Meatless Monday: Almost! Moussaka Bake W/Lentils [Vegan & Gluten Free]

Healthy Recipes, Meatless Monday

Serves: 6-8
Prep: 10 mins
Cooking Time: (50 mins for the components + 30 mins in the oven)
Total Time: 1h 30 mins
Type: Main Meal
Tools: Sieve, large baking tray, aluminium foil, chopping board, sharp knife, 2*non-stick pots (w/lids), colander, fork, whisk, wooden spoon, measuring jug, large casserole dish, serving spoon, cooling block (or rack)

Notes

We haven’t been to Greece (yet!), but it doesn’t mean that we can’t enjoy some of their fantastic flavours and cuisine all in the comfort of our own home. In fact, we have been doing just that! Greek food is just one of many cuisines that we have been attempting to ‘veganise’ over the last year; you might remember our Almost! Dolma, Vegan Koftes, a fusion salad containing ‘crumbled feta‘ or our aubergine dip?! Well now we’ve finally gone and made our take on a vegan moussaka, an ‘almost! moussaka bake with lentils’!  😀

Our Almost! Moussaka bake integrates some traditional ingredients with some that are less-so because as you know, we love veggies!  In fact one serving (based on six servings)of this healthful and veganised moussaka provides you with about 6-7 servings of veggies towards your 5-A-Day! It’s fibre-licious! However, moussaka isn’t typically known for its veggies, but its rich meaty sauce and great flavours! So to help keep an authentic taste, this dish also uses:

-A Greek-style ragu that incorporates traditional moussaka seasonings, extra veggies and some lentils for a little added texture, protein and faux ‘meatiness’.  

-Some small baby potatoes instead of standard/floury baking potatoes; which contains a lower G.I index than the latter.

– An adapted white herby sauce. We added some nutritional yeast and fewer herbs to form a vegan and gluten free friendly ‘cheezy’ béchamel sauce.

Some other good things to note include:

  • Although we would normally recommend using dried pulses and legumes (at least where and when you can), this time you might want to take a short cut. We’ve used some dried lentils, but feel free to use a cooked and packaged or a tinned variety instead to save some time (it won’t affect the recipe)! 
  • You can always use slightly more aubergine (eggplant), perhaps 100-200g more, if you desire or can fit it into your budget! Also, make sure to properly season it before adding it into the moussaka (otherwise it might taste a bit bitter).
  • We recommend that you thoroughly cook the potatoes before adding them into the moussaka because otherwise it will take a lot longer to cook; about 45-60mins.
  • If your béchamel sauce is left sitting around (especially without a lid) it will start to form a skin and slightly congeal. However, you can always add a little more milk to help loosen and relax it; just whisk the milk through until the sauce is smooth and fluid. 
  • If you are using frozen spinach, make sure it’s thoroughly defrosted, drained and then roughly chopped before adding it into the Greek-style ragu; otherwise it won’t integrate into the sauce properly and/or make it a bit watery. 
  • We used quite a large casserole dish (a new one!). If yours is quite a bit smaller, you might need to reduce the ingredients (well, at least the ragu) by a third. 
  • Nutritional yeast is one of the few products we occasionally use that you can’t easily purchase in shops (sorry folks). If you do not have any or would prefer not to use it, you can try using some dairy free cheese as a substitute. We are guesstimating that 10-20 grams of grated DF hard or cream cheese (melted into the béchamel sauce) will suffice. However, DF cheese will also help to thicken’ sauces, so you might need to use a little extra milk to balance things out. Alternatively, you can always use a plain DF béchamel sauce or adapt it as preferred; perhaps with garlic and mustard powder, paprika and lemon for an alternative ‘cheezy’ taste!
  • Although this dish may look ‘heavy’ (it’s not), it’s just very deceiving! One portion, even accompanied with a light green salad or some green beans is just about right.
  • Feel free to move through this recipe at your own speed. E.g. if you have finished chopping the aubergine, but the oven isn’t up to temperature yet, just move on to the next step. You don’t have to necessarily wait (unless you want to) to move on to the next step(s).
  • Although this meal is slightly time consuming, it does last for more than one meal (unless you are actually serving six people)! However, it tastes great and hopefully you can appreciate that it has five different components to prepare (but don’t let this scare you, nothing is overcomplicated here)!
  • This may not be a typical mid-week meal that you can quickly whip up, it is one that you can cook when you have more time and/or as part of your weekend meal prep. The dish tastes great for 3-4 days; so try baking it over the weekend and enjoy it throughout the week! 

