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Penne with ‘Meaty’ Vegan Ragu with Gino’s Gourmet Groceries

Penne with ‘Meaty’ Vegan Ragu

I love my pasta. I love how something so simple as boiled dried dough, made out of flour and water, can bring such comfort and delight.

Casalare: Gluten Free Vegie Penne Pasta

Before I became a vegan, one of my favourite pasta sauces to make was ‘ragu’, a meat-based Italian sauce, which is rich, thick, delicious and full of flavours. It was, in more ways than one, awesome.

Spiral Foods: Organic Garlic & Basil Sugo

When I eat food, it invokes all sorts of feelings and emotions inside of me. Not all the time, of course, because sometimes eating is just the mere act of ‘re-fuelling’ oneself. The meal can take many forms, but all share the same mundane, unremarkable purpose, to stop that feeling of hunger in its tracks.

But other times, more often than not, I eat to feel things (as opposed to stop feeling things, like the sensation of hunger). I eat to make myself feel joyful, gratified, indulged, pacified, inspired, delighted, happy, and alive.

Penne with Meaty Vegan Ragu

I wanted to re-create that feeling I used to get whenever I had a good ragu back in the old meat-eating days, only this time with a vegan ragu. And so I went to my kitchen laboratory and started experimenting I chose mushroom and tempe as my plant-based proteins of choice and, boy, did they rise up to the challenge. I also added some shredded kale leaves to give the dish another layer of texture and flavour, and to boost its nutritional content, and because I just love kale in general.

The result is a thick and rich ragu that tastes so ‘meaty’ and delicious that you’ll forget it contains no meat at all. I hope you will give it a go!

Casalare: Gluten Free Vegie Penne Pasta
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Penne with ‘Meaty’ Vegan Ragu

A deliciously rich, protein-packed vegan ragu that's nourishing, satisfying and oh so comforting.
Course Main
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 2
Author Keren Natalia

Ingredients

  • 250 g tempeh diced to about 1cm cubes
  • Leaves from three stalks of kale chopped or shredded (optional)
  • 1/3 cup basil leaves
  • 3 large brown mushrooms chopped
  • 1 large red onion
  • 4 garlic cloves chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 700 g jar of pasta sauce*
  • 250 g gluten free penne pasta*

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Cook red onion for 2 minutes, stirring constantly, until softened slightly.
  2. Add the minced garlic and diced tempeh and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally until browned.
  3. Add the chopped mushroom, cook, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add the pasta sauce, bring to boil, then add the chopped kale into the pot and stir until kale is cooked, about 1 minute.
  5. Stir in fresh basil. Remove from heat and set aside.
  6. Cook the pasta in a large saucepan of salted boiling water according to the packet instruction until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid.
  7. Mix sauce with pasta, adding the reserved cooking liquid to coat pasta with sauce. Serve with Vegan Parmesan.

Recipe Notes

*I use Spiral Foods: Organic Garlic & Basil Sugo; and Casalare: Gluten Free Vegie Penne Pasta, both from Gino’s Groceries.

This recipe is sponsored by Gino’s Gourmet Groceries, an online store that partners with the best independent producers who share their values of doing things the right way. They supply real, honest food, with no artificial ingredients and no nasties, at a fair price. I must say that the pasta sauce and the gluten-free vegan penne I got from them were some of the best I’ve ever tasted.

And because the team at Gino’s Gourmet Groceries are awesome, they’re giving you, my lovely readers, a 25% discount on our next purchase with them. Just use the code “PASSIONATELY25” during checkout.

P.S. If you make this, I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below or find me on Instagram and share your creation. Don’t forget to tag me @passionatelykeren so I won’t miss your post.

Keren x

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Brown Rice, Kale and Bean Salad

Brown Rice, Kale and Bean Salad

Brown Rice, Kale and Bean Salad

If I have to pick my favourite grain, it’ll be rice every time. It’s delicious, nutritious and most importantly, it’s filling. This is especially important when making a plantbased salad, especially when you want something substantial that can keep you going for a few hours. This Brown Rice, Kale and Bean Salad is one of my favourites salads to make because, not only is it easy to make, it’s also a great make-ahead dish for dinner party, lunch boxes or picnic. Unlike most salads, this salad stays fresh for about three days in the fridge. In fact, it tastes better the day after you make it.

