Grilled Polenta Cakes with Ratatouille

Today’s recipe comes to you courtesy of my little pocket of backlog posts that I haven’t gotten around to posting yet.

Luckily, it still fits with my theme of local produce, as the capsicums and zucchini I used were sourced from the local market in Gympie, as was the basil. The tomatoes could maybe be included – they were locally sourced from a bin at the Gympie Muster site. Well, they weren’t yet in the bin, but they were left in boxes by a bin. I can’t verify their location before that, but we saved them from a sad fate of decomposing at a rubbish dump.

I really love polenta, it’s so creamy and versatile. I find it to be filling, without being too heavy either. I haven’t had it in ages, and just got a hankering for it, so I whipped this baby up. We had enough to feed us a few times over too, so we happily munched on leftovers the next day.

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Grilled Polenta Cakes with Ratatouille
(serves about 6)

Polenta

1 ½ cups polenta
4 cups water
1 veg stock cube
1 tsp dried thyme
2 Tbsp fresh basil, torn
2 Tbsp olive oil (I used basil infused) (or non-dairy spread) + 1 Tbsp extra for grilling
¼ cup nutritional yeast flakes
¼ cup non-dairy milk (optional extra creaminess – may need more water in the beginning though if not using)
Salt and pepper to taste

Bring water and stock cube to a boil in a medium to large pot. Once boiling, slowly pour in the polenta, whisking as you go. Whisk continuously for a couple of minutes until the polenta starts to thicken and bubble. Be very careful as one has been known to be burnt by spitting polenta.

At this stage you may like to change to a wooden spoon or spatula. Turn the polenta down to low and continue stirring, making sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom.

Add thyme, basil, oil, yeast flakes and non dairy milk and stir to combine. Continue to stir for about ten minutes. The polenta should be becoming less grainy, and firm enough that it comes away from the edges of the pot when you stir it. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Turn off heat and spread polenta into a greased or lined 11×7 inch (28x17cm) baking pan and put in the fridge to set.

Once firm, cut polenta into pieces. Brush a cast iron grill skillet with oil and heat over medium-high heat. You can do this on a barbecue grill, or simply shallow fry it in a pan if you’d prefer…I’m simply utilising what I’ve got. Cook cakes until a bit golden, and charred grill lines appear. Flip and do the other side. Serve with ratatouille (recipe below).

Ratatouille

1 medium eggplant, diced 1 Tbsp oil
1 large onion, chopped 3 cloves garlic, minced 1 red capsicum, diced
1 green capsicum, diced
1 medium zucchini, diced
6 tomatoes, diced
¼ cup basil, roughly torn
1 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil over medium heat in a large pan. Add the onions and saute for about 5 minutes, until tender. Add garlic and thyme and saute for another minute, until fragrant.

Add the eggplant and saute for about five minutes, until it is beginning to feel tender.

Add the capsicum and zucchini and saute for another minute, before adding tomatoes and basil. Stir to combine, then reduce heat to medium-low and allow to simmer for about ten minutes, stirring occasionally. You want the tomatoes to break down a bit, and all the veggies to be nice and tender.

Add lemon juice and stir through, season to taste.

Serve warm over grilled polenta (or whatever you want! – Stir through pasta, eat on top of quinoa, top a leafy salad with it…anything goes).

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veganmofo

Backloggin’: Zucchini Fritters

I can foresee the next couple of days being much like today. As long as I am sick, and I am working all day (while snotting and sweating), I am too tired to come up with the spectacular posts that I obviously would have if I had not been stricken down (lets just go with that…)

So today I’m bringing you more backlogs, this time in the form of a yummy recipe that I got from a lovely blog called Lucy’s Friendly Food.

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Last week my haul of local foods from Gympie included some zucchinis and a bunch of parsley. With no plans as to what I was going to use them for, Lucy’s recipe for zucchini fritters came at the perfect time. This was a really easy dish to make, and ready in minutes. Served with a side salad it makes a really nice meal for a warm night when you don’t want to spend too much time cooking.

