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“But I Can’t Cook” Lentil Bolognese

About 10 minutes to put together. Cheap as chips. If you can open cans and jars and set a kitchen timer, you can make this. Serves 2.

Ingredients

150g dried spaghetti
1 x 400g can green or brown lentils
1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp salt (1 tsp for the spaghetti water; 1 tsp for the sauce)
1 tsp maple syrup
A few handfuls of baby spinach

Directions

1. Boil a kettle full of water. Transfer it to a large saucepan over a medium-high heat and sprinkle in one of the tsp of salt. Add the spaghetti, and set the kitchen timer to the time advised on the packet.
2. Add the rest of the ingredients to a smaller saucepan. Simmer on low until the spaghetti is cooked.
3. When the spaghetti is cooked, drain.
4. Add the sauce to the spaghetti. Taste, and promise never to tell yourself that you can’t cook again.

Tomato, Spinach, and Bean Soup

This speedy, budget soup is chunky and nutritious. It serves 8 and is ready in under 15 minutes.

Ingredients

1 onion, medium dice
5 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups vegetable stock
3 cans chopped tomatoes
3 tbsp tomato purée
1 tsp suitable-for-vegans sugar or maple syrup
1 tbsp vinegar of choice (balsamic is preferable, but apple cider, white wine, red wine, etc. will also work)
2 large handfuls spinach, chopped
1 x 400g can beans of choice
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 generous bunch basil
More freshly ground black pepper, to serve

Method

1. Sauté the onion over a medium low heat in a large soup pot until lightly coloured (2-3 minutes). Add the garlic and stir for 30 seconds. Add 1/4 cup of the stock and stir to deglaze the pot.
2. Add the rest of the stock, tomatoes, purée, sweetener, vinegar (if using), spinach, beans, and the 1/2 tsp black pepper.
3. Bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 5 minutes.
4. Add the chopped basil and season with black pepper to taste.

Coconut Spinach and Chickpeas with Couscous

A dinner that takes just 10 minutes to prepare is a sheer delight, especially when it is healthy, minimally processed, and beautifully fragrant with coconut and spices.

Ingredients:
200g couscous (the photograph shows giant wholewheat couscous)
200g baby spinach
50g kale, destemmed and torn into bite-sized pieces
150g baby button mushrooms
1 x 400g can chickpeas, drained
1 bell pepper, medium dice
1 can coconut milk (well shaken to combine)
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp ginger
pinch chilli flakes
salt and pepper
8 cherry tomatoes, quartered

Directions:
1. Cook the couscous according to the packet directions.
2. Meanwhile, in a large frying pan over a medium heat, wilt the spinach. You may have to add it in batches. A splash of hot water will help speed things up.
3. Add the kale, mushrooms, chickpeas, and peppers. Stir to combine.
4. Add the coconut milk and spices. Cook until the mushrooms shrink a little. Season to taste. Add the cherry tomatoes and warm through.

Loaded Minestrone

A real treat for those who love their vegetables, this soup is packed with all kinds of delicious textures and flavours. If you can’t find the packaged quick-cook minestrone mix, feel free to add your own mix of whole grains, pasta, and split peas or lentils, or just small pasta shapes, adjusting the cooking time accordingly. Serves 8.

Ingredients

1 large onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, sliced
2 carrots, medium dice
250g green beans, chopped
250g mushrooms, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
500g passata
400g can chopped tomatoes
400g can cannellini beans, or any beans of choice
250g quick-cook minestrone mix
1.5 l vegetable stock
1tsp each dried oregano, dried basil, dried thyme, dried parsley
Fresh parsley to serve (optional)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Large handful of spinach per serving

Method

1. In a large, preheated soup pot over a medium-low heat, add the onion, celery and carrots, and sauté 3 minutes, adding a little water if the vegetables start to stick. Add the mushrooms and green beans, and sauté for 3 minutes more. Add the garlic for another 30 seconds.
2. Add the rest of the ingredients apart from the salt and pepper, fresh parsley, and spinach. Bring to the boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
3. To serve, place a large handful of spinach into the bottom of each bowl and top with the soup. Garnish with fresh parsley, lots of freshly ground black pepper, and a bit of salt if required.

Sweet Potato Coconut Curry

This fragrant and warming meal takes under 20 minutes. It serves two people on its own, or four served with rice.

