New Beginnings

I’m back again after a little break from blogging. I finally have some time off after seeing the dentist. I have a few days off to recoup at home. Finally got out my last wisdom tooth. The one I begged the dentist to leave last time because I couldn’t have him take 2 at the same time again. This little break is also great timing for me to start packing up my things, because we signed papers to buy a house this weekend past! After two years of looking off and on and many disappointments we have finally found the one for Marco and I to start our adult life together. I say ‘adult’ because we are going to have to start doing things for ourselves. Although I love to cook I’m not a great cleaner. Marco on the other hand loves to keep his room in order, but we both can’t iron his shirts. But its time to grow up and leave the nest!

A couple of nights ago mum took us out to dinner to celebrate. We decided to try Rouj Modern Lebanese. I discovered them a few weeks ago at Rosalie. They were full with people and the reviews are great too, so they must be doing something right. After checking out the online menu I found a dish that was vegan friendly. I ordered the Vegetarian Delight, which included ftayer (pastry filled with spinach), Silver beet rice roll, pumpkin kebbi, hummus (instead of tzaziki) mjadra, tabouli, pickles, Lebanese bread. I was so full after this that I didn’t have room for anything else.

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Other vegan eats this weekend was brunch at The Green Edge. Marco was the one that suggested to go. He just loves their vegan burgers, brownies and milkshakes, but we still hadn’t tried their breakfast. We ordered a little too much but the food was fabulous! Marco and I shared the Big Breakfast, which had tofu scramble with garlic-sautéed mushrooms; smoky strips; breakfast potatoes; toasted Turkish bread with guacamole; seitan sausage patties, served with a homemade tomato relish. Mum had the special, smokey strip Turkish Sandwich with Roasted Capsicum Relish. We also all shared the Pancakes Stack with Dark chocolate chips and syrup. Can’t tell you what was my best part because I loved all of it. Lucky for me our new house is just down the road from here, so it won’t be such a big deal to travel over for a bite to eat or replenish my vegan pantry.

The Big Breakfast

The Big Breakfast

Smokey Strip Sandwich with Roasted Capscium

Smokey Strip Turkish Sandwich with Roasted Capscium Relish

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Pancakes Stack with Dark chocolate chips and syrup

Other then buying houses and eating out, the weekend before I visited the Organic Growers Fair.  Marco is obsessed with growing trees at the moment, so I picked up for him a dwarf Mango, dwarf Apple and Vanilla bean orchard. He also has a dwarf lemon, dwarf lime, dwarf mulberry, dwarf avocado, more avocado trees. At the moment they are all in pots, so hopefully we will plant some at a new home.

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Here a just a few of the trees we have transported to mine house. Isn’t he a gorgeous boy! Unfortunately he hasn’t been protecting our mulberries from the birds. He only chases people.

The following are some recipes I cooked during the week. This first one was my favourite. I have never cooked soup with old bread before. The first time I tried a soup with old bread was  the soup Ribollita in Sienna, Tuscany. The bread and vegetables were really mushy, but full of flavour. Pappa al pomodoro is another summer Tuscan soup. I used old ciabatta bread (finally some leftover). The rest of the ingredients were simple, evo, onion, garlic, fresh tomatoes, vegan chicken stock and fresh basil. This had to be the most delicious soup I have ever made. Marco was a really big fan and said it tasted like real Italian food.

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Pappa al pomodoro (vegan, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

900g fresh tomatoes

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, diced

200g ciabatta bread/other ‘country style’ bread, remove crust

850ml hot vegan chicken stock

20 basil leaves, diced

sea salt & black pepper to taste

Method:

1. Boil a pot of water, then add all the whole tomatoes. Cook for 1-2 minutes or until you see the skin peel back a little bit. Then place tomatoes straight in a bowl with ice water or cool down with rinse with water in strainer. Once they have cooled down, peel the skin and then dice and set aside.???????????????????????????????

2. Heat olive oil in a large pot, then add onions and garlic. Saute for 6-8 minutes on a low heat, not letting them brown.???????????????????????????????

