Roasted Vegetable and Spinach Lasagne

Thursday, 24 March 2016
Vegan Roasted Vegetable and Spinach Lasagne

I'm calling this one a classic with a twist. Lasagne has always been one of my favourites and used to always be my meal of choice at an Italian. It was actually one of the first proper meals I learned to cook too. My dad taught me before I went away to university so I'd at least know how to cook one decent meal. Of course, we cooked it the traditional way using mince and white sauce, but I remember it well and how proud I was when it came out the oven and actually tasted good. A few years on when I started to eat less meat I created a veggie lasagne with ricotta cheese, which I loved a lot, but now that I'm vegan I wanted to see if I could make a version that was just as delicious as its meat and vegetarian counterparts. I used a creamy cauliflower sauce as the white sauce and I think it worked really well because this is possibly the best lasagne I have ever made, and me and lasagne go way back so that's saying something. 

Vegan Roasted Vegetable and Spinach Lasagne

You will need (serves 4-6, depending on how big you like your portions):
for the red sauce 
2 carrots
1 onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
3 tablespoons tomato puree
1 cup vegetable stock
2 teaspoons basil
a dash of chilli flakes

for the roasted vegetables
1 aubergine
1 courgette
10 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon herbs de provence
1 teaspoon paprika
ground pepper

for the white sauce 
1 head cauliflower
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup vegetable stock
1/2 cup almond milk
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
ground pepper, to taste

whole wheat lasagne sheets
vegan cheese to top (optional)

for the white sauce 
- Start by making the white sauce. Chop the cauliflower into florets and then add all the ingredients, apart from the nutritional yeast, to a large pot and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5-6 minutes until the cauliflower is quite soft.
- Put the mixture into a blender adding the nutritional yeast and blend until smooth. Leave this to the side while you prepare the red sauce.

for the red sauce
- Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees celsius.
- Chop up all the vegetables - the onion and carrot into small chunks and the courgette and aubergine into bigger chunks.
- Put the onion into a large pot and add a little olive oil. Fry the onion over a medium heat for 2-3 minutes and then add the garlic and carrot and fry for a further 2 minutes until all the vegetables have softened.
- Add the chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, basil and chilli flakes and leave this to simmer over a low heat while you roast the rest of the vegetables.
- Put the chunks of aubergine and courgette into a bowl and mix together with the olive oil, herbs, paprika and ground pepper until everything is coated. Transfer the vegetables to a roasting tin and pop in the oven for 20-25 minutes. After 10 minutes, remove from the oven and give a good mix before adding the halved cherry tomatoes and putting back in the oven for the remaining time.
- Once the vegetables are roasted, add these to the red sauce and mix well. Leave this to simmer for a further 10-15 minutes so all the flavours can combine. 

to assemble the lasagne
- Once the red sauce is ready, you can start to assemble the lasagne. Start with a layer of red sauce followed by a layer of spinach leaves then a layer of white sauce and then the lasagne sheets. Repeat this twice and then finish with a layer of white sauce and top with vegan cheese.
- Put the lasagne into the oven at 180 degrees celsius and bake for 25-30 minutes.

Vegan Roasted Vegetable and Spinach Lasagne

Butter Bean, Spinach and Pesto Salad

Monday, 14 March 2016
Butter Bean, Spinach and Pesto Salad

For the past few weeks, this salad has been my go-to for my work packed lunch. I always take my lunch to work with me because it saves so much money and I'm all about that frugal life. It's super yummy and only takes around five minutes to put together if you've already got pesto on hand. Serve with a big spoonful of hummus for added deliciousness, because hummus takes almost everything to the next level. 

Butter Bean, Spinach and Pesto Salad

You will need (serves 2): 
1 tin butter beans
2 tablespoons green pesto of your choice (I use this recipe)
2 large handfuls spinach*
1 large handful rocket*
1/2 cup sweetcorn
1 tablespoon pumpkin seeds
8 cherry tomatoes, chopped in half

*I know these handful measurements are pretty vague but I never know how best to measure out salad leaves! I usually just use my judgment of how much I'd eat so add more or less depending on your preference. 

- Simply mix everything together in a large bowl, apart from the tomatoes, and ensure the pesto coats all the ingredients.
- Split into two smaller bowls and add the cherry tomatoes on top, 8 halves on each.

Butter Bean, Spinach and Pesto Salad

Peanut Butter and Sesame Noodles

Monday, 7 March 2016
Peanut Butter and Sesame Noodles

As a self-confessed peanut butter addict, it's no surprise that these noodles are my absolute favourite. I can't express to you just how delicious this dish is, you just need to make it and see for yourself, unless of course you don't like peanut butter because then you probably won't like it (but who doesn't like peanut butter?!). It only takes around 10 minutes to make so is perfect for those evenings when you don't have a lot of time to spend in the kitchen. I usually find myself eating this meal once a week and it just never gets old.

Peanut Butter and Sesame Noodles

You will need (serves 1): 
a portion of noodles of your choice 
1 large carrot 
a handful of broccoli florets 
2 tablespoons sweetcorn
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 heaped tablespoon smooth peanut butter
1 tablespoon soy sauce 
1/4 teaspoon chilli flakes 
1 teaspoon agave nectar 

- Start by preparing the carrot into thin strips. For this I use a Julienne peeler and then chop the slices into smaller pieces but you could also use a spiralizer if you have one and then chop into smaller pieces or simply grate the carrot. 
- Cook the noodles until they are almost cooked (they will finish off cooking when you add them to the wok)
- While the noodles are cooking, steam or boil the broccoli and sweetcorn for a few minutes until they are almost cooked (I find two minutes is enough) - they will also cook through once you add them to the wok.  
- In a wok, heat up the sesame oil and then add the carrots and stir-fry for two minutes. 
- Add the noodles, broccoli and sweetcorn to the wok and mix everything together. 
- Finally, add the peanut butter, soy sauce, chilli flakes and agave to make the sauce (you could mix this up in a separate dish first if you prefer). Stir fry everything together for about one minute. If the noodles get a bit sticky and are starting to clump together at this stage, just add a little boiling water to the wok and that will loosen everything up. 

Peanut Butter and Sesame Noodles