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Spaghetti with stinging-nettle pesto

  • Feb. 10th, 2009 at 11:38 AM
(serves four)
Tags: vegan, seasonal, farmers market, iron

* Apologies for posting this out of season. Stinging nettles are good in early to mid-spring, I think. If you know when the correct season is, please leave a comment.

One bunch stinging nettles
One onion, finely diced
Two or three cloves of garlic, crushed or minced
Olive oil
Parmesan or pecorino romano, grated

Stinging nettles are available from farmers markets in season. If you're gathering these yourself, make sure they come from an area that has not been sprayed, and use the young new growth.

Wash one bunch of stinging nettles (wear gloves), then steam them lightly. Cooking takes the 'sting' out, so you can handle these without fear now!

Start to cook spaghetti in plenty of salted boiling water, according to packet instructions (usually around eight to 10 minutes). When you drain the pasta, reserve a little of the cooking water.

Puree nettles in a blender or food processor. Meanwhile, saute diced onions in olive oil over a very low heat until transparent (about 10 minutes), without allowing them to brown. Add garlic and cook for another two minutes. Stir through nettle puree, and season to taste (although keep in mind that the pasta water and the cheese will add salt).

Toss pesto through spaghetti, adding reserved cooking water to moisten. You can also dress with some extra-virgin olive oil or lemon juice at this stage if you like. Serve with grated parmesan or pecorino romano.

Chickpea and Parsnip Puree

  • Jan. 26th, 2009 at 11:09 PM
1 x 400g can chickpeas
1 cup of stock
1 large parsnip cut into pieces and roasted with olive oil
4 tbsp olive oil
½ large red onion finely chopped
1 ½ rounded teaspoons cumin seeds roughly ground
3 garlic cloves
30 threads saffron infused in 2 tbsp hot water
2 tbsp roughly chopped parsley
salt & pepper

Cook the chickpeas in the stock until soft. Blend with parsnip pieces. Add water if necessary to get the texture like mashed potato.

Saute onion, garlic and cumin in olive oil for a minute. Add chickpeas, parsnips and saffron water to the saucepan. Heat gently for five minutes, stirring.

Serve with parsley, salt and pepper to taste. Serves 3 fatties, 4 normals.

This is unbelievably delicious and good for you too. 1 cup has 9g protein and 8.5g fibre plus buckets of vitamins. Next time I'll make it with two cans of chickpeas and two parsnips in order to have left-overs.

Azuki Beans

  • Jan. 16th, 2009 at 12:08 AM
Gluten Free and Vegan Stew of Yum

I was told about adzuki beans by my naturopath and dutifully bought a bag which then ended up in the cupboard for yonks til my vegan friend visited for a week and I felt the need to get creative and utilise what was in the cupboard.

Azuki beans are the second most popular bean in Japan, second only to the soy bean. Think about the hotness and health of the Japanese population! The are often used in sweet red bean paste, and the nice lady at the organic vegie place at the market told me the other day that she grinds azuki beans up with a mortar and pestle to make an amazing face scrub. Just add water and that stuff will give you a whole load of pretty.

Aside from that, they're totally delicious, look a little like a mini me version of the kidney bean, and go a long way.

My quantities aren't the most accurate, I just grabbed stuff I had lying around and went nuts. The review was "welcome to yum town, population THIS STEW".

1 cup of azuki beans, soaked for a couple of days in water, rinsed out a couple of times.
vegie stock, hot like your momma
1 clove garlic, minced
Herbs from the garden - I grabbed chives, rosemary and flat parsley
1 leek, chopped finely (I used the white part)
a couple of mushrooms, chopped into wee pieces
1 zucchini, diced
1 carrot, diced
small red or orange capsicum, diced
a medium sized piece of smoked tofu, diced
a big fistful of baby spinach, added at the end for the last few minutes.

I don't generally cook with oil that I heat up during the cooking process because of the poison, but it's nice to add a smidge of a nice oil as a dressing at the end, just before eating. Brazil nut oil is lovely.

Cook up the leek and garlic in a bit of the vegie stock until they're soft and ready to roll. Add a big splosh of stock, the herbs, the smoked tofu and the beans and let them hang out in the frying pan for a while, get to know each other. Mingle.

When they seem ready to go steady, add the vegie parts and enough stock so it's moist and squishy, but not too much that you need to supply floatation devices.

Add more stock as needed, cook everything on an enthusiastic simmer til the beans are good for the eating.

Chuck in your spinach, well washed, let it wilt a bit and then HEY PRESTO, it's nummy time!

Get down on that action. Hell yeah.


