Posts Tagged With: italian

Italian Vegan Summer Feast – A Celebration! (pt 1)

Italian Vegan Summer Feast – Get a load of that!!

We love sharing with you our favourite recipes!  Here’s a whole feasts worth!!  If I had time, I’d blog every night.  I think good recipes are best shared.   I never understand the whole secret recipe thing.  Let’s cook!

The post was originally so long, I’ve had to split it into two.  But don’t be overawed, the recipes are straightforward.  This celebration was a winner over on our Facebook cooking group, click here to join, where recipes are shared and there is much chat plus healthy vegan vibes and stunning food.  Pop over and take a look.

The simple and delicious flavours of Italy make the most out of our summer produce. When the sun comes out, we start getting tasty tomatoes, peppers, and the flavours of the Mediterranean can be found locally in the UK for a short window. I love it! This is a feast designed for a party or entertaining guests/ people you hopefully like, when you want a table filled with a wide range of dishes, not too complicated food that compliments each other.  For me, Italian food goes perfectly with a sunny afternoon and a bottle of something amazing.

THE ITALIAN CONNECTION

The reason for this meal was our relatives visiting from Italy, they live near Lake Como. Jane and I love Italy, one of our favourite places on this big rock, but we’ve never been North.  Can’t believe we’ve got family living in Italy and we haven’t been to see them.  Shame on us.   Since coming back to the UK we’ve been loving kitchen time and trying out ideas from our travels.  I guess the tart is like a pizza, but with a puff pastry base.  When I’m busy, I like working with puff pastry, it’s far too easy.  I’ve just discovered pre-rolled puff pastry.  Wow!  That is pure laziness and brilliance at the same time.   Whack it on a tray, bake, job done.

Here’s some of our Italian travel snaps.

When preparing a menu, we need to think about textures and flavours, how they mingle and benefit from each other. I find writing menu’s really enjoyable and a great challenge.

If you can, present the dishes on large plates or shallow bowls. Spread things out, make them look lovely.

 

Recipe Notes

This is going to take a few hours to get together.  Its a weekend special.

Gluten-free – Just use gluten-free pastry/ pasta for the tart and your favourite gluten free bread.

Additional deliciousness – this tart is awesome with some prated vegan parmesan sprinkle over at the end.  Violife do a parmesan which is scarily like the real thing Jane and I were amazed by it, you could smell the pong upstairs and in the garden.  Just like the other stuff.  Potent.  There must be some kind of genius going on there. Vegan parmesan!! Whatever next. Exciting times in the foody world powered by plants.

(You’ll notice a couple of dishes are missing from the picture above, you’ll find a Chocolate Cake recipe here the Peanut Butter Scones may appear soon.)

 

The Bits – For 6-8 Light Meal

Pepper, Basil and Cashew Cream Cheese Tart (Vegan)

Pepper, Basil & Cashew Cheese Tart

1 pack puff pastry

1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 garlic
salt and pepper

3 peppers – different colours looks nice (sliced)
2 onions (thickly sliced)
2 handfuls squash (chopped into cubes)

 

Cashew Cheese

1 cup cashews
1/2 lemon (juice)
3 tbs nutritional yeast flakes
1/2 garlic clove
Large pinch dried oregano

 

1 handful fresh basil leaves

Dried oregano

3 tbs plant milk (for brushing)

 

—————-

Preheat fan oven 200oc.

Place the peppers, onions and squash on a large baking tray, season with salt and pepper, use two if squashed, and roast for 25-30 minutes.

In a sauce pan, add tomatoes, garlic, season with salt and pepper. Simmer for 15 minutes, until a thick sauce forms.

Roll out your puff pastry thin on a piece of lightly floured greaseproof paper. Brush with milk. Bake in oven for 12 minutes. Leave to cool slightly.

Spread a layer of tomato sauce over tart, scatter onions, peppers, squash, sprinkle with oregano, black pepper.

