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

Pear, Quinoa, and Walnut Salad | Vegetarian | Gluten Free

Let the winter light in. Golden-skinned pears coupled with salty feta, hearty quinoa, and toasty walnuts in a salad that’s all about celebrating the nourishment of winter produce.

Pear, Quinoa, and Walnut Salad | Gluten Free | Vegetarian | Thoroughly Nourished LifeSometimes I eat chocolate like it’s my job. Sadly, it’s not my job, and sadly a woman cannot live on chocolate alone. (Although, I am willing to give it a try!) Because woman cannot live on chocolate alone, and this one cannot afford to keep buying new pants if she did live on chocolate alone, there is the salad. I am all about the salad as you know by now. And, as you know by now I’m not talking about your backyard barbecue iceberg lettuce and pink tomato species. I’m talking about Big.Fat.Salads.

Pear, Quinoa, and Walnut Salad | Gluten Free | Vegetarian | Thoroughly Nourished LifeBig, fat, juicy, hearty salads full of grains and interesting greens, and crunchy, nibbly bits that you want to save until last. I’m about the salty and the creamy and the crispy fresh bite. I’m about salads that leave you full after you eat them, not wondering where your second course is. This is my latest Big.Fat.Salad. Our base: hearty, protein-packed quinoa. Our interesting green: handfuls of peppery baby rocket. Our crispiness: sweet, seasonal Bosch pears with their golden skin left on. Our crunchy nibbly bits: roasted walnuts. Add some salty feta and a maple, mustard and verjuice dressing and you have the perfect winter salad.

Pear, Quinoa, and Walnut Salad | Gluten Free | Vegetarian | Thoroughly Nourished LifeI have tasted so many incarnations of the fruit, nut and cheese salad. In fact, if there is one on the menu it is often the first place my tastebuds go. I have fond memories of a beetroot, apple, candied pecan and goat cheese salad on a blustery afternoon in San Francisco; pear, walnut, and blue cheese salad at the Coronado in San Diego; and oh so many in between. There are myriad incarnations of this simple but delicious formula, and this mix is my latest obsession. The addition of quinoa makes this a suitably substantial lunch salad, or a hearty but light dinner. Open up the curtains, and settle in for season, let the winter light in and make some Big.Fat.Salads.

Pear, Quinoa, and Walnut Salad | Gluten Free | Vegetarian | Thoroughly Nourished Life

 

Pear, Quinoa, and Walnut Salad

Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Serves 2 (easily multiplied)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup dry quinoa
  • 1 cup low sodium vegetable stock
  • 1/3 cup walnuts
  • 4 cups baby rocket leaves
  • 1 large Bosch pear (you can substitute another variety if these aren’t available)
  • 1/3 cup crumbled feta

For the dressing:

  • 2 tablespoons verjuice
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon wholegrain mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Method

  1. Thoroughly rinse quinoa in a fine mesh sieve. Place washed quinoa into a medium saucepan with vegetable stock and place, uncovered, over medium-high heat. Bring quinoa to the boil. Once it is boiling, cover with a tightly fitting lid and reduce to a simmer. Cook without stirring for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat. Allow to sit for 5 minutes then fluff grains with a fork. Cool to room temperature.
  2. While the quinoa is cooking preheat oven to 180C (350F) and spread walnuts over a baking sheet. Cook for 10 minutes or until fragrant. Remove and allow to cool.
  3. Make the dressing: place all ingredients into a small bowl and whisk until combined.
  4. Once the quinoa is cool assemble the salad. Place rocket and quinoa in a large bowl. Quarter, core, and thinly slice pear and add to the bowl. Add dressing and toss well to combine.
  5. Portion salad onto plates and sprinkle over toasted walnuts and crumbled feta.

Pear, Quinoa, and Walnut Salad | Gluten Free | Vegetarian | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Roasted Tomato and Chickpea Stew with Basil Quinoa | Vegan | Gluten Free

Sweet roasted cherry tomato sauce spiked with balsamic and a respectful chunk of garlic pairs with light and lovely summertime fresh basil quinoa in a bowl that makes all your summer dinner dreams come true. When summer is throwing her best vegetables and herbs at you in glorious, peak-of-the-season glory you need to heed her call.