It's pretty good the next day too, hot or cold.
I invented these on Christmas morning after patchworkkid and I realised we'd forgotten to get breakfast food in the enormous Christmas shop we'd done. They're not particularly difficult, or even that original, but the ingredients just seem to work a special alchemy together. I tested it with a little embellishing, on our New Year's Morning guests, and it was met with a hearty NOM, so I thought I'd share!

You'll need:

SR Flour (can use gluten-free, which was what I used for the original mix)
Eggs (4 eggs makes about 6-7 pancakes)

Half a papaya. You can also add mango for extra goodness.:)

2 limes and a bottle of that Berri lime juice, of which you'll probably use half. Which is what I used. Of course you can just use lots of limes instead.:)
Brown sugar.
The "embellished" version also had a splash of benedictine, a sprinkle of ground cinnamon, and a splash of honey mead liqueur. All this is of course optional, but man was it tasty. The small amount of cinnamon was a winner, and I'm sure you could use any sweet liqueur so log as it "goes" with the other ingredients. The alcohol gets cooked out if you cook it straight, which is what I did, but you could add it at the end to preserve the small quantity of alcohol if you like.

Cream. Optional.

To make about 6 pancakes, break four whole eggs into a mixing bowl, add a quantity of SR flour. I just do this by guesswork, so I can't give you exact measurements, but I'm guessing most of you already know ow to make pancakes. I add enough flour that it mixes into the eggs, but needs milk to make a flowing pancake mix. Does that make sense? If you've never made pancakes before I'd suggest google for a more accurate recipe.:)

Squeeze limes and tip juice and the small amount of juice cells into a smallish saucepan. You probably want about 125ml of juice. Again, I kind of imagined how much juice I wanted to make, and put that much lime juice into the pan. Because the other ingredients don't bulk it up that much. Empty about 1/2 cup of brown sugar into the saucepan. Turn the heat up to high, and stir occasionally, turning the heat down once it starts to bubble, and just let it sit on a low heat, staying warm. Add embellishments if you want them.:) Taste. It'll probably seem very tart. Remember that it'll be mixed in with everything else and the tartness with dissipate slightly, but if you *hate* tart food, add more sugar.:)

Dice up your papaya/mango/decadent tropical fruit filling. Strawberries would work, too.

When you have diced papaya, a stack of warm pancakes, and a saucepan full of warm sauce, spoon a generous line of papaya onto a pancake. Then spoon the sauce over the top; enough to add taste, but don't swamp it. 2-3 soup-spoonfuls is usually enough. Fold pancake around the filling, hold in place with a toothpick if need be. Serve with a dollop of cream if you like, although I prefer it without. We didn't have any Weis mango ice-cream left in the house when I thought of it, but the idea made my mouth water.:)

Apologies for this being a little ad-hoc; I don't follow recipes that much, and do tend to cook rather instinctively, so I don't usually remember amounts, etc. The good thing about this is that it's more a "serving suggestion", and is very customiseable. Enjoy!

Quinoa with roast pumpkin and cauliflower

  • Jul. 30th, 2008 at 1:12 PM
1 cup quinoa
1/4 cauliflower
Decent-sized chunk of pumpkin - choose a good grey- or blue-skinned variety with dry flesh if possible (these roast better and get all nice and caramelly rather than collapsing)
Three or four cloves of common garlic, or one clove of giant Russian garlic
Parsley and mint, to taste
Dried currants
Juice of half a lemon
Olive oil

Chop unpeeled pumpkin into chunks, drizzle with olive oil, liberally season with salt and pepper then roast in a really hot oven. You may wish to roast the garlic instead of frying it, in which case don't peel it - just add it to the roasting pan (when you put the pumpkin in if it's giant garlic; wait a while if using the conventional sort). Roast for about 30-45 minutes, checking and turning regularly.

If you're frying rather than roasting the garlic, mince or chop it finely and cook it gently in olive oil - don't let it brown and turn bitter. Turn off heat.

When the pumpkin has about 20 minutes still to go, cut cauliflower into pieces (don't discard the stem, it's the best bit - just peel it if the skin is a bit tough) and steam lightly until it's done to your liking. When it's cooked, toss the cauliflower in with the pumpkin and turn the oven right down.

If you're using currants (just a handful), you can add a little boiling water or stock to plump them up, but it's not essential. Probably best to do this if you're using sultanas or raisins though. You can substitute pine nuts if you like (or use both) - be sure to toast them lightly.

