Pumpkin, Black Bean and Avocado Tostadas with Roasted Poblano Sauce | Gluten Free | Vegan

Crunchy toasted tortillas filled with sweet roasted butternut pumpkin, hearty black beans, creamy avocado, and spicy coriander and roasted poblano sauce. This vegan, gluten free dish makes a great week night meal, or a memorable winter lunch with friends!

Pumpkin, Black Bean and Avocado Tostadas | Vegan | Gluten FreeGrowing up ‘Mexican-inspired food’ meant one of two meals: beef tacos, or taco spuds. I still love a good taco (now with beans) and taco spuds are one of the true pleasures in life, especially when piled high with cheese and really fluffy guacamole. Now, my definition of Mexican-inspired food has grown considerably, thanks to lots of American friends on the internet, and some time in California, spiritual home of the taco and tostada.

I love the ease of tostadas – just a really crunchy tortilla or soft taco really. You can top them with any combination of vegetables, beans (or meat), cheese, and sauce that you like, then fold and crunch your way through. Or, you know, be ladylike and eat them with a knife and fork. I prefer to eat these with my hands. It’s so much more fun that way!

Pumpkin, Black Bean and Avocado Tostadas | Vegan | Gluten FreeWhen I think of Mexican food I usually think first of bright red sauce, fresh tomatoes, and salsa. But there is so much more to explore in the fusion of Mexican and other cuisines, or taking inspiration from the seasons. Winter heralds the season of sweet, dewy butternut pumpkins and creamy plump avocados, both of which pair beautifully with smoky black beans, and my bright roasted poblano, coriander, and lime sauce. It’s not exactly authentic, but these vegan, gluten free tostadas celebrate winter’s seasonal produce and have all the elements that will have your taste buds craving for just another messy delicious bite.
Pumpkin, Black Bean and Avocado Tostadas | Vegan | Gluten FreeMy roasted poblano sauce is bright with fresh coriander and lots of lime juice. The roasted poblanos are a soft heat. If you want more spice, try dicing up a green chilli and adding it to the blender with the coriander. This sauce would also make a great addition to guacamole, or as a quick topping for grilled vegetables or meat. In these tostadas the sweet cubes of roasted butternut pumpkin combine with creamy chunks of avocado and spicy poblano sauce in every bite and assault your tastebuds from every angle.

Pumpkin, Black Bean and Avocado Tostadas | Vegan | Gluten FreeThese Pumpkin, Black Bean and Avocado Tostadas with Roasted Poblano Sauce do make a great week night meal, but add a few margaritas (or a sweet dry white wine), maybe some salsa and chips, and you have the perfect menu for a sunny winter lunch with friends.

There’s something endearing about this sort of get your hands dirty food. People have to drop pretensions and just come to the table just as they are. Dig your hands in, connect with your food and just have some fun. Connecting through food with the people you love, now that’s the most authentic dish no matter where you are.
Pumpkin, Black Bean and Avocado Tostadas | Vegan | Gluten Free

Pumpkin, Black Bean and Avocado Tostadas with Roasted Poblano Sauce

Serves 2-3 | Gluten Free | Vegan

Ingredients

For the sauce

  • 2 poblano chilies
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 cup (packed) coriander leaves
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • Small onion
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

To assemble

  • 500 grams butternut pumpkin
  • 6 small gluten free corn tortillas (I used these ones)
  • 400 gram can black beans
  • 1 small avocado

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 200C (400F) and line two baking trays with baking paper.
  2. First, make the sauce. Place chilies onto one of the baking trays. Roast until the chili’s skin has softened and blackened. This will take about 30-40 minutes. Turn the chilies over every ten minutes. Once chilies are cooked allow to cool to room temperature.
  3. Place chilies into small food processor (or a blender) and add garlic, coriander, and lime juice. Process until combined but still a little chunky. Dice onion and stir through the sauce along with the salt and pepper. Set sauce aside until needed.
  4. Peel butternut pumpkin and cut into playing dice-sized pieces and place them on the baking tray. You can re-use the chili tray and paper (it makes for less clean up!).
  5. Roast until the pumpkin is soft to the centre, about 20 minutes. Keep warm until serving.
  6. Place corn tortillas in a single layer on the second baking tray. Bake for 5 minutes on one side, then flip over and bake for 5 minutes on the second side. This will crisp up the tortillas.
  7. While the tortillas bake, drain and rinse black beans. Place in a small sauce pan and warm gently over a low heat.
  8. Dice avocado in preparation.
  9. To assemble: place a tortilla on your plate, top with roasted pumpkin, warmed beans, and dice avocado. Drizzle roasted poblano sauce over the top. Dig in!