The sturdiness and toughness of kale leaves makes kale perfect for this salad. They hold their shape and keep their crunchiness and freshness in the salad mix even after three days in the fridge. You don’t even need to shred them finely, just chop the leaves and then ‘massage’ the leaves in olive oil for about 2 minutes. If you don’t know what that means, you’re essentially scrunching the leaves with your hands to break down the cell walls which, in turn, softens the leaves to make them more enjoyable and easier to eat. It also helps release the sugars within the leaves to make them less bitter. You know you’ve done enough when the kale feels softer and tastes somewhat sweeter than before.

This salad is also a great way to use up cooked brown rice. I cook rice regularly and so I always have leftover rice. This salad is a perfect way to transform a day or a two day old rice into a delicious lunch or dinner meal. I hope you give this salad a try!

Brown Rice, Kale and Bean Salad
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Brown Rice, Kale and Bean Salad

A deliciously simple salad that's full of protein and fibre. It is satisfying, easy to make and can be made a day ahead. Perfect for parties, potlucks, picnics and to fill up lunch boxes.
Course Main
Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 2 -3
Author Keren Natalia

Ingredients

  • Kale bean salad
  • 2 stalks of kale
  • 1 cup of black beans
  • 1 red onion finely chopped
  • 1 avocado diced
  • 1 to mato diced
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

Instructions

  1. Wash and rinse kale, tear the leaves off the centre leaves and the stem and then tear or chop to bite size pieces. Place into a bowl, add oil and a pinch of salt. Massage for about 2 minutes until kale softens and turns to a bright colour.
  2. Combine the massaged kale, red onion, brown rice, and beans. Set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, cumin and garlic powder until thick, about 45 seconds.
  4. Drizzle the dressing over the salad. Gently toss, taste, adjust seasoning if needed and then top with diced avocado (I usually add the avocado last so it doesn’t get mushed when I mix the salad dressing). Let it sit to marinate for at least an hour if you can or leave overnight in the fridge for the flavours to develop.

Recipe Notes

I always have cooked rice in the fridge I didn't have to cook the rice. However, you can also buy instant brown rice at the shop that takes minutes to cook in the microwave.

What’s your favourite way to use up leftover rice? 

P.S. If you make this, I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below or find me on Instagram and share your creation. Don’t forget to tag me @passionatelykeren so I won’t miss your post.

Keren x


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How to make perfect roast potatoes

Perfect Roast Potatoes

Today I will share with you some of my tips on how to make perfect roast potatoes. You know, the kind that have a deliciously crispy crust and are fabulously fluffy inside.

Let’s get to it.

Tip #1. Start with the right type of potatoes

To make perfect roast potatoes you need to use the right type of potatoes. There are two main types of potatoes:

Floury potatoes

These potatoes have a higher starch content and low moisture content which makes them perfect for roasting and chipping.

and…

Waxy potatoes

These potatoes are higher in moisture and lower in starch content. They’re good at keeping their shape when boiled and therefore are excellent for salads and soup.

You need the floury kinds.

Tips: You can also use the popular all-rounder which often have a medium starch content that sits somewhere in between the waxy and starchy potatoes, such as Desiree or Royal Blue potatoes.

Did you know that most of the potatoes in Australia are grown in South Australia?

Here’s a good website that lists the different varieties of potatoes. Contrary to what you see at the shops, there is much more variety of potatoes beyond ‘washed’ and ‘brushed’ potatoes.

For roasting, my favourite are Coliban, King Edward and Kestrel Potatoes.

Tip #2. Get them rough around the edges 

In order to get that lovely crispy skin which makes roast potatoes so delicious, you can do two things:

  1. Pre-boil the potatoes and cook them until the edges start to get rough, or
  2. Cook them in the oven and shake the pan to rough the surface once the potatoes are cooked.

The oil will gather in the cracks and crevices creating a crispy outer skin. Method number one produce crispier potatoes but it does involve another step (and an extra dirty dish). Number two is a tad simpler, but it takes a bit more time as the potatoes take longer to cook in the oven.

Tip #3. Do not skimp on the oil

If you do, you won’t get that lovely crispy skin you’re lusting after. For 1 kg of potatoes, I won’t use less than two tablespoons of oil. And for the oil, you can use oil you like. I normally use olive oil and coconut oil because I like the flavours.

Tip #4. Do not crowd your pan 

You want a single layer of potatoes on your pan, no more.

If your pan looks a bit overcrowded, use a second pan. You need enough space between each piece of potato to ensure perfect roasting and maximum crispiness.

