil)

500g green beans

1/4 cup vegetable liquid stock

1 tablespoon lemon juice

pine nuts and vegan parmesan to serve (Cashew Parmesan)

Method:

1. Wash, top and tail the green beans.

2. Heat olive oil in a large pan, then saute garlic for 1 minute.

3. Add diced tomato, tomato sauce/paste and pesto. Cook for 5 mins or until tomatoes are soft.

4. Add green beans, liquid stock and lemon juice. Cook for a further 4 mins or until green beans are tender.

5. Serve green beans with pine nuts and vegan parmesan.

*Serves 4

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Roasted Rosemary Potatoes (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1 kg kifler potatoes

1/3 cup olive oil

3 springs of rosemary

sea salt to taste

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees.

2. Peel potates and cut them into cubes.

3. Place potatoes in a baking tray, add olive oil and sea salt. Then top with whole rosemary sprigs.

4. Roast for 30-40 mins. To make more crispy turn oven up to 200 degrees and cook for a further 5-10 mins.

5. Before serving remove rosemary leaves from stems and reseason with sea salt.

*Serves 4

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Spaghetti alla carbonara (vegan) and Tomato, Shallot & Ajvar ‘Cheesy’ Tart

One thing that I have really been missing since I went dairy free and vegan is Spaghetti Carbonara. This is something that I have grown up on and no one cooks it better then my mum. Marco also loves this dish and when ever he does something for my mum he asks to be rewarded with her Spaghetti Carbonara.

Before I was dairy free I would eat this dish with lots of cream, but after I would just make it with eggs and bacon. Now that I can’t have either I have been thinking about how I could substitute it. Tonight I think that I have actually achieved in making a vegan version of this family favorite. This version is closer to the more traditional version, which has no cream. Now that I have successfully created this recipe, I will try to also make a more creamy version for Marco.

I was really happy how this recipe turned out. I took what I know from making an eggless frittata and tried use that to make an egglike mixture. I also used the last of my  Tofurky Smoky Maple Bacon Marinated Tempeh to substitute the bacon. On the side I made a Tomato, Shallot & Ajvar ‘Cheesy’ Tart. I think I used a bit too much Notzarella, but it was so good! I think this is the first time my Notzarella has melted so well. Perhaps because usually I grate it after I have frozen it.

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Pasta alla carbonara is recipe that only dates back to the middle of the 20th century. It’s origins are debatable, but generally it’s known to be a Rome dish. It is traditionally prepared with Spaghetti, but it is also often made with Fettuccine, Penne, Rigatoni or Bucatini. The essentially ingredients of the Carbonara  include Eggs, Cheese (Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano), Bacon (pork cheek or pancetta), and Black pepper.

The traditional  Italian way to make a Carbonara is by first cooking the pork in fat (olive oil, lard or sometimes butter). Then cooking the pasta and adding  it straight to a pot (with no heat) into a mixture of raw eggs, cheese, fat (butter or olive oil) and the cooked pork (pork cheek, pancetta or local bacon). The raw eggs should become creamy and saucy due to the heat from the pasta, so it doesn’t need to be cooked. The pasta should be coated in the egg mixture and served immediately.

What you probably know to be a Carbonara is probably alot different to the Italian version. You are probably used to Cream and Garlic as essential ingredients. However these are not commonly used for this dish in Italy.  Outside of Italy you will also find other ingredients added such as mushrooms, peas and other vegetables added to this dish. Generally outside Italy a Carbonara  is a cream based sauce with eggs, bacon and cheese. The sauce would therefore have to be cooked off before adding the eggs and pasta.

In Australia, in Italian restaurants and homes you will often find the creamy version of the Carbonara. We often add mushrooms as well ours. In saying that last year in Italy we also found the creamy version of this dish in many restaurants. Whether this was because they knew we were foreigners or because of the influence the outside world is having on Italian cuisine, I’m not sure. But as you can see by some of the Carbonara’s Marco ordered all over Italy they were very creamy.

