October 31, 2010

Sweet Basil and Chocolate Crepes

Crepes or pancakes are such a simple treat for a lazy Sunday, but I've made them a bit more exciting by adding a touch of sweet basil in the mix. Combining chocolate with sweet basil dawned to me by an accident; I was sipping my herbal tea that has sweet basil in it and I was having my cuppa, as I so often do, with a piece of dark chocolate. This combination would make a wonderful cake, but for a lazy Sunday, crepes will do.

These sweet basil and chocolate crepes are great drizzled with agave or maple syrup and some dark shaved chocolate. If you are really indulging, you could add some good vanilla ice cream as well. Once again I have used spelt flour instead of normal plain flour, and sweetened the mixture with natural vanilla and agave nectar. You could use honey instead if you like.

Sweet Basil and Chocolate Crepes

1 cup white spelt flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup unsweetened, pure cacao
1 tsp dried sweet basil
1 tsp natural vanilla extract
2 tbs raw honey
3 large free-range eggs
1 cup low-fat milk

olive oil, for frying

Mix together all ingredients instead of the olive oil. Stir until smooth. Heat a medium frying pan on high, brush the pan with olive oil and add a scoop of crepe mixture. Cook on both sides for a minute or two until cooked through. Continue with the rest of the mixture. Serve with raw honey or maple syrup and dark, shaved chocolate.


October 29, 2010

Salmon with Buckwheat, Wakame and Miso-Yuzu Dressing

I strongly believe that comfort food has healing properties. When you're feeling like you need a bit of TLC you can make a bowl of something steaming and delicious, cuddle up on a sofa and indulge with whatever you are having and soon you will realise that everything will be a-o-k. Often comfort food is something we associate with memories from childhood, something we grew up with, something that is familiar, soothing and caring and makes you feel all fluffy and warm inside. Enough said? You get the idea ;-)

This is modern style comfort food I made for my partner (therefore the Japanese flavours) for de-stressing purposes. I love using buckwheat instead of rice sometimes, and I LOVE seaweed of all kinds. I cooked the buckwheat with a piece of konbu for extra flavour, but I have also read that konbu makes it easier to digest other foods you're eating. I often cook brown rice with a piece of konbu for the same reason. The miso-yuzu dressing was really perfect for this meal, but I see no reason why I couldn't use it for salads as well.

Wish you all a safe and enjoyable weekend to come!

Salmon with Buckwheat, Wakame and Miso-Yuzu Dressing

1,5 cups raw buckwheat
piece of konbu
400g salmon fillet, boned
pinch of sea salt
4 tbs dried wakame, soaked in hot water

Miso-yuzu Dressing

60ml water
1 tbs shiro miso
1 tbs less salty soy sauce
1 tbs yuzu juice
piece of fresh ginger, grated
sprinkling of shichimi togarashi

Place the buckwheat and the konbu in a medium saucepan, cover with water and bring to boil. Let simmer for 5-10 minutes or until just tender. Drain and leave to cool slightly.

Place the salmon in a saucepan, cover with water, season with a pinch of salt and bring to boil. Simmer until cooked through but still slightly pink in the middle. Drain and set aside to cool. Fork into bite size pieces.

Combine all the dressing ingredients in a bowl and mix well.

Place the cooked buckwheat in a large mixing bowl. Take out the konbu and slice it finely. Mix the konbu with the buckwheat. Drain the wakame and fold into the buckwheat. Pour the miso dressing in and toss well to combine. Lastly, fold in the salmon pieces. Season with some extra shichimi togarashi.



October 27, 2010

Chocolate Spelt Loaf

I've been working from home this week mending my sore back. Sitting down and vacuuming seem to be the worst (and I'm not making this up!), but standing doesn't hurt so at least I've still been able to go about my daily chores. Thankfully standing next to the stove doesn't hurt either!

I felt like baking a nice treat for my partner and I, and this chocolate spelt loaf is what I created. It is still a healthy treat, there is no oil or butter used to make this, and if you wish, you can even substitute sugar with raw honey. Sometimes a little treat goes a long way :-) If only chocolate could mend broken backs as well!

