Spinach & Tofu Pesto [Vegan & Gluten Free]

Healthy Recipes

Yields: about 670g
Serves: 12
Prep & Assembly: ≤10-15mins
Type: Sauce, Spread, Dip
Tools: Small dish, sieve, chopping board, sharp knife, frying pan(optional), food processor, air-tight storage container

Notes: This recipe contains: Vitamin A, B-Vitamins, Vitamins C, K & E, carbohydrates, protein, fibre, calcium, copper iron, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, selenium, potassium, zinc, contains no added sugar and per serving is low in added salt, has a moderate quantity of fat and is low in saturated fats!

We have always encouraged everyone to cook from scratch and over the past few months we have given you more sauces and dips, a new pizza crust and even some handy food, kitchen and ingredient conversions. Well here’s another basic recipe that we think everyone (not just us plant lovers!) should have access to. It’s easy-peasy and full of flavourful and bold ingredients! Yes, it’s another pesto recipe, but this one’s packed full of extra protein (and no, it’s not extra nuts, its tofu!); of course it comes with a multitude of uses…and it just may even become a new staple in your recipe box! 

We actually came across a DF & GF store bought pesto (insert brand name here!) last year, which funnily enough also contains tofu. It looks creamy and packed full of flavour; basil, nuts (cashew and pine), but its first ingredient is oil! So it’s no surprise that apart from being pricey it contains more calories, fat and even sugar (yes because it contains glucose!) per one-hundred grams than our recipe! Yet another example as to why we should make our own staples and basic recipes at home. 

We originally used our creamy, healthy and delicious pesto in a homemade lasagne (recipe pending!), but with spring looming, it could be used with so many other great things. With a dash of inspiration, curiosity and maybe courage, it has the potential could become a great and quick stir-through sauce for a pasta or potato-based salad or used as a tasty dip (just to name a few!).

It’s good to note that we have included all of our preparation photos, although some are slightly out of sync; our excitement and hunger had us bouncing around the kitchen and not sticking to our previously written directions. However as we’ve previously mentioned in another recent pesto post, there is no right or wrong way to make your own pesto! Please feel free to adapt it to your own personal tastes and maybe even get carried away dancing whilst you’re making it too! 🙂

A few other good things to note include

  • Forget avocado on toast, this pesto (spread) goes further! Use it as a lovely sandwich or wrap spread, as a tasty topping for rice cakes, crackers or jacket potatoes, or as mentioned above, a quick stir-through pasta sauce! However, we would suggest using fresh, spinach, rocket or kale.
  • Also, get experimenting! Use this as a tasty layer in a cooked or raw lasagne, in a savoury summer tart or stuff a little in some tender and delicious Portobello mushrooms and get roasting! 
  • When it comes to nuts (or seeds), use your favourite (although we recommend pine nuts, walnuts, cashews, toasted almonds or sunflower seeds)!
  • We used garlic puree for a slightly intense and (not raw) garlic taste, but just use whatever you prefer (or about one garlic clove).

Have a great weekend and happy cooking everyone! 😀

 

 

Ingredients

+++++++300g               Frozen spinach, defrosted (or 150g fresh)
+++++++2 tbsp             Lemon juice
+++++++80g                 Fresh basil
+++++++1                       Box Silken tofu (349g)
+++++++40g                 Pine nuts
+++++++⅓ Cup            Extra virgin olive oil
+++++++1½ tbsp           Nutritional yeast flakes
+++++++½ tsp               Garlic puree
+++++++¼ tsp               Salt

Need an easy-print recipe? Print here. 🙂

 

Nutritional Info (approx. values)

 

Directions

1. If applicable, defrost the spinach in a microwave (or at room temperature for a couple hours); drain in a sieve and then roughly chop. If applicable, juice a lemon. Wash and then dry the basil with some kitchen paper; remove the leaves from the stems. Open and carefully drain any excess water out of the box of tofu.

2. If desired, toast the pine nuts (we skipped this step). Heat a dry frying pan. Add the nuts and dry-fry until lightly toasted. Remove from the heat.

3. Transfer 2 tbsp lemon juice, 40g pine nuts, ⅓ cup olive oil, 1½ tbsp nutritional yeast, ½ tsp garlic puree and ¼ tsp salt into a food processor. Blend until the nuts are smooth-ish and combined. Add the tofu. Blend until smooth and creamy. Add the spinach and basil. Blend until combined and broken down. Tip: The mixture will probably not be completely smooth, but this is OK. For a smoother pesto, you will have to add more oil and/or cold water. Taste and season the pesto as necessary.