Brush the edges of the tart with plant milk, bake for 15 minutes. Can be served hot or cold.

Place all the cheese ingredients in a blender and blits until smooth.

To serve, blob on cashew cheese and tear over some basil leaves.

 

Tomato & Balsamic Salad

Tomato & Balsamic Salad

4-5 ripe tomatoes (chopped)
2 tbs balsamic vinegar
1 tbs olive oil
Salt & pepper
1 handful basil leaves

——————–

Mix together in a bowl and tear your basil leaves over.

 

Roast Rosemary Potatoes

Roasted New Potatoes & Rosemary

New potatoes (par boiled)
Few sprigs of Rosemary
Salt
2 roasted garlic bulbs

 

——————-

Take your par boiled potatoes, toss them in the rosemary, salt and oil, roast in the oven for 30 minutes. (200oC) until crispy and golden, turning them once.

Serve warm.

 

Italian Style Dressing

8 tbs olive oil
3 tbs white wine vinegar
2 small garlic cloves (crushed)
3 tbs chopped parsley
1/2 teas dried oregano
1/2 small lemon (juice)
Large pinch dried red pepper

——————-

Whisk all together in a bowl or shake together in a jar.  Check seasoning.

 

Buon appetito!

 

This is only half of the recipes, check out the Italian Vegan Summer Feast (pt 2) post for more.

 

Categories: Dressings, healthy, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Salads, Side Dish, Special Occasion, Summer, Vegan | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

Roast Potato and Cumin Frittata with a Farro and Cannellini Bean Salad

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Roast Potato and Cumin Frittata with Farro and Cannellini Bean Salad (Vegan)

I had a great time on BBC Radio Wales recently, a little thing they do called ‘Foodie Friday’.  It was the wonderful Eleri Sion show (although Tom was standing in) and we mainly talked about how accessible and incredible a vegan lifestyle is and coconut scones, but I did mention one of my very favourite dishes at the moment, a simple and really nutritious vegan frittata.  Plant power for all!!  I just had to share the recipe.

Tom mentioned that vegan food can be more time consuming to cook than a lump of meat with vegetables, which may well be true for some dishes, but this frittata is so easy and straightforward and as with all vegan cooking, substitutions can be made, things can be swapped, veggies played with, happiness unearthed, taste buds dance a merry jig.  It’s always easier when you’re done it, so lets do it!

This is a lovely light Italian lunch with a twist.  I just can’t help myself!  Cumin seeds are one of my favourite ingredients (along with gram flour) and they bring a subtle and deep spice to this dish.  I know that cumin is not exactly traditionally Italian, but I’m sure they’ll forgive me!  Especially if they get to try this frittata.  Molto delizioso! (Which means pretty dang nice in Italian)

Spring is taking its gentle hold on North Wales and the nights are lighter and the sun is making reappearance after a long winter.  Its such a beautiful time of year and we are naturally turning to lighter foods.

This frittata is a brilliant way to use up gorgeous roasted vegetables, either freshly roasted or leftovers.  The other night, after some very posh curry and chips (see below), I pondered how to use the leftover potatoes.  It’s been a while since our last Spain time and I know Jane loved Potato Tortillas so this was a no brainer.  I know the art of romance, surprise frittata!

Posh chips and curry sauce - a Beach House classic made with local organic roasted potatoes and a spicy masala sauce (recipe from Peace & Parsnips)  Yumah!

Posh chips and curry sauce – a Beach House classic made with local organic roasted potatoes and a spicy masala sauce (recipe from Peace & Parsnips) Yumah!

Roasties!!!!!!!!

Roasties!!!!!!!!

A tortilla is basically a Spanish name for an unfolded omelette.  Most people will cook this in a pan and then grill it (this is also called a ‘Frittata’ in Italy or even a ‘Kuku’ in Iran – confused yet?!) but I’ve made it easier, pop it in the oven and all is well.  In fact, omellete’s seem to be a staple in most countries I visit, from North Africa to India, the world loves an omellete.  Making it a vegan delight is quick and easy.  I’ve cooked this for many non-vegans and they love it, a few glugs of olive oil for richness and no one misses those strange oval chicken things.

