Chickpea pasta with Cherry tomatoes and Pecorino rind

Today I bring you another 15min meal, which is easy to put together. I used one of my favourite ingredients that I recently discovered, pecorino cheese rind. I remember reading a while ago to keep Parmesan rind for sauce and soup. It’s meant to give great depth of umami flavour.

I try to stick to sheep and goats cheeses since I have an intolerance to cows milk and cheese.  So my cheese of choice is always pecorino, which is a hard Roman sheeps cheese. I buy the imported cheese from Costco, rather than then Australian blends that usually have cows milk in them. I have been saving my pecorino rinds for a while and adding cubes of them to red pasta sauces. I recently found they are delicious to add to fresh tomato or olive oil to coat the pasta. They melt a little and have a chewy texture and nice cheesy taste.

For this dish, I also used Chickpea fusilli pasta, which has extra protein and fibre, then regular pasta and gluten-free. Semolina fusilli pasta would also work fine, which is my usual go-to. I had organic cherry tomatoes, which were so full of flavour. Cherry tomatoes are usually sweeter and delicious then regular tomatoes, but you could always use diced tomatoes instead.  For the vegetables I just used some zucchini and silverbeet, which complement the pasta. You could use your favourite veggie combination to add to this dish or no veggies at all if you prefer.

Chickpea pasta with Cherry tomatoes and Pecorino rind

(vegetarian, gluten free, nut free)


200g Chickpea Fusilli Pasta (I used San Remo Pulse Pasta)

1-2 tbsp olive oil

1 zucchini, diced

1 punnet of cherry tomatoes, quartered

1-2 garlic cloves (optional)

5x5cm piece pecorino rind, cubed

3-4 silverbeet leaves, spines removed and sliced

Sea salt & Black Pepper to taste


  1. First, boil the pasta water and cook according to packet instructions. To cut down time boil the water in the kettle first. Add sea salt to the water. Drain when ready.
  2. Heat olive oil in a frying pan and saute the zucchini, cherry tomatoes, garlic Cook for a few minutes or until they start to soften. Add 1/2 a ladle of pasta water to make a little juicy.
  3. Add the pecorino rind and cook another couple of minutes.
  4. Add silverbeet leaves and allow to wilt, before turning off the heat. Season with sea salt and black pepper.
  5. Add pasta to the hot pan and coat with ingredients. Serve immediately.

*Serves 2


Turmeric Spiced Couscous Ratatouille with Coconut Yoghurt Tzatziki

What do you do when you’re so hot and hangry and there seems likes there’s nothing to eat for lunch. Well, nothing except some leftover couscous and a few veggies in the fridge. Salad would be my usual go-to, but my little girl doesn’t eat salad. I thought about a warm salad with beans and veggies, but I had no canned beans. So this lunch was created in 15 minutes using whatever I could find on hand.

I spiced the veggies with Turmeric Latte spice blend, which has been neglected lately in back of the cupboard. The Coconut Yoghurt Tzatziki was also a nice refreshing side that helped cool the meal down. Octavia won’t swallow cucumber, so she got yoghurt and with a dash of honey on the side, so everybody wins.

What is your go-to dish that you can whip up in a jiffy in times of hangriness?

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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.


Carrot Ginger Mojito 

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


4 small carrots

2 apples

small knob ginger

3 cm wide round slice lemon (including skin)

mint leaves from 2 sprigs

cold sparkling water


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.


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

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


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


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


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.


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



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