100 Days Project, Dairy Free, Gluten Free (with Substitutions), Mains, Recipes, Vegan

Day 54 – Black Bean Pasta with Smokey Avocado Sauce

Day54

I am sure some of you may be thinking I have gone a bit crazy with this one . . .

I have to admit I was a bit skeptical at first of  the recipe, from Treehugger,using these type of Mexican flavors in a pasta dish, but my curiosity got the better of me and I decided to try it. I have to admit I was pleasently surprised. Not only did the grilled avocado make a delicious creamy Alfredo-like sauce (yet without any dairy) the Mexican flavors worked with the pasta better than I expected them to. I am really keen to try playing twith the idea of an avocado pasta sauce again, but next time with more Italian flavors added in.

This dish is completely Vegan, dairy free, and can easily be made gluten free by substituting a gluten-free pasta.

Black Bean Pasta with Smokey Avocado Sauce

adapted from: Treehugger

MAKES: 2 large servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 avocado
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus some for drizzling
  • 3/4 cup of fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Juice of 1 lime, or more to taste
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne, or more to taste
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/2 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1 serrano chili or medium heat chilli, chopped finely
  • 250g of pasta (Linguine or Fettuccine)

Cut an avocado in half and brush with olive oil. and grill the halves flesh side down until the fruit is nicely charred. Scoop out the warm grilled flesh and put it in a food processor adding 1/2 cup cilantro, the lime juice, salt and cayenne, and one garlic clove. Process to make a purée, and then slowly stream in 1/4 cup olive oil and continue processing until the sauce emulsifies and has a creamy consistency. Taste and add more lime juice, salt or cayenne if necessary, and then set aside.

In a separate bowl mix black beans with finely diced red onion and serrano chile. Add a drizzle of olive oil, a squeeze of lime juice, another 1/4 cup chopped cilantro and salt to taste. Stir gently and let sit to meld the flavors.

Cook linguine or other pasta until pasta is al dente. Drain and add avocado puree and mix until well incorporated. Spoon bean mixture over the pasta, dress with a bit more cilantro and serve immediately while still warm.

ENJOY!!

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100 Days Project, Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Mains, Recipes, Vegan

Day 53 – Simple Red Lentil & Sweet Potato Curry

Day53

Gah!!! It was on of those way too busy Mondays, when you wish it was still Sunday and you can hide in bed with the covers over your head.   I definitely needed a quick and easy meal for tonight’s dinner.

Treehugger to the rescue!! Their recipe for a simple Red Lentil and Sweet Potato curry was just what I needed.

Curry is the generic English term to describe a wide variety of dishes from multiple word cusines. The similarity between dishes that are called a curry is the use of complex combinations of spices and herbs that is traditionally selected for each dish because of cultural tradition, religious practice, and family preference. Each individual dish usually has a specific name in the language of its origin describing the ingredients incorporated into the curry.

Simple Red Lentil & Sweet Potato Curry

adapted from: Treehugger

SERVES:4

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • coarse sea salt or kosher salt
  • 1 medium sweet potato or kumara, peeled and cut into 40mm or  1 inch chunks1
  • 40 mm or 1inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large or 2 small garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 ½ cups red lentils
  • green onion/spring onion
  • chili flakes

In a saucepan or kettle, bring 3 ½ cups of water to a boil.

In a large saucepan over high heat, warm the oil, and add the onion and a pinch of salt to sauté, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens (3 to 4 minutes). Add the sweet potato, ginger, garlic, curry powder and bay leaf and continue cooking for about a minute or until fragrant.

Then pour in the boiling water and stir in the lentils bringing the pot to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until the lentils break down and the sweet potatoes are tender (18 to 20 minutes). Season with salt.

While the potatoes and lentils are cooking, make rice basmati or jasmine rice for serving, or warm pita bread in the oven.

Remove the bay leaf and dish curry out on top of rice or to eat with the pita bread. Chop green onion to sprinkle over the top along with a small (or large) pinch of chili flakes, and serve while warm.

ENJOY!!

 

 

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100 Days Project, Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Mains, Vegan

Day 46 – Pomegranate Glazed Eggplant with Tempeh

Day46

I was going through my recipe books with a friend, and she was utterly surprised to find out that I just happened to have pomegranate molasses for this recipe already in my pantry. My cheeky response was  . . . “doesn’t everybody?”