Tip # 5. Be patient

To make the perfect roast potatoes you need to be patient. It takes time! Between 1.5 to 2 hours to be exact. Some things you just can’t rush!

Here’s my basic roast potato recipe, which makes deliciously crispy potatoes, every time.

I hope you will try them.

  

Perfect Roast Potatoes
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Perfect roast potatoes

Make deliciously crispy potatoes at home.
Course Main
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 45 minutes
Servings 4
Author Keren

Ingredients

  • 1 kg Coliban potatoes or any floury potatoes
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • Fresh herbs to flavour optional

Instructions

  1. Cut potatoes into halves or quarters (depending on their size). I like keeping the skin on but feel free to peel them. Wash under running water to remove the starch and then drain.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Transfer potatoes into a large saucepan and then add enough water to cover them.
  3. Cook for about 20 minutes until the potatoes are soft but not mushy. Drain potatoes. Return to the pan and heat for a few minutes to evaporate any remaining water. Then shake the pan briskly to ‘rough up’ the surface of the potatoes.
  4. Pour olive oil into a roasting pan big enough to hold the potatoes in one layer. Add the potatoes to the pan and coat them in the oil.
  5. Place in the oven and cook for 45 minutes. Turn and then cook again for another 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are golden brown and crispy all over.
  6. You can also add one to two tablespoon of fresh herbs such as rosemary or oregano at the end of the baking period to give a nice boost of flavour to your roast potatoes.
  7. Serve immediately.

 

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Vegan Adobo with Tempe and Brown Rice

Today I’m going to share with you one of my favourite comfort foods. Vegan Adobo with Tempe and Brown Rice. It’s delicious, comforting, easy to make and a perfect one-pot meal. This recipe was actually inspired by Maz Valcorza from Everyday Vegan. I was shooting and directing a video recipe for the one of their online recipe courses and one of the recipes was a vegan adobo.

Her version uses brown rice and Bok choi and it was so yum! I was inspired inspired to make my own version of adobo and so here it is. This vegan adobo uses tempe and brown rice as the main ingredients, as well as mushrooms and broccoli for flavour, nutrition and texture!

It’s like an asian version of risotto!

Vegan Adobo with Tempe and Brown Rice

If you’ve never heard of adobo before, it is a Phillipino/ Spanish dish that usually involves cooking meat, seafood, or vegetables in a vinegar- soy sauce marinate.

It is usually made with meat but I have found that tempe (or tempeh) and mushroom make the perfect meat replacement without sacrificing that delicious savoury flavour and texture that we all love from meat.

The key ingredients in this dish are garlic, soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, bay leaves, and coconut sugar (you can use normal or brown sugar too). You can use tofu instead of tempe or even your favourite legumes. I use broccoli for this recipe but feel free to use other greens. I’ve made this dish so many times using different greens, beans, etc and they always turn out good. Just make sure you don’t overcook it as they can turn out gluggy (kinda like risotto).

Lately, I’ve been switching between dark mushroom soy sauce to light soy sauce depending on what I feel like. You can tell the difference in colours (left – dark soy sauce, right – light). For some reason the dark soy sauce product more ‘sticky’ glaze. Both are equally delicious though.

Check out the how to video below and then the recipe on the bottom of the page.

Vegan Adobo with Tempe and Brown Rice

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Vegan Adobo with Tempe and Brown Rice

A delicious twist on the ever-so-popular Philipino dish, Adobo. Made vegan using tempe as the main protein, brown rice, mushroom and broccoli florets. Yum!
Course Main
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 4

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 packet 250g of raw <g class="gr_ gr_73 gr-alert gr_spell gr_inline_cards gr_run_anim ContextualSpelling ins-del multiReplace" id="73" data-gr-id="73">tempe</g>, diced
  • 5 garlic cloves diced
  • 1 red onion diced
  • 2 cups sliced mushrooms oyster or brown mushrooms are my favourite to use
  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce dark soy sauce will give you a darker colour than light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons coconut sugar
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoon whole peppercorns
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 ½ cups brown rice

