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Hidden vegetable ragù {vegan, kid friendly}

I know it looks like I’m a bit obsessed with Asian food, especially with the last few recipes I’ve posted. Truth be told, I am obsessed with Asian food. I love the flavours and the freshness each meal delivers.

I grew up in a small town and my earliest memory of going out for dinner was to an Asian restaurant. Maybe that’s what spurred my love for Asian cuisine.

Enter this delicious recipe for vegan ragù. In addition to being Italian, it contains eggplant and mushrooms – two things I don’t cook with very often. The good news is that if you’re not a fan of these ingredients, you won’t even notice them in this meal. And if you can’t notice them, chances are little kidlets won’t be able to tell the difference either.

Hidden veg ragu

Hidden vegetable ragù {vegan, kid friendly}
Serves 4

1 medium eggplant
200g brown cup mushrooms, blitzed into fine pieces
1 brown onion, finely chopped
2 celery sticks, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 cups red wine
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
4 sprigs fresh thyme
4 tbsp tomato paste
4 large tomatoes, roughly chopped
Salt, to taste
Polenta, to serve (see note)

Bake eggplant in the oven for 1 hour. Let cool slightly then remove skin and put flesh into a small bowl. Set aside.

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a cast iron pan. Add mushrooms and cook until fragrant and any juices released from the mushrooms have evaporated. Transfer mushroom pieces to a bowl and set aside.

Add a little olive oil to the pan you used for the mushrooms and add the onions. Cook over a medium heat until onions start to caramelise then add celery and carrot and cook until carrot starts to soften.

Add red wine to the pan and let cook for 5 minutes before adding the garlic, parsley and thyme. Once that has been mixed through, add the tomato paste and tomatoes. Season with salt.

Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until liquid has reduced and tomatoes have softened.

Serve with some freshly cooked polenta or enjoy it with pasta.

NOTE: Bring 3 cups of water to the boil. Add salt and 3/4 cup polenta. Stir continuously until polenta thickens then remove from heat. Add 1 tbsp olive oil and 1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes.

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DIY instant noodles {GF, vegan}

When you are intolerant and allergic to most staple ingredients, it can be hard to pull together a quick meal. Instant noodles are not a great nutritional choice when you can eat them, but they are fast.

I’ve been toying with the idea of DIY instant noodles for a while and I think you’ll be happy with this recipe – it’s simple, it’s tasty and it’s much healthier than two-minute noodles. You can even put the ingredients in a mason jar to take to work. Just add boiling water and garnish when you are ready to eat.

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DIY instant noodles {GF, vegan}
Serves 2

For the soup base
1 tbsp chickpea miso powder (or a soy-based miso)
1 tbsp vege stock powder (see note below)
1/2 tsp wakame flakes

For the fillings
100g dried mung bean vermicelli noodles
1 carrot, julienned
1 cup white cabbage, finely sliced
1/2 cup tuscan kale, finely sliced
2 tbsp ginger, grated
3-4 cups boiling water
1 tbsp gluten-free soy sauce
Spring onion, to serve
Thai basil, to serve
Lime juice, to serve

Place the soup base ingredients in the bottom of a bowl or glass container. Add noodles and vegetables.

Pour boiling water into the bowl or container until all ingredients are covered. Let sit for 5 minutes, with a saucer or lid on top.

Garnish with spring onion and Thai basil, and drizzle with fresh lime juice.

NOTE: I make my own vegetable stock powder from 2 tbsp mushroom powder mixed with 1 tbsp onion powder, 1 tbsp garlic powder, 1 tsp dried thyme, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp cracked pepper and 1/2 tsp celery seeds.

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Cheat’s vegan banh cuon chay | Quick Vietnamese steamed rice rolls {gluten-free}

I know my last recipe was for a Vietnamese dish but stick with me. This one is that good. I remember the day I begrudgingly tried banh cuon chay. I was at my usual Vietnamese haunt and they had sold out of what I usually ordered (I’m known to rave about a restaurant for the one and only meal I’ve tried there). I saw that these steamed rice rolls were gluten-free and vegan so thought I’d give it a shot. What a blessing.