We hope that you enjoy it and happy cooking everyone! 🙂

 

Ingredients

Need an easy-print recipe? Print here. 🙂

 

Directions

1. If applicable, cook your lentils. Place the lentils into a sieve. Remove any stones and/or seeds. Rinse under running water. Cook according to the packet instructions. Drain and rinse. Tip: Ours took about 15mins (they were tender, but not mushy!)

2. Preheat the oven to 220°C/430°F/ gas mark 7. Line a baking tray with some kitchen foil. Spray the foil with some low-fat cooking oil.

3. Prepare the aubergine. Wash the aubergine(s); trim off the top(s) and then slice it (width-wise) into ½ cm slices. Tip: if preferred (and depending on the size of your casserole dish), slice the aubergine lengthwise. Place the aubergine slices onto the tray in a single layer. Spray it with some low-fat cooking oil. Thoroughly season it to taste; sprinkle and season it with a little salt, dried oregano and a few grinds of black pepper. When the oven is hot, place the tray onto the upper oven shelf. Bake for 25 mins, turning halfway through. Tip: Once turned, respray with oil and add a little more seasoning. Remove and leave on the tray until ready to use.

 

4. In the meantime, cook the potatoes. Wash the potatoes. Place them into a pot covered with some cold water. Cover with a lid. Bring to a boil. Simmer and cook for about 8-10 mins or until just cooked (but not falling apart). Drain in a colander. Rinse under cold water and then allow to cool.

 

5. Meanwhile, prepare the Greek-style ragu with lentils. Peel and finely chop the onion. Peel, roughly chop and then mince the garlic with the back of a fork. Tip: If you have a garlic press, use this handy gadget instead! Wash, remove the stem and core then chop the bell pepper into ½cm -1cm pieces.

 

Spray a large, non-stick pot it with some low-fat cooking oil and place it over a medium-low heat. Add the onion, garlic and bell pepper. Gently fry for 2-3 mins or until softened. Add the Greek-inspired spice blend and a few grinds of black pepper. Stir to coat. Gently fry for a further 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add the tin tomatoes, cooked lentils and 115g tomato puree. Stir together. Cover with a lid. Bring to a boil. Cook and simmer for 20 mins. Add your spinach during the last 5 minutes, allowing it to wilt. Tip: If you’re using fresh spinach, just throw it into the pot and stir it through once the sauce has finished cooking.  Remove from the heat. Stir through ½-1 tbsp (10-20g) of agave. Recover with the lid and leave for the moment.

 

 

6. Meanwhile, prepare the potatoes. Transfer the cooked potatoes onto a chopping board. Gently slice them (lengthways) into ¼- ½ cm slices. Leave for the moment.

 

7. Prepare the ‘cheezy béchamel sauce’. Pour the 550ml DF milk into a large measuring jug. Place 40g  DF margarine into a non-stick pot and place it over a medium-low heat. Tip: Save on dishes! Give your ‘lentil pot’ a quick wipe and use this to cook your sauce! When the margarine it melts, add 40g flour. Whisk until thoroughly combined and for about a further 20-30 seconds to help remove the floury taste. Whilst whisking, gradually pour in the milk. Keep whisking to help dissolve all of the flour. Add 1- 1¼ tsp oregano, salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Keep whisking until the sauce just thickens. Remove from the heat. Tip: If the mixture is too thick, just whisk through a little more milk. Add 6g nutritional yeast or your vegan cheese. Stir through to combine (or if applicable) to melt the ‘cheese’. Leave covered until you are ready to use.

 

8. Assemble the moussaka! Tip: Depending on the size of your casserole dish, you can always free-style this type; if you would prefer to start with a potato layer, make sure to grease the dish first! Scoop about 2.5 cups of the Greek-style ragu evenly into the base of the casserole dish. Place a single layer of potatoes (do not overlap). Pour over ¼ cup of the cheezy-béchamel sauce. Roughly spread it with the back of a large spoon or spatula. Place a layer (or a few pieces) of aubergine. Tip: We used the minimum amount of aubergine, hence why we only placed a few pieces over the mixture at this point. Scoop a further 2.5 cups of the ragu, spreading evenly. Place a final, single layer of potatoes. Pour and spread over the remaining ragu. Place a final layer of aubergine. Pour and evenly spread over the remaining cheezy-béchamel sauce.