Chocolate Spelt Loaf

1 1/2 cups organic white spelt flour
1/4 cup unsweetened, pure cacao powder
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 cup natural muscovado sugar
3/4 cup organic, unsweetened apple sauce
3 large free-range eggs, lightly whisked
1/2 cup low fat milk
1 cup raw walnuts, chopped
20g dark, 70% chocolate, chopped

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cacao, baking powder, bicarb and muscovado. Mix until well combined. Add the apple sauce, eggs and milk and mix well to combine. Finally fold in the walnuts and the chocolate and pour into a prepared loaf tin. Bake in 170C for about 45-50 minutes.



October 26, 2010

Quinoa and Mung Bean Burgers with Fruity Avocado Dip

Bear with me while I go through my self-diagnosed veggie burger addiction. As long as I can process ingredients in my much loved food processor, and find the outcome totally addictive, I will be blogging about it. But I'm sure I'll get through this phase. One day.

I guess I'm also trying to prove something by making all these different types of veggie burgers: 1) you can indeed use almost any ingredients you can think of or already have in your pantry, 2) you do not need to use a drop of oil to make these, and 3) veggie burgers are quick and easy to make! So what's there not to get addicted to??

The avocado dip I made for these burgers was truly delicious. It really is fruity, thanks to the orange juice used to blend the avocado with, but the spices echo the ones in the burgers, making this a winning combination!

Quinoa and Mung Bean Burgers with Fruity Avocado Dip

1 cup black quinoa, cooked
1,5 cups mung beans, cooked
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
pinch of sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 lemon, juiced
1 wedge preserved lemon, skin only, finely sliced
2 shallots, chopped

Place all ingredients in a bowl of a food processor and process until smooth. Shape the mixture into small patties and place on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Bake in 170C for about 20 minutes.

Fruity Avocado Dip
(Recipe adapted from avocado.org.au)

1 avocado
1/2 large orange, juiced
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp curry powder
tiny pinch of sea salt
ground black pepper
1/2 clove garlic, chopped
small bunch flat-leaf parsley

Process all ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Serve with the quinoa and mung bean burgers.



October 25, 2010

Protein Salad with Tofu Mayonnaise

I've bought a few interesting and extremely inspiring cookbooks lately. To name a few: Earth to Table (by Jeff Crump and Bettina Schorman), Ross Dobson's Wholefood Kitchen and Mayumi Nishimura's Mayumi's Kitchen. All of these books are full of healthy, delicious recipes and inspire and encourage the reader to "dig a little deeper" into the world of food. What I mean by this is that these books encourage to question where the food is coming from, what does it do to our bodies and how you should eat.

When it comes to cooking, I don't usually lack inspiration. More often it's quite the opposite that I feel, and these books are adding onto the already overflowing bowl of inspiration. It's a good feeling though! :-)

This protein salad is my version of the Organic Produce Cafe's salad I love so much. I didn't ask for their recipe, so I had to try and guess what was in it and compose the rest of it as I was cooking. I really love the outcome, and this is such a wholesome dish it will definitely make a proper meal on its own. I do urge you to use raw chickpeas, mung beans and lentils. They have so much more flavour and superior texture compared to the tinned ones! So even if it may seem a bit more effort, just plan ahead and I promise you it'll be worth it.

I must mention the tofu mayonnaise as well. This was not part of the salad at the cafe as they used organic mayonnaise. The tofu mayonnaise, however, reminded me of the avocado pesto I made some time ago because it challenges the traditional option with a healthier version. "Thinking outside the box" applies in the kitchen as well ;-) There's always an alternative!

