Vegan Ricotta and Veggie Lasagne

All this recent celebrating has left me feeling heavy and tired. It all started with Marco’s birthday Feast of the Seven Kingdoms, continued with Christmas, New Years and Serbian Christmas. All that delicious food was meat and dairy heavy, which are the two things that I don’t run well on. They were also not great for eating during the heat of summer. So as part of my New Years goals, I am going to start eating lighter. I still wanna enjoy my favourite homely dishes, but I need to modify them a little.

This lasagne is a quite light and guilt free. It has no dairy and is packed full of protein and flavour. Tofu has been used in place for real Ricotta. I adapted the ricotta recipe from Chloe Coscarelli’s Rockin Ricotta. The blend of ingredients doesn’t have that typical soy flavour. It tastes light and bright. There is no need for cheese substitutes either.

Feel free to make alterations to the lasagne sheets or vegetables. Gluten-free pasta can be used instead if semolina pasta doesn’t agree with you. Shredded carrot, shaved broccoli or baby spinach would all work nicely.

I made this dish for my daughter and her little cousin, who is seven. Octavia gladly gobbled it up because lasagne and tofu are her favourites. My niece, however, isn’t a big fan of tofu, but she still gave it a try. She was very happy with it. The only thing she complained about was the mushrooms, but since there weren’t many she agreed to eat them. I admit it’s not the prettiest lasagne, but if the kids liked it, mission accomplished.

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Hot Smoked Salmon and Ricotta Ravioli

As promised I have written for you today my recipe for Hot Smoked Salmon and Ricotta Ravioli. I prepared this dish for my family on New Year’s day, using my new Kitchen Aid attachments that I received for Christmas. I was lucky enough to get the Pasta Roller and Ravioli Roller from Santa, which I had been dreaming off for years.

I first used an electric pasta machine when I did a cooking class in Milan.  I couldn’t believe how easy it was and wished someday I would get my own. Since then I have been using a manual pasta machine, but I needed a second person to help me. Now I can do it all myself and lucky for little Octavia I can cook her favourite pasta anytime now.

For this recipe, I prepared the pasta from start to finish using my KitchenAid Stand Mixer, Pasta Roller and Ravioli Roller. If you don’t have these items, you can still prepare the pasta dough by hand, use a manual pasta machine to roll the pasta sheets out thin and then fill and cut the ravioli by hand. The ravioli attachment does give you some half-sized ravioli, that you wouldn’t have if doing completely by hand. I still cooked them since they are great for checking if your pasta is cooked through enough. In the KitchenAid Ravioli Roller booklet, it does recommend the setting to use with the Pasta attachment. I did go a bit thinner when I made my pasta sheets since I had already done a trial. The setting they recommended gave me ravioli that was so thick that the filling didn’t shine.

If your dairy free, you don’t need to use ricotta. In the future, I would probably use an alternative, as it doesn’t make much difference with for the filling. You just need something that will help make the salmon a little bit creamy when blending. If you don’t have eggs, you could always use soft tofu for the pasta dough. This is something I am yet to try but wouldn’t mind seeing how it turns out. I recommend the New Zealand  King smoked salmon fillet, which I bought from Aldi. Otherwise wild or organic smoked salmon filet would also be great. If you can’t get smoked you can always use good quality freeze or frozen salmon, which you could and cool in preparation.

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A Feast of the Seven Kingdoms

This week was my partner, Marco’s birthday. His birthday is so close to Christmas that sometimes celebrating his special day can be a bit rushed. He’s so hard to buy for and having to come up with presents for both birthday and Christmas is really hard.

Marco is a big Game of Thrones fan of both the books and TV series. Last year I did get him The Official A Game of Thrones Coloring Book and World of Ice and Fire: The Untold History of the World of A Game of Thrones. He’s not really into fan merchandise, so I wasn’t sure what else he would like.

I came across a couple of things that he didn’t have that I knew he would love. I bought him the book A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms, which is a prequel to A Game of Thrones. It consists of three novellas, which are set a century before in Westeros. I knew he would love this because he adores George R.R. Martin writing and its something he can take to work with him to read. I also got him the Feast of Ice and Fire: The Offical Companion Cookbook. This book recreates the recipes of the foods that George R.R. Martin mentions throughout the books. Marco can’t cook to save himself, so I knew he wouldn’t be that interested unless I was to make some of these medieval dishes for him. So for his birthday, I made a Feast of the Seven Kingdoms. 