 

9. Place the dish onto the middle oven shelf. Bake for about 25-30 mins or until the surface is lightly tanned and the edges are bubbling. Tip: Allow it to cool and set for 5-10 mins (if you have the time) as this will allow for easier serving. Top it with some nutritional yeast, ground black pepper and some chopped chives (if desired) before serving!

Enjoy!

Tip: Cover and refrigerate any leftovers; reheat and consume within 3-4 days. Alternatively, store and freeze in air-tight and resealable container(s); defrost, reheat and consume within 1-2 months. 

Recipe updated: 19/02/16

Easy Pizza Crust [Vegan & Gluten Free]

Healthy Recipes, Meatless Monday

Serves: 4
Prep: 15 mins
Proving: 45 mins
Cooking Time: 15 mins
Total Time: 75mins
Type: Main Meal
Tools: Large measuring jug, clean tea towel, mixing bowl, silicone spatula, rolling pin, baking tray, parchment paper, sharp knife

Notes

It’s been ages since we had any sort of pizza and there really wasn’t a better time than the present! Cold weather always make you crave denser foods… well that and the fact that we saw an increased volume of pizza recipes on WP; besides making us very hungry at the time, it also made us want to revisit our previous pizza recipe

Pizza dough can be quite personal. From the flour, to the thickness, to the toppings and even the overall taste… but we think that the one common attribute they should all share is to have an easy preparation!

Our newest dough is exactly that. The recipe, although it may take a little longer to whip up (well, longer to proof), the dough itself is easy to use, versatile and tasty! After proofing it’s quite soft and adaptable; after baking it’s slightly flexible with a nice and light crunch. Whilst we’re not professional bakers (or dough experts!), this one gets two thumbs up from us. 🙂

If you have the time you could probably bake more than one base and then freeze them; creating an impromptu (and healthy) D.I.Y pizza when you are short on time, are looking for  a fun, family cooking activity (because who doesn’t like decorating a pizza?!) and/or lack the desire to cook a healthy meal!

A few other good things to note include:

  • Although we have used varied ingredients to help flavour the dough, the taste is still quite neutral. We haven’t added that much salt or anything else that was too overpowering, because ours toppings were going to make up the difference (a rich pesto, salty olives and plenty of delicious/raw veggies)! You can obviously adapt it to suit your tastes and/or the toppings you plan on using. 
  • Yes we used plenty of raw-ish toppings. It’s perfect for when you avoiding ‘cheeze’  or those that LOVE to decorate their food (I do!). 😀
  • We recommend using an unsweetened soya, maybe hemp or coconut milk (if you don’t mind a faint coconut flavour).
  • Don’t omit the sugar! The yeast needs it grow. We’ve never tried activating the yeast with a sweetener, so we are not recommending it.
  • Our dough was fairly thin and our cooking time reflects this. If you are making a thicker dough, a smaller pizza and/or cooking it with toppings, you’ll need to adjust your times accordingly.

Happy cooking everyone! 🙂

 

Ingredients

+++++++++250ml       Soya Milk (unsweetened & fortified)
+++++++++1 tsp          Unrefined Caster Sugar
+++++++++2 tsp         Quick Rise Yeast (7g)
+++++++++250g         Gluten Free Flour (self-rising)
+++++++++½ tsp        Xanthan Gum (1g)
+++++++++6g             Dried Italian Mixed Herbs
+++++++++6g             Nutritional Yeast Flakes (if possible, B12 fortified)
+++++++++½ tsp        Salt
+++++++++15g            Odourless Coconut Oil

Need an easy-print recipe? Print here. 🙂

 

Directions

1. Pour 250ml soya milk into a large and microwavable measuring jug. Heat until warm (make sure it’s not boiling or too tepid). Tip: Alternatively, place the milk into a small, non-stick pot and warm over a medium heat.

2 . Add 1 tsp sugar into the measuring jug. Whisk to combine. Add 2 tsp yeast. Gently whisk to combine (or just leave sprinkled over the surface of the milk). Wet a tea towel with fairly warm water. Place it over the top of the jug. Leave the mixture to ferment for 10-15 mins (preferably in a warm place).