3. Add the tomatoes to the pot. Leave on a simmer and cover the pot. Cook for 30 minutes.

4. In the meantime tear the ciabatta bread into small pieces and heat the vegan chicken stock.

5. Add the bread and stir through a couple of times.

6. Gradually add hot stock and allow it to soak up all the bread.

7. Add the basil leaves and season if you need. Cook for one more minute.

8. Serve warm or wait an hour and serve at room temperature.

*Serves 4-5

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I have finally found and eaten golden beets! I got them from the Wednesday Farmers Market in the CBD. They were only small but had the leaves attached as well. They are so delicious and sweet! I really nice change from the regular beets. I’ve never tried making coconut yogurt before, but it was really simple. I just added lemon juice to coconut cream. Just be careful to not add to much or it will be too sour. I got this idea to make chickpea nuggets from The Japanese Vegetarian Kitchen’sVegan Chicken teriyaki steak. Funniest thing was Marco took leftovers to work and some of the blokes sauce his container when he was heating the nuggets. They didn’t know whose it was but they were all trying to figure out what it was.

Sweet Sumac Tahini Chickpea Nuggets with Quick Coconut Yogurt and Quinoa Kale salad with Golden Beets and Sweet Potato (vegan, gluten free, soy free)

Ingredients for Chickpea nuggets & sauce:

1 can chickpeas

1 tablespoon arrowroot flour

sea salt to taste

Ingredients for Marinate:

1 tablespoon tahini

2  tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon sumac

1 teaspoon crushed ginger

sea salt to taste

1 teaspoon agave

Ingredients for Salad:

4 small golden beets, sliced

1 medium sweet potato, sliced

olive oil

1/2 cup cooked quinoa

2 cups tuscan kale

sea salt

pine nuts

Ingredients for Coconut Yogurt:

1/2 cup coconut cream

1 tablespoon lemon juice (more to taste)

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Then toss the golden beets and sweet potato with olive oil and sea salt and place on a tray in the oven for 30 minutes or until cooked.???????????????????????????????

2. Mash the chickpeas with a fork and add arrowroot and plenty of sea salt. Then form into nuggets. I made about 9.???????????????????????????????

3. Combine all the ingredients for the marinate. Coat the nuggets in the marinate and leave in the fridge for 20- 30 minutes. Leave any extra marinate aside for later.???????????????????????????????

4. If you have’t already, cook the quinoa and prepare the kale. Chop the kale, then massage it with sea salt until the fibers have broken down. Once the quinoa has cooled down combine with the kale.???????????????????????????????

5. Heat a non stick pan with a little bit of oil (olive/coconut). Cook the nuggets for a couple of minutes on both sides until golden.

6. Prepare the coconut yogurt by combining the ingredients the put to the side.

7. Toast the pine nuts.

8. Assemble the salad, then top with Chickpea nuts, extra marinate and Coconut yogurt.

*Serves 3

This was my veganised attempt of Sichuan Noodles. I swapped pork for brown lentils and shiitake mushrooms, egg noodles for sweet potato noodles, chicken stock for vegan stock, and hot bean paste (didn’t have any) for miso paste. Not sure how Chinese, but it was a healthier version.

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Spicy Shittake, Brown Lentil and Spinach with Sweet Potato Starch Noodles (vegan, gluten free, nut free)

Ingredients:

100g cooked brown lentils

100g sweet potato noodles

1 onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, diced

1 tablespoon ginger, diced

1 tablespoon dark soy sauce

1/2 tablespoon dry sherry

2 tablespoon sesame oil

1 small onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, diced

2 small red chilies, diced

1/2 tablespoon white miso or hot soy bean paste

1 tablespoon peanut butter

125ml vegan chicken stock

2 cups of spinach leaves  (chopped)

sea salt & black pepper to taste

Method:

1. Cook sweet potato noodles according to packet instructions.

2. In a bowl combine brown lentils, soy sauce, sherry, sea salt. Heat oil in a wok and saute brown lentils for 3-4 minutes. Then add shittake mushroom and cook for 2 more minutes. Take out of wok and place to the side.

