olive oil

Easy Vegan Cheese (No Soy, Heart Healthy)

Easy Vegan Cheese

Why make cheese when you can go to the supermarket and buy it? Well vegan cheese is pretty good these days, it melts, it grates, it slices, it tastes good – everything cheese should do but without the dairy. In my opinion, I think everyone should be trying the alternatives and not being all cheese-snobbish about the whole thing ” but it’s not even real cheese”. We all know cheese is a love for many people (in fact virtually everyone I know), so creating this vegan version is something to be proud of.

Easy Vegan Cheese

Not only is it delicious, it’s heart-healthy – it’s made with almond milk and olive oil, grates beautifully over ya beans ‘n’ tacos and slices up a treat in a sandwich toastie with some fresh organic wholemeal bread. There’s no dairy and no soy, just flavour and a nice solid block of cheese.
This recipe is simple, it’s quick and needs nothing more than five minutes of love and care, plus a bit of space in your refrigerator. Nice.

Easy Vegan Cheese

Looking forward to attempt number two at this cheese, a few changes for flavour perhaps or a few changes for colour perhaps..?

Easy Vegan Cheese

Easy Vegan Cheese

2 cups almond milk
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon hot mustard
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
4-6 tablespoons nutritional yeast
3 tablespoons agar powder
1 teaspoon chili flakes (optional)

Method:

  1. Throw all the ingredients into a pan in no particular order + whisk away for 5 minutes on a low to medium heat until the mixture thickens.
  2. Transfer thickened cheese mixture to your preferred moulds and refrigerate until set. It’s really this easy.

Spicy Tomato Spelt Spaghetti (Vegan)

Spicy tomato spelt spaghetti Are you a creamy or tomatoey person? I’m definitely the latter but regardless, everybody needs a solid go to tomato pasta sauce in their life, I know I do. I’ve always loved spaghetti coated in a rich, vibrant, sweet and spicy tomato based sauce. It doesn’t get much better than that. It was one of my favourite meals as a kid, oodles of spaghetti piled high and tossed in a rich red sauce. I used to have fun eating it too, relishing in the fact the table was set with spoons and forks as opposed to the traditional knife and fork (why can’t I get excited over such things anymore?!). There’s only one thing I don’t like about this meal and that’s the noises, you know the ones – sucking, slurping, general pasta suction techniques, we’ve all done it. I can’t deal with my emotions when I’m subjected to this. Surely, you can ONLY do this when eating alone and isn’t this the reason why you never order spaghetti on a first date?Spaghetti topped with parmesan

This spicy tomato spelt spaghetti is a 15 minute meal that couldn’t be more simple. It’s too true, the simple things are often the best. This is so speedy, it’s quicker than picking up the phone, ordering take out and waiting for it’s delivery. A basic italian inspired tomato spaghetti that’s delicious as is but would work really well powered up with your favourite veg, especially chestnut mushrooms, spinach, broccoli, a handful of rocket or a sprinkle of lemon zest. It’s a truly versatile dish. I like to use spelt spaghetti for the lower gluten and higher vitamin content but any wholegrain pasta would make a worthy nutritious and filling meal.Simple spaghetti ingredients

In my book a perfect tomato sauce needs good quality tomatoes, a good glug of olive oil, generous garlic, correct seasoning, a little sweetness and some spice. I like it really spicy but then again I do have a slight addiction to all things chili so if you prefer it a little milder then use a little less spice. It’s a great idea to make a large batch of the sauce and freeze half as it’s so versatile you could use it for another pasta dish such as lasagne, mixed with butter beans, poured over veggies or as a base for stuffed veggies. Just a thought. Two bowls of spaghetti

So, are you a creamy or tomatoey pasta person?

What’s your view on spaghetti eating etiquette?Spaghetti twisted on fork ready for slurping!

