Easy weeknight pasta bake cake {gluten-free, egg-free, dairy-free, soy-free}

I try to have pasta stocked in the pantry stocked at all times. I rarely experience pasta cravings but it’s simple and easy to make, especially when you’ve come home from work and haven’t given dinner a thought.

Pasta bake cake was my attempt at turning a simple bowl of pasta marinara into something a little more exciting. Needing a cheesy element, but trying not to overdo my soy intake, I pulled out my trusted recipe for cashew cheese – one of my earliest recipes – to complete the dish. Cashew cheese tastes like a hybrid of runny cheese and what I imagine queso dip to taste like (full disclosure, I’ve never had queso dip!).

You can add vegetables like spinach or kale to the pasta before you bake it, and you can make your own marinara sauce. In the interest of showing you just how easy living gluten-free and vegan can be, I’ve decided to keep this one as simple as possible. That means I’ve used store-bought sauce and left out the additions in the bake. Having said that, I do serve a slice of this with some fresh rocket or finely shredded kale (with a light drizzle of lemon juice) on the side.


Easy weeknight pasta bake cake {gluten-free, egg-free, dairy-free, soy-free}
Serves 6

500g gluten-free vegan penne pasta, cooked 2-3 mins less than packet directions
2 x 500g jars of vegan pasta sauce
Cashew cheese (recipe below)
Rocket or finely shredded kale, to serve

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.

Cook pasta 2-3 minutes less than the packet directions. Strain and set aside.

Grease an 8-inch/20cm cake tin. Put a tray under in in case the tomato sauce seeps through the tin during cooking.

Pour about 100g pasta sauce from one jar into the tin to cover the bottom. Fill cake tin with about half of the cooked pasta.

Add remaining 400g pasta sauce from the opened jar and pour about a quarter of your cashew cheese over the top. Add remaining pasta and pour contents of the second jar of sauce on top. Add remaining cashew cheese ensuring it is evenly spread over the top.

Place tin on tray in the oven and cook for around 20 minutes. Then, remove from oven and let stand for 10-15 minutes to set. Cut into slices and serve with rocket or kale.

Vegan cashew cheese

1 cup raw cashews, soaked for at least 4 hours
1/2 cup filtered water
1/2 cup nutritional yeast flakes
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp dijon mustard
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp garlic granules
Pinch of salt

Add all ingredients to a high-powered blender and blend until smooth.

Pour into a small bowl and set aside.


Savoury breakfast waffles {gluten-free, vegan, soy-free, dairy-free}

I was in Melbourne last week for work. The only thing getting me through said trip, was indulging in some amazing Melbourne food. First stop: Gingerboy for dinner. There, I had the mapo tofu with okra, water chestnut, heirloom tomatoes and pickled thai chili, as well as the stir fried bamboo and fungus with hor fun noodles and korean black bean dressing. To top it off, I also ordered the coconut creamed rice. Of course, it was delicious and of course, I ordered too much food, but when in Rome…

When breakfast came around, I headed to Higher Ground and ordered the kale and cauliflower salad. To say it was delicious was an understatement. I wanted more. The only fault in the dish was the lack of carbs.

A week on, and I’m still thinking about how that cafe dish eclipsed a night of pure Asian delight (at Gingerboy). Because it’s unlikely I’ll be going down to Melbourne again anytime soon (and who knows if that means another visit to Higher Ground… I’ve heard weekend queues are long), I decided to recreate some of the flavours atop some savoury breakfast waffles. Hello carbs, hello happiness!


Savoury breakfast waffles {gluten-free, vegan, soy-free, dairy-free}
Serves 4

For the waffles
2 cups chickpea flour
2 cups water
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Small bunch of chives, finely chopped
Pinch of salt

For the toppings
1/2 head cauliflower, cut into small pieces
5 kale leaves, roughly chopped
1 punnet cherry tomatoes
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 avocado, skin removed and sliced
2 cups hummus (hold the sumac and add 2 tbsp chickpea miso powder)

Add all waffle ingredients into a large bowl and whisk until combined. Let stand at least 10 minutes.

Heat your waffle iron and add a little coconut oil to the pan (this helps prevent the batter from sticking). Pour a ladle of batter into the iron and close it for five minutes. Repeat for remaining batter.

