Romanesco, Cauliflower & Quinoa Pesto Salad with Pine Nuts & Basil

Romanesco, Cauliflower & Quinoa Pesto Salad with Pine Nuts & Basil

This cauliflower pesto salad recipe is inspired by a memorable dish I enjoyed last summer on the island of Ibiza. We were at El Silencio which sits on a picturesque little beach called Cala Moli. El Silencio is a sand-under-your-feet, raw wood tables with a thatched roof style chiringuito (beach restaurant), but what sold it for me was their food menu.

We started with homemade focaccio from the clay oven, followed by fresh hamashi sashimi alongside the coldest, most refreshing bottle of sparkling water I’ve ever had. Not sure what they did to that water but it was amazing, and absolutely perfect on that especially hot day.

Nick followed up with a pasta dish while I had their cauliflower pesto salad which was so delicious I knew I had to try and recreate it. The cauliflower and broccoli florets had been cooked in a broth of some sort as they were extra juicy and tasty, combined with the fresh green leaves and toasted pine nuts the combination was just perfect.

So here we are, I have recreated this recipe for you to enjoy now too! We’ve been eating this dish whenever I come across a romanesco broccoli (like a green cauliflower), and when I can’t find one but still crave this salad I substitute with a regular broccoli. You could also use purple cauliflower in place of the romanesco, or keep it super simple and just double the amount of regular white cauliflower. If you make your own pesto for this recipe, it is full of spinach and herby greens so you won’t miss the green romanesco if you can’t find any.

I hope you enjoy this quinoa pesto cauliflower salad as much we do!

Cauliflower, Quinoa Pesto Salad - vegan recipe

Cauliflower Quinoa Pesto Salad with Spinach & Pine Nuts

Serves: 4
Prep time: 30 minutes Cook time: 20 minutes

1 cup quinoa
2 tsp vegetable bouillon (or your favourite veggie stock)
1/2 head cauliflower
1/2 head romanesco broccoli (green cauliflower)
1 cup/large handful baby spinach leaves, washed
1 handful basil leaves
1 /3 cup green pesto (storebought or see recipe below for a vegan recipe)
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
salt + pepper
Extra virgin olive oil to serve

 

To make the salad:
Cook the quinoa according to packet instructions with 1tsp of vegetable bouillon added to the cooking water.

Toast the pine nuts in a 160C oven for 10 minutes or until lightly browned.

Cut the caulflower and romanesco broccoli into large florets. Steam the cauliflower and romanesco broccoli either using a steamer pot or simply add 2 cm of water to a large saucepan and 1 tsp of vegetable bouillon. Bring the liquid to a simmer then add the florets and cover with a lid. Check after a few minutes and stir as needed to ensure the florets are evenly cooked. The aim is to gently steam the florets so they’re cooked but retain their colour and firm texture.

While the florets are steaming, add the washed greens to a large mixing bowl along with the cooked quinoa, toasted pine nuts and pesto. Add the steamed cauliflower and romanesco broccoli and toss until the pesto is thoroughly mixed through.

Transfer salad to a large serving dish or individual plates if desired. Drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper.

Any leftovers can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days.

 

Vegan Basil Pesto
1 cup fresh basil leaves
1 cup baby spinach leaves
1 cup cashews, almonds, pine nuts
1 clove garlic
1/2 tsp pink Himalayan salt
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp nutritional yeast (savoury yeast flakes)
2 tsp apple cider vinegar

To make the basil pesto:
Wash the basil and spinach leaves well, drain and place in a food processor along with the garlic and salt. Pulse/blend until they resemble coarse crumbs.

Add the remaining ingredients and pulse to combine but be careful not to over blend. You’re aiming for a chunky pesto rather than a smooth sauce.

Store the pesto in a jar in the fridge for up to 5 days (can also be frozen for up to 3 months).

 

Cauliflower, Quinoa Pesto Salad - vegan recipe

Aubergine & Mushroom Lentil Lasagne (Vegan + Pasta Free)

Aubergine & Mushroom Lentil Lasagne (Vegan + Pasta Free)

We’ve had this Aubergine & Mushroom Lentil Lasagne on repeat the last few weeks because it’s just so good! It has all the flavours and elements you’d expect from a classic lasagne, yet it doesn’t contain any pasta or refined grains/flours. There’s no cheese or dairy products, and of course no meat. Instead it’s made entirely from whole, plant foods!

