French Onion Shepherd’s Pie

FRENCH ONION & LENTIL FILLING:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra
  • 3 lbs yellow onions, peeled and sliced into half moons
  • sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon thyme leaves, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 ½ cups French lentils, rinsed
  • 1 ½ tablespoons sherry/balsamic vinegar
  • 1 ½ tablespoons gluten-free tamari soy sauce
  • 5 cups vegetable stock, plus extra

MASH:

  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1 ½ lbs waxy potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 a large head of cauliflower
  • 4 tablespoons vegan butter, at room temperature
  • ½ cup unsweetened non-dairy milk
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste

Instructions:

For the simple dish that it is, this one is a bit more work as you need to get the french onion twist by caramelizing them for about an hour. the rest is pretty simple, but just know it takes a couple of hours for this to come together.

  1. In a large skillet heat about 3tbs olive oil and cover the bottom of the pan. Add the onions, and turn the heat down to just under high until they become transluscent. Sauté the onions, stirring often, until they are just starting to soften on the edges. Then, lower the heat slightly.
  2. Keep cooking and stirring the onions occasionally until they are light golden brown, jammy, and super sweet. Not quite in the caramelized state, but getting there. This process will take anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour. Add splashes of water if the onions start to dry up/stick
  3. Increase the heat back to medium. Add the thyme, bay leaf, and garlic to the pot and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the tomato paste and stir. Cook for about one minute. Add the lentils to the pot and stir. Then, add the sherry vinegar and tamari to the pot. Scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pot. Season everything with salt and pepper. Add the vegetable stock to the pot and stir once more. Cover the pot and bring it to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and then cook until lentils are tender, about 25-30 minutes. There should be just enough liquid to surround the onions and lentils. Add more vegetable stock if necessary.
  4. I did this as a freezer meal so once the lentils were tender, I divided into 4 individual freezer pans and set aside to cool (remove your herbs).
  5. the potato mash can be on at the same time. you want to heat a large pot with salted water, add the potatoes, cauliflower and garlic and boil until tender. Drain and add the butter, milk and nutritional yeast. Salt and pepper to taste and mash everything until smooth.
  6. Dollop the cauliflower and potato mash on top. Carefully spread the mash out over the surface of the French onion and lentil base. Drizzle the top of the mash with olive oil and some extra pinches of salt and pepper.
  7. Preheat the oven to 375F when ready to cook the pie. you can do it in a large skillet or like I did in individual servings. Bake the French onion shepherd’s pie for 25 minutes, or until bubbly and totally heated through. You can broil the top for extra browning if you like. Remove the pie from the oven and let it sit for 5 minutes before serving.

My Famous Living Caesar Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 cup raw cashews soaked for at least three hours or overnight
  • 1 cup water plus more as needed
  • 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tbsp caper juice
  • 1tbsp capers
  • 1/2 tsp Kala Namak salt (or or more to taste)*
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 lemon juiced
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup

The simplest recipe ever.

Add all dressing ingredients to a blender and blend on high until smooth. Add more water as needed, 1 tbsp at a time until you’ve reached desired consistency

Caesar salad is made with romaine lettuce so chop that up to your liking and toss with this creamy goodness. If you have any stale (or not stale) bread around you can toss with some olive oil, garlic and salt and toast under the broiler for some croutons.

*Nama Kalek salt is a pink salt that looks identical to Himalayan salt. IT can be found in the import section of the grocery store and it add a little “eggy” flavour. You can use this in any plant based recipe that usually would have an egg base (ie potato salad, tofu salad sandwich etc)

I love a good “chicken strip” and caesar meal but you could add any protein of your liking, or even toss with Kale for an alternate green!

