Tofu ‘Ricotta’ and Kale Filo Pie

Something I really miss since going dairy free is ricotta or feta and spinach pastries. I often use to buy one for a quick breakfast before work. However all that dairy was not doing my hips a favor. This version has creamy texture and mild cheesy flavor of ricotta without the lactose and casein. The filling would also work well in a hand held filo pastries, which can be prepared in batches and froze before being baked fresh.

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Tofu ‘Ricotta’ and Kale Filo Pie (vegan, nut free)

Ingredients:

olive oil

3 cups tuscan kale leaves, chopped

1 brown onion, chopped

375g firm tofu

3 garlic cloves, chopped

1.5 teaspoons sea salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 tablespoon white or barley miso paste

1/2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon nutritional yeast (optional)

1/2 cup vegan mozzarella or cheddar (I used Vegusto No-Moo Melty)

7 filo pastry sheets

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

2. Heat olive oil a fry pan on medium heat. Sauté the tuscan kale leaves in a few batches. Only cook the leaves for a few minutes until they start to wilt, then place on a dish or a tray to cool down.

3. Use the same fry pan to sauté the chopped brown onions, until they are transparent. Place the onion on a dish to cool down.

4. Place the onion, garlic, and tofu in a processor. As it blending add the sea salt, black pepper, miso paste, apple cider vinegar and nutritional yeast. Blend until the onions and garlic are broken down and the mixture becomes like a moist crumbly ricotta texture.

5. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and stir through the tuscan kale and vegan cheese. Add more salt and pepper if you need.

6. Take a 20cm-round springform pan and brush the base and sides with with some olive oil.Take 1 sheet of filo sheet and place on a flat surface. Brush the filo with olive oil, then place the oiled side on the base of the pan, letting the edges hang over the edge. Repeat this, layering 5 more sheets on top of each other in a clockwise pattern.

7. Place the tofu ricotta and kale filling in the centre of the pan, making sure its equally distributed.

8. Scrunch the sides of the filo sheets to form a border around the filling.

9. Brush another sheet of pastry with oil on both sides, then scrunch the sheet over one side of the filling, within the pastry border. Repeat with another sheet on the other side of the filling.

10. Bake for 40 minutes or until the pastry is golden and crunchy. Leave to stand for 10 minutes before removing from the springform pan and serving.

*Serves 6

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Cannelloni with Cashew Tofu ‘Ricotta’ Spinach Filling

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

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

Ingredients for Sauce and Pasta:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion, diced

3 garlic cloves, diced

750ml passata sauce

350ml water

2 pinches raw sugar

sea salt & black pepper to taste

10 basil leaves, diced

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

Ingredients for Filling:

1 cup cashews (raw/soaked)

1/2 cup water

250g firm tofu, cubed

3 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons lemon juice

3 tablespoons nutritional yeast

sea salt to taste

4 cups chopped english or baby spinach leaves

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*Serves 6

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Pumpkin, Sage, Walnut and ‘Ricotta’ Lasagna

I had half of the Tofutti ‘ricotta’ left over  from the other day and I didn’t know what to do with it. I haven’t eaten ricotta in 3 years, so I haven’t been missing it much. I have tried out vegan ricotta before and for me its been a great substitute, except when you want to make something sweet. I came across this Taste recipe today, Pumpkin, sage and ricotta lasagne, and decided this was something I would like to try.

I adapted the recipe, so that the ricotta was more of a cheesy sauce with walnuts. Since it was more runny it helped to cook the past sheets a lot better. The only thing I didn’t do was put some of this sauce down the bottom, so the bottom pasta sheet was a bit hard. Other then that it was decadent and delicious. On the side I made some Spicy tomato vegetables to complement the sweet lasagna. As for the pumpkin seeds, I baked them with maple, cinnamon and sea salt.

I’m stuff now and jealous that Marco is taking the left overs to work. My boyfriend isn’t vegan or vegetarian, but as he says, he likes to sample the best of both worlds. I have completely stopped cooking meat at home now, so he only has it out or when someone else cooks for him. But even he has noticed the difference he is feeling, so he doesn’t mind living in a meat free house anymore. By the way sorry I don’t have better pictures. Marco and my mum couldn’t wait to eat tonight.

Pumpkin, Sage, Walnut and ‘Ricotta’ Lasagna (vegan, gluten free option)

Ingredients:

1 x packet instant lasagna sheets (use gluten free if you prefer)

1.2 kg butternut pumpkin

2 tablespoons olive oil,

1/2 teaspoon chili flakes

sea salt & black pepper to taste

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg,

1 tablespoon chopped sage

12 whole sage leaves

100 g vegan butter (I used Nutlex)

2 tablespoons chopped walnuts.

