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! 

Baked Rice (With Vegetables And Nuts)

Healthy Recipes

Serves: 4-8
Prep: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 30-60 minutes.
NB: Ours took approximately 50 minutes to cook. The cooking duration is dependant upon the type of rice and baking dish used; opt for a dish that is  longer and wider as opposed to the one we used (*see below). You might also try soaking your rice before cooking it; this should help to speed up the cooking process.

Notes: This recipe contains: Vitamin A, B-Vitamins, Vitamin C, K & E, protein, fibre, calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, iron and is low in saturated fats!

This recipe has an abundance of flavours and textures; it’s so tasty and of course very nutritious! Serve it as a main meal or in a smaller portion as a side dish. Adapt the flavours and vegetables as you see fit! Try making it with an Asian, Thai, Mexican, African or Oriental Flavour! 

Quick facts:

This meal provides you with approximately 347% of your RDA for Vitamin C and 5 servings of fruit/vegetables/ serving!

 

Ingredients:

 

Nutritional info:

NB: Reduce the salt by omitting the olives and/or try using less stock; use water and more fresh herbs instead! 

 

Directions:

Heat the oven to 200°C/400°F; place the garlic onto a baking tray. Spray it with some low-fat cooking oil. Place it into the oven. Roast for 20-30 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove.

 

 

In the meantime, place the green beans into a microwavable dish. Snap them into halves. Place into the microwave and defrost. Drain.

 

 

Peel and dice the onion. Wash, remove the stem, de-seed and chop the bell peppers into slices. Wash, trim the ends and chop the aubergine into quarters. Wash, trim the ends and dice the courgette. Wash and slice the mushrooms.

 

 

 

Wash, remove the stem and chop the tomatoes into thin slices.

 

 

***If you have a large oven proof dish that is also capable of stove-top cooking- use that!***

Otherwise, place a large, non-stick frying pan over a medium-low heat. Spray it with some low-fat cooking oil.

 

 

Add the green beans, onion, bell peppers, aubergine, courgette and mushrooms. Add more cooking spray if needed. Stir together. Gently fry for approx. 10 minutes or until softened.

 

 

In the meantime, wash, dry and roughly chop the chives and parsley. Wash, dry and remove the thyme leaves from the stem. Drain, wash and chop the olives into slices. Wash the spinach. Wash and slice the lemon into quarters.

 

 

Add the tomato approximately 5 minutes into the cooking time. Stir together. Fry for a further 5-6 minutes or until softened.

 

 

Add the chives, parsley, thyme, cranberries and paprika. Stir through.

 

 

***If you’re using a large oven proof (stove-top) dish, add the rice, boiling stock and water. Bring to the boil and then remove from the heat. Season it with some salt and black pepper to taste. Add the spinach. Place the garlic bulb into the centre; gently press it down into the mixture (until partially submerged). Place it into the oven. Bake for approximately 30 minutes, or until the rice is cooked; stir halfway. NB: Remove the garlic temporarily to stir the rice.***

 

Alternatively, transfer the mixture into a large casserole dish/oven proof dish. Season it with some salt and black pepper to taste.

We used this large ceramic dish (its the only thing we had that was big enough!)

 

 

Top with the rice and spinach.

 

 

Pour over the boiling stock and water.

 

 

Place the garlic bulb into the centre; gently press it down into the mixture (until partially submerged).

 

 

Place into the oven. Bake for approximately 30 minutes, or until the rice is cooked.

 

 

In the meantime, lightly toast the nut & seed mixture in a dry frying pan until lightly browned. Remove and transfer into a small dish.

 

 

Remove the baking dish halfway through the cooking time. NB: Remove the garlic temporarily.

 

 

Add the olives, nuts and seeds.

 

 

Give everything a good stir! Submerge the garlic bulb. Place it back into the oven until the rice is cooked.

 

 

Remove from the oven.

Be careful- it will be steaming hot! Ours went back in for a further 15 minutes (after this picture), as there was still a  few bits of rice that weren’t cooked!