3. Add garlic, ginger, onion and chili to the wok. Stir fry for 1 minute.

4. Add miso/soy bean paste, peanut butter. Heat for a few seconds.

5. Add vegan chicken stock and bring to boil, simmer for 5 minutes or until it thickens.

6. Add lentils, shiitake mushrooms, spinach and noodles. Heat in the wok until spinach has wilted. Season.

*Serves 2

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Healthy Italian Hot Chocolate for 2 (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

2 mugs of coconut milk

1 tablespoon cacao

1 tablespoon maca

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon coconut sugar

1 tablespoon vegan custard powder (to make thicker, optional)

Method:

1. Combine all the ingredients in small pot. ???????????????????????????????

2. Heat on the stove on a medium-low heat and whisk while cooking. Cook for 4-5 minutes or until it thickens a little.

3. Serve immediately.

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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>

Eggplant Parmigiana

It’s been so long since I have had Eggplant Parmigiana. I’ve been dairy free for nearly 4 years, so it was before that that I last had it at my Nona’s house. It has always been one of my favorite dishes. So I’m not sure why it has taken me this long to make it. I did make Eggplant Rolls stuffed with Quinoa and ‘Mince’ a while ago, which believe me doesn’t look as good as it tasted.

Eggplant Parmigiana or Melanzana alla parmigiana or Parmigiana di melanzane,  is a stew made of eggplant, that can be eaten freshly baked out of the oven or cold. It is a southern slide-450Italian dish, that is similarly prepared throughout the south.

The name and the origin of this dish is often debated. Some believed that its name is from the city of Parma or Parmigano cheese. However, this dish is not found in Parma cuisine. Rather the word parmigiana actually refers to the method in which the vegetable is sliced and arranged in alternating layers. Some believe it is from the Sicilian word parmiciana, which means overlapping wood strips on the shutters. Others believe it refers to the way that Parmigiani (people from Parma) cook their vegetables in layers. alimenti_e_ricette_da_duchi_1

It is also often argued that this dish is from Naples, which was the capital city of a large kingdom that included Sicily and Southern Italy, some centuries ago. This recipe is for Parmigiana was first documented in the treatise Il Cuoco Galante by Vincenzo Corrado. It was a dish served to the most prestigious families in Naples during the 18th and 19th century. However, it was not eggplant that was used but rather zucchini, pumpkins, parsnips and tomatoes. It wasn’t until 1837 that Eggplant Parmigiana was first documented by Ippolito Cavalcanti, the Duke of Buonvicino, in his most important work, Kitchen theoretical practice.

This dish is made by first shallow frying sliced eggplant, then layering with cheese (mozzarella/Parmesan/both) and tomato sauce and then baking it. Some recipes use flour, beaten eggs and breadcrumbs before frying the eggplant.258454-chicken-parmigiana

There are many variations of this dish using breaded meats (veal/chicken), which have also become popular outside of Italy by Italians migrates. The Chicken Parma or Parmy  is a very popular pub dish in Australia and is served with a side of chips and salad. It is often topped with sliced ham or fried eggplant, tomato sauce and cheese. In Argentina, it is called Milanesa (beef/veal) or de Pollo (chicken) or de Berenjena (eggplant) or de Cerdo (pork) and is topped with a slice of ham, melted cheese, tomato sauce and a slice of tomato and served with chips or salad. In America and Canada, both the Veal Parmigiana and Chicken Parmigiana are often used as fillings in Sub Sandwiches or served with with pasta. In England they even have their Parmo, which is made of either pork or chicken.

The recipe I made is how I remember my mother and Nona cooking it. The eggplant is dusted in flour, dipped into soy milk instead of eggs and then dipped in corn crumbs instead of bread crumbs. I then layered it with vegan mozzarella and fresh oregano from my garden. It did take me a long time to prepare it all, since there was a lot of eggplant. But it paid off. It was absolutely delicious. Even though its dairy free and gluten free version, it tastes just like I remember it. This is definitely a dish for those who want to indulge and is also great to share with friends. Me and Marco are the only ones that got to share this dish tonight. He really, really liked it. I fear we might be a few kilos heavier in a few days, once we have finished devouring it.

