Monthly Archives: December 2013

Mediterranean Lentil, Eggplant & Mushroom Ragout

Mediterranean Lentil, Eggplant & Mushroom Ragout

I’m not sure what I was aiming for with the flavour balance on this one, I just started adding herbs and spices I happen to love.  The result was  a delightful surprise!  My kids who aren’t that fond of lentils when they stay whole (they prefer mushy cooked-down texture of dishes like dahl) lapped this up and went back for seconds.  It’s summer here so a stew isn’t the kind of thing I’d usually think of making but it really works with its south of France / Moroccan / Greek flavours.  This comes together really easily with little effort once it’s all in the pot so although the cooking time is quite long, most of it is unattended.  🙂


Mediterranean Lentil, Eggplant & Mushroom Ragout
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Serves: 4
  • 1 cup dried Puy lentils (those are the little round dark green/blue ones)
  • 1 large red onion, diced
  • 500 g sliced mushrooms
  • 1 large eggplant, diced
  • 1 very large fat garlic clove - or ⅔ smaller ones
  • 1 medium red capsicum, diced
  • ½ bottle passata (or a can of chopped tomatoes, pureed)
  • Same volume of water as passata (fill up the empty jar / can)
  • 1 t vegetable stock powder
  • 1 t turmeric
  • 1 t ground coriander
  • 1 t smoked paprika
  • ¼ cup apple juice
  • ⅓ cup white wine
  • 3 small bay leaves
  • 1 t marjoram
  • 1-2 T lemon juice
  • Small handful fresh mint leaves, (about 12 large leaves) chopped
  • ** NOTE: t = teaspoon; T = tablespoon.
  1. Put the lentils into a smallish saucepan, cover with water by a good inch or so and bring to the boil whilst you prep your veg. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and put the lid on. They should take around 20 minutes.
  2. Heat a large frying pan on a medium heat and dry-fry the onion, mushroom and garlic until the moisture is released. Add the capsicum, eggplant and spices and continue cooking for about 10 minutes.
  3. (You can use a large casserole dish for the whole cooking process, however you need to avoid stewing the vegetables or their flavour won't be brought out, that's why I'm starting off in the pan).
  4. - Check your lentils and drain if cooked. You want them to be al dente, not hard and not breaking apart.
  5. Pour into a large casserole dish (which has a close fitting lid), add the passata / tomatoes, water and stock powder, apple juice and white wine, bay leaves and marjoram. Bring to the boil, reduce heat to a simmer and put on the lid and simmer until eggplant very tender and falling apart (about 20-30 mins).
  6. Add your cooked lentils and simmer, covered for another 10 or so minutes.
  7. Taste for seasoning and add salt if necessary.
  8. Remove from the heat, stir in the lemon juice and mint and leave to sit whilst you prepare / serve your accompaniments. Don't worry about it cooling down (especially if you're serving it in summer) as It is actually much better served at room temperature than "straight from the pot" hot.
  9. We had ours with large gently boiled new potatoes (I put them on to cook at the same time as the lentils). Would also be great with couscous / rice or just good crusty bread. Some people might like to add hot chilli sauce at the table. (Yes I'm looking at you my chilli-sauce addict of a husband..).

Pasta Primavera

Another family favourite.  Creamy but low fat sauce with garlic and lemon poured over wholegrain pasta and your favourite springtime vegetables.  Top with toasted pine nuts and / or a parmesan type topping.  Try grinding almonds with some nutritional yeast, salt, and lemon zest for a delicious sprinkle.

Pasta primavera

Pasta Primavera
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Creamy sauce with spring green vegetables over wholegrain pasta
Recipe type: Pasta
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4
  • 300g wholewheat pasta shells/penne
  • 30g raw cashews, soaked
  • 100-200ml Soy Milk
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Slice of onion
  • Salt & pepper
  • Green vegetables of choice:
  • asparagus, broccoli / broccolini, peas, snow peas, etc
  • Bunch of basil, leaves torn
  • Toasted pine nuts, for garnish - optional
  1. Put pasta on to boil.
  2. Meanwhile, in a high speed blender blend cashews, soy milk, lemon zest, garlic, onion until smooth and creamy. Amount of milk will depend on how thick you want it and how much it’s sucked up by the pasta, you can always add more milk to the pasta once you combine it.
  3. Put the vegetables on to steam .
  4. Taste cashew cream and adjust seasoning/flavourings as desired: more lemon / garlic or onion/salt pepper.
  5. Once pasta is and vegetables are ready, drain and return to pan over a very low light, add the cashew cream, vegetables (once ready) basil and pine nuts.
  6. Serve!