Ingredients for ‘Ricotta’ Cheesy Sauce:

215g vegan ricotta (I used Tofutti Better Than Cheese Ricotta)

4 tablespoons vegan cream cheese (I used Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese)

1/2 cup walnuts

1/2 cup nutritional yeast

1/2 cup soy milk

sea salt & black pepper to taste

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 190 degrees and chop the pumpkin.

2. Place pumpkin in a baking tray. Add olive oil, chili flakes, salt & pepper and cook for 25 mins (or until softened)

3. In the meantime prepare the ‘ricotta’ cheesy sauce. In a processor add all the ingredients for the sauce and blend until smooth and creamy.

4. Once pumpkin is cooked, leave to cool. Then place in a processor and add nutmeg, chopped sage, salt & pepper. Blend till it is pureed.

Butternut pumpkin mash

5. Take a 8×8-inch square baking dish (or around this size) and first add a layer of the cheese sauce. Next add the lasagna sheets (2 1/2 for my dish) and then add the mashed pumpkin. Continue layering till all the pasta sheets have been used and top with both pumpkin and ricotta cheese sauce. Bake lasagna in the oven for 35 mins.

6. A few minutes before serving, take a small pot/pan and heat butter whole sage leaves and chopped walnuts for 2 mins.

7. Serve lasagna with a drizzle of the butter sage sauce on top.

*Serves 4

Spicy Tomato Vegetables (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 small red onion, chopped

2 tablespoon tomato paste

8 black olives

1 large zucchini, chopped

1/2 large broccoli, chopped

pinch of sugar

salt & pepper to taste

Method:

1. Take a pan and heat olive oil, then add garlic, red onion and tomato paste and cook for 2 mins. Add sugar if the tomato paste is very bitter. 

2. Add a bit of water if dry then add the black olives zucchini,  and broccoli and cook till the vegetables are tender and season then serve.

Sweet and Salty Pumpkin Seeds (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

Butternut pumpkin seeds

2 tablespoons maple syrup (or more to coat)

sprinkle of cinnamon and sea salt

Method:

1. Wash pumpkin seeds, then place on a tray and add the rest of the ingredients to the seeds.

2. Roast for 3 mins or until crispy.

Spinach & ‘Ricotta’ Ravioli with Cherry tomato Sauce

I finally made fresh pasta without eggs tonight. It was pretty much just like making the egg pasta, like I’ve made before  (Oh Eggs), except using semolina, instead of just flour. I also used wholemeal wheat flour instead of combining the semolina with white flour, since I didn’t have enough. The dough turned out really good, but I still need some more practice to get the shape of my ravioli down pat. They are jumbo ravioli, but they look more like wontons. To make the pasta, I bought Sostanza Semolina today. I was a bit worried that it wasn’t semolina flour since its quite coarse, like polenta, but I think its meant to be like that.

For the filling I used Tofutti Ricotta that I got from Green Edge the other day. I know that I can make my own vegan ‘ricotta’ with tofu, but when I saw it I had to try it. Its actually really good and doesn’t taste like soy at all. Its not as salty or watery as dairy ricotta, but it is an excellent alternative. I also used a bit of Tofutti Cream Cheese, which made the filling so much more creamier and melted in the mouth. I added lots of salt and some nutritional yeast, so the filling tasted more cheesy.

For the sauce I made a simple cherry tomatoes sauce. I bought the tomatoes today at the Davies Park Market West End. I got 3 punnets of the most ripest, delicious cherry tomatoes for only $1.50. It was my first time going to this market. I can’t believe I have never been there before.  They have food stalls from all over the world and including Hungarian langos, German sausages, Spanish paellas and French macaroons. We tried the famous Ykillamoocow vegetarian pies, langos and bought a selection of flavored nuts. Definitely a market worth visiting in Brisbane.

Spinach & Ricotta Ravioli (vegan, nut free)

Ingredients for Pasta dough:

1 cup semolina

1 cup wholemeal flour or unbleached plain flour

pinch sea salt

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 cup warm water

Ingredients for Pasta filling:

120g baby spinach, chopped

1 tablespoon vegan butter (I used Nutlex)

250g vegan ricotta (I used Tofutti Better Than Cheese Ricotta)

2 tablespoons vegan cream cheese (I used Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese)

1 tablespoon nutritional yeast

2 tablespoons fresh basil

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

sea salt & black pepper to taste

Method:

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

2. Then add olive oil and slowly add warm water. Combine so that it becomes like a dough.

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

4. In a sauce pan melt vegan butter, then add baby spinach and cook on low heat, until spinach has wilted. Then place in a mixing bowl.

5. Split the dough into 6 parts and prepare the pasta machine.

6. Make pasta sheets with the pasta machine and place them on damp tea towls. Trim them and put the excess dough through the machine again, so that all the dough gets used.