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Eggplant Parmigiana (vegan, gluten free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1 large eggplant, thinly sliced into circles or half-moons

1/2 cup arrowroot flour or gluten plain free flour

3/4 cup whole soy milk

1 cup corn crumbs or other gluten free bread crumbs

olive oil or canola oil to fry

1.5 jars x 500g tomato pasta sauce

2 cups vegan mozzarella (I used Notzarella)

1/3 cup oregano leaves

salt & pepper to taste???????????????????????????????

Method:

1. Preheat oven 200 degrees.???????????????????????????????

2. Sprinkle salt on the eggplant slices and wait 10 mins to get the bitterness out. Then wipe off the salt and moister that comes out. ???????????????????????????????

3. Coat the slices of eggplant in flour and shake of any extra flour. Then dip into soy milk, shake of the excess. Then dip into corn crumbs. Continue until all the eggplant is coated.???????????????????????????????

4. Heat a large pan (I prefer to use a wok) and heat oil. Then shallow fry eggplants pieces, until golden brown. Leave them on paper towel to draw out any excess oil.

5. Take an oven prove dish, then place some pasta sauce on the bottom. Then add a layer of eggplant, sprinkle sea salt & black pepper, then a layer of Notzarella and some oregano leaves. Continue to do another 3-4 layers, until all the ingredients have been use.

6. Cook in the oven covered with aluminum foil for 20 mins.

7. Uncover and cook for a further 10mins or until the vegan mozzarella has browned a little. I had to cook mine for a further 10 mins as the Notzarella took time to melt.

*Serves 8-10

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Parmigiana di melanzane <http://ricette.giallozafferano.it/Parmigiana-di-melanzane.html>

Libro di cucina/Ricette/Parmigiana di melanzane <http://it.wikibooks.org/wiki/Libro_di_cucina/Ricette/Parmigiana_di_melanzane>

Parmigiana di melanzane <http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parmigiana_di_melanzane>

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

DSC04201

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

Ingredients:

1 bunch of broccoli

2 small carrots

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

juice from 2 lemons

1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes

sea salt & black pepper to taste

Method:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*Serves 4 as a side dish

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

Ingredients for pizza base:

1.5 cups wholemeal spelt flour

1 cup tipo 00 flour

2 1/4 teaspoon dry active yeast

1 teaspoon raw sugar

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 cup warm water

2 tablespoons olive oil

Ingredients for pizza topping:

2 cups baby spinach leaves

2 garlic cloves

1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves

1 teaspoon dried basil leaves

sea salt & black pepper to taste

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

4 tablespoons chopped walnuts

6 medium/10 small mushrooms sliced

Method:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*Makes 1 pizza base, cut into 12 smal slices

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Linguine al pesto genovese

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ingredients:

4 serves linguine/spaghetti

bunch of basil (36 leaves)

3 garlic cloves

65 g pine nuts (about 1/2 cup)

3 tablespoons nutritional yeast

200ml extra virgin olive oil

sea salt & black pepper to taste

3 small potatoes, peeled

180g green beans, roughly chopped

Method:

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

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

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

* Serves 4

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Pesto alla trapanese used two ways

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

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

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

Busiati

Busiati

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

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

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

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

Ingredients:

50g almonds

250g cherry tomatoes

1 bunch of basil

1 red garlic clove

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

sea salt and black pepper to taste

Method:

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

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

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

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

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

Ingredients:

1 pizza base

3 tablespoons pesto alla trapanese

2 small red chili, diced

1/4 red onion, sliced

small handful of black olives (deseeded and halved)

cashew parmesan

large handful of rocket leaves

sea salt and black pepper to taste

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Method:

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

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

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

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

Ingredients:

1 serve spaghetti (use gluten free if you prefer)

3 tablespoons Pesto alla trapanese (recipe above)

2 tablespoon cashew parmesan

sea salt & pepper to taste

small handful of black olives, deseeded

Method:

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

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

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

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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.”