Roasted Tomato and Chickpea Stew with Basil Quinoa | Vegan | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Roasted Tomato and Chickpea Stew with Basil Quinoa | Vegan | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeI have to tell you, I’m really looking forward to moving into our new house. At the moment all we can do is stand at the builder’s fencing and stare through the holes someone has torn into the shade cloth at our little two bedroom townhouse, so close, so close and yet so far. We don’t move into our home until July. July people. But already I am weaving fantasies about the oh so wonderful things we shall do when we move in. Oh the dinner parties we shall throw; the games nights to be had; the tiny, tiny vegetable patch that I am already plotting in my brain (featuring basil and tomatoes of course).

Most of all I am looking forward to my our new kitchen. My Our new kitchen and dining room where we will be able to sit and have dinner together every night. We have an awkward furniture arrangement at the moment which means I sit on the bed and Chris sits at his computer desk. Not ideal.

Roasted Tomato and Chickpea Stew with Basil Quinoa | Vegan | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeIn our new home we will have a proper dining room table right near the kitchen and I will actually feel inspired to cook more meals like this during the week rather than just on the weekend. Right now Chris and I survive on ‘chuck all the veggies in a pot and add a slab of protein for him and some canned beans for her’ during the week- it’s keeping us healthy and fed, but it’s not really exciting. Only on the weekends do I take the time to make magical delicious meals like this, which for the record only takes about 40 minutes from chopping board to plate. But after a very long commute to work every day I’m just a little worn out during the week at the moment. Our new house also happens to be only 15 minutes away from work – oh yeah I’m a lucky lady.

I can see this becoming a weeknight staple in our new home. It really is so simple, and the most time consuming part of the recipe is waiting for the tomatoes to roast and the quinoa to boil. That leaves you approximately 20 minutes to get everything else prepared and call your special someone to set the table.

Roasted Tomato and Chickpea Stew with Basil Quinoa | Vegan | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeIn the oven the summer sugars stored in the cherry tomatoes blister into sweetness, and a dash of balsamic vinegar coaxes the juices into a sweet and slightly sour sticky sauce (try saying that three times fast). After your tomatoes have split open and softened in the heat they make their way to the stove top where they are paired with sauteed onions and garlic, a touch of dried oregano and red chili flakes, some tomato paste and chickpeas, and another dash of vinegar. Remember to add every precious drop of juice from the baking pan – this is where the flavour lives! Everything melts into tomato and balsamic caramel around the chickpeas. When your quinoa is cooked you chop a generous handful of fresh basil and stir it through the cooked grains along with a squeeze of lemon juice. I topped mine with black olives, but you could go with a sprinkle of feta instead. This is summertime freshness in a bowl.

Roasted Tomato and Chickpea Stew with Basil Quinoa | Vegan | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeRoasted Tomato and Chickpea Stew with Basil Quinoa

Vegan | Gluten Free | Serves 2-3 | Time: 40-45 minutes

Note: if you do not like your food spicy, you can leave out the dried chili flakes.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 1/2 cups low sodium vegetable stock
  • 500 grams (1 pound /2 punnets) cherry tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, divided
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large red onion, diced
  • 2 fat cloves garlic (or 4 skinny ones), crushed
  • 1 cup chickpeas (400 gram tin, drained and rinsed)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried chili flakes (optional)
  • 1/2 cup (packed) fresh basil leaves
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons chopped olives (optional), to serve

Method

  1. Before starting the quinoa, preheat your oven to 200C (400F).
  2. Place quinoa and vegetable stock in a medium sized saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Place on stove over a medium-high heat and bring to the boil. Once the stock is boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer, and put the lid on the saucepan. Cook, without stirring, for 20 minutes. Then, remove from the heat and leave for 5 minutes before fluffing the grains with a fork.
  3. While your quinoa is cooking, line a baking sheet with aluminium foil. Place cherry tomatoes on the baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar. Bake your cherry tomatoes in the pre-heated oven for 20-25 minutes or until most of the tomatoes have burst and softened.
  4. After your tomatoes are cooked, place a medium frying pan/skillet over a medium heat. Warm olive oil and saute onion and garlic until onion is translucent.
  5. Add remaining balsamic vinegar, chickpeas, tomato paste, oregano, and chili flakes. Stir until combined and then add roasted tomatoes and the juices that have collected on the pan. Stir until combined. Cook until bubbling.
  6. While the stew is warming on the stove roughly dice the basil leaves and stir them through the cooked quinoa along with the lemon juice.
  7. To serve: divide quinoa between serving bowls and then divide tomato stew between bowls. Top with olives if using.

