Purple bean Caponata

This dish was inspired by my lovely Italian neighbours who gave me some magic purple beans. I have no idea what type of beans they are, but apparently they grow all year round. They are large white and maroon beans that turn purple when you cook them. I think they may be butter beans, but if anyone knows what they are please let me know. Caponata is usually served as a vegetable side dish. I added beans and served it as a main. I also served it along side some sautéed green beans and Farinata. This was my first time cooking Farinata and along with my beans it was a big hit with the family. Its tastes like a big crunchy savoury pancake and is made of chickpea flour. Its a great gluten free alternative to bread. Its also a great lunch box filler for kids or work lunches.

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Purple bean Caponata (vegan, gluten free, soy free)

Ingredients:

olive oil

1 medium eggplant, sliced in large rounds

1 medium brown onion, diced

2 celery sticks, leaves removed, diced

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 medium zucchini, chopped

1 large tomato, diced

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 teaspoon baby capers

1 tablespoon pine nuts

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 tsp raw sugar

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1.5 cooked purple butter beans or other butter beans

1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped

1/4 cup fresh italian parsley, chopped

Method:

1. First you need to remove the bitterness from the eggplant, by sprinkling with salt (I just use table salt) and leaving to sit for 10 minutes. Moisture should come out of the eggplant flesh. Wipe the moisture and salt off the eggplant. Then cut into cubes.

2. Heat a large skillet with 2 tablespoons of olive oil on medium heat. Then add onion and celery. Sauté for 5 minutes or until the onion is translucent.

3. Stir through the eggplant and another tablespoon of olive oil. Sauté for 5 minutes and stir frequently.

4. Add garlic, zucchini and tomato. Stir through and cook for a further 5 minutes.

5. Stir through the tomato paste and capers. Cook for another minute.

6. Add 1/4 cup of water and once it absorbs a little add another 1/4 cup of water, so that the vegetables don’t stick to the skillet.

7. Add pine nuts, red wine vinegar, sugar, sea salt and black pepper. Leave to cook for 10 minutes.

8. Add the beans and another 1/4 cup of water and cook for a further 5 minutes so that the beans are heated through.

9. Take off the heat and stir through basil and parsley. Adjust the seasoning and serve hot or at room temperature.

*Serves 4-6

 

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Farinata

 

Baked Butter beans and Zucchini

A few of days ago I heard some really sad news that Jessica Ainscough passed away after losing her battle with cancer. I didn’t know her personally but I did follow blog and go to her Wellness Warrior Live Australian Tour about a year ago (post). She also wrote a great book, Make Peace with Your Plate: Change Your Life One Meal at a Time, which spoke of her own struggles with her health and how she changed her life by focusing  on nourishing her body with healthy food and living. She was a great inspiration of mine and I really value what I learned from her. There has been a lot of negative things written about her, which I don’t think is fair. Unless your are in someone else shoes I don’t think you have the right to judge what kind of treatment someone chooses when they are faced with a life threatening illness. I hope never to have to face such a difficult situation and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone else. There are no guarantees in life and I believe she thrived in a terrible situation. Normally I’m never usually that sad when a well known person passes, but I feel differently this time. I guess because after hearing her story and meeting her at the book signing, she seemed really real, kind and relatable.

Over the past few days I have been making more recipes from my favourite recipe book of the moment, The Oh She Glows Cookbook. If you haven’t seen the book or Angela’s blog, Oh She Glows, I really recommend both. I am determined to cook as many recipes as I can. They are always delicious and easy to make. She also has recently had a baby and I have been enjoying reading all her posts and has been very eye opening to me for what to expect. I might start a new cookbook project with her book. My last one was not very successful. I have had more fun cooking Angela’s recipes. So this is some more recipes that I made over the last few days.

Since I’ve been pregnant I’ve often have cravings for granola. I have bought a few different brands but end up devouring the whole box with in a few days. I was flipping through Angela’s book and found this easy recipe for Ultimate Nutty Granola Clusters. I absolutely love this recipe. It tastes so much better then storebought. I had everything already on hand so it was really easy to make. For the dried fruit I used dried figs and raisins. The recipe makes a fair bit and can last a couple of weeks in the fridge. Mine didn’t last that long. I had it with coconut yoghurt, over overnight oats and raw buckwheat porridge or simply with some almond milk. Marco also got very excited about it as well and enjoyed it for afternoon tea at work or a late night dessert snack.