Looking good with a plenty of fresh coriander (although parsley is probably slightly more Italian)

Looking good with a plenty of fresh coriander (although parsley is probably slightly more Italian)

THATS LUNCH!

Frittata is very happy when paired with a grain salad and some green leaves.  That’s lunch!  I’ve made a little Farro and Canellini Bean Salad, packed with crunch and the wholesome feel of the farro, served with some top salad leaves from our local organic farm.  When the leaves are this good, with amazing vitality, fresh flavour and texture, I just give them a quick rinse and tear them up with my hands.  Finely slicing amazing salad leaves just seems like a waste.  I love to see their shapes.

FUTURE SALADS

I am constantly blown away by the diversity of flavours in the plant word and salad leaves, sprouts and cresses are a real joy for me.  At the recent Discovering Vegan Cooking Retreat that we ran at Trigonos, we were privileged to try a load of different cress and leaves.  The flavours were all over the shop, many shocking and delightful in equal measure; some subtle, some full-on.  All suggested that in the near future, salads will be getting much, much more interesting.  Trust me, you ain’t tried nothing like this!

Crazy Cress!  Such a diverse range of flavours and colours all wrapped up in tiny, tiny leaves.  Very interesting.

Crazy Cress! Such a diverse range of flavours and colours all wrapped up in tiny, tiny little leaves. Very interesting.  Boom!!    

Recipe Notes

You can also use this gram flour mix for omelette’s cooked in a pan or as a filling for a vegan quiche or tart.  A baked gram flour pancake in Italy is known as a Farinata and its one of the best things ever.

For a lighter frittata, why not add 1/3 teas baking powder to the gram flour and then stir in the water.

Farro is basically Italian Spelt, meaning that some people who are gluten intolerant can handle it.  If you are off gluten, try using buckwheat or even quinoa.

Due to my intense love of veggies, this salad is light on grains.  I like a high veg ratio in any dish.

Farro and Cannellini Salad

Farro and Cannellini Salad – packed with crunch and vitality

The Bits – For 4-6

Frittata

250g roasted potatoes (or similar quantity of any roasted vegetables)

2 small onions

2 tbsp olive oil

¾ teas cumin seeds

½ teas turmeric

150g gram flour

225ml water

1/3 teas salt

Large pinch pepper
Garnish 

½ handful Fresh Coriander or Parsley (finely chopped)

½ handful Crushed Walnuts (optional)

 

Farro and Cannellini Bean Salad

100g faro (I use quick cook type)

1 small kohlrabi (finely diced)

3 handfuls leek (finely sliced)

½ yellow pepper (finely diced)

1 handful toasted pumpkin seeds

1 handful pitted green olives (sliced)

½ lemon (juice)

200g cannellini beans

4 radishes (sliced into thin batons)

1 handful parsley chopped

Couple of pinches of salt and pepper

Very simple salad, torn leaves.  No need to mess.  Delicious!

Very simple salad, torn leaves. No need to mess. Delicious!

Do It

Frittata

Preheat an oven to 200oc.

Grab a 10 inch non-stick baking dish, round looks good but you could always use a square one.  If you are not sure about the non-stickiness of the dish, line it with baking parchment.

Drizzle in a little oil, add the cumin seeds, onions and a couple of pinches of salt.  Toss together and place in the oven.  Roast for 15 minutes, stir, roast again for 10 minutes, stir, roast again for 10 minutes, by this time the onions should be nicely caramelised and golden.  Set aside.

While the onions are in the oven, in a large bowl, add the gram flour along with the turmeric, olive oil and a couple pinches of salt.  Stir together and then gradually pour in the water whilst stirring, until a thick and smooth batter forms.

