Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Specials board: Pasta with Chilli Cheesy Sauce

As you can tell from this post I have been craving pasta again! Today I wanted to keep it simple and quick and I will come back to this recipe time and time again especially during the colder months. The recipe only uses store cupboard ingredients and you can add any vegetable to the pasta as you wish, I added mushrooms. You must have guessed by now they are one of my favourite ingredients and I couldn't live without the humble mushroom!

Ingredients - Serves 2-3 
150g Pasta
250ml Unsweetened almond milk
5 Tbsp Cashew nuts
3 Tbsp Nutritional yeast
1 Tsp Mustard
1 Tsp Chilli flakes
½ Tsp Turmeric


Method
Cook the pasta in boiling water as per the packet instructions.

Cook your favourite vegetable and set aside, I fried up 3 field mushrooms.

Put the remaining ingredients into a blender and blend until you have a smooth sauce. If you're lucky enough to have a vitamix the sauce will heat up as it blends.

Drain the pasta and put back in the pan, add your vegetable of choice (mine is the mushroom), pour over the sauce and cook over a low hear until the sauce thickens. Serve straight away.



You could also use this sauce over nachos and serve with side orders of guacamole and salsa. I'm getting hungry just thinking about it!

Monday, 18 August 2014

Specials Board: Healthy Mac 'n' Cheese

Hands up who likes pasta? It is such a simple ingredient that allows you to have dinner on the table in a matter of minutes. Check out my courgette pasta with creamy basil sauce, which is on the table in less than 15 minutes. Ideal for a week night dinner when you're tired, and so much healthier than a take away.

Before transferring to a vegan lifestyle I used to love pasta with a cheesy sauce such as mac 'n' cheese or pasta with a four cheese sauce, but it used to be laden with calories! Now I'm vegan, I still love a 'cheese' sauce but I am trying to be a healthier individual and don't want to rely heavily on the range of vegan cheeses that are available. I've tried many vegan cheeses and I have been disappointed with some and shocked by others as some of the ingredients used in some vegan cheeses I can't even pronounce!  It's easy to replace ingredients with a vegan substitute and I'm not advising that you give up the substitutes there is a time and place for everything, but everything in moderation! 

Today after scrutinising the label on a vegan cheese substitute I decided to edge on the side of caution and decided to make a "cheese" sauce with no vegan cheeses being used.

I needed a yellow colour to my sauce and a cheesey taste so after raiding my spice rack and store cupboard two ingredients that stood out and had to be included were turmeric and nutritional yeast! I have previously experimented with "cheese" sauces for last years vegan mofo and I used different ingredients to replicate a cheese sauce with varying results. My most successful ones included Mac 'n' Cheese using sweet potato and Mac 'n' cheese using yellow peppers.



Today I'm using another vegetable that's yellow in colour and I'm also inundated with them from my garden, I'm showcasing the pattypan squash!

Ingredients - Serves 2-3 

1 Large Pattypan squash, or 2-3 smaller ones totaling 325g*, cut into chunks
150ml Unsweetend almond milk
55g Cashews
3 Tbsp Nutritional yeast1 Tsp Mustard powder
½ Tsp Ground turmeric
¼ Tsp Pink Himalayan salt
160g Pasta

* You could use a yellow courgette instead if you can't get your hands on a pattypan

Method

Cook your pasta in boiling water as per the cooking instructions.

In a saucepan add the cut up pattypan/courgette and a little boiling water. Simmer for 5 minutes or until the vegetables are al dente, don't cook until soft. Drain the vegetables and add to a blender.

Add the almond milk and cashews and blend until you have a smooth liquid. Add the nutritional yeast, mustard powder, turmeric and salt and blend again.

Drain the pasta and tip back into the saucepan, add the sauce and stir to coat over a low heat. The sauce will thicken over the heat, add a splash more almond milk if you want the sauce a thinner consistency.



I've submitted this recipe to Shaheens "Vegetable Palette Challenge". Shaheen runs the fabulous Allotment to Kitchen blog and every month Shaheen chooses a colour, and you make a recipe with vegetables, fruits or a combination of both with that colour. Its a great idea! The colour for July is Mellow Yellow & Orange, so this recipe fits the bill perfectly.


