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Vegan Ragu (Pasta Tomato Sauce)

In Dinners and Meals, Vegan, Vegetarian On September 7, 2017 0 Comments

This recipe is another impromptu invention that I came up with while not knowing what to cook. I must say that my best dishes come through when I don’t know what to cook. I love utilising my pantry to the optimum to create new dishes. I had bought zucchini and knew I wanted to make zucchini spaghetti, but I didn’t know about the sauce. I knew I wanted a vegan sauce, so I soaked some cashew nuts knowing that this cashew sauce would become handy. The result was an exquisite Italian style tomato sauce and a great companion to pasta!

We had plenty of tomatoes in the fridge, so I immediately thought of tomato sauce since I don’t often buy ready made tomato sauce. The recipe is very easy whilst and uses simple yet authentic ingredients. I loved the smell and taste of basil and oregano in this sauce. The sauce smelled so good and looked like traditional Bolognese or Italian ragu. It was also great served with normal pasta or with zucchini noodles made with this spiralizer.

This is happy food for me, it looked nice, smelled delicious, tasted great without using animal products in the process.

Here is a video that I posted on Instagram of the sauce cooking:
 

 

Making #vegan and #paleo ragu 🍅😋 #nomnom 😋🍅

A post shared by Rody (@rodysheartycorner) on

 

How to easily peel tomatoes?

To be able to peel the tomatoes easily I soaked them in hot boiling water for about five minutes. Then I rinsed the water, covered the tomatoes in some ice and added more water. This allowed me to peel the tomatoes with a knife easily.

 

 

Vegan Ragu
Serves 4
Print

Prep Time
20 min

Cook Time
15 min

Total Time
35 min

Prep Time
20 min

Cook Time
15 min

Total Time
35 min

Ingredients
  1. 8-10 tomatoes (I used Roma Tomatoes)
  2. 1 medium onion, diced
  3. 3 cloves garlic, minced or chopped
  4. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  5. 1 cup pre-soaked raw cashews (soak in water for at least one hour)
  6. 1 teaspoon oregano
  7. fresh basil leaves
  8. Salt & pepper
  9. ½ teaspoon Chilli flakes
  10. 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast (optional)
  11. 1 teaspoon coconut sugar (optional)
Instructions
  1. Soak the raw cashews in water in advance. This will allow them to soften up.
  2. Use the easy method suggested for peeling the tomatoes.
  3. Stir fry the onion in olive oil and add some pepper. Meanwhile, blend the tomatoes in a food processor.
  4. When the onion has softened, add in the garlic.
  5. Then add most of the pureed tomatoes reserving some in the food processor.
  6. Blend cashew nuts in the food processor together with the remaining tomatoes. You can puree completely or leave some chunks.
  7. Add this cashew mixture to the simmering tomato sauce.
  8. Add a good pinch of salt, oregano, chilli flakes, nutritional yeast and coconut sugar if using.
  9. Stir the mixture from time to time and let simmer for about 10 minutes to allow the flavours to soak in.
  10. Switch off the heat and add in pieces of fresh basil.
  11. Add in the cooked pasta or raw zucchini spaghetti and serve immediately. If you want warm pasta, you can switch on the heat, but I find zucchini to be best when raw as otherwise, they will become mushy.
  12. Enjoy!
Rody's Hearty Corner http://www.rodysheartycorner.com/

 

Easy Homemade Paleo Ketchup

In Dinners and Meals, Healthier Alternatives, Vegan On August 24, 2017 0 Comments

Traditionally, I have never been a fan of ketchup. However, this was probably biased by my dislike to processed foods. I must admit that having this healthy, Paleo, homemade ketchup around was a great companion to some barbeque dishes this summer. We did not only use it to accompany barbeque dishes but I also find it convenient to serve in a gluten free wrap with some leftover roast beef. Well, I guess, unlike me, ketchup users will already have their use for this ketchup.

Use healthy ingredients

The recipe is quite simple. I looked for genuine ingredients since I was not doing the tomato puree from scratch. I bought organic products and checked that there were no nasty ingredients in the ingredient list. The tomato puree contained just tomatoes and the rest of the ingredients are one ingredient items :)

 


 

Easy Homemade Paloe Ketchup
Yields 1
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Prep Time
5 min