Instructions

  1. Heat the coconut oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Cook <g class="gr_ gr_72 gr-alert gr_spell gr_inline_cards gr_run_anim ContextualSpelling" id="72" data-gr-id="72">tempe</g> pieces until golden brown on both sides, then remove. Stir in the red onion and garlic; cook until they soften and brown, about 6 minutes.
  2. Pour in soy sauce, bay leaf, peppercorn, vegetable stock, and vinegar. Add the <g class="gr_ gr_70 gr-alert gr_spell gr_inline_cards gr_run_anim ContextualSpelling ins-del multiReplace" id="70" data-gr-id="70">tempe</g> and rice, increase the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the rice is <g class="gr_ gr_76 gr-alert gr_gramm gr_inline_cards gr_run_anim Punctuation only-del replaceWithoutSep" id="76" data-gr-id="76">cooked,</g> about 30-40 minutes.
  3. Stir in broccoli florets and mushrooms, cover for 5 minutes until broccoli and mushroom is cooked through

Vegan Adobo with Tempe and Brown Rice

I absoloutely love a one pot meal. Especially since I often don’t have time to cook an elaborate meal for dinner (strange coming from a food blogger I know). What’s your favourite one-pot meal? Share it with me in the comments below and I’ll try to make veganised one-pot deliciousness :) ✎ ♥

Did you make this recipe?

Please let me know how it turned out for you! Leave a comment below or share a picture on Instagram and tag me so I can see your creation.

Keren x

⋙ Original post published in December 2016. Updated with video in September 2017 ⋘ 

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Udon Noodle Stir Fry With Oyster Mushroom

I’ve realised that apart from my Superhero Fried Rice, I have not shared a single stir fry recipe on this blog. That comes as a shock to me, especially considering that I cook stir fry every week! Well, today we will change that.

This recipe makes enough for four servings, which is great for meal prep, or if you like to eat leftovers like I do. Feel free to use other types of mushrooms, add tofu, other veggies, etc. As long as you keep the proportion somewhat the same, you should be alright :)

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Udon Noodle Stir Fry With Oyster Mushroom

Easy and hearty stir-fry made with chewy Udon noodles and delicious oyster mushroom
Course Main
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 4
Author Keren

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 red onion diced
  • 5 garlic cloves finely chopped
  • 1 long red chilli sliced
  • 1 broccoli cut into florets
  • 2 carrots sliced
  • 400 g oyster mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup vegetarian oyster sauce
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 2 packet of udon noodles
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • Ground pepper

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in a wok over high heat. Add onion. Stir-fry for a couple of minutes or until softened. Add garlic and chilli. Stir-fry for another minute until garlic is fragrant.
  2. Add broccoli florets and carrot slices then add vegetarian oyster sauce and soy sauce. Stir-fry for two minutes until the vegetables are just tender.
  3. Add the Udon noodles and toss using tongs for 1-2 minutes or until heated through.
  4. Remove from heat and drizzle with sesame oil.
  5. Add a pinch pepper, taste and adjust seasoning.
  6. Serve with chopped fresh chili.

If you make this, I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below or find me on Instagram and share your creation. Don’t forget to tag me @passionatelykeren so I won’t miss your post.

Keren x

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Air-Fried Vegan Polenta Chips (or you can use the oven)

Well hello! Fancy something tasty tonight? How about some Crispy Air-fried Vegan Polenta Chips?

You do watch Netflix while having dinner right?

Beside, these stuff are healthy. They’re made of corn. Full of fibre, beta-carotene and carbs. We love carbs.

They’re very easy to make and once you learn how make them, I guarantee you will be making them again, and again..

Most polenta chips uses parmesan and so for this vegan version I use my vegan parmesan, which you can replace with nutritional yeast.

I love making this using an air fryer. I use Philips Air Fryer which I can’t recommend enough. It’s easy to use and makes everything crispy and crunchy with very little oil. That said, you can also use the oven. In face, until I bought an air fryer, I’ve been using the oven to make this. The good thing with oven is that it’s has more space so you can cook more chips than the oven, but it also takes about twice as long. With the air fryer it cooks really quickly but I would need to make two batches. At the end it’s the same, but I personally like using the air fryer more because I don’t have to flip the chips halfway through, which I need to do with the oven.

Crispy, delicious, vegan polenta chips. Give it a go!