After-the-French-Resistance-staged-an-uprising-on-August-19-American-and-Free-French-troops-made-a-peaceful-entrance-on-August-25-1944.-Here-four-days-la

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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Penne al Cavolfiore

I found this traditional Italian recipe using cauliflower, in one of my mothers old Italian cook books, The Top One Hundred Pasta Sauces, by Diane Seed. I have previously made the Sicilian recipe, Pasta al Cavolfiore, but this one is a bit different. I am not sure where the recipe originates. Diane collected her recipes from her travels and life in Italy and I have seen similar recipes on many Italian websites and blogs.

I had to adapted this recipe to veganise it. So instead of double cream, I used cashew cream and instead of chicken stock, I just used vegan chicken stock. I haven’t made cashew cream for a while. When I first made it I used my bar mix, but it wasn’t as successful. This time I used my jug blender and it made it so creamy. I did have to continue to scrape it down the sides and blend, but it was worth the wait. I think I will try to utilize cashew cream more in my cooking, as it works just as well as cream. Also boiling the cashews for 10 mins, softens them just as good as pre-soaking them, in case you forget like I always do.

As for the dish we all really liked it. It was rich and creamy and the taste of cauliflower was there, but in a good way. What I mean is if you don’t like cauliflower, like me and Marco, you will still like this.  I served it with a simple mixed lettuce and vine tomato salad and some toasted sourdough baguette. This is a really healthy recipe and would be great for picky eaters. To make it gluten free just use gluten free short pasta, as the sauce is gluten free already.

Between this recipe and Pasta al Cavolfiore, I really liked both. If I had to chose, I really liked the Sicilian version, because of the raisins and the pine nuts. Marco definitely preferred this version. He’s not a fan of fruit or nuts in savory dishes. It goes to show that sometimes the traditional dishes are the best!

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

Ingredients:

500g penne or short pasta (use gluten free pasta if you prefer)

1/2 cup cashews

1/2 cup filtered water

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 garlic cloves

1 small red chili

1 whole cauliflower

230g tin diced or plum tomates

250ml vegan chicken or vegetable liquid stock

sea salt & black pepper to taste

vegan parmesan to serve

Method:

1. First boil the cashews for 10 mins.???????????????????????????????

2. In the meantime cut the cauliflower into small florets and peel the garlic. ???????????????????????????????

3. Strain the cashews and rinse in cold water. Then place in the blender/processor. First grind till the cashews break up as much as they can. Then slowly add the water and process until it becomes a smooth cream.???????????????????????????????

4.  Heat a pot with olive oil, then add the garlic and a red whole chili. Cook on medium heat for 10 mins.

5. Add cauliflower florets and cook for 5 mins. Stir often.

6. Add diced tomatoes and cook for 10 mins. Stir often.???????????????????????????????

7. Add liquid stock and cook for a further 15-20 mins, or until the cauliflower is quite soft. During this time cook the pasta  and strain.

8. Take off the heat, remove the chili and stir through the cashew cream, salt and pepper. Then mash the cauliflower with a potato masher.

9. Heat the sauce with the pasta, then serve with vegan parmesan.

*Serves 6-8

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Pasta al Cavolfiore

Orecchiette ai broccoli

Orecchiette pasta is my favorite short pasta. I tried in a restaurant years ago and have loved it ever since. I don’t buy it very often because its hard to find and usually quite expensive. I also found the store bought Orecchiette can be a bit tough as well.

6781970219_cc736d218c_zOrecchiette is actually from the region of Puglia (the heel of Italy). It’s name translates to ‘little ears’, because that is what it looks like. It is made of only semolina pasta, water and salt. It is often paired with broccoli, turnip greens or tomato sauce (vegetarian or with ragu/meatballs/brasciole) or strong sheeps cheese. In the city of Cisternino (Puglia), there is a variant of this pasta, which is a bit larger and has deep internal ribs, which looks more like an ear. It is called recch’ d’privt, which means ears of the priest. This variant uses soft wheat flour.