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There are many different theories to how the Carbonara sauce was invented. I was intrigued by the different theories that people have come up with to claim this dish, so I listed a few for your own interest.

1. The name carbonaro is derived from the Italian word for charcoal burner. Therefore, many believe that the Pasta alla carbonara was created as a hearty dish for the

Sophia Loren

Sophia Loren

Italian charcoal miners. Thus, in some parts of the U.S. it became known as the coal miner’s spaghetti. As these men would of had to camp outdoors for months, it is said they brought ingredients such as cheese, cured pork, olive oil, salt and pepper, which would keep well. They would combine these with eggs, which were available from local farms.  This theory is perhaps the only with an eye witness account. Apparently, while Sophia Loren was filming Two Women at the end of the 50s outside of Rome, was introduced to this dish. The crew of the film had met someCarbonai, and made this dish for them. She took notes and recorded this dish in her recipe book Sophia Loren’s Recipes & MemoriesIn her book she includes cream, which bring this story into doubt, as most variations of this dish don’t use cream.

The Carbonari

The Carbonari

2. It has also been said that perhaps this dish was invented to pay homage to the Carbonari, the charcoal men, who were apparently secret society during the 1800s Italian unification. Perhaps its name was given due to the heavy handed use of the ground pepper, which remind one of coal flakes.

3. Perhaps the name of the dish was not derived from the charcoal miners, but from the woodcutters, who made the charcoal for fuel,  in the Appennine mountains of Abruzzo. It is said that they would cook this hearty dish over a hardwood charcoal fire. They would apparently use Penne pasta, instead of spaghetti, as it was easier to stir through the eggs and cheese.

Carbonai

Carbonai

4. Another theory which supports this is the connection to the Restaurant, La Carbonara, in Campo de’Fiori, in Rome. Apparently the original restaurant was Il Carbonaro was founded in 1912 by a coal salesman, Federico Salomone. He would of had many dealings with the Carbonai. The signature dish of this restaurant was Penne alla carbonara. Roberto Cavezza, a man who was waiter for many years at La Carbonara said that even if this dish was not invented by the Carbonai, the ingredients were typical of the rural area. He said “It’s a dish for people who couldn’t make a meal with primo, secondo, and contorno [courses]—something for those who couldn’t spend much money on food.” Another restauranter nearby,  Elio Mariani concers that “It comes from a peasant dish that was called unto e uova [fat and eggs]. Originally it was made with lard and eggs, then, in time, guanciale supplanted the lard. It was a little more flavorful and less greasy.”

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American Troops in Rome

5. There are also theories that connect the food shortages after the Liberation of Rome in during the World War Two. It has been said that hunger and rations were the inspired this dish. Apparently the Allied troops were given or gave Italian people powered eggs and bacon,  to season their pasta. Apparently, when the American troops returned to the US, they brought this recipe with them and it began appearing in the American restaurants.

6. Another war time theory tells during the German occupation of Rome, many middle class families escaped to the province of Ciociaria (outside Rome, inside Lazio region). It was here that they learned of the Neapolitan style dish that used eggs, lard and pecorino cheese. After the war, Roman cuisine became famous throughout Italy and this dish, renamed the Carbonara, was a typical example.

Now this is my versions of Spaghetti alla carbonara, made completely vegan and guilt free. This is now not just a special occasion dish.

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Spaghetti alla carbonara (vegan, gluten free option)

Ingredients:

100g firm tofu

1 tablespoon vegan butter

1/2 teaspoon onion flakes or powder

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric

3 tablespoon soy milk

sea salt & black pepper to taste

4-6 Tofurky Smoky Maple Bacon Marinated Tempeh (or other vegan bacon)

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 serves of spaghetti (use gluten free pasta if you prefer)

3 tablespoons Cashew Parmesan/other vegan parmesan

Method:

1. Place the firm tofu into the processor and process until it break downs.???????????????????????????????

2. Then while it is running add vegan butter, onion flakes, garlic powder turmeric, salt pepper and soy milk. Process until smooth. Adjust seasoning if you need more salt.

