Coriander Pesto

This pesto is suitable as a dip, spread or baste. We’re pretty mad on it and go through a batch a week. As noted below, the recipe can be varied to include a greater ratio of cashews for a creamier, richer taste. Our recipe compromises with walnuts, which have a lower saturated fat content and higher omega 3 content. The same can be said for flax seed and olive oil. Savoury yeast flakes are like a  vegan Parmesan substitute that are high in B vitamins. For dairy-eaters, Parmesan is fine. P1050327bmeidum

Coriander pesto

  • Servings: 8
  • Time: 10 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon of flax seed oil
  • Pinch of savoury yeast flakes
  • ½ cup of cashews
  • ½ cup of walnuts
  • 2 cups of coriander
  • Salt & pepper to taste
 Directions

Cut off the roots of the coriander. Measure out two cups of coriander including the stems. It does not have to be packed tightly, but should not be too loose either. Wash and dry thoroughly (we use a lettuce spinner). Add all the ingredients except the flax seed oil, salt and pepper into a food processor. Pulse the ingredients until it is a paste then blend until smooth. Add the flax seed oil, salt and pepper, and continue to blend for another 10 seconds. Taste to check the salt and pepper content, add more as necessary and continue blending until there are no nut chunks left and is very smooth.

Grilled Mushroom, Celery and Sun-Dried Tomato Risotto

Risotto has got to be one of my favourite comfort foods, creamy, rich and full of flavour. However, the same creamy-richness can turn to stodgy for certain palates. This recipe adds some of the celery at the mid-point, to retain its crunch and light flavour, offering a respite from the decadent taste of the rice. We’ve also mixed up the mushrooms: by reserving most of them and grilling them first, you get a wonderful, strong flavour out of the mushrooms.

We served this at a large family dinner for non-vegans, to say it went down well would be an understatement.

Serve with a side salad with plenty of crisp veggies and a light dressing, such as our bruschetta salad. This is a great meal to make on the weekend and keeps well, so could easily be made ahead.

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Grilled Mushroom, Celery and Sun-Dried Tomato Risotto

  • Servings: 6
  • Time: 1 ½ hours
  • Difficulty: medium
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Ingredients
  • 7 cups water
  • 4 teaspoons of powdered chicken stock (Vegan, MSG-free)
  • 2 bay leaves (optional)
  • 6 large brown field mushrooms, finely chop 1
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • ½ tablespoon high smoke point oil
  • ½ teaspoon of dried thyme
  • 2 tablespoons high smoke point oil
  • 1 leek, halved washed and finely chopped
  • 2 sticks celery, trimmed and finely chopped, place half aside
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 large bunch thyme
  • 1 cup sun-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1 ½ tablespoons savoury yeast flakes

 

Instructions

Heat stock in a saucepan and keep it on a low simmer. Add bay leaves to the stock if using.

Grilled mushrooms

Mix the juice of half a lemon, ½ tablespoon high smoke point oil and ½ a teaspoon of dried thyme together. Cover five (5) of the mushroom with the marinade well and grill or barbeque the mushrooms for three minutes on each side. Roughly chop and cover in a bowl to set aside.

Risotto

Add 2 tablespoons high-smoke point oil to the pan, ensuring that the surface is well-oiled. Add chopped mushroom, leek, garlic and celery. Remove the thyme leaves from the stem by roughly sliding your fingers along the stem while pinching. Add the leaves to the vegetable pan and the stem to the stock.

Cook vegetables for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add 2 cups of Arborio rice to the vegetables, stirring well. Cook for around three minutes.

Add 1 cup of dry white wine and stir well. Once the wine has been absorbed, add one ladle of stock. Stir in well until it has been adsorbed. Continue this process until you have added around half the stock. This should be around the 15-20 minute mark.

Add in grilled mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes and leftover celery. Continue to ladle in stock, stirring well for another 15 minutes or until you have used almost all of the stock. Taste-test your risotto: if the crunch has almost completely gone out of the rice you’re done; if the rice is crunchy, continue to add the remaining stock, stirring well.

Mix in 1 ½ tablespoons of savoury yeast flakes and salt/pepper to taste.

Watercress Soup

Considered by some to be old fashioned, watercress soup has become fashionable (again), because of the health benefits associated with watercress. Watercress has high levels of Vitamin A, C & K and is a good source of  phosphorus, potassium, folate and magnesium.

This peppery soup is an adaption of the one my mother-in-law was taught to make when they lived in England. Our version is slightly less creamy than the traditional recipe, as we’ve found that dairy substitutes are a little too sweet and ruin the pepper taste that you aim for with this soup. On that note, I add incredible amounts of cracked pepper to the soup before serving, the theory being that the watercress grown in Australia is not as strong as its British counterpart.

This a fantastic soup to whip up on the weekend and store for an easy weeknight dinner. Serve with garlic bread or as a first course.