Cook Time
30 min

Total Time
35 min

Prep Time
5 min

Cook Time
30 min

Total Time
35 min

Ingredients
  1. 500g tomato puree (preferably organic or made with 100% tomatoes)
  2. 1/4 cup honey
  3. 2 tablespoons Apple cider vinegar
  4. 1 tablespoon mustard
  5. 1 tablespoon onion powder
  6. 1 teaspoon salt
Instructions
  1. Place all the ingredients in a sauce pan, bring to a boil and then simmer for around 30 minutes.
  2. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator for up to one month. Always use a clean teaspoon to have your serving. Otherwise, the contents are likely to rot or grow mould.
Notes
  1. You may wish to try this delicious Paleo and gluten free wraps to accompany this recipe http://www.rodysheartycorner.com/garlic-naan-bread/
Rody's Hearty Corner http://www.rodysheartycorner.com/

Easy Fish soup (Aljotta)

In Dinners and Meals On April 27, 2017 0 Comments

Aljotta – Easy does it

This is a recipe that I wouldn’t have dared to do until just recently after a colleague of mine told me how easy it was to do. I think traditional mums have a tendency to make this dish sound like quite a job but in reality, this recipe proves otherwise. I think it all boils down to the effort my mum takes in extracting all the juices from the fish, but not a prerequisite to creating the magical Aljotta which refers to fish soup in Maltese.

Concept

This recipe also has a twist to how most people would do fish soup. It has rice and tomato sauce. This style is common in Gozo, our sister island, but also in the fish village of Marsaxlokk. At least this is what my local friends told me! Thus this soup serves as a main course. You might also notice that in my picture a lot of rice is showing. This is because I have added a bit extra and in reality, you should not have that much.

Aljotta fish soup with rice
 

 

Why rice?

Rice is not Paleo and is a grain despite being gluten free. We can still tolerate some occasional rice and thus I have stuck to the original recipe, from my colleague. I didn’t want to try any rice alternative, like cauliflower rice, for this traditional Maltese dish. I must say that we were quite happy with the outcome and will definitely make this dish again.

Fish stock

I used some small fish to make the fish stock but you could also use the heads of some fish and also some king prawn heads. I have doubled the amount of water to preserve some fish stock for next time. I found these sealable vacuum bags to be great to store stock in the freezer, I didn’t use the vacuum function though. Alternatively, zip lock bags would also be good to save some space in the freezer.

Preserved fish stock in vacum bag

 

 

Aljotta
Serves 2
Print

Prep Time
15 min

Cook Time
1 hr

Total Time
1 hr 15 min

Prep Time
15 min

Cook Time
1 hr

Total Time
1 hr 15 min

Ingredients
  1. 1 large onion
  2. 1 clove garlic
  3. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  4. 1 small can tomato chunks (Polpa) or 3 chopped tomatos
  5. 2 teaspoons dry mint
  6. Pinch Salt & Pepper
  7. 1 tablespoon tomato puree concentrate (kunserva)
  8. Small fish / fish head / prawn heads / fish meat
  9. 1 cup rice
  10. 1500ml water
Instructions
  1. Cook the fish in a deep pot to make stock. Immerse in water and put on the stove for 30-45 minutes.
  2. put on stove for 30-45 minutes.
  3. While the stock is cooking but is almost complete, finely chop the onion and garlic. Place onion and garlic in another pot on the stove together with some olive oil. Once softened, add in tomato chunks.
  4. Add the water from the fish stock into this pan.
  5. Add the remaining ingredients including rice.
  6. Let boil until the rice cooks. In the mean time clean the fish and add meat to the pan. This step is optional.
  7. Simmer for 15 minutes or until rice is cooked.
Notes
  1. Store extra tomato chunks and fish stock inside freezer for later use.
Rody's Hearty Corner http://www.rodysheartycorner.com/

Quinoa Muffins

In Dinners and Meals, Lunch Box, Savory Bites On January 10, 2017 0 Comments

These quinoa muffins are perfect to make for picnics or to put on salads. They can be prepared in advanced and even stored in the freezer for later use. Muffins are also a great way to hide vegetables for those less willing to indulge in whole veggies.

Source of protein

Quinoa is known for being a good plant based protein source. It is known to contain all nine essential amino acids necessary for good health. Amino acids support strong muscles, keep our immune system in tip-top shape and have a big contribution towards keeping our bodies healthy (Source).

Gluten free

Despite being listed as a gluten free protein source, quinoa is still considered a grain and sources are somewhat contradictory. I thus suggest you try it and see the effects it has on your body. In fact, unlike other grains, I find I do tolerate it if taken moderately. In any case, it is always better than having couscous, rice or pasta :)

Three types of Quinoa

3 types of quinoa exist and all provide the same nutritional values and cook for roughly the same time. There is white, red or black quinoa and the choice is up to your preference. Red and black quinoa can be more crunchy and take slightly longer to cook.