Protein Salad with Tofu Mayonnaise

1 cup black quinoa, rinsed
1 cup raw chickpeas, soaked overnight
1/2 cup raw mung beans, soaked overnight
1/2 cup French style lentils
2 tbs sunflower seeds (soaking is optional)
2 tbs raw pumpkin seeds
2 carrots, coarsely grated
2 shallots, finely chopped
2 big handfuls baby spinach, washed
small bunch flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1/4 lemon, juiced
ground black pepper, to taste

*Tofu Mayonnaise*

300g silken tofu
1 tbs shiro miso
1 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp organic apple cider vinegar
ground black pepper, to taste

In separate saucepans, cook the chickpeas, mung beans, lentils and quinoa in boiling water until tender. Let cool slightly and combine in one large bowl. Add the seeds, carrot, shallots, parsley and baby spinach. Season with lemon juice and black pepper and toss well until combined.

For the tofu mayonnaise, steam the tofu for 5 minutes and let cool slightly. Place the tofu in a bowl of a food processor, add the other ingredients and process until creamy. Add the mayonnaise into the salad and mix well to combine.

October 24, 2010

Dandelion Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes, Feta and Rye Croutons

"When in doubt, cook". "When in shock, cook". Both of these apply, and cooking has for a long time been a form of therapy to me. Today it was the latter of these two that applied. As I was leaving the yoga class today we had a small car accident at the car park (the other driver was at fault), a car backed into ours and the force shook me sideways injuring my lower back. This was my first car accident of any sort so even if it was a minor one I did suffer a bit of a shock. We were able to drive home, and a few hours later I am feeling quite ok.

I found myself in the kitchen despite all this. I felt like "assembling" something, and a salad was a natural way to go. I found these dandelion leaves at the same markets as the nettle, and of course dandelion grows wild just about everywhere so if you know a clean spot to pick them at, you can pick them yourself. Dried dandelion root makes wonderful tea, and dandelion latte is one of my favourite afternoon treats. It is also packed with medicinal qualities, just like the nettle.

The peppery, slightly bitter dandelion goes lovely with the sweet tomatoes and the salty feta cheese. I've used sherry vinegar, but you could easily use normal balsamic vinegar instead. I never have white bread at home so I made the croutons using rye bread and added some flavour with dried herbs. It's all about the balance of flavours, as always! :-)

Wish you all a safe and enjoyable week to come!

Dandelion Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes, Feta and Rye Croutons
(Recipe adapted from Earth to Table by J. Crump & B. Schorman)

bunch of fresh dandelion leaves, washed
green, yellow and red heirloom tomatoes, sliced
piece of Greek style low-fat feta cheese, crumbled
1 slice of rye bread, toasted and cut into cubes
1 tbs olive oil
pinch of dried thyme
pinch of dried rosemary

*Sherry Vinaigrette*

1 tbs extra virgin lemon olive oil
2 tsp Sherry vinegar
tiny pinch of sea salt

freshly ground black pepper

Assemble the leaves, tomatoes and feta on a big platter. To prepare the croutons, heat the olive oil in a small frying pan, add the herbs and heat for a minute, add the croutons and cook for a few minutes tossing the pan so they won't burn. Take the pan off the heat and set aside. Whisk all vinaigrette ingredients together and drizzle over the salad. Season the salad with black pepper and sprinkle with the croutons.

Enjoy, nourish and love.


October 23, 2010

Stinging Nettle Soup

Nettles can be such an overlooked ingredient. Maybe people don't really know what to do with them, and consider them as an annoying weed. Perhaps this was the reason why it was rather challenging for me to find stinging nettles here in Sydney. I know they grow wild further away from the city, but I had no luck finding them in my area. Fortunately I did end up finding nettles at Eveleigh markets, but they came with a hefty price tag.

Nettles have many medicinal qualities, and dried nettle root along with the leaves are widely available to be used as herbal teas. Back in Finland, stinging nettles are often used the same way as spinach to make pancakes and soups, like this one. This is such a simple soup, but so delicious!

Stinging Nettle Soup

200g fresh stinging nettles
vegetable stock
freshly ground black pepper
200ml milk
1 tbsp corn flour or potato starch mixed with some cold water

hard-boiled egg, to serve

1. Wash the nettles (be careful not to touch the leaves as they will sting!) under running water, place them in a large saucepan with water and bring to boil.

