Gruyère Spinach Tortellini Bake

In case you were wondering what I brought back from Switzerland, it was a bunch of cheese.


Seriously, there’s a pound of Gruyère in my fridge. As I type this post, I have to restrict myself from running to the kitchen to sneak a bite. Naturally, I would want to dump it all on top of my pasta and drown in the calorific goodness. That’s what this recipe is all about, it’s a comfy one pot winter meal. I chose to transfer my pasta into a baking dish just to make it easier to transfer to a friend’s house. You could make this all in one pot and save yourself the washing up!


If you’re looking to try out more pasta dishes, check out the Pasta category on the blog. A few of my favorites include this INSANE pasta sauce, this One Pot Spinach Pesto Pasta Bake and this Butternut Squash and Kale Ravioli




Gruyère Spinach Tortellini Bake

Ingredients

  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1×14 oz can tinned tomatoes
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 cup roughly chopped spinach
  • 300g uncooked tortellini (I used spinach + ricotta but you can use any of your choice)
  • 1 cup grated Gruyère cheese
  • ½ cup grated mozzarella cheese

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F and if using a baking dish, grease lightly with some butter. Alternatively, you can bake the tortellini directly in the skillet, thus making it a one pot meal.
  2. Heat some olive oil in a large cast iron pot and fry the onions on high heat until translucent. Add the basil, rosemary, basil and oregano to the pot. Stir to coat the onions in the dried herbs. Throw in the minced garlic and toss with a wooden spoon until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  3. Pour in the tinned tomatoes and the vegetable stock. Season with salt and pepper and bring the mixture to a boil. Throw in the tortellini and toss to coat in the sauce. Add the chopped spinach and stir until the spinach has wilted, remove from heat. If using a baking dish, transfer the tortellini and sauce to the baking dish. Top with the grated mozzarella and grated Gruyère.
  4. Bake in the preheated oven for 30-40 minutes or until the sauce is bubbling adn the cheese is a deep golden brown. Serve hot! If desired, top with some fresh basil and grated Parmesan. Throw in some crusty bread and white wine and you’ve got a winning dinner!
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Baked Spinach Quinoa Falafels

In other words: my latest obsession.


It’s taken me way too long to get a falafel recipe right. believe me, I’ve tried almost everything this year from lentils to mushrooms to wild rice. I just could not create a falafel recipe that

a) Didn’t fall apart in my sandwich

b) Wasn’t drier than the Sahara desert

c) Worked every single time

UNTIL this one happened.


Believe me, I’d long given up on the falafel dream, resigning myself to order from the Lebanese lady at the farmer’s market. If you’ve read my vegan carrot cake pancakes post then you’ll know about the abundance of home grown produce in my home. Among these vegetables, we have some leafy green spinach hanging around. To put it to good use, I blindly added it to my food processor with some chickpeas and quinoa. And whoa. And I mean WHOA. These beautiful things came around.


I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that this is all I ate for a week. I could not believe that they were this good and came from my own kitchen. And now, I’m posting the recipe here so that you too can experience heaven in a bite!


Falafels are traditionally eaten in a pita with cucumber and a yogurt sauce. Today we’re keeping it strictly vegan with an avocado sauce that I will also be posting soon. I didn’t have any pitas on hand, but there was some naan dough that I had frozen, so I whipped up a batch of fresh naan and can I just say, BEST LUNCH EVER. So I encourage you today, reader: go forth and make delicious falafel balls!

Baked Spinach Quinoa Falafels                                                              makes about 20 falafel

Ingredients

  • ½ cup dry quinoa
  • 2 cups soaked chickpeas, rinsed
  • ½ cup fresh spinach
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper

Method

  1. Start by cooking the quinoa. Add the quinoa to a medium saucepan and cover with a cup of boiling water. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the water has evaporated, about 15 minutes. Remove the cooked quinoa to a bowl and allow to cool.
  2. To a food processor, add the cooked quinoa, chickpeas, spinach and olive oil. Process until combined, about 5 minutes. Remove the vegetable mixture to a large bowl before adding the flour, baking powder, cumin, coriander, cayenne pepper and black pepper. Use a rubber spatula to fold the dry ingredients into the vegetable mixture, stirring carefully to ensure there are no pockets of flour.
  3. Lightly grease a 9×13 inch baking pan or line with parchment paper/aluminium foil. Dampen your hands to make it easier to shape the falafel. Use a tablespoon to portion out the falafel and use your hands to shape into a sphere before adding to the baking pan. Repeat until you’ve used up all the mixture. If the mixture fails to hold together, add flour 2 tbsp at a time until it does. Refrigerate the falafel for 20 minutes whilst you preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F.
  4. Bake the falafel for 15 minutes before gently turning over and baking for another 10 minutes. Serve warm in a pita with cucumber and tomatoes. Enjoy!

Spinach and Feta Pesto Muffins

This recipe was originally posted on the 9th August 2016, but was updated with new photos and reposted on the 10th of May 2017. For the original photos, scroll to the bottom of this blog post. 

Killer combos: balsamic vinegar + honey, pasta + pesto, spinach + feta

Today, I decided to get you back onto the healthy wagon having tempted you with these killer chocolate chunk cookies, heavenly rich thick milkshakes and perfectly cooked French fries. We’re going to try and be healthy, okay? I’d also like to debunk this myth that healthy and tasty are mutually exclusive. These spinach and feta pesto muffins are everything you could ever want: an extremely light crumb, bursting with flavour in every bite and extremely filling. Loaded with the super food spinach, these could not be any healthier. It just happened to be a coincidence that these muffins are also sugar-free.


Let me dress down this superior vegetable just so you can see how amazing it is.

1. It turns Popeye into a superhuman.

Are you hoping to increase your gains in the gym? They say that abs are built in the kitchen and not the gym, so look no further than this lean green muscle building machine! Spinach: taking Popeye from 0-100 in 0.4 seconds since 1929.

Meal planning tip: make these muffins on a Sunday and freeze them. Defrost as needed for a grab and go breakfast.

2. It’s loaded with all sorts of great things such as iron, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin B2 and folic acid. What that means for you: increased energy, stronger bones and lower blood pressure.

3. It can be used to make these bomb-ass muffins


The only thing I can fault spinach for is how much it shrinks. Uncooked spinach is roughly 25% water. That explains why this happens whilst making these muffins. I used my Simple Spinach and Parmesan pesto  to give these muffins that lovely dark green colour. It only takes 5 minutes to prepare the pesto, but if you’re seriously short on time then you don’t have to make it.


Spinach and Feta Pesto Muffins                                                               makes 10-12 muffins

Ingredients

  • 2 and ½ cups self-raising flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup chopped fresh spinach or 1 cup frozen spinach, thawed and drained
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp spinach pesto, homemade or store bought (optional)
  • ¾ cup feta cheese, cut into cubes

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Grease 12 muffin cups, you can also line them with parchment paper to give it a more fancy look. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and paprika.
  2. Add the milk, oil and eggs to a separate smaller bowl and whisk until combined. If you’re using fresh spinach, add it to a colander and pour boiling water over the spinach until reduced in size by about 50%. Now squeeze the spinach to get all the water out. By the time you’re done squeezing, the ball of spinach you’ll be left with will be no bigger than a child’s fist. Carefully add the reduced spinach to the egg mixture and stir until the spinach is incorporated. Add the parmesan cheese.
  3. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour the egg mixture into the middle. Use a rubber spatula to mix the two together to obtain a thick batter. Drop the tablespoons of pesto into the batter and gently stir it in to yield a dark green colour. Don’t be tempted to mix the pesto completely in, it’s okay if there are streaks of it in the batter.
  4. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool at room temperature for about 10 minutes before consuming warm. These can also be eaten at room temperature. Store in a cool dry place for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to a month. To reheat, microwave on high for 40 seconds or place in a warm oven at 200°C for 5 minutes.


Lentil Spinach Quesadillas with Guacamole

Happy Friday y’all!


Today I bring you your latest obsession: these quesadillas. Being the only vegetarian in my household, cooking plant based meals that people actually enjoy has proven to be my toughest challenge. I’m perfectly happy eating a couscous salad but that wouldn’t please my rugby playing brother. My health conscious mother isn’t very comfortable eating starch-dense potatoes lathered in mountains of cheese and herbs (ugh heaven).