4. Carefully remove the blade and transfer the pesto into an air-tight and resealable container or an air tight and sterilised jar.

Enjoy!

Tip: Refrigerate any leftover pesto in an air-tight and resealable jar (preferably sterilised) or container; consume within 5 days. 

 

Oh yes, spinach and tofu pesto lasagne- so delicious! 😀

 

What you tried a tofu-based pesto before? What’s your favourite way to use tofu? Well, if you love pesto (and tofu!) as much as we do, stayed tuned! Next week we’ll be providing you with our new and delicious recipe for a pesto (and tofu)-based lasagne! 

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Roasted Tomato & Basil Soup

Healthy Recipes

Serves: 4
Prep & Cooking time: 95 minutes

Notes: This recipe contains: Vitamin A, B-vitamins, Vitamin C, protein, fibre, potassium, some iron and is low in saturated fats!

Soup can be one of the easiest, cheapest and most nutritious meals to make in your kitchen! Nothing quite compares to a delicious, fresh and simple bowl of soup. This is one of the many soup recipes that I’ll be keeping to hand to help stay ‘fighting fit’ and warm this winter season! 

Ingredients:

++++++++++++++++++++++1200g   Salad tomatoes
++++++++++++++++++++++180g     Red Bell pepper
++++++++++++++++++++++120g     Red onion
++++++++++++++++++++++6g          Garlic cloves
++++++++++++++++++++++1g          Dried Basil (optional)
++++++++++++++++++++++30ml     Extra-virgin olive oil
++++++++++++++++++++++40ml     Balsamic Vinegar
++++++++++++++++++++++               Ground black pepper
++++++++++++++++++++++4g          Coconut or brown sugar (optional)
++++++++++++++++++++++120g     Green lentils
++++++++++++++++++++++20g        Fresh Basil
++++++++++++++++++++++600ml   Vegetable stock (low-sodium/DF/GF)

 

Directions:

Heat the oven to 170°C/340°F. Get out a large roasting tin (line with a silicone mat if preferred).

 

Wash, remove the stems and slice the tomatoes into halves. Place into the tin cut-side up.

 

Wash, remove the stem, de-seed and chop the bell pepper into chunky strips. Peel and quarter the onion. NB: Do not peel or chop the garlic.

Place the bell pepper, onion and garlic around the tomatoes.

NB: Leaving the garlic skin intact helps prevent it from burning!

 

Sprinkle over the dried basil (if using). Drizzle over the oil and vinegar. Season it with  black pepper to taste. Sprinkle over the sugar (if using).

 

Place into the oven. Roast for 60 minutes, or until the vegetables are softened.

 

In the meantime, wash, remove any stones and cook the lentils according to the packet instructions. Drain and allow to cool.

NB: Cooked and drained lentils.

 

Meanwhile, wash and dry the basil. Prepare the stock.

 

Remove the tin. Allow the vegetables to cool slightly.

 

Peel the garlic.

 

Place the vegetables into a blender or food processor.

NB: My blender is more spacious for this.

 

Add the cooking juices (optional)…

 

….and the basil.

 

Blend until smooth.

 

Transfer the stock into a large, non-stick saucepan or resealable container.

 

Add the pureed vegetables and the lentils. Stir together.

NB: Mine went straight into this plastic tub for some lunches this week. 🙂

 

Heat the saucepan over a medium-low heat (if applicable) until warmed.

 

Serve warm. Ladle into a small soup bowl. Garnish with some basil leaves if desired.

NB: Based on 4 servings, this bowl contains 1 serving .

 

Enjoy!

 

Refrigerate in a resealable container and consume within 3-5 days.

 

If preferred…

  • Serve with some warmed wholemeal or multi-grain pitta bread.
  • For added calcium, swap some of the stock for some unsweetened/fortified soya or almond milk!
  • For a ‘chunkier’ version’, add half of the roasted vegetables to the blender, pulse slightly and then remove; add this mixture to the soup.

Vegan And Grain Free Pizza

Healthy Recipes

Serves: 4
Prep & Cooking time: 75mins

Recipe adapted from: Vegiehead.com
Notes: This recipe contains: Vitamin A, B-Vitamins, Vitamins C, E & K, carbohydrates, protein, fibre, iron, potassium, magnesium, zinc, omega 3 and is low in saturated fat!

Who says you need dairy, meat or grains to make a pizza taste good?! This recipe is significantly lower in calories, saturated fats and salt (per slice) then your ‘standard’ pizza and very versatile. Use any toppings you desire, but make sure your ingredients are dry and do not overload the base. Unfortunately on this occasion I did not have mushrooms or rocket- but my refrigerator contained lot’s of peppers! I would definitely use this flavour combination next time; I don’t believe in food wastage so I just use what I have at the time.