2. Blanch the leaves for a couple of minutes then drain and finely chop them (the leaves won't sting after boiling).

3. Return the nettles into the saucepan and cover with vegetable stock (use enough stock to cover and reach a couple of centimetres above the nettles). Bring to boil and let simmer for a few minutes.

4. Take the saucepan off the heat and using a blender or a stab mixer, purée the leaves until fine. Add some freshly ground black pepper and milk and bring the soup back to simmer. Whisk in the flour mixture and simmer for a couple of minutes without letting the soup come to boil. Serve with a hard boiled egg.


October 22, 2010

Black Bean and Walnut Burgers with Avocado and Mango Salsa

Recently my friend and I met up for some health food shopping and lunch. How much fun is health food shopping?? There are just so many new ingredients to try, so many "super foods" and wonderfully exotic ingredients one can get and start experimenting with. I had a long list of things to get, some I was familiar with, some I hadn't tried before. I ended up with some organic coconut water (which I think would be awesome in juices or smoothies!), some black beans (canned which I used to make the brownies and raw which I used for these patties), herbal teas organic raw chocolate with 100% cacao (!!), and some spelt liquorice as a special treat for myself. This is my kind of shopping!

I think I might also be developing a slight addiction to veggie patties. Remember the falafels? And the broad bean burgers? And those toasted almond and tofu patties which I'm still dreaming of? Yep. I think I'm definitely on my way to being totally hooked on these things. But at least it's a healthy addiction, right?

These black bean and walnut burgers are just so tasty with the avocado and mango salsa (I'm also hooked on mangoes, but who wouldn't be since they are in season right now??), and I love the flavour combination! Great way to start the weekend! I wish you all a good one!

Black Bean and Walnut Burgers
(Recipe adapted from the Vegetarian Times)

1 cup raw black beans, soaked over night
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
ground black pepper
1/2 cup cooked brown rice
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
2 small shallots, chopped
1 corn cob, cooked and kernels removed
pinch of sea salt
1/2 lemon, juiced

Cook the beans in boiling water for 10-15 minutes or until tender. Let cool slightly. Place the beans with all other ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. Shape the mixture into small patties and place them on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Refrigerate for 30 minutes, then bake in 170C for about 20 minutes.

Avocado and Mango Salsa

1 avocado, diced
1 mango, diced
1 shallot, finely chopped
1/2 red chilli, finely chopped
1/2 cucumber, seeded and chopped
1/4 lemon, juiced
tiny pinch sea salt

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve.


October 21, 2010

Salmon Kedgeree

I often like to cook meals that are easy to re-heat for lunch the following day. It's all about me being practical, I suppose. I also prefer one-pot meals (who wouldn't?!), but I've realised that I don't actually cook them that often! I feel like any cooking in my tiny kitchen creates so much mess that if I can by any means reduce the amount of washing up I have to do afterwards then it's a mission accomplished.

Technically this isn't a one-pot meal though as you will have to poach the salmon separately. It's a superbly easy dish though, and highly nutritious! It's a shame I can't eat more than a tiny piece of cooked salmon (raw and smoked is fine, but for some odd reason cooked salmon makes me nauseous) because this dish definitely has potential.

On a side note I can't tell you how happy I am it's almost Friday! I hope you've all had a good week so far ;-)

Salmon Kedgeree
(Recipe Adapted from 80/20 Diet by Teresa Cutter)

1 tbs olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
small piece of fresh ginger, grated
1 cinnamon stick
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
200g basmati rice
375ml vegetable stock
2 carrots, diced
100g frozen peas
2 handfuls baby spinach leaves
1/4 lemon, juiced

400g salmon fillet, poached and broken into bite size pieces
20g slivered almonds, toasted

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan, add the onion and the spices and sauté for a few minutes. Add a little water to prevent the spices from burning. Add the rice, stock, carrots and peas, bring to boil, then cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Fold through the spinach leaves, add the lemon juice and allow to sit for a few minutes. Add the salmon and gently fold to mix. Serve sprinkled with the almonds.