Add your potatoes to the oven dish, mixing them in with the onions.  Pour over the batter and sprinkle a little salt and pepper over the frittata.

Pop in the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes, until the frittata is firm and getting nice and golden on top.  Cut into slices and drizzle over a little more olive oil and a sprinkle of coriander/ parsley.  A few toasted walnuts are also delicious.

Can be served warm or cold.

Salad

In a saucepan, bring roughly 1 litre water to a rolling boil, add the farro and simmer for 10-12 minutes.  Until the grains are soft.  Drain and refresh with cold water.  Set aside.

Once the grains have cooled, toss everything together in a big bowl.  Serve with your favourite dressing and ideally, a nice big slab of frittata.

Vegan frittata - ideal and super nutritious Spring lunch

Vegan frittata – ideal and super nutritious Spring lunch

My dressing for this was using pomegranate molasses, english mustard and sherry vinegar, with a light olive oil and a touch of salt and maple syrup.

My dressing for this was using pomegranate molasses, english mustard and sherry vinegar, with a light olive oil and a touch of salt and maple syrup.  Worked nicely!  

Foodie Fact

Did you know that potatoes are a good source of protein, iron, fibre and vitamin C?  I sometimes overlook how nutritious potatoes are.

Gram or Chickpea flour is another ingredient to get excited about (of you’re that way inclined).  I love using the stuff!  It makes for a brilliant egg replacer, when stirred with a little water, in baking and is sooooooooo versatile.  Helpfully, its also gluten-free and packed with nutrition.  High in

When buying gram flour, it may be called Besan (unroasted) or Chana (roasted) flour.  They both have slightly different flavours.  Chickpea flour has twice the amount of protein that wholewheat flour has and six times the amount of protein compared to white flour.  It is also very high in folates and healthy unsaturated fats and is a good source of vitamin B6, iron and magnesium.

Wales is so beautiful in early spring - taken at Trigonos, Nantlle Valley, North Wales

Wales is so beautiful in early spring – taken at Trigonos, Nantlle Valley, North Wales

Categories: gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Lunch, Nutrition, Organic, photography, Recipes, Salads, Spring, Vegan | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

Italian Style Cannellini Beans with Pickled Chillies and Basil Oil

 

Italian Style Cannellini Beans with Pickled Chillies and Basil Oil

Italian Style Cannellini Beans with Pickled Chillies and Basil Oil

Jane and I have been down at Whitstable at my sisters wedding bash.  Laura and Paul were married on a beautiful beach in Cornwall, but this one was for all the family and other rabble!  It was a wonderful time, a marquee in the back garden, bright sunshine all day and Jane and I cooked up a Italian feast; plenty of antipasti to start with salads, tarts, stews etc later on.  We had a local band play a few tunes and then an impromptu talent contest from the semi-sozzled/ fully-sozzled revellers.  Stand up comics, musicians and spoken word enthusiasts.  It was a proper giggle.

A quick and easy breakfast/ brunch was in order the morning after.  Something with a bit of substance.  This is a nice change from your normal beans on toast!  I love my beans and like to play with flavours in the morning, of course, sometimes a classic beans on toast is in order (you know the brand!) But homemade beans are so much tastier and better for us. They also only take a few minutes longer to prepare and combined with the herb oil and chillies, tickles the tastebuds nicely.

The pickled chillies are essential here, you can easily make your own or buy them in, you’ll find them easily in your local shops.  I love the way Italians add cheeky chilli to things, just a tickle to get you interested.  I am more of a unabashed chilli muncher and therefore eat a few whole with my brekkie.  Probably not for everyone, but I learnt this trick in Mexico and it certainly cuts through the morning head mist.

After all the extravagance of wedding food, this was one of my favourite things to eat all weekend!  So simple and tasty, I had to share it with you.  Here we serve it with some smoked aubergine puree, which is not your normal breakfast fare, but as with all party menu’s, there were some brilliant leftovers to hoover up.