The “mince” component is made from a combination of red onion, mushrooms and red lentils. If you like your “mince” layer to have a bite to it then you have the option to add brown lentils in too. To give the plant mince an authentic taste I use coconut aminos (or soy sauce), smoked paprika, salt, pepper and Italian style herbs. It honestly tastes so good you really won’t miss the meat. It’s also delicious on it’s own served with noodles, aka spaghetti bolognaise!

The pasta component in this lasagne is created with sliced aubergine. This is gently baked in the oven beforehand to ensure it’s lovely and soft by the end of the cook time. Which in turn ensures the lasagne is easy to slice and serve. I’ve also made this lasagne with zucchini strips instead of aubergine and this works really well too.

Of course, you can’t have a lasagne without a cheese sauce, and this is made from cashews. Simply soak to soften, then blend with nutritional yeast, lemon juice, salt and pepper.

When the three components are ready, simply assemble the lasagne as usual. Layer up the plant mince, aubergine and cheese sauce, and repeat. Bake the lasagne in the oven until the top is golden and enjoy!

Aubergine & Mushroom Lentil Lasagne (Vegan + Pasta Free)

Aubergine & Mushroom Lentil Lasagne (Vegan + Pasta Free)

Serves: 8
Prep time: 40 minutes Cook time: 1 hour

Plant-Based “Mince”

1 Tbsp avocado or olive oil for cooking
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 red capsicum, chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup/large handful mushrooms, chopped
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 Tbsp  tomato paste
1/2 cup red lentils, washed/drained
1 cup water
1 can brown lentils (optional)
1 Tbsp smoked paprika
1 Tbsp vegetable bouillon (optional)
pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
2 Tbsp coconut aminos (or soy sauce)
1 Tbsp Italian herbs (or fresh if you have them)
salt + pepper
2 large handfuls spinach, washed/chopped

“Pasta” Sheets
1 aubergine, thinly sliced

Cashew Cheese Sauce
1/2 cup cashews, soaked 2-4 hours
1/4 cup filtered water
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp pink Himalayan salt

 

Start by soaking the cashews. Place them in a bowl, cover with cold water and stand for 2 hours. Alternatively, if you’re short on time use boiling water and soak for 15 minutes.

Next make the plant mince. Heat a small amount of oil in a large pan, add the red onion and cook a couple minutes until it begins to soften. Add the red capsicum and garlic, continue cooking a few minutes then add the mushrooms. If anything starts to stick to the pan, add a little water to deglaze and continue cooking.

Add the chopped tomatoes and tomato paste, followed by the lentils and water, and stir well.

Sprinkle in the herbs and spices, salt and pepper, stir well and turn down to a simmer.

Simmer for around 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the red lentils are cooked through. If the mixture starts to look dry or begins sticking to the pan, add a little more water.

When the plant mince is cooked, turn off the heat and stir in the spinach.

While the plant mince is cooking, preheat the oven to 180C. Slice the aubergine as thin as you can (ideally around 3mm), lay the slices on 2 lined baking trays and bake for approximately 10 minutes. You’re aiming for the aubergine to soften but not gain too much colour.

To make the cashew cheese sauce, simply drain the cashews and place all the ingredients into a blender. Blend until smooth and check the taste. If you want it more cheesey add more yeast, and more tangy add a little more salt or lemon.

Assemble the lasagne in an oven-proof baking dish. Place a layer of plant mince in the bottom, top with aubergine slices and then a layer of cashew cheese sauce. Repeat until you have used up all the ingredients, ending with a layer of cashew cheese sauce on the top.

Place the lasagne in the centre of the oven to bake for 40 minutes to 1 hour. The longer you bake, the better the flavours.

To serve, slice the lasagne into squares and serve warm with a side of fresh salad greens.

Any leftovers can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days. Be sure to reheat well before serving.

 

Aubergine & Mushroom Lentil Lasagne (Vegan + Pasta Free)

Vietnamese Cashew Noodle Salad with Chilli Lime Dressing

Vietnamese Cashew Noodle Salad with Chilli Lime Dressing

Even though it’s officially autumn here, this Vietnamese Cashew Noodle salad has been making a regular appearance on our table. I love it because it’s super easy to make, it’s deliciously fresh, and is bursting with exotic flavours that transport me to tropical locations far far away! It’s also completely plant-based, gluten and soy free.

The only equipment you need for this recipe is a peeler (ideally one that julienne’s but a regular grater would also work), a knife and a bowl of boiling water to soak the noodles. There’s absolutely no cooking required.

The flavours and textures are just amazing. Fresh ginger, lime, garlic and chilli form the base of the Vietnamese nuoc cham inspired dressing. I left out the traditional fish sauce element to keep this recipe completely plant-based, and instead substituted it with coconut aminos (aka coconut tamari sauce).