While the waffles are cooking, heat a small amount of olive oil in a cast iron pan and add cauliflower, kale and whole cherry tomatoes. Keep it on a medium heat for around 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and transfer contents into a heatproof bowl.

Add pumpkin seeds to the same cast iron pan and toast over a low-to-medium heat. Once browned, remove from heat.

To assemble, place two waffles and a couple of large dessert spoons of hummus on a plate. Top with kale, cauliflower and tomatoes, as well as avocado and pumpkin seeds.


Favourite things: February 2018

I thought I’d start a little series of my favourite things to show you what’s inspiring me, and what I’m enjoying. This is still very much a food blog, but since I can’t commit to posting a new recipe weekly, I’ll be sharing some other parts of my food journey.

  • Bill Granger’s stir fried curry brown rice with cashews without chilli and with a scrambled chickpea egg instead of regular egg (pictured)
  • This amber-coloured Maison Balzac handmade carafe and glass
  • Cooking to music by Dustin O’Halloran
  • Meru Miso‘s whole range of products
  • Dry January isn’t stopping me from enjoying Marissa A Ross’ guide to choosing wine. After reading 20 pages, I impressed myself at how I was able to describe a Storm Bay pinot noir
  • An all-black F!NK jug
  • My gluten-free vegan pesto pasta is on high rotation on hot summer days
  • This staggered glass floor lamp (not food related, but still…)
  • Trying to eat more quinoa in this household means I’m scrambling to find ways to make it more interesting. This recipe for khichari is getting me excited!
  • Savoury waffles… I’ll have a new recipe for you soon

Miso glazed eggplant {soy-free, gluten-free, wheat-free}

Vegetarian or not, miso glazed eggplant is my go-to at Japanese restaurants. But – like most things – my body doesn’t love it as much as I would like it to. It always leaves me feeling sluggish and unwell.

If you have the same problem, read on, because I have the solution. I’ve been finessing this recipe for a while. I’ve had it for lunch, eaten it as leftovers and served it up to guests at a dinner party, and it went down a treat every time. It is the only way to eat eggplant.

This baked miso eggplant is best enjoyed with a quick pickle of cucumber and red onion, and some steamed basmati rice. That’s all you need. Let the eggplant shine.

Kale Mary Blog miso eggplant

Miso glazed eggplant
Serves 4

2 tbsp chickpea miso (I love meru miso)
2 tbsp mirin
1 1/2 tbsp coconut sugar
1 tbsp filtered water
1 tsp sesame oil
6 baby eggplant, halved lengthways and scored
3 tsp water
2 tsp rice wine vinegar
2 tsp coconut sugar
1 tsp Himalayan rock salt
1/2 Lebanese cucumber, finely diced
1/4 red onion, finely diced
Steamed basmati rice, to serve

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.

Add miso, mirin, coconut sugar, water and sesame oil to a small bowl and whisk until combined. Consistency should be more like a paste than runny.

Lay eggplant slices skin side down on a baking tray. Spoon paste over the flesh of the eggplant, reserving around 1/4 of the contents.

Place in oven for around 12 mins, before reglazing with the remaining glaze. Return to oven for a further 12 mins.

While eggplant is cooking, add rice wine vinegar, coconut sugar, water and salt into a small bowl and whisk until combined. Add cucumber and onion and ensure coated well. Let stand until serving.

Spoon rice into bowls and lay a couple of eggplant slices flesh side up on top. Then, pour over cucumber and red onion ‘pickle’ and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Vegan tuna salad

This fishless tuna (funa) is really simple to make and tastes like canned tuna in brine. A lot of people like to make vegan tuna out of sunflower seeds or chickpeas, but I get the best result using a combination of the two.

This vegan tuna salad is elevated with the addition of these marinated mixed chickpeas. Suddenly, eating a salad for lunch isn’t the worst thing in the world. So, file this recipe in your list of best vegetarian recipes for lunch or those nights when you just can’t be bothered to cook. It will simultaneously nourish and satisfy you.


