Meatless Monday: Slow Cooker Vegetable Marinara Sauce W/ Kidney Beans [Vegan & Gluten Free]

Healthy Recipes, Meatless Monday

Serves: 6
Prep: 20 mins
Cooking Time: 7-8 hrs
Type: Main Meal
Tools: Chopping board, sharp knife, colander, blender, slow cooker, large spoon

Notes: This recipe contains: Vitamin A, B-Vitamins, Vitamins C, K & E, carbohydrates, protein, fibre, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc and per serving is low in added salt, sugars and fats!  

What better way to start the week, fight the cold weather and help keep your healthy lifestyle in check than with a delicious, Free From & simple pasta sauce!

We’d like to think that our sauce is suitable for any dinner guest (well, excluding anyone that might be allergic to vegetables! Sorry Emma!) and love that it’s really effortless to prepare! With minimal prep and the use of a slow cooker, you’ll have a delicious marinara sauce that is not only vegan and gluten free, but one that contains over six types of veggies…but we are willing to bet that your kids will never be the wiser! 

Our veggies and herbs are chopped, diced and blended before slow cooking into a great depth of flavours; we even threw in some added kidney beans for some added texture, carbohydrate, protein and soluble fibre! Keep the veggies seasonal, fresh, frozen or just some of your absolute favourites! If you’re not a fan of kidney beans, we’d recommend using some pinto, black or butter beans instead. 🙂

A few good things to note include:

  • If you prefer a slightly thicker sauce, just whisk through a ‘corn flour slurry’ at the end of cooking until your desired thickness is achieved.
  • If you’d prefer a chunkier sauce, just omit the ‘blender step’!
  • We added a spoonful of sweetener. This is optional, but as tinned tomatoes tend to have a slightly bitter taste, we’d recommend it. However, if you’re using fresh/ripe tomatoes instead of our basic tinned ones, you probably won’t need it!
  • If you don’t have a blender, you can always use a high-powered food processor instead.

If you fancy some further pasta sauce (or pasta meal) inspiration, check our some of our precious tomato-based sauces including: our Soya & Vegetable Spaghetti Bolognese, ‘5 Minute Thrifty Marinara Sauce’, Home-made Marinara (as featured with our Red Kidney Bean & Quinoa Meatballs!) and one included in our delicious  Vegan & Gluten Free Lasagne w/a Tofu & Spinach Filling!

 

Quick Foodie Fact:

  • Per serving, this sauce contains about 4.5 servings of vegetables towards your 5-A-Day! What an easy way to incorporate a variety of veggies into your diet! 

 

 Happy cooking and buona cena everyone! 😀

 

Ingredients

+++++++3              Garlic Cloves (fat ones!)
+++++++200g       Red Onion
+++++++160g        Red Bell Pepper
+++++++200g       Carrot
+++++++25g          Fresh Basil
+++++++480g       Cooked Red Kidney Beans (2 tins/no added salt or 250g dried/cooked)
+++++++4              Tins Plum Tomatoes (no added salt/ 1.6kg)
+++++++40g          Sun-Dried Tomato Puree
+++++++30ml        Balsamic Glaze
+++++++30ml        Lemon Juice
+++++++30ml        Extra Virgin Olive Oil
+++++++1-2 tbsp   Fruit Sweetener (*optional)
+++++++½ tsp        Asafoetida (or onion powder)
+++++++½-¾ tsp   Salt
+++++++                 Ground Black Pepper
+++++++160g         Frozen Spinach, defrosted (about 7 cubes)

Need an easy-print recipe? Print here. 🙂

 