Roasted Tomato and Chickpea Stew with Basil Quinoa | Vegan | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeCome to think of it, that wasn’t too hard at all! So, dear reader, would you like to come to dinner?

Weeknight Nourishment: Chilli, Basil and Lemon Broccoli Gnocchi

It’s funny how as you grow up you become more and more grateful to your parents for the everyday things they did to take care of you. Every week I find at least one thing that I never had to really think about when I was younger because Mum and Dad used to do it, or it was just part of the routine of the house. Taking out the garbage? Dad’s job while ‘the girls’ did the washing up. Cleaning the bathroom (ick)? One job each every week on a Saturday. Getting dinner on the table? Whoever got home first and thought up something that would suit most of the taste buds at the dinner table.

Chilli, Basil and Lemon Broccoli Gnocchi  | Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Now that I am out living with Chris, I have control over what goes onto the dinner table every night. It’s liberating. It’s scary. I am grateful for all the years Mum and Dad (and later Jess and I) put dinner on the table every night after a long day at work. Chris will eat almost anything, and will trying everything once. These attributes make him the perfect boyfriend for a food blogger! But in the midst of trying new baked things, or coming up with tasty salads, there are also the ‘everyday meals’. The ones that we can make quickly after we get home from work and running and before we collapse in front of another episode of our latest TV binge show (we love you Mindy).

Chilli, Basil and Lemon Broccoli Gnocchi  | Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Everyday meals are important, and for me the key to these weekday dinners is a meal that is full of flavour, high on health, and doesn’t undo all the good work we have just done in our workout. Also, these meals need to be gluten free and have meat added to them for my omnivorous other half. So, I am introducing a new weekly feature here on the blog: Weeknight Nourishment. These weekly meals will be easy to throw together dinners that take 45 minutes or less and will easily suit the gluten free, vegetarian (occasionally vegan), and omnivorous family.

My first Weeknight Nourishment meal is super easy. If you are searching for a quick and healthy dinner than you can have on the table in 30 minutes (including unpacking the grocery bag of ingredients) then you are in luck. First we get a pot of water on to boil. Then we cook a bag of gluten free gnocchi. Then we blanch our broccoli florets. The whole lot is then tossed together with onion and almonds that have been sauteed with chilli and garlic. The final flavour boost is from bright shards of lemon zest and torn basil leaves. Divide the gnocchi into bowls, and shower each with some parmesan cheese. Easy, healthy, flavoursome, weeknight dinner = done. Throw that takeaway menu away – now you can make a quick and healthy dinner in your pyjamas!

Chilli, Basil and Lemon Broccoli Gnocchi  | Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Chilli, Basil and Lemon Broccoli Gnocchi

Gluten Free | Vegetarian | Serves 4 |  Approximate (per serving): 340 calories (1428 kJ), 10g fat (2.5 g sat. fat), 13.5g protein, 45g carb

Serving notes: I served Chris’s gnocchi with some Italian country sausages that I baked in the oven. Grilled chicken would also work well here.

If you do not require this to be gluten free, you can use wheat-based ready-made gnocchi

Ingredients:

  • 500 grams ready-made gluten free gnocchi (I used Simply Wize)
  • 2 1/2 cups (about 1 large head) broccoli florets
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 long red chilli, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/4 cup (35 grams) almonds, roughly chopped
  • 2 spring onions, white and light green parts thinly sliced
  • Small handful basil leaves, torn
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 4 tablespoons (30 grams) grated Parmesan cheese

Method:

  1. Bring a large pot of well salted water to the boil. Cook gnocchi according to packet instructions.
  2. Once gnocchi are cooked, remove to a large bowl and cover to keep warm.
  3. While gnocchi are cooking heat olive oil in a medium frying pan over medium heat. Saute chilli, garlic and almonds until garlic is softened. About 2 minutes. Once cooked, set aside and keep warm.
  4. Bring water to boil again and add broccoli florets. Cook for 1-2 minutes or until bright green. Remove immediately and add to bowl with gnocchi.
  5. Add onion mixture to gnocchi and broccoli. Add sliced spring onions, torn basil leaves, lemon zest, and salt and pepper to taste, and toss it all gently together.
  6. Divide between bowls, top with grated Parmesan.

