Lemon and Herb “Cheese” Spread

 

Nutritional yeast, if you’ve not heard of it you might be wondering what in the world is that? It’s a deactivated yeast that adds a slightly nutty or tangy flavour to savoury dishes. I grabbed my first tin of it about a year ago. To say I was a little sceptical is an understatement,  but it didn’t take long to get me hooked. It resembles commercial fish food flakes but don’t be put of by this, please. It adds such a delicious tang a je ne sais quoi that I sprinkle it onto  just about every savoury dish I can.

DSC_0405.JPG

This recipe here my friends is gold. A vegan cheese spread perfect for those with milk allergies/intolerances or for those just trying to reduce the amount of animal products in their diet (go you!). I’ve tried a lot (A LOT) of the commercial vegan cheese brands and have found the majority to be unpalatable, inedible in fact. Having searched several recipes for a vegan cheese spread and several attempts at making  it I think I cracked it here.

DSC_0410

Lemon and Herb “Cheese Spread”

Ingredients

400g Firm Tofu

4 tablespoon Nutritional Yeast

1 large Garlic Clove crushed

2 tablespoons of Lemon Zest

6-8 tablespoons of Lemon Juice

½  teaspoon Salt

¼ teaspoon Black Pepper

½ cup Chives, finely chopped

¼ cup Parsley, finely chopped

Method

Place all of the above ingredients into the large bowl of a food processor, start with 6 tablespoons of lemon juice and add extra to your own taste. Whizz everything together until everything is combined and  you have a relatively smooth “cheese”.

DSC_0398.JPG

Delicious served on toast or mixed though vegetables or pasta, just like you would any other cheese really. Hope you enjoy!

Note* Keeps for a week, stored in the fridge in an airtight container.

Cashew,Brazil and Vanilla Butter

I’m a nut butter addict, it’s no secret. If I see a new nut butter on the shelves I have to have it, regardless of how many half eaten jars there are in my cupboard. I’d never really thought about making my own nut butter. I thought why bother when I can buy perfectly good peanut butter from the supermarket. Enter the influence of social media, I saw so many people making their own I just had to see what all the fuss was about. The great thing about making your own is you can really jazz up the flavours as much as you want, and I love jazzy flavours.

DSC_1076.JPG

Every time we go to the supermarket we buy bags of nuts and ultimately we end up with lots of half eaten bags. I wanted to use up what we had and thus Brazil and Cashew Butter was born. You could of course keep this raw and not roast the nuts at all, but roasting the nuts gives the nut butter a much more intense flavour which I personally prefer.

Cashew, Brazil and Vanilla Butter ( Makes 2 x 200ml Jars)

Ingredients:

2 cups of Cashew Nuts

1 cup of Brazil Nuts

1 Vanilla Pod, or equivalent of extract or paste, chopped into pieces

½ teaspoon of Sea Salt Flakes

DSC_1077

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 180℃
  • Toss the nuts onto a baking tray and spread out evenly.
  • Place the nuts into the preheated oven for 8-10 minutes until they turn slightly golden, keep a close eye on them as they can easily burn.
  • Once roasted remove from the oven and allow to cool.
  • When the nuts are cool place them in a food processor along with the vanilla pod and sea salt. Blend until a nut butter forms. This can take anywhere from 5-20 minutes depending on your blender. If it gets a bit stuck you can always add in some oil to help it along but I find cashews and brazil nuts blend quite easily.
  • Pour the nut butter into jars and hide in a deep dark cupboard to stop yourself eating the whole batch.

If you want to make this sweeter you can always add in some honey, maple syrup or other sweetener to taste. I like it just as it is 🙂

Baba Ganoush

What better way to make the most of the finer weather than lighting up a barbeque, roasting up some aubergines and making some baba ganoush. I know that’s exactly what you were all thinking. I feel like there isn’t enough baba ganoush in this world. You can find hummus just about everywhere these days but it’s rare you come across a decent tub of this wonderful dip.

DSC_0817

 

Charring the aubergine is pretty essential to give this recipe it’s essential underlying smokey tones. You could try roasting the aubergine in the oven but I have never done it this way and don’t think the result could compare.

I say dip but actually I rarely eat it that way.  I love to serve this for dinner with fragrant  rice and lentils or stuffed into a pitta bread with lots of veggies for the perfect lunch. Be warned though this packs a garlicky punch so if you have an afternoon with any form of face to face contact with people make sure you have a toothbrush or packet of chewing gum close by!

Baba Ganoush

Ingredients:

2 Aubergines

1 tablespoon of Tahini

2 ½ tablespoons of Lemon Juice

Zest of ½ a Lemon

1 tablespoon of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, plus extra to drizzle over.