Directions

  • Peel the garlic. Peel and quarter the onion. Wash, remove the stem and core and then roughly chop the bell pepper. Wash, trim the ends, peel and then quarter the carrot. Wash and then roughly chop the basil. If applicable, drain and wash the kidney beans in a colander.
  • Place the garlic, onion, bell pepper, carrot, basil, 1 tin of tomatoes, 40g sun-dried tomato puree, 2 tbsp balsamic glaze, 2 tbsp lemon juice, 2 tbsp olive oil, ½ tsp asafoetida, ½ tsp salt (or to taste) and a few grind of black pepper into a blender. Tip: If your blender is large enough, add all of the tinned tomatoes during this step! Blend until puréed. Transfer the mixture into a slow cooker.
  • If applicable, open and place the remaining tinned tomatoes into the blender. Blend until smooth.Transfer into the slow cooker. Mix until thoroughly combined. Taste and season the sauce as necessary. Add the cooked kidney beans. Stir through. Cover with a lid. Cook for 7-8 hrs on a low-heat setting.
  • About 30 mins before the end of cooking, carefully dice some frozen spinach into smaller chunks. Add the spinach into the slow cooker. Stir through. Alternatively, dice and steam the spinach, and then stir it through the sauce at the end of cooking. Taste and season the sauce as necessary.

 

Serve warm. Ladle the sauce over your favourite pasta with additional veggies or a small multi-grain roll (if desired). If preferred, garnish the sauce with a few marinated olives, basil or oregano leaves and/or a spoonful of nutritional yeast!

Enjoy!

 

Refrigerate any leftover sauce in an air-tight and resealable container; gently reheat over a medium-low heat (do not allow it to boil) and consume within 3-4 days. Alternatively store and freeze in one or several container(s) and then just simply defrost and reheat; best consumed within 1-2 months of freezing.

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Fennel, Garlic & Lemon Pasta [Vegan & Gluten Free]

Healthy Recipes

Serves: 2
Prep & Cooking Time: 35-40 mins
Type: Main Meal
Tools: Roasting tin, silicone mat, chopping board, sharp knife, frying pan, mixing bowl, cheese grater, manual juicer, salad tongs

Notes: This recipe contains: Vitamin A, B-Vitamins, Vitamin C, carbohydrates, protein, fibre, copper, magnesium, manganese, potassium, zinc and (per serving) is low in salt, sugars and sat fats!

Fresh, simple and within forty minutes you’ll have a delicious pasta dish ready for the whole family to enjoy!

As we’ve mentioned before, we think that sometimes the best pasta dishes are the ones that contain only a few ingredients. This recipe comprises of some crisp, fresh and almost sweet and ‘licorice-y’, fennel (which is a cheap, tasty and nutritious addition to any meal!). We’ve also added some sweet and creamy roasted garlic, shallots, lemon and a little parsley for the perfect combination of flavours. Served on some hearty wholemeal pasta and topped with a tasty breadcrumb topping for some added crunch and additional depth of flavour! 

It’s good to note we have advised slightly more fennel and garlic than shown in our pictures! Also, if you’re someone who generally does not enjoy the taste of fennel, don’t be alarmed, we promise that you’ll love this one! Roasted fennel has a completely different taste to that of fennel tea or flavoured food items (if it didn’t, Alex would be the first one to leave the dinner table in protest!). 

Happy hump day and cooking everyone! 😀

 

Ingredients

++++++++++++++++++120g       Banana Shallots
++++++++++++++++++100g      Orange Bell Pepper
++++++++++++++++++400g      Fennel Bulb
++++++++++++++++++20g        Garlic Clove
++++++++++++++++++3 tbsp    Olive or Garlic Infused Oil
++++++++++++++++++               Salt & Ground Black Pepper
++++++++++++++++++20g        Panko Breadcrumbs (or GF version if required)
++++++++++++++++++220g      Wholemeal Spaghetti (or GF if required)
++++++++++++++++++20g        DF Cheese (or 1 tbsp of Nutritional Yeast)
++++++++++++++++++10g         Flat Leaf Parsley
++++++++++++++++++1              Lemon
++++++++++++++++++1/2 tsp    Asafoetida
++++++++++++++++++               Saffron

Need an easy-print recipe? Print here. 🙂

 

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F. Line a roasting tin with a silicone mat or some kitchen foil (if necessary).

2. Trim the ends off the shallots. Wash, remove the stem and core and then thinly slice the bell pepper. Wash, trim the ends and then slice the fennel (thin or slightly chunky!)

3. Place the shallots, bell pepper, fennel and garlic into the roasting tin. Drizzle over 2-3 tbsp of olive oil (or spray with some low-cal cooking oil instead). Toss to coat. Season it with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper (or to taste). Place the tin onto the middle oven shelf. Roast for about 20-25 mins or until softened and lightly crispy. Remove. Allow to cool. Tip: The garlic might be finished at 15 mins (just remove it and set it aside)!