Tell me dear reader, what are your weeknight favourites? Anything you would like me to feature on Thoroughly Nourished Life?

Chilli, Basil and Lemon Broccoli Gnocchi  | Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Savoury Pumpkin Crumble

Big, sad, heavy things have been happening in the world this week. Big, sad, heavy things that drive home the fact that we need to cherish those around us and be grateful for everyday, whatever its slight annoyances. I think my instinct when I see the headlines is to turn inside, to pull those I love closer to me and check that they are okay, really okay. I want to gather my loved ones in and spoon some comfort into their souls, to make the chilly winter days a little warmer, and to lock away the bad news and feelings that can overwhelm us. My heart goes out to those who lost loved ones so unexpectedly and tragically.

When I go looking for comfort in my kitchen the first recipes I turn to are those that my Mum makes. The best things that come out of her kitchen are the rib-sticking, belly-filling cold weather dishes: osso bucco; beef stroganoff; bouffe (a traditional Danish dish of meat and gravy); roasts; and pumpkin soup. When your bowl has been scraped clean and the last crumbs of bread or homemade scones litter the tablecloth a euphoric glow spreads from your fully tummy and reassures you that though dark clouds gather and bad things happen, there is love to be found.

Savoury Pumpkin Crumble 1

I was in need of a little comfort this week. A pumpkin stared at me from our kitchen table and the thought of Mum’s soup drifted through my mind. However, not being in possession of an immersion blender nor the patience to wait for the soup to cool down so that I could use the normal blender, I sought to embody the comfort of Mum’s soup in solid form. This was a good idea. Meet the Savoury Pumpkin Crumble. It’s a good thing.

I chose a small Japanese Pumpkin for my savoury crumble. With it’s green and yellow mottled skin it was a beautiful autumnal decoration on our kitchen table for a week before I sliced most of it up, roasted it to coax out the natural sugars and reduce the flesh to buttery soft pieces. The pumpkin was joined by some sweated onions and garlic and then the whole baking dish was showered with thick chunks of herb and oat laced crumble. You could use a butternut pumpkin (squash) instead if you’d like, or any other sweet, firm fleshed pumpkin. My crumble is thicker, more scone like than a traditional sweet crumble, and I wanted bigger pieces to evoke the dumplings my Mum floats on top of her beef casserole sometimes. The crumble is also gluten free, if you do not require the dish to be gluten free you can replace the three flours with 95 grams of plain flour instead. A late addition to my leftovers was a decent amount of grated aged cheddar. Take my advice: do it.

Savoury Pumpkin Crumble 2

Savoury Pumpkin Crumble

Serves 2 as a main or 4 as a side | Gluten Free | Vegetarian

Ingredients

  • 750 gram (approximately) piece of pumpkin
  • 2 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 large red onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 30 grams white rice flour
  • 30 grams brown rice flour
  • 35 grams buckwheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 20 grams butter
  • 1/4 cup gluten free quick oats
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/4-1/3 cup milk

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180C (350F) and line a large baking sheet with baking paper. Place butter in freezer.
  2. Peel pumpkin and chop into chunks approximately 2.5cm (1 inch) cubed. Place on prepared baking tray and bake in oven for 30-40 minutes or until softened all the way through.
  3. While pumpkin is cooking chop onion into thick slices and finely dice garlic.
  4. Heat olive oil in a small frying pan and cook onion and garlic until onion becomes translucent.
  5. Place roasted pumpkin and cooked onion mixture into an 8-inch round ovenproof dish. Mix everything gently so that the onions are distributed through the pumpkin chunks.
  6. In a medium mixing bowl whisk together white rice flour, brown rice flour, buckwheat flour, baking powder and salt.
  7. Remove butter from freezer and grate over the flour mixture. Use a fork to mix through gently. Gently mix in dried herbs.
  8. Add 1/4 cup of milk and stir until the dough starts to come together. If the mixture appears too dry and there is a large amount of dry crumbs in the bottom of the bowl then stir in the additional milk.
  9. Break the dough into variously-sized chunks and drop over the roasted vegetable mixture.
  10. Place dish into oven and cook for 20-25 minutes or until the dough is golden on top.
  11. Remove, spoon into bowls and devour with your loved ones.