1 large clove of Garlic, crushed

¼ teaspoon of Salt

¼ teaspoon of Black Pepper

2 tablespoon of Chopped Fresh Mint

1 tablespoon of Chopped Fresh Parsley

¼ cup of Pomegranate Seeds

DSC_0820

Method:

  • Blacken the aubergines over a barbeque or gas hob- I always use a gas barbeque set to high. Make sure to turn the aubergines regularly to ensure they char evenly on the outside. The aubergines are done when they are completely blackened and  start to collapse in on themselves, this may take 15-20 minutes depending on the size of the aubergines.
  • Set the aubergines aside to cool a little before handling.
  • In the meantime take a mixing bowl and add in the tahini, lemon juice, lemon zest, olive oil, salt and pepper. Stir together until everything is completely combined. Reserve a small amount of the mint and parsley for sprinkling on top, add the rest into this creamy dressing.
  • Once the aubergines are cooled remove the flesh from the inside. You may find if they are really charred that you can just peel the skin right off. Failing this the easiest way to do this is to split the aubergine lengthways and scoop out the flesh with a spoon.
  • Tear the flesh of the aubergine into long strips and place into a colander. Leave the aubergine to drain for about 30 minutes, allowing any excess moisture come out of it.
  • You can always mash the aubergine, I just prefer the the texture when it’s done as above.
  • Once the aubergine has drained mix it in with the tahini/herb dressing. Taste and add more seasoning as necessary.
  • Place the baba ganoush onto a serving plate, sprinkle with the herbs you set aside earlier, the pomegranate seeds and a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

DSC_0827

Spelt and Chickpeas with Sundried Tomato Pesto

This sundried tomato pesto is everything. A tub on standby in the fridge will perk up those sad mid week dinners when eggs on toast seems like the best thing you can muster up. Toss it through just about any grain, add in some protein, some greens and you have yourself a winning meal.  I use it as a sauce, dip, marinade and salad dressing. I’ll also great eaten off a spoon,  I try to reserve that for when I’m alone.

DSC_1439

Here I’ve mixed it with some ready cooked spelt, chickpeas and wilted spinach for the speediest mid week dinner. The leftovers make the perfect packed lunch too.

Spelt and Chickpeas with Sundried tomato Pesto

Ingredients

1 can of Chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1 pack of ready cooked Spelt, I use Merchant Gourmet. If you cook your own it’s approximately 1.5 Cups

4 big handfuls of Baby Spinach

1/3 Cup of Sundried Tomato Pesto (recipe below)

DSC_1388

Sun Dried Tomato Pesto

1/4 Cup of Almonds

1 Cup of Sundried Tomatoes (I used the jared variety packed in oil, oil drained off)

1 Cup of Basil (1 small supermarket packet-25g)

2 Large Cloves of Garlic,crushed

1 Teaspoon of Chilli Flakes

1 tablespoon of Balsamic Vinegar

1/2 Cup of Olive Oil

1/3 cup of grated Parmesan Cheese (omit for a dairy free/ vegan version)

1/2 teaspoon of Salt

1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground Black Pepper

DSC_1422

Method

For the pesto:

  • Place the almonds in a food processor and blend until they form coarse powder
  • Place the rest of the ingredients into the processor and pulse until everything is smooth and combined. Taste and season as you like.

To assemble the dish:

  • Heat a small non stick frying pan.
  • Add in the spinach and cook until it is just wilted, remove from the heat and drain any excess water off.
  • To a saucepan add in your chickpeas, spelt and pesto. Heat through. If your pesto is quite dry at this point you can always add in an extra bit of olive oil to prevent everything sticking to the pan.
  • Add the reserved spinach into the saucepan and mix through.
  • Pop everything onto a serving plate and top with a little (or a lot) of extra grated parmesan.

What could be easier! Have a great week all x

Mint, Parsley and Pecan Pesto

I’ve had a love hate relationship with pesto for many years now. When pesto first entered my life in the late 90’s I thought it was the most delicious creation, like nothing I had ever tasted. Then several months later, after too many pesto pasta dinners , I couldn’t stand it. I also couldn’t get away from it. Like sweet chilli sauce, restaurants and deli’s were putting it on everything which made me dislike it more.

DSC_0760

I don’t know what triggered it but,more recently, I decided to give pesto another chance (not on pasta though I’m not quite there yet). What have I been missing out on all these years.Things have certainly progressed from the days of basil and pine nuts. I decided to try out a batch using some surplus mint I had knocking about in the fridge. Oh my was it good. I served it up over some grilled vegetables and I think it went down a treat!

Mint, Parsley and Pecan Pesto

Ingredients

2 Cups of Fresh Parsley, roughly chopped

1 Cup of Fresh Mint, roughly chopped

3/4 Cup of Pecans

1 large clove of Garlic, crushed

Juice of 2 Lemons

1/3 Cup of Olive Oil

Salt and Pepper to taste

DSC_0753

Method

  • Place all the ingredients, except the salt and pepper, into a blender or food processor. I use a “nutribullet” for mine. Pulse all the ingredients until well combined. the mixture should still have some texture to it so try not to get too blender happy. You may need to scrape down the sides of the blender to ensure all the ingredients get well incorporated.
  • Give it a taste and add seasoning to suit you. I like a pinch of salt and a good teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper.
  • Store in an air tight container covered in a layer of olive oil for about a week, if it lasts that long.

Enjoy fooodies x