In fact, something else that really paired well with this granola was Angela’s Creamy Vanilla Almond Milk. I did make it a few weeks back and used cheese cloth and made such a mess. Never again. I bought my own nut bag from a health food shop and it was so much easier, quicker and zero mess. Homemade almond milk taste so much better then store bought, that can have a bit of a strange taste. Plus this recipe uses 1 whole cups of almonds, which is way more than store bought, that usually only contain 6 almonds if your lucky. So it is way more nutrious and extremely creamy. Marco even used some to make a cappuccino and it creamed up really well. As you can see below I finished most of my granola by the time I took this picture. 

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Ultimate Nutty Granola Clusters, The Oh She Glows Cookbook

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Ultimate Nutty Granola Clusters with Creamy Vanilla Almond Milk, The Oh She Glows Cookbook

Ultimate Nutty Granola Clusters with Raw Buckwheat Poridge, Oh She Glows Cookbook

Ultimate Nutty Granola Clusters with Raw Buckwheat Porridge, The Oh She Glows Cookbook

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On the mend Spiced Red Lentil-Kale Soup, The Oh She Glows Cookbook

Another recipe I made was the On the mend Spiced Red Lentil-Kale Soup. It doesn’t look like much but it is packed full of flavour. Marco wasn’t so excited about this soup until he tried it and he was blown away. Usually he doesn’t want to eat the same thing twice but he was happy to have it three times till it was gone. This recipe is something I came up with when I ran out of green veggies and was left with a zucchini and a can of butter beans. It’s very easy to make and makes a great main meal and leftovers can be eaten for breakfast on toast. I enjoyed mine with mashed potatoes and white wine mushrooms. I didn’t think Marco would like this one but I snuck it in his work lunch anyway and he really enjoyed it. DSC03851

Baked Butter beans and Zucchini (vegan, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1 brown onion, quartered, sliced thinly

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 medium zucchini, chopped into cubes

1 cup good quality tomato pasta sauce (about 250 grams)

1/2 cup water

1/2 teaspoon italian seasoning

1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke (optional)

1/2 tablespoon red wine vinegar

pinch of raw sugar

sea salt and black pepper to taste

1 can butter beans

4 tablespoons good quality bread crumbs

4 tablespoons nutritional yeast

4 small roma tomatoes or 2 large tomatoes, sliced

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

2. Heat olive oil in an oven proof skillet on medium heat, then add the onion. Cook for about 5 minutes or until soft and browned.

3. Add the garlic and sauté for another minute.

4. Add the zucchini and sauté for another minute

5. Add the tomato sauce, water, italian seasoning, liquid smoke, red wine vinegar, sugar. Bring to a light boil, then place on a simmer for 10 minutes.

6. In the meantime combine the bread crumbs, nutritional yeast and 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt in a small bowl.

7. Add the butter beans to the skillet and season with salt and black pepper. Then take of the heat.

8. Top the skillet with the bread crumb mixture and some sliced tomatoes.

9. Bake for 20 minutes and then serve.

*Serves 4-6 DSC03846

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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Creamy Lemon Broccoli and Cannellini Bean Gemelli

This dish is an adaption of one of my favourite recipes, Lemon Herb Cannellini Beans, from Chloe’s Vegan Italian Kitchen. This is one of my go to recipes when I’m in a hurry and need a creamy beany comfort dish. For my recipes I decided to add fresh broccoli and broccoli leaves, which full of Vitamin K and Vitamin C. Vitamin K is something I’m really focusing on increasing in my third trimester. I also added mine and Marco’s new favourite pasta, Gemelli. I just love the texture of this pasta. Its tender and chewy and catches the sauce really well. You can find it at good deli’s.

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Creamy Lemon Broccoli and Cannellini Bean Gemelli (vegan, gluten free option, soy free option, nut free option)

Ingredients:

2-3 serves of gemelli pasta or other short pasta

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 garlic clove, minced

1/2 teaspoon italian herbs

1 cup broccoli florets

1/2 cup broccoli leaves or baby spinach

1/2 cup unsweetened soy or almond milk

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 cup cooked cannellini beans

1/4 cup nutritional yeast

1/2 tablespoon lemon juice (or more to taste)

Method:

1. Cook the pasta according to packet directions.

2. Heat olive oil in a pan on medium heat, then add garlic and italian herbs. Saute for 1 minute.

3. Add the broccoli florets and sauté for few minutes. Add more olive oil or some pasta water if the broccoli sticks to the pan.