Meanwhile, rinse quinoa and boil until it's cooked but still firm to the bite - between 12 and 18 minutes. (I'd recommend following packet instructions if you have them but keep checking it - don't let it get overcooked and mushy.) Drain and add to garlic (if you're roasting the garlic, peel and mash it), lemon juice, parsley, mint and currants. Stir, add pumpkin and cauliflower, and fold them through through gently.


Chilli beans

  • Jul. 17th, 2008 at 12:48 PM
Here's a recipie for vegetarian chilli beans, to keep you warm during winter.


1 400g tin of red kidney beans, drained
1 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
2 medium zucchini, diced
1 large brown onion, diced
2 tsp dried chilli flakes
2 tsp ground cummin
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Oil for frying


Fry the onions in a bit of oil until they begin to caramelise, then add the zucchini. Once the zucchini begins to soften, add the beans, tomatoes and spices.

Cover and simmer for at least 15min to let the flavours develop. You can serve this immediately, or put it in the fridge overnight to let the chilli permeate through the beans. It makes a good microwave lunch* if you have anything left after dinner.

Makes enough for 5-6 tortillas (serve with cheese, lettuce and tomato). Alternatively, try it on a stack of cornchips with sour cream and guacamole. Yum :)

* Note to self: cook a second batch to ensure there are leftovers next time.


Chickpea soup recipe

  • Jul. 14th, 2008 at 12:58 PM
Chickpea soup with onion, green chilli and tomato

2 lge white onions, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 long green chilli, seeds removed, finely chopped
3 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp smoked sweet paprika
4x 400g cans chickpeas, rinsed, drained
3x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
5 cups vegetable stock

1. Heat oil and add onion and cook for 5 mins. Add garlic, chilli and spices
and cook for 1 min.
2. Add stock, tomatoes and chickpeas. Bring to boil then reduce heat and
simmer, partially covered, for 25 min. cool slightly.
3. Transfer half the soup to blender and puree until smooth. Return to pan
and heat. Serve with a squeeze of lime juice.

Goes really well with crusty bread on a cold winters' day.

Long time reader, first time poster :P

  • Jul. 9th, 2008 at 6:08 PM
My current favourite winter dish is my vegetarian bastardisation of Moroccan harira soup.

1 brown onion, diced
2 larger cloves of garlic, crushed & diced
2 large celery stalks, chopped
1 bunch of spinach, rinsed, destalked and roughly chopped
200gs chickpeas [soak overnight if dry, overwise drain]
1/2 to 1 cup red lentils
400g tin diced tomatoes [or 4-5 large ones but I tend to have a bulk of tins]
1 & 1/2 teaspoon fresh coriander
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
handful fresh chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 & 1/2 litres vegetable stock [i've used home-made stock, Campbell's liquid and the Massel powder/cubes and all work well]
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Salt & cracked pepper to taste

Saute onions in olive oil over low heat until onions are soft. Add garlic and celery, stir in, add tomato and coriander, turn heat up a little and cook until tomato thickens/boils down to more of a paste, add salt at your discretion.
Add stock, tumeric, cinnamon, paprika and chickpeas. Bring to boil stirring occasionally, add lentils.
Simmer over low heat for about 1/2 hour, stirring occasionally, wash and de-stalk spinach, add the leave with the parsley and lemon juice, simmer for another 10 minutes, serve.

Filling without being heavy.

Personal preference: I tend to add a fair bit of [iodised] salt during the tomato bit, and a little more lemon juice and coriander, but I would suggest taste testing as you go [it seems fairly obvious but i've run across a lot of people who don't bother to until a dish is cooked, so I tend to add it anyway].

Hope you enjoy. :)

Chick pea pancakes with curried mashed potato

  • May. 19th, 2008 at 10:26 PM
For a while now I've had chick pea flour (often called, besan or gram flour) in my cupboard, without any notion of how to cook it. The nutritional profile is astounding: 1 cup chickpea flour has 356 calories, 20g protein, 53g carbohydrate (10g fibre) and 6g fat 70% of your RDI of folate, 40% phosphorus, 31% iron, 25% magnesium, 20% zinc, 17% thiamin, 17% B-6, 9% Riboflavin, 8% calcium, 7% vitamin E

So, tonight I popped my gram cherry.:)

We have a fridge full of odds and ends. Using a bit of carrot, the last of the frozen peas and potatoes made a cheap, delicious dinner.