I’d never heard of them before or seen them on a restaurant menu and to this day, have not seen them on any other Sydney Vietnamese restaurant menus. It’s a shame because they are so fresh and light yet still feel like you’ve had a substantial meal. Better still, they are a great option for people with special dietary needs.

Making them at home has been on my mind for quite some time. The thought of making fresh rice sheets for them was what put me off making it earlier. Then I had a brainwave. I could layer a couple of sheets of dried rice paper to get the thickness I need, in less time and with far less stress. I reckon you should give this a shot. It’s nowhere near as laborious as you might think it is, and it tastes delicious. You’ll be eating it within the hour.

Steamed rice paper rolls

Cheat’s vegan banh cuon chay
Serves 3

For the banh cuon chay
1 clove garlic, minced
3cm piece ginger, grated
1 carrot, finely diced
50g wood ear mushrooms, finely sliced
65g organic, non-GMO tofu cubes, baked and diced
25g mung bean vermicelli noodles, cooked and finely chopped
27 rice paper rounds

For the dressing
1 lemon, juiced
1 lime, juiced
1 tbsp gluten-free soy sauce
1 tsp coconut sugar
1 tsp rice wine vinegar

Heat some neutral-flavoured coconut oil in a pan and sautee garlic. Add ginger, carrot, mushrooms and tofu, and cook until carrots start to soften. Add noodles and cook a further minute.

Transfer to a heatproof bowl and lay a damp tea towel on the kitchen bench, with a shallow dish next to it filled with water to soften the rice paper rounds.

Soften one rice paper round at a time and lay them on top of each other. Layer a maximum of three rounds per roll, and ensure you have removed as many air bubbles from each layer as possible.

Spoon some filling just below the centre and roll them tightly, as you would if they were fresh rice paper rolls. Repeat until all rounds have been used and there is no more filling left.

Place a couple at a time into a steamer. Put the lid on and steam for 3 minutes. Transfer to serving plates and repeat until all rolls have been steamed.

Combine all dressing ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine. Adjust flavours to taste.

Pour dressing over the rolls and enjoy.

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GF vegan crispy Vietnamese pancake (Bánh Xèo)

It took me a long time to realise that there is one pancake that is naturally gluten-free – and it could just be the best pancake that ever lived: the crispy Vietnamese pancake. I start salivating the minute I spot it on a menu.

I recently bought a Lodge cast iron pan to start making the pancakes at home, and boy, was that a great decision. It is magic with these pancakes AND every other dish I’ve made using it. I don’t know how I’ve lived without it for so long.

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GF vegan crispy Vietnamese pancake (Bánh Xèo)
Makes 4

For the pancake
250g white rice flour
50g glutinous rice flour
400ml coconut cream
3/4 cup filtered water
2 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vegetable stock powder (see note below)
1 brown onion, finely sliced
100g baked tofu cubes
2 carrots, julienned
2 cos lettuce, to serve
Mint, to serve

For the dressing
1 lemon, juiced
1 lime, juiced
1 tbsp gluten-free soy sauce
1 tsp coconut sugar
1 tsp rice wine vinegar

Combine all dressing ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine. Adjust flavours to taste.

Add flour through to stock powder into a bowl and whisk until combined.

Heat some oil in a cast iron pan and when hot, add some of the onion and tofu, and stir fry until onion starts to brown.

Keep the pan on a high heat and pour a large ladle of the pancake mixture into the pan. Let it cook for around 3 minutes then add some of the carrot on one half.

Check the edges can come away from the pan cleanly and gently lift the side without carrots away from the pan and onto the carrots. Let cook a minute longer before transferring to a plate.

Enjoy with dressing, fried shallots, mint and lettuce.

