Vegan cannelloni | Cruelty free Recipe

Vegan cannelloni | Cruelty free Recipe

Special quite days and occasions need to be filled with goodness to be really special.

In Southern Italy still exists a particular culinary tradition, where is still possible to taste authentic genuine food, as it once was. Yet,  Southern Italy regional food and tradition are considered, by non- Italian cultures, as a complicated, but genuine, combination of ingredients. “Add a seat at the table, if there is one more friend” is the perfect motto to describe what normally happens at Italian tables.

Sunday lunch, birthdays, Christmas and any other holidays: you spend them laughing and eating around a table full of delicacies. It’s a real challenge against someone’s limits but unusually there’s always a free part in every stomach to accept a little more food.

It may seems strange, even crazy, but during these days the atmosphere is really special, so you have to grow up in such Italian families to really understand what it means. When you grow up adults and you move from your native place, of course, you lose such habit. (in fact, when you go back home to you relatives it sounds ironically traumatic).

Yet, despite the distance, I still have the habit to cook for all my family, especially during special days, and enjoy food made with love.

Unfortunately, there are some dishes cannot be enjoyed every day. Today is an important day for me: I am going to bake cannelloni stuffed with tofu, basil, spinach and nuts and covered with sauce and all my love.

Ingredients for 4 people:

  • 12 Cannelloni;
  • 1 kg fresh spinach;
  • 350 Tofu
  • 50 g cashew nuts;
  • 100 pine nuts;
  • Just enough basil;
  • Organic oil;
  • A pinch of salt.

Ingredients for the sauce:

  • 1/2 golden onion;
  • Garlic cloves;
  • 500g tomato sauce;
  • Organic oil;
  • Just enough salt;
  • Some basil;
  • Fennel seeds;
  • Half lemon juice.

 Method:

For stuffing:

  • Clean spinach and eliminate stems. Wash and rinse.
  • Cut tofu and let it marinate with salt, olive oil, lemon and chopped basil for 30 minutes.
  • Mash spinach, marinated tofu, cashew nuts and pine nuts
  • Add to the mixture all the ingredients and stir them well
  • Leave the mixture in the fridge for about 20 minutes

For the sauce:

  • Put a pan over the heat with a little olive oil:
  • Mince onion. Peel a clove of garlic.
  • Add onion and garlic in a frying pan, wait until it becomes browner;
  • Add tomato sauce, salt, pepper, fennel seeds and a few basil leaves.
  • Cook for about 20 minutes
  • Stir often with a wooden spoon to prevent sticking on the bottom;
  • Eliminate garlic cloves.

For the cannelloni:

  • Cover the base of a roasting pan with the sauce.
  • Add the filling for cannelloni, using a piping bag.
  • Cover the surface of the cannelloni with the sauce.
  • Cover the pan with an aluminum foil and bake at 180° for 30 minutes.
  • After 20 minutes, remove the foil to sear the surface of cannelloni.
  • Serve hot.

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VEGAN LASAGNE

VEGAN LASAGNE

It is more difficult to fall in love or to be loved? Today, I just want to have fun, to leave bad vibes in a drawer, wear my best dress, style my hair and simply smile.

I can feel a sweet and familiar air in my house, a feeling we can’t often afford, because of our everyday busy life. So, we give us a dinner with our friends in my cosy little living room: we play a Smiths vinyl on the deck, burn some candles while sipping some red wine.

I had my birthday few days ago, so I decided to spend in Dalston for a vegan pop-up (come and visit us if you’re in London! We are at the Other Cafe Gallery, every Friday and Saturday from 6 to 11 pm with plenty of yummy food).

Over the years, you lose the excitement to blow out the candles, so you let time pass, as Heraclitus says “Time is like child playing with the dices”. In fact, this dinner is more than a celebration; it is an occasion to meet up again my old dear friends.

London is such a big city, it is often difficult to maintain stable and constant friend relations.

Indeed, I had in my mind to prepare something special and, so, I decided to cook a vegan lasagne with peas, vegan ragù (that is Italian meat sauce) and béchamel. Is a very simple recipe, with a longer preparation than the others that I only reserve for special occasions.

I better prefer to make lasagne at home, with the help of my pasta machinery, a gift my mother gave me before I move to the UK.

Childhood memories….

When I use my pasta machinery I always dive into the past. I remember when I was 10 and I used to sit in my grandma’s kitchen. There was a wooden table in the middle of the room, four chairs and my grandfather’s blue armchair. I also vividly remember the hand-embroidered cockerels on grandma’s cotton tablecloth.

No matter how many people were gathered in that house: there was always place for everyone in those four walls which smelled of fresh wild thyme, because we brought it under the soles of our shoes directly from wild Murgia.

My grandmother Filomena taught me how to make pasta at home, when I was still a little girl although my hands were too weak to be able to knead the dough or, as they say in the dialect of the South of Italy, “trombare la massa”.

We used a cutting board as large as the surface of the table, which was covered with flour and we used to spread out the dough with a rolling pin or a glass bottle, the same to store the sauce. We used a knife with a rounded end to make “orecchiette” and fingertips to make the “capunti”.

Perhaps, I take the distances from the traditional way to make home – made pasta by using a pasta machinery, but with no grandmother and with no time, this tool does wonders!

I’ve used my pasta machinery for so many years, unfortunately today it hasn’t worked perfectly perhaps it’s time to change it! The scent of béchamel that melts into the sauce and on lasagne surface is mouth-watering, but it isn’t enough to replace the thought that my pasta machinery is not working anymore…

Just a little shopping…

Then, before the lasagne is ready and my guests arrive, I sit at the computer for a viable replacement. Among the various researches, I came across Lionshome, an online store that offers a wide range of excellent quality and cheap housewares. I was suggested to have a look to this website long time ago but today I visited it for the first time. I would like to buy anything, especially kitchen products! (Here the link of the site, I recommend to take a look: http://www.lionshome.co.uk).

