Pearl Barley Risotto with Mushroom and Spinach

After a bit of a crazy weekend I didn’t get a chance to post the last few days, but had already prepared posts. I’m going to go ahead and share one tonight and hopefully a few tomorrow to catch up, as I’d like to get back on track for the last few days of MoFo.

It’s cold and rainy and there’s a snow drift outside your door! What are you going to make using the ingredients you have?

For a long time, pearl barley was one of those things I would buy and it would sit at the back of the cupboard forever, until that first time I tried it. The nutty, chewiness is what I love, and the reason I think it makes a perfect risotto. We also pretty much always have spinach and mushrooms, as they are boyfriend bear’s favourite breakfast constituents and we seem to have an abundance of lemons always from housemates’ parents or workmates or even the yard down the road that we sometimes sneak into.

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So even though we’re edging away from the cold, snow-at-your-door weather (okay, so we never get snow at the door), this is the perfect thing to cook in that kind of weather. Also great about risotto is that you can pretty much cook it using anything you’ve got on hand – veggies, herbs, spices. It always seems to work out filling, hearty and generally delicious.

Also, I took the ingredients over to my parents’ house to cook and even my dog wanted in on the action –

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She knows what’s good!

Pearl Barley Risotto with Mushroom and Spinach
(serves 4-6)

1 Tbsp oil
1 brown onion, diced finely
1 leek, sliced
250g mushrooms, sliced
3 cups baby spinach
3 cloves garlic, minced
1½ cups pearl barley
½ cup dry white wine
4 cups hot vegetable stock
2 Tbsp lemon zest
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
¼ cup flat leaf parsley, plus extra for garnish
Salt and pepper

Heat oil in a pot over medium and add onion and leek, cooking for about five minutes until translucent. Add garlic and mushrooms and cook a further couple of minutes. Add pearl barley and cook for a minute, stirring constantly.

Pour in white wine and cook until it has mostly evaporated, a couple of minutes. Now start to add stock, one ladle at a time, and allow to gently simmer until most of the liquid has been absorbed before adding the next ladle full. Continue to cook like this, stirring constantly, until all the stock has been absorbed.

Add lemon zest, juice, parsley, nutritional yeast and spinach and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Serve garnished with extra parsley.

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cornweb

Spinach and Tofu Ricotta Cannelloni

Share something vegan (and delicious, duh!) with a non-vegan.

As I start to have less and less time to keep up with MoFo, I have fallen back on some old favourites to get me through the days. Besides, for some time I have been meaning to revisit some older posts to give them a bit of a revamp – since I have gotten a new camera and learned a little more about taking nicer photos. Don’t worry, I don’t plan to delete the old gems, that would be like Silverchair being embarrassed of their Frogstomp songs (I’m pretty sure they said they were).

Despite trying to revamp it I still was not happy with how it came out – turns out it is bloody hard to make cannelloni look good, particularly when under time constraints. Oh well.

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I didn’t share this with a non-vegan today, but I have many times before. I’m going to quote my original cannelloni blog post now as it seems to fit:

“This is one of my favourite meals to cook when people are coming over for dinner, as it’s so easy to do a big pan full to share. It’s also a go-to when cooking for meat lovers as it never fails to impress – it’s one of those ‘see how normal/delicious vegan food is?!?’ dishes. It takes a bit of time to prepare, but is totally worth it.”

Spinach and Tofu Ricotta Cannelloni
(serves 6-8)

1½ cups button mushrooms, diced
½ tsp oil
1 cup walnuts
250g frozen spinach
1½ boxes cannelloni tubes (the type that don’t need pre-cooking)
Vegan cheese, to sprinkle on top (optional)

Sauce:
½ tsp oil
1 medium brown onion, diced finely
3 cloves garlic, minced
600g crushed tomatoes (or equivalent fresh)
2 Tbsp tomato paste
Handful fresh basil, torn
1 tsp fresh oregano, chopped
Salt and pepper

Tofu ricotta:
450g firm tofu
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp lemon juice
½ cup nutritional yeast
Handful of basil, torn
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 200C.

Toast the walnuts in a pan over low heat, then chop finely and set aside.

Saute the mushrooms over medium heat in ½ tsp oil for about 3-5 minutes until soft, and set aside.

Defrost spinach and set aside.