4. Add the broccoli leaves and saute for another minute. If your using baby spinach add in the next step.

4. Add plant milk, sea salt, cannellini beans and nutritional yeast. Simmer for 4-5 minutes.

5. Add lemon juice and add more seasoning if you need, then serve immediately.

*Serves 2-3

I have been having mad craving for sweets since halfway through my second trimester. Apparently that’s typical when your expecting a little girl. But I feel really guilty every time I indulgent in something that’s got too much sugar or not so vegan. Plus I don’t want my baby to be born a sugar fiend like her father.These Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Bites from The Oh She Glows Cookbook really hit the spot. They are sweet enough with only the additional of a little bit of maple syrup and some dark chocolate chips. Other then that they only contain oats, almonds, peanut butter, sea salt, vanilla and coconut oil. They are a great snack you can keep in the freezer when your sugar tooth strikes.

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Another recipe I made from The Oh She Glows Cookbook is this Raw Buckwheat Breakfast Porridge. You can see a similar recipe for the Raw Buckwheat Porridge on the author, Angela’s blog. I made this recipe ages ago and forgot how good it was. I added some fresh organic strawberries, coconut yoghurt, toasted pepitas seeds and toasted shredded coconut. The perfect easy breakfast for a hungry mama.

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Pearl Couscous with Green Lentils, Kale and Caramelized Onions

After seeing my naturapath yesterday I realised I really have to amp up my bean intake and make more of an effort to combine plant-based proteins for the baby. As much as I love eating beans I always forget to put them to soak the night. Although I don’t enjoy lentils as much, they are really handy when you have limited time and are out of bpa free canned beans (which I have been relying on). I was also craving pearl couscous after that delicious dish I had from East Elevation a few days ago in Melbourne.

This dish was inspired by Mujaddara but with a few alterations. I used pearl couscous for a different texture and some kale and pepitas seeds for an extra nutritional boost. This dish usually calls for crispy fried onions on top, but I decided to not over cook the onions, to  leave as much nutrients as possible. It was a delicious combination. I hope my little one is enjoying some new flavours.

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 Pearl Couscous with Green Lentils, Kale and Caramelized Onions (vegan, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1/2 cup green lentils (you only need 1 cup of cooked lentils, so cook 1 cup dry for leftovers)

2 cups diced brown onion (about 1.5 onions)

olive oil

3 garlic cloves, diced

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon all spice

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 cup pearl couscous

1.5 cup liquid vegetable stock (chicken or veg flavoured)

2 cups sliced kale, tightly packed (about 2 large kale leaves, large stems removed)

3 tablespoons pepitas seeds

Method:

1. Place the green lentils in a pot with enough water to cover and bring the boil. Then place on a simmer and cook until tender. Once cooked leave to the side.

2. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet and then add the onion. Cook on a low to medium heat until the onions have browned and caramelized. This should take about 20 minutes. Once they are browned remove from the skillet and place to the side.

3. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium sized pot and add the garlic. Cook for about 30 seconds, then add the ground cumin, ground cinnamon, all spice and sea salt. Cook for a future 30 seconds or until fragrant.

4. Add the couscous and vegetable stock to the pot. Bring to the boil, then place on a simmer. Cover and cook for 10 minutes or until the couscous is tender. Add more stock if it starts to stick to the pot.

5. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in the skillet and then add the kale. Lightly saute until the kale has wilted and is a vibrant green colour.

6. Toast the pepitas seeds in a dry pan until they start to pop a little then place to the side.

7. Make sure the couscous is off the heat and then add 1 cup of cooked green lentils, 2/3 of the caramelized brown onions and kale to the pot. Stir through.

8. Serve the couscous with extra carmelized onion and toasted pepitas seeds.

*Serve as a main for 3 or as a side for 4

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Melbourne eats

I hope everyone is having a great start to the year. I spent my first week in Melbourne for my cousin’s big Italian wedding and spending time with family. I also managed to discover a few new vegan friendly places and had some amazing eats.

After Marco and I got off the plane in Melbourne we decided to head to Chapel Street, South Yarra. I really wasn’t happy with his funky pink tie that he intended wearing to the wedding. I really wanted him to find something new. But before we could find a new tie I needed to eat. It was lunch time and I was so hungry. The last place I expected to find a delicious vegan friendly place was in this shopping district. However, I came across Spudbar and was really impressed by their healthy take on the humble potato.

I ordered the Chickpea, Pumpkin and Lentil Dahl Spud. This had a legume and pumpkin curry, shredded cabbage, kasundi, carrot and hummus (instead of cucumber yoghurt) over half regular and half sweet potato. It was wholesome, delicious and made mama and baby feel really satisfied.