Ingredients

1 tsp suitable-for-vegan red chilli paste
1 can coconut milk
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1.5 tbsp soy sauce
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 inch ginger, grated
400g sweet potato, peeled and in medium dice
1 small cauliflower, in florets
150g mushrooms, quartered
1 red and 1 yellow bell pepper, medium dice
4 green onions, chopped
100g spinach
Handful basil, torn

Method

1. In a lidded frying pan, or a wide-rimmed pot, mix the red chilli paste, coconut milk, vegetable broth, soy sauce, garlic, and ginger. Simmer for a minute or two until the sauce becomes fragrant.
2. Add the sweet potatoes and cauliflower, cover, bring to the boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes.
3. Add the mushrooms, peppers, and green onions, re-cover, and simmer for 2-3 minutes more until cauliflower and sweet potato are cooked for your liking.
4. Turn off the heat, add the spinach and basil, recover, and allow to steam for about 2 minutes, until the spinach is wilted.
5. Serve and enjoy.

Spicy, smoky tempeh burrito with avocado, spinach and fresh tortilla

Simple, spicy and rich, this makes enough for 2 good sized wraps, but easily doubles. For a single large burrito, overlap the tortillas by about 5″ – 6″ and roll everything together.

Ingredients

For the filling
1T avocado oil (or similar)
1/4t coarse sea salt
1 cup sweet onion, 1/4″ dice
1/2 cup red bell pepper, 1/4″ dice
1T fresh garlic, minced
1T smoked paprika
1/2T garam massala
1/2t dried red chilis (or to taste)
125g tempeh, minced (use pasteurized)
1/2 to 1T coconut sugar (start with 1/2T but sweeten to taste)
1/2T lemon juice
1 cup mushroom stock
1/2 cup tomato passata (or puree)
2T nutritional yeast
Coarse sea salt and black pepper to taste

For the tortilla
1 cup heaping whole wheat bread flour
1/2 cup water

For the rest
1 ripe avocado, peeled, stoned and thinly sliced
2 cups spinach, coarsely chopped
2T nutritional yeast
A few pinches sea salt

Optional: Fresh habanero, jalapeno or even poblano pepper will add flavour and some heat to this dish. Maple syrup will do fine in place of the coconut sugar if that’s what you have. Use raw spinach if you prefer, but overall, expect some rolling challenges.

Method

First, start the tempeh, then make the tortillas and then the rest. Warm a large frying pan on medium high heat. Add the oil and sea salt. Add the onion and saute for 2 – 3 minutes. Add the red pepper and spices. Saute another 2 minutes. Add the tempeh and coconut sugar. Saute for 3 – 5 minutes, until the pan is starting to brown a little.

Add the lemon juice and deglaze the pan. Add the stock. Bring the pan to a simmer, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 30 minutes. Uncover, add the passata, and simmer another 30 – 40 minutes until the liquid is mostly cooked off. When done, remove from heat and set aside.

When the tempeh is getting thick, start the tortillas. Add the water to the flour. Knead until a smooth elastic dough forms, and then another 2 -3 minutes. Cover with a warm wet tea towel and let the dough rest about 15 minutes.

When rested, break the dough into 2 balls. Roll out on a floured board to 12″ – 14″, and about 1/8″ thick (or use a tortilla press if you have one). Repeat with the other ball of dough.

Warm a large frying pan on medium high heat. Dry fry until the tortilla is done on one side (it will be lightly browned and bubbled). Flip and fry the other side. Set aside and repeat with the other piece of dough. Cover both with a tea towel while you finish everything else.

While the dough is resting, preheat the oven to 450F. Add the spinach to a baking sheet or roasting pan and roast for about 5 minutes, until it’s nicely wilted. Remove and set aside. When the tortilla and spinach are ready and the tempeh has cooled a bit, season the tempeh to taste and add the nutritional yeast. Stir to combine.

To fill, add the spinach to a tortilla in a long, thin line toward the middle-bottom of the tortilla. Sprinkle with a bit of sea salt and nutritional yeast. Add half of the tempeh mixture. Add avocado slices. Sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt and nutritional yeast, and roll up carefully (warm filing can easily tear through a tortilla).