Bean thread noodles (aka glass noodles) form the base of this salad with their soft sparkly texture, and provide an element of protein. Add to that fresh carrot and cucumber strips for a some crunch, alongside bean sprouts and toasted cashews. Sping onions add a spike of green alongside fragrant coriander leaves.

This salad is so well rounded it’s perfect all by itself. But feel free to up the protein content by adding crispy tofu or tempeh or any other protein that takes your fancy. If you can’t find a particular vegetable, simply swap it for something similar, or just leave it out.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do!

Vietnamese Cashew Noodle Salad

Vietnamese Cashew Noodle Salad with Chilli Lime Dressing

Serves: 4
Prep time: 20 minutes 

2 bundles (approx 125g) bean thread noodles (glass noodles)
2 carrots
1/2 cucumber
1 cup mung bean spouts
2 spring onions
1 cup coriander leaves
1/2 cup cashews, toasted

Chilli Lime Dressing
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup coconut aminos (coconut tamari sauce)
2 limes, juiced
1 Tbsp pure maple syrup
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 cm piece ginger, grated
1 tsp chilli flakes

 

To toast the cashews, preheat your oven to 160C fan bake. Place the cashews on a lined baking tray in the centre of the oven and toast for approximately 10 minutes, or until cashews have turned golden brown.

Place the noodles in a large heat proof bowl and cover with boiling water. Stand for approximately 10 minutes, or until noodles are soft. Drain, then use scissors to cut them into shorter, fork-friendly lengths.

While the noodles are soaking, peel the carrot and use a julienne peeler (or grater) to shred into strips. Place strips into a second mixing bowl.

Wash the cucumber and julienne into strips (including skin) until you reach the seeds which you’ll have to discard, then add to the bowl.

Wash and drain the bean sprouts and add to the bowl.

Wash the spring onions, finely chop and add to the mixing bowl.

Wash the coriander, pick the leaves off of the stems and add to the bowl, along with the toasted cashews and noodles.

Combine all the dressing ingredients in a jar with a tight lid. Shake until well combined, pour over the salad and toss well.

Any leftovers can be stored in the fridge for a couple of days, although the coriander will start to wilt. So if you’re making this salad ahead of time, leave the dressing off until just before serving.

 

Vietnamese Cashew Noodle Salad
The Best Crunchy Smashed Potatoes with Herbed Yoghurt

The Best Crunchy Smashed Potatoes with Herbed Yoghurt

These Crunchy Smashed Potatoes make an appearance at our dinner table at least once a week because they’re just so good, not to mention super easy to make! 

There’s something so moreish about a crunchy roasted potato that’s akin to a french fry, but luckily with this recipe you don’t need a deep fryer to achieve it.

Believe it or not, this also happens to be the first potato recipe I’ve ever posted here, so lucky it’s an epic one!

I have nothing against potatoes, but in the past if I had to choose I would always go for a sweet potato over the regular type. This is because sweet potatoes are higher in antioxidants (particularly beta carotene), vitamins and minerals, and my goal is always to pack in as many antioxidants as possible.

The secret to achieving that perfect crunch is the type of potato you choose, and the way you smash them. I’ve found the best potatoes for maximum fluffiness on the inside, and crispy crunch on the outside, are Jersey Bennes. Other potatoes will work too, but Jersey Bennes will guarantee a great result every time.

The trick to smashing them is to ensure the potatoes are cooked through, but not yet crunchy on the outside before you smash them. When the potato is properly cooked through, their insides will burst out the sides as you smash them, and little bits will break off which crunch up beautifully as they cook.

Some recipes say the secret to the best crunchy smashed potatoes is boiling the potatoes before you roast them. However, I’m all about efficient cooking with as little washing up as possible. So given you have to roast the potatoes anyway, why would you want to add another pot and lid to the wash up pile if you can get an amazing result without it.

Serve your crunchy smashed potatoes simply with a sprinkle of salt and freshly ground pepper. They’re also amazing when baked with crushed garlic and mixed herbs, and if you like your potatoes with a creamy sauce, serve them with dollops of herbed yoghurt and a scattering of fresh herbs.

I hope you love this recipe as much as we do, enjoy!