Seriously though, I had bought the pomegranate molasses ages ago for a particular recipe I ended up not liking very much, and have been looking for an opportunity to use it ever since.  Hence my excitement at finding the Pomegranate Glazed Eggplant with Tempeh recipe in Heidi Swanson’s “Super Natural Every Day” cookbook.

Pomegranate is one of those flavors that it so unusual, just the right mix of sweet and tart. It is a fruit that has been cultivated in the Middle East since ancient times, and has been mentioned in many ancient texts including the Old Testament. Pomegranates are used in cooking, baking, juices, smoothies and alcoholic beverages, such as martinis and wine, and can give you up to 12% of your daily required intake of vitamin C. You can usually find pomegranate molasses at a middle eastern shop, or sometimes at your local natural food type store.

Tempeh, is a kind of patty made of highly nutritious fermented soybeans. To learn more about the this food you can read my Day 18 – Teriyaki Tempeh Bowl post.

This recipe is Vegan, gluten and dairy free, if you leave off the feta. I served it over a bed of couscous made with currants, green/spring onions, and dry roasted pistachio nuts, but realistically it would go well with almost any grain or pulse: rice, wild rice, Israeli couscous, bulger, quinoa, etc . . .

Pomegranate Glazed Eggplant with Tempeh

SERVES: 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 long thin Asian eggplant (about 225 g or 8 ounce), cut into 25mm or 1 inch chunks
  • 255 grams or 8 ounces tempeh, cut into 10 mm or 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 cup peeled and diced winter squash, pumpkin, sweet potato, or kumara
  • grated zest of 1 small lemon
  • 1 teaspoon fine grain, sea salt
  • 3 medium cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/3 cup pomegranate molasses
  • 1/3 olive oil
  • 1/3 cup fresh coriander/cilantro, chopped
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta or ricotta

Preheat the oven to 180 C or 350 F, with the rack int he middle of the oven.

In a large bowl combine the cubed, eggplant, tempeh, and squash.

Prepare the glaze by sprinkling the salt over the smashed garlic, and then turning the garlic into a paste, either in a mortar and pestle or by  continuously chopping and smashing the garlic with the flat of your knife. Combine the garlic paste in a small bowl with the chili flakes and pomegranate molasses. Whisk in the olive oil.

Then drizzle 3/4 of the glaze over the ingredients in the large bowl. Toss well and transfer them to a rimmed baking sheet trying to arrange the ingredient sin a single layer.

Bake for 45-60 minutes until the eggplant and squash are soft and starting to caramelize. About 35 minutes into baking give the ingredients a good toss on the pan.

Once out of the oven drizzle with the remaining glaze, and sprinkle with the feta and fresh coriander/cilantro.

Serve warm with couscous or your grain of choice.

ENJOY!!

 

 

 

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100 Days Project, Dairy Free, Dips, Condiments and Dressings, Gluten Free, Mains, Recipes, Side Dish, Vegan

Day 44 – Slow Cooked Barbecue Baked Beans

Day44

Her is another great slow cooker recipe for you my Herbivores . . .

The best thing about slow cookers is how you can pop everything into the insert the night before or in the morning, the slow cooker does all the work, and you get to eat the yummy results.  This recipe for slow cooked barbecue baked beans, from Skinny Ms, is not exception.

I love the smokey maple flavor of a good BBQ sauce, and unfortunately, until recently, that can be hard to find here in New Zealand. I used to make the trip out to Martha’s Backyard, the American Store in Mt. Wellington, just for BBQ sauce. Luckily now some of the fancier food stores like Nosh and Farro are bringing BBQ sauce in from the US. Even one of my favorite brands, Kansas City Cowtown BBQ Sauce. I got so excited when I saw this at a friend’s house that she bought me a bottle the next time she came over for dinner. A friend that brings good BBQ sauce is a good friend indeed!! The Bonz Kajun Kitchen in Elliott Stables makes great locally made BBQ sauce that they bottle and sell, but you have to ask nicely for a vegetarian version, because he will normally put pig fat drippings in his sauce otherwise.

