Warm brussels sprout, broccoli and grape salad

This warm salad is inspired by a side dish I ate at a restaurant while on holiday in New York. After all these years, I still think of it – and when I can go back to enjoy it again. Sure, this warm salad does a great job at reliving the memory, but it’s not the same as the OG.

Warm brussels sprout, broccoli and grape salad
Serves 4-6 as a side

200g brussels sprouts, halved
200g broccoli, roughly cut into pieces as large as brussels sprouts
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 tsp rice wine vinegar
1 c red grapes
1/4 c pistachio nuts, shelled
1/4 c pumpkin seeds, lightly toasted
2 tbsp sultanas, blended with 1-2 tbsp water to make a paste
Zest of 1 lemon
Small handful fresh mint, roughly cut

Toss brussels and broccoli with olive oil and salt and pepper.

Air fry on an even layer for 5 minutes at 200 degrees C. Shake the contents of the tray and air fry for a further 3-5 minutes until browned well. You might have to air fry in two batches depending on the size of your airfryer.

Transfer brussels and broccoli to a large mixing bowl. Add rice wine vinegar and toss to evenly combine.

Add grapes, nuts and seeds. Then mix through sultana paste.

Garnish with mint leaves and lemon zest.

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Falafel nourish bowl

Earlier this year, I was housebound with a hand injury that made it difficult for me to do things like put toothpaste on my toothbrush and button up my jeans. It didn’t help that my partner travelled to Melbourne, leaving me to manage the household and look after our mischievous puppy (who enjoys being particularly naughty when it’s just the two of us. Sigh) as well as cook and clean up after myself. It had its challenges, but here I am on the other side, relatively unscathed.

While I was off work, one pot wonders were all I could whip up. But I was dreaming of nourish bowls after having enjoyed a few good ones over summer break.

As soon as I could muster the strength, I made this falafel nourish bowl. At the time I wasn’t sure if it was really good, or whether I just thought that because it satisfied the craving that burned within. I can confirm it’s definitely the former – this nourish bowl is really good. (And really filling).

Falafel nourish bowl
Makes 4 bowls

For the falafel
180g dry chickpeas, soaked overnight, drained and rinsed
1/2 red onion
2 garlic cloves
1/2 cup flat leaf parsley
1/2 cup coriander
1 tbsp besan flour
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander powder
Salt and pepper, to taste

For the fresh tomato salsa
4-5 medium-sized tomatoes
2 medium-sized red onions
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 2 limes
Pinch of salt

To serve
Hummus
Quinoa tabbouleh
Avocado
Fresh baby spinach leaves
Toasted pumpkin and sesame seeds

To make the falafels, blitz the chickpeas with onion, garlic, herbs, spices, besan flour, and salt and pepper.

Once processed into falafel texture, transfer the mixture to a wide-based pan with a little olive oil. Cook about 5-8 minutes until garlic is fragrant and mixture starts to brown. Set aside to cool.

Mould into balls and cook in the oven for 15-20 minutes at around 200 degrees C. (You could air fry or even deep fry the falafels instead).

To make the salsa, roughly chop the tomatoes and onion. Add them to your food processor with olive oil, lime juice and salt. Pulse 3-4 times until tomatoes and onion are in small chunks. Transfer mixture to a bowl to rest. (Make sure you transfer the juice that has been released from the tomatoes to the same bowl as it will help balance out the flavours from the lime juice and olive oil).

Add small amounts of falafel, salsa, hummus, quinoa tabbouleh, avocado, baby spinach and toasted seeds to your bowl, as pictured – and enjoy.

Whole roasted cauliflower

This is the whole roasted cauliflower to end all recipes for roast cauliflower. And the trick is to lightly pre-cook the cauliflower in a magic, white wine-based poaching liquid. Really, there’s not much more to say other than to read on and give it a go.

Whole roasted cauliflower
Serves 4-6 as a side

2 litres filtered water
2 c dry white wine (organic preferred)
Juice of 2 lemons
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp Himalayan rock salt
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp coconut sugar
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs of lemon thyme (optional)
1 head of cauliflower, outer leaves trimmed

Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees C.

Put all ingredients excluding the cauliflower in a stock pot and bring to a boil.