NOTE: I make my own vegetable stock powder from 2 tbsp mushroom powder mixed with 1 tbsp onion powder, 1 tbsp garlic powder, 1 tsp dried thyme, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp cracked pepper and 1/2 tsp celery seeds.

 

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Raw cherry ripe {gluten-free, vegan}

Today we headed down to Killalea State Park. A monthly market is held there with heaps of food stalls. In fact, there were so many gluten-free and vegan-friendly options that it was difficult to choose just one, a rare occurrence! We sat on the top of the hill, which overlooks The Farm’s Beach and enjoyed our lunch – me, with my vietnamese salad and my boyfriend Jess, with his spinach and cheese gozleme. Then we walked along the beach and headed home.

Now that the weather has been warmer, it feels as good a time as ever to share with you my recipe for raw cherry ripe. I had been thinking about making it for a while and when I saw some beautiful cherries on special at my local green grocer, I knew it was a sign. It’s not as naughty as a real cherry ripe, but it has all the elements. Perhaps we can call this a cherry ripe for when you are trying to be good but you’re naughty at heart.

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Raw cherry ripe
Makes 9 slices

For the base:
1 1/2 cup almonds
4 tbsp raisin paste or 4 dates
1 tbsp coconut oil

For the filling:
1 cup fresh cherries, pitted
2 cups desiccated coconut
1/4 cup maple syrup or other sweetener of choice
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 tbsp beetroot powder
2 tbsp almond butter
1 tsp vanilla powder

For the topping:
1/3 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup cacao powder
1/4 cup maple syrup

Blitz the base ingredients in a food processor until the almonds are roughly chopped. Spoon into the base of a square container or baking pan. Smooth out evenly and set aside.

Blitz the filling ingredients until combined well then spoon on top of the base. Place in the freezer for 1 hour.

Add coconut oil, cacao powder and maple syrup to a bowl and whisk until combined. Remove cherry ripe from freezer and spread the chocolate on top. Return to the freezer for another hour before enjoying.

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Vegan tarka dal

Our home is coming along. The American walnut floating shelves are almost finished, which means my cookbooks will soon have their forever home and the next nook of our house will be complete.

I know I’ve already posted a dal recipe on here previously but stay with me on this one, because that was before this tarka dal was born. I thought my hidden veg dal was good but I don’t always have eggplant handy. If I’m going to make dal without much in the way of extra veg, I have to make sure it has lots of flavour. There’s no point having dal if it doesn’t have layers upon layers of flavour… that’s where my recipe for tarka dal comes in.

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Vegan tarka dal
Serves 4

1 tsp coconut oil
1 tbsp yellow mustard seeds
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 brown onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3cm piece of ginger, finely grated
8 curry leaves
3 medium tomatoes, roughly chopped
1/2 cup raw cashews
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1 cup red lentils, washed and soaked for 2 hours
1 cup yellow split peas, washed and soaked for 2 hours
3 cups filtered water
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp garam masala
Fresh coriander

Heat coconut oil in a saucepan then cook mustard and cumin seeds until fragrant. Add onions to the pan and let caramelise.

Add garlic, ginger and curry leaves to the pan, and cook for 3-4 minutes. Mix in tomatoes, cashews, turmeric and chilli powder, then add lentils, split peas, water and salt. Stir until combined.

Bring to the boil and reduce to simmer for approx. 30 minutes or until lentils and split peas have softened. Stir occasionally to avoid it catching on the bottom of the saucepan. Mix through garam masala and cook a further 5-10 minutes.

Remove from heat and use a hand blender to blitz the tomatoes and cashews.

Serve with fresh coriander and basmati rice.

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Vegan pulled ‘pork’ nachos

In my former life (the one where I ate meat), I never ate real pulled pork. I wasn’t big on the meat overall so when I saw people using jackfruit to replicate pulled pork, it took me a while to jump on the bandwagon. A whole year in fact. I wondered how I could truly veganise it if I didn’t know what the original was like.

