Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Vegan Nutmeat Bolognese with Zucchini and Carrot Spaghetti (low carb)

Like every other Australian kid, I grew up eating a lot of spaghetti bolognese. It's so commonly cooked in Australian homes that it's practically a national dish. Nobody in my family was vegetarian or vegan at the time, but my father used to switch around between making our bolognese with meat or with nutmeat. Even as a kid, I loved the nutmeat one more than the meaty one. When I grew up I learnt to cook it for myself and made it often. I introduced it to my Italian best friend and even he loved it more than the meat version. He wasn't a vegan then, but he is now and it's become the lunch we always cook whenever we catch up at, in either of our kitchens. So, it's a sentimental dish for me, and one I probably should have shard on the blog earlier.

Usually, I'd have it with thin spaghetti (the thinner the better!), but cutting back on my carb intake has meant experimenting with other options. These zucchini and carrot noodles taste wonderful with this sauce, and make for a much lighter meal. I've left mine raw, and then ladled the hot sauce over them which cooks them just slightly. You can also blanch them for a minute before eating to soften them up, but don't cook them much or they will break apart and become mushy. You'll want a julienne slicer to get them nice and noodle-y, but I seem to recall mine cost less than $2 from eBay.

Vegan Nutmeat Bolognese with Zucchini & Carrot Spaghetti

Ingredients1 tbsp. Olive oil
1 onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot, finely diced
1 x 400g can of nutmeat, chopped finely
2 x 400g cans diced tomatoes (or even better - 1 can diced, 1 can crushed)
1 tbsp. Tomato paste
1 tbsp. Soy sauce
Pinch of nutmeg
1/2 cup fresh oregano, chopped finely
Cracked pepper, to taste
1 zucchini, julienne sliced into noodles
1 carrot, julienne sliced into noodles

(or, use spaghetti)

To Make:
1. Heat olive oil in a pan and sauté the onion until just starting get translucent. Add the garlic and carrot and fry for a moment. Then add 1/3 cup water and simmer, covered, until the carrot is cooked through.
2. Add the chopped nutmeat, cans of tomatoes, tomato paste, soy sauce and nutmeg. Add 1/2 cup water and bring to a simmer. Simmer, uncovered,  for about 15-20 minutes by which point the sauce should have reduced and thickened nicely. Stir in the fresh oregano and add cracked pepper to taste.
3. Shred your zucchini and carrot into noodles using a julienne slicer and divide between two bowls. Ladle the hot sauce over them. If you like, sprinkle with some (vegan) parmesan cheese.

Makes enough sauce for 3-4 people, and enough noodles for 2.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Pumpkin & Sweetcorn Soup

I'm not generally a big fan of cold weather, but when it starts to move in I try and look on the bright side. For me, there are only two pros to winter; one is climbing into a bed which has been pre-warmed by my electric blanket and the other is gorgeous soups and stews. Pumpkin is a classic which comes out every autumn. I've eaten a lot of pumpkin soup in my life and it always surprises me how often it is incredibly average. It's one of those dishes that everybody makes, but not everybody makes well.

You can make this recipe as a straight pumpkin soup, without the corn. I have to thank my partner for the addition of the corn, I had never even thought of putting corn in my pumpkin soup before but he would often cook us pumpkin and sweetcorn soup for a winter dinner. In this recipe I've combined my favourite pumpkin soup with his version to make probably the best one I've ever eaten :)

Pumpkin & Sweetcorn Soup

1 kg pumpkin, skin removed an chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
1 medium potato, peeled and chopped
1 large stick celery (including leaves), chopped
1 parsnip, peeled and chopped (optional)
1 bay leaf
2 heaped tsp powdered vegetable stock
3/4 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground ginger
2 x 400g cans creamed corn
Salt and pepper, to taste

To serve: vegan sour cream and chopped fresh chives.

To Make:
1. Boil the kettle while you chop all your veggies up.
2. Combine the pumpkin, onion, carrot, potato, celery, parsnip, bay leaf and powdered vegetable stock in a big soup pot. Add enough hot water so that it is just below covering all the vegetables and bring to a simmer.
3. Simmer, covered for about 20 minutes. Stir every now and then to ensure that the veggies on top get cooked too, as they cook down they will release their own liquids and there will be enough water in the pan to cover all the veg but if you put in too much water at the start then you'll end up with watery soup.
4. Remove the lid and add in the ground cumin and ginger. Simmer, uncovered for another five minutes. Remove from the heat and all to cool until it is cool enough to blend.
5. Blend until smooth (a few chunks are ok too) and then return to the heat. Add the 2 cans of creamed corn and stir though, leaving it on the heat until heated through. Season generously with salt and pepper.
6. Serve hot with a dollop of vegan sour cream, chopped fresh chives and warmed crusty bread.

Serves 4 (with bread).