I must quickly calm down my urge to buy everything and, for now, I’ll settle for one of the pasta machine on this web site, on sale http://www.lionshome.co.uk/search:pasta-machine/

According to my personal experience I can tell you that a tool like this could change your life and it’s the best birthday present I could even give myself .

I add it to the shopping cart, then proceed with the purchase and can’t wait to welcome it into my kitchen!

Meanwhile, dinner is ready and I’m so excited. Now, I can answer that it doesn’t matter what it is harder: falling in love or let you be loved as it is always the day of your birthday.

Ingredients for 4 people:

  • 300 g durum wheat flour;
  • 140 ml warm water;
  • 200 g dried soy;
  • 200 g organic frozen peas;
  • 150 g carrots;
  • 150g “golden” type onion;
  • 100 g celery;
  • 500 g tomato sauce;
  • Just enough olive oil;
  • A pinch of salt;
  • Just enough black pepper;
  • Just enough rosemary, basil, and wild thyme;
  • 1 litre sugar free soy milk;
  • 100 g soy butter;
  • 100 gr superfine flour;
  • A pinch of nutmeg.

Instructions

To prepare pasta:

  • To prepare the dough, place flour like a “fountain” on a wooden surface;
  • Pour water, salt and spread out the mixture with your hands;
  • Continue to work on it until it becomes smoother and homogeneous;
  • Form a ball and let it rest for about 15 minutes;
  • Pour some flour on the pasta machinery;
  • Divide the dough into several pieces and put the rollers of the machine on a larger thickness, then pass the pasta;
  • Repeat it several times, often dust the dough with flour;
  • Reduce the space between the rollers and pass the pasta across, repeat it until you reach the desired thickness (I prefer thin enough).

To prepare “ragù”:

  • Cut vegetables into chunks and put them in a large pan, over low heat, with extra virgin olive oil for about 5 min;
  • Add dehydrated soy and let it brown. Simmer it with red wine, if available;
  • Add a cup of water and cover with a lid. When the water evaporates (about 5 min), add tomato sauce, another cup of water and fresh whole spices, tied with a string;
  • Cover it again. For an excellent performance let it cook for a couple of hours, adding a glass of water every 30 min. (if you don’t have patience put it out the fire after 40 min);
  • Remove the spices;
  • Heat some olive oil in a frying pan and cook the peas for about 5 min with a bit of pepper and salt.

For the béchamel:

  • Put on the stove over low heat a saucepan with flour and butter, stir with a whisk and then add the soy milk a bit at the time;
  • Add salt, pepper and nutmeg until it boils;
  • Gently stir until you get the desired compactness (for lasagne, it is better to have a light béchamel);

Let’s make lasagne:

  • It’s time to compose our lasagne! Take a baking pan, with the shape of a rectangle, then spread out a bit of tomato and vegan ragù sauce on the bottom;
  • Place the lasagne and spread out a layer of vegan ragù, a layer of peas and a layer of béchamel. Repeat the process until it forms three layers of lasagne;
  • After putting vegan ragù, béchamel sauce and peas on the last layer, bake the dish in a preheated oven at 200 degrees for about 30 minutes;
  • Lasagne are ready to be enjoyed. ♥

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Pasta salad with avocado| Vegan recipe

Pasta salad with avocado| Vegan recipe

My house is blooming. I smell scent of lavender, daisy and sunflower. Last Sunday we dropped by the amazing Flower Market on Columbia Road and, as always, I didn’t resist to all those colourful tonalities and infinite pleasant scents. We came back home with a handful of Spring in our hands and now my living room looks like the mirror of my emotions and at the same time you can feel in the air the desire to sink down in multi-coloured fields.

An old blanket, a poetry book and a basket full of delicious food: today we will have a picnic under the shade of an oak tree. I will serve a cold pasta salad with avocado, cherry tomatoes, basil, mint and other flavouring. This dish is the protagonist of my day and it looks like a floral arrangement. I am enjoying it while I am reading Neruda’s poems and I keep quiet when tasting my pasta.

“Here I love you.
Here I love you and the horizon hides you in vain.
I love you still among these cold things” (P. Neruda)

Let’s enjoy the Sun. We will blooming as love poems.

The recipe.

Ingredients for 4 people:

  • 400 gr of Italian pasta;
  • 2 not too much ripe avocados cut into chunks;
  • 20 cherry tomatoes. Cut them into 2 parts;
  • Some mint leaves;
  • 200 gr of roughly cut basil;
  • A table spoon of fennel seeds;
  • Some lemon juice;
  • Just enough pepper;
  • Just enough extra virgin olive oil;
  • 200 gr of basil;
  • 1 chopped garlic clove;
  • 1/5 onion finely chopped;
  • 1 table spoon 100% maple syrup;
  • A pinch of salt;
  • Just enough balsamic vinegar.

Instructions:

  1. Cook the pasta, drain it “al dente” and pass it under cold water to stop the cooking process, then put it into a bowl;
  2. Stir cherry tomatoes together with basil, mint, garlic, onion, pepper, lemon juice, fennel seeds, maple syrup, vinegar, oil and salt: mix well all the ingredients and let it marinate for about 30 minutes. Stir the mixture occasionally;
  3. Add the seasoning to the pasta, add avocado and stir it well;
  4. Serve it cold.

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