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Spiralised Carrot and Chickpea Pad Thai, plus a spiraliser review

My second book (High Protein Vegan) already has a recipe for a grain-free pad Thai, but seeing as I didn’t have any cabbage on hand, didn’t have the time to make a batch of soy-free tofu and I now have a magical veggie pasta maker, I thought I would try making a different version.

This new recipe is just as delicious as the original recipe, I don’t even miss the crispy bits of fried soy-free tofu.  The raw carrot noodles add a nice crunch to the dish and go really well with the sweet, sour and spicy pad Thai sauce.

If you cook for people that prefer to eat wheat noodles instead of spiralised veggies this recipe can still be made without fuss – first bring some water for their pasta to the boil, prepare all the ingredients while waiting for the water to boil and cooking the pasta (I use wholemeal wheat spaghetti, it takes 9 minutes), then when the pasta is cooked, sauté the onions and heat up the chickpeas and sauce.

Put layers of pasta with half the chickpea/sauce mix in one bowl and roughly mix together, do the same thing with the spiralised carrot and the rest of the chickpea mixture.  Top the bowls with peanuts and coriander (add some mung bean sprouts if you have those on hand too) and enjoy.

Serves 2
soy-free*, gluten-free*, sugar-free**, grain-free*, under 45 minutes

Ingredients:

For the sauce:
•zest of half a lime or lemon
•juice of 1 1/2 limes or lemons
•2 tablespoons coconut sugar, or unrefined cane sugar such as rapadura or sucanat
•1 tablespoon coconut aminos, miso, tamari or naturally fermented non-GMO soy sauce
•2 tablespoons water
•1/2 a large fresh chilli, finely chopped (or 2 teaspoons minced chili from a jar, or cayenne pepper, to taste)
•optional (but highly recommended if you’re using lemon instead of lime) 1 teaspoon tamarind purée (tamarind pulp/tamarind concentrate)
•optional pinch or two of salt, to taste (recommended if using coconut aminos)

•4-5 spring onions (green onions), finely chopped
•1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas

•4 medium carrots per serve (400g/14oz) (or use less if you’re not as hungry than I am – most recommendations for the amount of spiralised veggies per serve are 1 or 2 carrots or zucchinis, which I find is not filling enough)
or 100-150g (3.5-5.3oz) dry wholemeal noodles such as spaghetti per serve

•1/3 cup chopped peanuts
•optional handful or two of finely chopped coriander leaves (cilantro)
•optional 1 cup mung bean sprouts

Method:

If you’re boiling pasta for someone, start boiling the water first, and prepare the ingredients while it boils and then cooks the pasta.

Combine all the sauce ingredients in a bowl, set aside until needed.

Heat some olive or sesame oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat.  When the oil is hot, add the spring onions and sauté until fragrant, a couple of minutes.  Add the chickpeas and the pad Thai sauce and bring to the boil, stirring often, until the sugar has dissolved and the chickpeas are hot.

Put layers of spiralised carrots (or cooked noodles) in bowls, top with a layer of the chickpea mixture and roughly stir to combine, repeat until all the noodles and chickpea mix have been used.  Top with the peanuts and coriander leaves and enjoy.

*this depends on your choice out of coconut aminos, miso, tamari or soy-sauce.

**For sugar-free option use coconut sugar.

And now for the spiraliser review:
I’ve been wanting to make raw pasta for years but never got around to it until recently because there are so many spiralisers around now and I wasn’t sure what one to get.  Reading other people’s reviews of spiralisers isn’t much help because most people have only tried out one of them and are inclined to say that it works for them so must be the greatest spiraliser around.  After doing some research about which ones are available in Australia, I chose the Benriner vertical slicer from Kitchenware Direct.

This spiraliser is the same one that is known as the ‘Cook Help’ in other countries.  It’s made in Japan, it feels really sturdy and as though it’s made to last.  It is simple to use, I didn’t even need the amusing instructions.  It comes with 3 different blades for different sized spiralising (the middle one is my favourite for most veggie pastas), and it only takes around 30 seconds to change the blade, and not much longer to clean it.  The time it takes to spiralise enough veggies for a meal for 2 is less than it takes to boil spaghetti.