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Air Fried Vegan Polenta Chips (or you can use the oven)

Crunchy, air-fried, healthier, polenta chips that are super easy to make, but just as addictive.
Course Main
Prep Time 4 hours 30 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 4 hours 50 minutes
Servings 2 people
Author Keren

Ingredients

  • Coconut oil spray I use Cocolife - you can use code "passionatelykeren" to get 15% off your online order
  • 2 cups vegetable stock or 1 stock cube and 2 cups of water
  • 250 g polenta flour
  • 1/3 cup
  • vegan parmesan
  • or nutritional yeast
  • Sea salt
  • Optional: 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary

Instructions

  1. Spray a baking pan with oil spray and set aside.
  2. Heat stock saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to boil. Gradually add the polenta in a thin steady stream, stirring constantly until all the polenta is incorporated into the stock.
  3. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring constantly for 2 minutes or until mixture thickens. Remove from heat and stir in the vegan parmesan or nutritional yeast.
  4. Pour the polenta onto the prepared pan and use the back of a large spoon to smooth the surface. Cover with non-stick baking paper and set aside to cool, then place in the fridge for four hours or overnight to set.
  5. Turn polenta onto chopping board. Cut lengthways into 2cm strips then each strip into fingers (about 6-8 cm).
  6. Arrange polenta pieces on the air fryer basket with space in between each pieces, spray with coconut oil. Bake at 200C for 20-25 minutes. Alternately you can use the oven.
  7. To cook polenta chips in the oven, arrange strips on an oiled baking pan, bake for 20 minutes at 190C and then turn the chips around and bake for a further 20 minutes.
  8. Sprinkle with rosemary is using and season with sea salt. Serve immediately.

If you make this, I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below and let me know what you think. You can also follow me on Instagram and share your creation with me. Just tag me @passionatelykeren so I won’t miss your post.

Cheers,

Keren x

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My Big News + Crispy Salt & Pepper Tofu recipe

Salt and Pepper Tofu is a classic Chinese dish that Nat and I like to order when we’re eat at Chinese restaurants but also make at home, when we feel like something tasty and crispy.

But first, I have an announcement to make.

I’m engaged!

Well it’s been three months but forgot to mention it here on the blog until now… I’m a bad blogger I know.

We’ve picked a date and the wedding is less than three months time. In fact, at the time this post is written we have 75 days before the wedding…crazy! Nevertheless, we’ve managed to have some the important wedding stuff organised, like my dress, the church, the venue, the photographer etc. Now it’s about organising the small details, which is probably is going to be as big of a job as the big stuff I think.

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Crispy Salt & Pepper Tofu recipe

Delicious, crispy salt and pepper tofu that will make your Chinese grandmother proud
Course Main
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 2
Author Keren Natalia

Ingredients

  • 300 gram packet of firm tofu
  • ½ cup vegetable or canola oil
  • ½ cup corn starch
  • 2 tbsp tapioca starch
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp ground pepper
  • A ziplock bag

Instructions

  1. Cut tofu into bite size pieces. Place on two layers or paper towels and top another two layer paper towels (you can also use a kitchen towel). Place a small chopping board on top of the tofu. s
  2. Meanwhile, mix corn starch, tapioca starch, salt and pepper in a ziplock bag.
  3. Heat the oil in a pan to medium-high heat.
  4. Add tofu pieces into the ziplock and shake gently to coat the tofu. Allow to sit for about a minute.
  5. Pan-fry tofu on one side until golden brown, for about 2-3 minutes, and the turn to the other side and cook for another 2 minutes.
  6. Drain on paper towel and keep warm (I normally place cooked tofu in a low temperature oven to keep them warm) while cooking the rest.

Now as far as the salt pepper tofu goes, you won’t believe how easy it is to make. All you need to is just cut, press, crumb, and pan-fry…and voila, a tasty, restaurant-worthy dish.

I use a ziplock to make the crumbing process less messy and so that I can just throw the leftover straight in the freezer. Less washing up = winning. Enjoy!

If you make this, I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below and let me know what you think. You can also follow me on Instagram and share your creation with me. Just tag me @passionatelykeren so I won’t miss your post.

Cheers,

Keren x

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Review: Aussie Farmers Direct WW Freshbox

Stuffed Capsicum With Quinoa

Shopping for groceries can be a bit time consuming. As for me, I often go without any plan and would end up buying things I don’t need in spur of the moment! Fortunately, a few weeks ago I had the opportunity to try the new Aussie Farmers Direct WW Freshbox – a delivery box of fresh produce and all the ingredients you need to prepare a healthy meal according to the Weight Watchers-friendly recipes included with the box. It has helped me see the benefit of meal planning and realise how much time I actually spend shopping for groceries every week. A lot!

They currently don’t have a vegan subscription box :( so I tried their vegetarian box. Since my boyfriend Nat is mostly vegetarian, the vegetarian box worked well for both of us. Nat is probably 80% vegan, 10% vegetarian, 9% pescatarian and 1% flexitarian (generally when under duress at certain family dinner events). I think he’s doing very well all things considered. So far we’ve kept our kitchen meat-free and I’m very pleased with that.