Hop over to Lucy’s blog and check out the recipe for these delicious fritters here. I am no food photographer, so her pictures definitely tell a better tale than mine.

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Sickness and Watermelon juice

I have managed to contract a sickness from the boyfriend, which he got from a guy he was working with, who got it from his kid. Sharing is caring huh…

So I’m super scratchy throated and runny and sore nosed and TIRED and the last thing I could think of today was an amazing food post for you all, so I’m going to draw on the little backlog of posts that I have from the last two weeks or so that I haven’t yet had a chance to put up (yes, I came with backup).

Back to Gympie for a moment – while we were there I got a few bunches of mint from the area. One day we had some watermelon that needed to go (seriously, it took up about half of our tiny fridge) so I made this yummy juice to enjoy in the sun. I wish I could teleport to this picture, where I was healthy and had a juice in my hand. Ohh those were the days…

The juice barely warrants a recipe with a mere three ingredients, but hey, I’m gonna give ya one anyway.

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Watermelon and Mint juice
(makes about 3 cups)

4 cups chopped watermelon
1/2 cup (packed) mint
Juice of one lime

Add all ingredients to a blender and blend. Add some ice if you want it a bit on the chilled side. ENJOY!

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veganmofo

Lemony Almond Kale Pesto

I’m back for round two!

I’ve had a long day on my feet working for a jewellery stall in a shopping centre here in Bundaberg, so I’m going to make this a quick post.

In Gympie, I picked up some kale from a fruit and veg market that was according to the dude, grown “literally just down the road” – you can’t get much more local than that without growing it in your own yard (or van? Van garden? Hmm…)

It’s no secret that I love pesto…and garlic, and kale and lemon and almonds and so on. Anyway, I decided to whip up this pesto to stir through some pasta as a quick and easy meal, and we used the leftovers to spread in sandwiches (kale pesto, baby spinach, marinated red capsicum and sundried tomatoes). Yum.

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*note: I made this with raw kale as I enjoy the taste, but if you don’t like the bitterness, it’s a good idea to blanch it first (by dropping it in boiling water until the leaves turn bright green, then transferring to a bowl of ice water). However, if you are going to heat it up (on pasta for example), you will end up losing a lot of the bitterness anyway.

Lemony Almond Kale Pesto
(makes about 2 cups)

1 bunch kale, washed and stems removed (*see note above)
150g raw almonds

2 large cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
3 Tbsp nutritional yeast
3 Tbsp water (plus more if needed)
Salt
Pepper

Add almonds and garlic to a food processor and pulse a few times until roughly chopped.

Roughly chop the kale and add it to the processor along with oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Process until well combined.

Add nutritional yeast and water and process to combine. If necessary, add water 1 Tbsp at a time until desired consistency is reached. Taste for seasoning and adjust if needed.

Use as a dip, spread, sauce, or pretty much whatever you can think of. Sometimes I like to just eat it on my finger.

 

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Raw Choc-Mint Mousse

Happy Vegan MoFo everybody! Wahoo!

This is my first time participating, which is a bit exciting for me. I was umming and ahhing over whether or not I was going to do a theme as I thought posting every day as I travel around might already be quite a challenge, but hey, I love a good challenge – so I’m hitting the ground running and doing a theme.

I’m opting for what I am hoping will be quite a simple one, which is ‘locally sourced’. This means that I will be aiming to use at least one locally sourced (from wherever I am local to at the time) ingredient every day, which as well as a fun theme is a great way to support local farmers and industry. As we are in quite a big veggie growing region at the moment, it shouldn’t be too difficult. And it’s an excuse to visit more farmer’s markets too! I know, tough gig right?

So we’ve moved on from Gympie – we left today and are currently in Bundaberg, as I have picked up a week of work selling jewellery at a stall starting tomorrow. Billy finished up his labour gig yesterday, so it was perfect timing.

