Thursday 19 July 2012

Zesty Cannellini Bean and Cashew Houmous

Zesty Cannellini Bean and Cashew Houmous

This is a wonderful variation on the traditional houmous. I've been wanting to try other nut and seed butters in place of tahini, which is after all simply sesame seed paste, as there are so many varieties out there: cashew butter, almond butter, pumpkin seed butter (which is gorgeous by the way!) I opted for cashew butter as I had some and I love it's mild creaminess and based this on my white bean houmous with cannellini beans as I felt those beans would suit this better being further creamy and mild. I have upped the lemon juice and garlic here and added some lemon zest to give it some zing.

Zesty Cannellini Bean and Cashew Houmous

Zesty Cannellini Bean and Cashew Houmous

1 x 400g tin of cannellini beans (about 200g drained or a heaped 1 cup)
2 Tbsp cashew butter, about 35g
1 1/2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice, strain out any bits.
2 cloves garlic, pureed
1/2 tsp lemon zest, about 1 medium lemon zested.
3/4 tsp salt*
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp water

*for the salt I would suggest you start with 1/4 tsp and add from there to taste. My beans are packed in un-salted water and there is also no salt in my cashew butter but all brands vary and it's easier to add more salt than remove!

That's a 1 cup measure of beans, you want it slightly heaped.

Drain the beans well and place in a food processor with the cashew butter, lemon juice and zest, pureed garlic and salt. 

Process until well blended, stop and scrape sides if need be. With the motor running slowly add the olive oil down the chute and blend well, again stop and scrape sides if necessary. At this point it'll probably seem to be the right consistency and you may question adding the water but do, the houmous will thicken up in the fridge and I find it helps flavour wise. Simply add the water down the chute and process until really nice and creamy. Transfer to a bowl, cover and chill.

Nutritional Information: per 100g
Calories: 186
Fat: 12.4g
Sat Fat: 2g
Protein: 6g
Carbs: 15g
Sugar: 0.5g
Fibre: 3.2g
Sodium: 683mg

Altogether it is a lovely summery houmous and I immediately started to think what to use it in. My first thought was with grilled zucchini or eggplant, the hit of lemon would go so well with that and was going to make some sort of grilled zucchini and roasted red pepper sandwich but then remembered that although it's not that warm here in Ireland most of you are sweltering in heat waves and probably wouldn't want to be grilling and roasting! (Apologies again for my previous pasta bake post!!)

So instead I made up a beautiful garden fresh summer mint sandwich with wholegrain bread, the zesty cannellini bean and cashew houmous, cucumber, avocado, fresh mint, tomato and lettuce. Wow. This was a sandwich and a half!! Mint goes so well with cucumber and avocado and really makes this sandwich, so please don't omit it! Unless of course you don't like mint then some basil wouldn't go amiss ;-)

Garden Fresh Summer Mint Sandwich with Zesty Cannellini Bean and Cashew Houmous
Garden Fresh Summer Mint Sandwich with Zesty Cannellini Bean and Cashew Houmous

2 slices wholegrain bread
2 heaped tablespoons of the Zesty Cannellini Bean and Cashew Houmous
1/2 an avocado, sliced
cucumber slices
tomato slices
2 large leaves fresh mint
freshly ground black pepper

Spread the houmous on one slice of bread and grind a little black pepper over. Top with slices of tomato, cucumber then the chopped mint.

Then top with the avocado and lettuce, sandwich together, slice in half and enjoy!


Stuff all the same ingredients into a wholemeal pitta! I've actually been preferring the sandwich this way lately as it's easier to eat :-) Similarly, a wrap would work well too!

Nutritional Information: approx. based on 1 sandwich, will vary due to bread used and amounts etc..

Calories: 335
Fat: 13.7g
Sat Fat: 1.9g
Fibre: 9.6g
Carbs: 48.1g
Sugar: 5.9g
Protein: 11.8g
Sodium: 637mg

You Might Also Like:

Lemon Pepper Cashew Cutlets
Grilled Couscous Houmous Salad Wrap

Tuesday 10 July 2012

Stuffed Jumbo Pasta Shell Lasagne

Vegan Stuffed Pasta Shell Lasagne
Vegan Chicken, Sun-Dried Tomato and Basil Stuffed Shells with a Garlic, Tomato and Basil Sauce and a Cheezy White Sauce.

Vegan Stuffed Pasta Shell Lasagne
Seasoned Soy Mince and Onion Stuffed Shells with a Garlic, Tomato and Basil Sauce, Spinach and a Cheezy White Sauce.