 

 

Remove the garlic and give the rice a good stir. Break apart the bulb. Remove the skin. Add as much garlic to the dish as you prefer.

 

 

Serve immediately. Ladle into serving bowls. Garnish with herbs and a slice of lemon.

We used some chives.  🙂

 

Enjoy!

 

 

 Refrigerate any leftovers in a resealable container (ideally within an hour after cooking); reheat and consume within 1-2 days. Alternatively freeze in one or more resealable containers; defrost and consume within 1-2 months.

NB: When reheating, always check to make sure the rice is steaming hot all the way through and do not reheat the rice more than once. 

 Freeze any remaining garlic! Defrost and use it in future soups, stews, casseroles or some home-made houmous and/or dips!

 

 

If preferred…

  • Use your preferred vegetable mixture! Just defrost (if necessary) and gently fry to soften them prior to baking.
  • Adapt the herb and seed medley as you see fit.
  • Try adapting this recipe and make it in your slow cooker!

Vegan & Gluten Free Asparagus Pesto Pasta

Healthy Recipes

Serves: 8
Prep & Cooking Time: 35-45 mins
Type: Main Meal
Tools: Chopping board, sharp knife, grater, colander, large pot, food processor, silicone spatula, small bowl, measuring jug, mixing bowl and/or resealable container

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

This pesto offers a nice alternative to other vegan pesto salads that use avocado, spinach or roasted vegetables. It has a lovely, fresh and uniquely satisfying taste, not to mention it’s easy to prepare!  

Happy cooking everyone! 🙂

 

Ingredients

+++++++++++++++++++++++520g    Asparagus
+++++++++++++++++++++++16g       Garlic Clove
+++++++++++++++++++++++1           Lemon (30ml Juice, 1 tsp zest)
+++++++++++++++++++++++25g       Fresh Basil
+++++++++++++++++++++++400g    Fresh Tomatoes (your favourite!)
+++++++++++++++++++++++4g         Ground Almonds
+++++++++++++++++++++++40g      Pine Nuts
+++++++++++++++++++++++520g    GF Fusilli
+++++++++++++++++++++++40ml    Extra Virgin Olive Oil
+++++++++++++++++++++++2g         Dried Onion Powder
+++++++++++++++++++++++             Salt

Need an easy-print recipe? Print here. 🙂

 

Nutritional Info

 

Directions

  • Wash the asparagus; trim and discard the ends.
  • Peel the garlic. Wash the lemon; grate the zest from half of it and then juice it. Wash and dry the basil; discard the stems and save the leaves. Wash, remove the stem and then roughly chop the tomatoes.
  • Meanwhile, place a large, non-stick saucepan full of cold water over a high heat. Bring to the boil. Add the asparagus. Simmer for 3-5 mins, or until tender. Tip: Ours took about 4½ mins to cook, but it’s finding a happy balance. Cook them too long and the tips disintegrate, not long enough and the ends do not blend very well into the pesto. 
  • Remove the asparagus from the pot, but do not empty the water from the pot. Transfer into a colander. Drain. Allow to cool slightly.

 

 

  • Meanwhile, begin preparing the pesto. Whilst the food processor is running, add the garlic through the pouring spout. Blitz into small pieces.
  • Use a spatula and scrape the garlic from the slides and the lid into the base.
  • Add about ¾  of the quantity of the pine nuts and all of the almonds.
  • Blitz until the pine nuts are roughly chopped. Leave the mixture for the moment.

 

In the meantime, bring the saucepan of water back up to a boil. Add the pasta. Cook according to the packet instructions. Reserve some of the cooking liquid from the saucepan (approximately ½ cup) before draining. Tip: We removed some liquid about halfway through the cooking time; save more liquid if you want a really ‘loose pesto’. Drain. Allow to cool slightly.

 

  • Meanwhile, chop the asparagus stalks into halves. Separate the ‘top’ halves from the ‘bottoms’.
  • Chop the bottom halves into small pieces.
  • Chop the top halves into thirds.