The origins of Orecchiette is not actually from Italy, but from the south of France, during in the Middle Ages. Back then it was a made of a thick paste, which was shaped into discs and hollowed in the center using the thumb. They made it this shape because it was easily dried. It was used during times of famine and was also loaded on ships and sent abroad.

How did it come to Italy? Well in the 13th century the French Anjou dystasy ruled the lands, which are now the modern Italian regions of Basicilica and Puglia. So it may have came to Italy this way. Alternatively, expert scholars of food and wine in Puglia, think that Orecchiette would have originated in Sannicandro di Bari, in Bari (Puglia), when the Normal-Swabian ruled during the 12th and 13th century. It was perhaps created as protection again the local Jewish communities and/or derived from the Jewish recipe Hamantash, which translates to the ears of Haman (from the book Esther).

img_archivio1432011173617I found many recipes for Orecchiette that combining wheat flour and semolina. However, there were  comments left by some Italian said they would lynch you in Puglia for doing that. So I thought I would stick to the original recipe of just using semolina. It was incredibly easy and quick to make. After being cooked it was not tough and not to soft. It is completely different texture to other pastas, yet it is still pleasant to eat. It is chewy, but not too chewy. Well you just have to try it! There are heaps of videos on youtube showing you how to shape the pasta. It is very easy and you get better as you go. P1030535 - Lunch Pizzeria al 29 - Vanessa

I decided to make it with broccoli, because I have had this dish before in Milan, at my favorite place to eat Osteria al 29. I loved the simplicity of broccoli, good olive oil and a hint of chili. Sometimes simple is the best way. Marco, who isn’t a fan of broccoli loved this dish. I was going to add some sauce to his to take to work, but strangely enough he was happy to go without. The photo on the right is at Osteria al 29, but I can’t find a picture of the originally dish. It was offered for lunch on many menus in Milan and is one of the few vegan pasta dishes I saw other then Pasta al pomodoro.

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Homemade Orecchiette (vegan, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

250g semolina flour

bit more than 1/4 cup hot water (not boiling)

pinch of salt

Method:

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1. Place the semolina in a bowl and add salt. Stir through.

2. Then place the semolina on a large wooden board or work space and make a well in the center.???????????????????????????????

3. Add a little water in the center of the well, and stir through. Gradually adding enough so that it firms a a hard dough. Knead for a few minutes. Then let it sit for 10 mins. ???????????????????????????????

???????????????????????????????4. Cut the dough into 6 segments. Then roll each segment with your hands into a tube shape. Cut it in half again, and continue to roll the two tubes so they are 1 cm wide. Continue rolling the rest, until you have used all the dough and have several tube shaped pasta.

???????????????????????????????5. Now cut the tubes into small pieces, of about 1 cm wide each.

6. Once all the small pieces have been cut its time to shape your orecchiette. Take one piece of pasta and a rounded knife (without serrated edge). Drag the knife from the center of the piece of dough to the edge. Then turn the piece around and curve it around your finger, so it looks like a shell or a miniature bowl. Continue till you have shaped all the pasta.

7. To cook place the orecchiette pasta in salted boiling water. Remove from the water once all the orecchiette has floated to the top. It should take 5-10 mins to cook.

*Serves 2 mains or 3 entree size

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Orecchiette ai Broccoli (vegan, soy free)

Ingredients:

homemade orecchiette (from recipe above)/dried orecchiette to serve 2

1 large head of broccoli

extra virgin olive oil

2 garlic cloves

red chili flakes to taste

sea salt to taste

vegan parmesan to serve

Method:

1. First put a pot to boil for orecchiette and another to boil the broccoli.???????????????????????????????

2. In the mean time dice the garlic and cut the broccoli florets into halves or quarters, so that they are bite size. Also cut up the stalks to use. ???????????????????????????????