Savoury Pumpkin Crumble 3

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

Chris’s Fried Rice

Sixteen months ago something wonderful, someone wonderful, happened to me. You see him quite regularly around here: the tall, ginger man with a talent for technology, making bacon disappear, z-snapping like no one else, and making me laugh. That would be Chris. If he thought he’d caught me with our first date (fancy restaurant, ice cream, sipping whisky in one of my favourite places in Brisbane) then he knew he had me on our second date. He picked me up and drove me to his grandmother’s house and we all had fried rice together, talked about tennis, and after dinner Chris took me for a long walk along the harbour. I can’t imagine how intimidating, annoying, and puzzling it must have been for him to have to make dinner for a vegetarian gluten free date. Did I mention that I didn’t tell him about any of my food issues until we sat down at the restaurant for our first date and there was nothing Amy friendly on the menu? No? Well, you can just add that to the list of reasons I admire Chris. He handled it without a blink, and hey I did get a second date didn’t I!

Chris's Fried Rice | Thoroughly Nourished Life | Vegetarian | Gluten Free

Fast forward to today. We have gone from dating to living together and we even bought a house (and are patiently waiting for it to be built!) together. I may dominate our kitchen by the bay, but when given the chance Chris is a great cook. He makes the best scrambled eggs; fragrant spaghetti bolognaise (trying to convince him to make me a veggie version soon); and inventive hot dogs. One of the things we love the most about each other (and I have this confirmed by Chris) is that we both love to eat. Last night, the first day back at work after a long weekend, Chris stepped into the kitchen to recreate our second date meal. Simple, nourishing, soul-warming, like all the best love stories. I was happy to sit and talk to him, play sous chef when needed, and just reflect on how content and happy my life has become since this man pulled up the bar stool next to mine.

This fried rice comes together easily after a long day at work and yields plenty of leftovers for lunch or dinner the next day. Chris filled it with plenty of fresh vegetables and we seasoned it simply with soy sauce and sweet chilli. The egg omelette added some protein and Chris served his with some chicken drumsticks while I sprinkled some chickpeas over mine. This meal is perfect for meat lovers and vegetarians alike. It can even be vegan if you leave out the omelette – perhaps some firm tofu is more your style. Gluten free people, just make sure your condiments are gluten free, and then go ahead and serve yourself a large bowl of this goodness.

Pro tip if making this for your potential significant other: take him/her for a romantic walk after dinner and whisper sweet nothings in his/her ear. Another date will surely follow.

Chris's Fried Rice | Thoroughly Nourished Life | Vegetarian | Gluten Free

Chris’s Fried Rice

Serves 4-5, even more as a side dish.

Gluten free. Vegetarian.

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups uncooked basmati rice
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 ½ cups frozen peas, thawed
  • 3 spring onions, finely chopped
  • ½ medium capsicum, diced
  • ½ medium head of broccoli chopped into florets
  • 1 cup button mushrooms, chopped into chunks
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon gluten free soy sauce
  • Extra soy sauce and sweet chilli sauce to serve

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 160C.
  2. Place rice and water in a large, microwave safe bowl. Cook for ten minutes on high. Stop at five minutes and stir.
  3. Once the rice has finished cooking spread across a large baking tray lined with baking paper and place in the oven to dry out for 10 minutes. Remove until needed.
  4. While rice is cooking prepare vegetables.
  5. Heat a small non-stick frying pan and spray with cooking oil. Whisky together eggs and add to heated pan. Allow to cook into a large sheet of omelette.
  6. Remove from pan and thinly slice into squares. Set aside until required.
  7. Heat the olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan. Add spring onions and capsicum and sauté until softened, about two minutes.
  8. Add rice and soy sauce and stir well.
  9. Add remaining vegetables and chopped omelette to the pan and stir through the rice. Cook until broccoli is slightly softened and rice is heated through, about five minutes.
  10. Serve with extra soy sauce and sweet chilli sauce.
  11. This will keep well in the fridge for two to three days.

Chris's Fried Rice | Thoroughly Nourished Life | Vegetarian | Gluten Free

Tell me, dear reader, what was the first meal your significant other made for you? Or, what dish would someone have to make to steal your heart?