 

 

  • Add 1 tsp lemon zest & 2 tbsp juice (or as much zest and juice as desired), basil, about 10 tbsp of the reserved cooking liquid (more if necessary), 40ml oil, about ¾ tsp onion powder and the ‘asparagus bottoms’ into the food processor.
  • Blend until smooth. Season it with some salt to taste. Tip: Your pesto is now complete!
  • Place the pasta into a large mixing bowl or resealable container. Add the pesto. Mix and thoroughly combine. NB: Ours went into this plastic tub (as it was going to be several lunches throughout the week!).
  • Add the tomatoes and asparagus ‘tops’. Mix to combine.
  • Season it with some salt to taste if necessary. Sprinkle over the remaining nuts.

 

 

Serve and enjoy!

NB: This bowl provides 1 portion (based on 8 servings!). This pasta has been refrigerated overnight. If desired, re-freshen your ‘next day’ pasta with a bit of lemon juice, ground black pepper and dried basil.

 

Refrigerate any leftovers in an air-tight and resealable container; consume within 3-4 days.

 

If preferred…

  • Make the pesto sauce and serve it over gnocchi, spaghetti or in a lasagne instead.
  • If you are not concerned about gluten, give wholemeal or spelt pasta a try!
  • Add some fortified nutritional yeast (with vitamin B12!) to your pesto for a more authentic taste and of course added nutritional value!
  • Try making it with just ground almonds.
  • For an extra creamy pesto sauce (minus the guilty calories!), add some unsweetened soya yoghurt; add the yoghurt to the food processor when processing the final ingredients.
  • Use the pesto sauce as a dip for vegetables or multi-grain pita. If necessary or preferred, just add a little arrowroot powder to thicken it in a blender/food processor first.

 

This recipe was adapted from: fatfreevegan

Vegan & Gluten Free Lasagne W/ A Tofu & Spinach Filling

Healthy Recipes

Serves: 6
Prep: 60-90 mins
Cooking Time: 30 mins (*Dependent upon type of pasta)
Cooling Time: 5-10mins
Type: Main Meal
Tools: Chopping board, sharp knife, non-stick pots (*3) and a frying pan, frying spatula, food processor, measuring cups, silicone spatula, mixing bowl, casserole dish

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

Our lasagne is a delicious and stodgy meal that the whole family can enjoy!  A typical ‘standard’ lasagne can be very rich due to its meat, cheese(s) and milk content, consequently containing a fair bit of salt and fat from the cheese(s) and/or sauce. Ours however is completely plan-based with no added sugar, making it lower in saturated fats, salt and sugar as a result, but still very delicious right up until the last bite!

 

Nutritional Breakdown (approx. 500g/serving):

 A ‘standard’ lasagne portion (approx. 420-500g), could provide approx:300-500kcal, 25-40g fat, 12-20g saturated and 2-4g salt.

Tip: You could reduce the calories/fat content in this recipe by: omitting or reducing the quantity of the nuts and olives, by using unsweetened & fortified almond milk instead of soya, or by halving the amount of white sauce used.

 

Ingredients

Need an easy-print recipe? Print here. 🙂

 

Directions

Place the spinach into a microwavable bowl. Defrost in the microwave. Drain in a sieve. NB: Ours took about 14 mins to defrost.

 

  • In the meantime, peel and chop the onion. Peel and dice the garlic. Wash and drain the olives (if they were in brine), remove any stones (if necessary) and then chop them into slices. Wash and dry the basil, remove its leaves from its stem and roughly them (save a few whole pieces for garnishing).
  • Prepare the tomato sauce. Heat a large, non-stick saucepan over a medium-low heat. Add some low-fat cooking spray. Add the garlic and onions. Cover and gently fry for 1-2 mins or until softened, stirring occasionally.
  • Add 30g olives, 800g tinned tomatoes, 40g puree, 1 tsp lemon juice, the herb blend (dried thyme, basil & oregano) and the onion powder. Season it with some salt and pepper to taste. Stir together. Bring to a light boil. Reduce the heat. Cover and simmer for 5 mins. Leave the lid slightly ajar for the remaining cooking time; allow the sauce to simmer for a further 20 mins, stirring occasionally. Season as necessary. Add the fresh basil. Stir through. Turn off the heat and leave it covered.

