Thursday, 29 August 2013

Buckwheat Shepherd's Pie for Vegan Thursday- gluten free, soya free, suitable for Ekadasi

We served ours with a simple salad...
Hope you all had a lovely Krishna Janmasthami yesterday, and today's post is what we cooked that night for the feast. We follow Ekadasi rules on that day (no grains/ beans) so my husband had the idea to make a shepherd's pie with buckwheat and I had a go at making it. It's actually quite easy to do and on days other than Ekadasi, you could vary the vegetables in the filling and maybe add some herbs and tomato/ tomato puree. 
One of the nicest things about this recipe is the addition of cashew cream to the mashed potato (again, my husband's idea ), which adds the creaminess without the need for soya milk or margarine. Keep the skins on the potatoes; you get more nutrients and they encourage the top to turn crispy when baked. The recipe is under the next picture, and gives quantities to make about 8 servings and the basic proportions, but we have left the exact amounts of seasonings up to you.

This picture shows the filling better
1.3kg potatoes, diced but not peeled
3 cups whole buckwheat grains (we used the unroasted)
1 cup cashew cream (made by whizzing ground cashews and water together to about the consistency of double cream, with a little salt and lemon juice added)
400g courgettes, sliced in semicircles
olive oil for saute-ing
seasalt, black pepper and a little turmeric

  • Cook the potatoes in a little water with the saucepan lid on - to preserve nutrients, try to get it so that all the water is absorbed by the time they are cooked.
  • At the same time, cook the buckwheat in 6 cups of water, until completely soft. The water should all be absorbed too, just like when you cook rice.
  • Meanwhile, saute the courgettes in the oil until soft but not browned, and add to the cooked buckwheat with a pinch of turmeric, some seasalt and a generous amount of black pepper. Add a little more liquid if necessary, to stop it going dry in the oven.
  • When the filling is seasoned to your satisfaction, spoon it into a large, deep baking/ roasting tin or dish. 
  • Now mash the potatoes for the topping. When smooth, stir in the cashew cream and season with seasalt.
  • Spread the topping onto the filling, leaving it rough so that it crisps up in the oven, and bake in an oven preheated to 200C until heated through and browning slightly on top.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Dolmades (stuffed vine leaves)- vegan, gluten free

Dolmades are even more delicious drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil!!
We didn't have a holiday in Greece this year, but luckily we have these yummy little mouthfuls of flavour to remind us of the sunshine, blue sea and olive trees! Dolmades are a kind of European equivalent of sushi or lettuce rolls, and they make a lovely simple Summer meal along with hummus, a green salad and perhaps some steamed new potatoes. They're also perfect for slipping into lunchboxes and picnic baskets...

We made about 20 with these quantities:
20 pre-cooked vine leaves (We bought the vacuum-packed kind)
1 cup (dry weight) brown rice, long or short grain
4 level tabs ground almonds
1 heaped tab yeast flakes (aka nutritional yeast)
10 stoned black olives
1 level tab fresh mint
1 tsp fresh flat-leaved parsley
1/2 tab extra-virgin olive oil
1 tab lemon juice
1 level tsp seasalt
1/4 tsp coarse black pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp compound hing
  • Cook the rice in twice the amount of water until soft and the water is absorbed.
  • Meanwhile prepare the rest of the filling: grind the almonds and chop the herbs and olives finely.
  • Mix the rest of the ingredients and seasonings with the rice and adjust the seasonings if necessary.
  • Roll up the filling inside the vine leaves as shown below:

Put the filling towards the bottom of each leaf, fold in the sides and roll tightly, placing the end of the roll underneath so that it doesn't come undone.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Strawberry and Basil Salad- vegan

A fruity Summer side dish!
We are still enjoying what must be the longest strawberry-growing season here in the UK for years! They are irresistible snacks and smoothie ingredients, but can also make an interesting salad when teamed with fresh herbs and leaves and chunky cucumber pieces.
In your salad bowl, make a bed of lettuce (red oakleaf is what we used here) and / or rocket, then add halved strawberries mixed with chunks of cucumber and fresh basil leaves. Tear the basil to release the aromatic oils that give it its distinctive flavour. As the strawberries I was using were quite sharp, I simply drizzled a little extra-virgin olive oil over the salad and sprinkled it with coarse black pepper. (You could get away with a little lemon juice or balsamic vinegar if your strawberries are sweeter.)

This salad bowl makes an attractive addition to your table.