Cheesy Plant Based Scalloped Potatoes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup raw cashews soaked for at least three hours or boiled for 15 minutes
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tsp miso paste
  • 2tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1tsp smoked paprika
  • Salt and Pepper To Taste*
  • Handful of Parsley
  • Vegan cheddar shreds cheese of your choice (optional)
  • 5-6 large waxy potatoes cut into 1/8″ slices (I used a mandolin but you can slice with a steady hand)
  • 1 Large onion sliced
  1. Preheat the oven to 400C
  2. Add the first 7 ingredients to a high speed blender and blitz until smooth. It’s important to note that you might want to slightly over season your cheese sauce as the potatoes will leach the flavour (this is also a good trick if you ever over salt something – add a few potatoes chunks to the cooking and it will lower the saltiness)
  3. Lay half the potatoes in the bottom of a baking dish. I actually throw most things into my polished cast iron skillet as it’s oven proof and much easier to clean. It also adds beneficial iron to your food as it cooks!
  4. Layer on 1/2 the onion and some parsley.
  5. Add a layer of plant based cheese of your choice. (optional)
  6. Top this layer with the second half of the potatoes, onion and parsley and finally adding a layer on top with cheese.
  7. Cover all layers with the cheese sauce.
  8. Cover the pan or the skillet with foil or a lid and cook about 45 minutes.
  9. Remove cover and continue to cook until the sauce reduces to the right consistency (you should be able to scrape the potatoes away from the sides of the pan without them immediately returning)

Rapini Pesto

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch Broccoli rabe
  • 1/3 C. Pine nuts, toasted
  • 3 Tbsp. Nutritional yeast
  • 2 Tbsp. Olive oil
  • Juice of 2 small lemons, or 1 large
  • 1/2 tsp. Red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cloves garlic

Instructions:

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook off the pasta according to the instructions on the box
  2. Blanch the broccoli rabe in boiling water for 2 or 3 minutes until it becomes soft. Remove and drop into a bowl of ice water. 
  3. Drain and squeeze most of the water out of the broccoli rabe and add to the food processor with the remaining pesto ingredients. Blend until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings.
  4. Toss the cooked pasta with the pesto and serve!
  5. note: you can use this pest in a number of ways – spread on toast with tomatoes and onion, or on roasted smashed potatoes. The possibilities are endless.

Clean out the Fridge Brussel Spouts and Pasta

One can only eat the same leftovers for so many days before getting a little bored. I made WAY too much Brussel sprouts in cheese sauce for Christmas dinner, so what does one do? Could freeze them, or could convert them into something else.

I used my basic cheese sauce for the Christmas sprouts. I also had a bit of Very Good Butcher pepperoni leftover from a cheese plate. And, my hydroponic unit was overgrowing with Swiss Chard. This is what I did:

Ingredients

Instructions:

  1. Heat a few litres of water in a pot and cook the pasta according to the directions.
  2. As the pasta is cooking, chop the pepperoni up into bacon bit like sizes. Heat some olive oil in a skillet, and fry until crispy.
  3. Chop and add the Swiss chard to the skillet and sauté until wilted. Set the mixture aside
  4. Add the cheesy sprouts to the pan on low heat while the pasta is finishing. (no need to clean it first – you want to keep all those good flavours!)  Add a touch of water from the pasta (maybe about 1/4 cup to start) as the cheese sauce will need to be thinned after being in the fridge.
  5. with tongs, transfer the pasta to the skillet with the sprouts. No need to drain as the extra bit of starchy water will help to bring everything together.
  6. Turn the heat up to high and toss the pasta in the pan until the sauce bubbles.
  7. Remove from the heat and enjoy your twist on Christmas Brussel Sprouts!