So, enjoying your summer? I'm sure you've noticed my blog posts slowing down a bit, this always happens in the summer when I have the boy home from school, just taking it easy a bit and not creating very much. You know, sticking to old favourites and easy to throw together dinners. That being said I came up with these in an attempt to find something new that the boy would like (and us!). Oh and I apologise to those of you suffering in heat waves right now and I go and post a pasta bake but I am in Ireland and actually typing this up wearing a jumper! Remember too that despite the slowing down in blog posts you can follow what I'm eating, testing and experimenting with in the daily food blog :-)

I have 2 versions of this dish for you and may actually have a third coming up to add to this post later ;-) I first made it with the soy mince stuffing and melty cheezly on top. My husband and I loved it but my son wasn't keen on the stuffing. He likes soy mince in taco's though so, go figure, kids eh?? So when I went to make this again I was trying to think of another filling I could use and settled on the filling from my Vegan Chicken, Sun-Dried Tomato and Basil Sausage Rolls as he liked them and I thought the flavours would go nicely. I also opted to omit the cheezly from this version as it did feel unnecessary the first time and I know vegan cheese has that whole love/hate thing with you all!!

As for the outcome, I loved both of these but I will definitely omit the cheezly from now on, not that it wasn't good the first time, it just wasn't necessary as the cheezy white sauce actually has more, better flavour going on. I also loved the spinach added to the soy mince version but forgot to add it to the second one - d'oh! In the future I will always add it though.

The other version I want to try is to stuff the shells simply with some seasoned puy lentils as I do like to give options not using faux meats for those of you not into that stuff. Although I haven't tried it I'm sure if you cook up some puy lentils, fry some chopped onion and season gently with a bit of salt and fresh herbs it would make a lovely stuffing. Omit the cheezly as well and you have a delicious, completely faux-free dish! See, I do try and please all here :-) If I get around to trying that version I will add it to this post for you.

I'll give the recipes for both versions here. As you can see I opted to bake these in individual casserole dishes as I find that easier to serve and eat. (Although, I transferred my son's to a cool bowl so he wouldn't burn himself!) You can of course bake it all in a larger casserole dish if you prefer. I served both versions with a simple side salad but some steamed veggies would go nicely as well as would of course, some garlic bread :-)

Recipe serves 2, simply double or triple as need be for a larger casserole dish.

Vegan Chicken, Sun-Dried Tomato and Basil Stuffed Jumbo Pasta Shell Lasagne: 

12 jumbo pasta shells, about 100g

1 x recipe Vegan Chicken, Sun-Dried Tomato and Basil Filling.

100g frozen spinach, cooked and well drained

270g passata (sieved tomato sauce, google image will show you texture if you can't find this and need to replace)
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/8 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp dried oregano
lots of fresh basil, I used about 1/4 cup chopped
freshly ground black pepper
salt to taste (note - I added none as the passata I buy has enough salt added)

10g vegan butter
7g flour
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp dried parsley
1/8 tsp salt
1 Tbsp + 1 tsp Nutritional Yeast
125ml unsweetened soy milk

Now, there is a lot going on here but one other thing I did the second time I made this was to see if it could all be made up before hand and it can. I put them altogether into the individual casserole dishes, wrapped in cling film and placed in the fridge then when it came to dinner time I simply removed the cling film, covered them in foil, popped them in a hot oven and baked.

Pasta Shells:
I use Tesco Finest Jumbo Shells here and find you do have to pre-boil them in salted water for the full 15 minutes even though they are getting baked later. Any less and they will still be too hard, of course, other brands may produce different results so just follow package instructions. Drain then run under cold water until they are cool, make sure there is no water remaining in the shells as it can pool there.

Make up the full recipe of my Vegan Chicken, Sun-Dried Tomato and Basil Sausage Rolls, omitting, of course the puff pastry! :-D

I used frozen here which I usually never use but find it works best in this. I just added the weighed amount to a microwave safe dish, added a few tablespoons of water, covered and microwaved for 3 minutes. Drain well in a sieve pushing the water out with the back of a spoon.

Tomato Sauce:
Measure out the passata and add the sugar and oregano. Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan and add the garlic and a few grinds of black pepper and fry very gently for 30 seconds or so - be careful not to burn the garlic. Add the passata, stir well, cover and bring to a simmer. Let it simmer for about 10 minutes, giving it a stir now and again - it should thicken up slightly and the flavours should come out more now. Turn off the heat and stir in the chopped basil, taste and season if need be, again, my passata is salty enough so I don't add any.

Cheezy Garlic White Sauce:
First, you want to make this last. If you make it too early it will thicken up while sitting and be almost unusable! I finely grind my Nutritional Yeast flakes in a mortar and pestle to get them nice and fine. Add to this the salt, garlic powder and parsley and mix well. Measure out the soy milk in a measuring jug and add the yeast and seasoning and mix well. Add the vegan butter to a small saucepan and add the seasoned milk. Turn the heat on then sprinkle over the flour and whisk well while bringing it to a simmer. Once the butter melts and the flour has dissolved switch to a wooden spoon and stir until thickened up.

Whether you are using one large casserole dish or individual ones first spoon a small amount of the tomato sauce in the bottom of the dish, just enough to cover the bottom. Fill the shells with the stuffing, it's a little fiddly but not too bad! I used a good size teaspoon size amount for each shell. Then lay them in the dish:

Again, I forgot to add the spinach here, if you are adding it simply scatter it in and amongst the shells now then top with the rest of the tomato sauce, spreading out as best you can.