October 20, 2010

Matcha Spelt Crepes with "Edamole"

Those who know me and have read my blog for a while know how much I love Japanese green tea, and especially matcha. I happily enjoy my daily cup of matcha with the darkest chocolate I can find, knowing I'm devouring a huge amount of antioxidants as I do so. Matcha is not only great for drinking (of course), but can also be used in baking and cooking! With the Halloween coming, you could use matcha powder to colour your cookies and cakes, and give them a healthy dose of antioxidants at the same time.

In preparation for our upcoming Japan trip, I made these vibrant coloured matcha crepes with a sauce I call "edamole" (like quacamole but made with edamame!). For the crepes, I used premium kitchen grade matcha, kindly provided to me by the Kyoto Obubu Tea Plantations. I have made matcha crepes before using ordinary matcha, but the colour was nowhere near as the deep green as in these ones! That is exactly the beauty of this particular matcha; it retains the rich green colour even after baking.

I'm hoping we can visit the Obubu Tea Plantations during our trip to Japan, but for now these tasty savoury crepes will have to do :-)

Matcha Spelt Crepes with Edamole

*Matcha Spelt Crepes*

1 1/2 cups low fat milk
1 tbs premium kitchen grade matcha
1 cup organic white spelt flour
2 large free-range eggs
pinch of salt

2 tbs olive oil, for frying


1 bag frozen edamame
200ml extra light ricotta
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp dried mint
freshly ground black pepper
20ml water
1/4 lemon, juiced
1 tbs extra virgin lemon olive oil

For the crepes, pour the milk into a large bowl. Add the matcha and whisk well to combine. Add the eggs and whisk. Add the flour and the salt and whisk until well combined and smooth. Set aside.

Blanch the edamame in boiling water for 3-4 minutes or until just tender. Drain well and let cool slightly. Place the cooled down beans in a bowl of a food processor and process until mashed. Add all other ingredients and process until smooth. Adjust the water if the mixture is too thick. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Heat a medium sized frying pan on high and brush with olive oil. Pour a ladle of crepe mixture on to the pan and swirl the pan for the mixture to spread evenly. Cook for a couple of minutes on each side. Continue with the rest of the mixture.

Serve the crepes with the dip and some vegetable sticks.



October 19, 2010

Chicken Meatballs in Vegetable Medley

I get so much joy of cooking for the people I love, and I'm sure you can all relate to this feeling! It is especially enjoyable when I can cook something "new" for my partner, even if it is just something I've added onto the old favourite, like this one. The vegetable medley I made for the meatballs adds so much to this dish. You could of course leave the meatballs out altogether and replace them with tofu or tempeh or just have the sauce on its own with some pasta. This is a colourful dish, perfect for brushing of the rainy day blues!

Chicken Meatballs in Vegetable Medley

500g free-range chicken mince
1 large free-range egg
3 tbs rice crumbs
2 tbs less salty soy sauce
1 tsp ground paprika
ground black pepper

Vegetable Medley

2 tbs olive oil
1 medium sized onion, finely chopped
2 small carrots, finely diced
1 celery stick, finely diced
1/2 green capsicum, chopped
3 button mushrooms, sliced
1 x 400g can of organic diced tomatoes
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp dried sweet basil
ground black pepper
2 tbs kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
1 tbs capers, chopped
small handful fresh oregano, chopped

small handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped, to serve
cooked pasta, to serve

Preheat oven to 200C. Line a baking tray with baking paper. In a large bowl mix together the mince, egg, soy sauce, rice crumbs, paprika and some ground black pepper, and combine everything really well. Using wetted hands, take out small portions of the mixture and roll into balls between your palms. Place the balls on the baking tray. Bake in hot oven for 20 minutes, rotating the tray half way through.