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Later that evening  we decided to visit the Vietnamese restaurant Quan 88 at St Kilda. We have been going to this family restaurant for years. My uncle was one of their loyal customers at their Richmond location, but when they did the big move  to St Kilda he ended up helping them with their operations. So it was nice to see him and have some good quality Vietnamese.

For entree I ordered the Beancurd & Vegetable Soup which was really flavoursome. For main I order the Vegetarian Curry Hotpot, which had fried soft tofu, eggplant, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli bok choy and onions in a light curry sauce, with a side of jasmine rice. I don’t order hotpot  usually because I find it quite disappointing, but this one was really good and so filling that even in my pregnant hungry state I couldn’t finish it.

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A couple of days later we were taken to a part of Melbourne that I’ve never been to before. Another uncle took us to East St Kilda, where many trendy cafes have popped up in recent times. He took us to one of his favourites Las Chicas. This place prides it’s self on serving local, fresh and sustainable wholesome foods, which is exactly what we found when we stepped in. I really loved their menu which had helpful symbols showing which dishes were vegan, vegetarian, dairy free and gluten free.

I ordered Vik’s Vegan Wrap, which had broccoli, organic silken tofu, mixed mushrooms, lettuce, red onions, vegan mayo, sundried tomato hummus, avocado and tomato & coriander salsa, wrapped in a toasted tortilla, with a decaf bonsoy flat white. This wrap was packed full of flavour and lots of healthy goodies. I usually don’t like silken tofu but it was cooked perfectly and the condiments in the wrap also complemented the other ingredients.

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Marco had to go back go Brisbane, so the next day my cousins took me out to lunch in Brunswick East. They wanted to take me somewhere with vegan options and organic food for me and gluten free and dairy free options for them. One of my cousins has a few intolerances due to IBS, so she is always on the look out for cafes and restaurants that cater for her needs, which is why I love eating out with her while I’m in Melbourne.  East Elevation have a range of creative vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free dishes on their menu. They use seasonal and local produce, as well as organic vegetables. They decor is also beautiful, making you feel like your in a garden courtyard (with aircon).

I ordered the Roasted Eggplant with Tahini, which was served over a pumpkin puree and topped with green beans, moghrabish (Lebanese couscous dish), watercress and toasted pumpkin seeds. This was probably one of the most creative and delicious vegan mains I’ve ever had. I’m now wishing I didn’t live two states away to go back for more.

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I had a free day after that so I decided to have a shopping day in the city. My Nonna was very worried about me walking around by myself incase I could fall, so she accompanied me. Funnily enough, she is the one with the walking stick that nearly fell on me in the tram on the way there. When it came time to eat we looked around the lane ways for something I could eat and that didn’t serve pasta. Nonna doesn’t like ordering pasta out, since she can make it better. After no luck of finding a place in the couple of lanes we went down we ended up at Chinatown. I am not a big fan of chinese food, but I do love noodles and dumplings. So when we past Shanghai Street Dumplings, Wontons and Noodle  and I saw homemade dumplings and vegetarian dishes so I thought it was a good idea.

I ordered the Vegetable Stir fry Noodles, which had shiitake mushrooms, fungus and boy choy. I really missed noodles so I really enjoyed this dish. My Nonna considers noodles as pasta so she preferred to have a meat dumplings. I ordered her the Panfried Beef Dumplings. I didn’t realise until I saw her struggling to cut her dumpling in half that she was really out of her element. So although I felt at home in an authentic dumpling house, perhaps it wasn’t the best place to bring my 75 year old Nonna.
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On my last day I decided to take myself out for an early breakfast before hitting the Melbourne Museum. I searched the net for some vegan friendly cafes in the area and came across Cafe Lua at Carlton. I wasn’t able to access the menu, but the website said they offered vegan and vegetarian options and where gluten free specialists. I was expecting to see a menu with heaps of vegan options but unfortunately I couldn’t see any when I was given the menu at the cafe. However the waitress was really helpful and told me about a couple of dishes that could be altered to be vegan.

I ordered the Smashed Avocado, which was served on sourdough. It was meant to be served with cherry tomatoes and basil but mine came out with chickpeas, which I didn’t mind since I need the extra protein. I also ordered a serve of Roasted Field Mushrooms and the House Smoothie, which had mango, strawberry, almond milk & basil. Everything tasted great, but I was probably expecting too much from this little cafe.