Vegan tuna salad
Serves 4 

For the tuna
1/2 cup chickpeas (cooked or canned)
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
2 marinated artichoke hearts
1/2 red onion, roughly chopped
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
Zest and juice of 1 lemon

For the salad
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
Juice of 1/2 lemon
3 gem lettuces, stems removed
1 punnet cherry tomatoes, or 4-5 small vine-ripened tomatoes, quartered
1/2 red onion, finely sliced
BA’s Marinated Mixed Beans (I use 1 cup of cooked chickpeas only in this recipe)
Radish, to serve
Dill, to serve

Add all tuna ingredients to a food processor and process on high until ingredients are combined. You want there to still be some texture, but overall, the tuna should be paste-like. Set aside.

Combine dijon, olive oil, nutritional yeast and lemon juice in a small bowl to make the dressing. Whisk until combined, then set aside.

In a large bowl, add lettuce, tomatoes, onion, marinated chickpeas, dressing and spoonfuls of tuna. Mix well to combine, before garnishing with radish and dill.

Travel diary: Tasmania

We travelled to Tasmania this month. I was worried about what I’d be able to eat in the land of dairy and oysters, but I’m pleased to report I didn’t have a bad meal. I was even looked after when we visited an island off Tasmania with a population of 650! Sadly, my travel diary doesn’t contain any food pics, but I did take note of a couple of spots that are worth checking out next time you’re there.

Day 1
We arrive in Launceston late afternoon and go for a walk. It’s a Friday night and the city is a bit of a ghost town. I’m struggling to adjust to the slower pace. We have dinner at an Indian restaurant called Pickled Evenings, and ate dal as well as the mixed vegetables. I can report that it was good. Then, we stop at Red Brick Road Cider House and Bar to sample a couple of drops before stopping at Saint John, a craft beer bar. Saint John was the only place in the whole of Launceston that was overflowing with people.

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Bridestowe Lavender Estate

Day 2
We pick up the rental car and head straight for Bridestowe Lavender Estate. At $10 (each person) to gain access, you have free reign to do whatever you want once inside. January is a great time of year to visit because the lavender is in full bloom. The violet hue contrasted against the red soil. We took some photos then hopped in the car for the Little Blue Lake, which is where our smooth sailing ended. We both lost phone reception and I hadn’t even factored a map into my planning, so it meant we did a lot of guesswork. We were due in Hobart at 5pm and I had planned a lot of stops along the east coast.

Eventually, we were in range of a cell tower and I punched the address of the lake into maps. It navigated us to someone’s driveway. If the map took us here then it must be accessed through a sandy road off one of these streets, I thought to myself. So… we did it. We found a sandy road and drove down it but unfortunately, it led to a gate marked private property. A short walk down the path next to it leads us to… a big blue lake. Not quite what we were looking for but pretty nonetheless. We got back in the car because we were off schedule and after 20 minutes, we saw a sign for Little Blue Lake, which was easily accessible and a stunning turquoise blue. We don’t stay long, as you can’t get too close to the water, due to the high mineral(read: heavy metal) content from when it was once a mine.

Little Blue Lake took us around 2-3 hours out of our way and without a map or reception, we keep on driving in the hope we’ll get to the Bay of Fires soon. Some highlights on this part of the drive include: turning the car around in the same spot three times because I’m not sure where to go because there is no signage, driving through national park on what I still don’t even know was a real road, needing to go to the toilet but there not being any sign of life let alone a toilet, pulling over to let the car on the opposite side of the road through, driving over a little rock which ended up being quite a large rock (Jess went ballistic, but the car was fine despite the sound the car made when I drove over it), my sunglasses laying on the side of the road for half an hour (they were fine… can you believe it?!).

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‘The Gardens’ in the Bay of Fires Conservation Area

We arrive at the Bay of Fires. It’s hands down the most beautiful coastline I’ve ever seen, and I don’t go gaga for beaches. The water is clear and blue, the sand is white, and there’s virtually no one else around. Sadly, we can’t stay, we are way off schedule.

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Bay of Fires Conservation Area

Now that we’re on the correct route, I have to come to terms with the fact we don’t have time to go to Freycinet, get out of the car at Bicheno, or stop to snap this amazing abandoned shack on a low cliff. We’ll come back, I say. We don’t. But, when I need a quick break from driving, we stop briefly at Spiky Beach, which was a surprising beauty.