7. Take the bowl with the spinach and add the rest of the ingredients for the filling and mix it well. (Preheat a pot of boiling water to cook pasta).

8.  To make ravioli place a teaspoon of the filling in the center of the pasta sheets. Remember to leave a space between each bit of filling and at both ends of the pasta sheets. Once you have placed the filling on the pasta sheet, wet the edge of the pasta sheet, with your fingers (so that it will stick) and fold over the pasta sheet. Slice between each bump of the filling to separate the ravioli and then close the edges with a fork. Then place on tray with baking paper and some flour (so it doesn’t stick).

9. In boiling water, add a pinch of table salt and then add the ravioli to cook. They only take 2-3 mins till they begin to float to the top, then they are ready. Remove from water and add straight to hot sauce, to coat, then serve, or place in a strainer till sauce is ready.

‘ricotta’ filling

Marco helps me make the pasta sheets

fresh pasta sheets

adding the filling

forming the ravioli

ravioli ready to cook

boiling ravioli

eating ravioli

Cherry Tomato Sauce (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

2 tablespoon olive oil

2 small red onions, diced

2-3 garlic cloves, diced,

750g cherry tomatoes, cut in half

1 tablespoon tomato paste (optional)

3 tablespoons fresh basil

sea salt & black pepper to taste

Method:

1. Take a large pan or sauce pan and heat olive oil.

2. Add red onion and garlic and cook on medium heat for 4-5 mins.

3. Add cherry tomatoes and cook for 10 mins or until the tomatoes become soft and mushy.

4. Add tomato paste to thicken and a bit of water if it becomes dry.

5. Add basil and salt and pepper to taste then add pasta to coat and serve.

adding tomatoes to pan

finished Cherry tomato Sauce

Black bean Veggie Burgers with Pineapple Relish and Lemon Olive Oil & Poppyseed Cake

Hawaiian Sloppy Joes (Chloe Coscarelli recipe) with homemade Tahini & Guacamole on whole grain bun

I’ve been really busy this weekend writing my last few essays before the end of the semester. So I haven’t had much time to cook anything special. I’ve don’t even remember what I’ve eaten the last few days. I’ve been a zombie on the computer. So tonight I wanted to make something special.

I decided to make a couple of recipes from Chloe Coscarelli’s book, Chloe’s Kitchen.Well  these recipes aren’t actually from her book, but on her website promoting her book.

I’ve got her book as well and its really great. I’ve cooked a few of her recipes and they are really recipes that you wouldn’t know its vegan. The Hawaiian Sloppy Joes are also on her website. The Stuffed Shells with Arrabbiata Sauce are in the book. The filling is Garden Ricotta and its amazing. I never thought I would taste ricotta again. You can use it to substitute ricotta for other recipes. I have only used it for savoury, not sure how it would for sweet with the white miso paste in it.

Stuffed Shells with Arrabbiata Sauce

Anyway tonight I was planing on making Chloe’s Mexicali Sliders. I was still able to make the Black bean Patties, but as for the Spicy Mango Sauce and the Guacamole, that was not able happen. There was a little communication problem with my boyfriend. He went food shopping before he came home and I told him I needed mangos and avocado, but apparently he heard everything I didn’t  need. So by the time I made the patties and I was about to prepare the rest I discovered I was missing a few things.

But it was ok, luckily I had a can of pineapple and used that instead of the mango. I was a bit worried putting pineapple with sun dried tomatoes, but it was really delicious. As for the Black bean patties, they were amazing. I think the best veggie patty I’ve ever had. Way better then anything I’ve paid for out, well except for the one at Green Edge. If you don’t like coriander, don’t worry you wont be able to taste it. Marco hates coriander and he didn’t know it was even in there. It was full of flavour and very easy to prepare. I had to use polenta and rice crumbs since I didn’t have cornmeal or breadcrumbs, which I think made it more moist, which means its gluten free I guess. These ingredients really help to bind the patties, so they don’t need egg. They tasted pretty good before they were cooked as well, so I think you could have them raw.

I also made Marco’s favourite sweet potato fries on the side. Since we found out he has an intolerance to potatoes  we have been trying  cutting back on them as well. They are just as delicious and easy to prepare.

For dessert I made another recipe from Chef Chloe, Lemon Olive Oil Cake. I’ve made it before, but this time I thought I would put poppyseed through it. It is actually a sugar-free recipe, well except for the icing sugar. You could just leave that out, since it only gets dusted at the end. If you are worried about the olive oil taste, don’t worry, you won’t taste that either. For me the maple syrup made it  sweet enough. Marco wanted to have his with nutella, but we are trying to cut back our sugar and salt. So hopefully if he skips a few more nights without chocolate he will start to appreciate natural sweetness again.