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My last meal before I left was at Milkwood in Brunswick East. I have been here before with my cousins and being tight on time we decided to come back again. My cousin with the allergies loves this place as they really do cater well for those with allergies as well as vegans.

This time I ordered the daily special which was Soba Noodles with Panfried Tofu, Eggplant, Mango and a Chilli Vinaigrette and Lemon Ice Tea. On such a hot day this dish was so refreshing and exactly what I needed.

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As happy as I am to be back in my own bed, I am a little sad that this is my last trip for a while. I’m not sure when I will travel with the baby but looking forward to sharing with her all my favourite eats when I return to Melbourne.

Risotto with Shiitake Mushrooms, Sundried Tomatoes and Peas

A couple of days ago I finally received my copy of Chloe’s Vegan Italian Kitchen. I didn’t even know Chloe Coscarelli had written another book, but as soon as I found out I added it to my Amazon order. I have a been a long time fan of Chloe and have previously bought and cooked recipes from her other books, Chloe’s Kitchen and Chloe’s Vegan Desserts.

I am really excited about this new book because it combines my two favorite things, italian food and guilt free delicious vegan recipes. You probably noticed on my blog that I have many Italian inspired recipes that are recreations of the food I grew up with and other traditional dishes that I have eaten in Italy or always wanted to try. So I am so excited to get some ideas on how to better veganise my favourite recipes.

You can see a sneak peak of Chloe’s Vegan Italian Kitchen on Amazon and Google Books.

Chloe's Vegan Italian Kitchen: My Vegan MoFo Cookbook of the Week

This recipe below was adapted from Chloe’s White Wine Risotto with Shiitake Mushrooms and Peas from Chloe’s Vegan Italian Kitchen. I used dried shiitake mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes in mine. Both have really strong flavours that really shone through. Marco was a bit scared when he saw the shiitake mushrooms, but he ended up being really happy with the taste of this risotto and wanted to have the leftovers for lunch the next day.

DSC03179Risotto with Shiitake Mushrooms, Sun-dried Tomatoes and Peas (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

6 cups vegetable liquid stock

2-3 tablespoons of olive oil

1 onion, finely diced

1/2 cup dried shiitake mushrooms (soak for 10 minutes and slice in strips if large pieces)

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes

1 cup arborio rice

1/2 cup white wine

1/2 cup frozen peas

1/4 cup chopped fresh italian parsley

3/4 teaspoon sea salt

ground black pepper to taste

Method:

1. Take medium pot and heat the liquid stock.  Leave it on a simmer while you start cooking the rest of the recipe.

2. Take a large skillet and heat olive oil on medium to high heat. Then add the onion and shiitake mushrooms. Saute until the onions have softened and are translucent.

3. Add the sun-dried tomatoes and garlic. Saute for 1 minute so that the garlic is fragrant.

4. Add the rice and the white wine. Stir through and cook until the white wine has been absorb.

5. Begin to ladle about one cup at a time of liquid stock into the skillet. Stir frequently. Add another ladle of liquid stock once the first has been absorbed and continue until the rice is cooked and there is no more stock. This should take about 20-25 minutes.

6. Add the peas, italian parsley, sea salt and ground black pepper. Stir through until the peas are warmed through. Adjust seasoning if you need and then serve.

*Serves 4

DSC03183So far I have made a couple more dishes from my new favorite cook book. Last night I made Lemon Herb Cannellini Beans (Cannellini all erbe e limone) with Spinach and Mash Potatoes with Garlic and Sea Salt (Purè di patate con aglio e sale marino).  This was the most delicious creamy, cheezy bean dish I have ever had and was really simple and quick to make. The main ingredients are cannellini beans, garlic, nutritional yeast, plant milk and lemon juice. The Mash Potatoes were also really creamy and delicious thanks to the fresh garlic and plant milk.

For dessert I made Olive Oil Pancakes (Frittelle all’olio di oliva). I’ve never cooked pancakes with olive oil and I usually don’t use that much baking soda, but they came out so fluffy and delicious. For a recipe with only 5 ingredients I was really happy with the results and so was Marco. Usually he lathers his pancakes with nutella, but was content with natural maple syrup. Can’t wait to serve this the next time the mini-Marco’s come to visit.

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Great Northern Bean Casserole with Sliced Potato Topping

Last night I really felt like a flavoursome, creamy beany casserole with potatoes. I knew exactly what I wanted but couldn’t find a similar recipe to get some ideas. I also needed to use the opened unsweetened soy milk that was on its last legs and some great northern beans I had cooked up that afternoon. So this is what I came up with. I probably shouldn’t of started cooking at 7pm but it was worth the wait. Marco loved this dish so much. He was even happy to eat it again for his next two home-made work lunches.