As you can tell from the recipe above, I’m not restricted to the most well known raw pasta of spiralised zucchini (which is only in season here for around 3 months of the year), but have found that carrot can get really good results in some recipes.  Beetroot can be spiralised and made into a delicious salad with a balsamic and olive oil dressing – topping this with some cooked lentils and cultured nut cheeze makes for an easy protein-rich meal.

Since getting this spiraliser I’ve been eating even more vegetables than usual and enjoying some raw pasta meals.  A few times I’ve spiralised some daikon radish and carrot used that in place of the kelp noodles from the almond sesame noodle recipe from Practically Raw, I also added some peas for extra protein, even without the capsicum in the original recipe this was great, the sauce has so much flavour.

One concern I had about spiralisers is the amount of waste.  Some of the horizontal spiralisers leave a core in the vegetable that can’t be spiralised, so if you only have small vegetables it can waste quite a lot of them  Watching this video had convinced me that the Benriner vertical spiraliser was the one to get.

Another thing I like about this spiraliser is that it doesn’t take up much bench space or cupboard space.  I also like the green colour, which means it doesn’t stain from spiralising carrots like I imagine some of the white spiralisers might.

When I got this I had no idea I would be using it so much – pretty much every day I have been making a veggie pasta meal, side salad or garnish with the spiraliser.  I’ll post the link again, if you’re in Australia and want to buy one: here.  I’ve ordered from this shop several times and the orders always arrive quickly and in good condition.

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High Protein Gobi Manchurian

Cauliflower (gobi), when fried or baked in batter takes on a different taste and texture, one that makes cauliflower-haters enjoy it.  I made this for someone who refers to cauliflower as “broccoli’s evil cousin,” and he liked it a lot.

gobi manchurian
I’ve made other cauliflower dishes with a chickpea flour batter: pakoras from my first book, and the caesar salad with crispy cauliflower and chickpea fritters from High Protein Vegan.  The Indo Chinese dish gobi manchurian is something I’ve been wanting to make for a while – it usually consists of cauliflower fried in a flavoured wheat and corn starch batter, with a spicy tomato and chili sauce and I thought it would work brilliantly using chickpea flour instead of the other flours.  This makes it gluten-free and high enough in protein to be a satisfying and filling main dish when served alongside some rice or quinoa, and maybe a side salad with plenty of crunchy lettuce.

This recipe has been made soy-free by using coconut aminos and some extra salt where soy sauce would normally be used.  Soy-free chickpea or adzuki miso will also work, and if you have no problems with soy, then regular non-gmo soy tamari, shoyu or another kind of naturally fermented soy sauce can also be used.

This is a hearty and savoury dish that can be made really quickly (or the batter can be soaked overnight, for the best nutrition).

Gluten-free, soy-free, nut-free, grain-free, low fat option, under 45 minutes

Serves 2

Ingredients:

For the battered cauliflower:
1 1/2 cups chickpea flour (besan)
3/4 cup water
optional 1 teaspoon lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped ginger
2 teaspoons coconut aminos (or tamari, or naturally fermented soy sauce, or miso)
1 teaspoon finely chopped red chili
1/2 – 1 teaspoon salt (use only 1/2 teaspoon if using tamari, soy sauce or miso instead of coconut aminos)
1 small-medium cauliflower (around 500g)
olive oil, for frying

For the sauce:
optional 2-4 teaspoons sesame seeds
2-3 teaspoons toasted sesame oil or olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
2 teaspoons finely chopped ginger
1-3 teaspoons finely chopped chili
1/2 cup tomato purée (passata) (to make it yourself, just put some tomatoes in a food processor and process until smooth)
2-3 tablespoons coconut aminos, miso, naturally fermented gmo-free soy sauce or tamari
2 teaspoons coconut sugar, rapadura, sucanat or jaggery
salt, to taste
2 teaspoons tapioca flour or non-gmo corn starch, mixed with 2 tablespoons water

Method:

For the best nutrition, combine the chickpea flour with 3/4 cup lukewarm water and the lemon juice and leave it to sit in a large bowl, covered, at room temperature overnight (it should be a thick batter).