Chick pea pancakes with curried mashed potato

Curried mashed potato

3 large potatoes washed and roughly chopped
1 onion finely chopped
1 chilli
1 tsp black mustard seeds
2 cloves minced garlic
1 tbsp grated ginger
1/2 carrot finely chopped
1/2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp corriander powder
1 cup frozen peas
3 tbsp coconut cream
3 tbsp milk
Grated cheese to sprinkle over top (optional)
Oil & butter for cooking (or ghee)

Boil potatoes with some salt. Meanwhile, cook the onion and carrot for at least ten minutes over medium heat with ghee. Then add chilli, and mustard seeds and stir until they pop (about 1 min). Add ginger, garlic, cumin, coriander, paprika, garam masala and stir to release flavour. Add peas and fry gently until peas and carrots are cooked. Drain potatoes. Mash potatoes with milk and coconut milk. Add curried veges to mashed potato and stir well. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside

Chickpea pancakes

1/2 cup besan (chickpea flour)
3 tbs. chapati flour (or substitute all-purpose wheat flour)
pinch turmeric powder
1/2 tsp. minced ginger (or a pinch of ginger powder if fresh ginger is unavailable)
1/3 tsp. cumin powder
1/4 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. salt
1 to 1 1/2 cup water
1 tbs. sesame seeds
A few pieces minced cilantro
ghee or oil for frying

Mix dry ingredients with a whisk to remove lumps. Add enough water to make a medium-thick batter (not stiff, not runny). (The amount of water that you will need depends on the flours that you are using.) Add all remaining ingredients except ghee or oil and mix well. Let stand for about 15 minutes.

Heat a small amount of ghee or oil in a nonstick crepe pan (or a pan with low sides). When the pan is hot, in about 1/3 cup of batter. Rotate the pan so that the batter spreads out. Cook for a few minutes before turning to cook on the other side. link

Add sprinkled cheese to pancake as it's cooking on its final side. Add dollops of mashed potato curry into the centre. Heat through and serve by folding over the pancake wings over the mash like a blintz. Drizzle with coriander chutney & tomato chutney.

Review: I didn't have any sesame seeds, turmeric or coriander. I also added twice the recommended salt (1/2 tsp to the pancake batter), but the final result was yum anyway. Next time I'll make more of the pancake batter because they were gobbled up so fast.

I made the pancakes again for lunch today, but this time with 1 tsp baking powder whisked in. The result were a fabulous, fluffy instant Indian bread. Mmmm.

Fried chickpea flour is a particularly authentic flavour that I've never re-created at home before, so I'm very excited. :)

Pumpkin & Almond Curry

  • May. 6th, 2008 at 8:16 PM
As winter creeps in the pumpkins are ripe and ready for holiday-spice curry-making. I made this with cinnamon & cloves tonight and got many thumbs up from the hubby. :)

The roast pumpkin becomes deliciously sweet, so works well combined with banana sambal and mango chutney.

Pumpkin & Almond Curry

2 cups brown rice (serves 4)
1/4 large pumpkin
Start by cooking rice with 2.5 cups water. Chop pumpkin into wedges and cover with olive oil. Put in the oven on medium-high heat. Turn after 1/2 hour. Rice & pumpkin will both take about 50 mins to cook.
1 tbsp butter & 1 tbsp olive oil (or 2 tbsp ghee)
1 medium onion chopped finely
Now fry ingredients above on medium heat for five minutes
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp black onion seeds (kalonji)
1 tsp dried red chilli flakes (or fresh chilli)
Add ingredients above to pot and fry for further five minutes
1.5 tbsp minced ginger
2 cloves minced garlic
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp garam masala
Add spices to pot and fry for another 2 minutes. You can substitute a commercial curry powder if you don't have these individually.
1 cup rinsed red lentils
1/2 cup roughly shaved/cut almonds (perhaps slivered would do? Cutting regular almonds isn't as painful as I had expected)
1/2 carrot finely diced
1 stick cinnamon
4 cloves
5 bruised cardamon pods
Handful of desecrated coconut (or add 2 tbsp coconut milk at the end of cooking)
3 cups water
1/2 tsp salt
Add above ingredients to pot. Bring to boiling and then reduce to simmer. Add more water as needed. When lentils are soft (roughly same time as pumpkin is roasted) discard cinnamon stick and add pumpkin (skin removed) mixing well. Add salt & pepper to taste.

Sri Lankan Banana sambal

My grandma used to make this side-dish when I was growing up. It is good enough to eat on its own!
1 banana sliced
3 tbsp desecrated coconut
Lime or lemon juice to taste
Chopped fresh coriander leaves.
Combine ingredients in a small bowl.

1/2 tsp grated ginger
1/2 tsp minced garlic
300ml plain yoghurt
Juice from 1/2 a lime or lemon
Salt to taste
Chopped fresh coriander leaves
Combine ingredients in a small bowl

Serve curry with brown rice, banana sambal, yogurt and mango chutney