Add the cauliflower floret side-down into the pot and let simmer for 8-10 minutes. Flip the cauliflower and let simmer for a further 5 minutes.

Remove the cauliflower from the poaching liquid and place base side-down on an oven tray.

Cook in the oven for about 45 minutes, or until the surface starts to brown.

Remove from oven and serve in a salad or as a side to virtually anything!

NOTE: You can keep the poaching liquid to pre-cook other vegetables before roasting. Keep it in an air-tight container in the fridge for 3 days.

Blueberry upside-down cake {vegan, gluten-free}

I haven’t done a lot of baking for the past 10 years. I think it’s from many vegan and gluten-free recipe inventions that haven’t gone so well. Substituting one core ingredient? Easy. Substituting three? Thirty-times more likely to fail from my experience.

Recently, I’ve been educating myself on the magic of white vinegar. And it all started as an accident when I ran out of surface cleaner for the kitchen. (I mean, who knew vinegar, baking soda, water and a touch of eucalyptus made for a great all-purpose cleaning solution? You probably all did. I know I’m late to the party, but it’s changed my life).

Then I stumbled across a recipe that called for vinegar as a way to make a cake airy and moist. Airy and moist are terms few home bakers can describe a vegan and gluten-free creation (unless you’re some kind of baking unicorn). Apparently it was a ‘thing’ during the Depression when eggs and dairy products were difficult to come by.

Turns out, it was the missing ingredient in this recipe for blueberry upside-down cake that I’d been sitting on for months. My faith in gluten-free vegan baking has been restored *raising hands emoji*.

Blueberry upside-down cake {vegan, gluten-free}
Makes a 20cm cake

2.5 c frozen organic blueberries, rinsed
270mL (1 small can) full-fat coconut milk
1 tbsp distilled white vinegar
1 1/2 c gluten-free plain flour
1/2 c coconut sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
Pinch of salt
1/4 c coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 200 degrees C.

Whisk coconut milk and white vinegar in a small bowl and set aside while preparing the remaining ingredients.

Lay the berries out on some absorbent paper towel and gently press on them to dry them off after rinsing and stop the colour from bleeding.

Line a spring form cake pan with some baking paper. Transfer the berries to the bottom of the tin and spread out evenly, trying to cover the entire base of the tin.

Mix the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl, then add the coconut milk with vinegar, as well as coconut oil and vanilla. Stir to combine.

Pour the batter on top of the blueberries and smooth out. You want to make the top of the cake as flat and even as possible because this will end up being the bottom of the cake when it is flipped.

Cover the cake with foil and cook in the oven for 10-15 minutes. Then, remove foil and cook for a further 10-15 minutes, or until top is browned and a skewer comes out of the middle clean.

Let the cake cool before releasing the sides of the pan. Carefully flip onto a cooling rack to cool further, or flip onto a serving dish. Slice and eat on its own or with some dairy-free vanilla ice cream.

Vegan BLAT salad with green goddess ranch

I’m sure many vegetarians and vegans will agree that the thing they miss the most is bacon.

While nothing really comes close to the taste and texture of real bacon, homemade coconut bacon is my preferred option – and an option much lower in soy than tofu bacon or store-bought mock bacon.

Here, I’ve paired it with a classic BLAT (in salad form) – because a BLT is good, but what is life without avocado?

Vegan BLAT salad with green goddess ranch
Serves 2 as a meal or 4 as a generous side

For the coconut bacon
3 tbsp gluten-free soy sauce
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp liquid smoke (I prefer ‘hickory’ flavoured)
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp sweet smoked paprika
1 c unsweetened coconut flakes

For the green goddess ranch
1/4 c raw cashews
1/4 c tahini
1/2 c filtered water
1/4 c flat-leaf parsley
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp maple syrup
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper, to taste

To assemble
2 gem lettuces, stems trimmed and leaves hand torn
200g cherry tomatoes, halved
2 avocados, skin removed and flesh cut into strips

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.

To make the coconut bacon, add all ingredients excluding coconut flakes in a bowl. Stir to combine then add the coconut flakes and mix to coat.

Line a baking tray with parchment and scoop out the coconut flakes from the bowl onto the paper. Spread them as evenly as possible, then pour the remaining marinade over the top.