 

 

In the meantime, prepare the filling. Open and drain the tofu. Tip: Speedy, silken tofu! This type of tofu does not have to be pressed like standard firm tofu! Peel and dice the garlic. Wash, dry and dice the mushrooms. *Drain your spinach if you haven’t already.

 

 

  • Meanwhile, prepare your filling. Place a non-stick frying pan or wok over a medium-low heat. Add some low-fat cooking oil. Add the garlic and mushrooms. Gently fry for 1-2 mins.
  • Add the spinach 40g pine nuts. Stir together. Allow it to fry for a further 2-3 minutes. Add the nutmeg. Season it with salt and pepper. Stir together. Remove from the heat.
  • In the meantime, place the tofu into a food processor.
  • Blend until smooth and creamy.
  • Transfer it into a large mixing bowl.
  • Add the spinach mixture. Season it with some salt and pepper to taste. Stir and thoroughly combine.

 

 

Meanwhile, heat the oven to 200°C/400°F. Tip: Check your pasta’s baking instructions, as you might need a slightly higher temperate than this. Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions. Drain. NB: We pre-cooked ours for 3 mins in boiling water and then drained it.

 

 

  • Prepare the white sauce. Add 300ml milk, the herb blend (dried thyme, basil & oregano) and onion powder into a large measuring jug. Stir to combine.
  • Place 20g DF margarine into a small, non-stick saucepan over a medium-low heat. Allow it to melt (be careful to not let it burn).
  • Once the margarine has melted, add 20g GF flour. Whisk to thoroughly combine and form a ‘roux’. Keep stirring for about 30 seconds or so to help remove some of the floury taste from the sauce.
  • Gradually pour in the milk mixture. Whisk together.
  • Keeping whisking until the sauce thickens. NB: This can take 3-6 mins, depending on how high your heat setting is; do not allow it to burn!
  • Remove from the heat. Season it with some salt and pepper to taste. Leave covered until ready to use.

 

 

Lasagne Assembly

1. Pour just over half of the quantity of the tomato sauce into the casserole dish.
Add a layer of prepared lasagne sheets.
2. Add half of the filling mixture. Spread evenly over the pasta.
3. Add another layer of lasagne sheets, followed by the remaining filling mixture.
4.Place one more layer of lasagne sheets. Pour over the remaining tomato sauce.
5. Give the white sauce a quick whisk. Pour and spread it over the top of the lasagne. Tip: If necessary, use a silicone spatula help spread it.
6. Place it on the middle oven shelf. Bake for 20-30 mins, or until it’s bubbling, lightly browned and the pasta is cooked. TipOurs took 30 mins in a fan-assisted oven. It will definitely take less time than this if you are using ‘fully cooked’ or quick cook pasta!
7. Remove the dish from the oven.

 

 

Allow it to cool for 5-10 mins. Tip: This will make it slightly easier to cut and serve! Garnish with the reserved basil (if using). Serve warm alongside a green salad or green beans if desired.

 

Refrigerate any leftovers in an air-tight and resealable container; reheat and consume within 3-5 days.

 

 

If preferred…

  • Use wholemeal or spelt-based pasta if you are not concerned about gluten.
  • Use fresh spinach and tomatoes instead.
  • Alternatively, make some home-made ravioli using this filling and serve it topped with the tomato sauce.
  • Serve the tomato sauce with some spaghetti instead (garnish with some pine nuts); serve with a garden salad for a quick and simple meal!
  • Adjust the herb combinations to your personal preference.
  • Make two lasagnes and freeze one for next week! Alternatively, freeze individual portions and defrost/reheat when you are short on time to cook a nutritious meal!
  • Instead of pine nuts, try using sunflower seeds? (The latter is normally cheaper for us).
  • Use a low-sodium/sugar/fat store-bought tomato sauce or passata if you short on time!

 

Recipe inspired from: BBC Good Foods