Posts Tagged With: basil

Avocado and Basil Cheese

Avocado and Basil Cheese

Avocado and Basil Cheese

The idea for this little wonder came from the venerable Paul Gayler, a man who is a top, top chef and also creates magic vegetarian food.  We had his book out of the library ‘Pure Vegetarian’ and it was refreshing to read such inventive vegetarian dishes created by a chef who is not actually vegetarian himself.

I wrote down quite a few of the recipes, but this one stuck in my mind and I’ve been going on about it ever since, ‘Jane we must make that avocado cheese’ was becoming a daily muttering as I opened the fridge.  Finally, I got around to it and it was worth the wait.

Somethings are just meant to go together, and creamy cheese, avocado and lemon is a match made is tasteville.  I added some Basil because we have a profusion (I have no idea where Jane is getting it all from!)

Preparation is simple here and for a vegan alternative, try it with well drained firm tofu or even cashew cheese.  If you are not a huge fan of feta, try ricotta instead.  You’ll be downgrading the flavourful, salty tang of the feta, but the most important thing is that you try this recipe!  In fact, it could be called more of  technique, mashing avocado with different delicious ingredients.  Hmmmmm, this could become a hobby of sorts.

Here it is, in all its glory and simplicity.  Green cheese!

The Bits 

1 avocado (Haas is best), 1 block of tofu or feta, 1/2 lemon (juice only), 10 basil leaves (finely shredded), 1 tbs nutritional yeast flakes (if using tofu)

Avocado cheese in the mix

Avocado cheese in the mix

Do It

Two ways- for a chunkier finish to the cheese, place all ingredients in a bowl and mash together using a masher or a fork.  This is a nice hands on way of getting it together.

Alternatively, for a smoother cheese, pop all ingredients in a blender and whizz up until well mixed and all is green and smooth.

If you are using tofu or ricotta, you may need to add a pinch of sea salt to the mix.

Tip – When scraping out the avocado (this is true for most fruit and vegetables) make sure to scrape out the parts closest to the skin, if you can, use the skin.  This is where the highest levels of nutrients are found.

Serve

We had ours simply lathered on celery sticks but I’m eating an oatcake now drowned in this glorious creation and it seems really good on anything.  Use in salads or on pan fried/ steamed vegetables.

Avocado and Basil Cheese

Avocado and Basil Cheese

We Love It!

This will be a regular in our fridge this summer, it will not keep for long with the avocado turning brown quickly, but it wont last long anyway!

Foodie Fact

There are always odd facts and advice about food.  Avocado got a bad name previously for having high fat, but its good fat, natural fat.   These fats regulate your blood sugar levels and boost levels of good cholesterol.  Avos contains all of the amino acids which are absorbed into the body via the high fibre content of avocado.   They are also high in carotenoids which are high in vitamin A (and normally associated with carrots) A is a great vitamin for protecting the body.

Categories: Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Golden Courgette, Cashew and Basil Bake (Vegan)

This is a blockbuster bake.  Layers of golden courgette, chard, green cabbage, onion, tofu and mushrooms, all smothered in a creamy garlic, cashew and basil sauce.  Hows that!

This was loosely based on the traditional French dish ‘au gratin potatoes’, but without the cheese, milk, butter, flour, breadcrumbs or potatoes!  So I guess it becomes a good, old fashioned bake!!  Its a healthier Beach House number after all.  I guarantee that no flavour is lost here, no enjoyment.  Just different flavours and ways of enjoying food.

We love a good bake, but generally they just turn into a cheese and fat fest.  All that oil and the incredible richness just makes us feel a little sleepy and bloated.  We fancied something baked and light and this dish hits that nail right on the head.

As usual, the local farm is producing some quite amazing veggies.  This dense courgette was over a foot long and weighed a couple of kilos, that’s a proper vegetable.  We thought about roasting it whole but then this little idea cropped up and we haven’t had baked anything for an age now.

Ready for a roasting

The tofu was added last minute, to give it a different texture and more luxurious feel.  Tofu has a certain cheesiness to it, like a vegetal haloumi. Viva tofu!   Our mate Pete gave us a fantastic Japanese tofu book from the 60’s, the entire history and different methods for producing the wonderful white stuff.  We shall be experimenting soon.  We forgot to add the sweet peppers here.  Red ones sliced thinly, that are unfortunately still in the fridge.  They would be a nice addition.  Next time.  This time, it still tastes quite amazing.

One of the best things about this dish is the leftover potential.  Tastes better the day after and is even delicious served cold.

This is an interesting little take on an old classic and with Autumn around the corner, its good to have some new ‘bakes’ up your sleeve.

Recipe Note

You can salt and pat dry your courgettes beforehand to get rid of some of their water.