The “Meatiest” Lentil Bolognese

Ingredients

  • 1 cup lentils rinsed
  • 1 lb favourite pasta or in this case I used Turnip Noodles
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • ½ cup yellow-onion, diced
  • 1 cup white mushrooms, diced
  • ½ tsp red-pepper-flakes
  • 24 oz favorite tomato sauce
  • 14 oz fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • ¾ cup water
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Cook the pasta on the cooker as you normally would. If you are using a veggie noodle see step 4
  2. In a large-skillet, add the garlic, onion, oregano, mushrooms, red-pepper, pepper and salt, combined with 1 tablespoon olive-oil, also sauté about 3-5minutes till the mushrooms and onion are tender.
  3. Then add the tomato-sauce, diced tomatoes, water and lentils and stir to blend. Simmer mixture about 15-18minutes or till lentils are cooked, stirring occasionally.
  4. If using a veggie pasta or noodle, salt the noodles in a colander (about 1tbsp) if hand made and let sit for about 30 minutes. If bought packaged you can skip this step.
  5. Heat a drop of olive oil in a skillet and sauté the noodles for about 10 minutes until tender.
  6. Serve lentil bolognese over pasta (or veg pasta), sprinkle with extra red-pepper-flakes, flat leaf parsley and vegan parmesan cheese.
  7. Get stuck in!

Cauliflower and Mushrooms in a Tarragon White Wine Gravy

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups button mushrooms cleaned and trimmed
  • 1/2 head of cauliflower, washed and broken into pieces
  • 1 med onion
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • handful of tarragon (about 1/3 bunch)

For the Gravy:

  • 2 cups veggie stock
  • 2 fat cloves of garlic (or more if you wish)
  • 1 tbsp miso
  • 1/4 cup cashews soaked for at least two hours or boiled for 15 minutes
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast

Instructions:

  1. In a blender, add all the ingredients for the gravy and blitz like crazy until smooth. Set aside.
  2. Chop the onion in whatever fashion you like. In a skillet (or my favourite cast iron skillet), heat about 2 tbsp olive oil and sauté the onion for about 5 minutes until almost translucent.
  3. Add the mushrooms and cauliflower and continue sweat the ingredients in the pan under a lid until the mushrooms start to release their juices. Do not let the pan get dry or the onions will burn. You can add a bit of stock as needed until the mushrooms start to sweat it out.
  4. Once the mushrooms have started to release their juices, uncover the pan and continue to sauté until the mushrooms are browning and the cauliflower has some caramelized edges.
  5. Chop and add the tarragon to the mushroom/cauliflower.
  6. At this point the pan will start to become dry.
  7. Deglaze the pan with the white wine. This simply means chuck the wine in there and scrape down the sides of the pan so that nothing is sticking.
  8. Once the wine has almost evaporated, add the gravy to the pan. Turn up the heat until the gravy starts to boil and then reduce slightly to medium and let the liquid reduce until it’s a nice gravy consistency.
  9. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  10. Serve up with some mash, some plant based bangers or whatever you like!
  11. Get stuck in.

Thai Peanut Salad

It’s not really the season for salads, but sometimes I just crave raw food – especially after a few months of stews and pasta, comfort foods done on the stove and pulled from the freezer for a quick dinner. When I do crave raw food in the winter this is truly one of my favourites. Vibrant and zingy with ginger and lime this salad satisfies like meal. I also normally add a cubed smoked tofu but it didn’t make it to the bowl as I was snacking as I chopped!

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups Mix of cabbage
  • 2 carrots ribboned with a peeler
  • 1/4 cup Peanuts, roasted
  • 1 Red bell pepper
  • 3 Scallions
  • 1/4 bunch Cilantro
  • 1/2 cup frozen edamame beans (thawed) or chopped snap peas
  • 3 tbsp Honey or agave
  • Juice of one lime
  • 1-2 fat cloves garlic, grated
  • 1″ knob of ginger, grated
  • 1/4 cup Peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 6 oz Noodles, dry

Instructions

  1. Blend the peanut sauce ingredients together using  a blender until smooth starting with the honey or agave and ending with rice vinegar
  2. Cook the noodles according to directions on package. I actually used rice vermicelli noodles which only require soaking in hot water but I do find they tend to clump together. A wider noodle works a bit better.
  3. Toss the shredded veggies, bell pepper, scallions, and cilantro into a serving bowl. Toss. Add the cold noodles to the serving bowl and toss again. Pour the peanut sauce over top and toss well to combine.
  4. Taste: Adjust the salt (to you liking), add chili flakes if you want and serve, garnishing with roasted peanuts, cilantro and a lime wedge.
  5. Get stuck in.