To roll, bring the bottom of the tortilla up away from you over the filling. Tuck. Fold in the sides. Roll over. Repeat with the other tortilla. Let them stand 2-3 minutes (or wrap in foil if you like), and then serve.

 

 

Slowcooked refried bean dip with mushrooms and spinach

A very simple, flavourful dip with lots of greens,
garnished here with some scallions, sriracha and a white miso, sesame spread.

Ingredients

1 large, 6″ portobello mushroom, stemmed and cut 1/4″ dice
2 cups shredded green cabbbage (I use cole slaw mix)
3 scallions, minced, 2″ – 3″ reserved for garnish
1T fresh garlic, minced
1/2t dried, ground cumin
1/4t dried, ground coriander
1/4t dried red chilis (or to taste)
1/4t coarse sea salt
1 cup refried beans
1T cashew butter
1T lemon juice
1 cup vegetable stock
2T tomato passata (or puree)
2 cups packed spinach, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
Coarse sea salt and black pepper/red chili to taste

Optional: Add more cashew butter to taste and
application. Garnish with scallions, sriracha, a sour cashew cream, etc. Serve with tortilla chips, fresh bread, whatever you like. If you don’t make your beans from scratch with a little dried kombu, you may want to add a small piece with the stock. Remove it before adding the spinach.

Method

Warm your slowcooker on high. Add the mushrooms, cabbage, herbs, spices, and sea salt. Cook on high for about 2 hours until the cabbage is well wilted. Add everything from the refried beans up to and including the passata.

Reduce heat to low and cook another 3 – 4 hours or so, until the dip has thickened, stirring periodically. Slowcookers vary depending on the size and exact heat. Use the colour and thickness as a guide.

When the dip has thickened, add the spinach and toss to combine. Let cook another 10 minutes or so to wilt the spinach. Remove from heat. Add the nutritional yeast.
Season to taste. Garnish and serve warm.

Handmade spinach and tofu tortellini in a light tomato broth, seasoned with sesame and white miso, mushroom stock and kalamata olives.

his is a rich but light soup, great for winter, but good all year round. With a little practice and technique, tortellini are not as time-consuming as they look.

Ingredients

For the filling
1/2t coarse sea salt
2t lemon juice
1T olive oil
2T sesame seed butter (I use a fair trade brand)
1T white miso
1T fresh garlic, minced
100g extra firm tofu
1 cup loose spinach
1t milled flax seed
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
Sea salt and black pepper to taste

For the pasta
1 cup semolina flour
1/3 cup cool water
1t olive oil
A pinch of sea salt

For the tomato broth
1T cooking oil
1/4t coarse sea salt
2 scallions, minced (2″ – 3″ green reserved for garnish)
1/2t dried basil, rubbed
1/4t dried oregano, rubbed
1/4t dried tarragon, rubbed
1/4t black pepper, preferably freshly ground
1/4t red Thai chili paste (or a pinch of cayenne pepper)
1T fresh garlic, minced
1T lemon juice
2 cups passata (or tomato puree)
2 cups mushroom stock
1 cup baby arugula
2T kalamata olives, pitted and finely chopped
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
1T nutritional yeast (for garnish)

Directions

Start the filling first, then the pasta, then the broth. Press your tofu if you feel it needs it. In a small bowl, whisk the sea salt, lemon juice, white miso, garlic, olive oil and sesame seed butter. Add the mixture with the tofu to a food processor and chop finely. Add the spinach and mince, but be careful not to liquefy the spinach. Add the nutritional yeast and flax seed and stir to combine. You can also mince the spinach by hand. Wrap with plastic, set it aside for the flavors to mix, and start the pasta.

Combine the flour and sea salt. Combine the oil and water. Combine the wet with the dry, and stir by hand until a dough forms. Keep kneading until you have a smooth, lightly rubbery dough and then knead another minute or two. The dough may seem too dry initially. Just keep kneading. Cover with a warm wet tea towel and set aside to rest for at least 30 minutes.

Around the 20 minute mark, start the broth. In a large pan with a lid, bring the cooking oil to heat with the sea salt on medium high. Add the scallions, green herbs, chili and pepper and saute for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for one minute. Add the lemon juice and deglaze the pan. Add the passata and the mushroom stock, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer gently while you make the pasta.