3. In the meantime, place 250g GF flour into a large mixing bowl. Add ½ tsp xanthan gum, 6g dried Italian herbs, 6g nutritional yeast and ½ tsp salt. Stir to thoroughly combine. Leave for the moment.

4. If necessary, gently melt your 15g coconut oil (it needs to be in a liquid state).

5. Remove the tea towel from the measuring jug. Tip: You should experience a fairly ‘yeasty’ aroma and see a lot of ‘froth’ and bubbles by this point! Make a ‘well’ (just a hole) in the centre of the flour mixture. Pour in the oil and the yeast/milk mixture. Gently stir with a large spoon or silicone spatula until thoroughly combined. Knead the dough for 4-5 mins. Tip: If the dough is a little tacky, just lightly flour your hands! Wet the tea towel again with some warm water and completely cover the top of the mixing bowl. Place the bowl somewhere warm for 45 mins and allow the dough to rise.  NB: Ours didn’t rise too much because our house wasn’t warm enough!

6. In the meantime, prepare any topping(s) you plan on using. We whipped up some of our basil and walnut pesto, fresh bell peppers, courgette, red onion, olives, baby plum tomatoes, avocado, salad cress and got some additional nooch to hand!

7. When the dough is almost done ‘proofing’, preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F. Line a baking tray with a sheet of parchment paper (allowing it to slightly overlap the edges). Tip: By having an over-sized piece of parchment paper, you can easy lift and transfer the whole pizza onto a chopping board, cut and then serve!

8. Lightly flour a clean work surface (not too much or the dough might become too dry). Place the dough onto the work surface. Flatten it with the palm of your hand. Using a rolling pin (or a long and circular bottle), roll it out large enough to fit your pan. Tip: Our baking tray was 13×10″ and we wouldn’t recommend rolling it any larger/thinner than that! Carefully roll the dough onto the rolling pin and transfer it onto the baking tray. Unroll and shape the dough to fit your tray.

9. We opted for a ‘rawish’ pizza (meaning we baked the crust first and then topped it afterwards)! As this was the case, our dough only took 15 mins to bake (in a fan-assisted oven/middle shelf) until it was lightly tanned and slightly crispy around the edges. If you are baking it with toppings, it might take a bit longer.

10. Lift and transfer the pizza onto a chopping board; slice from the centre outwards and serve!

Enjoy!

Tip: Refrigerate any leftover pizza in an air-tight and resealable container; consume within 3 days. Alternatively, wrap, store and freeze; defrost, reheat and consume within 1 month. 

 

 

Recipe updated: 19/02/16

Basil & Walnut Pesto [Vegan]

Healthy Recipes

Yields: about 160ml
Serves: 8
Prep & Assembly: ≤10 mins
Type: Sauce, Dip, Spread
Tools: Colander, chopping board, sharp knife, grater, manual juicer (*optional) food processor, silicone spatula, resealable container

Notes

Pesto is another simple, go-to sauce that everyone can make at home! Don’t be put off by foodie’s dos and don’ts; it can suit ANY budget and/or palate. In fact we’d be very surprised if everyone loved our combination of pesto flavours! Nonetheless, whether you like it extra ‘cheezy’ or zesty, made with fresh basil or rocket, strictly plant-based or not, the choice is yours and the end result will be the same; a delicious and quick sauce that is always bursting with flavour and colour! Quite honestly, the colour is probably half the allure (at least for us)! 

Anything with a shade of green that vibrant surely has to be healthy, right? 

Yes and no. As we’ve previously mentioned, it can be healthful; containing nutrients including: protein, fibre, vitamins C & E, calcium, iron and a good source ‘good fats’ (mono and polyunsaturated!). However, by nature pesto recipes are also high in calories (particularly fat) and/or salt; especially if you make it using a higher ratio of cheese. So it’s not something we have very often, or in any great quantity, but that only makes it all the more special when we do decide to whip some up! 🙂

We have explored using different nuts and/or herbs or flavours; traditional pesto uses pine nuts, but generally almonds, walnuts and/or sunflower seeds suit our budget. If you have never tried it with nutritional yeast, we highly recommend it; it has as a lovely nutty and ‘cheezy’ element that help give your plant-based pesto a more true and authentic taste. We’re not food snobs, but we can offer one piece of advice to make sure that you have a great pesto experience- use fresh ingredients! Stale nuts and ten day old store-bought basil will not do, but those who love pesto are probably already aware of this! 

