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.

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GF vegan nut loaf

I’ve been thinking about nut loaf for a while. I wanted to make one that was simple, didn’t involve too much pre-cooking, and didn’t involve too many ingredients. I think I’ve hit the nail on the head with this one. It’s perfect on its own, or with vegan gravy or tomato sauce. This, my friends, is a dish that makes good lunch leftovers.

Can you believe Christmas is next week? If I don’t write to you before then, happy holidays dear readers!

GF vegan nut loaf

GF vegan nut loaf
Makes 7-8 slices

200g brown mushrooms, blitzed in a food processor
1 brown onion, blitzed in a food processor
2 carrots, thinly sliced
2 celery sticks, thinly sliced
1/2 cup curly parsley, roughly chopped
4 sprigs fresh sage, roughly chopped
1 cup brazil nuts, blitzed in a food processor
1/2 cup cashew nuts, blitzed in a food processor
3 chia eggs (3 tbsp chia seeds mixed with 9 tbsp water and left to sit 10 mins)
3 cups brown rice, cooked
1/2 cup gf bread crumbs or rice crumbs
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cracked pepper
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.

Heat a little olive oil in a skillet. Add mushroom pieces and cook 5-8 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.

Add onion to same skillet with a touch more olive oil if needed. Cook until onion starts to caramelise then set aside with the mushrooms.

Place all ingredients including cooked onion and mushrooms into a large bowl and mix until combined well.

Spoon mixture into a loaf tin and place in the oven for around 40 minutes or until top is browned.

Let sit 5-10 mins before taking a spatula around the edges and flipping onto a serving plate.

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.

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.

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.

Jackfruit rPulled jackfruit nachos r

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.

6-ingredient green vegan balls with quick teriyaki sauce {gluten-free}

With so many dietary restrictions, the last thing I want on a plate is carrot sticks and lettuce leaves, but lately I’ve been craving more fresh, uncooked food. I’ve found myself swapping beds of white rice for beds of fresh baby spinach. Who am I?

These green vegan balls have been doing the rounds in my household. They’re very simple to make and only require six ingredients – ingredients that are staples in all kitchens let alone vegan kitchens: chickpeas, brown rice, baby spinach, soy sauce, garlic and ginger. It’s also another vegan airfryer recipe! But don’t worry if you don’t have one – you can cook them in the oven or on the stove, as you would normally cook vegan meatballs or patties.

This sauce definitely makes the dish. I often marinate some tofu in it or add it to a simple stir fry.

Lastly, how cute is this plate?! I made it in my first term of pottery.

Processing rSaucy balls rBalls hero r

6-ingredient green vegan balls with quick teriyaki sauce
serves 4

For the balls
2 cups brown rice, cooked
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 cup baby spinach, washed and dried
2 tsp gluten-free soy sauce
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, grated
1 tsp garlic powder

For the sauce
1/2 cup mirin
1/2 cup gluten-free soy sauce
1/2 cup filtered water
3 tbsp coconut sugar
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, grated

Blitz all the ingredients for the balls in a food processor until combined, being careful not to over-process (you still want some texture).

Put them in the airfryer for 15-20 minutes on 180 degrees C, turning after 8 minutes.

While the balls are in the airfryer, add all of the sauce ingredients to a shallow pan over a medium heat. Cook until coconut sugar has dissolved and sauce becomes slightly thicker.

Serve balls over a bed of fresh baby spinach and drizzle with the freshly made teriyaki sauce.

The best vegan tacos

I’ve come to the conclusion that careers change you, in the same way that life events change you. Working in an industry based on communication has changed me – for better in many respects, but also for worse in some ways.

I’ve always been a homebody. And, I’ve always been an introvert with a touch of awkward. When you’re ‘green’ in my industry, you learn pretty quickly that being like this isn’t going to cut it if you want to do well and be respected for what you do. To that end, my life feels like a balancing act featuring the introverted and extroverted parts of myself. Most of the time there isn’t much balance.

These tacos were a godsend when I was feeling particularly unbalanced recently. I have been dreaming about getting a good ‘meatiness’ for my tacos before now. Mexican-spiced scrambled tofu wasn’t going to cut it and nor was nut meat, especially after recently discovering I have a mild walnut allergy (just another food allergy/intolerance for the already long list). The secret? A little bit of tofu, a little bit of tempeh, and some baked kidney beans.

2 Ingredients r3 Baked beans r4 Meat mix r1 Assembled r HERO

The best vegan tacos
Makes 10-12

1 can kidney beans, drained and baked at 200 degrees C for 15 minutes
150g organic non-GMO tofu
75g organic tempeh
1/2 brown onion, diced
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp sweet smoked paprika
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 tbsp tahini
1 tbsp gluten-free soy sauce
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
Pinch of ground black pepper
Fresh tomato, red onion and lime salsa, to serve
Avocado or guac, to serve
Sriracha, to serve

Blitz tofu and tempeh in a food processor a couple of times. Set aside.

Heat coconut oil in a heavy-based pan. Add onion and saute until starting to caramelise. Add the garlic and cook on a medium heat for one minute before adding the spices. Once the spices are fragrant, add tahini, soy sauce and vinegar, followed by tofu and tempeh, baked kidney beans, and a pinch of pepper. Cook until liquid is soaked up and all ingredients are cooked through.

Spoon mix into warmed taco shells topped with fresh tomato, red onion and lime salsa, avocado slices and a touch of sriracha.