Pumpkin, Black Bean and Avocado Tostadas | Vegan | Gluten Free

Creamy Mustard, Mushroom, and Broccoli Pasta | Gluten Free | Vegetarian

Winter is here, come inside and try my newest healthy comfort food dish inspired by one of my childhood favourites. Creamy Mustard, Mushroom, and Broccoli Pasta is a hearty but healthy dish perfect for the cooler days ahead.

Creamy Mustard, Mushroom, and Broccoli Pasta | Gluten Free | Vegetarian | Thoroughly Nourished LifeWhen I was in primary school I had three favourite dinners: steak with mashed potato; roast beef with gravy; and chicken in mustard sauce. The last of these generally involved a large amount of chicken breast diced and seared with a large dollop of mustard then more cream than is legal poured on top and bubbled and reduced to thick creamy goodness. Gah. Now this girl is in deep with her vegetarian life (and has loved it from day one) but sometimes a girl craves a good creamy pasta dish. This girl also craves the feeling that she hasn’t completely blown her daily run with merely a bite of her dinner, so into the kitchen this girl goes. I should really stop talking about myself in third person. It’s getting weird.

Creamy Mustard, Mushroom, and Broccoli Pasta | Gluten Free | Vegetarian | Thoroughly Nourished LifeI feel like winter can be a big creamy, baked, cheesy, trap when you are trying to eat more healthfully. On dark-skied days when the rain clouds hang low, and your nose is at a constant drip during a chilly run you don’t feel like coming home to a big crunchy salad. At least, this girl doesn’t (there I go again). At least, I don’t (better). I feel like coming home to a big bowl of something hearty and warming. A meal that will stick to my ribs (I have always hated that visual), fill up my chilly tummy, and send me drifting off into dreamland. But, I also want to wake up the next morning feeling good about how I nourished my body the day before, and leave some room for a square or two of after-dinner dark chocolate. The secret: you can have both. You can have a hearty, creamy dish and nourish your body with healthy whole foods.

Creamy Mustard, Mushroom, and Broccoli Pasta | Gluten Free | Vegetarian | Thoroughly Nourished LifeThe secret to this creamy dish: almond milk. Just the barest touch. We go deep into the comfort flavour pool with mustard, balsamic vinegar, garlic, and onion to satisfy every corner of your tastebuds and merely finish the dish with a splash of almond milk. You could use dairy or soy if that is what you have at hand. Mushrooms make this meal substantial and bring their own earthy sweetness. Mushrooms, balsamic vinegar, mustard and creamy almond milk are a match made in heaven. Add some al dente gluten free pasta shells, broccoli blanched in the pasta water, and baby rocket wilted at the final moment and your bowl is filled to the brim with feel good comfort food.

I enjoyed this with a side of Orange is the New Black and my favourite blanket draped over my knees. I am old. I am cold. But, I am no longer hungry.

Creamy Mustard, Mushroom, and Broccoli Pasta | Gluten Free | Vegetarian | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Creamy Mustard, Mushroom, and Broccoli Pasta | Gluten Free | Vegetarian | Thoroughly Nourished LifeCreamy Mustard, Mushroom, and Broccoli Pasta

Gluten Free | Vegetarian | Vegan option: leave out Parmesan cheese or replace with your favourite cheese-substitute | Serves 3

Note: If you are the calorie counting type you might be interested to know that a third of this recipe (a decent serve) comes in under 400 calories.

Ingredients

  • 180 grams (6 ounces) dry small shape gluten free pasta (I used shells)
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 small brown onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 cups sliced mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
  • 1/2 cup almond milk (or dairy/soy as per preference)
  • 1/2 tablespoon gluten free cornflour
  • 2 large handfuls baby rocket leaves
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 1 small head broccoli, cut into florets
  • Parmesan cheese, to serve (if desired)

Method

  1. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to the boil. Add pasta and cook as per packet instructions.
  2. While you are waiting for the water to boil peel and finely dice onion, and peel and crush garlic.
  3. When you have added the pasta to cook. Heat olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook until onion is translucent.
  4. Add mushrooms and saute until mushrooms are softened.
  5. Add balsamic vinegar and mustard and cook until vinegar is reducing.
  6. Whisk together almond milk and cornflour until smooth.
  7. Turn heat to low and add almond milk, baby rocket, and a decent pinch of salt and black pepper.
  8. Cook over low heat until almond milk is reduced and sauce is thick.
  9. In the last two minutes of pasta cooking add broccoli florets to the water to blanch. Drain pasta and broccoli well and add to the reduced sauce. Stir gently until everything is well coated.
  10. Serve with Parmesan cheese if desired.