Recipe Vegan Alternatives

For a vegan alternative remember to replace eggs with chia seeds. 1 egg can be replaced with 1 tablespoon chia seeds mixed with 3 tablespoons water. Let this mixture sit for about 5 minutes so that the chia seeds can grow and form a sticky gel.

Instead of cheese, you can use nutritional yeast. In fact, nutritional yeast is often used as a vegan alternative for parmesan cheese on pizza or other recipes. Nutritional yeast is another great source of protein, fibre and B vitamins (source). 

Comments

This recipe makes about 22 muffins. You can use half the ingredients if you want 12 muffins. Otherwise, you could make the recipe as is and freeze the extra ones for future use.

Feel free to comment for feedback at the bottom of this screen!

 

 

Quinoa Muffins
Yields 22
Print

Prep Time
30 min

Cook Time
40 min

Prep Time
30 min

Cook Time
40 min

Ingredients
  1. 1 medium butternut squash
  2. 2 cups quinoa (I used 3 colour quinoa)
  3. 6 eggs (for vegan replace with a mixture of 6 tablespoons chia seeds and 18 tablespoons water)
  4. 10 olives
  5. 4 tomatoes
  6. 1 teaspoon paprika
  7. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  8. 2  tablespoons mixed herbs
  9. 1 tablespoon ground oregano
  10. 80g white cheese (I used local cheeslet/gbejna)
  11. salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Start by cooking the butternut squash. You can make this ahead of time. Cut the butternut squash in half, place in in the oven, skin facing heat source and bake for 40 minutes.
  2. In the meantime boil the quinoa in a double amount of water. Use 4 cups water for 2 cups quinoa and stir occasionally. This should take between 10 to 15 minutes until all liquid is absorbed.
  3. If you are using chia seeds instead of eggs, prepare the water and chia seeds mixture in advance.
  4. When the butternut squash is ready, remove the skin and mash the pulp with a fork.
  5. Add the quinoa and other ingredients to the squash and mix well together until all ingredients are incorporated.
  6. Transfer the mixture to a lined muffin tray or use silicon muffin moulds. Silicone moulds will ensure the muffins do not stick when it’s time to remove the wrapper.
  7. Bake for 30-40 minutes at 200°C or gas mark 6.
  8. Enjoy warm or cold. Freeze extra ones for later use.
Rody's Hearty Corner http://www.rodysheartycorner.com/

 

Stuffed Butternut Squash

In Dinners and Meals On December 17, 2016 3 Comments

This was a very heart warming dinner which I had posted on my Facebook page. Due to its popularity, I am sharing the recipe here so that you can pin it, print it or save it!

The dish is very versatile and can be easily turned into a vegan dish or done with chicken instead of prawns. Feel free to experiment and use ingredients available in your kitchen.

Butternut squash has a very mild taste and its flavour is not as strong as pumpkin. I suggest anyone try it out because the taste is mild and palatable and doesn’t over power the other ingredients. 

I found that the easiest way to cook butternut squash is by cutting it in half, placing it skin facing the heat source and baking or grilling for 20 minutes in any type of oven. This way you can then scoop it’s flesh out and use it on salads or quinoa. You could alternatively fill it with other ingredients as I did in this recipe. By the way, the cooked butternut squash skin is also edible, unlike its pumpkin relative!


 

 

Stuffed Butternut Squash
Serves 2
Print

Prep Time
15 min

Cook Time
30 min

Total Time
45 min

Prep Time
15 min

Cook Time
30 min

Total Time
45 min

Ingredients
  1. 1 medium butternut squash
  2. 2 garlic cloves
  3. 1 onion
  4. 10 king prawns (can be replaced with any other protein)
  5. Bunch of kale or spinach
  6. 1 teaspoon curry powder
  7. 1 teaspoon paprika
  8. 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  9. Salt & pepper
  10. 1 spring onion (optional)
  11. Mozzarella or homemade cashew cheese
Instructions
  1. Slice butternut squash in half and bake it in an oven or under grill skin facing heat for 20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile stir-fry the garlic, onion, kale and king prawns with the spices and seasoning. You can replace king prawns with any other protein like chicken or beans for a vegan alternative.
  3. When squash is ready, remove the squash from the oven discarding the seeds. Use a fork to scoop out the squash, leaving the skin intact.
  4. Mix the squash filling together with stir-fry, spring onion and some mozzarella. You can replace mozzarella with homemade cashew cheese or omit completely.
  5. Place the filling back inside the squash the skin and bake for a further 10 minutes.
  6. Serve butternut squash in skin and devour while warm.
Rody's Hearty Corner http://www.rodysheartycorner.com/