My Experience

When the box came I was pleasantly surprised by how much fresh produce it contained. Fresh vegetables, herbs, spices and grains took up about 80% of the box’s contents. The remainder was half a dozen of eggs, a small packet of Parmesan cheese and a few mini-cartons of long life dairy cream. I picked up the box from the front of the apartment around 9 am. They dropped the box very early in the morning, around 3 am or so, But everything was still cool and fresh thanks to the well-insulated box and cool-packs inside.

The box came with three recipe cards. I honestly didn’t think I’d actually use them. I hardly use recipes when cooking and I often like to wing it as I go. I was even thinking that it could be a fun mystery box challenge. However, as soon as I looked at some of the recipes, I just had to try them. They looked so sumptuous and simple and since I had got all the ingredients already, it was a no brainer. They also are easily veganised, which was a huge plus.

Stuffed Capsicums with Rocket and Fennel Salad (recipe at the bottom of this post)

Sweet potato dahl

YUM! They were absolutely delicious and easy to make. I really liked the stuffed capsicum – the top layer of quinoa stuffing becomes crunchy after baking which adds a nice texture to the overall dish. I got a bit excited that I made the sweet potato dahl while waiting for the capsicum to cook. It was a feast!

PROS and CONS

I never really got into the whole food subscription trend but now that I’ve tried it myself, I can definitely see the benefits. The problem with home cooking is that even if you enjoy cooking, sometimes you don’t have time to do grocery shopping or meal planning. Services like the Aussie Farmers Direct WW Freshbox help alleviate the stress of finding something new to cook and the hassle of grocery shopping. It’s also quite affordable. For the box I tried (three meals for two people each), it cost $64 per box, so it works out to $10.67 per plate. Not bad, considering the amount of time you save not having to think about what’s for dinner, or going grocery shopping. It’s also considerable cheaper than eating out (not to mention healthier).

There are a few inherent risks associated any food subscription service:

  1. You need your house/unit secure enough to allow your subscription box to be left attended outside your door for a few hours. I had no problem with the first deliveries but this is definitely something that you’d need to consider. In saying that, because the delivery time is ridiculously early (around 3 am), the chance of it being stolen between 3 am and, say, 7 am, is fairly low if you’re in a secure building.
  2. Product deterioration due to heat. There’s a risk of having the fresh produce deteriorating due to the heat, especially in the hot summer days we’re having nowadays. The coolpacks and the well-built cardboard box can keep the produce cool for a few hours but no more than that. To avoid deteroriation you will need to remember to take your box inside and move the fresh ingredients into the fridge as soon as you can.
  3. Product damage from shipping and handling. A small risk but a risk nonetheless. The box is very well built and ingredients are packed securely inside. However, there’s a chance that one of the eggs might break (in fact, one did in my first box) during delivery – in which case, the cost would be refunded to the customer. It wasn’t a biggie for me since I don’t eat eggs. More reason to have vegan box, perhaps?

Final words

Overall, my experience with the WW Freshbox and their support team has been pleasant! I was surprised how much time I’ve saved – enough for a couple of yoga sessions (or perhaps a few extra episodes of Breaking Bad!).

Recipes

Here are a couple of recipes adapted from the WW Freshbox Vegetarian Recipes. Check out Aussie Farmers Direct for more info on their WW Freshbox. They also have other products such as the Fruit & Veg Box – pre-packaged fresh fruits and vegetables which are also available in an organic range. All of their products are ethically and sustainably sourced from local Australian growers so you know that your money goes toward supporting your fellow Australians.

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Stuffed capsicums with rocket & fennel salad

A healthy hearty meal perfect for any day of the week. Adapted from WW Freshbox Recipe. The quinoa filling yield a crunchy top after baking making it even more delightful to eat.
Course Main
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 4
Author Keren

Ingredients

Stuffed Capsicum

  • ½ cup 100g quinoa
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 green shallots sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves crushed
  • 1 tsp finely chopped fresh thyme plus extra to garnish
  • 400 g can four bean mix rinsed and drained
  • 40 g raw almonds chopped
  • 4 800g red capsicums

Salad

  • 1 fennel bulb thinly sliced
  • 60 g baby rocket
  • 30 g vegan parmesan optional
  • 2 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 ½ tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup slivered almond