Creamy Mustard, Mushroom, and Broccoli Pasta | Gluten Free | Vegetarian | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Cumin Roasted Pumpkin and Brown Rice Moroccan Salad | Vegan | Gluten Free

Filling, healthy comfort food perfect for autumn evenings. Chunks of sweet pumpkin roasted in cumin pair with a pilaf of brown rice studded with plump dried apricots and toasted cashews highlighted with fresh, peppery rocket and a spicy lime and coriander dressing. This is a simple, easy to make meal made with high flavour ingredients to satisfy your tastebuds and quell comfort food cravings.

Cumin Roasted Pumpkin and Brown Rice Moroccan Salad | Vegan | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeOn Saturday night I rescued a dog. I was out for a second walk in the afternoon (after some major cupcake testing) when I came across a very friendly, very lost looking, little white dog. There were no open gates nearby, no owners calling out for the puppy to come back, so I approached and gently picked the little puppy up. She obviously belonged to someone because she was plump and well-cared for and very friendly. After knocking on doors in the street for 20 minutes, and encountering some helpful neighbours, I still had a little puppy with no home.

Luckily we have a 24 hour vet close by, so with the help of one of the neighbours and his rope-tying skills (it’s a good thing to live near a marina in these times) the little pup and I walked the 3km to the vet in the growing dark. Though we were complete strangers to each other, our companionship was thick and fast. When we reached a road I would carry the little pup across and in turn she would snuggle into my chest and keep me warm from the wind. On arrival the vet scanned the pup and luckily found a microchip with all the owner’s details. I knew that in an hour or so my little walking companion would be safe and sound in her parent’s arms. Lesson learned: when the universe leads you to go on a second walk in the afternoon you should listen. It feels good to do good sometimes.

Cumin Roasted Pumpkin and Brown Rice Moroccan Salad | Vegan | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeAfter my walk back home through the chilly night I was cold and wishing for a bowl of something hearty to soothe a hungry belly. I needed spice and whole grains and sweet roasted winter vegetables. This salad was exactly what I was craving.

Cumin Roasted Pumpkin and Brown Rice Moroccan Salad | Vegan | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeIt all starts with a pot of brown rice boiled with spices and chunks of golden butternut pumpkin rolled in cumin and olive oil and roasted until they are soft and golden. These two are joined by fresh peppery rocket, sweet dried apricots and crunchy roasted cashews. The dressing is easy to whisk together, lime juice, fresh coriander, and more spices. Every layer of this salad echoes a mix of spices. The result is a simple, easily-made salad with layers of flavour and texture. This is healthy, nourishing, autumn comfort food at its best. Being kind and nourishing to your body gives you the reserves to be kind and nourishing to others.

Cumin Roasted Pumpkin and Brown Rice Moroccan Salad | Vegan | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeCumin Roasted Pumpkin and Brown Rice Moroccan Salad

Vegan | Gluten Free | Serves 4 as a light meal | Leftovers will keep in airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days

Ingredients

  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 4 teaspoons ground cumin seeds
  • 3 teaspoons ground coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 small butternut pumpkin (500-600 grams)
  • 1/4 cup cashew halves
  • 4 cups baby rocket leaves
  • 1/3 cup chopped dried apricots
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh coriander

Method

  1. Gather all your spices so that you know you have everything you need.
  2. Preheat your oven to 200C (400F) and line a baking sheet with baking paper.
  3. Place brown rice in the bottom of a heavy-based saucepan along with 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon coriander, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Place over a medium heat and toast until spices become fragrant. Turn the heat to low and add the water. Be careful as it may sputter a little. Increase heat to high and bring to the boil. Once boiling,  and reduce to a simmer. Cook, without stirring for 30 minutes. Remove from heat, drain the excess liquid and allow to cool.
  4. While rice is cooking prepare the pumpkin. Peel butternut pumpkin and dice into large-ish cubes (about 2.5cm/1 inch cubed). Place on prepared baking sheet. Drizzle over 1 tablespoon of olive oil and then sprinkle on 2 teaspoons ground cumin. Roll the pumpkin around so that everything is coated in oil and spice. Roast in preheated oven for 30 minutes or until the pumpkin is tender all the way to the centre. Add the cashews in the last 5 minutes of cooking to roast them.
  5. Once your pumpkin, cashews, and rice are cooked you are ready to assemble the salad.
  6. Place rocket leaves and apricots into a large bowl. Add pumpkin, cashews and rice.
  7. Whisk together lime juice, remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil, remaining spices, salt and pepper. Pour dressing over the salad and toss gently but thoroughly. Sprinkle chopped coriander on top and serve.

