Archive for Savoury

Pasta stuffed with cashew basil cream

Rich, creamy and nutritious, these shells will be gracing our Christmas table this year. They feel a little bit fancy, a little bit decadent and are easy to assemble. A serving of 2-3 stuffed shells is ample when served with salads and vegetable sides. SAM_1806 (Small)

You will need:

Big pasta shells

2 jars of pasta sauce or whizz up 2 cans tomatoes

Filling (this is enough for ~18 shells):

1 can cannellini beans rinsed & drained

1 C cashews

Handful fresh basil

Handful fresh spinach or kale, chopped

3-4 cloves garlic

1/4 cup nutritional yeast

1/4 cup lemon juice

1/2 tsp salt to taste

Preheat the oven to 180 C.

Bring a big pot of water to boil for pasta shells. Cook them only until tender – do not overcook as they may split – they will finish cooking in the oven. Drain.

Combine all filling ingredients in your food processor and process until smooth. Scrap down the sides as you go.

Pour one jar of sauce in a baking pan.

Stuff the shells using about a tablespoon of filling for each and place on top of the sauce.

Cover with second jar of sauce, cover and bake for about 20 minutes.

For a gluten free option hollow out zucchini, fill with cashew basil cream and bake.

Merry Christmas!


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1 dip to rule all others

I tip my hat to Lindley from Clements Road Seasonal Produce for linking me to this River Cottage recipe.

In a word: stunning.

It goes something like this:SAM_1651 (Small)

  • Cook a couple of beets until soft.
  • Toast a sprinkle of cumin seeds in a dry pan until the aroma is released ~1 min. Grind seeds.
  • Place beets & cumin in food processor with 1 tablespoon tahini, a piece of oldish bread (I used toast), juice of a lemon, crushed garlic to taste, salt and pepper.
  • Add beet cooking water to thin if necessary. Play around with amounts of cumin and garlic to suit your tastes.

Spread on everything!

And be sure to wash and bag the beet leaves for your green smoothies.SAM_1652 (Small)

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1 must have sauce recipe

This sauce is a game changer. It literally added a whole new repertoire to my weekday-fly-in-the-door-meals.

Simplicity rules. Sauce plus steamed veges.

This is no time to be shy. If you secretly love Brussel sprouts steam up a bunch and lather in this walnutty wonder. New potatoes, greens, broccoli … your underneath carrier of sauce options are unlimited.

A macrobiotic favourite, this recipe has but three ingredients and water. If you can, soak the walnuts for 20 mins to a couple of hours – it’s all the better for taste and digestibility, but do discard the soak water and rinse.

Thanks to Ann Crile Esselstyn and Forks Over Knives for the heads up on this now weekly staple.SAM_1516 (Small)

To the blender add:

1/2 cup walnuts

1/2 cup water

1 clove garlic

1 Tbl tamari

Adjust amounts of garlic, tamari and water to suit taste and texture.

And if you’ve got one of these lurking in your cupboards – get it out, wet it before use, and fill it with veges.SAM_1468 (Small)

Steam cooks fast and preserves flavour & nutrients.

Try 1/2-inch rounds of steamed new potato with the walnut sauce and you may want to marry me.


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8 ingredients you usually throw out but shouldn’t

It’s no more “off with your skin and out you go!”

Your relationship with vegetable waste is about to deepen.SAM_1314 (Small)

Vegetable stock is the ever versatile ingredient that will add depth to your soups and sauces. And you can easily make your own.

Collect vegetable trimmings into a container in your fridge and you’ll soon have enough to make a pot of stock.

For oil-free cooking, vegetable stock replaces oil. Crazy I know, but there are a whole lot of plant-based folk truly improving their coronary health by doing so.

But which vegetables shall I stock pile (oh the pun!)?

Here are my main contenders:

  • Garlic paper and those tiny cloves that are too hard to peel
  • Onion skin and ends
  • Leek skins and trimmings
  • Celery leaves and bulb off-cuts
  • Carrots peelings and ends
  • Potato peelings
  • Corn cobs
  • Herb stalks

My rule of thumb is: if a vegetable tastes bad when overcooked – think Brussel sprouts, broccoli, red peppers, cauliflower – then don’t include it.

Place your vege scraps in a pot and cover with water. Bring to the boil and simmer until the veges are cooked. Strain and add salt and pepper to taste.

The stock can be frozen in bulk or in ice-cube trays.