The Cheesiest Cauliflower “Mac and Cheese”

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup raw cashews soaked for at least three hours or boiled for 15 minutes
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tsp miso paste
  • 2tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 chipotle pepper
  • 1tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • Olive Oil for Pan Roasting
  • Vegan bacon (I used Lightlife*)
  • Parsley to taste
  • Vegan cheddar shreds (optional). I used Violife*

First off, I should mention that that is the sauce I use to make a regular mac and cheese. I am not keto, but I had a head of cauliflower in the fridge that needed to be used up and I was inspired by a keto recipe of swapping out the pasta for a low carb veg. The sauce is very versatile and I also use it to make a standard “Alfredo” sauce by omitting the chipotle and paprika. Chipotle peppers make this dish smoky and rich, but you could omit them if you just want to go with plain cheese sauce.

Instructions.

  1. Throw all ingredients up to and not including the cauliflower) into a blender and blitz the bejesus out of it until smooth and creamy. Set aside.
  2. Break the head of cauliflower into bite sized pieces and wash in a colander. I like to do them on the smaller side as we are going to be pan roasting it. It will cook a bit faster this way, and also mimic more of a “mac and cheese” as opposed to cauliflower in cheese sauce.
  3. In a sauté pan (or my favourite – a cast iron skillet) heat some olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the cauliflower and toss to coat with the oil. Sauté the cauliflower until it is just tender to the bite and not mushy (about 10 minutes). Add enough of the sauce to cover the cauliflower with a bit extra as we will reduce this for a few minutes on the stove top
  4. Lower the heat and continue to cook the cauliflower in the cheese sauce until the sauce thickens to the right consistency.
  5. While the cauliflower is cooking start another pan with a bit of oil and cook off the bacon. Once cooked, transfer to a cutting board and chop into small pieces to be sprinkled on the cheesy cauliflower.
  6. Top the cauliflower with vegan cheddar shreds (optional) and put under the broiler (watching carefully so as not to burn) until the cauliflower is bubbling and the top is slightly browned. If you are not using shreds, you can omit this step.
  7. Top with the chopped bacon and fresh chopped parsley.
  8. Get stuck in.

Pizza Dough

I haven’t been able to find 00 flour (or much flour at all actually in during this pandemic), so I have adjusted the below to all purpose flour. It better times , or if you are lucky enough to have fancy flour at home , you can use 400g of 00 and 100 grams semolina flour which will give you a much finer dough.

  • 500 grams all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp active yeast
  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

I used my kitchen aid mixer for the next steps, but if you like to get your hands dirty – jump right in where the mixer would do it’s thing,

In a jug or glass measure, add 325ml of warm water and the 1tsp of yeast. Combine and let sit for a few minutes.

Measure the flour and salt into the mixer bowl and combine well. If you are doing this by hand, you can mound the flour onto a clean surface and make a well in the middle. Add the water to the well and using a fork, bring the flour in gradually from the sides and swirl it into the liquid. Keep mixing, drawing larger amounts of flour in, and when it all starts to come together, work the rest of the flour in with your clean, flour-dusted hands. Knead until you have a smooth, springy dough.

if using your mixer, you can power on low with the dough hook and start to add the yeast mixture slowly, until you have a nice smooth ball of dough.

Place the ball of dough in a bowl that is lightly coated with olive oil (I used the same bowl I mixed in) and rub a small amount of oil on top of it. Cover the bowl with a cloth and place in a warm room for about an hour until the dough has doubled in size.

when the dough is ready, place it onto a lightly floured surface and knead it around to push the air out with your hands. The dough is ready to be used, or you can wrap it in plastic and store in an air tight container in the freezer until you are ready to make the pizzas. This amount of dough will make about 4 medium pizzas.

It’s a good idea to roll the pizzas out about 15 to 20 minutes before you want to cook them. Roll the dough out into rough circles, about 0.5cm thick and you are ready to top with whatever you fancy. When you cook them, the oven should be about 500C without triggering the broil. 12-15 minutes will do the trick or when the crust is golden brown.