Cumin Roasted Pumpkin and Brown Rice Moroccan Salad | Vegan | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Parsley Ricotta Fritters with Balsamic Roasted Grape Tomatoes

Breakfast for dinner has to be one of the greatest inventions of the modern world, and a lifesaver for busy after work dinners or lazy Sunday nights. Fritters are the perfect choice for a breakfast styled dinner: all the happiness of a stack of pancakes (minus the sugar) with a satisfyingly savoury styling (plus the bonus of vegetables).

Parsley Ricotta Fritters with Balsamic Roasted Grape Tomatoes | Gluten Free | Vegetarian | Thoroughly Nourished Life

These fritters made an appearance on our table early this week and they have already become a favourite. They are a blank canvas for whatever toppings you most desire but, if you want my honest opinion, you need to make the balsamic roasted tomatoes as a chic breakfast-for-dinner take on sloppy diner grilled tomatoes. These tomatoes are the window dressing that spice up the soft, cheesy fritters. They only take 30 minutes to roast in the oven (plenty of time to make the fritters and assemble a salad) but they taste like they have been blistering for hours. The trick is to coat them lovingly at a high heat in balsamic vinegar and oil, and to choose small, sweet tomatoes. The heat from the oven will bring forth the sugars stored within the tomatoes. When you pair the sweet tomatoes with the tart balsamic vinegar you create a fritter topping that will have you craving more. If you end up with leftover tomatoes, try them stirred into freshly cooked pasta and topped with a shower of cheese, or top your morning avocado on toast with a pile of these sweet and tart gems.

Parsley Ricotta Fritters with Balsamic Roasted Grape Tomatoes | Gluten Free | Vegetarian | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Parsley isn’t the most loved of herbs, and not my favourite, but I love this slightly outmoded curly leaf for its bright green, flamenco curled leaves and clean, slightly grassy taste. When parsley meets cheese (in this case ricotta and cheddar) magic happens – there is a reason Mama always said to stir parsley into your cheese sauce. Then the whole lot is spiced up with a decent dose of fresh ground black pepper – my favourite ingredient for adding spice to any meal.

These fritters are my offering for Weeknight Nourishment this week. Breakfast for dinner is the first thing that comes to mind when I am trying to think of a quick dinner that both of us will enjoy, and fritters are the ultimate in breakfast for dinner that still includes vegetables and feels slightly grown-up. The batter comes together easily, and if you don’t have parsley in the fridge, just throw in whatever herbs you have at hand. I serve mine with a salad, and some crispy bacon on the side for Chris. And bonus – leftovers make great lunches.

Parsley Ricotta Fritters with Balsamic Roasted Grape Tomatoes

Gluten Free | Vegetarian | Makes 8 fritters and about 2 cups tomatoes (both easily multiplied)

For serving: a runny poached egg would take this meal to the next level and for omnivores perhaps add some crispy bacon.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups grape tomatoes
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/3 cup white rice flour
  • 1/3 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 cup low fat smooth ricotta
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/3 cup grated cheddar
  • Cooking spray (spray olive oil in our house)

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 200C (400F). Line a baking sheet with aluminium foil and spread tomatoes out in one layer. Pour over olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Gently shake baking sheet to ensure all tomatoes are coated. Bake for 3o minutes or until the skins of the tomatoes start to split.
  2. While tomatoes are cooking: in a medium mixing bowl whisk together white rice flour, brown rice flour, baking powder, salt, and black pepper.
  3. In a separate mixing bowl whisk together ricotta, eggs, and milk.
  4. Whisk wet ingredients into dry ingredients.
  5. Add parsley and cheddar to batter and stir gently to fully combine.
  6. Heat a large frying pan over medium-low heat. Spray with cooking oil.
  7. Place heaped tablespoonfuls of batter onto pan two at a time, allowing room for the batter to spread.
  8. Cook for 3 minutes on the first side or until small bubbles have risen to the surface of the uncooked side. Flip fritter and cook for another 3 minutes. Remove to a plate and cover to keep warm while cooking the remaining batter.
  9. To serve: Place fritters on plates, spoon over roasted tomatoes and their juices. Try serving with a green salad and some butter avocado.

Parsley Ricotta Fritters with Balsamic Roasted Grape Tomatoes | Gluten Free | Vegetarian | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Creamy Cauliflower Soup

I am a full-disclosure kind of lady. It takes a lot of self-restraint for me not to just pour out the contents of my heart and mind when I am talking to someone.

Also, I like to know what I am getting into in most situations. The ‘most’ caveat covers such things as the Apple conditions of use page. No one on earth has time to read that when they are madly trying to update their phone while making breakfast and put their pantyhose on. No one.

In the spirit of full disclosure I have to tell you I listen to the BBC and NPR and I’m more of a country or classical girl than Top 40.