 

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Vegan Tuna Salad: 3 ways

Tuna is something I gave up long ago. I was wanting to avoid BPA, Mercury and was trying to follow a plant-based diet. Fast-forward a few years later and I still remember the delicious taste of tuna but it’s not so tempting anymore. I came up with this recipe a while back I found that it really fixes my tuna craving.

This mock tuna is primarily made with chickpeas and get’s its fishy taste from the umeboshi vinegar and nori. You can enjoy it in a salad, on a sandwich or wrap it in a nori roll.

 

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Carrot Ginger Mojito

Now that it’s starting to warm up again juices are back on the menu! I love this recipe. Its refreshing, healthy and a little bit fancy.

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Carrot Ginger Mojito 

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

Ingredients:

4 small carrots

2 apples

small knob ginger

3 cm wide round slice lemon (including skin)

mint leaves from 2 sprigs

cold sparkling water

Method:

1. Place all the ingredients except the sparkling water in a juicer.

2. Place the juice in a tall glass or large jar and top with some sparkling water and some mint leaves to serve.

*Serves 1

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Spaghetti Squash with Sun dried Tomato, Olive, Red Wine Sauce

Just because your trying to skip gluten, grains or just want a more nutritionally dense meal doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy Italian flavours. Spaghetti squash is an amazing vegetable that when roasted has an amazing stringy texture that can lend itself as a pasta substitute. I love big bold pasta sauces with wine. This sauce doesn’t take long to prepare and will go perfectly with any other pasta or substitute.

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Spaghetti Squash with a Sun Dried Tomato, Olive, Red Wine Sauce 

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

Ingredients:

1 Spaghetti Squash (90g -100g)

olive oil

sea salt to taste

black pepper to taste

1 small brown onion, diced

2 garlic, cloves diced

1 red chilli, diced

6 sun dried tomatoes, chopped

1 can good quality tomato pulp (I used Mutti)

1/2 can filtered water

sea salt and black pepper to taste

pinch raw sugar

2 tablespoons red wine (I used Lambrusco)

8-10 black olives

8 basil leaves, chopped

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees.

2. Cut off the stem of the squash, then cut it in half. Scoop out the seeds and remove some of the guts. Sprinkle some sea salt and black pepper and roast for 30-40 minutes or until cooked.

3. Heat a pan with a tablespoon or two of olive oil and add onion, garlic and chilli. Saute for a few minutes until the onion starts to brown.

4. Then add sun dried tomato and saute for another couple of minutes. If you like add some of the oil from the sun dried tomatoes or olive oil.

5. Add the tomato pulp, water,  sea salt, black pepper, raw sugar. Bring to a light boil, then leave to simmer.

6. Add the red wine and black olives. Leave to cook for 20 minutes or until the spaghetti squash is cooked. Add more sea salt and pepper if you need to the sauce.

7. Once the spaghetti squash is cool enough to handle, run a fork through the flesh to produce small strains of spaghetti.

8. Before serving, add the basil leaves to the sauce and stir it through to them let it wilt.

9. Top the Spaghetti Squash flesh with the sauce.

*Serves 2

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Spelt Pumpkin Baked Donuts

I was so inspired by my recent visit to Nodo, I decided to create my own baked donuts. Mine aren’t gluten-free however, they are vegan, soy-free and nut-free. They are also made from mostly spelt and with fresh pumpkin, so they nutritious and easier to digest. Coconut sugar also works beautifully in them, so they are just sweet enough. I hope you like them!

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Winter Potato topped Bean Casseroles

Winter seems to have come early in Brisbane. So it’s time for winter casseroles to warm these bones. I love topping casseroles with creamy mashed potatoes or sliced potato. It just gives a casserole another yummy layer and a bit more heartiness. I prefer to use Dutch cream potatoes, as they mash well and soften well when cooked. These two casseroles are easy to put together but need a bit more time to prepare the ingredients before baking.