4. In the meantime, heat a non-stick frying pan over a medium-high heat. Spray a little low-fat cooking oil. Add the breadcrumbs. Gently fry until lightly browned and toasted. Remove from the heat. Transfer into a bowl.

5. Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the packet instructions. Drain.

6. Grate the cheese (if using). Wash and remove the parsley leaves from its stem; roughly chop them. Wash the lemon; grate some zest and then juice it.

7. Place the cheese (or nutritional yeast), ½ tsp asafoetida and about 8-10 strands (or a pinch) of saffron into the bowl of breadcrumbs. Season it with a few grinds of black pepper. Mix until combined. Tip: Your breadcrumb topping is now complete!

8. Remove the skin from the garlic and shallots and discard. Finely chop the garlic and then slice the shallot into strips. Tip: Use some kitchen scissors to quickly cut away and remove the shallot skin!

9. Place the pasta into a large bowl. Add the roasted vegetables, parsley, lemon zest and juice (as much lemon juice and zest as desired) and some oil (we added garlic oil!). Season it a few grinds of  black pepper. Gently toss until thoroughly combined.

10. Transfer onto two serving plates. Top with the breadcrumb topping and garnish with additional parsley and/or lemon slices (if preferred).

Enjoy!

 

Tip: For some additional protein, calcium iron and zinc and crunch, add some toasted pine nuts!

 

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Orzo Salad

Healthy Recipes

Serves: 4
Prep & Cooking time: ≤20-30 minutes.

Notes:

We’ve never experimented with Orzo before, one because it costs more than typical pasta and two it’s a form of ‘white’ pasta. Generally, we prefer to have wholemeal varieties; they provide a good source of insoluble fibre, protein and a range of B-Vitamins!

Orzo (which means barley in Italian) is a small form of pasta that resembles large grains of rice. It can be used in soups, as a side dish or a main course. Typically, cooked orzo is low in fat and salt, has a suitable quantity of protein, but it is also low in dietary fibre.  With this in mind, it’s always a good idea to pair it with vegetables, beans and healthy forms of fat (as we have); this will help lower the meal’s glycaemic index (G.I.) and make it a balanced meal.

This recipe is extremely easy to prepare and of course, versatile. Make it as expensive or as frugal as you desire… by using any (or all!) of your favourite vegetables and beans to turn this recipe into a fibre-licious meal!  🙂

NB: If gluten is of concern, substitute the orzo for quinoa, millet, GF couscous or your favourite type of rice instead!

We used: frozen broad beans, parsley, courgette, garlic, red onion, chestnut mushrooms, salad tomatoes, artichoke(60g), green olives(20g) and one lemon.

 

Ingredients:

+++++++++++++++++++++++++300g     Dried Orzo
+++++++++++++++++++++++++800g     Vegetables (Fresh, frozen and/or seasonal!)
+++++++++++++++++++++++++260g     Beans (Fresh, frozen or a tinned variety!)
+++++++++++++++++++++++++1             Lemon (Juice & Zest)
+++++++++++++++++++++++++8g          Fresh Parsley
+++++++++++++++++++++++++1g           Dried Oregano
+++++++++++++++++++++++++30ml     Olive oil
+++++++++++++++++++++++++               Salt & Ground black pepper

 

 

Directions:

Cook the orzo according to the packet instructions. Drain. Allow it to cool slightly. Wash and drain (if applicable) and then cook the beans (if applicable). Drain.

NB: Our broad beans took 6 minutes to cook and the orzo took approx 7-9 minutes.

 

 

Prepare all of your wonderful veggies!

We lightly fried the mushrooms, courgette, garlic and onion (using low-fat cooking oil). The tomato, artichoke, olives and oregano where all placed into a small bowl and mixed together (*before being added to the salad).

 

 

Wash, finely grate the zest and then juice the lemon.

 

 

Wash, dry and roughly chop the parsley.

 

 

Place the orzo into a large mixing bowl. Add the lemon zest and juice and oil. Season it to taste with some salt and black pepper. Stir though. Add the vegetables, beans, parsley and oregano. Stir through.