NB: Rocket is also referred to as ‘arugula’ and courgette is also known as ‘zucchini’. 

Pizza nutritional break down

Pizza nutritional break down

Ingredients:

+++++++++++++++++++++++10ml       Extra virgin olive oil
+++++++++++++++++++++++500g       Cauliflower
+++++++++++++++++++++++4g            Garlic Cloves
+++++++++++++++++++++++10g          Fresh Basil leaves
+++++++++++++++++++++++3              ‘Flax eggs’ (15g flaxseed + 130ml water)
+++++++++++++++++++++++50g          White onion
+++++++++++++++++++++++40g          Courgette
+++++++++++++++++++++++30g          Chestnut Mushrooms
+++++++++++++++++++++++20g          Spanish green Olives (in brine)
+++++++++++++++++++++++80g          Baby plum Tomatoes
+++++++++++++++++++++++160g        Yellow bell pepper
+++++++++++++++++++++++10g          Wild Rocket (optional)
+++++++++++++++++++++++85g          Ground Almonds
+++++++++++++++++++++++1g            Dried onion powder
+++++++++++++++++++++++2g            Dried Basil
+++++++++++++++++++++++2g            Dried oregano
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Salt
+++++++++++++++++++++++50g          Tomato Puree
+++++++++++++++++++++++1g            Dried thyme
+++++++++++++++++++++++5g            Pine nuts

Directions:
  • Heat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Lightly grease a large baking sheet or a pizza tray with half the quantity of the oil.

 

  • Remove the outer leaves from the cauliflower (and then discard), remove the florets from the stalk/core (discard the core), wash and then dry it. Peel and mince the garlic. Wash, dry and roughly chop the basil. Place the flaxseed and water into a small bowl; stir until combined.

Peel and dice the onion. Wash, trim the ends and grate the courgette into thin discs. Wash, dry and finely slice the mushrooms. Remove any stones and slice the olives into halves. Wash, remove the stems and slice the tomatoes. Wash, remove the stem, de-seed and chop the bell pepper into fine slices. Wash and dry the rocket (if using).

 

 

Place the cauliflower into a food processor. Blend until it becomes quite fine (like rice). Its important to make the texture as uniform as possible; pick out any large chunks if you have to as these will stop the ‘dough’ mixture from sticking together.

Processed Cauliflower

Transfer it into a large microwavable bowl. Cover and place it the microwave for 2 minutes to allow it to cook/steam slightly. Remove, drain and thoroughly pat it dry; use a clean cloth or some kitchen paper. NB: I think the quickest way is probably to transfer it onto the middle of a clean kitchen cloth, gather the ends together and then wring out the water.

 

 

  • Place the cauliflower, garlic, fresh basil leaves, flaxseed mixture, almond, onion powder, dried basil and the oregano into a large mixing bowl. Season it with some salt to taste. Mix together to form a ‘dough’. The mixture should be ‘tacky’ (not too wet or sticky).

 

 

Place the ‘dough’ onto the centre of the baking sheet or pizza tray. Spread and push the ‘dough’ across the sheet in an even layer (I used a silicone spatula to help smooth and press it out evenly).

Uncooked Base

Uncooked Base (Mine was 22x27cm- this was random!)

 

 

 

 Place it into the oven. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until slightly crispy. Remove and place the baking sheet or pizza tray onto a cooling rack.

Semi-cooked Base

 

 

 

Top the crust with the puree and drizzle over the remaining oil; spread it evenly over the crust (almost to the edges) with a silicone spatula. Sprinkle over the onion.

Base with ‘sauce’ and onions

 

 

Add the courgette, mushrooms, tomato and bell pepper. Garnish with thyme.

Base with all uncooked ingredients

 

 

Place it into the oven and bake for a further 10-15 minutes, or until the crust is browned and crispy. Remove and allow it to cool slightly before serving. NB: If the cauliflower wasn’t dried enough, the crust may take longer to cook.

Cooked & ready to serve! (I Just wish I had the rocket)

 

 

 Slice and serve garnished with the rocket (if using).

NB: this picture contains 2 servings.