Place in the oven for 8-10 mins. After around four minutes, remove from the oven and mix the flakes to ensure they cook evenly and avoid them burning.

Return to the oven and check every two minutes after that. Once browned, remove from oven and set aside in the tray to cool.

To make the green goddess ranch, add all ingredients into a high-speed blender and process until well combined and smooth. Add water to get your preferred consistency. Set aside.

To assemble the salad, place the lettuce leaves in a salad bowl, followed by tomatoes and avocado pieces. Spoon some green goddess ranch dressing in then sprinkle with coconut bacon bits.

Lebanese socca {gluten-free, vegan}

Lebanese pizza was another favourite of mine growing up. I can remember mum made it for dinner one night and I loved it so much that I asked for ‘the lamb and pine nut pizza’ again, and again, and again. 

After 10 years without Lebanese pizza in my life and after perfecting a good ‘mince’ for my current favourite taco recipe, I knew it would be possible to recreate as vegan. 

While it was definitely a pizza in my memory, I’ve avoided a heavy gluten-free pizza base for this recipe and opted for socca (an ingenious chickpea flour-based flatbread that I’ve been making for years) as the base instead. I love socca for many reasons, but especially because it’s an easy way to add soy-free protein to your plate – and I’m all about that.

Lebanese socca {gluten-free, vegan}
Makes 1 large ‘pizza’

For the ‘mince’
1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 packet tempeh
1/2 red onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 tsp ground cumin
Pinch of ground cinnamon
Salt and pepper
1/4 c pine nuts, lightly toasted
Small handful flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

For the socca
1 c chickpea flour
1 c filtered water
1 tbsp + 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
Salt and pepper

To make the socca, add chickpea flour, water, 1 tbsp olive oil and salt and pepper to a bowl. Whisk until combined and no lumps remain. Set aside for 30 mins.

Preheat oven to 250 degrees C.

To make the ‘mince’, add pinto beans, tempeh, onion, garlic, cumin, cinnamon and salt and pepper to a food processor. Blitz until combined and resembling small crumbs.

Transfer mixture to a pan on a medium heat and cook a few minutes until it starts to brown and become fragrant. Set aside.

When ready to cook the socca, place cast iron skillet in the pre-heated oven for about 5 minutes.

Carefully remove skillet from oven and add remaining 2 tbsp olive oil to base of the pan to coat the surface. Then, pour the batter into the skillet and return it to the oven for 8-10 minutes until golden and crisp.

When the socca has cooked, remove it from the oven. Carefully transfer it to a cutting board and spoon the ‘mince’ over it. Then, scatter it with pine nuts and garnish with parsley. Slice as you see fit and serve with a side salad and hummus.

Vegan sausages — that happen to be gluten-free and soy-free

I’m not big on vegan sausages, but I’d put that down to the fact that almost all of the ones I’ve come across contain gluten/wheat and if they don’t, they contain another ingredient I react to.

This recipe came to be while I was working on a recipe for something else (which I will tell you all about in good time). While these don’t mimic sausages in the traditional sense of being juicy and tender – and wrapped in sausage skin – they’re a good non-meat alternative, with the chickpeas giving a good protein boost.

These bad boys are best enjoyed as part of a big vegan breakfast – with scrambled tofu, avocado, homemade baked beans and grilled tomato.

Vegan sausages — that happen to be gluten-free and soy-free
Makes 4-8 sausages

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 c raw cashews, blended well until almost dust
1/2 c brown rice flour
1/4 c nutritional yeast
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tsp ground flax
2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp sweet smoked paprika
Salt and pepper

Mash the chickpeas in a medium-sized bowl. Then add remaining ingredients and mix until well combined.

Divide mixture into four pieces and roll each piece into sausage shapes. Be patient and keep the mixture as tight as possible while shaping, coating your hands with some olive oil if they’re getting a bit crumbly in parts. Wrap each ‘sausage’ in baking paper then foil, twisting the ends.

Steam the sausages for around 30 minutes, then let cool slightly before unwrapping.

When ready to eat, place sausages on a cast iron pan and cook on each side for 1-2 minutes over a low-medium heat.