 

 

Spoon into a serving bowl and serve. NB: Serve on more veggies (if desired!); try a bed of steamed kale or spring greens (collard greens) or some fresh rocket or spinach.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

Enjoy!

 

 

NB: Refrigerate any leftovers in a resealable container; consume within 3 days.

Tofu & Veggie Ravioli + 5 Minute Marinara Sauce [Vegan & Gluten Free]

Healthy Recipes

Serves: 6-8
Yields: about 24 ravioli
Prep: 60-90 mins
Cooking Time: 3-5 mins
Type: Main Meal
Tools: Mixing bowl, silicone spatula, kitchen film, frying pan, food processor, bowl, rolling pin, large plate, large pot(s)

Notes: This recipe contains: Vitamin A, B-Vitamins, Vitamins C & K, carbohydrates, protein, fibre, calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese,potassium, has no added sugars and per serving  is low in salt* and saturated fats*! 

Who loves pasta dishes?! We do! Apart from preparing pasta sauces, we’ve never attempted making our own pasta. It truly is a labour of love- one that needs to be respected; we’re sure we have broken the hearts of many Italian grandmothers’… as they look at our finished product in despair! Sorry! Maybe we should consult with L at Bubblesandbooyah  or Kiana at The Italian Vegan way of Life on this matter?!

Our ravioli does not look authentic, that’s for sure…more anaemic! This is because typical ravioli recipes use several eggs, which gives it its standard yellow/beige appearance; not ideal for us following plant-based diets! If this is a big issue for you, try using fresh herbs, spices (make sure it complements your filling) or perhaps some cooled, green vegetable water (from the drained spinach) instead of the plain water the recipe instructs to help colour your pasta.

For anyone that has attempted GF baking or has prepared GF pastry or dough…it’s not very straight forward! To say that it’s daunting might be a bit of an understatement! However, this feeling passes- it’s quite liberating preparing a whole meal from scratch (apart from growing your own foods of course!). We’re not going to lie though; this recipe can be quite time consuming, especially if you do not own any pasta gadgets, are new to the ‘pasta making world’ or using GF dough for that matter.

If you have the patience and the desire to make GF ravioli, then you’re in good hands! Ours was really tasty (we can’t stress that enough!) and the finished product was ‘respectable’…well, it definitely looked ‘homemade’, perhaps by people that doesn’t really know what they’re doing?! …Well, that might be partially true! 😛

We admit there is a science to it, one that we are still working on! If you are have stronger, GF pasta making skills than we do, or any advice or tips it would be greatly appreciated! We have also included another marinara sauce recipe. This one is slightly different from our other recipe that we supplied you with last week; it’s ultra-quick and thrifty! If you do decide to use a store bought brand instead, as always, be mindful of the salt, sugar and fat contents!

Happy cooking everyone! 🙂

 

Need an easy-print recipe? Print here. 🙂

 

Ingredients

NB: If you have a ‘tried and true’ GF or standard dough recipe, feel free to use that instead!

 

 

Nutritional Info (Prepared Ravioli Only)

NB: To reduce the fat content further, omit the olives and the tahini from the filling.

*Low in salt and saturated fats based on eight servings.

 

 

Directions

Prepare the dough. Place 300g rice flour, 60g corn flour, 80g potato starch, 8g xanthan gum, 1g basil, 2g thyme and 2g salt into a large mixing bowl.

 

 

Mix until combined. Make a ‘well’ in the centre of the mixture.

 

 

Add 1 tbsp oil and 300ml cold water.

NB: Make sure you use cold water! Hot water will make the corn flour, potato starch and xanthan gum turn into a horrible mess.

 

 

Use a spatula; stir and combine the mixture until the dough is smooth and tacky.

 

 

Place the dough onto the middle of a piece of kitchen film.

 

 

Wrap and completely seal. Place it into the fridge for a minimum of 20 mins.

 

In the meantime, prepare the filling.

