simple

5 Minute One Cup Vegan Loaf Cake

one cup vegan loaf cakeI adore this mix and match one cup vegan loaf cake, it’s so easy and so adaptable. If you don’t like baking then this is the cake for you. Or if you have absolutely no time whatsoever, again, this is the cake for you. It’s ridiculously simple and quick to throw together.

one cup vegan loaf cake

As the name suggests, you only need one cup and you’re good to go. No weighing, no sinkful of dirty cups and spoons, no frantic googling for conversions and no convoluted stages. Just get that bowl and that cup and go for it. You can really just adapt this according to your ingredients in the kitchen cupboards so again don’t feel like you have to stick to the recipe 100%.

one cup vegan loaf cake

One cup vegan loaf cake

1 cup shredded coconut
1 cup chocolate chips or nuts or raisins (or a mix)
1 cup spelt or any self-raising flour (if using plain add 1 1/2 tsp baking powder)
1 cup sugar (coconut is good)
1 cup banana or apple puree
1 cup nut milk

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC + grease your loaf pan.
  2. In the large mixing bowl add the first 4 ingredients + combine. Then add the remaining fruit puree + milk to form a cake batter.
  3. Transfer to the greased pan + bake for 40 minutes. Allow to mostly cool before tucking in.

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.

Dairy Free Chocolate Birthday Cake

No not my birthday, mine’s July! I took this to my brother’s 40th tea party at my Mum’s house. She’s a good kid.

vegan birthday cake

So yeah, when you go over to the vegan side, mainstream cake is like really hard- eggs, butter, milk etc. It’s one big animal party in a cake. The thing is I like some chocolately dense cakeage and I knew I had to do something about it, so I made this. It really is like your average sponge, nothing ground breaking but hey I wasn’t trying to break any plant based cake ground but rather master a simple Chocolate Cake. I just swapped each animal ingredient for a plant ingredient such as coconut oil and nut milk. YUM! Of course I topped it with kiddy sprinkles, I was trying to be popular 😉 and make an appealing looking chocolate cake.

Vegan birthday cake

The other thing is I am pregnant, 5 months pregnant and I figured I will soon have the responsibility of being able to knock up a chocolate sponge that’s delicious and healthy too. C’mon, what Mum can’t make cake? Crikey, still can’t get used to that word.

I love how this is wholegrain with no dairy and no unrefined sugar. I know a few peeps who would knock me for this in a ‘oh let your hair down girl, it’s a birthday!’ I just say ‘bugger off’, life’s already short and ‘my’ cake is delicious and healthy and the bonus is it wont make you feel sluggish, collapse your bowls later in life, or cause a nice bit of type 2 diabetes. Steady on!

Vegan chocolate cake

It’s so easy too and takes 3 minutes to knock up with ALL the ingredients available at your local Sainsbury’s. The thing is if you don’t have coconut oil, use another vegetable oil such as canola, same goes for xylitol, just use raw cane sugar or maple syrup (but please do get involved with xylitol as it’s truly amazing stuff).

Not having an overly sweet tooth, chocolate cake has been on my to do list for a while, yeah who else can say that?! Anyhow, it’s done now and the result was: SUCCESS.

Vegan birthday cake

I have 4 nieces and they all ate this…..and enjoyed it too. There was a non vegan sponge and carrot cake too at the party. Fact is THIS vegan birthday cake got eaten first, seriously! Ashamed to say this recipe makes a pretty small cake, so next time I plan to double the ingredients and sandwich two seven inch cakes or make a larger single layer!

My work here is done.

Vegan birthday cake

Vegan Chocolate Cake

(8 slices, big ‘uns)

1 1/4 cups spelt flour
3/4 cup xylitol
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup almond milk
1 tsp distilled white or apple cider vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup coconut oil

chocolate topping:

4 tbsp margarine
1/2 cup xylitol
2 tbsp almond milk
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla extract

sprinkle with anything

method:
1. Preheat oven to 180 º CELSIUS. Sift flour, baking powder + cocoa into a large mixing bowl. Add the xylitol + salt, combining thoroughly. In a measuring jug, mix the remaining ingredients + add to the dry mix. Using a whisk, combine the mixture thoroughly resisting the urge to drink it all.
2. Transfer to a greased 7 inch cake tin. Bake for 30 minutes.
3. Remove + cool completely.
4. Meanwhile, combine all the chocolate topping ingredients in a small pan over a high heat and stir until smooth, silky + fully combined. This will thicken as it dries so glaze cake within 5 minutes + top copiously with yummy things like berries, cocoa nibs, sprinkles or anything that takes your fancy.