Watercress Soup

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 45 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • ½ tablespoon of rice bran oil (or other oil that has a high smoke point)
  • 1 leek, roughly chopped
  • 3 bunches watercress, roots removed, roughly chopped
  • 3 cups water
  • 3 teaspoons of vegan chicken stock
  • 1 ½ tablespoons nuttelex (or butter/alternative)
  • 1 ½ tablespoons GF flour
  • ½ cup rice milk
  • ¼ cup oat milk

 Implements

  • Stock pot
  • Small saucepan
  • Wooden spoon
  • Handheld mixer
  • Heat stock pot on a medium stove.

Instructions

Wash leek by removing base and upper foliage, slice lengthways and wash, ensuring that you remove all dirt within the layers of the plant. Add ½ tablespoon of oil to stockpot and add chopped leek. One at a time, remove roots of water cress and wash thoroughly, leaving to drain in a colander. Once most of the water has drained from the watercress, roughly chop and add to the stock pot. Cover with three cups of water and add stock powder.

Place nuttelex/butter to a small saucepan and low to medium heat. When the butter has melted, add flour to form a smooth paste. Slowly add oat milk, stirring to ensure it maintains a paste-like consistency. Slowly add rice milk. Add white sauce to the stock pot and reduce heat to low-medium and cook for 10 minutes with the lid off.

Allow the soup to cool for five to ten minutes. Mix very well with a hand-held mixer. Grind ½ tablespoon pepper into the soup. Add salt and pepper to taste.

‘Bruschetta’ Salad

I made a fantastic risotto the other week for our extended family. While risotto is one of my favourite comfort foods, other family members have often commented that it is too rich and stodgy to eat by itself. To offset these characteristics, I wanted a crisp and tarty salad. I took the idea of finely diced vegetables, mixed with basil and a simple dressing to make a ‘bruschetta’ salad.


'Bruschetta' Salad

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 15 minutes plus 30 minutes standing
  • Difficulty: easy
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Dressing
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • ½ tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
Salad
  • 1 cup of finely chopped tomatoes*
  • 1 Lebanese cucumber, peeled
  • ½ medium red capsicum (bell pepper)
  • 1 stick celery
  • 1 small bunch of basil
  • 2 cups baby spinach leaves
  • Salt/pepper to taste

* I prefer to make this with a mixture of field and cherry tomatoes.

TLDR instructions
Mix dressing ingredients and place in a non-reactive bowl. Finely chop all vegetables and place in the same bowl. Roughly tear basil leaves by hand and add to salad. Mix together. Add salt and pepper to taste. Leave salad to ‘stew’ for 30 minutes. Serve on a bed of baby spinach leaves.

Detailed instructions

Dressing

Prepare the dressing by pouring the lemon juice, olive oil and balsamic vinegar into a non-reactive bowl. You will now add all the ingredients to this bowl; do not keep the dressing and the salad separate.

Salad

Wash all your ingredients. I find it best to halve celery length-wise to make sure you get the dirt out of the inside curve.
Finely chop the tomatoes until you have around one cup. Peel the cucumbers, and quarter them length-wise. If the cucumber is particularly fat, halve again length wise. Placing the cucumber lengths together, chop into small bits. Follow a similar method for the celery. Finely dice the capsicum. Add all chopped ingredients to the salad bowl.
Remove basil leaves from the stems. Roughly tear them by hand and add them to the salad bowl. Mix all ingredients together. Add salt and pepper to taste. I prefer to leave the salad to stew in the acidic juice for at least 30 minutes, to allow the basil flavour time to ‘spread’.
Serve on a bed of baby spinach leaves.

Hummus

Hummus – gloriously protein filled and so damn tasty that it is devoured by almost everyone, from fussy children to snobby foodies. Although we’ve been making hummus long before becoming vegaquarians, our love of this simple spread has grown exponentially. We seem to make a batch at least once a fortnight; it adds a depth to wraps and sandwiches and is an easy and simple dip for entertaining (or gorging yourself while having a lazy Sunday). As a bonus, not only does homemade hummus taste better, it is cheaper too.
Considered a staple of middle eastern and Arabic cuisines, hummus is generally considered to be a good source of protein, iron, magnesium, and vitamin B-6; depending on the amount of tahini you use, it also offers calcium, but at relatively low levels.

Hummus

Hummus

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 15 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients
  • 1 tin chickpeas, drained
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 2 dessert spoons tahini (medium to heaped – depending on your taste)
  • 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped or 2 heaped teaspoons of jarred garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional extras
  • Paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
Directions

Combine chickpeas, half the lemon juice, tahini, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and garlic in a food processor. Process well. If the hummus is too thick or gluggy, add remainder of lemon and oil slowly, processing in between until you have the consistency you desire. Salt and pepper to taste.

Optional extras

For entertaining, pour 1 tablespoon olive oil on top of the hummus and cover with a few pinches of paprika
For an extra kick, you may like to include 1 teaspoon of cumin; simply add the cumin with the rest of the ingredients prior to processing.