With the antipasti table

With the antipasti table

Use any greens here, spinach, kale etc……  They make all the difference for so many reasons.

I like to soak and cook dried beans. More flavour and better texture. But you can use two tins of beans if you like.

You will have a little basil oil left over, it seems wise to make a little more than needed.  Cover it with cling film and it will keep well for a couple of days.  The basil may discolour a little.  You may like to blanch it for 30 seconds in boiling water to stop this.  But that seems like a lot of hassle in the morning (especially after a wedding party!)

BIG CONGRATS TO LAURA AND PAUL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Laura cutting Mums massive Cloud Forest Chocolate Cake

Laura cutting Mums massive Cloud Forest Chocolate Cake

The Bits – For 2 Healthy Appetites

480g cooked cannellini beans (2 tins or 250g dried beans – soaked overnight in plenty of cold water)

4 big handfuls of spinach/ kale leaves

2 teas dried oregano

2 teas paprika

3 tbs tomato puree

2 cloves garlic (crushed)

Sea salt and black pepper (to taste)

1-2 tbs fruity olive oil

 

1 handful sun dried tomatoes (roughly chopped) – Optional deliciousness

 

Basil Oil

1 large handful basil leaves (very finely chopped)

1 large handful parsley (very finely chopped)

2 tbs lemon juice

1 large clove garlic (crushed)

75 ml olive oil

Large pinch sea salt

 

Sourdough Bread (for toast)

2 ripe tomatoes (chopped)

Pickled red chillies (as you like)

 

Do It

For the basil oil, stir all the ingredients together.  You can also pop it all into a good blender if you don’t fancy all the fine chopping.  Blitz until the herbs are broken down.

In a medium saucepan, on medium low heat, warm the beans, adding all the ingredients except the spinach leaves and olive oil.  Stir regularly on a low simmer for about 7 minutes, take off the heat and stir in the spinach leaves and olive oil (for optional richness).   Check the seasoning and then pop a lid on and get your toast and tomatoes ready.

Italian Brunch Beans

Italian Brunch Beans

Serve

Spoon the beans onto a plate with the toast, chillies and tomatoes.  Drizzle liberally with your herb oil.  Sit in the sun and dream of the Italian coastline and the aquamarine Med.  If its a brunch time, a chilled glass of Prosecco is perfectly acceptable.

Foodie Fact

It has been shown that around the world, cultures who eat a good amount of beans live longer.  There are of course other factors, but beans are just incredible for many reasons.   Beans are very low GI, making them a brilliant way to fuel up for a day, slowly releasing energy throughout the day.  Beans are of course full of fibre and certain chemicals which have a strong detoxifying effect on the body.  Plus, they are absolutely packed with pure plant protein with non of the nasty additions you get with animal proteins.  Beans may seems a little uninteresting to some, but they are really a magical wonder food!

Jane at sunset near The Old Neptune Pub, Whistable

Jane at sunset near The Old Neptune Pub, Whistable

Categories: Breakfast, Dressings, Healthy Eating, photography, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Ciambotta – Italian Butter Bean Stew with lots of Greens

From the top of Knicht - Snowdonia, Wales

From the top of Knicht – Snowdonia, Wales

We are just back in Wales, the home of the Beach House and arrived to a clear night and a million star welcome! Today has been fantastic, getting settled in again and unpacking the wine bought in France and Spain. We may need to build an extension to fit it all in!

After all the fussing about and sorting we decided to head to the hills, Knicht to be exact, a Himalayan looking mountain near Porthmadog. It is an impressive rocky peak and we knew we had a good day of scrambling and sharp climbs ahead. It turned out to be an awesome walk, with views of the Snowdon range and the Irish Sea. Knicht is surrounded by many small mountain lakes and we’ve made plans to return and camp up there soon. Jane and I are so lucky to live in such beautiful places. We are loving being back in Wales and of course a major part of that is the Beach House Kitchen.