I managed to come across some tinned jackfruit in an Asian supermarket and thought I’d give it a go, especially since my local supermarket had started stocking vegan Worcestershire sauce. With a bottle of that and some jackfruit in tow, I was ready.

I came across this fantastic hand-crafted Mexican spice mix from New Zealand a few years ago and have been addicted to it ever since. I stockpile packets of it because nothing I’ve come across comes close, and I have not been able to replicate it from a DIY spice mix. It definitely helps give the flavour a lot more dimension.

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Vegan pulled ‘pork’ nachos
Serves 4

For the pulled ‘pork’ jackfruit
1 can jackfruit, drained and rinsed
3/4 cup tomato sauce
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp Tio Pablo Mayan Gold Mexican spice mix
1/4 cup water

Use a potato masher to mash jackfruit into a bowl then add rest of ingredients and mix to combine.

Add ingredients to a saucepan over a medium heat. Cook for approx. 10 minutes until liquid reduces and jackfruit is soft.

For the beans
1 red onion, finely chopped
5 tbsp Tio Pablo Mayan Gold Mexican spice mix
6 tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 cup vegetable stock
1 tin black beans, drained and rinsed
1 tin kidney beans, drained and rinsed
White corn chips, to serve
Avocado, to serve
Lime, to serve

Heat onions with some coconut oil over a medium heat. Turn heat to low and cook onions until they start to caramelise.

Add the spice mix and tomatoes and stir to combine before adding the vegetable stock and beans.

Cook until liquid reduces and tomatoes soften, about 20 minutes.

To assemble, lay corn chips around the edges of a bowl. Add beans then pulled jackfruit. Top with avocado and a drizzle of lime juice.

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Allergy-friendly ice cream sandwiches {GF, vegan}

I had the house to myself this weekend and what did I do with my time? Cleaned the house from top to bottom. Here I am at the end of yet another weekend having only scratched the surface of my to-do list. I’m doing far less of what I want to do in my spare time and far more of what I need to do, which has me wondering if I even have spare time at all. Finding time to cook is about all I have time for but I shouldn’t complain – there are far worse things in life!

Let’s talk about nice cream (ice cream made from bananas). Every second person I follow is on that bandwagon but I’m not 100% sold because, well, bananas. My 2-ingredient raspberry sorbet is just as easy and doesn’t have a banana in sight. I was thinking about using it as the filling for ice cream sandwiches a few months ago but time got the best of me, as it usually does.

These almond meal cookies are my go-to… in fact, as I type this, I realise I need to flesh out my cookie repertoire – this is the only cookie recipe I know! Leave that with me, and in the meantime, give these ones a go. These cookies have just 7 ingredients and sorbet has just 2… gluten-free, vegan and refined sugar-free ice cream sandwiches with less than 10 ingredients!

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Ice cream sandwiches
Makes 3

For the cookies
1 1/2 cup almond meal
2 tbsp coconut oil
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp baking powder
Pinch salt

Preheat oven to 160 degrees C, and combine all ingredients in a bowl.

Roll out the cookie dough onto a lined baking tray and use a cookie cutter to evenly cut out the cookie shapes. (A cookie cutter helps keep each cookie uniform… an important tool for ice cream sandwiches!)

Cook in the oven for 10 minutes. When the cookies come out of the oven, they will be soft to touch so it’s best to leave them for 5-10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

For the sorbet
2 cups frozen raspberries
3/4 cup rice milk (stored in the freezer for 4 hours)

Add ingredients into a bowl and use a hand blender to combine the raspberries with the semi-frozen rice milk.

Evenly spread into a shallow baking dish and place in the freezer for approx. 2 hours, to freeze into shape.

Once set, use the same cookie cutter you used for the cookies to cut out rounds of the sorbet.

Add cookie on either side of the sorbet slices and enjoy.