Creamy White Sauce

Creamy White Sauce
Prep time
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Total time
Recipe type: Sauce
Serves: 6
  • 1 large / 2 small leeks, well washed, finely sliced
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup soy milk / other plant milk
  • ½ cup raw cashews, soaked
  • 1 T Dijonnaise
  • 1 T Nutritional yeast
  • 1 t tahini
  • 1 t agave
  • 1 t miso
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • 2 t cornflour
  • Salt & pepper
  1. Sweat the leeks in a small saucepan with the lid on, over a low light until they are very tender.
  2. Add all the other ingredients apart from cornflour and blend with stick blender or in food processor / blender.
  3. Pour back into the saucepan if necessary, and heat through. Mix the cornflour with 2 T water in a small bowl, then mix into the sauce, stirring continuously until it thickens – about 5 minutes.
  4. Season to taste.




My kids voted this my best ever lasagne and it’s their “favourite ever” meal!
We usually have with salad and a good crusty bread.
The creamy white sauce I use for this is also on this site here.

Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 6-8
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 red capsicum, diced
  • 1 green capsicum, diced
  • 2 medium zucchini, diced
  • 1 medium carrot, diced
  • 1 stick celery, diced
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 375g jar of your favourite tomato based pasta sauce, e.g. basil and garlic
  • 50g Lentils, Red, split
  • 1 teaspoon Oregano
  • 150g Baby Spinach, chopped (or use 4 cubes frozen spinach)
  • 15 leaves basil, chopped
  • 6-8 Wholemeal Lasagne Sheets
  • Creamy White Sauce – 1 batch
  • Optional : fresh breadcrumbs
  1. Make the Creamy White Sauce - see other recipes.
  2. Sauté onion, garlic after 5 mins, then add capsicum, carrot, celery, zucchini and let soften – about 15 minutes.
  3. Add tomatoes, jar of sauce, lentils, oregano, baby spinach, and basil, season to taste. Allow to simmer until spinach wilts.
  4. Heat oven to 180 degrees centigrade.
  5. In lasagne dish put a thin layer tomato sauce, cover with lasagne sheets
  6. Layer the 2 sauces and pasta alternately in lasagne dish, topping with 2nd half of white sauce (or 3 layers depending on how thick your layers are)
  7. If liked, sprinkle a cup of fresh breadcrumbs over the top of the white sauce.
  8. Bake for 35-45 minutes. Test with a sharp knife to make sure the pasta is very tender.
  9. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.


Nutritional info: Cals: 280 | Fat: 7g | Protein: 13.5g  | Carb: 34.5g  | Fibre: 10.65g | Sodium:  291mg

Cashew and Mushroom Nut Roast

Well seeing as Christmas is fast approaching I thought the obvious recipe to share would be the nut roast I make every year.  It has changed a little over the years, the main overhaul 2 years ago when I made it vegan by removing the egg, but also mixing the mushrooms in to the mix rather than as a separate layer, as I found it would always break in two when I sliced it.  This is an OLD recipe.  From a Sarah Brown book called Vegetarian Kitchen published in 1984.  So to say this has passed the test of time is an understatement!

Cashew and Mushroom Nut Roast
Prep time
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Christmassy Nut Roast
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: British
Serves: 6
  • Spray of olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 225 g cashew nuts
  • 110 g fresh breadcrumbs (in processor)
  • 1 tsp chia, 1 tsp flaxmeal mixed with ⅓ cup water
  • 3 medium parsnips, cooked and mashed
  • 1 tsp fresh rosemary
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme
  • ¼ - ½ tsp sage (optional)
  • 1 tsp marmite dissolved in 1 cup boiling water / 1 cup vegetable stock
  • salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 225 g mushrooms - finely chopped
  1. Pre-heat the oven at 180 Celsius.
  2. Heat a large frying pan with a spray of oil, and fry the onion and garlic until soft. Add the mushrooms and continue to sauté until the liquid has been released and evaporated.
  3. Grind the cashew nuts in a nut mill, blender or mincer until they resemble breadcrumbs, place in a large mixing bowl and add the breadcrumbs.
  4. Mix in the mashed parsnips and herbs.
  5. Add the fried onions and mushrooms; be sure to scrape the pan so that any remaining liquid goes in, don’t lose that flavour!
  6. Add the chia/flax mixture
  7. Dissolve the vegemite in the hot water or stock and add to the other ingredients. Mix very thoroughly and season well. The mixture should be like a thick cake mixture.
  8. Grease a 900g loaf tin or line with baking paper. Spoon the mixture into the tin and press down firmly.
  9. Cover with greased foil and bake for one hour.
  10. When cooked, remove from the oven and let it stand for 10 minutes before turning it out.
  11. NOTES: Timesavers:
  12. Make sure you put the parsnips on to cook first if you haven’t got them cooked already.
  13. Make the dry ingredients first - breadcrumbs, then the ground cashews in the processor, then add to your bowl.
  14. Then use processor again to chop the onion and mushrooms, add that to your frying pan.