We are getting re-acquainted with all of our cool kitchen stuff; spatulas, knives graters and Buster our semi-wild cat (who lives in the wood store).  We’ve been cooking up a storm with oat breads, hummus, fruit salads and lashing of proper cups of tea. Amongst this frenzy came the idea for his stew.

We fancied a change of taste, we do eat alot of spiced food and have talked of visiting Italy for an age.  We have also been eating far too much amazing cheese in France and quaffing the odd glass of vino, all in all, we feel a little jaded after two weeks or more on the road and this Ciambotta recipe heralds a step back to the food we really love; healthy, fresh, local and hearty.

This Ciambotta, I would imagine, is very un-Italian to most Italians.  But it looks very Italian in Wales I can assure you! We’re a long way from Milan! The colours and citrus of the dish, not to mention the vegan parmesan and hint of tarragon, make for an interesting take on the traditional Ciambotta; a dish normally cooked by Italian Mum’s to use up spare vegetables. There is nothing spare about these vegetable though, they are all in peak condition, as they should be. Jane has been searching high and low for good produce, it’s that time of year when all that seems good are the Jerusalem Artichokes (nothing wrong with that then!)

To make this recipe more Italian, substitute the parsnip and carrot for aubergine and courgette.  But we’re back in the B.H.K and the local veg is brilliant. We’ve also missed our friend the parsnip, they are as rare as vegans is Spain!

We used Winter Greens here, they are like cabbage leaves. Kale, Savoy Cabbage and the like would also be grand. Even Spinach would be cool, anything dark green and leafy. The Greens work well because when rolled up and chopped thin, they actually resemble something like pasta (gluten-free wa-hay!)

Bon Appetito!

 

The Bits – For 4 hungry folk

3 cups cooked butter beans

2 tbs olive oil

1 large onion (finely sliced)

1 stick celery (finely sliced)

2 large carrots (small cubes)

1 large parsnips (small cubes)

4 cloves garlic (finely sliced)

2 big handfuls of greens (whole leaves finely sliced)

1 big handful of cherry tomatoes

1 lemon (juice and zest)

3 bay leaves

2 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoons dried basil

2 cups butter bean stock (cooking juice)

2 tbs vegan parmesan cheese (buy online and in selected shops)

Do It

Cook off your beans for 1 hour (bring to a boil then simmer with a lid). They should be nice and tender. Set aside, this can be done well in advance, you can store them in the fridge for a couple of days.

On a medium heat, warm 1 tbs of oil in a heavy based frying pan and begin to sweat off your onions (5 mins), when soft add your bay leaves, carrots, celery, parsnip and garlic, stir well and cook for 3 mins, then add your dried herbs and tomatoes, stir well and cook for 5 mins and then add your beans and bean juice. Turn the heat up and cook for 5 – 10 mins get it all nice and warm, the veggies should be getting soft and the bean juice reducing a little.

At this stage, pop your lemon zest and juice, parmesan cheese, greens and a glug of great olive oil into the mix, stir in and then pop a lid on and warm on lowest heat for 5 minutes.  If you need a little more sauce, just pop some bean stock in and heat through.

Serve

We topped ours with some fresh parsley and basil leaves and nothing else!  A little more parmesan on top, but that would be lovely.  It’s quite a hearty stew, but of course being Italian-ish, a good lump of bread may be in order.

In the Beach House we love stirring yogurt into stews to add some creaminess.

We Love It!

The lemon does it here and the pungent parmesan. We love this take on the Italian classic Ciambotta and are glad to be back in the land of the splendid parsnip. This stew is laden with glorious veggies, just the way we like ‘em.

 

 

Tunes

As always, we try and keep you abreast of Beach House tunes, now we’re back on the island (Britain) we are re-integrating with some cool youngsters Alt-J, nice beats and melodies off the ‘Awesome Wave’, here we are ‘Dissolve Me’.  Wicked!:

Categories: Dinner, Recipes, Stew, Wales | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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