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 200°C. Line a large baking tray with baking paper.
  2. Rinse and drain quinoa. Cook in a large saucepan of boiling water for 12 minutes or until tender. Drain under cold water then transfer to a large mixing bowl.
  3. Meanwhile, heat half the oil in a medium non-stick frying pan on medium. Add shallot and garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute or until softened. Add to quinoa with thyme, four bean mix and almonds. Season and toss to combine.
  4. Cut capsicum in half lengthways and remove seeds and membrane. Fill with quinoa mixture. Place on the lined baking tray and cover loosely with foil. Bake for 30 minutes or until capsicum is tender. Uncover and cook for another 10 minutes or until golden.
  5. To make the salad: Combine fennel, rocket and parmesan in a bowl. Drizzle with vinegar and remaining oil.
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Sweet Potato Dahl
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
A warm and comforting meal that is simple to make, yet hearty and delicious. The best thing is, you only need one pot to make it. Adapted from WW Freshbox Vegetarian Recipe.
Author:
Recipe type: Main
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 cup (200g) dried red lentils, rinsed, drained
  • 300g sweet potato, cut into 2 cm pieces
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 vine-ripened tomato, chopped
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 brown onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tsp finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1 fresh red chilli, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh coriander leaves, plus extra to garnish
Method
  1. Heat coconut oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add onion. Stir for 5 minutes or until translucent. Add garlic, ginger, chilli, cumin and stir for 1 minute or until fragrant.
  2. Place lentils, sweet potato, tomato and water. Bring to the boil.
  3. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes or until lentils are tender and mixture is thick.
  4. Stir in chopped coriander. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Serve with extra coriander.

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One Pot Spaghetti Bean Bolognaise

One Pot Spaghetti Bean Bolognese

Lately, I’m all about one pot everything. But let me tell you the backstory of this one pot spaghetti bean bolognaise recipe.

A few weeks ago I was working on a video assignment for Everyday Vegan. If you’re not aware of Everyday Vegan, it’s a really cool project founded by Maz (Sadhana Kitchen) and Dan (Grow Space) which seeks to show people how easy it is to live a plantbased lifestyle. Anyway, they were working on a 7-Day Dinner online course and wanted me to direct and produce the videos for them.

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I said yes (more like hell, yeah!) and a few days later we shot seven recipes over a couple of days at the Whitehouse Institute of Design. It was pretty intense! We tackled all sorts of problems, from missing ingredients, to animal control. I’m serious. At one point we actually had to tell the cleaner, who was cleaning the rooftop (the building acoustics were pretty bad), to stop singing because the boom mike was picking it up. Elli (our in house, very talented photographer) had to run to the shops a number of times to pick up some missing ingredients, and that animal control issue – well, let’s just say that the dog we had in the promo video was not part of the storyboard. It just so happened that there was a dog (owned by one of the Institute’s teachers, in a meeting room at the time) walking around and barking in the studio and we had to do something about it. It was so cute and adorable and seemed to love being cuddled so we decided to include it in the video. The canine actually made everything better.

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What has this to do with the recipe? Well, the recipes we shot during those two hectic days were all one-pot recipes. They were so simple, and delicious, that I was inspired to do more one-pot dinner meals at home. In fact, after completing the video project I ended up doing one-pot meals every second day. It’s the best thing ever.

Anyway, this one pot bean bolognaise is really good if you want a hearty and satisfying meal that is rich in both protein and fibre. And to give some variety of texture and taste, I recommend having more than one type of bean. You can use whatever combination of beans you like – I just happened to have adzuki, soy and black beans in my pantry so I used those.

One Pot Spaghetti Bean Bolognaise

Ingredients

For the bean bolognaise

  • 2 cups of mixed beans (I use 1 cup of adzuki beans, ½ cup soy beans and ½ black beans), soak overnight in 4 cups of water, then drain and rinse
  • 1 brown onion, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, diced
  • 1 bunch Kale – leaves shredded, roughly chopped
  • 2 cans tomato (400g)
  • 6 sprigs of thyme
  • 4 sprigs of parsley, roughly chopped
  • 5 cups water
  • 4 Medjool dates, pitted
  • 2 vegetable stock cubes
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp. dried oregano
  • ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper

For the spaghetti

  • 500 gram spaghetti
  • 3 cups of water
  • Salt and pepper
  • ¼ cup of vegan parmesan (optional but recommended)

Method:

  1. Heat oil in cast iron pan. Add onion, stir, then garlic, stir.
  2. Add thyme and rosemary leaves. Add stock cubes, stir.
  3. Add beans, stir for 2 minutes. Then add water.
  4. Bring to simmer, turn down heat, cover and let cook for 1 hour.
  5. Add spaghetti (or fettuccini), add 3 cups of water. Cook for another 10 minutes.
  6. Add shredded kale and parsley. Cover, turn off heat and let sit for 5 minutes.