3. Bring salty water to a boil for the pasta. Then cook the pasta according to packet instructions.

4. In the meantime, chop the ‘bacon’ into small pieces. Then heat olive oil in a pan and saute the ‘bacon’ until it is golden brown.

5. Place the tofu ‘egg’ mixture from the processor into a large bowl. Then add the vegan parmesan and stir.

6. Add the ‘bacon to the bowl and stir through. Adjust seasoning if you need.

7. The pasta should be ready, so use a tongs to place the spaghetti into the bowl. Also a little bit of pasta water. Stir the pasta well through the sauce. Then serve immediately.

*Serves 2

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Tomato, Shallot & Ajvar ‘Cheesy’ Tart (vegan, nut free)

Ingredients:

1 puff pastry sheet

4 tablespoons ajvar or roasted capscium spread

4 small vine ripened tomatoes, sliced

4 shallots, chopped

fresh basil chopped (optional)

sea salt to taste

grated vegan mozzarella (I used Notzarella)

olive oil to brush pastry

Method:

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

2. Place frozen puff pastry on a baking tray and bruss some olive oil on the pastry, then turn it over.

3. Spread ajvar on the puff pastry. Then add tomatoes, shallots, basil and sea salt.

4. Add grated mozzarella. Then fold in the outer sides of the pastry and brush with some olive oil.

5. Bake for 20-25 mins or until the pastry is cooked and golden brown.

* Serves 4

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In search of good Indian food and experimenting with Tofurky Smoky Maple ‘Bacon’

Hi all! I haven’t blogged in a few days. I have been busy with work and uni. Since making Indian food a few day back I have been craving more, so I have been out to eat to Indian a couple more times. I checked out Top in Town Pure Vegetarian at Mt Gravatt, but to be honest I wasn’t terribly impressed. It wasn’t that the food was bad, but it wasn’t great either. The service wasn’t very good and the food was just from a hot box and the samosa we ordered was microwaved. I guess it was very cheap, but not good enough to recommend.

We were still craving good Indian food, so last night we took Marco’s niece and nephew to A Night in India at Carindale. These kids have never tried Indian food before and ???????????????????????????????are usually a quite a bit picky with stuff they haven’t tried, like most kids. Recently we have taken them a couple of times to a Chinese restaurants and they love fried rice and bubble teas. The little boy loved it so much that China is now his favorite country. So we thought we would see how they would go with Indian food. First the papadums came out and I told them it tastes like a big potato chip. So they hesitantly tried them and before long they were all gone. Then the curries came out with the rice and the naan bread. They were a bit hesitant to try the curries as well, since they haven’t seen anything like that before. But they agreed to try a tiny bit. I was surprised how much they loved the curry. They ate what was on their plates and then went for more. They also loved the rice and naan. The rice they would eat with the curry, but dipping naan into the curry was a bit too strange for them. I was really proud of how grown up they were and happy that we have some new food buddies for when we need our Indian hit.

Last night I decided to try something I haven’t had before. Alu Dhall Palak is now my favorite curry. Its got dhall, potatoes and spinach in a fragrant spiced sauce. It was rich and saucy and was loved by the whole table.

Alu Dhall Palak

Alu Dhall Palak

Something else I wanted to share with you guys was my review of Tofurky Smoky Maple Bacon Marinated Tempeh, that I bought last 00150-A Coconut Curryweek end from the Green Edge. I have never been a huge bacon eater, as I remember my mum telling me when I was little that bacon and butter is bad for your heart and the fat with suffocate it. She was saying that for my brothers benefit, who from a little boy would want to have a man size Sunday breakfast. But I was the only one that those kind of comments usually actually effected. So going without bacon (as great as it smells) hasn’t been too hard for me. The only vegan bacon I have tried previously is  Redwood’s DSC00408Cheatin’ Rashers, which I posted about a while ago (Fakin Bacon). That one didn’t have that strong taste or smell of bacon, but had a kind of rubbery texture liked overcooked bacon.