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Burmese Eggplant Salad (Khayan Dhi Pope Thoke)

This recipe was one of my favourites from Myanmar month, but I didn't get time to share it that month so here it is, a little late. I made this dish a couple of hours in advance before a dinner party and left it sitting on the bench so that it would be room temperature (rather than chilled in from the fridge) when I served it. Evertime I walked past where it was sitting on the bench I got this divine waft of sesame oil and roasted eggplant and it just smelled so amazing. I couldn't wait to eat it! The smell and taste of this salad are both just wonderful, plus it's very quick and easy to make.

Burmese Eggplant Salad (Khayan Dhi Pope Thoke)

2 large eggplants
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 tbsp vegan fish sauce
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 green chilli, de-seeded and chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
Juice of 1 lime
1 large (or 2 small) shallot, white and green parts chopped
Fried shallots, to garnish (optional)

To Make
1. Heat oven to 180 degrees. Pierce eggplant skin a few times with a fork. Lightly oil a baking tray or dish and bake eggplants on it for 20-30 minutes, turning the eggplant over once about halfway through. The eggplant should be soft and the skin easy to peel off. 
2. Cool the eggplants and then peel the skin off. Chop the roasted flesh roughly and put in a bowl (try to catch all the juices as well). 
3. Add the sesame oil, vegan fish sauce, soy sauce, green chilli, crushed garlic and lime juice to the eggplant and mix well. Season with pepper. Taste to check seasoning, and add a little extra of whatever you think it needs more of. 
4. Stir through the chopped shallots. If you like, sprinkle with some fried shallots (pictured in the second photo, but not in the first) immediately before serving.

Can serve either warm with rice (serves 4), or room temperature as a side salad (serves 6).

Last December I featured vegan recipes from Myanmar (Burma).
Check out my other Burmese recipe posts:

Monday, 11 May 2015

Callaloo (with Kale)

Callaloo is a dish made all over the Caribbean and some parts on Africa. It's made with a leafy green vegetable - generally taro leaves, amaranth or calalu. Often the vegetable itself is known as callaloo. Sadly, I don't have those options available so I've made mine using kale. It's perhaps not so authentic, but it turned out delicious. The kale keeps its texture so beautifully.

In Trinidad and Tobago callaloo includes okra, in some parts of the Caribbean it may include coconut milk, seafood or meats. This is a Jamaican version, made as part of my Jamaican food month a couple of months ago, so it's flavoured with onion, garlic, tomato and scotch bonnet chilli.

It may look like not much, but sometimes simple is just so special and this callaloo makes a great side veggie dish. Leftovers also make a sensational pizza topping.

Jamaican Callaloo

1 big bunch kale
1 tbsp. oil
1/2 cup water
1 tsp. vegetable stock powder
1 onion, diced
1 tomato, diced
1/2 scotch bonnet chilli
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp. thyme leaves
Pinch of salt

To Make 1. Wash the kale thoroughly and remove the tough stems. Chop or tear roughly into medium sized pieces.
2. Place the chopped washed kale in a large pot and top with all the other ingredients. Cover with a lid and place over a medium heat. Cook for 10-15 minutes. Serve with rice.

Check out my other Jamaican recipe posts:

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Russian Blueberry Tartlets (Chernika Tartaletki)

Bite sized treats are always my favourite - they're no mess and easy to eat but most of all they just look super cute. I guess the only problem is they're too easy to eat - you just keep going back for another and another and....

These little cute blueberry tartlets were delicious. They could be made with other berries too, or a mixture. Whatever you like really. They're a Russian recipe, which means they're served with a very Russian little dollop of sweetened sour cream.

Chernika Tartaleki

2 1/2 cups wholemeal flour
2 tbsp. castor sugar
Pinch salt
1/2 cup nuttelex (or other vegan margarine)
2/3 cup icy water

Blueberry Filling:
3 cups fresh or frozen blueberries (unthawed)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tbsp. maple syrup

For serving;
1 cup vegan sour cream
2 tbsp. castor sugar

To Make:
1. To make the pastry, combine all the ingredients except the water in a food processor and blitz until you have a mixture which looks like fine breadcrumbs. Gradually add in the ice water until the mixture comes together to form a dough, it should be wet enough to hold together but not sticky enough to stick o your fingers as you form it into a ball (add more water or flour as needed t get it to the right consistency). Wrap the ball of dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour, or overnight.
2. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
3. Combine the blueberries and corn-starch in a bowl and md until all the blueberries are coated. Add the maple syrup and stir through.
4. Take half the dough from the fridge and roll it out on a floured benchtop to about 1/8 inch thick. Cut out as many 3 inch circles as you can and then re roll the scraps and cut again. Lightly grease a muffin pan and place a circle of dough in each one. Fill with as much blueberry filling as it will hold and bake for about 10 minutes, turning the tray around halfway through to ensure even cooking.
5. Repeat with all the remaining dough and filling. Cool the cooked tarts.
6. Combine the vegan sour cream with the sugar and keep in the fridge until ready to serve.
7. Just before serving, add a dollop of the sweetened sour cream to the top of each little tart.

Makes about 2 dozen.