Once you've posted a recipe you email Shaheen and a round up of all the entries will be posted on her blog before the end of the month.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Broad Bean "Cheese" & Olive Crackers

Broad beans. You either love them or hate them. They are the marmite of the vegetable world. I know so many people that hate these little beauties so I thought I would make something that didn't resemble the vegetable and teamed it with a herb to tone down their unique flavour. I have been taking this "cheese" to work as a snackage with the olive crackers and I've managed to tempt a few colleagues to try it, the result - "Ooooh that's nice", "That isn't made with broad bean is it?" 
So, if you're a broad bean hater give this Broad Bean "Cheese" a go you might be pleasantly surprised.

Ingredients

160g Shelled broad beans
1 Clove of Elephant garlic, equivalent to 2 large cloves
30 Basil leaves
1 Tbsp Nutritional yeast
200ml Unsweetened almond milk
1 Tbsp Agar Agar flakes
Salt & Pepper, to taste

Method

Cook the broad beans and garlic in boiling water for 5 minutes, drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. Once cool enough to handle remove the outer skin of the broad bean, which can taste bitter.

Transfer to a blender and top with the basil leaves.

Add the almond milk and agar agar flakes to a saucepan and slowly bring to a rolling simmer. You need to simmer until the agar agar has melted, about 4-5 minutes.

Pour the milk and agar agar liquid into the blender and blend until you have a smooth liquid with no flecks of basil remaining. The colour should be a vibrant green!


Transfer to a glass or ceramic container and store in the fridge until set. I left it overnight before slicing. Serve with your favourite vegan crackers, I used olive crackers and the flavours paired up very well together. Enjoy!






I've submitted this recipe into "Shaheens Eat Your Greens" Recipe Challenge. Shaheen runs the fabulous Allotment to Kitchen blog. The idea behind this challenge is really simple, to make something with a green vegetable each month. Once you've posted a recipe you email Shaheen and a round up of all the entries will be posted on her blog before the end of the month.

I've also entered this recipe into the Simple and in Season recipe challenge, which asks you to enter recipes which use a product that is in season right now. Ren over at RenBehan.com is very busy right now with a new born so Elizabeth's Kitchen is hosting the challenge for August. 

Elizabeth's post that informs the entry details for this challenge states that she has just finished blanching and podding some broad beans, I wonder if she'll give this broad bean recipe a go?


I think this recipe also fits the bill for another recipe challenge, which I've only just come across and that's the "Extra Veg" Recipe Challenge. This event is run by Helen and Michelle and the August blog event is being hosted by Sarah over at Maison Cupcake.

The "Extra Veg" Recipe Challenge was set up to encourage everyone to a healthier start to 2014 and to set the course for the rest of the year. What a great idea, fill up on veggies and there's no room for the bad stuff.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Garden Stir Fry

There is nothing better than walking outside into your garden, picking vegetables to have for your dinner! You really can't get any fresher than that can you?



After wondering round my garden I managed to harvest an eight ball courgette, a handful of mange tout, 2 green peppers and a bunch of spring onions. I instantly craved a stir fry with all this green goodness. I love stir fries as they don't take long to make and with a couple of added ingredients can taste amazing and fresh!

Ingredients - Serves 2

Splash of Groundnut oil
1 Bunch of spring onions, cut down the centre, stalk and all
1 Red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
1 Piece of ginger, finely grted
3 Garlic cloves, finely grated
1 Green pepper, cut into strips
1 Courgette, cut into half moons
150g Mangetout, cut into strips
3 tbsp Soy sauce
½-1 Tsp Five spice powder
160 Tofu (I used the cauldron marinated tofu for super quickness)
250g Cooked brown rice
Good grind of black pepper

Method

Heat the oil in a wok or similar pan and throw in the spring onions, chilli, garlic and ginger and saute for 1 minute. Add a splash of water if things start sticking and be careful not to burn the garlic or ginger.

Add the green pepper strips and stir fry for another 3 minutes. Add the courgette and stir fry for another two minutes. Keep adding a splash of water if things start to stick. Add the Mangetout with the soy sauce and stir fry for another minute.

Add the five spice powder and stir to coat all the vegetables. Add the marinated tofu (or if you prefer marinate your own). Stir to coat in the five spice and soy sauce then add the cooked rice and stir through. Serve straight away with a good grind of black pepper for extra heat.




You could serve this with some of my homemade garlic bread too.