What’s your favourite vegan bean casserole?

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Great Northern Bean Casserole with Sliced Potato Topping (vegan, gluten free, nut free)

Ingredients for Casserole:

1 cup great northern beans, soak for 8 hours or overnight or 2.5-3 cups cooked beans

1 medium brown onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, diced

2 celery sticks, diced

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tomatoes, diced

1/2 cup white wine

1 teaspoon sweet hungarian paprika

1 teaspoon dried mixed herbs

sea salt

2 cups vegan chicken or vegetable stock

1 cup unsweetened soy milk

3 tablespoons arrowroot flour

Ingredients for Potato Topping:

4 medium potatoes, peeled

sea salt

olive oil

black pepper to taste

1/2 teaspoon thyme leaves

Method:

1. First place the soaked beans in 3 cups of water. Bring to the boil, then place on a simmer and cook for 40-60 minutes or until tender. While the beans are cooking skim the foam of the top of the water. Once the beans are cooked drain the water and leave to the side to cool.

2. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

3. Place the potatoes in a medium pot with water and a pinch of sea salt. Bring the water to the boil and cook for 10-15 minutes. Afterwards drain the potatoes and leave to cool down.

4. Take a large oven safe skillet and heat the olive oil on medium heat. Then add onions and garlic and cook for 3 minutes or until the onions are translucent.

5. Add the carrots and celery. Cook for a further 5 minutes.

6. Add the white wine, tomatoes, hungarian paprika, mixed herbs and half teaspoon of sea salt. Stir through and allow the wine to absorb into the vegetables. This should take about 5 minutes.

7. Add vegan chicken stock, soy milk and great northern beans. Bring to the boil, then leave on a simmer for 20 minutes. While its cooking add the arrowroot flour and stir frequently while it thickens up.

8. In the meantime slice the potatoes into rounds and leave to the side.

9. Take the skillet off the heat and top with the sliced potatoes. Start from the outside and then work your way in.

10. Drizzle the potatoes with olive oil and season with sea salt, black pepper and thyme leaves.

11. Place the skillet in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Then if place the oven on grill and brown the tops of the potatoes for 5 minutes before serving.

*Serves 6 as a main

*I recommend serving this casserole with steamed vegetables or a fresh salad

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Delicious leftovers for a hungry pregnant woman…

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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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Adzuki Bean and Pumpkin Stew

One of the first macrobiotic dishes I ever tried was Adzuki beans with Squash. I remember the first time I made this dish my family and our international students really didn’t like the look of this dish. They thought I was a bit crazy to put these ingredients together and refused to try it. I guess back then I thought it was a bit weird too, but we have all come along way since then. This time I decided to spice this dish up a bit with some additional ground spices and more veggies. It is a very hearty nourishing dish, which pairs well with steamed brown rice.

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Adzuki Bean and Pumpkin Stew (vegan, gluten free, nut free)

Ingredients:

filtered water

1 cup dry adzuki beans

1″ x 1″  dry kombu

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small brown onion, sliced thin

1 garlic, diced

1 medium carrot, sliced thin in half moons

1 leek, white parts only, sliced thin in half moons

1 celery, sliced thin

1/2 tablespoon ground cumin

1/2 tablespoon sweet paprika

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon himalayan sea salt

4 cups pumpkin, remove skin (optional) and chopped into large chunks (I used kent, but you can use kabocha or butternut pumpkin if you prefer)

1 tablespoon tamari or shoyu

Method:

1. Soak the adzuki beans overnight with filtered water and kombu.

2. Drain the beans and place the adzuki beans and kombu in a pot with some fresh filtered water. Bring to the boil, then cover on a low heat and simmer for 40 minutes or until the beans are cooked. Then strain and leave to the side.

3. Heat olive oil in pot or large pan. Then add onion and garlic. Cook on a medium to low heat for 4-5 minutes until they have browned.

4. Add the carrot, leek and celery and cook for a further few minutes, until they begin to soften.

5. Add the ground cumin, ground sweet paprika, ground ginger, ground cinnamon and himalayan sea salt. Stir through the vegetables and cook for another minute or until the spices are fragrant.

6. Add pumpkin and a cup of water. Bring to the boil, then leave on a simmer for 20 minutes or until the pumpkin is cooked.

7. Add the aduki beans and tamari. Cook for a further 5 minutes and then serve.

*Serves 4

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