For the sauce, saute onions in ½ tsp oil over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until softened and translucent. Add the garlic and cook for a further minute. Add the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to a simmer and stir in tomato paste, basil and oregano. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer for five minutes, then take off heat. From here, you can whizz up the sauce in a blender/with a stick blender if you’d like a smooth consistency, or else leave it chunky.

For the tofu ricotta, crumbled the tofu with your hands into a large bowl. Don’t worry about pressing any liquid out of it, as a wetter mix is better for to ensure the pasta tubes to cook. Add garlic, oil, lemon juice, yeast flakes and basil and stir well. Add mushrooms, walnuts and spinach and mix through. Taste for seasoning.

To assemble, spread a few spoonfuls of the tomato sauce across the bottom of a large baking dish. This is important as the dry cannelloni tubes need to come in contact with some moisture on all sides to ensure they cook properly.

Fill tubes with tofu mix, however you please. I used to use a butter knife to poke it in but these days I just get my hands dirty as I find it’s quicker and easier. Lay the tubes side by side in the dish

Cover with remaining sauce, and poke a knife between each tube to allow a bit of sauce to seep in between them. Pop in the oven to cook according to packet directions. I like to cook mine for about 30 minutes, add cheese and cook for a further 15-20 minutes until tubes are tender.

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broccoliweb

Hello 2015 and Tangy Edamame Buckwheat Noodle Salad

Hellooo everyone and happy 2015! I’m back! I was never really gone, but I’ve had a busy couple of months – moving house, festival-ing, having family over from Perth, going on a mini-holiday, Christmas, New Years, ALL THAT JAZZ. It’s hard to believe that one and a half months slipped away from me just like that, but it’s been lots of fun and I’m now feeling a lot more relaxed and grounded in my new home. Our house has lots of light, lovely floorboards, a rocking kitchen, an outdoor patio and a BACKYARD. I am still very excited by this and I have been here a month now.

I have so much to share with you, but I’m trying not to get too overwhelmed with it today and instead I’ll just hit you with a lovely simple noodle salad recipe. This is a great one for summer because there is pretty minimal cooking involved. In the coming weeks I’ll be sharing a bunch more summer-friendly recipes. I’ve always been a fan of stronger flavours, and this one packs quite a tangy punch thanks to the combination of rice wine vinegar, sriracha and ginger. Nothing like a good hit of ginger to boost the old immune system!

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Tangy Edamame Buckwheat Noodle Salad
(serves 4)

3-4 carrots
1 medium red capsicum
6 spring onions
2 cups frozen edamame
2 cups snow pea tendrils
200g buckwheat soba noodles
3 Tbsp black sesame seeds

Dressing:
4 Tbsp soy sauce
3 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 Tbsp sriracha
2 Tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp ginger, minced
1 clove garlic, minced

Prepare your veggies – using a julienne peeler, a mandolin or a really sharp knife and a bit of patience, cut your carrots and set aside. Julienne the red capsicum, and chop your spring onions into 1cm chunks.

Cook your noodles according to instructions, and in the final minute or two, throw in the edamames.

Meanwhile, whisk together dressing ingredients and set aside, and lightly toast sesame seeds in a pan over low heat until fragrant.

Drain noodles and edamame, and place in a large bowl along with carrot, spring onion, capsicum and snow pea tendrils. Pour over dressing and toss to combine. Top with toasted black sesame seeds.

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Music for your Mouth: The Flying Burrito Brothers

Hands up if you can believe MoFo’s last day is tomorrow?! I know, last week I felt like I had been MoFo-ing forever, now it seems as though it’s disappeared so fast. What a month it’s been.

So uh, the Flying Burrito Brothers are a country rock band. Yeah, I’ve been waiting to drop this bomb on you! I’m going to share two videos with you at the bottom. The first one because you just have to watch Gram Parsons’ eyebrows. They are seriously hypnotising. Secondly, I’m playing their cover of Wild Horses because I love the song. Enjoy.

burrito2The burritos I’ve made to go with the band are inspired a little by the tofu asada burritos at Trippy Taco. Any Melbournite will know what I’m talking about – smoky tofu goodness. Thank you liquid smoke, you little beauty. I had never heard of this magic stuff prior to my vegan days, now it is my secret weapon. Love the stuff!

These were my favourite burritos I’ve ever made, and I even had the compliment that they were better than the Trippy Taco ones, however that may or may not have been to make me feel good. Sorry about the foil wrapping, I rarely use foil – and buy the recycled stuff when I do – but I just could not get this burrito to stay together for a photo. Once again, I overstuffed my burrito to the point of eruption. When will I learn?