 

Place the spinach into a microwavable bowl; defrost in the microwave. Drain. Place the bread into a toaster. Gently heat until lightly brown and crispy. Place it into a food processor. Peel and dice the shallot and garlic. Wash, dry and finely dice the mushrooms. Wash, remove the stem and core and then finely chop the bell pepper. Wash, peel and finely grate the carrot. Drain, rinse and dice the olives. Wash and chop the basil leaves; discard most of the stems. Place the bread in the food processor. Process it until breadcrumbs are achieved; remove and transfer into a small bowl.

The amount of bell pepper we have advised is approx. half a pepper…so this is why we have suggested to use the other half in the marinara sauce.

 

Heat a non-stick frying pan over a medium-low heat. Spray it with some low-fat cooking oil. Add the shallot and garlic. Gently fry for 1-2 mins or until softened.

NB: We used four ‘sprays’.

 

 

Add the mushrooms, bell pepper and carrot. Gently fry for 3-5 mins, or until softened and most of the water has been removed. Remove from the heat.

NB: We used two more ‘sprays’.

 

 

Meanwhile, drain the tofu. Place it into in the food processor. Pulse until creamy.

 

 

Transfer it into a large mixing bowl.

 

 

Transfer the vegetable mixture into a separate bowl. Allow it to cool slightly.

 

 

Place the spinach and olives into the frying pan. Gently fry for 1-2 mins; allow the spinach to steam-dry slightly. Gently separate/shred some of the fibres with a fork. Remove from the heat.

 

 

Add the vegetable and separate spinach mixture, along with the basil, breadcrumbs, oregano, thyme and tahini into the large mixing bowl. Mix and thoroughly combine.

 

Add the flour. Mix to combine.

 

 

Let’s Assemble The Ravioli!

Disclaimer: We will be commentating on the best ‘working scenario’ (based on our previous failures and current mistakes); occasionally the pictures may not seem in sync or an accurate representation of each step. So please bare with us- we’ll get there in the end!

Tip: If you have a ravioli mould/tray or cutters- dig them our of your cupboards and use them! Otherwise let’s prepare these ravioli’s using this ‘freestyle’ method.

 

Prepare a clean and lightly floured work surface. Tip: have a large plate, a little dish of water and some spare flour nearby.

We were  ambitious and thought we could make the ravioli in 2 stages instead of four! Two words- fat chance!

 

Divide the dough into four pieces/balls. Place one piece onto the work surface and re-wrap the remaining dough. NB: This dough tends to dry out quickly, so always re-wrap it! Knead the dough into the flour until it is slightly ‘less’ tacky. Roll the dough into a long and narrow-ish strip (approx. 12″x4″).

We measured the dough and these were the approx. dimensions. Please feel free to experiment! NB: We feel that this is about as thin as this dough would allow without it falling apart!

 

 

Test and try to lift the dough slightly. Tip: you need to make sure it’s not sticking to the work surface (if it is, add a little more flour) and that it’s not going to completely fall apart when moved.

We tested our dough by re-rolling it onto the rolling pin. NB: The dough on this rolling pin represents half the quantity of dough. It wasn’t long after this picture that we divided the dough into four working pieces.

 

 

Roughly mark the dough into six equal squares.

 

 

Spoon and place the filling onto the centre of one side of the dough.

NB: This represents the maximum amount of filling you can use.

 

Cut the dough down the middle. Separate the dough into two strips. Tip: a quicker method would be to fold the half without the filling over the other half of the dough. Press, mould, shape and then cut out the individual ravioli’s. 

 

Gently re-roll the strip (without the filling), creating a slightly larger and thinner half. Tip: we have suggested this because GF dough is less forgiving/stretchy than normal wheat-dough (because of its wonderful powers it obtains from gluten) and you have to make sure it’s going to cover all of the ravioli! However, if you are using half of the amount of filling, you may be able to skip this step entirely.

 

 

If you’re brave enough, place and align the re-rolled strip over the top of the other strip (with the filling). Gently press down in-between each piece; helping to shape the ravioli. Gently cup and continue to shape each piece with your hands; allowing the dough to wrap around the filling. Cut and separate the six pieces. Pinch the edges of each ravioli together and then fold the edges up and over itself; crimp and press to seal the ravioli. NB: You might have to complete this step with the help of a wet fork.

If your a little clumsy with GF dough or with the ravioli-making process (like myself)….you can do what I did (explained below!)