Crunchy Smashed Potatoes with Herbed Yoghurt

Crunchy Smashed Potatoes with Herbed Yoghurt

Serves: 4
Prep time: 15 minutes  Cook time: 1 hour 20 minutes

1kg Jersey Benne potatoes, or similar
1 Tbsp avocado cooking oil, coconut oil or oil of choice
salt + pepper
3 cloved crushed garlic (optional)
1Tbsp dried mixed herbs (optional)

Herbed Yoghurt
1 cup unsweetened coconut yoghurt
1 Tbsp chopped herbs (chives, thyme, rosemary)

Preheat oven to 200ºC fan bake.

Wash any dirt off the potatoes then place on a lined baking tray. Ideally you want the potatoes to be no bigger than 5 to 6 cm. If any larger, cut them in half to ensure even baking.

Place a drop of oil on each potato then place in the centre of the oven and bake for 40 minutes.

Remove potatoes from the oven and place the tray on a flat surface. Use a potato masher or a flat bottomed cup to smash the potatoes. You’re aiming for the potato skins to crack and the insides to splurge out the sides. If any get stuck in the masher simply shake back onto the tray as these will form the extra crunchy bits.

Drizzle the smashed potatoes with a little more oil, and sprinkle with salt, pepper and crushed garlic and herbs if using. 

Return the potatoes to the oven and bake for another 40 minutes.

While the potatoes are cooking mix the yoghurt and herbs together and set aside.

The potatoes are ready when the edges have turned a golden brown and are looking crispy.

To serve, place the potatoes on a serving plate, dollop with herbed yoghurt and sprinkle with freshly chopped herbs. Serve potatoes warm, as a side to your favourite main.

 

Crunchy Smashed Potatoes

Decadent Vegan Chocolate Mousse – 2 Recipes (Tofu/Nut Free)

Decadent Vegan Chocolate Mousse – 2 Recipes (Tofu/Nut Free)

Happy 2022! To celebrate the start of a new year I have two amazing vegan chocolate mousse recipes for you. Both recipes are super easy, completely plant-based/vegan, and do not contain any nuts or tofu.

I was inspired to create these recipes after devouring an amazing vegan chocolate mousse at a restaurant while holidaying on Waiheke. It was so good, yet I couldn’t taste any of the usual vegan chocolate mousse ingredients such as avocado or coconut. I asked the waiter what it was made from and the answer was tofu, which would have be great if I wasn’t super intolerant to soy.

So the first recipe I created makes a deliciously light, airy chocolate mousse, thanks to the magic of aquafaba (the liquid from a can of chickpeas). The second recipe creates a luscious thick mousse with a ganache-like texture, and this is thanks to the goodness of avocado!

The number of chocolate mousse recipes I’ve posted over the past few years suggests I’m somewhat of fan! You can check out those dairy free/vegan recipes here: Raw Chocolate Avocado MousseSweet Potato Chocolate Mousse and Chocolate Peanut Butter Avocado Mousse.

What sets these two new recipes apart is the method. They’re made from a dark chocolate ganache base ad from this you can choose to either fold in whipped aquafaba for a super light and airy mousse, or blend it up with an avocado for a super rich and decadent mousse.

The bonus of this new method is you can easily alter the flavour by the type of chocolate you choose. If you like a really rich, deep chocolate mousse, use your favourite dark 70% chocolate. For a lighter style choose a 50% cacao chocolate, and for a light milk chocolate style mousse choose a vegan milk chocolate.

Decorate your chocolate mousse before serving with a dollop of coconut yoghurt, whipped coconut cream or nice cream, a sprinkle of chopped chocolate and crushed freeze dried berries.

Store your chocolate mousse in the fridge for up to 3 days – not that it will last that long!

Enjoy!

Vegan Chocolate Mousse - Nut/Tofu Free

Decadent Vegan Chocolate Mousse 2 Ways – Nut & Tofu Free Recipes

Serves: 4-6
Prep time: 15 minutes  Chill time: 1 hour

250g vegan chocolate
225g plant milk
2 Tbsp pure maple syrup (optional)
1 tsp vanilla essence/powder
1 avocado OR 100g aquafaba (chickpea brine) + 1/4 tsp cream of tartar

Toppings For Serving
Coconut yoghurt/whipped cream/nice cream
Grated vegan chocolate
Freeze dried fruit

Place milk in a small pan and heat gently until steaming.

While milk is heating, place chocolate in a mixing bowl and break into small pieces.

When milk is steaming pour it over the chocolate pieces and let it stand for 5 minutes so the heat from the milk starts to melt the chocolate.

Use a whisk to stir the chocolate mixture until it comes together into a smooth chocolate ganache. Place in fridge to chill until it reaches room temperature.

If making the avocado version, place the avocado (skin and stone removed) into a high speed blender or food processor. Add the ganache and blend until completely smooth.

