Vegan food and thoughts
Vegan food and thoughts
Basil pesto is easy to make, uses only basic ingredients and turns it into a versatile addition to many dishes. And over here we are keeping it oil free and vegan. In this version I added firm tofu to bring you Basil and Tofu Pesto. Tofu adds bulk and also protein, and it’s just a different way to incorporate tofu into your meals. I also chose firm tofu for this recipe so that it remains more of a paste than a sauce which a silken tofu will provide. (If you want to create a pasta sauce, this is a great option).
To make the pesto, I used a blender, but a food processor would probably be even easier. I used my Omniblend and found it easy to make and only had to open and scrape the sides a few times. In this recipe, I waited to add the sunflower seeds until the very end, because then they don’t blend too well and form a paste. We want to keep it somewhat intact for the texture. And keep in mind, as with all recipes, these are only guides. Feel free to adjust the measurements of ingredients to suit your palate and taste better. Add more lemon for a more lemony pesto, more salt, more garlic, more sunflower seeds, and make it just the way you like it.
This recipe yields about a cup of basil and tofu pesto and is great with pasta dishes or as a dip or on top of soups or any Italian inspired dish!
They say that pesto is the besto, especially when it is vegan and oil free. So here is a wonderfully easy recipe for a basil and tofu pesto that is packed with flavour and protein to add to any dish you want!
- 200 g firm tofu, drained
- 80 g or 2 cups fresh basil leaves
- 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
- 3 cloves garlic
- 3 Tbsp sunflower seeds
- juice of 1 lemon
- salt and pepper to taste
Place the tofu, basil, nutritional yeast, garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper into a blender or food processor and pulse until you get a consistency that is slightly smooth.
Then add the sunflower seeds and pulse again until the seeds are blended into smaller bits.
Adjust the taste with lemon juice, salt and pepper.
I wanted to make something along the lines of mac and cheese: macaroni, a nutty sauce and tomatoes, but it turned out even better! I used four large red bell peppers to make the bulk of the sauce, and together with the tomatoes and basil, it is a flavour powerhouse! This red pepper pasta bake is perfect for a cold night in, or to take to a large family gathering. The left overs make for a great work lunch too!
This dish takes little effort and few ingredients. I chose to go with a whole wheat macaroni pasta, but I am sure corn or legume pasta would work just as well. I love the taste of peppers, and roasted is even better as it brings out their sweetness and makes to sauce rich in flavour. You can use pre-roasted peppers if it’s easier for you, just make sure that it isn’t packaged in liquid containing oil.
The final sauce is creamy and coral in colour. The nutritional yeast adds a nuttiness to the dish that you would expect from a mac and cheese. To up the fibre and nutrients even more, I added black beans to this dish, and as weird as that may sound, it works SO well. Trust me and try it.
In the end you are left with a crispy topped red pepper pasta bake that makes for the perfect comfort food. Serve with a green salad and you are good to go!
This red pepper pasta bake is the perfect comfort food that is nutritious, vegan and oil free. You can easily make it gluten free too! Think sweet pepper, tomato and basil, and a crispy baked top,
- 4 large red peppers
- 500 mL plant based milk (without oil)
- 2 Tbsp all purpose flour (or 1 large cooked mashed potato)
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 2 + 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
- 400 g cherry tomatoes, halved
- 500 g whole wheat macaroni pasta
- 400 g black beans
- fresh basil
- salt and pepper
Prepare by pre-heating the oven to 220°C and roasting the peppers for about 15-20 minutes until the skin is black and blistered. Then half the cherry tomatoes and chop the fresh basil.
Remove the peppers from the oven and peel the charred skin. Place the peppers in a bowl and blend them with a stick blender until smooth. Turn the oven down to 200°C.
Now that everything is prepared, cook the whole wheat pasta as per packet instructions. Once cooked, drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, in a separate pan, cook the tomatoes down and let the excess water evaporate. Set aside.
In a medium sized pot, slowly heat the plant based milk and add the flour or mashed potato. Do not boil. Whisk the mixture continuously until a thicker consistency is achieved. Add the blended peppers to the same pot and heat thoroughly without boiling. Add the garlic powder, 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast, and salt and pepper to taste.
Add the cooked macaroni to the sauce together with the fresh basil, black beans and about two thirds of the tomatoes and stir until the macaroni is completely covered in the sauce.
Transfer the pasta and sauce to an oven dish. Cover the pasta with the remaining tomatoes and sprinkle more black pepper over the top. Bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes until the top is crispy.
Sprinkle more fresh basil and the remaining nutritional yeast over the pasta once it comes out of the oven and serve!
Italian quiches. Crustless… Italian quiches. Can it even be a quiche without the crust? Yes. I’ve always found the crust on a quiche to be so dry that it’s difficult to swallow. So I made these quiches sans the crust and they are fricken amazing! Plus they are super healthy and only made from plant foods.
These quiches are made with chickpea flour. The chickpea flour acts as a great binder, so you can substitute or add whichever vegetables you would like to these. I chose to make them Italian inspired, because I was in the mood for salty olives, tangy sundried tomatoes and fresh basil. Flavouring the chickpea ‘batter’ with salt, herbs and nutritional yeast is also important as it delivers almost a cheesy flavour you would expect from a quiche. And I like to be generous with the fresh basil and pepper in these babies.
Having one or two of these mini crustless Italian quiches as snack is great for curbing a hunger between meals, or for when you need a grab-and-go style item. As for using them as a main dish, I would serve it with a large salad. These quiches can easily be brought to a party as well and served along with other finger food as they keep very well. For storage, they just go in the fridge or freezer, and reheat them in the oven or microwave before eating.
These Mini Crustless Italian Quiches are naturally gluten free and made from chickpea flour. They are packed with the delicious flavours of olives, mushrooms, sundried tomatoes and basil. Perfect for a snack, as a meal with a salad, or to bring to a party.
- 1/2 onion, diced
- 1 garlic clove, diced
- 250 g mushrooms, diced
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 1/2 cups chickpea flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 2/3 cups water
- 1 handful fresh basil, thinly sliced
- 1/3 cup kalamata olives, pitted and diced
- 1/3 cup sundried tomatoes, diced
Pre-heat the oven to 200 °C. Dice and prepare all the ingredients.
In a non stick pan, fry the onions until translucent. Then add the mushrooms and cook until all the water has evaporated. Then add the soy sauce, cook until no liquid remains in the pan. Remove the pan from the heat.
Mix the chickpea flour, salt, pepper, nutritional yeast and dried oregano together in a bowl. Add the water and mix until all the lumps are gone. Then add the basil to the mixture. The mixture should be very runny.
Spray the muffin tin with a non stick spray, or use a silicone muffin tray. Scoop 1/4 cup of the wet mixture into each of the muffin wells and then add the mushrooms, olives and sundried tomatoes to each well. I like to do each filling individually so I know they are evenly distributed between all the quiches.
Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes. Allow them to cool in the muffin trays for about 5 to 10 minutes before taking them out to cool completely on a cooling rack, otherwise they will sweat.