Mix through the garlic, ginger, coconut aminos, chili and salt.

Gently divide the cauliflower into florets.  Chop the larger ones in half if you wish.  Thoroughly coat these in the batter*

The rest of this recipe comes together really quickly, so measure out and prechop all the sauce ingredients.

In a large dry saucepan, toast the sesame seeds over medium heat, shaking the pan often, until they taste toasted.  Remove from the pan and set aside until later.

Put around 1cm (1/2″) olive oil in a large pan.  Heat over medium-high heat.  To test the heat, add a piece of the coated cauliflower, the oil should fizz up around the cauliflower right away.  Fry the cauliflower in batches until golden-brown, flipping the pieces over halfway through frying.  It takes 2-3 batches in a 24cm chef pan.  Drain the fritters in a colander lined with a tea towel.

Alternatively, for a lower fat option, bake on greased or lined baking sheets in an oven preheated to 180c (350f) for half an hour, flipping the pieces over after 25 minutes.

When all the cauliflower has finished cooking, heat the toasted sesame oil in a large saucepan over a heat between medium-high and high.  When the oil is hot, stir through the onion for two minutes, then stir through the ginger and garlic for one minute.  Stir through the chili for thirty seconds, then add the tomato purée, coconut aminos and coconut sugar.  Stir through until bubbling then taste, and adjust the seasonings with salt and chili (it should be fairly hot, but still edible and tasty).  Keep stirring for another minute or two, to allow the sauce to reduce, then quickly stir through the tapioca flour and water mixture.  Quickly add the fried cauliflower and stir to coat.  Serve right away, sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds.

gobi manchurian 2

*if you have extra batter left over, cut an onion into half moons (or use any other chopped, fast cooking vegetable) and coat in the batter, then fry after the cauliflower has finished.

Soy-Free Tofu

When I’m working on books I never really know what recipes to share on the blog, and what can wait for the book.  This is something I knew I had to share right away.

It’s not the same as soy tofu – it doesn’t have the same texture or taste, but it is a protein-rich medium for all kinds of delicious sauces (like chermoula, pictured above), or to be fried up and used in a variety of recipes, like the grain-free pad thai from my next book, pictured below.

It can also be cut into chip shapes, shallow fried and enjoyed as a high-protein alternative to potato chips, to turn a chip sandwich into a balanced meal.


I’ve based my recipe around a combination of things – Burmese tofu has been traditionally made with chickpea flour for a long time, but typically involves a lot of prep time and tricky steps, and while this would reduce the phytic acid in the tofu, it makes the process a lot slower.  With my recipe the tofu can be ready to use in under 45 minutes.  If you’re good with planning ahead and want to make the tofu as nutritious as possible then the batter can definitely be soaked for 8 hours or more before heating it up, otherwise enjoy this cheap, fast and tasty homemade alternative to tofu.

Soy-free, gluten-free, nut-free, low fat, nightshade-free, onion- and garlic-free, under 45 minutes
Makes 4-6 serves

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups chickpea flour (besan)
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups cold water

Method:

Line or grease a 20x30cm (8×12″) pan.

In a heavy-bottomed chef’s pan, frying pan or saucepan place the chickpea flour and salt, and squash out any lumps.  Add water a little at a time, making sure that no lumps form.

Turn on the heat to medium and stir continuously until very thick.  I make this on an electric stove in a 9 1/2″ (24cm) chef’s pan and it takes around 7 minutes.  If you’re using a gas stove it will be quicker, if you’re using a smaller saucepan it will take longer.

As soon as the mixture is very thick, quickly spread it into the prepared pan, pressing to form a flat, even surface (it will set very quickly).  Leave to set for at least half an hour before using as tofu.

To remove from the pan first slice into whatever shape you want them to be, and gently lift up.  I find that lining the pan with a silicon baking mat or some baking paper makes it a lot easier to remove.

This will keep in the fridge for up to a week and can be used in all kinds of recipes that call for tofu.