If making the aquafaba version, place the aquafaba in a clean grease-free bowl (wipe bowl with a little lemon juice or white vinegar to ensure grease-free). Add the cream of tartar and whisk with an electric mixer until you have stiff peaks. Fold the chocolate ganache mixture into the whisked aquafaba until combined.

Pour the mousse into single serve ramekins and place in the fridge to chill.

To serve, top with a dollop of coconut yoghurt/whipped coconut cream or nice cream. Sprinkle with chopped chocolate and crushed freeze dried berries.

Both types of chocolate mousse will keep in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

 

Light & bubbly chocolate mousse made with aquafaba:

Vegan Chocolate Mousse - Nut/Tofu Free
Vegan Chocolate Mousse - Nut/Tofu Free

Rich & decadent chocolate mousse made with avocado:

Vegan Chocolate Mousse - Nut/Tofu Free
Vegan Chocolate Mousse - Nut/Tofu Free
Vegan Chocolate Mousse - Nut/Tofu Free

Roast Fennel & Asparagus Salad with Easy Apple Cider Vinaigrette

Roast Fennel & Asparagus Salad with Easy Apple Cider Vinaigrette

With summer just around the corner, the weather has been warming up nicely over the last few weeks so salads are finally back on the menu in our house!

I’ve been trying to get more creative with my salads lately because I’ve had this creamy avocado and kale salad with crispy chickpeas on repeat for most of the year! Although I still love it, there’s nothing like adding more variety to your repertoire – especially after 3 months of lockdown cooking.

What I love about this new roast fennel and asparagus salad is the beautiful, anise flavour of the fennel, combined with the nutty crunch of the asparagus. Add to that some creamy avocado, roasted sweet potato, and a tangy, apple cider and ginger dressing, and you have a salad worthy of it’s own dinner party.

If you’re not a huge fennel fan, lightly roasting it will mellow its flavour and texture. Likewise, by roasting or pan-frying the asparagus, you’ll bring out it’s unique, nutty flavour. Just be careful not to overcook your asparagus, as slightly crunchy asparagus is much more delicious than soggy, flaccid asparagus!

Serve this gluten-free, roast fennel salad on it’s own for a delicious, light meal. Throw in some plant-based protein such as toasted almonds, pine nuts or hemp seeds to turn it into a more substantial meal. Or serve it as a side alongside your favourite main dish.

Store any extra dressing in a sealed jar in the fridge for up to 2 weeks, and is delicious over roasted vegetables or steamed broccolini.

Enjoy!

Roast Fennel & Asparagus Salad with Easy Apple Cider Vinaigrette

Roast Fennel & Asparagus Salad with Easy Apple Cider Vinaigrette

Serves: 4
Prep time: 20 minutes  Cook time: 1 hour

2-3 sweet potatoes (any colours)
1 fennel bulb
1 bunch of asparagus
1 avocado
4 large handfuls salad greens
drizzle of avocado/coconut/olive oil

Apple Cider & Ginger Vinaigrette
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 Tbsp dijon mustard
2 tsp pure maple syrup or raw honey
pinch cayenne pepper
pinch Himalayan pink salt
ground black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 200ºC fan bake. Peel and chop the sweet potato into chunks and place on a lined oven tray. Drizzle sweet potato with a little oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss together. Place the tray in the centre of the oven to bake for approximately 20-30 minutes. When sweet potato is cooked through, remove it from the oven and allow to cool.

Prepare the fennel by washing and cutting the bulb into slices. Arrange the slices on another lined oven tray, drizzle with a little oil and season with salt and pepper. Place the tray in the oven to bake for approximately 15 minutes, or until the fennel is just starting to brown and soften. Remove the fennel from the oven and set aside to cool.

Save some of the fennel fronds, roughly chop and set aside.

Wash the asparagus and slice into bite size pieces. Either toss with a little oil and add to the fennel tray for 5 minutes. Or heat a little oil in a small pan over medium heat and pan-fry for about 5 minutes. Aim for the asparagus to be cooked but still crunchy. Set the cooked asparagus aside and allow to cool.

Make the vinaigrette by placing all the ingredients in a jar and shake until well combined.

Rinse the salad greens and place in a large serving bowl. Combine with the cooled sweet potato, fennel and asparagus. Top with sliced avocado and sprinkle with the fennel fronds.

Just before serving, drizzle the salad with apple cider vinaigrette. Any leftover dressing can be stored in an airtight jar in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

 

Roast Fennel, Asparagus & Sweet Potato Salad