Easy Broccoli and Cauliflower Bake

In Dinners and Meals, Vegetarian On November 4, 2016 4 Comments

You don’t need comfort dishes of baked pasta when you can have equally delicious baked vegetables. This meal is effortless to assemble and is pure comfort food, without giving you the guilt feeling and bloating effect.

broccoli-bake-1
Now that the cold weather is kicking in, we found this dish so heart-warming it left us happy and fulfilled. I am pleased to say that this recipe is boyfriend approved and was so good that we had this twice this week.
The choice of vegetables can vary depending on what’s in season. I love to mix cauliflower and broccoli, although pumpkin would also be great, especially after all that pumpkin carving!



broccoli-cauliflower-recipe

 

 

Easy Broccoli and Cauliflower Bake
Serves 4
Print

Prep Time
15 min

Cook Time
30 min

Total Time
45 min

Prep Time
15 min

Cook Time
30 min

Total Time
45 min

Ingredients
  1. 1 head cauliflower
  2. 1 head broccoli
  3. 2 scallions, chopped
  4. 4 slices bacon, chopped (optional, omit for vegetarian)
  5. 120g mozzarella cheese
  6. 1 cup ground almonds
  7. 2 tablespoons olive oil
  8. 1 teaspoon oregano
  9. 1 teaspoon paprika
  10. 1 teaspoon ground chilli flakes
  11. salt & pepper
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat the oven to medium heat.
  2. Steam or boil the cauliflower and broccoli for 10 minutes leaving them firm. Remove from the water.
  3. Cover an oven dish with baking paper and place bite-size cauliflower and broccoli florets at the bottom of the dish.
  4. Spread the scallions and bacon evenly on top of the vegetables.
  5. Top with shredded mozzarella cheese.
  6. Then mix the ground almonds, olive oil, spices and seasoning in a small bowl. This mix will turn into a crumble (like gluten free and grain free breadcrumbs). Sprinkle this crumbly mixture on top of the mozzarella.
  7. Bake in a preheated oven for 30 minutes and serve warm.
  8. This mixture serves roughly 4 people as a main course (depends on the size of your broccoli and cauliflower).
Adapted from primaverakitchen.com
Adapted from primaverakitchen.com
Rody's Hearty Corner http://www.rodysheartycorner.com/

Mac & Cheese inspired vegetable bake

In Dinners and Meals On June 23, 2016 0 Comments

Re-creating staple comfort foods into healthier alternatives is a topic of much interest for me. Whilst my colleagues were talking on how they make the famous Mac and Cheese the other day, I immediately started thinking of how I could re-create the dish whilst replacing the flour, butter, pasta and cheese with other whole and less processed ingredients. It is not because this food is bad for me, but because in reality healthy food makes me feel better.

veg bake (2)
I thought of replacing the flour with tapioca or arrowroot, this paleo flour is a brilliant alternative for creating starchy food. If you have missed my paleo naan bread recipe, check it out! I thought of using only half a cup of this flour, since it is a starch. I didn’t end up with a really creamy dish so you could double the amount of flour and milk if you want a denser outcome. In this case also allow around 20 minutes more cooking time.
As for pasta replacement I immediately thought of cauliflower and broccoli since these are perfect baked. You could also use cauliflower on its own if you don’t want to see anything green on the plate, this will also look more like pasta.
I still used some white cheese and went for a local cheeselet instead of the more processed cheese. This is white semi-hard cheese and could be replaced with goat cheese or other cheese of your choice. For a vegan meal, try making your own cashew cheese which would be brilliant for a creamy “Mac n Cheese”. 

At first I had the idea of simmering the tapioca and milk to create a béchamel like consistency, but then I thought of keeping with my recipe traditions to use less dishes, so I just mixed the ingredients together cold and then let them cook in the oven.
 

 
I have also added some bacon for extra flavour but this can easily be omitted to create a vegan dish.

veg bake (1)
If you are interested in more Paleo recipes, also known as, grain free, dairy free, and caveman diet recipes perhaps you would be interested in these books. I love them:

                              

 