I also have to tell you that I’m just not into this whole mass of new young adult dystopian fiction that seems to be flooding the market. Sorry to all the teenagers/lovers of YA. I’d rather have my depressive darkness in a translated Danish form, or a classic love story.

Creamy Cauliflower Soup | Vegan | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

In the spirit of full disclosure I have to tell you that I actually hate cauliflower. I may be the only (former) dietitian who feels this way. I’m sorry, I know it’s a brassica vegetable. I know that y’all love it instead of rice or mashed potato when you are trying to avoid carbs (note: I am never trying to avoid carbs. Like, ever). I just can’t get past the notion that I carry in my brain that cauliflower tastes like an unflattering bodily emission that rhymes with art. You know what I mean.

Anyway, a few weeks ago I got it into my brain that I just needed to make cauliflower soup. I cannot pinpoint the genesis of this thought, but once it was there, it was there and it all culminated in the purchase of a cauliflower at the farmer’s market last weekend. With cauliflower purchased very little stood in the way of my cauliflower soup vision.

Creamy Cauliflower Soup | Vegan | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Full disclosure: I am glad that I got that cauliflower ear worm. A steaming bowl of this garlicky, creamy soup was the perfect antidote to a Tuesday night. We all know that Tuesdays are harder than Mondays.

Full disclosure: there is no cream in this soup. The creaminess of the title is contributed by a can of cannellini beans blitzed into white, mushy oblivion in the soup. Cannellini beans add protein and body to this soup – and as they render cream unnecessary (here, not in other delicious confections, obviously) this soup is completely vegan.

In full disclosure: when you saute the garlic, celery and onion together you will want to dive into the pot and abandon all thoughts of making soup. They are the necessary flavour backbone of this bowl of heaven.

Full disclosure: I am looking forward to the leftovers of this for dinner tonight. Also, I may be rethinking my stance on cauliflower.

Creamy Cauliflower Soup | Vegan | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Creamy Cauliflower Soup

Serves 2-4 | Vegan | Gluten Free | Leftovers freeze up to 1 month or refrigerate for up to 3 days

Tip: I made the soup up to Step 5 and allowed it to cool in the refrigerator overnight. The next night I continued from Step 6.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 large brown onion
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/2 large head of cauliflower (about 750 grams cauliflower), cut into small florets
  • 1 medium white-skinned potato
  • 400 gram can cannellini beans
  • 3 cups salt reduced vegetable stock
  • 1/4 cup toasted walnuts
  • 1/4 cup parsley leaves

Method

  1. Mince garlic. Peel and chop onion. Thinly slice celery.
  2. Heat oil in a large sauce pan. Add garlic, onion, celery, nutmeg, pepper, oregano, and rosemary. Sauté until onion is soft and translucent.
  3. Add cauliflower florets. Wash potato and dice into small chunks. Add potato to pot.
  4. Drain cannellini beans and rinse well. Add to pot along with vegetable stock.
  5. Bring soup to boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 – 40 minutes or until potato and cauliflower are softened and cannellini beans have started to disintegrate.
  6. Remove from heat. Use stick blender to purée soup until smooth. Alternately, allow soup to cool to room temperature and use a blender to puree in batches. Replace soup into pot and heat before serving.
  7. To serve: spoon soup into bowls and sprinkle with toasted walnuts and parsley. Serve with toasted bread.

Creamy Cauliflower Soup | Vegan | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Roasted Shallot and Mushroom Risotto (gluten free)

I work with a gentleman who has a booming great laugh. When he is in a meeting room you can hear him across the office and through the walls. His laughter drowns out phone conversations. But I love it because it sounds like true mirth to me.

Did you know that as we grow up our laughter rates fall from about 400 times a day as a toddler to an average for adults of only 15 times per day? Not a very funny statistic at all in my opinion. The sound of a laugh is the precious, and I think in this often too serious world that we need to bring back some of the laughter.

Do you remember being younger and laughing more? I can think back to high school and walking home in the afternoons with my sister and friends and just laughing into the clear blue sky until I thought my cheeks would fall off. Who doesn’t want to feel that happiness again?

Roasted Shallot and Mushroom Risotto | Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

And laughter has so many beneficial health effects too. According to WebMD, research has shown that laughter helps with: increased blood flow, better immune response, decreased blood sugar levels, and better relaxation and sleep. The Mayo Clinic takes it further revealing long term benefits of laughter such as pain relief and increased personal satisfaction. So, to live a thoroughly nourished life, we need to increase the amount of laughter we get in every day.

I am not an adult who is naturally buoyant, so I am lucky to have Chris in my life. He can see the fun and laughter in nearly any situation, and has a wide ranging appetite for comedic relief. We watch stand-up comics on television, satirical political shows, and send each other funny cartoons throughout the day. My Mum, Dad, and sister all take part in group emails where we share funny emails with each other too. I guess I might be over the average for adults then!

