Mushroom & Chestnut Martini Soup

Every time I make this soup, I ask myself ‘why don’t I make this more often?’ Chestnuts contain no cholesterol and are low in sodium and fat. They are also rich in mineral salts and an excellent source for vitamins C, B1, B2 and folates.  Guests always love how it plates up as a savoury martini. I love it more, because it screams SCREW YOU winter!

Mushroom and Chestnut Martini Soup

What you’ll need: serves 6
400g peeled chestnuts (I buy mine frozen from either the markets or good health food stores)
400g mushrooms finely sliced (I like to use organic portobellos)
1 tablespoon of EV olive oil
1 medium organic potato, peeled and diced
1 medium brown onion, peeled and diced
1 glove of garlic, peeled and diced
1/2 teaspoon of organic dried thyme
1 litre of vegetable stock (I use 2-3 tablespoons of my Thermomix veggie stock, diluted in a litre of filtered water)
Freshly ground pepper top taste
Sea salt to taste and fresh herbs to garnish (basil and parsley are my favs, but you could use thyme or chives too)
Tub of Butter Me Up; the first Australian-made real butter alternative. If you haven’t tried this yet, you must

How to prepare:
In a pan bring vegetable stock to a gentle simmer
In a separate deep, heavy based saucepan sauté onion and garlic in olive oil until translucent
Add chestnuts, potato and mushrooms to sautéed onion and garlic and cook for 3-5 minutes until the ingredients begin to stick to the base of your pot, then add thyme and stir through well, followed by 3/4 of your hot stock
Simmer for 25-30 minutes
Remove from heat, transfer to blender and blitz until smooth, using the remaining stock to adjust the consistency if need be, blitz again
Taste and adjust seasoning if required
Ladle into your martini glasses, top with fresh herbs, salt and or pepper and serve with fresh bread and generous lashings of vegan butter

Slow baked sweet potato stuffed with ancient grain salad

Baked sweet potato with grain saladWhat you’ll need:
Big organic sweet potatoes for 4-6 people
1 bunch coriander, washed and chopped
1/2 bunch parsley, washed and chopped
1/2 red onion, finely diced
1 cup of your favourite grain: freekah, quinoa or cracked wheat
1/2 cup of Puy lentils
2 tablespoons of pumpkin seeds, lightly toasted in coconut oil
2 tablespoons of hazelnuts, lightly crushed in your mortar and pestle. If you don’t have one, just use a clean a tea towel and a rolling pin
2 tablespoons of baby capers
1/2 cup organic black currants
Juice of one medium lemon
3 tablespoons of EVOO
Sea salt
1 pomegranate, halved and deseeded

Hot tip:
Having to deseed a pomegranate put me off readily using these incredible fruits laden with Vitamin C, Vitamin K and fibre.  Then I discovered this video: How to deseed a pomegranate

For the dressing you’ll need:
1 cup of coconut yoghurt (available at all good health food stores)
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds, crushed

How to prepare:
Preheat your oven to 220 degrees
Wash and pat dry your sweet potatoes
Place them in your preheated oven and turn heat down to 200 degrees to bake for 1 hour. Cooking time will vary due to size

Blanch your chosen grain and lentils separately in boiling water until al dente
Drain well and allow to completely cool
Mix your coconut yogurt and cumin and set side
In a medium bowl, place herbs, red onion, grain, lentils, nuts, seeds, capers, currants, lemon juice, olive oil, pomegranate and hand toss
Season with sea salt
Test your baked potatoes

Plating up + wine match:
Place a sweet potato on a plate
Slice open length ways and part
Spoon in your grain salad and lots of it
Top with yoghurt dressing
This dish goes beautifully with a Pinot Gris. I chose a 2014 Domaine de Belle Vue, from the Loire Valley France RRP $30AUD

 

Smash n’ Wrap

With Meat Free Week 2014 just days away, you will have lunch well and truly sorted with all the fresh salad combinations that work with smashed white beans. Including last week’s raw apple, beetroot and carrot salad which received rave reviews. Enjoy x

Smashed white bean wrap

What you’ll need: serves 2
400g organic cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
½ a red onion peeled and very finely diced
1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon of coarse grain Celtic sea salt: free from preservatives, additives, refining and bleaching
½ a teaspoon of cracked black pepper
The juice and rind of 1 small lemon
Dill washed and chopped (optional)

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How to prepare:
Place all the ingredients (except dill) into a bowl
Mash well with a fork until you have a chunky paste
Taste and adjust seasoning, add dill (optional)
Take a whole-wheat wrap fill it with smashed white beans then add:
Raw ABC salad or
Spinach leaves, fresh basil and sliced tomato or
Avocado, spinach leaves, grated carrot and pitted olives… the options are only limited by your imagination
Wrap and place face down on sandwich press to
Toast until golden brown
Tuck in x