Spicy tomato spelt spaghetti

(serve 2)

200 grams spelt spaghetti
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 red chili, finely chopped
1 teaspoon oregano + 1/2 teaspoon crushed chili
1 can chopped tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon sugar
salt + pepper
generous handful of black olives
fresh basil leaves, torn

Method:

1. Place the spaghetti into salted boiling water + cook according to packet instructions.
2. Heat the olive oil + add the garlic, chili + oregano stirring until fragrant. Add the tomatoes, sugar + seasonings simmering for 10-15 minutes.
3. Drain the spaghetti + set aside. Add some of the pasta water to the sauce if it needs a little thinning. Stir the torn basil leaves, black olives + cooked spaghetti through the spicy tomato sauce.
4. Serve immediately + garnish with extra olives + basil leaves.

10 Minute Fig, Walnut + Lemon Thyme Fusilli

The most delicious ingredientsSo I was gonna start this post by sharing those cherished italian memories forged during the year I lived and loved in Florence but then I realised I’ve never lived in Italy and this is but a dream! So naturally, I’m going to share information on smells and my love affair with garlic.

What is it about garlic that does this to me?! The aroma of garlic gently sizzling in olive oil has got to be my all time favourite smells. I joke with Russ that you could fry any inedible and gross food or non-food (don’t ask) in garlic and I’d eat it! We end up listing a load of rancid, disgusting ‘things’ whilst agreeing that garlic would more than likely make it irresistible! Sometimes I think we’re quite immature for our age.  There’s one smell I like more than just garlic and that’s garlic and white wine cooking together – oh my god, this does it for me big time. I’m quite the garlic fan which is just as well as when we lived in Korea we were served a lot of raw garlic and I got very involved.DSC_7068

This 10 minute fig, walnut + lemon thyme beauty has a good hit of garlic and is one of my favourite pasta dishes. I got out of the pasta habit for a while there and I’m wondering why this happened to me. Maybe it was pasta overload whilst at university because this was definitely my staple food. Or maybe it’s the wheat and gluten ‘cos I don’t like too much of that either. But really I think I just forgot how good italian pasta dishes can be with so few simple ingredients. It’s comfort food which can also be nourishing when combined with the right ingredients. I’m a big fan of spelt spaghetti (less gluten) and also brown rice varieties so I use these when avoiding gluten overload. This fig, walnut + lemon thyme dish is enough to get me back on pasta track though. The simplicity, the flavours and the aroma are so good;  sweet figs, earthy and  creamy walnuts mingling with white wine and garlic infused fusilli.Delicious fig, walnut, wine + lemon thyme fusilli

It’s healthy too, the walnuts and olive oil make this a pasta that’s packed full of heart healthy monounsaturated fats. A good fat that helps to reduce blood cholesterol levels, lowers the risk of heart disease and helps to regulate our blood sugar and insulin levels. The figs are a great source of potassium and fibre and  help to reduce high blood pressure. But really figs are just beautiful, I think they’re one of the prettiest fruits around making this dish easy on the eye! Oh yes, another thing – if you use wholegrain gluten free pasta such as brown rice, whole wheat or spelt you’ll be getting an extremely fibre rich meal which will satiate, keep you full for longer and regulate blood sugar levels. This is a perfect lunchtime or evening meal with a little italian inspiration on the side.

So, what are your favourite cooking smells?Fusilli + wine = delicious

 

10 minute fig, walnut + lemon thyme fusilli

(serves 2)

150 grams fusilli
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small glass white wine
2 figs, sliced
50 grams walnuts, toasted
generous sprinkle lemon thyme
parmesan, to serve
salt & pepper

1. Place the fusilli in salted boiling water & cook according to packet instructions.
2. Heat the olive oil in a large pan over a low heat & add the garlic, cooking until fragrant. Stir in the figs & add the white wine, allowing to simmer until the alcohol burns off, about 5 minutes.
3. Add the thyme, walnuts & cooked pasta stirring through to fully incorporate.
4. Transfer to large serving bowls. Serve with a scattering of extra thyme & a generous sprinkle of parmesan