Mushroom, Kale + Rice Stuffed Pumpkin

pumpkin stuffed This is a Christmas recipe that’s coming a little late but that really doesn’t matter as this is so good it should never just come out just once a year! What is all that about anyway – people’s favourite foods and extra effort recipes coming out on just those special occasions! I just think we should all be eating delicious food we love all year round……or is that just me?

Anyway, every year Russ’s family have a boxing day tradition with another family to meet up every year for a big festive boxing day meal and it doesn’t actually have to be on boxing day either, in fact this year’s is 11 days before boxing day!!! I have missed the last 4, yes 4 because I generally try to be somewhere lovely over the Xmas period but this year it’s early and I get to go which is generally good news! The day is usually pretty fun and a great opportunity to catch up with friends and family whilst playing silly games and eating a lot including copious amounts of meat, cheese and wine. Hard times for me. Not eating meat, cheese or being a huge wine drinker makes me look a little strange amongst a room full of people who bond over their love of cheese and a mighty lamb shank. Plus I swear I get ‘blamed’ for Russ’s plant based lifestyle!! Yep blame, cos that’s just what it feels like in such a meat focused environment, Arrrrrhhhh!!!

pumpkin stuffed
So we’ve been asked to take our ‘veggie’ boxing day meal as I think it’s all too much for people who relish huge hunks of meat and wedges of every cheese known to man! I don’t mean it in a bad way but people tend to be a bit freaked out when you announce your vegan status! Anyway, it’s such a pleasure to take this mushroom, kale + stuffed pumpkin extravaganza because not only is it utterly delicious, but in my opinion she’s a bit of a show stopper! Pumpkin should never be just a side but rather the star of the show! That’s why I made four cos I just know that others will be wanting some as a side to their lamb. Quietly weeping.

pumpkin stuffed

This is wholegrain, contains 3 servings of veggies, is packed full of vitamins and minerals + an excellent source of protein. Merry Christmas. And a happy new year of course!

pumpkin stuffed

Not to mention it is utterly delicious spiked with white wine, earthy mushrooms, sweet cranberries, crunchy seeds encased in gooey sweet pumpkin flesh. Oh lord. This is proper winter food. Christmas food. Everyday food.

Mushroom, kale + rice stuffed pumpkin

(serves 2/3)

1 medium culinary pumpkin
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small white onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves minced
2 cups of chestnut mushrooms
2 large handfuls kale, torn
juice + zest of half lemon
salt + pepper
1 glass of white wine
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup dried cranberries
2 cups cooked wholegrain rice

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 200ºC. Prepare pumpkin by slicing the top off to create a lid + scoop out all the seeds.
2. Meanwhile heat the olive oil over a medium heat + gently fry the onion, garlic, mushrooms + kale until softened. Add the lemon, seasoning + white wine, continue to cook until the alcohol has burned off.
3. Stir through the remaining ingredients + transfer the mixture to the empty pumpkin. Place the lid back on + bake for 45-60 minutes. The skin should be browned + soft when a sharp knife is inserted.
4. Serve immediately + knock their socks off.

Raw Beet, Parsnip + Apple Soup

raw beet & parsnip apple soup
Some days you just want soup. Actually some days you just need soup. Today was one of those days and as I ‘needed’ it, it had to be quick, really quick. Thank you Vitamix. Not only does this blender make silky smooth soups, it heats it along the way. Nice.raw beetroot soup

Nature’s pretty magnificent right? These veggies were organic and I really didn’t want to over soup this soup so I didn’t. What does that even mean? Anyway, this soup is pretty darn simple.chopped veggies

My raw beet, parsnip and apple soup is perfect for when you’re craving a warming and hearty dose of goodness. It’s packed with super cleansing beetroot, contains heart protecting potassium and folate rich parsnips. It’s fibre rich and blood sugar-regulating thanks to the lovely apple.2 big bowls of raw beet soup

A simple way to cleanse, nourish and feel good.