Roll the dough out on a floured board to a large rectangle, 1/8″ thick. Trim the side for any unevenness and ball up the leftover dough. If you can do smaller squares with a little less filling, that’s a little nicer, but it’s more difficult and more time-consuming. So, for a quick version, cut the dough in 1.5 inch squares. If they’re not perfect squares — even them out a little with your rolling pin individually when you go to fill them. Season the filling to taste, and then fill each square with about 1/2T to 2t filling.

When it comes to filling the tortellini, practice makes perfect. Fill each square by making an oblong cylinder of filling that aligns with two points (as if the square were a diamond) rather than a little round dollop in the middle. You’re going to pinch the tortellini in a triangle, starting with the top.

As if the tortellini were a napkin, hold it up by the two points of the diamond perpendicular to the filing. Pinch the top two points firmly. With the top securely pinched, pack the filling a little to one side and seam up the other side carefully. Now, pack the filling to the seamed side with a finger and seam up. You should have something that looks like a triangle. Take the two bottom ends of the triangle, wrap around your little finger and pinch so that the tortellini forms a little circle — like a ring.

Repeat the process until you’ve used all of your dough or all of your filling. Roll out any extra pasta scraps if you can. You’ll probably find you can add a little filling until you get used to the amount to use.

Once you’ve rolled out tortellini, bring the water to a boil. Add them carefully to the water and boil until they float (should be 3-5 minutes). Don’t overcook, since you’re going to simmer them a little in the soup. Drain them carefully in a colander, reserving 2T of the pasta water, and rinse with cool water.

Add the tortellini and the pasta water to the soup and let them simmer for another 2 minutes. Remove from heat, add the arugula and olive,and gently stir to combine. Let stand 2 minutes too cool and let the arugula wilt. Season to taste. Spoon out the tortellini with the soup in shallow dishes. Sprinkle the tortellini with nutritional yeast, garnish with scallions and serve.

Red lentil, potato, and spinach dal with roasted tempeh and Brussels sprouts

A warm, rich dal with some added color and flavor.

Ingredients

For the dal
2 cups water
2 cups vegetable stock
2 medium yellow potatoes, quartered (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 cup red lentils, rinsed and drained
2T vegetable ghee (or coconut or avocado oil, but not olive)
1/2t of coarse sea salt
1t dried cumin seeds
1/2t dried coriander seeds
1/2t dried mustard seeds
1t dried ground turmeric (or to taste)
3 scallions, minced (reserve about 6″ – 8″ of green for garnish)
2T fresh garlic, minced
1t fresh ginger, grated
1/2t red Thai chili (or green chili, 1/4t cayenne pepper, and so on)
1/4 cup tomato passata (or tomato puree)
A dash of liquid smoke
2 cups loose baby spinach greens
Sea salt and black pepper to taste

For the tempeh and sprouts
1/4t coarse sea salt
2 cups vegetable stock
A sprig of kombu (about 2″)
250g pasteurized tempeh
1 cup Brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half
1/4 cup tamari (or to taste)
2T cooking oil, divided
1/2T fresh garlic, minced
1/2t fresh ginger, minced
1T lemon juice
1T coconut sugar
2T nutritional yeast
Sea salt and black pepper to taste

Optional: 1T minced cilantro for garnish, 1t dried curry leaves, 1/4t hing (if you can get them, add them with the other dried spices), 2T coconut milk (added with the passata) if you have 2T that you can spare.

Instructions

First start the tempeh, then start the dal. In a small pan with a lid, bring the stock, kombu and sea salt to a light boil. Add the tempeh, cover, reduce to low and simmer for 45 minutes. Toward the 30 minute mark, start the dal. In a large pan with a lid, bring the water to a light simmer. Add the lentils. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir occasionally.

At the 20 minute mark, add the stock and return the pan to a simmer on medium. Add the potatoes. Cover, reduce heat to medium low and simmer for another 20 – 30 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender and the lentils have mostly dissolved.

Toward the 40 minute mark, preheat the oven for 400F. Remove the tempeh from the stock and set aside to cool. Cut the tempeth into 3/4″ to 1″ cubes. Whisk the tamari, garlic, ginger, lemon juice, sugar and nutritional yeast with 1/2 cup of the stock until consistent. Cut the sprouts in half, length-wise. Toss the tempeh and the sprouts in the mixture until well coated.