If you’re a pesto fiend, you might remember some of our other pesto’s we have tried: olive-based, zesty spinach and some adapted avocado and asparagus-based versions too!

Whatever flavour you chose, the process is always easy (well, mosty!)…

Especially if you utilise a quick and modern method like we have; food processors can save you a lot of time! If you do not have one, you can always apply oodles of cooking enthusiasm and try grinding up a batch in a pestle and mortar, or place all of the ingredients into an appropriate dish/cup and blend it with a stick blender instead. If you do plan on using a pestle and mortar, the oil should probably be the last ingredient that you add (otherwise things might get a bit messy)! 

We hope you that enjoy this batch as much as the others. We think it’s the perfect accompaniment to: a delicious pasta dish, as a tasty sandwich spread, thinly spread over a pizza base or dolloped on top of your pizza, drizzled over some steamed new potatoes or asparagus, or as tasty summer dip (but enjoy it mindfully of course!). 

Have a great weekend and happy cooking everyone! 🙂

 

Oh, if anyone has a minute to spare… it would be greatly appreciated if you could please check out this link! It’s a petition for a BBC ethical cooking show! It would the first of its kind; the idea is actually pretty exciting. It would be nice to tune into a Saturday cooking show that wasn’t about braising beef and sautéing vegetables in a half a block of butter… but one (as the campaign director Bridget Irving states) “that reflects the diversity of the UK” – where it can cater to the ever growing number of f/t vegans and over a million dedicated vegetarians! Hopefully it will gain enough signatures and interest and come to fruition. 

Ingredients

++++++++½                  Lemon (1 tsp zest & 15-30ml lemon juice)
++++++++2                   Garlic Clove (fat ones!)
++++++++80g              Fresh Basil
++++++++60ml            Extra Virgin Olive Oil
++++++++30g              Walnut pieces
++++++++¼ tsp            Asafoetida
++++++++                     Pinch of Salt & Ground Black pepper
++++++++2-2½ tbsp   Nutritional Yeast Flakes

Need an easy-print recipe? Print here. 🙂

 

Directions

1. Wash the lemon, grate 1 tsp of zest (or more if preferred) and then juice half of it. Tip: Store the other half of the lemon in your fridge; add a wedge of it into your morning tea, or squeeze some juice over a fresh salad or pasta dish! Peel the garlic. Wash the basil; remove the leaves from its stems.

2. Place the lemon zest and 1 tbsp of juice into a food processor. With the food processor running, drop the garlic down the pouring spout. Blend until it’s blitzed.

3. Add 4 tbsp oil, 30g walnuts and ¼ tsp asafoetida. Season the mixture with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper to taste. Blend until the nuts are smoothish and creamy. Use a spatula to scrape the mixture off the sides and the lid, back down into the base. Add 2-2½ tbsp nutritional yeast (depending on your preference). Mix until combined. Tip: The mixture will still not be completely smooth, but this is OK.

4. Add the basil. Blend until completely processed. Taste and season as necessary; add more lemon juice, yeast, salt and/or seasonings if preferred. Tip: If you would like a slightly thinner consistency, add a little water (1 tbsp of water at a time) until your desired consistency is achieved.

Enjoy!

Tip: Refrigerate any leftover pesto in an air-tight and resealable container; consume within 3-4 days. Alternatively freeze in a container or ration and then freeze it in smaller portions; use several (small) resealable containers, baggies or an ice cube tray for easy pesto and cooking convenience!


 

Savoury Flat Bread [Vegan, Gluten Free, Yeast Free]

Healthy Recipes

Serves: 7
Yields: 14 small flat breads
Prep & Cooking Time: 65-75 mins
Type: Side Dish
Tools: Chopping board, sharp knife, manual grater, non-stick frying (or griddle) pan, large frying spatula, mixing bowl, silicone spatula, kitchen film, small dish, rolling pin, pastry brush (*optional), kitchen paper, large plate (for serving)

Notes: This recipe contains: B-Vitamins, Vitamin C, carbohydrates, protein, fibre, calcium, iron, no added sugars and per serving is low in salt and fats! 