For the medley, heat the olive oil in a large frying pan. Add the onion and sauté for a few minutes. Add the carrot and the celery and sauté for another couple of minutes. Add capsicum and mushrooms and stir them through as well. Pour in the tomatoes and the water and season with thyme, rosemary, sweet basil and black pepper. Leave to simmer for about 15 minutes, then add the capers, olives and the oregano and let simmer a further 10 minutes. Add in the cooked meatballs and heat for a few minutes. Serve with pasta and sprinkle with fresh parsley.


October 18, 2010

Beetroot-Yuzu Juice

My Juice Bar is finally open! I just couldn't resist sharing this lovely beetroot juice recipe with you (and a word of warning that there might be more juice & smoothie recipes coming), and you can probably imagine how excited I've been about my new juicer. After all, I think I've mentioned it here and on Twitter about half a million times by now ;-)

So finally a whole WEEK after I got my new juicer I had time to start experimenting. I had my fridge packed with vegetables so all I needed to do was get everything prepared and start juicing!

I've never been a big shop-bought juice drinker, but if you are then I do recommend you consider buying a juicer. The one that I got is a heavy duty juicer (1200W), so I can chuck pretty much anything in it and it (hopefully) won't break. It cost me about AUD200, but I really don't think it's a lot especially if you drink a lot of juices. The best thing about making your own juice is of course that it's free of any nasty additives and preservatives, and if you can use organic produce, it's even better!

Have a think about it and if you already happen to have a juicer then have a go at this recipe ;-)

Beetroot-Yuzu Juice

3 medium beets, peeled and chopped in quarters
2 oranges, peeled
2 carrots, peeled
knob of fresh ginger

50ml yuzu (can substitute with lime or lemon juice)

Process the beets, carrots, oranges and ginger in a juicer, add yuzu and mix well. Serve immediately.


October 17, 2010

Black Bean Brownies

Hello friends! Happy Sunday :-)

Black bean brownies may sound a little unconventional, but that doesn't mean they aren't as tasty! I've made brownies with beetroot before, and they were probably the best brownies (if I may say so myself) I've ever had, so I didn't need much convincing to give a go at using black beans as the 'secret' ingredient.

I recently got a reminder of this wonderful recipe from David and Luise in the Green Kitchen Stories, but I do remember seeing these recipes pop up in blogs already a couple of years ago.
What a great little twist to the old favourite!

I'm using raw honey to replace some of the sugar and apple sauce to replace some of the butter. You could use all honey and no sugar and replace more of the butter with the apple sauce. I'm also using pretty dark chocolate (70%), but if you might want to opt for chocolate with 50-60% cacao for a bit more sweetness.

Black Bean Brownies
(Recipe adapted from the Wholefoods Markets)

1 x 400g can organic, unsalted black beans, drained & rinsed
3 large free-range eggs
1/4 cup unsalted, melted butter
2 tbs organic, unsweetened apple sauce
50ml raw honey
2 tbs natural muscovado sugar
2 tsp natural vanilla extract
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup walnuts, finely chopped
50g chocolate (70% cacao), chopped

Preheat oven to 180C.

Grease a brownie tin (26cm x 16cm). Place the beans in a bowl of a food processor and process until smooth. Place the eggs, butter, apple sauce, raw honey, sugar and vanilla extract in a bowl and stir until smooth. Add the beans and the cocoa and mix to combine. Add the walnuts and the chocolate and fold them in.

Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake in hot oven for about 30 minutes or until the centre has such set. Let cool, then cut into portions.


October 16, 2010

Spiced Chickpeas with Spinach

Spiced foods is not something I grew up with in Finland. Traditional Finnish recipes usually only call for salt and black pepper, with some exceptions like ground ginger, ground cloves and cardamom which are often used in baking. We don't even share the same passion for saffron like our beloved Western neighbours do. This has of course changed over time and nowadays Finns experiment with spices such as much as others. I still can't handle chilli, however, but I love using other spices in my cooking and my pantry is packed with different kind of spices at all times.