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Spiky Beach

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Spiky Beach

We drive on and reach Hobart two hours after I had planned. After meeting Lesley and Alan (we stayed in their studio), we enjoy a pizza (yep! gluten-free and vegan) at a restaurant called Solo.

Day 3
It’s ‘MONA Day’. The permanent collection is incredible, and it challenges you mentally, but the architecture itself is by far the best part.


Accommodation at MONA (shot on film)


An installation in the carpark at MONA (shot on film)

We have a rest in the afternoon and then go to North Hobart for dinner. There’s a strip of about three blocks lined with restaurants, and we choose Burger Haus. Surprisingly, this was both of our best meals. The place wasn’t vegan, but their vegan burger was better than anything I’d ever had at a vegetarian or vegan burger joint.

Day 4
We discuss whether we should do a day-trip to Freycinet or Bruny Island, and end up choosing Bruny because of its closer proximity.


The view from our studio while we decided how to spend our day (shot on film)

After a very short ferry ride, our first stop is The Neck lookout. The 360 degree view up here is easily one of the most recognisable ‘Tasmania’ photos. Then we walked down to the beach. It was 11.30am and I was hungry (when am I not?). With limited dining options on the island made even more limited by our dietary restrictions, we decide to eat lunch now so we aren’t caught in the tourist lunch hour. Hotel Bruny is like a diner out of a 70s movie. Surely this isn’t the place I looked up online, I thought. Turns out they focus on the food, rather than the interiors, and I’m OK with that. They do a gluten-free vegan pasta for me, and Jess gets the root vegetable pie. I’m jealous, but glad he ordered the best-sounding thing on the menu. Meals come out and we tuck in. Presentation was restaurant quality and food is the same. I regret not taking a photo of the meals, especially that pie.

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The Neck lookout

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Walking to the beach on Bruny Island

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One of Bruny’s beaches

Next stop is the lighthouse on South Bruny. Getting to it is via another non-road, but directions are clearly signed and the ‘road’ has been maintained. Unfortunately, we arrive at the same time as a few other tourists, which means we’re stuck in a row of cars. After some strange manoeuvring I manage to exit the traffic jam and park outside the gates. I’m thankful we are paying to have no insurance excess on the car – we really needed it.

On our way up to the lighthouse, we see a little path to the beach, and decide to walk down. We walk through the lush garden and arrive at a secluded beach where we stay and admire before returning to the top fully out of breath. The lighthouse is a no go.

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Walking down to the beach at the South Bruny Lighthouse

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Made it! The beach at South Bruny

Next stop is tasting some famous (and limited) Tasmania whiskeys. Jess does a tasting of four and, of course, the most expensive one is his favourite. We call it a day and head back on the ferry. Everyone is really friendly in Tasmania, so I say “have a good day” to one of the ferry workers. Only problem is he thinks I said “I had a good day” because he responds with “oh, well that’s good”. It’s a bit awkward.

Day 5
My friend Kym tells me that getting a donut at small fry is the thing to do. Unfortunately, they’re not gluten-free or vegan, so I watch Jess eat one as he has neither of those restrictions. Next stop is Mount Wellington, where we hope to see views of Hobart. We reach the top and the thickest cloud blankets us. We attempt to wait it out in the comfort (and warmth) of the Pinnacle. After waiting for 15 minutes, we realise the cloud isn’t going anywhere, so we head back down the mountain to get some lunch. Veg Bar in North Hobart was on the list after walking past a few nights ago. The food is good but not amazing, and we agree the cauliflower buffalo wings were the best thing (and, they were gluten-free!).

Next is a visit to Glenorchy Art & Sculpture Park (GASP!). It’s a nice walk along the river, and the pavilion framing the Derwent Basin is unusual architecture for a public space.

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Reflecting at GASP!

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Incredible architecture in a public space

After GASP! we go to Salamanca Place and wander through the shops. There’s a lot of stuff I want, but I manage to leave without parting with a cent. Dinner is at a local Thai restaurant.