 

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Tempting Italian Tempeh Recipes

Have you seen tempeh in the supermarket, heard of its wonderful health benefits but not known what to do with it? Or have you bought it, tried to cook it and vowed never again? That actually did happen to me the first time I tried it. But then after cooking it again using some trusty recipes I feel more comfortable cooking it.

All these recipes are Italian inspired, cooked in rich tomato sauces. I found this is my favourite way to cook tempeh, as it has a very meaty in texture but it needs strong flavours to make it tasty. Chickpea or Fava tempeh should also work for these recipes.

What’s your favourite way to cook tempeh?

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Kidney Bean Casserole with Cheddar Dumplings Topping

Now the weather is cooling down its time for stews, soups, and casseroles. This is one of my favourite casseroles. It’s easy to make and I just love the Cheddar Dumping Topping. You can swap the beans for cannellini beans or chickpeas. You ca also empty the vegetables from your fridge and use what you have on hand.

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Kidney Bean Casserole with Cheddar Dumplings Topping

(vegan, nut free)

Ingredients for Kidney Bean and Vegetable Stew:

2 tablespoon olive oil

2 large brown onions, diced

2 garlic cloves, diced

1/2 bunch shallots, diced

2 sticks celery, diced

2 carrots, diced

1 red capsicum, diced

1/2 cup white wine (optional)

1 teaspoon sweet hungarian paprika

1 teaspoon liquid smoke (optional)

1 teaspoon thyme leaves

2 bay leaves

2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced

1 can good quality tomato pulp

2 zucchini (diced)

2 cups cooked kidney beans

2 cups vegan chicken or vegetable liquid stock

sea salt & black pepper to taste

Ingredients for Dumplings:

200 g self-raising flour

100 g grated Cheezly White Cheddar Style/vegan or organic cheddar

1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced

6-7 tablespoons ice cold water

5 tablespoons vegan butter

 

Method:

1. Heat a large oven proof pot with olive oil. Then add onion and garlic. Cook for 10 minutes and as it starts to brown, add celery and shallots and cook for a further 5 minutes.

2. Add carrots, capsicum and white wine. Continue to cook until the wine is absorbed.

3. Add the paprika, liquid smoke, lemon thyme, bay leaves and parsley.

4. Saute the vegetables for a couple of minutes, then add the tomato pulp. Continue to cook until the carrots start to soften

5. Add the zucchini, kidney beans, liquid stock, sea salt and black pepper. Bring to the boil, then leave to a simmer for 30 minutes.

6. In the meantime preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

7. Before placing the stew in the oven, prepare the dumplings. In a large mixing bowl add flour, cheddar, and parsley. Then add the butter and mix it through with your hands. Then add cold water one tablespoon at a time, until it forms a dough.

8. Roll the dough into about 12 balls.

9. Top the stew with the dumplings on the outer edge.

10. Bake for 30 minutes, then serve.

*Serves 6

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Sweet Potato Soup: two ways

The humble sweet potato makes a regular appearance on our dinner table. It is so nutritious and contains high amounts of fiber, vitamin A, vitamin B5, B6, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, carotenoids. We eat a lot of them at the moment since its one of the few vegetables my toddler will eat on her own accord. We usually roast them whole or in rounds. I also love to add them to soups to both thicken and add sweetness. These are a couple of my favourite sweet potato soup recipes, which are sure to satisfy the largest appetite.

 

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Favourite Eggplant Recipes

Eggplant has to be one of my favorite vegetables. Whether it’s fried, grilled, or baked, it always makes a meal hearty and comforting. I mostly use the larger common variety as they are nice and fleshy and great to stuff, layer, and fry.

These are some of my favourite go-to eggplant recipes, which are all vegan and gluten free. The Rolled Eggplant with Cannellini bean Pine nut Filling is nice to serve as an entree for a small dinner party and is sure to wow. My Eggplant Parmigiana is a one-pot casserole, which is great to feed a crowd. The Eggplant Katsu with Japanese Curry is a twist on a Japanese classic and a great midweek meal.

Another one of my favourite eggplant recipe which isn’t my own, but I love to serve at all our events is Roasted aubergine with sumac and tahini dressing. It’s one of those dishes that everyone wants the recipe for and easy to prepare in advance.

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