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Before we left though, I had a chance to go on a little trip of my own to Eumundi to visit the infamous markets there. Eumundi is about half an hour south of Gympie, and a little closer towards the coast. It’s a really cute, funky little town and it is buzzing on market day.

The markets were awesome – a diverse range of arts, crafts, food, clothing, jewellery, instrument, handmade toys and so on. I had just eaten brekkie before arriving, which was a bit of a bummer as there were a few different vegan options on offer including momos, smoothies, raw sweets and a Hare Krishna café. I just couldn’t justify buying food for my already full tummy.

I did grab some organic veggies though – some local garlic, salad mix and a big bag of avocados. How I love cheap avocados!

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Afterwards, I decided to travel a little further to the coast as it had been a while since I’d seen the ocean. I drove through Noosaville to Sunshine Beach, where I was able to enjoy the last day of winter under the sun (not that Queensland could call this ‘winter’….29 degrees! That’s summer in Tassie!)

Anyway, enough talk, more food!

Last week I made this deliciously creamy mousse with some avocados that I got in Nanango….being well stocked in the avo department I thought it would be a great start to MoFo to share this simple and sweet recipe.

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Raw Choc-Mint Mousse
(serves 2)

2 avocados
3 Tbsp cacao powder
1-1.5 Tbsp stevia or other sweetener (depending on taste)
1/4 cup fresh mint
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp virgin coconut oil

Add all the ingredients to a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Chill in the fridge before serving, and garnish with extra mint leaves.

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That’s it. It is sooo easy and I just can’t get over the creaminess..it’s amazing. It’s also super versatile, as you can easily alter the flavours – I’m thinking Mocha, Raspberry and Jaffa next. Mmm…

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Raw Pad Thai

So I’m thinking about doing Vegan MoFo…is anyone else here signing up?

I’ve been following it for years, but now I’ve got my own blog I think it’s time to  participate. I don’t know how well I’ll do at posting every day, especially once we’re on the move again, but hey – could be fun trying! I’m excited for the interweb being alive with vegan blogging!

Yep, I’m in.

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Now, I just wanted to interrupt my backlog to share this beautiful meal I ate the other night, courtesy of the lovely Sophia at Silk and Spice. Raw Pad Thai had been at the back of my mind for a while, and once I saw the colourful recipe she’d put forth, I knew I had to try it. I managed to snap a picture of it just before sun down (we get terrible light in the van), so it doesn’t quite do the dish as much justice as it deserves, but you can hop over and check out the recipe in all its glory here.

I used coriander instead of chives as I had them on hand, and we squeezed a bit of lime juice on top too, and let me tell you – it was deliciously fresh, crunchy and filling. A winner! Thanks Sophia!

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Raw Pasta with Creamy Garlic Avocado Sauce

I loooove raw pasta. For some reason, it seems so much more filling than just eating the constituents on their own, and it’s definitely way more fun. I whipped this one up the other day and we enjoyed it for lunch on a sunny Queensland winter’s day. It’s really yummy, and soooo easy. Go ahead, try it!

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Raw Pasta with Creamy Garlic Avocado Sauce
(serves 2)

1 large or 2 small zucchinis
2 cloves garlic
2 medium avocados
3 Tbsp basil infused olive oil (plain olive oil will obviously work fine too…I had this on hand and thought it would be tasty – it was!)
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper to taste
Chopped tomato and red onion to top (optional)

Turn zucchini into pasta using whatever method you please…spiralise, veggie peeler, grater, etc and separate into two bowls.

Chuck garlic, avocados, oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper in a food processor and process until smooth and creamy. Taste for seasoning. Add water one tablespoon at a time if you’d like the sauce to be thinner.

That’s it! Easy as that! Divide sauce between the two bowls, top with chopped red onion, tomato and a generous sprinkle of pepper. Enjoy!