Roasted Shallot and Mushroom Risotto | Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

This mushroom risotto was made on a wintery Tuesday night. A night where we had both stumbled home through the darkness (our porch light is defective) and wanted something that could be cradled in our hands while watching British comedy panel shows. By the end of the night tummies were filled and cheeks were hurting.

I’ve written of my love of risotto before, and this one is even easier to make on a weeknight after work because most of the work is done by the oven. While I love standing at the stove and stirring away my stress, sometimes I want to come home, roast some vegetables and put rice and liquid in the oven too. Thirty minutes later (or one glass of wine later) you combine the two and presto! Dinner is served. I have used Swiss brown mushrooms here as they have an earthier, more wintery taste to them. I also added a small splash of cognac, feel free to leave it out, but which adds a subtle background taste. If you cannot find shallots (look carefully in the onion section of the grocery store) then feel free to use two small purple onions.

Tell me dear reader, what makes you laugh?

Roasted Shallot and Mushroom Risotto | Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Roasted Shallot and Mushroom Risotto

Adapted from this recipe at Taste | Serves 4 | Gluten Free | Vegetarian | Make it vegan: leave out feta cheese at the end

Ingredients

  • 200 grams shallots (also called French shallots)
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 400 grams Swiss brown mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 250 grams Arborio rice
  • 2 1/2 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 tablespoons cognac
  • 1/3 cup crumbled feta
  • Small bunch fresh parsley, roughly chopped

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180C (350F). Line a baking sheet with baking paper.
  2. Peel brown skin from shallots, slice in half lengthways, and place on baking tray. Put tray into preheated oven and roast for 30 minutes.
  3. While the shallots are roasting. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over a high heat. Saute garlic, mushrooms and dried rosemary and thyme until mushrooms are soft.
  4. Add rice and cook until the grains are shiny and coated with the oil. About 1 minute.
  5. Add cognac and cook until the liquid is absorbed.
  6. Add stock and bring to the boil.
  7. Carefully spoon the rice mixture into a large ovenproof casserole dish and cover tightly with lid or aluminium foil.
  8. Bake for 10 minutes covered, then remove lid and cook for a further 10 minutes or until rice is softened but still firm to the bite and liquid has been absorbed.
  9. Remove from oven and stand aside for 5 minutes.
  10. Remove shallots from oven and remove any burnt pieces.
  11. Stir shallots, parsley and feta into risotto.

Serve with a side of laughter.

Roasted Shallot and Mushroom Risotto | Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Spicy Mushroom and Broccoli Stir Fry

Recently I met a new friend at the wedding of two other new friends. This last weekend we all gathered in our newly-married mutual friend’s house sharing some wine and talking late into the night, really early into the next morning. This new friend is a busy professional woman and she often doesn’t get home until 8 o’clock at night! That doesn’t leave much time for making and eating dinner before falling into bed. Her dilemma got me thinking, after all, dinner is one of my three favourite meals of the day…

Spicy Mushroom and Broccoli Stir Fry | Vegan | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

I am lucky in my job that I get home after the gym most days with plenty of time to potter about the kitchen and make dinner for Chris and myself, but there are nights when I get caught up in something and don’t make it home until late. I feel like they become more common in autumn and winter as the days grow shorter and the night gathers her arms around us more quickly. I come home in the dark and still want the comfort of a home-cooked meal but I also want to be curled up on the couch with a book or watching television with Chris. Rather than pulling out the takeaway menu, or settling for beans on toast (which are a totally acceptable comfort food sometimes) I like to have some quick, healthy recipes on hand that I can throw together with barely a thought while I am catching up with Chris and trying to transition my brain from work mode to home mode.

This stir-fry is a recipe for one of those nights.

Anna, this one is also for you. (Thanks for reading my blog)

The chunky-cut mushrooms will provide B vitamins and minerals and fill you up without weighing you down. Easy-to-prepare rice noodles are my favourite way to imitate comforting takeaway without all the mystery ingredients and the sauce coats everything in a spicy sweet splendour. You can make this even easier by using pre-sliced mushrooms and broccoli, or even a stir-fry mix. From start to finish this meal takes about 20 minutes. I served Chris’s with some grilled lamb and mine in its original vegan state.

Spicy Mushroom and Broccoli Stir Fry | Vegan | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Spicy Mushroom and Broccoli Stir-Fry

Serves 2 with leftovers | Gluten free | Vegan

If you do not have Gourmet Garden Thai Stir-In Seasoning simply leave it out.