Add the tempeh to a lightly oiled baking sheet and bake for 20-30 minutes on the middle rack. Spoon half of the marinade over the tempeh. Add the sprouts after 10 minutes. Spoon 1/4 cup marinade over the sprouts.

Bake on the middle rack until the tempeh and sprouts are a nice golden brown. Turn the sprouts and tempeh at least once, and add the remainder of the marinade at that point. The sprouts should be soft but not overcooked. Ovens vary; use the colour and texture of the tempeh and sprouts as your guide.

When the potatoes, lentils, tempeh and sprouts are all ready, bring the oil or ghee and sea salt to heat on high in a small frying pan. You can use already ground spices, but the flavor is never the same as freshly ground, and ensuring a correct balance means doing the conversion by weight.

If you have experience popping spices on the stove top, add the cumin, coriander and mustard seeds to the oil until they pop. Otherwise, grind the cumin, coriander, and mustard until powdered in a spice grinder.

Add the dry spices and saute for 1 minute or until they are nicely aromatic. Add the curry leaves and hing if you’ll be using them. Add the scallions, garlic, ginger, and chili and saute for another 2 minutes. Add the dash of liquid smoke. Add the passata and deglaze the pan. Saute for another 3 minutes and remove from heat. Add the coconut milk if you’ll be using it.

Add the spice mixture to the dal. Stir to combine. Let stand 5 minutes for the flavours to mingle and the dal to cool. Add the baby spinach greens. Stir to combine. Let stand a minute for the greens to wilt. Season to taste and dish out the dal in a wide, narrow bowl.

For a dish like this, I’ll usually concentrate some of the potatoes in the center to add additional garnish on top. Season to taste and add the tempeh and sprouts in a loose stack in the middle (or however you prefer for the presentation). Garnish with the scallion greens sliced on an angle and cilantro if you’ll be using it.

Brown lentil, toasted millet bowl with spinach, kale, and sun-dried tomatoes

Stir fried with tamari, garlic, scallions and embellished with spiral cut carrots, raisins, milled flax seed, and nutritional yeast, this is a simple to prepare and nutritious dish. Makes a large bowl for 2 or a filling side dish for 4.

Ingredients

For the lentils and millet
2 cups water
1/3 cup dry brown lentils
1/3 cup hulled millet
1 ‘sprig’ kombu (about 1″)

For the sauce
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes (dehydrated, not jarred)
1/2 cup boiling water
2 scallions, finely chopped
1T fresh garlic, minced
1T tamari

For spinach and kale
2 cups packed baby spinach
1 cup packed kale, stemmed coarsely chopped
1/4 cup raisins (I use sultana)
About 1 cup, spiral cut carrots

For the garnish
2T cold milled brown flax seed
2T nutritional yeast
Coarse sea salt and black pepper to taste

Optional: A little lemon or lime juice will add some sour flavour. Some chopped olives will add some additional flavour and fat. A mix of orange and purple carrots, a little spiral cut golden or red beet will add a lot of colour and some additional nutrition.

Directions

Start the millet and lentils, and then assemble the rest of the bowl. In a small pan with a lid, toast the lentils and millet for about 3 minutes (stirring frequently). Add the water and kombu. Bring the pan to a light boil. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the water is absorbed. Remove from heat, remove the kombu, and let fluff about 5 minutes.

At about the 15 minute mark, bring half a cup of water to a boil and add it to the the sun-dried tomatoes to rehydrate. Set aside.

While the lentils and millet are fluffing, add the spinach, kale and raisins to a large bowl. Using a spiralizer or a mandoline, cut the carrots in fine, noodle like shapes, Or if you prefer, use a box grater to grate, or use a knife to cut matchsticks. Mix the milled flax seed and nutritional yeast.

When the millet has fluffed, bring the pan back to heat on medium heat. Add the tamari, the water from the sun-dried tomatoes, the scallion, and the garlic. Stir fry for about 2 minutes until the water has been absorbed.

Add the millet and lentils to the greens and stir
thoroughly to combine. Sprinkle in the the nutritional yeast and flax seed. Stir to combine. Let stand about 5 minutes to wilt the greens lightly. Season to taste, bowl out, and serve!