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Vegan sushi burgers

We’ve gone from 14 degree days to 30 degree days all in the space of a week! Spring is well and truly here (hello hay fever!) noticed by the fact that I’m now wearing two layers when I leave the house instead of four. But beyond delayering, there is one thing that I’m really looking forward to: daylight savings time. I’m counting down the days until I get home from work and it’s still light outside.

I first made sushi burgers – or sushi sandwiches if you’d prefer to call them – about three months ago. Confession: I have never made real sushi before… only hand rolls. I loved hand rolls but my DIY attempt looked exactly that, DIY. What I love about sushi burgers is that they are incredibly simple to make, the end result looks somewhat professional and they taste good.

When I became vegan, vegetable sushi rolls really bored me. That was until pickled vegetables in sushi found me like a knight in shining armour. Now I’m not satisfied unless my sushi has a pickle in it.

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Sushi burgers
Makes 7 burgers

7 sheets of aluminium foil
7 sheets of nori seaweed
2 1/3 cups cooked sushi rice
1 avocado, halved and sliced
2 pickled carrots, julienned
4 baby cucumbers, thinly sliced lengthways
1/3 cup peanut tamarind sauce (see below)

Lay a sheet of foil on your surface then lay a sheet of nori on top, shiny side down, with one of the ends pointing towards you.

Spread a third of a cup of the rice into a square in the middle. Then add fillings and top with another third of a cup of rice into a square.

Fold in the sides of the nori, like you would wrapping paper and tightly fold the foil around it to hold it together. If you notice the nori tearing, you can lightly mist it with some water.

Repeat until all rice and fillings have been used.

After the foil-wrapped sushi burgers have rested for at least 10 minutes, unfold the foil and discard. Run a sharp knife under water and slice the sushi burgers in half.

Serve with soy sauce.

Peanut tamarind sauce

1/2 cup peanut butter
1 tbsp coconut sugar
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp gluten-free soy sauce
1 tbsp tamarind concentrate

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Add water gradually until desired consistency is reached.

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Gluten-free vegan savoury galette

I spent the better part of the weekend in the kitchen. I had so much I wanted to work on: macadamia nut cheese (not a complete failure, but not perfect either), ice cream sandwiches (didn’t get to it but don’t worry, it’s going to be worth the wait), whole roasted cauliflower (not quite there, and I left it in the oven for slightly too long), gnocchi (tasty), raw cherry ripe (definitely healthy in ingredients and taste) and a savoury galette (success! We’re going to talk about this now).

Is your Instagram feed full of galettes right now? Every time I scroll through my feed I come across at least one. I knew that if I was going to join this party, I should at least bring something new to the table (pun intended). And indeed I did. This savoury galette is filled with butternut pumpkin ribbons and finely shaved brussels sprouts.

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Savoury brussels sprout and pumpkin galette {gluten-free, vegan}
Serves 4

For the dough
1 3/4 cup gluten-free plain flour
3/4 cup almond meal
1/2 cup glutinous rice flour
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 1/4 cup water
Pinch of salt

For the filling
75g butternut pumpkin, shaved into fine ribbons
200g brussels sprouts, finely shaved
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp sumac
1 stem of fresh rosemary
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees C.

Combine dough ingredients into a bowl then lay a sheet of baking paper on a round baking tray and wet your hands to scoop the dough out of your mixing bowl. Shape on the tray. If the dough starts to stick to your hands, simply wet your hands again. Once you have the dough evenly spread out, pop it in the oven for 5 mins.

While the base is in the oven, combine filling ingredients into a bowl and mix until everything is evenly coated.

Remove dough from oven and add filling ingredients on top, leaving a 2cm gap around the edges. Then, gently fold the edges in – overlapping the dough where you need to – and lightly brush the crust with olive oil.

Cook the galette in the oven for 30 mins, removing after 15 minutes to give the crust another brush of olive oil.

Let cool slightly before slicing into quarters.