Then spoon over the cheezy white garlic sauce and again spread it out as best you can. Both of these sauces may seem skimpy now but once this bakes up it really is the perfect amount of sauce in the finished dish so don't worry!

Now you can add some grated vegan cheese on top now if you like but I personally preferred it without - up to you! You can either bake it now or cover with cling film now (make sure it doesn't touch the sauce) and refrigerate until you need it.

Preheat the oven to 200C / 400F and cover the dish/dishes with tin foil (remove the cling film if you pre-refridgerated) and bake for 30 minutes. I also covered them with foil when I added the cheezly as it helps the cheeze melt.

Remove and serve with a side salad or some steamed veggies if you prefer and if you are serving this to kids you might want to do like I did and transfer it to a non-hot bowl:

Vegan Stuffed Pasta Shell Lasagne

Soy Mince Stuffing:

100g chopped onion
300g frozen soy mince
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp dried mixed herbs

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan then add the onion, frozen mince and herbs and fry gently for about 6 minutes or according to your mince instructions. I use Tesco brand soy mince and it is already seasoned so like the tomato sauce I don't add any salt here. If you are using a different brand simply taste and season as need be. Also, this will probably make a bit more than you'll need but it's better to have too much than not enough!

The sauce recipes are the same for this version as is the process: some sauce first in the dish, stuff the shells then add to the dish and scatter with the spinach:

Top with the rest of the tomato sauce:

Spread over the cheezy white sauce:

Sprinkle over some cheezly if that floats your boat! I ground some black pepper over top:

Bake and serve!

Vegan Stuffed Pasta Shell Lasagne

You Might Also Like:

Jumbo Shells Stuffed with Basil
Almond Feta with a Creamy
Tomato Sauce
Puy Lentil, Portabello Mushroom and
Baby Spinach Free Form Lasagne

Monday 2 July 2012

Basic Pesto

Vegan Pesto

So, apologies to the daily food blog readers who have seen this before as it's already posted there but I decided as I get so few readers over there it should be on the main blog. Plus, it's rather crazy that my all time favourite meal isn't on the blog yet - pesto pasta. I know, it's very basic and common but I love it, I could seriously eat bucket loads of pesto pasta and love pesto on just about anything :-) Plus, as we now have a garden we now have loads of basil growing like mad which is fab as pesto takes a lot of basil - even for a small amount!

I have been using this recipe since we pretty much became vegan, finding a good pesto recipe was going to be essential to my transition after all! ;-) The only reason I haven't blogged it yet is that it's essentially not my recipe - this is basically the pesto recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance and it's brilliant. I decided to blog it as I have used my preferred pine nuts here and have scaled it down to suit enough pasta to serve 4.
Vegan Pesto

Basic Pesto: serves 4 as a pasta sauce.
20g pine nuts
50g fresh basil
2 small or 1 large clove garlic, chopped
1/4 tsp salt
60ml extra virgin olive oil
4 1/2 tsp nutritional yeast flakes ground to a powder.
1 tsp lemon juice

300g pasta to serve four

Lightly toast the pine nuts in a dry frying pan and set aside. Wash and dry the basil then place in a food processor with the nuts, garlic and salt. Process until finely chopped, stop and scrape down the sides if need be. With the processor running slowly pour the olive oil down the chute until all added then process until fine in texture. Add the lemon juice and yeast and process again.

Note - I actually prefer to use a mortar and pestle here as my food processor struggles with smaller quantities. I'll use it to finely chop the basil, to make it all smaller but you can just chop it with a knife. Then I transfer to the mortar and pestle and pound it with circular motions with the pine nuts, chopped garlic and salt until it's a paste then I'll add the lemon juice to loosen it up then slowly add the olive oil, bit by but until it's the consistency you see above, smooth but still grainy. I then stir in the nutritional yeast until dissolved and creamy. This is actually the more traditional way to make pesto which, according to Wikipedia actually means "to pound" and is the same root word we get pestle from! So there you go, be traditional, ditch the food processor and get a little workout!!

Cook the pasta in well salted water and drain, any type is good here but I do love this Fusilli Lunghi Bucati No. 5 by De Cecco I've used here :-) Return to the pot and toss the pesto in, mixing well. It's important to do this off the heat, don't heat pesto as the basil can turn black and the flavour will be compromised, just toss it in the hot drained pasta and go! If it seems a little dry, sometimes I'll add a little more olive oil, sometimes a little pasta cooking water (depends if I'm dieting or not!) Season with salt and or pepper if needed at the table.

Vegan Pesto Pasta

Of course you can add loads of add ins to this - we love cherry tomatoes, or sometimes sun dried tomatoes and sliced black olives. Fried vegan chicken strips would be lovely, seitan or some white cannellini beans for added protein would all go well too.

Source: Slightly adapted from Vegan with a Vengeance.

Nutritional Information: Based on 1 serving out of 4.

Calories: 422
Protein: 10.2g
Fat: 19.2g
Sat Fat: 2.5g
Fibre: 2.2g
Carbs: 55.9g
Sugar: 2g
Sodium: 196mg