 

 

After you have re-rolled the strip, cut it into six separate pieces. Cut the other strip (with the filling) into six separate pieces. Individually place each piece re-rolled piece of dough over a piece of the prepared dough (as shown).

i.e. prepared dough with filling.

 

Cup and shape the ravioli dough around the filling with your hands. Pinch the edges of the ravioli together and then fold the edges up and over itself; crimp and press to seal the ravioli (as we have previously mentioned, a wet fork is great for this step!).

We’re  sorry about the lack of pictures at this stage! Our hands were covered in flour and filling- neither of which you want smeared on your camera!

 

 

Place all of the prepared ravioli’s onto a clean plate. Cover and seal with a piece of kitchen film. Repeat these steps with the remaining three pieces/sections of dough and filling until all of it has been used.

To stop them drying out!

 

Now might be a good time to place two large pots over a medium heat and bring to the boil; it can take some time to heat the water. However, if you are slower at this process, just wait until you’re finished- there’s no need to add more potential stress into the equation!

You can use one large pot….if you have it…and/or if your brave enough to man-handle over ten ravioli’s cooking at once!

 

All twenty-four ravioli’s ready to go!

 

 

If you haven’t already, place two large saucepans over a medium heat and bring to the boil. Meanwhile, prepare our ‘5 minute thrifty marinara sauce’ (if applicable)! Just open the tinned tomatoes and then place all of the sauce ingredients into a blender. Blend until smooth. Pour into a small pot. Place the pot over a medium-low heat. Gently heat the sauce to low-grade simmer and then reduce the heat. Cover with a lid; keep it over a low heat setting until served.

We  saved some for later in the week and some for now… 🙂

 

Cooking The Ravioli!

Once the water begins to boil, place about 4-5 pieces into each pot using a large, slotted spoon; reduce to a medium heat. Loosely cover with a lid. Once the ravioli’s start to rise to the top and/or the water comes to more of a rapid boil- remove the lid. Cook the ravioli’s for 3-5 mins or until tender.

NB: Ours took approx. 4 minutes to cook.

 

 

Remove them with the slotted spoon. Place them into a large colander (not onto a plate like we have in this picture!). Cover with some kitchen foil and allow them to drain.

NB: They don’t get a chance to drain properly on a plate…which means extra water added to your sauce! :/

 

 

Repeat these steps until all of the ravioli has been cooked.

All in all the cooking process was a success! There were a few that lost a corner on the way out of the pot but that’s trivial! Previously, we’ve had ravioli’s that have disintegrated whilst cooking because we allowed the water to boil too rapidly…lol (it wasn’t really that funny at the time)!  Cooking 101: DO NOT allow you ravioli’s to ride tidal waves in your saucepan!

 

 

Serve warm. Spoon the ravioli into a large bowl or pasta dish. Ladle over the sauce. Season it with some black pepper to taste. Garnish with fresh basil and/or chopped tomatoes (if desired).

NB: This picture represents 2 servings (*Based on the ravioli serving 8).

It might be advised to wear a red t-shirt; it depends on how ravenous you are! J/K! We are all ‘mindful’ eaters. 😀

Enjoy!

 

Refrigerate any leftovers in a resealable container; reheat and consume within 3-5 days. Alternatively, freeze in an air-tight/resealable container; defrost, reheat and consume within 3 months.

NB: Do not store uncooked ravioli in the fridge overnight. We attempted this once (trying to save time with food prep for the next night), but the next day they were all a bit soggy…and cooking them didn’t improve matters! We’re not one-hundred percent sure as to why this occurred…and unless you do, we wouldn’t recommend it!

 

If preferred…

  • The world is your oyster! Make the filling your own! Just make sure to decrease/remove the water content of any vegetables used (by lightly frying/steam-frying) before preparing your ravioli.
  • If gluten is not of concern, try using wholemeal or grade ’00’ flour instead, along with salt, oil and water (and maybe some eggs if you’re not vegan!); adjust the quantities accordingly and omit the xanthan gum.
  • Use our marinara recipe, your own pasta sauce, or drizzle a little olive oil over the pasta (and garnish with herbs) just before serving!

 

 

 If anyone prepares this recipe- send us some pictures! We’d love to see how you got on and of course, your thoughts!