The thing that makes BBQ sauce so good is the combination of smokey, savoury, spicy, and sweet all perfectly balanced for optimal enjoyment.  When slow cooked with these beans, it makes a great side dish or can easily be turned into a main, like I did, by spooning the beans over a baked potato and adding a bit of spring onion/green onion and cheese.  A Kiwi favorite is baked beans on toast, and this recipe can be be used to make a great version of that dish as well. Add a fried egg on top, and you got a yummy savoury breakfast!!

If you do not have access to a good BBQ sauce, you can easily make your own with the recipe included below.

Slow Cooked Barbecue Baked Beans

MAKES: 8, 1 cup servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 sweet onion, diced
  •  1.7 kilograms or 60 ounces cooked Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 1/4 cup barbecue sauce (recipe below)
  • 1/2 cup unrefined sweetener, (choices of unrefined sweeteners: Madhava Coconut Sugar, honey, molasses, pure maple syrup, sucanat, sorghum)
  • 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Sea salt to taste

for BBQ Sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 sweet onion, finely diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 – 230 gram or 8 ounce can tomato puree
  • 1/2 cup mild molasses or sorghum
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • Sea Salt to taste

Add all ingredients for the BBQ beans  into the slow-cooker.  For the unrefined sweetener, I used a combination of golden syrup and molasses, but any of the other options will do).  Cover, turn to low and cook 6-8 hours.

It is as simple at that!!

To make your own Barbecue Sauce:

In a medium sauce pan add canola oil, turn to medium-low heat and saute onion and garlic until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining barbecue sauce ingredients, stir and simmer until sauce has thickened, about 30 minutes. Viola!!

ENJOY!!

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100 Days Project, Baking, Mains, pastry, Recipes

Day 40 – Puff Pastry Pockets

Day40

The right music always adds to the cooking experience . . .

I received in the mail today the new  Fleur Jack CD, who is a Kiwi singer/song writer and friend currently living in The States.  I stuck the CD in my computer, put it on repeat, and danced my way (wine glass in hand) through this recipe for Puff Pastry Pockets, originally from the Baking Makes Things Better blog.

This was the perfect simple recipe for the end of a work day, that used up many of the ingredients I had around the house. The recipe called for filling the puff pastry with feta, pesto, and sundried tomato, but I added spinach and spring onion/green onion into the mix. There are countless other variation you could do on this as well, to help clean out your refrigerator. I can imagine roast pumpkin, potato, kumara, red peppers, capers, carrot, mushrooms, onion, lentils or other beans, chickpeas, and other kinds of cheese all being great alternatives to the filling I chose.

Puff pastry is not something I have ever tried making myself, although it is on the bucket list. Making puff pastry from scratch is a time consuming delicate process that can very easily go wrong, and it is an ingredient readily available in the freezer section of most super markets. As a vegetarian you have to be careful though, as most pre-made versions use lard or other animal fats. In New Zealand, New Way brand puff pastry is the only one that is vegetarian friendly, and even has the New Zealand Vegetarian Society stamp of approval.

Puff Pastry Pockets

adapted from: Baking Makes Things Better

MAKES: 4 pockets

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 square sheets of pre-made puff pastry
  • 200g or 7 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons pesto
  • 4 large sundried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 packed cup of baby spinach
  • 1 green onion/spring onion
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • Black pepper for seasoning

Preheat the oven to 200 C of 400 F, use the fan bake setting if you have one.

Brush a baking sheet with olive oil.

Cut each of the pastry squares in half.

In a medium bowl mix together the feta, pesto, sun-dried tomato, spinach, green onion, plus a sprinkling of black pepper.

Divide the feta mixture between the four pieces of pastry, and hen fold over the pastry to encase the filling. Press down on the edges with a fork to seal the
filing in. They should look like giant ravioli.

Brush the tops with the egg then bake for 20 minutes until golden.

Serve, while warm, with a simple side salad, or these will also make a great lunch for the next day.

ENJOY!!

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100 Days Project, Mains, Recipes

Day 35 – Vegetable & Egg Quiche with a Rye Crust

Day35

I was having a few friends over for dinner tonight and wanted to make something a bit special.

I had this recipe for a vegetable pie, from Krisser’s Cookie Crumble blog, in my collection,  and it looked so beautiful with the spiral of vegetables that I really wanted to try it. I had given the recipe a quick scan, but did not realize until after I started making it; that the recipe was translated very badly (I think the original is in Danish). Oh well . . . I had already started and told my guests this was what we were having for dinner, so had to keep with it and do the best I could.

