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Love is a fruit in season at all times, and within reach of every hand - Mother Teresa

VEGAN SAUSAGE & PLUM SALAD

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At the market, it’s hard to not see bin after bin of plums arrayed like fruit jewels in shades of deep violet and purple, yellow and green. Like autumn leaves, plums bid late summer goodbye and welcome the early days of autumn. At home, while hubby favours classic blood plums, I play the field, trying as many varieties as are available. This season, I found a small oblong-shaped sugar plum that I’d not previously tasted and discovered it confectionary sweet in flavour. Found it originated from Italy and is used to create prunes. For hubby’s said blood plums, I place the violet orbs in a bowl on the bench for at least a week until he declares they’re ready to eat; acquiring the perfect balance between sweet and tart.

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This salad’s success depends on your choices of flavour; you need to select your favourite vegan sausage and your favourite plum. I used a slightly spicy thick vegan sausage and hubby’s favourite plums. The plums should be just ripe as the process of roasting will bring out the flavour. If in a hurry, use prepackaged grains that require a 90 second heating in the microwave, and this salad can be whipped together in less than ½ hour; perfect for busy cooks.

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Health benefits:

·       The health benefits of plums include relief from indigestion, influenza infections, and anxiety-related problems. The antioxidant power of these fruits helps in treating osteoporosis, macular degeneration, cancer, diabetes and obesity. They also help in maintaining a healthy heart by reducing cholesterol levels.

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VEGAN SAUSAGE & PLUM SALAD

V, GF

250 grams quinoa and brown rice, cooked

1 red onion, sliced finely

4 vegan sausages, sliced

5 plums, deseeded and quartered

handful parsley

Preheat oven to 200’C/390’F/Gas Mark 6. Place quartered plums on a baking tray covered with baking paper, and roast in the oven for 20-25 minutes until the fruit is cooked without it's shape collapsing. Cook quinoa and brown rice separately. Use a 1/3 cup of quinoa with 150 ml water, bring to boil and allow to simmer until water is absorbed, if grains are tender, let sit for 5 minutes covered, then fluff with a fork. Repeat for 1/3 cup of brown rice. Alternatively, buy pre-cooked grains, and follow directions on the packet. Saute the red onion until translucent, about 5 minutes. Pull the onions to the side of the frypan, and toss in the cut sausages. Fry until lightly browned.

Layer ingredients on a serving platter in this order: mixed quinoa and brown rice grains, red onion, vegan sausages, roasted plums and roughly chopped fresh parsley. Serve with roasted vegetables. Enjoy!

VEGAN GARDEN PEA RISOTTO W FRESH HERBS

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There’s nothing more delicious than a vegan risotto made with garden fresh peas and herbs. My wee herb parterre is filled with many types of herbs and the fresh peas are so sweet, so with a few minutes you can eat a risotto for dinner that is not only filling, but a healthy combination of protein, vitamins and carbohydrates. Maybe your family will repeat what my hubby said after a test bite. Sorry, all this is mine; such a declaration is joy to my ears.

There are tricks to cooking risotto. Tostatura is the process of coating the rice in oil and gently heating it. Start with sauté onion in a little olive oil. Add the Arborio rice for a minute on a gentle heat, so the rice becomes shiny, coats the rice and seals the grain. Deglaze with a little white wine to stop the tostatura and deglaze. To keep a nice loose texture in risotto, cook it in enough stock and keep stirring to a minimum. The rice needs to cook, so you need a fair amount of stock, especially to start with, to cover it. When you over stir, the rice releases starch, which makes the risotto gluggy. Serve risotto al dente; you’ll know it is ready when you can press a grain between your fingers and the white germ in the middle breaks. If the germ is hard, the risotto isn’t cooked. When the risotto is cooked add a little stock to keep it loose. Remove it from the heat, add the vegetable and let sit for 5 minutes.

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Health benefits:

·       Green peas are one of the most nutritious leguminous vegetables rich in health promoting phytonutrients, minerals, vitamins and antioxidants.