The Bits – For 6 hungry sorts

Layers

1 giant golden courgette (or 2/3 normal sized courgettes/ zucchinis)

1 bunch of chard

1 bunch of spring greens (aka dark green long leafed cabbage)

1 onion

8 mushrooms

1 block tofu (250g-ish, enough for two layers)

1 sweet red pepper (sliced)

1 big handful of basil leaves

 

Sauce

1 small onion

3 cloves garlic (crushed)

1/2 cup cashews (soaked for 1 hour)

1 handful of chopped basil leaves

1 handful of fresh parsley

2/3 cup soya milk (or nut milk)

1/3 cup filtered water

1 big glug of olive oil,

Sea salt and cracked pepper

 

Topping

2 handfuls of roasted cashew nuts

 

Do It 

Sauce – In a decent blender, blitz up your cashews until a paste forms, then add the rest of the ingredients and blend until a smooth liquid forms.  You may need to scape down the sides of the blender to get it all mixed evenly.

Layer of mushrooms

Layers – Slice all veggies thinly, not quite wafer, but getting there.  Remove any thick, chewy stems.  Add a little sauce to cover the base of your dish (a good thick rectangular baking dish, glass would be nice to see all the layers), begin the layering.  Start with the cabbage, courgette, mushroom, onion, pepper, chard, tofu, courgette sauce (repeat once more).  That will be three layers of courgette, it should be the last layer on top and will go nice and brown when baked.

The dish should be piled high, don’t worry it will cook down quite alot.  Cover with foil and bake for 40 mins (180oC) then remove foil and bake for a further 15 mins or until the top is nice and golden brown.

Serve

Topped with roasted cashews, we ate ours with our leaf of the moment, a carrot top salad.  Rich bakes just crave for a nice crunchy salad.

We Love It!

Hearty winter fare, but light and healthy.  Like a normal bake but without the vast amounts of grease and fat.

Yellow Courgette and Basil Au Gratin

Foodie Fact

The gold in these courgettes makes it a great source of flavanoids, a wonderful thing.  They scavenge the body looking for baddies and make us look young and keep us disease free.  Courgettes are best stored in a plastic bag in the fridge, they dry out easily.

Categories: Autumn, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Rich Tomato and Basil Soup (Raw)

Tomato and Basil

Here’s one for when you are in a little bit of a hurry and you need something quick and tasty. Cold soup is a funny one for most people, it can be difficult to get your head around. Cold soups are served all over the world and I can think of many delicious recipes from Spain. It is very much a cultural thing, in Britain we have diabolical weather, which means we normally need a little warmth in our bellies. Soup is so sustaining and comforting, I don’t see why cold soup cannot have the same effect.

We managed to get our hands on a decent amount of lovely tomatoes, rare in these parts and this soup really did them justice.  The tomatoes really make this dish and without gorgeous tomatoes, you will struggle to get much flavour.  It’s all about tomato here!

Raw food is nutrient dense, which means alot of ingredients.  It is not your average soup, which normally relies heavily on a decent stock, its really just one big savoury smoothie!

This is a recipe that has the added richness of an avocado. I love the way that raw food uses things like avocado to add creaminess to dishes, surely better than a blob of clotted cream (no!?). But I must admit, clotted cream is definitely better on a scone.

We added on green chilli here, to add a little mexican style zing to proceedings.   It is optional of course.  If you’d like it richer, add more avocado, you can never get enough!

So dust off the blender and give this one a whirl. The perfect summer soup, refreshing and filling.  You can heat  this if you like, it will be nearly as nice!

Makes two big bowlfuls:

The Bits

8 tomatoes (medium size, chopped into 1/4’s), 1/2 sweet red pepper, 8 sun dried tomatoes (finely chopped/ mashed), 2 cloves garlic (minced, crushed etc), 1/2 medium sweet onion (Spanish are good, finely chopped), 1 big handful of chopped basil leaves, 1 avocado, pinch of good quality sea salt, 1 green chilli (very optional), olive oil for a drizzle

Tomato and Basil Soup (Raw)

Do It

All in a blender and pulse until a nice chunky texture is formed, add water if needed to thin out slightly.

Serve

We topped ours with sprouts (no surprises there then!) and a couple of basil leaves, a drizzle of olive oil maybe?

We Love It!

Nice and rich and refreshing, a great way to use glorious toms!

Foodie Fact

Basil is regarded as the ‘king of herbs’ and is a holy plant in many cultures.  Basil originated in Iran and India.  Basil has many anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-oxidant properties, it contains exceptionally high levels of beta carotene, vitamin A, iron and a whole host of other good stuff.

Categories: Raw Food, Recipes, Soups, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

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