Ingredients

  • 250 gram packet dried rice noodles
  • 500 grams mushrooms (button, Swiss Brown or Cups are perfect)
  • 1 brown onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 red capsicum
  • ½ head broccoli
  • ½ tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon sriracha
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons gluten free soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Gourmet Garden Thai Stir-In Seasoning
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh coriander

Method

  1. Prepare rice noodles as per instructions on packet.
  2. Chop mushrooms into quarters. Peel and thinly slice onion. Chop broccoli into florets. Slice capsicum into strips.
  3. Whisk together sriracha, brown sugar, soy sauce, Thai seasoning, and 2 tablespoons water.
  4. Heat oil in a large wok or frying pan over medium heat.
  5. Add mushrooms, onion, garlic and capsicum and cook stirring until onion just starts to turn opaque and mushrooms soften.
  6. Add broccoli and sauce and continue cooking until broccoli florets are al dente. This should take about 2 minutes.
  7. Remove from heat. Toss through fresh coriander. Serve with rice noodles.

Spicy Mushroom and Broccoli Stir Fry | Vegan | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Pesto Chickpea Patties

In all truth, I meant to make these last night for dinner, but work things happened. Then gym things happened. And the next thing I knew all that was happening was me asleep on the couch while watching Agatha Christie’s Poirot with an empty bowl of sautéed mushrooms, kale, and chickpeas sitting next to me.

I meant to make them because the thought of this flavour combination had been racing through my head all day. So, I delayed gratification, which is a sound psychotherapy tool (or so I’ve been told), and it was totally worth it. The brilliant thing is: I now have six more of these beauties stashed in my freezer for next time the craving hits. Take that delayed gratification!

This time I topped them with a dripping early season tomato salad, but I imagine they would be just as at home on a fluffy hamburger bun laden with all the usual trimmings and some garlic aioli.

DSC00810

Antipasto Chickpea Patties (gluten free, vegetarian)

These patties are a little tender, so just be careful when handling them after they are cooked. Despite this crumbliness however, they are deliciously pesto flavoured and very filling.

 Ingredients:

  • 400g can chickpeas
  • 400g can butter beans
  • 1/3 cup diced mushrooms
  • 1 salad onion, diced
  • 1/3 cup diced capsicum
  • 3 tablespoons pre-made pesto
  • 8 semi-dried tomatoes in oil
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoon rice flour
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon crumbled feta (or more…)

 Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 180C (356F) and line a baking sheet with baking paper.
  2. Spray a medium-size frying pan with cooking oil and place over a low heat. Add diced mushroom, onion, and capsicum and sauté until the onion is transparent and capsicum and mushroom are softened. Set aside to cool.
  3. Drain chickpeas and butter beans and rinse very well.
  4. Place chickpeas, butter beans, pesto, and tomatoes in the bowl of a food processor and process until well combined. Add egg, flour, and salt and pepper, and process again.
  5. Remove mixture from food processor and place in a large bowl. Stir in cooled sautéed vegetables.
  6. Place bowl in the refrigerator to chill for 10 minutes.
  7. While patty mixture is chilling prepare the tomato salad (see below).
  8. Divide mixture into 8 portions and shape each into a round(ish) patty.
  9. Place patties onto the lined baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes. Flip over halfway through cooking time. The patties are a little tender so be careful.
  10. Place two patties on each plate, and divide tomato salad between. Sprinkle with feta. Serve and enjoy.

DSC00817

 

Tomato Salad

 Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1 spring onion
  • 2 large handfuls baby kale
  • ½ tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
  • Salt and black pepper

Method:

  1. Halve cherry tomatoes and place in medium-size bowl. Thinly slice spring onion and add to tomatoes along with baby kale.
  2. Whisk together balsamic vinegar, olive oil, chopped oregano, salt and pepper.
  3. Mix dressing through salad and allow it to stand while you prepare the patties.

DSC00811

Balsamic Onion, Feta, and Spinach Pasta Salad (gluten free)

Let’s have a real time chat about things we have learned at work. Now, over the years I have picked up many things in the various industries I have worked in – some of them valuable (don’t take over eight paracetamol containing tablets in a twenty-four hour period) – some of them not quite so valuable (lots of things happen in changing rooms that you don’t want to know about – ever!).

So, what have I learned over the past month in my new job, well surprisingly a lot besides how to talk to Excel spreadsheets nicely, and how brain-straining it is to attempt to memorise a sixty-four page glossary. Firstly: people, do not – do not! – put photos on your resume unless you: a) look like the grown-up progeny of Angelina and Brad, or, b) really, really want to give bored office types a laugh on a Wednesday afternoon when they see you dressed up as Batman. Going to get the job? Not so much.