 

 

If preferred…

  • Omit the rocket and try serving it along side a fresh, green garden salad.
  • For an iron boost, try adding some dark leafy vegetables as toppings or just in your accompanying salad (spinach, swiss chard, kale etc)!
  • Try spreading the puree on the base and then drizzle the oil over the vegetables just before baking (if you prefer them ‘crispier’).
  • Try using different herbs combinations in the base or add some fortified nutritional yeast for a B12 hit and a slightly ‘cheesy’ taste.
  • Try a dairy/gluten free pesto sauce, or a low-sodium/sugar passata or pizza sauce instead of the tomato puree.
  • Try different bases (maybe try potato?).
  • Try making 2 separate pizzas if you are serving more than 4 people; the crust is not stable enough to support an ‘extra large base’.
  • Try using a professional baking mat, as the crust steams slightly as it cooks. This should provide a crispier base.

 

Avocado & ‘Pesto’ Pasta (Vegan & Gluten Free)

Healthy Recipes

Serves: 2
Prep & Cooking Time: 25-30 mins
Type: Main Meal
Tools: Large pot, colander, chopping board, sharp knife, food processor, silicone spatula, small frying pan, mixing bowl, salad tongs

Notes: This recipe contains: Vitamin A, B-vitamins, Vitamins C, E & K, carbohydrates, protein, fibre, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, omega 3, is low in added salt and sugars and (per serving) is low in saturated fats. 

Looking for a fresh, creamy and very satisfying pasta dish? Well we’re happy to say that this avocado pesto pasta ticks all the boxes! It’s tasty, nutritious and you can see from our list of ingredients, it’s also really easy to prepare!  For the super keen, make the pesto the night before and have dinner on the table in less than twenty-five minutes! 

Happy cooking everyone!

 

 

Ingredients

+++++++++++++++++++++150g       Dried GF Spaghetti
+++++++++++++++++++++8g           Garlic Clove
+++++++++++++++++++++               Lemon Zest and Juice (1/2 a lemon)
+++++++++++++++++++++120g       Ripe Avocado Pear (small variety)
+++++++++++++++++++++40g        Fresh Basil
+++++++++++++++++++++60g        Cherry Tomatoes
+++++++++++++++++++++10ml       Extra Virgin Olive Oil
+++++++++++++++++++++125ml     Water
+++++++++++++++++++++1g            Garlic Powder
+++++++++++++++++++++2g           Dried Onion Powder
+++++++++++++++++++++                Salt and Ground Black Pepper
+++++++++++++++++++++20g         Walnuts

Need an easy-print recipe? Print here. 🙂

 

Directions

Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions. Drain.

In the meantime, prepare the other ingredients. Peel and thinly slice the garlic. Wash the lemon, grate some zest and then juice it. Slice the avocado into two halves, remove and discard the stone and then peel it. Wash, dry and then chop the large stems off the basil. Wash, remove the stems and then chop the tomatoes into halves (or smaller if you prefer).

 

Assemble The Pesto!

1. Place the garlic, lemon juice, 2 tsp oil and ¼ cup water into a food processor. Blend until the garlic is ‘blitzed’.

2. Add the avocado, basil (save a few leaves for garnishing if you like), and the garlic and onion powder. Season it with some salt and ground black pepper to taste. Blend until smooth and creamy. Use a spatula to scrape the mixture from the sides and the lid.

Add half the quantity of the zest. Blend until combined. Taste and season it as necessary. Use a silicone spatula to scrape down the container and lid again.

 

 

1. Heat a small non-stick frying pan over a medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add the nuts. Dry-fry until lightly toasted.

2. Remove the pan from the heat. Transfer the nuts onto a chopping board. Allow to cool slightly. Roughly chop into small pieces.Tip: You can skip this step, but toasting the walnuts will really help to bring out their flavour!

 

 

Pasta Assembly


1. Place the pasta into a large mixing bowl.
2. Add the avocado ‘pesto’ sauce.
3. Use salad tongs to gently mix and coat the pasta in the sauce.

 

 

Serve warm. Transfer the pasta into a lipped plate (use a spatula to scrape any sauce left in the bowl). Sprinkle over the remaining zest (as much as desired!). Garnish by scattering over the nuts, any reserved basil (if using) and the tomatoes.

Enjoy!

 

If preferred…

  • Substitute the spaghetti for another variety of pasta; try fettuccine or linguine.
  • Try making/using ‘courgetti pasta’ for another GF variety (if you have the time, resources and want to be creative of course)!
  • Try putting this sauce on wholemeal pasta or gnocchi perhaps (if you’re not concerned about gluten).
  • Experiment with your herbs; parsley or coriander would work well.
  • For an even more authentic ‘pesto’ taste, add some fortified nutritional yeast to the sauce for that ‘cheesy’ element and added nutritional value!
  • Try garnishing the dish with another type of tomato or maybe some grilled sweet red peppers or baby mushrooms instead!

 

Recipe adapted from: Crunchandchew