Posts Tagged With: umami

Baked Mushrooms with Sun-dried Tomato Pesto and Walnuts

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Baked Mushrooms with Sun-dried Tomato Pesto and Walnuts

Just such and easy and flavoursome number!  The kind of dish you could serve as a main course or starter  at a dinner party (aka when you’re trying to look a bit flash in the kitchen) and really not go to any great trouble.

One of the main reasons for me popping this recipe on the BHK is the wonderful Vegan Recipe Hour, happening soon over on Twitter.  A great place for vegan cooking inspiration and tonight the theme is……well……MUSHROOMS!

They look lovely and pack some intense flavours; mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, roasted nuts, pesto, these are some of the bedrocks of richness and savoury flavours in a vegan cooks locker.  Combined……POW!  I’d also like to mention that this is most definitely healthy.

UMAMI!

One of the five basic tastes and a word that sounds like something Vic and Bob would exclaim (with loads of reverb) mid ‘Shooting Stars’.  If you are not British, this may take some explaining…..this clip might help.

Umami is a savoury taste in things like mushrooms, nuts, fermented foods like miso and tamari, yeast extract, seaweed and sun dried tomatoes, they’re packed with that mysterious and delicious flavour that acts like catnip to our tastebuds.  We know we love it!

The history of umami can be found here and it is of course the source of MSG.  Its natures MSG, which means all the crazy good flavour without the unpleasant side effects.  Many rich and flavourful plant based meals use something umami as a base.

BEST JOB IN THE WORLD!

Some of you may know that I cook at a glorious retreat centre in Snowdonia, Trigonos.  (Queue a quick plug for the retreat and workshop I’m running soon –  ‘Discovering Vegan Cooking’).  I have started to make these mushrooms for lunch there and they always go down a treat.  Greater than the sum of their preparation skills and time.  The sign of a winning restaurant dish, especially when you’re working in the kitchen!  This is a dish I choose when I’m giving myself a bit of a break.  Normally, if you eat at Trigonos, you’ll be joining me on a voyage into vegan cooking.  I have a rough idea what I’ll be cooking but I generally see what is good from the land that day (we have our own organic farm) and what’s looking great from out veg supplier.  Then I play with food and enjoy myself.  One of the most wonderful occupations imaginable.

Now.  Lets make something delicious.

Recipe Notes

The mushrooms will shrink quite a bit during cooking.  Make sure you get big ones, or double up per person.  I have found that most folk like a second mushroom after they’ve tasted the first.

Portobellos are full of flavour and texture but field mushrooms are also fine (and a little cheaper).

I always try to make my own pesto, but at this time of year, fresh leafy herbs are not exactly sprouting from the earth.  You could use a good jar of vegan pesto, you’ll find this in most supermarkets and especially health food shops or similar.

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A typical Trigonos lunch plate, plenty of colours!

The Bits – For 4

4 large mushrooms (peeled and the end of stalks trimmed off)

Pesto

2 big handfuls sun dried tomatoes (roughly chopped)

2 big handfuls basil leaves

1/2 lemon (zest)

3 large cloves garlic (peeled and crushed)

1 handful cashews (best when soaked in warm water for an hour before)

50ml+ olive oil

2 tbs nutritional yeast flakes

Sea Salt (to taste)

OR

10-12 tbs green pesto (of your choice)

Mixing in the sun dried tomatoes and lemon (zest) – same quantities as above

 

2 handfuls walnuts (roughly chopped)

 

Topping

Fresh green herbs – parsley, thyme, basil

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Fresh out of the oven

Do It

Preheat an oven 180oc.

Peel the mushrooms, lightly oil a baking tray, sprinkle the mushrooms with salt and pepper.  Bake the mushrooms for 15-20 minutes.  They should be soft but still nice and succulent.

Place all of the pesto ingredients into a food processor (except the olive oil) and pulse until a chunky pesto is formed whilst drizzling in the oil.  Or, just mix the tomatoes and lemon zest into your shop bought pesto.  Taste and season with salt if needed.  Adding more nooch (nutritional yeast flakes) will up the cheesiness. A good thing.

Spoon roughly 2-3 tbs of the pesto over each mushroom and sprinkle with walnuts.  Pop back into the oven for 10 minutes to warm them through.  Thats it!

Sprinkle over some herbs and serve soon after.

Here are some dishes I’ve served recently to accompany these mushrooms:

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Categories: Dinner, gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Umami Flax Seed Crackers and Veg Box Salad (Raw/ Vegan/ Gluten Free)

Umami Flax Seed Crackers

Umami Flax Seed Crackers

 

These crackers came out of the blue, as an afterthought, they appeared in a bowl, I stirred them, decided to dry them and hey pesto!  Umami Crackers came into the world.  CRUNCH!

The real reason for these flax crackers was the desire to make a superbly healthy cracker, something to idly munch on without care.  Jane and I can put away vast quantities of oat cakes/ crackers at one mid-sitting, its something to do with the texture.  Most crackers aren’t exactly packed with nutrition, we’ve found that after a couple of these we are sated.  Its all the good stuff in them we reckon.