Getting an early mark from your boss still carries the same excitement as when your schoolteacher used to let you out early on a sunny summer afternoon. And you should totally skip across the parking lot, send bragging text messages to everyone of your family still at work, and blast the radio as you pull out of your car space.

The fun factor of the office shredder cannot be underestimated. Especially on a Thursday afternoon. Can you shred these documents for me? Yes, yes I can.

The power of music in the workplace is a useful tool. Tense moment? Just wait until your obsessively-organised boss starts snapping to ‘Single Ladies’ – oh yes, it happens. And will never be forgotten…

Another thing I have learned – making pasta post-work post-gym is the best relaxation technique there is. After you’re done making dinner and doing the dishes put up your feet, watch some Ryan Gosling that your boyfriend has lovingly downloaded, and then eat a spoon of Nutella out of the jar – come on, you’re a tax-paying treadmill-pounding grown up and you deserve it!

Pasta and dish

Balsamic Onion, Feta, and Spinach Pasta Salad (gluten free)

Chris and I are both onion lovers, which is a good thing really. If you aren’t you can reduce the onion by half, but you are missing out on some seriously sweet balsamic-syruped slivers of heaven. Also, some black olives would work really well in this mix, but we were out! You can replace the gluten free pasta with normal wheat-based pasta if you are not catering for the intolerant.

Ingredients:

  • 250 gram box gluten free penne pasta (I’m a fan of San Remo)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium red onions, halved and sliced
  • 2 teaspoons raw sugar
  • 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 200 grams Greek feta, diced
  • 4 cups baby spinach leaves
  • Salt and pepper

Method:

  1. Heat one tablespoon olive oil in a heavy bottomed frying pan over low heat. Add sliced onions and sugar and sweat slowly for 10 minutes. The onions should be nicely softened, but try to avoid high heat so that they don’t colour and become crispy. Add 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar and cook for another 10 minutes or until the balsamic is absorbed and the onions nearly melt off your spoon.
  2. While the onions are cooking bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. You want enough water that your pasta can float freely – do not crowd the pasta. Add dried pasta and cook for 8-10 minutes, depending on how firm/mushy you like you pasta to be. Firmer is best with a pasta salad so 8 minutes is perfect. Drain pasta, add spinach leaves, replace lid and allow spinach to wilt.
  3. Add onions to pasta along with feta. Whisk together half tablespoon olive oil and remaining 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar and add to pasta.
  4. Salt and pepper to taste and toss whole salad very thoroughly until all the elements are well distributed and coated in balsamic vinegar.
  5. Serve and enjoy. This goes well with sausages, grilled chicken, or is substantial enough to eat on its own.

DSC00771

 

Tell me, dear reader, what have you learned at work? 

Simple Rice-Stuffed Capsicums

I don’t know if I can even really call this a recipe. It was that simple. But since dinner plates were licked clean and I have the extra capsicum tucked carefully into my lunch box for today’s midday nourishment, I feel that I should share. I have come to the conclusion that sometimes you need an easy recipe like Simple Rice-Stuffed Capsicums to brighten up a week-night dinner. A recipe that you can pull out that doesn’t take too much effort, but makes the everyday into something special. That is the key to a thoroughly nourished life after all.

DSC00617

I used some little baby capsicums that I found at the farmer’s market on Saturday morning. About half cup capacity each they were the perfect size for filling with rice and serving alongside chicken that I seasoned with paprika, salt and pepper (for Mama and Dad), and Greek salad (for all of us).

DSC00622

DSC00616

Simple Rice-Stuffed Capsicums

Ingredients:

  • 4 baby capsicums, about half cup capacity each
  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar
  • Healthy sprinkle salt and black pepper
  • 2 spring onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 200C (390F).
  2. Cut tops off capsicums, scoop out membranes and seeds and place capsicums bottom-side down in a ceramic baking dish. Include the tops as well. They look so cute served with the tops on. Roast capsicums for 20 minutes or until fork tender.
  3. While the capsicums are roasting, cook rice. Combine rice in a microwave-proof container with 2 cups water and microwave on high for 10 minutes, stirring half way through the cooking time.
  4. Remove rice from microwave, drain well, and then stir in cheddar, salt and pepper, spring onions, oregano, and thyme.
  5. Once capsicums are cooked, being very careful because they are very hot, tip out the liquid that will have pooled in the bottom of the capsicum cup.
  6. Spoon rice mixture into capsicums, pack it in quite firmly, then return the capsicums to the baking dish and top with their little caps.
  7. Roast for another 10 minutes and serve.

My serving suggestion: Big, green leafy salad and grilled chicken.

DSC00626

Happy Tuesday everyone!

Tell me, dear reader, how do you make your week-night dinners special?