The first obstacle I ran into was that the translated recipe did not call for enough liquid to bind the flours for the crust together. So I had to do a bit of experimentation slowly adding more water and oil until a got a crust that would hold. Even then, it kind of fell apart while transferring the pie crust to my tin and I had to piece it back together.

The thing that makes his recipe spectacular is the way the vegetables are sliced and used standing on edge to create a pattern. The original recipe had all the slices beautifully curved into circles. As you can see from the image above, my vegetable slices did not quite want to conform to a circular shape, and ended up more triangular. I think the vegetables in the original recipe must be sliced using a mandolin vegetable slicer, but unfortunately this is a kitchen gadget I do not own and I could not cut my vegetables thin enough by hand to easily hold the circular shape. If you have a mandolin, I would definitely suggest using it.

I also substituted the the milk the recipe called for with left over mascarpone cheese from my Day 33 post, Gnocchi with Tomato Mascarpone Sauce,  and thought the egg could use a little favor of its own and added my favorite go to herb, dill. I never did meet a recipe I didn’t want to tweak. Even with the problems and the changes, this made a delicious main for my meal tonight, was enjoyed by all, and I will definitely have to refine the recipe and give it another try. The recipe posted below includes the changes and tweaks I made to the original recipe.

Vegetable & Egg Quiche with a Rye Crust

adapted from: Krissers Cookie Crumble

INGREDIENTS

for the crust

  • 90 grams or 3 ounces of wheat flour
  • 200 grams or 7 ounces of rye flour
  • 6-8 tablespoons of cold water
  • 4 -6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt

for the filling

  • 3 carrots
  • 4 small zucchini
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 tablespoons milk or mascarpone cheese
  • 2-3 teaspoons dill
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C or 400 degrees F.

Grease a 20 cm pie dish or quiche pan.

Mix all five ingredients for the crust together until the dough becomes “crumbs”. Turn “crumbs” out on the table and knead them into a complete and cohesive dough. If it does not seem like the dough is sticking together slowly add more water and oil until it has the proper consistency.  Roll out the dough on the table to fit your pie dish and transfer the dough to your pie pan. If it falls apart like mine did, just piece it back together inside the pan; it gives your crust a more “rustic” look.. Now use your fingers to adjust the dough completely, so that it reaches all the way up over the edge of the pan.

To make the filling, peel the carrots and cut them and the zucchini into thin strips about the same height as your pie pan.  It might be easier to use a mandolin vegetable slicer for this. When the vegetables are ready Beat the eggs together with the milk or mascarpone. Add the dill and salt and pepper as needed.

To make the pie filling, place the strips of vegetable, end to end, all the way around the pie pan edge. Alternate between squash and carrot until you reach the middle, where a vegetable
strip rolled together creates the center. When all the vegetables are placed, slowly pour egg mixture gently between the vegetable layers. Try to make sure the egg mixture is evenly distributed, and that it comes down between the slices of vegetable.

Bake the pie for approx. 30 minutes.

Serve the pie warm, along with a good salad. My Antipasto Salad recipe made an excellent accompaniment for this pie.

ENJOY!!

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100 Days Project, Mains, Recipes

Day 33 – Homemade Potato Gnocchi with Tomato Mascarpone Sauce & Fried Capers

Mmmmm . . . Gnocchi . . .

Gnocchi are one of those foods that are amazing to eat when made right, and for whatever reason are so often done wrong.  It is so disappointing to order gnocchi at a restaurant expecting little fluffy, melt in your mouth, pillows of potato goodness, and what is delivered on your plate are gluggy, sticky potato rocks.

Because it seemed too hard and daunting a task to make gnocchi that are nice to eat, I had never tried making my own . . . until now. My friend Stef claims she has a fool-proof easy recipe for potato gnocchi given to her by an Italian friend, Elisa Testoni, who used to run Italian cooking classes in Christchurch and now has moved back to Italy to open her own bed & breakfast (I know where I am staying next time I am in Italy).