So what do I think about Tofurky Smoky Maple Bacon Marinated Tempeh? I loved it. The texture is not bacon like at all, it is tempeh after all. But the flavor of it is amazing. It’s not as sweet as I thought it would be, rather it has a delicious smokey savory flavor. Although it doesn’t taste like bacon, the after taste does, which was a bit strange, but good. It feels like I just ate bacon, except without the guilt.

So far I have made tried it grilled in a skillet with olive oil and topped on a salad of mixed salad, tomato, red onion, cucumber, vegan mayo, vegan cashew parmesan and mango. This salad was so delicious on its own, but the ‘bacon’ took it to a whole new level and the protein from the tempeh kept me full for hours.

Mixed Salad, with Mango and Maple Smoky 'Bacon'

Mixed Salad, with Mango and Maple Smoky ‘Bacon’

For brunch today I made Banana Wholemeal Pancakes, topped with pan fried ‘bacon’, agave and strawberries. I have never had bacon with pancakes before. In fact I think its kind of weird, but I thought why not be different for once. It was deee-lusicous! I can see why this savory and sweet combination is so popular, except mine was guilt free.

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Banana Pancakes with Smokey Maple ‘Bacon’  (soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

2 overly ripe bananas

1.5 cups wholemeal, spelt or unbleached white flour

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

3 tablespoons brown rice syrup (or other natural sweetener)

canola spray oil

Tofurky Smoky Maple Bacon Marinated Tempeh (or home-made)

agave or maple syrup

fresh fruit to serve (optional)

Method:

1. Peel the bananas, then place the flesh into a bowl and mash the banana with a fork. Continue to mash till most of the lumps are gone. If can want you can blend them to make them less lumpy.

2. Place the mashed banana in a mixing bowl then sift in the flour. Stir it through well. Then add the soy milk and brown rice syrup. Whisk until it is a consistent batter.

3. Heat a non-stick pan and add spray oil. Then ladle the batter into the pan and cook on both sides for 2-3 mins or until golden brown and cooked all the way through.

4. Heat the Smoky Maple Bacon in a not stick pan with spray oil. Cook on both sides for 1-2 mins.

5. To serve place pancakes on a plate, then add the Smoky Maple Bacon, top with agave and fresh fruit (optional).

* Makes 8-10 pancakes

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Fettuccine alla bolognese (made vegan)

Happy Valentines Day everyone! Not making anything special today, but tonight we are going out. Hopefully if Marco finishes early enough we will be going to an Asian Vegan Restaurant. They close at 7.30pm, so fingers crossed we will be going there otherwise not sure what we will do. This post is about last nights dinner.

One thing that I really miss since I have stopped eating meat is Spaghetti Bolognese. I have grown up on this dish. One of my earliest memories is eating this with my hands on my high chair. Then my ears got really itchy, so you only imagine the mess I made. In Australia, Spaghetti Bolognese or Spag Bog has become one of the most loved dish. You will find it everywhere and it is always a favourite with kids. Even if people don’t usually cook Italian food in their house, you can guaranteeing they’ve cooked this dish at home.

To make Spaghetti Bolognese with out meat I have previously tried using Quorn Mince (which isn’t vegan, as it has egg whites) and I have also used TVP Mince. They were both ok, but I was concerned about the health risks of eating these kinds of products. I have also used lentils and other beans, but it never really tastes like a Bolognese sauce. While I was researching other ingredients to make a vegan Bolognese sauce, I came across Mr. Kate, who uses Tempeh for the mince meat, in her Tempeh Spaghetti Bolognese. I have used Tempeh before to make Chef Chloe’s Sweet-and-Sour Meatballs and I was impressed by the meat like texture and flavor. So I thought I would give it a try.