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Did you make this recipe?

Please let me know how it turned out for you. Leave a comment below or share a picture and tag me on Instagram!

Keren x

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One Pot Spaghetti Bean Bolognaise

An easy and delicious hearty meal for any day of the week.
Course Main
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 40 minutes
Servings 4 -6
Author Keren

Ingredients

For the bean bolognaise

  • 2 cups of mixed beans I use 1 cup of adzuki beans, ½ cup soy beans and ½ black beans, soak overnight in 4 cups of water, then drain and rinse
  • 1 brown onion diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic diced
  • 1 bunch Kale – leaves shredded roughly chopped
  • 2 cans tomato 400g
  • 6 sprigs of thyme
  • 4 sprigs of parsley roughly chopped
  • 5 cups water
  • 4 Medjool dates pitted
  • 2 vegetable stock cubes
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp. dried oregano
  • ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper

For the spaghetti

  • 500 gram spaghetti
  • 3 cups of water
  • Salt and pepper
  • ¼ cup of vegan parmesan optional but recommended

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in cast iron pan. Add onion, stir, then garlic, stir.
  2. Add thyme and rosemary leaves. Add stock cubes, stir.
  3. Add beans, stir for 2 minutes. Then add water.
  4. Bring to simmer, turn down heat, cover and let cook for 1 hour.
  5. Add spaghetti (or fettuccini), add 3 cups of water. Cook for another 10 minutes.
  6. Add shredded kale and parsley. Cover, turn off heat and let sit for 5 minutes.
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Zucchini Pasta with Coriander Pesto

I remember making my first raw zucchini pasta, also called zoodles (zucchini noodles). It was such a revolutionary and awesome moment, being able to transform a simple vegetable into something extraordinary. It’s true: We feast first with our eyes. I cannot believe how much more appetising my dishes looked after bland slices of zucchini were replaced by sexy curly strands. They looked a hundred times better. But they’re also a hundred times more nutritious than your regular noodles or pastas. They’re low carbs and low calories too, but who’s counting?

Zucchini Pasta

Zoodles are great in salads, but they’re also good for hot dishes – or more accurately, warm dishes. They tend to wilt in high heat so you’ll need to be careful not to overcook them. They just need a light toss over low heat until they become bright green, 2 – 3 minutes or so and you’re done.

This recipe is an excellent introduction to zucchini pasta or zoodles. It’s very simple to make, requiring only seven ingredients (including salt!) and is a nifty way to use up any excess zucchini you may have. You will need a spiraliser to make the noodles but you can also use a vegetable peeler or a mandoline which will give you slight

Why this Zucchini Pasta with Coriander Pesto is the bomb!

Apart from the simplicity of the ingredients, this dish is the bomb because it’s a light but satisfying. For me, flavour is everything and the coriander pesto definitely delivers the kick. The spiciness of raw garlic, the earthiness of pine nuts and the bold fragrance of coriander give this pesto that creamy texture with bold, fresh and punchy flavours, without any added dairy.

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Zucchini Pasta with Coriander Pesto
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Main
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • Zucchini Pasta with Coriander Pesto
  • 1 bunch coriander
  • ½ cup pine nuts
  • ½ cup cashew nuts *
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • ½ - 1 tbsp lemon juice (I recommend using ½ tbsp to start with)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 large zucchini
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
Method
  1. Make zucchini noodles using spiraliser or cut into thin stripes mandoline
  2. Make pesto by putting all the ingredient in a food processor and process until smooth. Taste and adjust flavour by adding more salt for saltiness, or lemon juice for acidity.
  3. Heat oil in pan on medium heat
  4. Add zucchini and toss until warm, about 3-4 minutes
  5. Turn off the heat and stir in pesto and toss until evenly coated.
  6. Serve immediately
Notes
You can also replace cashew nuts with walnuts or macadamia nuts.

Did you make this recipe?

Please let me know how it turned out for you! Leave a comment below and/or share a picture on Instagram and tag me in the picture.

Keren x

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