So . . . I enlisted Stef’s help to make gnocchi for Day 33 of my 100 Days Project. Gnocchi are thick, soft Italian dumplings; the origin of which dates back to ancient Roman times. Originally made from semolina flour, modern gnocchi are most often made from potato, but ingredients vary depending on the region a particular recipe is from.  Traditionally gnocchi are eaten as a first course commonly served with melted or browned butter with sage, pesto, and other various sauces.

Mascarpone is a thick spreadable Italian cheese made from cream. It is considered a specialty of the Lombardy region of Italy and is used to thicken sauces and risottos, and is also used in deserts like Tiramisu. For this recipe the macarpone is added to tomato sauce to give it a creamy texture and flavor. On its own, I thought the combination of tomato and mascarpone would be delicious, but I like to have a little texture and saltiness with creamy sauces. A friend had recently been talking about frying capers, and how they “pop in your mouth with a crunch releasing that yummy warm salty brine”. From this description, I thought fried capers would make the perfect finishing touch for my plate of gnocchi and sauce.

Instead of being a single recipe, this dish for Day 33 is more of a combination of food elements that I have been wanting to try. The gnocchi, the sauce, and the fried capers originally come from three different recipes or ideas I have heard about. Together, the three different elements create a quite tasty meal.

Homemade Potato Gnocchi with Tomato Mascarpone Sauce & Fried Capers

MAKES: 3 servings

INGREDIENTS

for the gnocchi

  • 600g potato
  • 200 g plain flour or semolina flour
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons parmesan, finely grated
  • 2 teaspoons nutmeg (freshly grated is best but not necessary)

for the sauce – recipe adapted from BBC Good Food.

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 400 gram or 14 ounce can of chopped tomatoes in sauce
  • 140 grams or 5 ounce mascarpone
  • 200 gram or 8 ounce bag of baby spinach
  • handful fresh basil leaves
  • shaved parmesan, for garnish
  • salt, pepper, and Italian herbs to taste

for the capers

  • 1/2 cup capers, drained and patted dry

For the gnocchi: Boil potatoes with skins on.  When cool enough to handle remove potato skins with your thumbs.  Mash the potato and let completely cool. This is best prepared ahead of time so that the mashed potato can completely cool, but can be put in the refrigerator or freezer to save time.

Add the lightly beaten egg, flour, and parmesan. Do not add these ingredients until the potato has completely cooled or else your gnocchi will come out sticky and gluggy instead of light and fluffy.

On a lightly floured surface, knead the ingredients into a smooth dough, and then pad it out into a shape about 20mm or 1 inch thick.

Cut the dough into strips about 20mm or 1 inch wide. Roll the strip back and forth until rounded, and then cut into 30mm or 1 1/2 pieces. With the back of a floured fork give the gnocchi pieces grooves.

Place gnocchi pieces on a floured baking sheet to rest.  At this point, if you are not planning on eating all the gnocchi right away, the gnocchi pieces can be put into the freezer for use at a later date.

While gnocchi are resting, fill a large pot with water and salt, and bring the water to a boil. Once the water is boiling, put the gnocchi pieces into the pot making sure to stir the water so that they do not stick together. If you are using gnocchi that have been frozen from before, then they can come directly out of the freezer and into the pot of boiling water. Bring the water back up to a gentle boil, and when the gnocchi float to the surface they are done.  Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cooked gnocchi from the pot into a colander or plate.

For the sauce: Heat the olive oil in a frying pan, fry the garlic until golden, then add the tomatoes. Season, with salt and pepper or other Italian herbs, and then let simmer for 10 minutes.

Stir in the mascarpone and cook for 2 minutes more.  Add the spinach for the final min of cooking. You want to make sure the spinach is just wilted and not over cooked into the sauce.

For the capers: Drain the capers of any brine and pat dry with a paper towel.

Heat the oil in a small heavy duty skillet over a medium heat. Add capers to oil in the skillet and fry until capers are crisp and open like flowers. Stirring often, they will need to cook for only 45 to 60 seconds.

Using slotted spoon, transfer capers to paper towels to drain. The capers can be fried two hours ahead before being used in a recipe. Just let them stand at room temperature until you’re ready to add them.

To serve: Add cooked gnocchi into the pan of sauce and mix well. Serve immediately with basil leaves, parmesan shavings, and fried capers scattered over the top of each portion.

ENJOY!!

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