Flax (or Lin) Seeds are a special little thing, one of the finest things for our digestion.  When you pop a little water on them, you’ll see why.  Flax takes on a gooey, emulsion-like property which the belly and below loves, this is the exact property that makes these crackers ‘gel’.  Just add a little water to flax, leave them for a few minutes and they become a vehicle for all sorts of flavours and once dried/ baked they make crunchy biscuits to get excited about.  There is absolutely nothing negative about these crackers, nutritionally, they are food for super humans (that’s all of us then!!!!)

Umami is the fifth taste, along with bitter, sweet etc.  Umami means ‘yummy’ in Japanese and the Umami spectrum was opened up by a Japanese fellow.  Umami is a delicious savouriness, think MSG but natural.  MSG is not the baddy that many think, it is present naturally in foods like parmesan, sun dried tomatoes, mushrooms.  Added to this, umami just sounds like alot of fun!

I used a splendid Halen Mon product here, Umami powder.  Its a mixture of their awesome sea salt (from the Menia Straits just outside the Beach House) and some seaweed and dried mushrooms.  Seriously savoury and brilliant for perking things up, stews, risottos, soups…..you get the picture.  Its a wonder condiment.

The Veg Box Salad is a Jane speciality that we enjoy on numerous occasions per week (especially when Janes cooking/non-cooking).  It consists of loads of veggies and other special bits from the fridge and larder (seeds, olives, dried fruits…..), you never know what to expect from a Veg Box Salad, but you know that it will be massive and super tasty.  The exhaustive list of ingredients of this particular salad are below, but feel free to empty your own fridge or veg box into a bowl and enjoy the spoils!!!!!   There is an alarming amount of awesome veg to be found here.

A good salad is all about combining textures, flavours and colours, all topped off with a kickin’ dressing.  Ingredients don’t matter here, this is free-flowing fare, changing with the seasons and your whims.

Crackers

Makes around 10 crackers

1 1/2 cup flax (lin) seeds, 1/4 cup water, 1/4 cup sunblushed tomatoes (finely chopped), 1 teas umami powder, 2 tbs black sesame seeds, 2 cloves garlic (crushed, minced or mashed up)

Umami Flax Seed Crackers (Raw/ Vegan)

Umami Flax Seed Crackers (Raw/ Vegan)

Do It

Mix water into flax seeds and leave for 10 minutes, the seeds should be sticky, but not too wet.  Add the rest of your ingredients and stir well.  Spread out onto dehydrator tray or baking tray, oiled.  1/2 cm thickness is good and any shape that take you fancy.  Cracker size!?

Dehydrate for 6 hours until crispy, bake for 10-15 minutes at around 1800C or until crispy.

Be gentle when handling the finished crackers, they are sensitive little guys.  Use a flat spatula for the sake of a decent sized cracker.

Veg Box delights!

Veg Box delights!

Veg Box Salad

One massive bowlful 

3 stems swiss chard (finely sliced), 1/4 green cabbage (shredded), 1/2 white onion (finely chopped), 2 stems celery (chopped), 2 handfuls chopped parsley, 1 avocado (roughly chopped), 1 green apple (diced and cored), 1 small courgette, small cucumber, small broccoli (all diced), 2 handfuls of olives, 2 handfuls of pumpkin seeds, 3 tbs nutritional yeast flakes (optional but very tasty)

Dressing

1 handful of fresh mint, 1 handful of fresh basil, juice and zest of 1/2 lemon, 1/2 cup fruity olive oil, 1 cup soya yoghurt, 1 teas sea salt, 1 teas bharat (spice mix, or garam masala), 1 tbs apple juice concentrate (or honey), 1 tbs white wine vinegar

Blend all together in a food processor, adding the olive oil slowly to for a good emulsion.

Serve

We broke up some of the crackers and added them as a topping which worked out nicely.  Big bowls.  BIG bowls!

We Love It!

Every Thursday (that’s today) we pick up our veg box and are consistently surprised by the wonderful veg produced by the magical John and Pippa.   There is no better way to celebrate good vegetables than very, very simply.  Salad style definitely works here.

The flavours of these organic vegetables light up the bowl, a dressing almost seems like overkill.  The crackers make a decent accompaniment to such a bounty of veg goodness.

Foodie Fact 

Flax seeds are unique in many ways.  Firstly, they provide the highest levels of Omega 3 oils found in a vegetarian diet (hundreds times more than the nearest competitor!) and these abundant oils are not altered by cooking at high heats.  Which is great news!

Flax seeds are also insanely high in lignans, which act like fibre and have antioxidant effects on the body.

As mentioned above, flax seeds have mucilage properties, which means they form a ‘gum’ like substance in the body which helps the absorption of many nutrients in the intestines.

Some Beach House leaves picked yesterday

Some Beach House leaves picked yesterday

 

Categories: Local food, Raw Food, Recipes, Salads | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

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