Smoky Tofu Burritos
(Makes 2)

2 tortillas
250g firm tofu

1 Tbsp coconut oil

Marinade:
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp liquid smoke
Juice of 1 orange
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp lime juice
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
Dash of cinnamon

Salsa:
1 tsp coconut oil
1/4 red onion, diced
1 green chili, finely chopped
1 tomato, diced
1/4 of a red capsicum, diced
1/4 of a green capsicum, diced
2 tsp lime juice
2 Tbsp fresh coriander
Salt to taste

Filling:
Basically whatever you want! I used:
Lettuce
Avocado
Vegan Cheese

First up, press your tofu good and well so it can absorb as much marinade as possible. I did the old fashioned way – with tea towels and a couple of phone books for a few hours. Once pressed, cut your tofu into cubes. Mix together all marinade ingredients and chuck the tofu in. Marinate for AT LEAST one hour, if not overnight.

To make the salsa, heat teaspoon of coconut oil over medium high heat and add onion and chili and saute until onion becomes translucent. Add capsicum and tomato and cook until tomato breaks down, about 5-10 mins.

Add lime juice, salt and coriander and stir through. Remove from heat and set aside.

To cook the tofu, heat tablespoon of coconut oil in a fry pan over medium high heat. Add tofu cubes and cook for about ten to fifteen minutes, turning occasionally, until just about all the edges are slightly crispy. Turn down heat to low and pour leftover marinade over the tofu, stirring so that it coats all the pieces. Remove from heat.

Assemble your burrito! I’m not going to tell you how to do this! Well okay, what I did was smoosh some avocado on, put some lettuce down, heap on some tofu, sprinkle on some cheese, and drip on some salsa. Wrap and stuff in mouth.

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Oh and just for fun, I’m sending this over to my friend Liz at I Spy Plum Pie for her new Meatless Monday linkup. Head over and check out the recipes starting to pool up over there!

veganmofo

Music for your Mouth: Salt N Pepa

Yeah you all knew this day was coming. I actually developed my list of bands at the very start of MoFo, so I have been holding out on you all with this one. HOW COULD I NOT FEATURE SALT N PEPA?!?

saltnpepa1 I wasn’t particularly creative in what I would make for this one – I always intended to do salt and pepper tofu. I probably should have created more of a challenge, but hey, this is delicious (and it is too late in the month for big challenges). Plus, I have never had super great luck with it – I’ve only attempted it twice before and neither time I got it quite right (or I made a big mess of the ‘cubes’).

saltnpepa2So I’m pretty happy with this, and happy with my return to the grass backdrop. It reminds me of the pictures I took while we were living in the van, where the ground was our table. Haha. Anyway, doesn’t it just highlight the green spring onions so beautifully?!

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Salt and Pepper Tofu

250g firm silken tofu
4 Tbsp cornflour
1 Tbsp sea salt, powdered
1 Tbsp white pepper
Dash of chilli (optional – white pepper already gives it a little tingle)
1 spring onion
1 small chili
Coconut oil

Drain your tofu, and handling it carefully, cut it into cubes.

Mix cornflour, salt, pepper and chili on a plate.

Dredge each piece of tofu through the cornflour mix, ensuring each side gets covered.

Heat coconut oil until very hot. Depending on your tools and stuff, you might want to use a wok and one of those wire net thingos. I don’t have one, so I just used a small saucepan. I put enough coconut oil in the pot that would cover half a piece of tofu – maybe about a centimetre and a half? (Sorry, didn’t measure the quantity of oil I used – just put it in).

When the oil is very hot (you can test this by flicking a drop of water into it – it should sizzle and bubble rapidly), carefully place tofu into the oil, a couple of pieces at a time. Let it cook for a minute or so before carefully flipping it with a fork to cook the other half. Remove from oil once a slightly golden crust has formed – drain on paper towel.

Chop up spring onion and chili to serve.

These did not last long with the (cleanly shaven) Bear around. I literally got like three of them.

saltnpepa4Look how fast his hand is moving to his face! It’s just a blur!

saltnpepa5At least I know they got the seal of approval.

saltnpepa6How does one choose just one Salt N Pepa song to play? Yeah, gonna go with this one…so ’80s cool.

veganmofo

Music for your Mouth: Spice Girls

When I was in primary school, you were either team Hanson or team Spice Girls. Admittedly I was team Hanson, however that doesn’t really fit into the theme I’m going for, so I’m going to throw the Spice Girls a bone and include them in MoFo.