Day 6
We have a slow start to the day before starting our drive to Pumphouse Point in Lake St Clair. The drive wasn’t too bad but I was eager to get out of the car after a couple of hours. We arrive, and, spoiler: it’s amazing. We put our stuff in our room and explore the grounds. We look out for the resident platypus, but he’s hiding today. Dinner is a group dining ‘experience’ with the other guests, and I debate whether waking up for sunrise is a good idea.

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In heaven (nature + mid century interiors)

Day 7
I wake up early but not early enough, catching only the last of the pink sky and clouds. Breakfast is ok, but I overeat and feel sick for the rest of the day. We check out and start driving to Cradle Mountain. Jess ends up driving the whole way despite barely sleeping during the night. We get there and stop for a light lunch before driving down to Dove Lake. It was much more beautiful than I thought it would be. I drive for three mins but miss some great photo ops so Jess drives to let me snap away.

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Sunrise at Lake St Clare

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Sunrise at Pumphouse Point

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Dove Lake at Cradle Mountain

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The terrain outside of Cradle Mountain

Guess who doesn’t have mobile reception or a map again? You’d think I’d learnt my lesson. Jess keeps driving and suddenly we are back in Launceston.

We return the car to the place we hired it from and the guy can’t believe we haven’t smashed it up. He says they’ve had a lot of returned cars that had been smashed this year. It was only the 10th of January. In the defence of those drivers, we did see a lot of roadkill on our travels.

We check in at our accommodation for the next few nights. Turns out I made a mistake with the booking and we had two single beds. We are tired after a long day of driving (lol… my three minutes of it), so we take it easy that night.

Day 8
Launceston’s City Park has a monkey enclosure, so we check it out as a bit of a joke, before having a look at Design Tasmania where there was a lot of nice furniture.


The monkey enclosure at City Park (shot on film)


Inside a greenhouse in City Park (shot on film)


Me at Design Tasmania: “I’ll take the lot” (shot on film)

Lunch is at Samuel Pepy’s Cafe, which is 100% gluten-free. It’s great. Dinner is at Buddha Thai. It’s great, too. Then we see Monumental: The Holy Body Tattoo with live music by Godspeed You! Black Emperor at the Princess Theatre. It’s incredible, definitely worth seeing.

Day 9
We have another slow start, before we go to the art gallery and then the beer festival. There are several food stalls and none of them offer anything that is gluten-free and vegan, so I’m in trouble. I try a good cider and Jess tries a few good beers. There’s some live music, but it’s not amazing. In the evening, we see Goyte Presents a Tribute to Jean-Jacques Perrey, which is another incredible experience, and really intimate. A few people walk out during the show. They were obviously expecting Goyte’s hits.

Day 10
Today is the MONA FOMA (MOFO) Block Party, and the last day for us in Tasmania. We watch a few bands and stick around to see Violent Femmes before grabbing some Vietnamese for dinner and heading back to our accommodation. We have an early start the next day as we have a plane to catch.


The entry to the MOFO Block Party (shot on film)


Violent Femmes at MOFO (shot on film)

Vegan fried ‘eggs’ {soy-free, vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free}

I dream about eggs. There are a few variations of the dream, but the key elements are always the same: I’m frying up some eggs, and I’m happy – truly happy.

To remedy this, I’ve come up with something that comes a little close. It has stopped the egg dreams, which is both good and bad depending on which way you look at it. It sure as hell isn’t a fried egg, but it sure as hell is better than no egg. I reckon you should give it a go, this one might surprise you.

4 Vegan-egg-rEggs-r

Vegan fried ‘eggs’ {soy-free, vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free}
Makes 2 ‘eggs’

For the egg white
1/4 cup chickpea flour
1/4 cup filtered water
1 tbsp olive oil
Pinch of salt

For the egg yolk
2 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
2 tsp olive oil
4 tsp filtered water
Pinch of turmeric
Pinch of salt

Whisk water and chickpea flour together to ensure no lumps then add olive oil and salt.

In a separate small bowl, add the yolk ingredients and mix to combine.

Pour half of the egg white ingredients onto a hot non-stick pan with a small amount of melted coconut oil. Let cook for 1 minute, then carefully spoon half of the yolk mixture into the centre of the batter that is cooking.

Let cook for 1 minute longer, then carefully transfer it to a plate.

Repeat with remaining batter and yolk, and serve with some toasted gluten-free and vegan bread.