3. Boil the broccoli for 2-3 minutes or until tender and place a  bowl.???????????????????????????????

4. Once water has boiled for the pasta, add orecchiette and salt to cook.

5. In a pan add olive oil and garlic and saute for 2 minutes. Then add broccoli and chili and saute for another 2-3 minutes. Add more oil if you need.

6. Pasta should be ready now, so add it to the pan and include a little bit of pasta water. Season with salt and pepper and saute for 1-2 minutes. Serve with vegan parmesan.

*Serves 2 mains or 3 entree

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Risotto alla zucca, Brazil Nut Parmesan, Zucchini Fritters with Mint and Banana Blueberry Overnight Oats

Good evening or morning guys. Tonight I made another Italian traditional dish. In the north, pumpkin is plentiful and in the past was typically eaten by the poor farmers. In Mantova this dish is very popular. I have previously made some dishes from this city, including Tortelli di zucca and Sbrisolona in past posts.

I veganised a recipe from the Italian website Giallo Zafferano. Instead of using rosemary, I used thyme, which gave it a beautiful fragrant flavor. I topped it with Brazil Nut Parmesan. This Parmesan was just as good as Cashew Parmesan. It is really creamy and savory. I am addicted!

I also made these zucchini fritters. Marco didn’t like the mint, but I think it gave it a really nice fresh taste. If you don’t like mint, add basil or italian parsley. There are no eggs needed in this recipe. The moisture from the zucchini, flour and touch of soy milk is enough to bind the fritters. These can be made gluten free by just using gluten free plain flour.

This afternoon we went to the Rocklea Markets and got this delicious loaf of Organic Spelt Bread. We also heaps of vegetables. I can’t believe for $17 I managed to fill a whole box of food. So if you live in Brisbane I really recommend doing your food shopping here and see how much you save.

Lastly, I wanted to share these delicious overnight oats I had for breakfast. Our bananas have been going nearly off, as no one has been eating them, so this was a perfect way to use them. Overnight oats are really filling and a perfect quick way to start the day. For more flavor ideas check out my Recipe Index.

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Risotto alla zucca (vegan, gluten free, soy free)

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons vegan butter

1 brown onion, diced

350g pumpkin cut in small cubes

500g arborio rice

1-2 tablespoons thyme leaves

1/2 cup white wine

1 litre vegan chicken/vegetable liquid stock

vegan parmesan

Method:

1. Heat vegan butter in a pot, then add onion. Cook for 4 mins or until the onion has soften.???????????????????????????????

2. Add pumpkin and cook for 5 mins so it has softened.

3. Add rice and thyme cook for 10 mins. Constantly stirring. While it is cooking boil liquid stock.

4. Now begin ladling hot liquid stock, one spoon at a time. Constantly stiring. Continue adding stock till all has been absorbed and rice is cooked.

*Serve with vegan parmesan

Serves 6

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Brazil Nut Parmesan (vegan, gluten free, soy free)

Ingredients:

1 cup brazil nuts

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Method:

1. Grind all the ingredients till ground.

*Makes 1 cup

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Zucchini Fritters with Mint (vegan, gluten free option, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1 large zucchini

2 garlic cloves

1 handful of mint

1/2 cup wholemeal (or gluten free flour)

1 tablespoon unsweetened plant milk (oat or rice; soy or almond if you can tolerate)

sea salt to taste

olive oil to fry???????????????????????????????

Method:

1. Grate zucchini and garlic. Chop mint roughly.

2. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well so all the flavour goes through.

3. Make small patties and fry in hot oil. Cook patties for 1-2 mins on both sides or until browned.

*Makes 10

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Banana Blueberry Overnight Oats (vegan, raw, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1/2 cup instant or rolled oats (preferably organic)

1/2 cup plant milk (coconut, rice or oat; almond or soy if you can tolerate)

2 whole overripe bananas

1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

1 tablespoon maple syrup (I used blueberry maple syrup)

Method:

1. Combine all the ingredients in a container and stir through.

2. Cover and place in the fridge over night.

*Serves 2 or 1 big serve