This simple chickpea dish is not only nutritious, but very tasty! I love spicing up chickpeas with cumin, coriander, turmeric and other spices and they just seem so natural together. Spinach is an additional ingredient, something I cook quite a lot, often making it Japanese way and just serving it with toasted sesame seeds or goma (paste made with toasted sesame, mirin and soy sauce). This is a simple side dish with lots of flavour! :-)

Spiced Chickpeas with Spinach

200g raw chickpeas, soaked over night
1 tbs olive oil
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp cinnamon

small handful of flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
1 tbs pomegranate molasses
2 tsp lemon juice
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

1 big bunch of English spinach, washed

Preheat the oven to 170C.

Start by draining the chickpeas, rinse and drain again. Cover the chickpeas with water and bring to boil. Let simmer for about 10-15 minutes or until tender (do not over cook!). Drain and place in a large bowl to cool down slightly. Add the olive oil and the spices and stir well to combine. Place the chickpeas on a roasting tin lined with baking paper, spread out evenly and toast for 30 minutes or until crunchy, stirring every now and then.

Blanche the spinach in boiling water for a couple of minutes, then refresh under cold running water and drain well. Squeeze out the extra water and chop roughly. Set aside.

Combine the slightly cooled down chickpeas, the spinach, parsley, pomegranate molasses and lemon juice in a large bowl and toss well to combine. Season with salt and pepper.


October 14, 2010

Supercharged Vegetarian Pizza

When I was making this vegetarian pizza I had my tiny kitchen bench loaded with the ingredients, and the only name that came to my mind was "supercharged". Admittedly, I have gone a little (more so than usual) vegetable mad lately, and if you happen to follow me on Twitter, you might have noticed that I've recently bought myself a new juicer! So in preparation for my personal juice bar to open, I have jam-packed my fridge with vegetables, enough to make juices AND this delicious pizza.

I was experimenting with a couple of things whilst making this pizza. Firstly, I made a crust using spelt flour only. Success! The crust is almost bread -like, soft and tasty, which makes this dish a lot more wholesome. Secondly, I made a parsley-avocado-sunflower seed pesto to coat the base. Success no 2! This pesto is similar to the avocado pesto I've made earlier, and I really like both versions.This vegetarian pizza is definitely packed with goodness of fresh vegetables!

Not a bad way to celebrate the upcoming weekend! :-)

Supercharged Vegetarian Pizza

~The Base~
(Recipe adapted from Naturally Vegetarian Recipes)

1 cup water, warmed to 42C (hand hot)
1 tsp dry yeast
1 tbs honey
pinch of sea salt
3 cups spelt flour + more for kneading
2 tbs olive oil

~The Pesto~

big handful of flat-leaf parsley
1 garlic clove
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 avocado
1 tbs olive oil
2-3 tbs water
pinch of sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

~The Filling~

1 small to medium sized eggplant, thinly sliced
1/2 green capsicum, sliced into sticks
1/2 Spanish onion, thinly sliced
3-4 cup mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 tomatoes, thinly sliced
3 tbs kalamata olives, pitted and sliced
2 tbs fresh oregano leaves, roughly chopped
freshly ground black pepper
120g mozzarella

1 tbs olive oil, for brushing

Stir the yeast into the warm water, add the honey, salt, olive oil and the flour. Mix well, then turn the dough onto a work surface dusted with flour and knead for about 10 minutes. (You might need to add a bit of flour, just enough for the dough not to stick into your hands.) Return the dough into the bowl, cover and leave to double in size.

Preheat the oven to 170C.

Once the dough is done. Roll it into a disk or square shape and place on a roasting tin lined with baking paper (mine covered a tin about 40cm long, 30cm wide).

Process the pesto ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Brush the sides of the pizza base with olive oil, and spread the pesto evenly on top. (If you have left over pesto, this can be freezed!). Layer the base with eggplant slices, Spanish onion, tomato, mushrooms, capsicum, and sprinkle with the olives and the oregano. Season with pepper and spread the mozzarella evenly on top. Bake in 170C for about 30 minutes. Serve with fresh salad.