So then I started looking at traditional Italian recipes for Spaghetti Bolognese, so that I could make it the Bologna way. What I found strange was that most  of the dishes that were from Italian websites included milk and red wine, some even had butter. These are three ingredients we have never used for this sauce. In fact even when I was in Italy I don’t remember this dish having a milk or cream in the dish. Although this is probably because what we know as a Bolognese in Australia, is in fact a Ragù Sauce. Thinking back I did see Pasta al ragù more often then I did Pasta alla Bolognese.

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Last Valentines Day I was in Milan with Marco and we went to a fine dining restaurant, L’osteria di Brera in Brera. I rugged up, but it was absolutely freezing. We never usually ordered first course and second course, but tonight we ordered both. Marco got the Tagliatelle alla Bolognese and it was the most amazing tasting Bolognese we have ever had. We couldn’t figure out what it was that tasted so good. The sauce wasn’t thick, but it coated the pasta nicely and was very rich, but had a slight orange tinge in color. There was no pieces of tomato that you could see, just lots of mince meat.

I love to find out the origins of Italian dishes and I figured this dish would have a rich history. The Bolognese sauce has bologna_cnt_9nov09_istock_b_1-646x380been described as one of the most ‘ill-treated’ and ‘misunderstood’ of all Italian sauces. It’s traditions dates back before before the 16th century and would of originally been known as a Ragù.  In fact documents from around this time, held by the Italian Cuisine Academy, state that the original recipe only used beef and seasoning, but there was talk of adding tomatoes. All the regions throughout Italy has their own version of ragù sauce. In Bologna they used beef, Sardinia they used wild boar and in Abruzzo they used lamb. All the regions also had their own types of pasta that they would use. In Bologna they used Tagliatelle to go with their Ragù.

The word ragù is derived from the French ragoût, which means ‘stew’. The meat was originally chopped up finely, as there were no processors back then. For this Bologna version, they originally used finely chopped mixed meats, such as beef, chicken livers and unsmoked bacon; and finely chopped onions, carrots and celery. They would cook it for many hours with wine. The use of tomatoes were controversial back in these times, so when it was added there would of only been a slight hint of it. This sauce was not a tomato sauce containing beef, but rather a beef sauce, which may contain tomato. The sauce was originally used to fill lasagna and was later paired with tagliatelle pasta.

It wasn’t until 17th October 1982 that the Ragù alla Bolognese was registered by the Bolognese Chamber of Commerce. There aim is to preserve Italian cooking traditions. According to the Bolognese Chamber they “carried out long and laborious investigations and conducted studies and research”. Their recipe uses finely cut carrots, onions and celery (also known as soffritto); pancetta, ground skirt steak, dry white wine, homemade tomato paste, milk, heavy cream, salt, pepper and homemade tagliatelle. You can find their recipe for ‘Classic’ Ragù alla Bolognese here.

Today the Ragù alla Bolognese is still a serious topic in Bologna. Although their are purists that stick to the original recipe, 626-53_bolognese_sauce_300every family has their own version. All the recipes include finely cut carrots, onions and celery; meat and wine. The variations often add cured meats or sausages, milk or cream (controversial ingredient), nutmeg, white wine or other mixtures of meats. One ingredients that is not used is tomato and if it is there, then there will only be a little bit  of tomato paste or whole, peeled tomatoes used.

So where did the Spaghetti Bolognese or Spag Bol come from? Well firstly the tomato beef sauce was a later American version of this dish. There are theories that the first Neapolitan immigrants to the New World would serve meat with their pasta to demonstrate their new prosperity. Later as meat became available at a cheap price, many dishes were accompanied with meat. Spaghetti had also become largely available and was very popular. Thus the use of Spaghetti and the additions of lots tomatoes were added to this meat sauce and it became famous in both the Americas and other parts of the world.581568_10150855409552292_1239422252_n

This particular Spaghetti Bolognese on the right was cooked by Marco, in our apartment in Milan. I was studying really hard to get better at Italian, so he had to take the role of chef, cleaner and food runner between classes. We paired it with our favorite wine, translated to The Blood of Judas.

