Feb 2016

VEGAN ROASTED TOMATO PASTA BAKE


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VEGAN ROASTED TOMATO PASTA BAKE

Like most kids mine adore pasta. Whenever I cook some for dinner I get pretty much no complaints and empty plates. It may not be very popular in today’s age of carb hating world but I have not issue with pasta as long as there are loads of veggies and some protein (nuts in this case) on the same plate too. This comforting bake can be assembled ahead and baked just before dinner. Ideal for a Monday evening when still reminiscing of the weekend.

For the topping I made a cashew sauce with some vegan cheese on top, totally delicious. I don’t use vegan cheese very often, it is not the most natural ingredient but once in a while there is a place for it. The topping can be made without the vegan cheese; just add 2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast flakes to the sauce and perhaps even make double the amount of the cashew sauce.

The tomato sauce can be also made purely with roasted tomatoes, in that case just use double the amount of tomatoes you are going to roast and omit the tinned ones. To further bulk up the dish add some roasted vegetables; peppers, courgettes, aubergines are my favourite. White beans or chickpeas would fit in here quite well too. If I wasn’t cooking for my daughter I would add some red chilli flakes to the bake too. But there is always hot sauce for those who need it :)


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VEGAN ROASTED TOMATO PASTA BAKE
Serves 4-5

10 medium tomatoes
12 cherry tomatoes
60 ml (1/4cup) water or 2 tsp olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tbs tomato puree
1 tin tomatoes
400g pasta (macaroni) - regular or gluten free
Cheese topping:
1 cup cashews (soaked for at least 30min or longer)
1/2 water
1 tsp mustard
1 tsp lemon juice
salt and pepper
vegan cheese grated (if not using vegan cheese add 2 tbs nutritional flakes into the cashew sauce mix)

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  • Cut the larger tomatoes in half, leave the cherry tomatoes whole. Place into a roasting tin, the larger ones cut size up.
  • Roast in 200C for about half hour or till the edges start to caramelise. Blend in a blender till smooth.
  • In a sauce pan heat 60ml (1/4cup) water or 2 tsp of olive oil, add the onions and garlic and saute till softened.
  • Add the tomato puree, saute for 1 minute. Add the tinned tomatoes and simmer for 10 min. Next add the blended roasted tomatoes and cook for another 10 minutes. Season to taste
  • In the meantime cook the pasta.
  • In a blender blend the cashews, water, mustard and lemon juice till smooth.
  • Mix to pasta with sauce, pour into a baking dish. Spread the cashew sauce over and sprinkle with the vegan cheese.


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CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER CUPS


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CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER CUPS

Peanut butter cup and chocolate is a match made in heaven. Dark chocolate peanut butter cups could nearly be called a healthy snack. These little beauties are fabulous for today’s Valentine’s Day but they are perfect just about anytime. I will be bringing these to a relaunch of our local business networking group to sweeten up new members :)

Three ingredients is all you need. Nothing can be easier. Ten minutes prep, half an hour chilling in the freezer and the perfect treat is on the table. I prefer to use chocolate that is 70% cocoa content anything higher will be too bitter. But if you like higher cocoa content go ahead with 85%-90%….

I have used small size mini muffin cup cases that fit into a 24 mini muffin pan but we have also made larger size cups (think large Reeses size) in a 12 muffin pan, just use the smaller muffin paper cases. I prefer the smaller ones as I seem to get better ration of peanut butter to chocolate without making them too big to eat. Now a friend of mine pointed out my cups looked uneven… I am not very good at this fiddly stuff. Even or not they are delicious :) By the way my daughter was helping with making the peanut butter cups in these pictures so I can blame the unevenness on her ...

Enjoy. And Happy Valentines!


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CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER CUPS

Makes 24 mini or 12 larger cups

350 g non dairy 70% dark chocolate
1/2 cup smooth, sugar free peanut butter
1-2 tbs maple syrup (depending on your taste buds)

Place the peanut butter in the middle she said :)
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  • Place a glass bowl over a pan of simmering water. Break the chocolate into pieces (there is something satisfying about hitting the wrapped bar of chocolate against the chopping board… ). Let the chocolate slowly melt.
  • While the chocolate is melting in a small bowl (cereal bowl will do) mix the peanut butter and maple syrup together till well combined.
  • Place the muffin cups into the muffin pans. If using mini muffins pour about half tablespoon of the melted chocolate. Place a half a teaspoon of the peanut butter mix in the middle of the chocolate puddle and cover with another half tablespoon of chocolate. Use more chocolate and peanut butter if making larger peanut butter cups.
  • Set in the freezer for half an hour.
  • Enjoy. (or wrap in a heart shaped box and gift to someone you love, preferably someone who will share…)

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