Real world alert! There are times when I don’t have my own stock at the ready and store bought stocks/powders are good to have on hand. But watch out for high salt content, msg and anything you can’t pronounce or recognise as food, because it probably isn’t food.

When in doubt, use water.

With your big pot of stock now underway, here are some delicious soup/stew recipes for it to go in.

Not your average lentil stew

Spicey West African peanut stew

Simple summer soup

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Late Summer Quinoa Salad

I love the blend of fresh and baked vegetables combined with spices and fresh herbs. Steam baking the root veges keeps the health-o-meter way up high and who’s missing the oil when it tastes this good! Serve either warm or cold.

SAM_1142 (Small)

1 cup of quinoa, rinsed (I use red coz it's pretty)
2 cups of water
1/4 cup vegetable stock
1 large red onion, 3/4 cut into segments, 1/4 thinly sliced
1 C cubed pumpkin
1 tsp of cumin
1/2 tsp of turmeric
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1-2 beetroot
1 avocado
Handful of fresh basil or coriander
Cherry tomatoes (optional)

1. Bring the quinoa and 2 cups of water to the boil. Stir, cover and reduce heat to low. Let the quinoa cook for 10-20 minutes or until soft and water is absorbed. (Use a rice cooker if cooking bigger amounts)
2. In a medium oven, bake the beets, pumpkin and onion segments in 1/4 cup vege stock in a covered pan until soft.
3. Stir salt, pepper, cumin, turmeric and cayenne pepper into the quinoa.
4. Mix though the onion and carefully fold in the baked veges.
5. Garnish with fresh herbs, red onion slices and avocado.


Nut Burgers

I’m all in favour of picnic dinners and these burgers are as good as the view.

A handful each of;

Cashew nuts,
Brazils…(a combination of three or whatever you fancy.)

Leave in a bowl just covered with warm water for half an hour or more.

Drain and put into a food processor and chop

Add diced white onion, a handful of breadcrumbs, two or three big dollops of tomato paste, pepper, salt, pinch of chilli, teaspoon of cumin. Whizz.

Pop in fridge for an hour. Make into wee balls or patties and bake on an oiled tray for ~10 mins or until brown and flip.

Take somewhere nice to eat!

Butter Beans in Smoked Paprika Cream

Need hearty, tasty, impressive? This little number does all that and comes together in a flash. Combine with Moroccan couscous or any favourite grain and fresh greens.

The smoked paprika is the clincher – make sure you have some.

1 large onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 red capsicum, diced

1/2 C vegetable stock or water

2 cans of tomato

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp mixed herbs

1 tsp apple or maple syrup

1 can butter beans, drained & rinsed

1/2 C cashews

1/2 tsp salt or to taste

Spinach (optional)

  1. Steam saute onion, garlic and capsicum in 1/4-1/2 C vegetable stock or water until translucent ~8 mins. Add a little more stock to prevent sticking as needed.
  2. Stir in tomatoes, smoked paprika, herbs, apple syrup, butter beans and salt. Simmer gently for 10 mins.
  3. Meanwhile blend 1/2 cup of cashews with 1/2 water and add to your sauce.
  4. Wilt in the spinach and serve.

Taking the oil out of your food

I know the whole ‘no processed oils thing’ is enough to push an aspiring plant-based cook to the edge of what they can cope with.

“No meat, no eggs, no cheese and now you’re telling me no oil!!”

If you’re on the path of eating only plants you’re already reaping the benefits of reducing the amount of saturated fats in your diet. Your heart, brain, blood vessels right down down to your cells will thank you.

And here’s the ‘but’.

It’s not so great if you’re lavishing your new relationship to salad with loads of oil, sautéing and roasting your vegetables away to oily paradise, munching on high fat muesli bars and welcoming large amounts of nuts into your new found fabulous diet on a regular basis.

With our love of processed oils -and yes that does include olive oil – we’ve swung our balance of omega 6 to omega 3s way out leaving us still feeling sluggish and slow.

Now I’m not bagging all fats. Our wholefood varieties come in a package of fibre, essential fatty acids, trace elements, protein and other vital nutrients. Foods such as avocado, olives, nuts, seeds and coconut can be on your list but are to be used mindfully.

How ever you reduce your use of these highly processed, full fat foods, you will be rewarded.

Check out my previous post on steam sautéing and enjoy the clean feeling of your food.