So last night I tried to recreate the Bolognese Sauce. I adapted mine from Tagliatelle alla bolognese from The Italian Kitchen Bible. Unfortunately I didn’t do my research on the ‘traditional’ bolognese sauce, before making this dish. I didn’t realize that tomatoes were not meant to be the star alongside the beef or rather tempeh. This recipe called for soffritto, minced beef, red wine, milk, 1 can of chopped tomatoes (perhaps a hint), sun dried tomato paste and tagliatelle pasta.

For mine I used a packet of tempeh that I crumbled in, worcestershire sauce (to help give the tempeh flavor),  merlot and soy milk. I also used nutmeg, as my mum always put this in her bolognese sauce in the restaurant and swears by it. After adding the 1 can of tomatoes, I got some ‘comments’ that my sauce wasn’t saucy enough. I shouldn’t of listened, but I made enough fresh pasta for 8 people, so I thought I may as well add some more. Since I didn’t have any more canned tomatoes, I added passata sauce. So if you want it more authentic, then don’t add that extra sauce. However, if like Marco, you intend on taking this to work and hate dry microwaved pasta, then maybe extra tomatoes in the sauce is a good idea.

For my pasta I didn’t make tagliatelle. I was using my pasta machine, on my own, and just put it through the fettuccine cutter. I made so much that when I cooked it I put too much in the pot and then over cooked it a little. Next time I will do small batches, since it really doesn’t take long too cook at all.

Despite the unauthentic tomato sauciness, this Bolognese sauce was loved by my family. Marco even exclaimed he will forgo beef if I make it like this. I am really happy that the Tempeh worked out as I believe it is a healthier meat substitute. It is a traditional soy product, used as a stable by the Indonesians for 2000 years. If you in Australia, you can find it in Coles. I also liked the addition of wine and soy milk. It gave the tempeh a really nice flavour. I served it with some basil and Vegan Parmesan. This sauce is also gluten free, so you can just prepare either fresh gluten free pasta or dry gluten free pasta with it.

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Fettuccine alla bolognese (vegan, gluten free option, nut free)

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 carrot, finely diced

1 stalk celery, finely diced

1 garlic clove, finely diced

1 onion, finely diced

300-350g tempeh

2 tablespoons vegan worcestershire sauce

150ml red wine (I used merlot)

1 cup soy milk (or other thick plant milk)

400g can of diced tomatoes

2 tablespoons tomato paste

500g passata sauce (optional, for more then 4 serves)

1 teapsoon nutmeg

sea salt & black pepper to taste

fresh basil and vegan parmesan to serve

fresh/dry fettuccine for 4-8 people

Methods:

1. Heat olive oil in a large pot on medium heat. Then add the carrot, celery, garlic and onion. Cook for 8-10 mins or until vegetables have softened, stir often. ???????????????????????????????

2. Break up the tempeh and add to the pot. Add the worcestershire sauce and cook tempeh with vegetables for 5 mins.???????????????????????????????

3. Add the red wine and cook until it has absorbed. Stir frequently.???????????????????????????????

4. Add the soy milk and cook until it has absorbed. Stir frequently.???????????????????????????????

5. Stir in the diced tomatoes, tomato paste and extra passata sauce (if needed).

6. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Bring to the boil, then place on the lowest heat for 45 mins.

7. In the meantime put the pasta water to boil. Make fresh pasta or take dry pasta and cook until al dente.

8. Once pasta is ready, strain and empty the water from the pasta pot, then add half the bolognese sauce to pasta. Serve the pasta and top with some extra sauce.

* Serve with fresh diced basil and vegan parmesan

* Serves 4-8 depending how much pasta you cook and if you add extra passata sauce

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References:

Blumenthal, Heston, In Search of Total Perfection.

Lerner, Breno, The Barnacle Goose: and other kitchen stories.

We Are Never Full, 2008, A Tale of Two Sauces – It’s A Traditional Ragu alla Bolognese Deathmatch.

WHFoods, Tempeh.