The best part is the time it takes. This is a hearty healthy soup in 5 minutes flat! Who needs to cook soup ever again?raw beet soup close up

Raw beet, parsnip + apple soup

serves 2

1 raw beetroot, peeled + chopped
1 parsnip, peeled + chopped
1 apple, chopped
1 teaspoon miso paste
1 teaspoon soy sauce
2 garlic cloves, peeled
2 dates
3-4 cups hot water
pepper

pistachios, crushed
mint, chopped finely
non-dairy yoghurt or cashew cream

Blend all the soup ingredients until smooth. Serve immediately with pistachios, mint + yoghurt. Cleanse away.

Socca – One ingredient Grain Free Bread (GF + Vegan)

Socca breadSimple is my new thing.

I’m pretty good at making things more difficult than they need to be, blindly overlooking all short cuts and getting knee deep with the complex stuff. So naturally i’m loving simple, yet rewarding recipes and this socca recipe is right down with this simplicity stuff. ONE ingredient, really, just the ONE. By the way, I’m not counting the water and the salt – I hope you think that’s fair. Oh, and coconut oil too, these extras don’t count, surely.Socca

The one ingredient is gram, garbanzo, chick pea flour – whatever name floats your boat. I like chick pea flour because I’m from the UK and this is what we say. I’ve always perused the bean flours in my local indian supermarket and thought about finding out more about it but never really got around to it. So after some serious googling I found that it’s not just indian cuisine that favours this flour. Chick pea flour is used to make Socca which originates from France and Italy and sold in pizzeries and bakeries throughout. It’s usually cooked in a tin baking pan with olive oil and eaten hot from the oven. In my opinion, this is the best way but I have enjoyed it cold several times. It’s pretty versatile too and i’m certain you could create some seriously delicious flavour combinations. I’m thinking chocolate already………pumpkin maybe?Just one ingredient bread

Anyway, since making this I’m perplexed by a couple of things. Firstly, why have I not come across socca on trips to Italy and France, ever? I’m pretty offended as I was only in France last week and I didn’t see any socca……anywhere. My second trouble is, why don’t more people love the chickpeas? I mean, chickpea curry, falafel, cookie butter, pupadums, delicious dips, chocolate chip chick pea bites and now socca. Where would we be without chick peas? They get a bit of a bad rap and people assume if you eat a lot of chick peas you’re a barefoot, tie dye, free loving hippie, well maybe not but you do know what I mean right? They also have a reputation for producing excess gas……my advice here is to eat beans and lentils such as chick peas more regularly, always chew well and your digestion will soon thank you for eating them.  They’re tasty, healthy with impressive versatility and don’t deserve the bad rap they get! Love ’em.Simple socca

Let’s all get some more chick peas in our lives…..they’re seriously cheap and full of health so you just know I wanna sell chick peas a little more to you. Well OK……….

fibre rich so fantastic for digestive support
scientifically proven to increase satiety and decrease calorie intake
blood sugar regulation
unique supply of antioxidants
lowers cardiovascular risks

So, the take home message is………eat more chick peas and why not start with this simple bread. You cannot go wrong with this recipe and it’s great to experiment with, I often make this soft and bendy and other times I prefer a crisp and snappy socca! I usually bake it in a 12″ square baking dish but by using a smaller dish you can achieve a thicker softer bread and for a crispier version just use a bigger dish or less socca batter. I like to use the same ratio of water and flour but I’ve tried it with more water which works great too for a less dense lighter version.Socca pre slicing

Either way, enjoy this gluten, dairy and grain free bread on it’s own, with a hearty stew, some smoked black beans, topped with peanut butter or humous or used for a simple socca sandwich. I like it with a little cookie butter smeared on top…..a double whammy of chick pea love. It’s the perfect carrier for other flavours so get creative and add your favourite herbs or veggies.

What’s your simple 1 or 2 ingredient go to recipe?

Socca + cookie butter

socca

1 cup chick pea flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
2 teaspoons coconut oil

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 200 ºC. Place coconut oil in a baking dish + put in the oven to melt.
2. Combine the socca ingredients to form a smooth batter. Leave to sit for 5 minutes to thicken.
3. Remove hot dish from the oven with the melted oil + pour in the batter. Place back in the oven + bake for 30 minutes.
4. Remove  from the oven+ flip the socca. Return to for a further 5-10 minutes or grill on high for 2 minutes for a crispier version.