Satay Soy-Free Tofu

This post has been shared on Pennywise Platter, Wellness Weekend, Whole Food FridaysandHealthy Vegan Fridays

Chickpea and Gherkin Smørrebrød

I said I would post another recipe for using homemade vegan mayonnaise soon and here it is.  After formatting the Triumph of the Lentil Kindle edition, cooking celebration meals, and editing my wilderness photos for sale as calendars, cards and prints, I now have a moment to post about smørrebrød.

Smørrebrød is a Danish open-faced sandwich, and is perfect for using slices of hearty wholegrain breads that aren’t so great for using in a two-slice sandwich.  In Denmark it’s traditionally made from a dark rye sourdough, but I use my 100% wholemeal wheat bread with great results.  Traditionally butter is spread on the bread (that’s what ‘smørre’ means), but I’ve used homemade vegan mayonnaise on mine.

There are heaps of different traditional toppings which are definitely not vegan, and although I never ate the ‘real’ thing in Denmark, I think these ones I’ve made topped with salad greens, chickpea salad and pickled gherkin slices resemble them.

Kitchen time 5-10 minutes.  Serves 2.
Soy-free, onion- and garlic-free, nightshade-free, no speciality ingredients

Ingredients:
4-6 slices fresh wholemeal bread (preferably rye, or my wholemeal wheat bread recipe)
homemade vegan mayonnaise
salad greens
1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (1 400g (14oz) tin, rinsed and drained) (use 2 1/4 cups if you’re extra hungry)
pickled gherkin slices

Method:
Spread some vegan mayonnaise on the bread.  Mix the salad greens with some more vegan mayo and place this on top of the bread.  Using a fork, mash the chickpeas with plenty of vegan mayonnaise and cover the salad greens with this.  Top with gherkin slices and serve right away.

Quick and Easy Bok Choy (or Cabbage) and Chickpeas with Miso and Balsamic Dressing

Inspired by this recipe I bought some bok choy and adapted the recipe into a main course to feed two hungry people.  I imagine that this recipe would be also be really tasty using cabbage or broccoli instead of the bok choy.

The dressing is so savoury and delicious that I often now make a salad dressing based on it by mixing 3-4 teaspoons of olive oil, 1 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar, 1 teaspoon of miso and half a teaspoon of mustard in a salad bowl, then stirring through some raw salad greens.

Gluten-free option, low fat option, nightshade-free, onion- and garlic-free, soy-free option, under 45 minutes

Kitchen time 10 minutes

Serves 2

Ingredients:

Brown rice, or some other grain for two (I used 1 1/4 cups of rice)

1 large bunch of bok choy, or other greens

2 1/4 cups cooked chickpeas (1  1/2 400g (14oz) tins, rinsed and drained)

1/2 cup water

1 1/2 tablespoons mellow light miso*

1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon olive oil or water

Cook the grains.  (For brown rice: Rinse and drain, then add 1 1/2 to 2 cups of water per cup of rice.  Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer with the lid on 25-30 minutes, take off the heat and leave to stand for 10 minutes.)

While the grains are cooking, prepare your vegetables and chickpeas by rinsing and drying them.  Chop the bok choy into pieces around 3cm (1 inch) long, placing the stems in a separate bowl from the more leafy parts.  Make the dressing by combining the miso, balsamic vinegar and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a small bowl.

When the grain has been standing off the heat for 5 minutes, heat a heavy chef pan or stockpot over a high heat.  When the pan is hot, add 2-4 teaspoons of olive oil and quickly throw in the bok choy stems first, then add the chickpeas and bok choi leaves.  Don’t stir.  Put the lid on and cook for 2 minutes without stirring or lifting the lid.

Add half a cup of water to the pan and stir through.  Put the lid back on and cook for another 2 minutes.  Taste some of the bok choy to see if it’s cooked enough and cook for a little longer if needed.  Take off the heat and stir through the dressing.  Serve right away on top of the grains.

*Miso is typically made from fermented soybeans, but there are people around that make soy-free miso.  I used a soy-free (and gluten-free) chickpea and brown rice miso made by Blue Mountains Miso in Australia.  In the US the South River Miso Company make some soy-free misos and can post worldwide.