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Crunchy Sweet Potato Noodle Salad

This is a recipe that I adapted from a trashy magazine I was reading in the waiting room at the burns unit back in Sydney. We had one of those moments where the planets aligned and we had pretty much every single ingredient we needed on hand, so this was perfect. Billy claimed it was his favourite meal in ages (though he says that quite regularly) and at the shops the other day, he disappeared and came back with a packet of fried noodles…subtle hint.

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Crunchy Sweet Potato Noodle Salad
(Serves 2)

1 large sweet potato, cubed
100g fried noodles
2 Tbsp oil
1 Tbsp ginger, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup coconut milk
2 Tbsp lime juice
2 tsp brown sugar
2 tsp red curry paste
Dash of chili flakes
2/3 cup peanuts, toasted
1 cup coriander, chopped roughly
Salt

Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a pan and saute the ginger and garlic until golden. Transfer to a bowl or jug and allow to cool. Add coconut milk, lime juice, sugar and red curry paste and whisk together with a fork. I got a bit more of the coconut cream than intended, so added a little water to thin the dressing out. Salt to taste, then set aside.

Heat the other tablespoon of oil in the pan and add sweet potato, cooking over med-low for a couple of minutes. Add a dash of water and cover, allowing the potato to steam a little. Once softer, remove the lid, add a pinch of salt and a (generous) pinch of chili flakes and continue to cook uncovered until the edges are nice and golden and a bit crispy. If you have access to one, you could oven-cook the potato by drizzling it with oil, tossing with the salt and chili and baking for 20-30mins, until tender.

Combine noodles, potato, half the coriander and half the peanuts in a bowl. Pour over dressing and toss to combine. Top with the rest of the coriander and peanuts. We also sprinkled some fried shallots on top as an afterthought. Eat immediately. Yummo.

Spicy Coriander and Lime Hummus

Another quick recipe post, in lieu of my backlog – I have a few picture heavy posts ahead which I need to spend some time in one place uploading, hopefully over the next couple of days. This is a simple, yet delicious spin on hummus that I whipped up with some leftover limes and coriander we had lying around in the van. I love the chili/lime combo, and the coriander balances it out nicely as well as adding a bit of colour. Enjoy!

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Spicy Coriander and Lime Hummus
(Makes about 1 1/2 cups)

400g chickpeas, cooked
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp tahini
Juice of 2 limes
1 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 bunch coriander, chopped
Salt and pepper

Add chickpeas, garlic, oil, tahini, lime juice and cayenne pepper to a food processor or blender and blend to combine, scraping down the sides as you go. Add water as needed – I added 1 Tbsp to thin the mix out a little. Add coriander (leave a little to garnish) and season with salt and pepper, then blend until smooth. Garnish with a dash of cayenne pepper and leftover coriander.

Cinnamon Overnight Oats

Breakfast, the first meal of the day! If I had a choice, I would most likely have smoothies every day…I love em, but unfortunately in the van it’s not always possible. As our blender stick uses more watts than our inverter can handle, we only get to enjoy our smoothies when we are plugged in to a powered site….or we happen to find a sneaky power point in a park somewhere. Enter overnight oats. This is a super simple recipe that is prepared the night before – just wake up and eat!

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Cinnamon overnight oats

(Serves 2)
 
1 cup oats
4 Tbsp chia seeds
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1-2 tsp stevia (or agave or other sweetener)
2 cups non-dairy milk
Small handful of seeds or nuts (optional, I used sunflower seeds)
Your choice of fruit to top with
Place oats, chia seeds and seeds/nuts (if using) in a medium sized bowl. Add cinnamon and stevia and stir through.
Cover with milk – you may not need the full two cups, just make sure there’s enough to cover all the dry ingredients. The amount you put in will obviously result in a thicker or more liquid-y brekky. Add vanilla and stir well to combine. Cover and refrigerate over night.
In the morning, top with your favourite fruits and/or nuts. Some of our favourite combos are banana, strawberry and passionfruit; banana, dates, agave and flax meal; and strawberry/kiwi fruit. And it’s as simple as that! So easy, yet so yummy.
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