 

 

Raw Buckwheat Vanilla Porridge (GF + Vegan)

Raw buckwheat + vanilla porridge for twoThe perfect breakfast.

Today is most definitely a day for raw buckwheat vanilla porridge and following your heart.

I’ve been cotemplating, pondering and realising today. Realising that no matter how much you tell yourself otherwise, you cannot get along with everyone. This may sound obvious but I got caught up for a while there, caught up in the belief that we should all get along and love thy neighbour regardless. But I don’t buy it. Today I understand the need to be a better person, to strive for harmony and most of the time I’m good with this. You know the kind of stuff I’m talking about- less judgements, helping others more, greater compassion, embracing differences and just general goodness. On the whole, I am this person, I’m pretty kind,  I care, I make a point of understanding different viewpoints, I like to help, yeah I’m doing OK here.

But then it happened, I gave in and accepted that some people are simply not deserving recipients of our precious time and energy. Perhaps I  sound like a bitch and maybe I am, but I’m ok with this because sometimes you have to have an opinion and just go with what you believe, I’m big on integrity. And I’m not talking about particular people but just generally accepting that some differences cannot be bridged in life. Those who just feel like a steep hill, possessors of harsh tongues, makers of arbitrary judgements, disregarders of other’s feelings, showers of sheer recklessness, complacent with delicate souls -it’s these who I’m talking about. When one cares less for the consequences of their actions or lifestyle choices, who are aware  but care  much less of the damage they cause to themselves and others too, including the world we share, yes I can get along but not get on with them. I know it’s such a minority but it still just is and I’ve decided to let these toxic people go, albeit lovingly, with good thoughts and no hard feelings.

There’s too much greatness out there, overwhelming acts of kindness and heartbreaking generosity, thank god for all these good people……and for delicious breakfasts too.Raw buckwheat + vanilla porridge

So I love porridge but usually stick with the oat variety, definitely one of my favourite foods ever. But I was kind of intrigued by buckwheat porridge so it was high up on my hit list of recipe to-dos!  I found the raw buckwheat very reasonably priced in a local health food shop. This recipe requires the raw groats so be sure that you don’t buy the cereal version because this is not what you want. Despite the name, there is no wheat in buckwheat so this super whole grain is a fabulous option for gluten free diets or even as a change to the grains that get so ingrained in our diets! This buckwheat breakfast is simple, wholesome and can be enjoyed on the run too. The perfect breakfast.Easy buckwheat porridge process

Raw buckwheat vanilla porridge is an uber easy process – just soak the groats overnight, rinse, combine with the remaining ingredients and blend. Like overnight oats these can be flavoured any way you prefer or accordingly to what’s in the fridge. I decided almond milk with vanilla and cinnamon to be the wisest decision – I can’t get enough of this little combo. Adding the dates to the mixture thickens it a little as well as giving a fudge like flavour, so yum and I truly believe we should add dates to everything. Always looking for an excuse for a berry fix I decided to top this creamy buckwheat with British raspberries and blueberries. Yeah I know, British blueberries eh – since when did we start producing blueberries? That’s exactly what the Waitrose package said so no complaints here! I also remembered that there were still lots of blackberries on the bush behind the flat and I couldn’t resist the thought of triple berries for breakfast!Raw buckwheat + vanilla porridge

Why this is the perfect breakfast….first up, whole grain buckwheat is great for our cardiovascular system, has a positive effect on blood sugar control and is a great source of fibre. Also, it’s zero gluten, free of dairy and soy -perfect. What’s more, the added berries, nuts and almond milk make this an antioxidant and calcium rich balanced and nutritious way to start the day. Raw buckwheat porridge is so versatile and works well with any fruit, I suspect apples and bananas would be pretty special though. This recipe is great as a simple yet perfectly nutritious breakfast or a smooth nutty dessert. It’s all your choice.Raw buckwheat + vanilla porridge

Raw buckwheat + vanilla porridge

(serves 2)

2 cups raw buckwheat, soaked in water overnight
1 cup almond milk
1/4 cup maple syrup
3 dates
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup pecans

to serve:
berries
extra pecans

Method:

1. Rinse the soaked buckwheat groats with clean running water + add to the blender with the remaining ingredients. Blend until smooth.
2. Serve in glass bowls and garnish with berries + pecans.

 

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.