This bread is ideal for those that want something to accompany their soups & stews or to serve alongside their homemade curries or chilli!  You can also try preparing them in slightly bigger portions and use as a tasty wrap instead!  

Try experimenting to find your perfect combination of flavours:
-Alter the spices and herbs
-Use red onion, leeks, fennel, cooked sweet potato or squash instead of spring onion

Happy cooking everyone! 🙂

Quick Foodie Facts & Tips:

  • The xanthan gum helps provide a stable and flexible texture to this bread.
  • These breads are soooo tasty! If you want leftovers, we recommend that you do not place them all onto the table at once!
Ingredients

+++++++++++++++++++++++++100g       Spring Onion
+++++++++++++++++++++++++40g         Ginger Root
+++++++++++++++++++++++++4g            Garlic Clove (1 fat one!)
+++++++++++++++++++++++++12g           Fresh Coriander
+++++++++++++++++++++++++                Low-Fat Cooking Oil
+++++++++++++++++++++++++250ml     Boiling Water
+++++++++++++++++++++++++220g        Plain GF Flour(+ 70g for rolling out the breads)
+++++++++++++++++++++++++1g              Xanthan Gum
+++++++++++++++++++++++++1g              Ground Coriander
+++++++++++++++++++++++++                 Salt & Ground Black Pepper
+++++++++++++++++++++++++24g           DF Margarine (low-fat)

Need an easy-print recipe? Print here. 🙂

 

Nutritional Content

 

Directions

1. Wash, trim the ends and then finely slice the spring onion. Wash, peel and grate the ginger. Peel and finely grate the garlic. Wash and dry the coriander; remove its leaves from its stem and roughly chop them.

2. Meanwhile, heat a non-stick frying (or griddle) pan over a medium-low heat. Spray it some low-fat cooking oil. Add the onion, ginger and garlic. Gently fry for 1-2 mins or until softened.

3. In the meantime, boil 250ml water in a kettle.

4. Place 220g flour, about ½ tsp xanthan gum and about ½ tbsp ground coriander into a large mixing bowl. Season it with some salt and a few grinds of black pepper to taste. Stir to combine. Add the onion mixture and fresh coriander. Stir to combine. Add the water. Stir with a silicone spatula or spoon. Mix together. Tip: The mixture will be a bit ‘tacky’; lightly flour your hands if needed.

5. Place the mixture onto the centre of some kitchen film. Wrap tightly and form a ball. Leave to rest for 30 mins. NB: We dumped the dough straight out of the bowl onto one large piece of film.

6. In the meantime, melt the margarine in a microwave or on your stove top in a small/non-stick pot. Tip: Make sure your margarine is thoroughly melted; a thinner consistency will go further and will be easier to use! Lightly flour a clean work surface.

7. Heat a non-stick frying (or griddle) pan over a medium-high heat.

8. Place the dough onto the floured surface. Divide it into about fourteen ‘balls’. Roll them out into thin ‘discs’ (make them round, oval, square- whatever you fancy!). Use some of the melted margarine to coat the ‘top sides’ of the ‘discs’. Tip: We used a silicone pastry brush for this step, but you can use the back of a spoon instead! 

9. Place some of the discs (margarine side down) into the hot pan. Gently apply and spread some more margarine onto the top surface of each disc as it cooks. Tip: If you’re using a griddle pan, you can gently press down on top of the bread as it cooks to lightly singe the other side. Cook for 2 mins and then flip them over. Tip: The top surface of the breads will slightly inflate and/or bubble, a bit like a pancake as they cook; this is the time to flip them! Cook the other side for about 2 mins or until lightly browned. Remove and transfer them onto a plate lined with kitchen paper. NB: If preferred, keep them warm with a little kitchen foil or place into a gently heated oven.

10. Serve warm with soup or whatever takes your fancy and enjoy!

Tip: For ideal freshness, place the breads into an air-tight and resealable container; consume within 2 days. Alternatively, individually wrap them in kitchen film and place them into an air-tight and resealable container and freeze; defrost, reheat and consume within 1-2 months.

 

 

 

We served ours with a quick and basic homemade broccoli soup!  If you want the soup recipe, just ask- it was delicious!

 

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