·       Fresh, tender peas are relatively low in calories in comparison to beans. 100 g of green peas carry just 81 calories and no cholesterol. They are good sources of protein, vitamins, and soluble as well as insoluble fibre.

VEGAN GARDEN PEA RISOTTO W FRESH HERBS

Makes 2 servings

 

1 onion, diced

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup Arborio rice

¼ cup dry white wine

3½-4 cups vegetable stock

¾ cup garden peas, may use frozen

4 tablespoons nutritional yeast

1 heaped tablespoon fresh thyme

1 handful fresh parsley, chopped

Himalayan salt and black pepper

edible flowers

Heat vegetable stock in a small saucepan. In a large saucepan, sauté the onion in olive oil on medium heat until translucent. Add Arborio rice and cook on a gentle heat for 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Add white wine and wait for it to evaporate. Ladle 1 cup of vegetable stock into mixture, stirring very little until stock is absorbed. The liquid should always slightly simmer as you want the risotto to cook, not boil which will turn the mixture into a gummy mess. Continue to add the vegetable stock, stir very little as it absorbs, until the rice is ‘al dente’ (cooked through with a slight bite). The cooking process should take 12-15 minutes. Turn off the stove, add the peas and a little stock and let sit for 5 minutes. Stir in most of the herbs, nutritional yeast and season with salt and black pepper. Serve in bowls, sprinkling with extra herbs and edible flowers if serving on a special occasion.

Enjoy!

VEGAN MANGO & TURMERIC PANNACOTTA

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Mangoes are such a sunny fruit, evoking memories of hot summer days. To celebrate summer and keeping with the idea of very little prep in the kitchen, I’ve created a dessert that takes less than 15 minutes to make and tastes delicious. The mango pannacotta also looks appealing in pretty glass drinking glasses or vintage cups.

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Agar agar is a gelatinous substance derived from plants, which can be found in Asian supermarkets, health food stores or online, as flakes or powder. It has no taste, odour or colour and sets more firmly than gelatin and can even set at room temperature.

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Health benefits:

·       Many studies have suggested that increasing consumption of plant foods like mangoes decreases the risk of obesity and overall mortality, diabetes, and heart disease and promotes a healthy complexion and hair, increased energy, and overall lower weight.

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MANGO & TURMERIC PANNACOTTA

V, RSF, DF

Makes 6 glasses

 

¼ cup water

1½-2 teaspoons agar powder

2 heaped cups mango flesh

400 ml almond milk

¼ cup (60 ml) rice malt syrup

½ teaspoon ground turmeric

Pour water and agar powder into a saucepan and bring to the boil over a medium heat, reduce to a simmer and stir until it begins to thicken, approximately five minutes. Into a blender, add all the ingredients and blitz on a high speed until smooth and creamy. Pour mixture evenly into 6 glasses or vintage teacups and chill in the fridge for 2 hours until set. Serve and enjoy!

ZESTY LIME TART

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When visiting our garden for the first time, its natural beauty is not immediately seen. Possums regularly raid our backyard, cute white ones with black tipped tails, so hubby resorted to installing see-through netting that keeps the night visitors out. If you enter the padlocked gates you’d see overgrown tomatoes with pops of red, yellow zucchini flowers hidden within huge plants, succulent fruit hanging from apple trees in the orchard and a vintage mossy birdbath surrounding a rambling herb parterre. Other parts of the garden require searching. Citrus trees and figs are hidden behind the vegetable garden, verdant grape vines are cloistered within the hothouse, protected from the salt carried inland from the nearby ocean. After planting the apple orchard, we deliberated where to position the lemon, lime and grapefruit trees. At first, we trialed near the herb parterre, yet the soil caused the tiny tree’s leaves to yellow, leaving hubby baffled. Several weeks passed causing the trees to look sicker as the leaves started to shrivel. Not wanting to make a mistake and shift the trees to a place that could be their death knell, we kept deliberating. I’m unsure who thought of the idea, but one of us remembered Italians grew their citrus in large pots for movement into a conservatory in the winter months. Bunnings supplied several huge terracotta pots, which we placed in a sheltered position behind the vegetable garden, near the back fence, and the sick citrus trees thrived. Some choices in gardening by the sea are not for beauty or symmetry, it’s for the plant’s survival.