The Ultimate Vegetarian Lasagne with Roasted Romano Pepper + Pumpkin

Roasted red pepper + pumpkin lasagneRuss and me cook together every night. Occasionally one of us will suggest we’ll cook alone to free the other up but we just kind of like cooking together. We enjoy it, it’s relaxing, plus it takes half the time and we get to chat about our day whilst chopping, stirring and getting ready to eat fabulous food. The thing is, yeah it’s a habit but a good one surely – well you gotta eat and we get to feast on delicious, fresh and nutritious meals every night. Cooking together is a lot more fun than cooking alone but we seem to have definitely assigned ourselves set roles, Russ does most of the chopping and salad bits and I crack on with the actual cooking, timings, table arranging, flavours and cleaning. Well we both share the cleaning but I’m starting to think I got the raw end of the deal being a slave to the hob! I’d challenge Russ to swap with me but his knife skills are too good and I always prefer salads made by another! We’ve both just slipped into these roles and seem to get on with them like a well oiled machine- funny how habits form over time without us really noticing. Maybe I’ll challenge him to get down and dirty with the cooking whilst I sharpen my knife skills….yeah maybe. He can keep the bathroom cleaning duties though, I don’t want to share that one or bin change day!Slice of lasagne

I adore vegetarian lasagne but I don’t buy into complicated lasagnes at all. To me, the most important aspects are the flavours and good quality pasta sheets. I’ve made a full on traditional lasagne from scratch before and it seemed to take an age, but this recipe is just perfect and takes less time, especially if you’ve pre roasted vegetables to hand. I have to say when cooking in tandem (Hi Russ!) there really isn’t any recipe that’s too much so I really have no excuses. However, this is so jam packed full of fresh and vibrant ingredients it really doesn’t need a lot of fuss and time.Roasted vegetables

I use a cheats white sauce to quicken the lasagne process further and only spread this on the top layer as opposed to traditionally distributed throughout. I find this enough but if you prefer a creamier dish then just double the creme fraiche mixture and add to as many of the layers as you like. The roasted vegetables give this lasagne a beautifully sweet flavour, transforming the plain old chopped tomatoes into a sweet, rich and extremely moreish sauce. I like to add a little chili for a spicier version, actually I add chili to almost everything so just ignore me.Lasagne - ready for assembly!

Here is a fact and an opinion: Fact first, this is much healthier than traditional meat lasagnes. The tomatoes, peppers and pumpkin make this dish extremely nutrient dense and the cheese, creme fraiche and lentils provide an excellent protein content too. Now opinion, well I believe this is tastier than any other lasagne by miles, meat or non meat. It’s the ultimate vegetarian lasagne.

Do you have quirky routines/habits around cooking?Lasagne + Russ' salad is perfection

The ultimate vegetarian lasagne

(serves 2 hungry people)

200 grams pasta sheets (I used gluten free)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 romano peppers
2 cups cubed pumpkin or squash
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon, oregano + thyme
1 white onion, chopped finely
1 can chopped tomatoes + 1 can water
1/2 cup lentils
chopped parsley

cheat’s white sauce:
1 cup creme fraiche + a little water to loosen
1/2 cup parmesan, grated
1 cup mozzarella, grated

1. Pre-heat oven to 190ºC. Place whole peppers + squash in an square 12″ oven proof dish. Season + drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil + roast for 25 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, heat the remaining olive oil, add the onion, garlic + seasonings stirring until fragrant + translucent. Add the tomatoes + water, keep on a low simmer for 20 minutes until the vegetables are roasted.
3. Remove the roasted vegetables from the oven. Peel the skins off the peppers (they should fall off) + chop roughly. Add both to the tomato sauce.
4. In a small bowl, combine the creme fraiche with a little water + stir through the parmesan. It should be a pourable consistency.
5. Assemble the lasagne in the square dish starting with a base layer of sauce, followed by the lasagne sheets. Continue for 3 layers of tomato base + pasta. Pour the white sauce over the assembled lasagne + place in the oven for 30 – 45 minutes depending on pasta sheets used.
6. Remove 5 minutes before the end + add the mozzarella. Place bake in the oven until the cheese is lightly browned + bubbling. Serve immediately with a big salad + garlic baguette.

Keep refrigerated, delicious eaten cold + freezable on day of making.

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

1 2