Mac & Cheese inspired vegetable bake
Serves 6
Print

Prep Time
20 min

Cook Time
30 min

Prep Time
20 min

Cook Time
30 min

Ingredients
  1. 1 head cauliflower
  2. 1 head broccoli
  3. 3 leeks, sliced
  4. 5 slices back bacon
  5. ½ cup tapioca flour
  6. ½ cup coconut milk (or other milk of your choice)
  7. 1 local cheeselet, grated (replace with 100g of any other cheese or vegan cashew cheese)
  8. 3 garlic cloves
  9. 1 teaspoon mustard seeds (optional)
  10. ½ teaspoon mixed spice (optional)
  11. ½ teaspoon ground turmeric (optional)
  12. ½ teaspoon cumin (optional)
  13. ½ teaspoon dried oregano (optional)
  14. ½ teaspoon coriander (optional)
  15. ½ teaspoon ground fenugreek (optional)
  16. 1 teaspoon rosemary (optional)
  17. 1 teaspoon smoked paprika (optional)
  18. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  19. salt & pepper
  20. ½ cup ground almonds
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven at 200°C.
  2. Steam or lightly boil cauliflower and broccoli until al dente. You can do this on a covered saucepan over 1 cm water. It will take about 10 minutes to steam the veggies. Alternatively you can use steamer or microwave.
  3. In the meantime stir-fry the leeks with olive oil, garlic, spices and salt & pepper. When almost cooked add in bacon and cook for a further 5 minutes.
  4. Pour the tapioca flour and milk in a separate container and mix with an egg whisker so that no lumps are formed.
  5. After cauliflower and broccoli have steamed gently break them up in a large bowl. Then add in the leek stir-fry and grated cheese, keeping some cheese for the top. Finally add in the flour mix and cover all vegetables.
  6. Line an oven proof dish with grease proof paper and pour in the vegetable mixture. Press vegetable mix at the bottom of the dish. Top with ground almonds and the remaining cheese. Cover the dish with foil and bake in pre-heated oven for 20 minutes. Remove cover and bake top for a further 10 minutes.
  7. Enjoy warm :)
Rody's Hearty Corner http://www.rodysheartycorner.com/

Vegetable Cake

In Dinners and Meals, Vegetarian On March 3, 2016 0 Comments

The idea of the words vegetable and cake combined might not sound right at first, but unless you associate a cake with only something sweet, I assure you that you will not be disappointed. I found it very convenient to combine all these vegetables in one cake or pie, call it what you please. First of all this meant I could make use of almost all the vegetables in my fridge thus eliminating waste of produce and still having a hearty wholesome dish. Secondly it is really convenient as a quick grab for both lunch or dinner. Having this portioned and ready to eat inside the refrigerator was a great time saver for the whole week. Just grab a slice and eat it cold or warm, served with some side salad and voilà a meal quickly served.

Vegetable Cake (4) (Large)
The recipe could be easily adjusted by replacing or adding other vegetables of your choice. The trick is to have the vegetables steamed or boiled beforehand so when you combine them into a cake as this will make cooking and combining so much easier.

Vegetable Cake (1) (Large)

 

 
This veggie cake was even great for a picnic!
 
Vegetable Cake(3) (Large)
 

Vegetable Cake
Serves 8
Print

Prep Time
30 min

Cook Time
1 hr

Total Time
1 hr 30 min

Prep Time
30 min

Cook Time
1 hr

Total Time
1 hr 30 min

Ingredients
  1. 1 head broccoli
  2. 1 head cauliflower
  3. 2 sweet potatoes
  4. 1 ½ kg pumpkin
  5. 1 jalapeno pepper
  6. 10 sun-dried tomato half
  7. 1 cup/80g ground almonds
  8. 1 teaspoon chopped chillies
  9. 2 teaspoon dried dill
  10. 1 teaspoon dried basil
  11. 1 teaspoon paprika
  12. 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  13. ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  14. 3 eggs whites + 1 whole egg
  15. sesame seeds
Instructions
  1. Start by steaming the sweet potatoes, cauliflower, broccoli and pumpkin. You can use a large pot and toss everything together. This should take about 15 minutes plus a few more for the sweet potatoes.
  2. Using a fork, mash the pumpkin in a sieve to get rid of any excess water as this might dampen you cake.
  3. In a large bowl mash the sweet potatoes then combine the mashed pumpkin with it.
  4. Add the cauliflower and broccoli florets to the mixture and roughly mash keeping some large bite size pieces.
  5. Add in the ground almonds, eggs, jalapenos, sun-dried tomatoes and spices and mix until everything is well combined.
  6. Cover a large baking dish with grease proof paper using some oil to hold the paper in place. Fill in with the vegetable mixture and top with some sesame or pumpkin seeds.
  7. Cover with aluminium foil and bake for 45 minutes to one hour at 200°C.
  8. Store inside the fridge for up to five days. Alternatively cut into portions and store inside a freezer (consume within 6 months for best freshness).
Rody's Hearty Corner http://www.rodysheartycorner.com/