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This zesty lime tart is so easy if you own a food processor. After soaking the cashew nuts, the only pre task, you process two lots of ingredients to make the tart. Zesting the five limes is the only time consuming task, but so worth the effort as the lime’s zest flavour is incredible when paired with avocado.

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Health benefits:

·       Lime consists of water and is an extremely good source of vitamin C. It is also rich in dietary fibre and minerals like calcium, iron, potassium, copper, magnesium and phosphorous. The best thing about lime is that it has the least amount of calories, carbohydrates, and fats. Moreover, lime peel and pulp are also rich in phytochemicals like polyphenols.

·       The health benefits of lime include weight loss, improved digestion, reduced respiratory and urinary disorders, relief from constipation, and treatment of scurvy, peptic ulcer and gums. It also aids in skin care and eye care.

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ZESTY LIME TART

Makes 23 cm (9 inch) tart

Serves 8

R, V, RSF, DF, GF

 

For the crust:

2 cups raw cashews

1 cup desiccated coconut

½ cup medjool dates (about 10 dates)

¼ cup rice malt syrup

pinch Himalayan salt

 

For the filling:

¾ cup raw cashews, soaked for 2 hours, drained

3 large ripe avocados, flesh

zest of 5 limes

½ cup lime juice (about 5 limes)

½ cup rice malt syrup

1 teaspoon natural vanilla extract

pinch Himalayan salt

 

For the topping:

2 limes, thinly sliced

zest of 1 lime

Soak ¾ cup of raw cashew nuts for 2 hours or overnight, drain. Line a 23 cm (9 inch) round springform cake tin with baking paper.

For the crust, put the cashews in a food processor and chop into small pieces. Add the rest of the crust ingredients and blend until crumbly and sticky. Press the mixture into the base of the cake tin and place into the freezer while you make the filling.

Wash and dry the food processor. Place all the filling ingredients into the processor and blend until smooth and creamy. Pour the filling over the crust and freeze at least 6 hours until set, or overnight. Remove from the freezer at least an hour before serving, decorate with lime slices and lime zest before cutting into wedges to serve. The tart will keep in an airtight container in the freezer up to 6 weeks.

Enjoy!

RADICCHIO SALAD & ORANGE SEED DRESSING

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Although I can’t claim my radicchio salad is unique, as recipes for this salad are almost as ubiquitous as Greek salads wherever this Italian leaf chicory is plentiful, maybe it’s my dressing that separates it from other contenders. Radicchio’s variegated wine red leaves of slightly bitter flavour is best mellowed with sweet naval oranges, which I’ve paired with the rich meaty texture of pecans and luscious figs, and is especially delicious drizzled with an orange seed dressing. If figs aren't available, as this is a winter salad, use sweet pears. 

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Health benefits:

·       Radicchio is loaded with vitamin K and is a key food in the Mediterranean diet that supports heart health, decreasing heart attack risk and contributing to a healthy blood pressure. The presence of vitamin K helps the body builds and maintains strong bones that assists in the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis.

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RADICCHIO SALAD & ORANGE SEED DRESSING

V, DF, SF

Makes a side salad

 

1 head radicchio

1 navel orange

3 figs

½ cup pecans

Carefully separate the radicchio leaves, tear large pieces into two while keeping the inner leaves as cups, and place on a serving plate. Peel the navel orange, cut into slices and cut into halves. Place orange segments into the radicchio cups around the plate. Slice the figs into circles and place into radicchio cups. Cut the pecans into bite sizes and sprinkle over the plate.

Enjoy!

ORANGE SEED DRESSING

1 cup orange juice

1 tablespoon pumpkin seeds

1 tablespoon sesame seeds

¼ green shallot onion

2 cm knob ginger

sprig rosemary

Place ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth and creamy. Store in a glass jar for up to a week in the fridge or pour into a serving jar for immediate use.