I probably should have made something hot and spicy, but ah well, this’ll have to do.

PEOPLE OF THE WORLD! SPICE UP YOUR LIFE!

spicegirls3My mum recently bought me a jar of really nice organic spice rub which I have been using to make baked tofu for an easy weeknight meal. When my stocks started running low, I took a squiz at the ingredient list and tried to create my own version which I think came up pretty well. You could easily multiply this recipe and keep a jar of it on hand to cut down prep time.

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Spice Rubbed Baked Tofu
(serves 3-4)

350g firm tofu, pressed and sliced
Juice of half a lemon
1 tsp olive oil

1 Tbsp dried rosemary
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried sage
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp coconut sugar

Preheat your oven to 200C and lightly grease a baking tray.

Prepare your spice rub.Depending on what form your herbs are in, you may need to grind them up a bit. I had home dried sprigs of rosemary, and I ran out of dried oregano so used fresh, so I had bits of all different sizes and consistencies. Regardless of the others, you will need to grind your mustard seeds – use a mortar and pestle to do this. After grinding the seeds, I added the remaining ingredients and just ground them all up together. Tip spice mix onto a small plate.

Combine lemon juice and oil in a small bowl or dish. Brush each tofu piece with the lemon mix, then dredge through the spice mix. Get your hands dirty and give each piece a good rub as you go. Lay out on baking tray.

spicegirls4Bake for 15 minutes, then flip and bake for a further 10. At this point, I like to turn on the grill and chuck them under just to crisp them up a bit.

spicegirls2Serve with a lemon wedge and a side salad, such as this strawberry balsamic salad.

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veganmofo

Spinach and Tofu Ricotta Cannelloni

This is one of my favourite meals to cook when people are coming over for dinner, as it’s so easy to do a big pan full to share. It’s also a go-to when cooking for meat lovers as it never fails to impress – it’s one of those ‘see how normal/delicious vegan food is?!?’ dishes. It takes a bit of time to prepare, but is totally worth it.

The addition of mushrooms and walnuts provide some great texture and flavour, as well as nutritional goodness. The dish is full of protein, iron, fibre, magnesium, vitamin c, d, b12 and more, so eat up!

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Spinach and Tofu Ricotta Cannelloni
(serves 6-8)

1 1/2 cups button mushrooms, diced
1/2 tsp oil
1 cup walnuts
250g frozen spinach
1 box cannelloni tubes (the type that don’t need pre-cooking)
Vegan cheese, to sprinkle on top (optional)

Sauce:
1/2 tsp oil
1 medium brown onion, diced finely
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 400g tins crushed tomatoes (or equivalent fresh)
1 Tbsp tomato paste
Handful fresh basil, torn
1 tsp fresh oregano, chopped
Salt and pepper

Tofu ricotta:
450g firm tofu
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
Handful of basil, torn
Salt and pepper

Toast the walnuts in a pan over low heat, then chop finely and set aside.

Saute the mushrooms over medium heat in 1/2 tsp oil for about 3-5 minutes until soft, and set aside.

Defrost spinach and set aside.

For the sauce, saute onions in 1/2 tsp oil over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until softened and translucent. Add the garlic and cook for a further minute. Add the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to a simmer and stir in tomato paste and basil. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer for five minutes, then take off heat. From here, you can whizz up the sauce in a blender/with a stick blender if you’d like a smooth consistency, otherwise you can leave it chunky.

For the tofu ricotta, crumbled the tofu with your hands into a large bowl. Don’t worry about pressing any liquid out of it, as a wetter mix is better for assisting the pasta tubes to cook. Add garlic, oil, lemon juice, yeast flakes and basil and stir well. Add mushrooms, walnuts and spinach and mix through. Taste for seasoning.

To assemble, spread a small amount of the tomato sauce across the bottom of a large baking dish. This is important as the dry cannelloni tubes need to come in contact with some moisture on all sides to ensure they cook properly.

Fill tubes with tofu mix, however you please. I used to use a butter knife to poke it in but these days I just get my hands dirty as I find it’s quicker and easier. Lay the tubes side by side in the dish

Cover with remaining sauce, and poke a knife between each tube to allow a bit of sauce to seep in between them. Sprinkle with cheese and pop in the oven. Cook according to your cannelloni package.

Not only is this delicious straight away, it makes great leftovers and is surprisingly yummy cold too!

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