However, these quesadillas have finally cracked the code! The crispy, cheesy quesadillas keep my brother from forgetting that there’s no meat involved, and the cheese-less version kept my mother from complaining about her waistline. It’s a win-win!


These make the perfect chilled Friday dinner, weekend barbecue meal or even as a lunchbox staple. Do yourself a favour and make these this weekend for ultimate #weekendgoals. If you do decide to let quesadillas be a part of your life, make sure to let me know by dropping me an email, or contacting me through my Instagram or Facebook. Happy weekend lovers!


Lentil Spinach Quesadillas with Guacamole

Ingredients

For the quesadillas:

  • 1 cup brown dry lentils
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced thinly
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • 1×14 oz can tinned tomatoes
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • some salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup chopped spinach
  • 2 cups mozzarella + 2 cups cheddar, mixed in a bowl (omit if vegan, the quesadillas hold together pretty well without cheese)
  • 8× 12 inch tortilla wraps

For the guacamole:

  • 1 very ripe, very soft avocado
  • ½ small red onion
  • ¼ cup chopped coriander/cilantro
  • 2 tbsp fresh lime juice

Method

For the guacamole:

Mash the avocado until soft. Combine with the rest of the ingredients in a small bowl and stir until the onion and cilantro are evenly distributed. I wouldn’t advise preparing this more than an hour in advance, but if need be, then lay a piece of cling film directly on the surface of the guacamole to prevent it from browning and store in the fridge until needed. Will not keep more than 2 days.

For the quesadillas: 

  1. Start by cooking the lentils. Add the dry lentils to a medium saucepan, cover with 2 cups of water (or vegetable broth if you wish) and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until the lentils are swollen and soft.
  2. Meanwhile, heat some cooking oil in a deep cast iron pan and fry the onions on high until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the cinnamon, oregano and cumin and toss until the onion is coated in the spices.
  3. Pour in the tinned tomatoes and vegetable broth, season liberally with salt and pepper and bring the mix to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and allow to cook until the lentils are done.
  4. Chop the spinach into ribbons and throw it in a large bowl. Pour boiling water over the spinach and allow it to sit for 5 minutes. Drain and squeeze the spinach to get rid of all the water (be careful, it may still be searing from the hot water) and set aside.
  5. Once the lentils are cooked, add them and the blanched spinach to the tomato mixture and let cook another 5 minutes. Once the spinach has cooked down and softened, remove the pot from heat.
  6. It’s time to assemble the quesadillas! If non-vegan, sprinkle about ¼ cup of the mixed cheeses  evenly on top of one tortilla, leaving about a one centimetre border. Top in a uniform layer with ¼ cup of the lentil spinach mixture, and finally another ¼ cup of cheese.  Lay another tortilla on top and press down on the quesadilla. Repeat until you’ve used up all the tortillas and have 4 whole quesadillas.
  7. Heat a large nonstick frying pan on medium-high heat. Carefully life one quesadilla and lay it on the hot frying pan. Let cook for 2 minutes before carefully flipping over and cooking on the other side for another 2 minutes. Remove to a plate. Repeat for all the quesadillas
  8.  Let them rest for 5 minutes before cutting into quarters and serving hot! Serve with the guacamole and enjoy!

 

Adapted from Pinch Of Yum

Simple Spinach and Parmesan Pesto

Lately, I’ve been in a pasta kind of mood. If one could sum up my diet in a pie chart, this is probably what it would look like:

That is literally how much pasta I eat. I appreciate pasta in all its shapes and forms, from lasagne to fettuccine and macaroni, there is no species of pasta that is unwelcome in my stomach. There are a million and one ways to eat pasta, and in the next few weeks, I’m going to be posting my favourite accompaniments for this Italian masterpiece under the hashtag #hastalapasta. 

Let’s talk pesto. Spinach is my favourite vegetable so I decided to incorporate that into this easy sauce. It’s basically combining all the following ingredients in a blender and pulsing. Could it get any easier?

Simple Spinach and Parmesan Pesto
Ingredients

1 cup loosely chopped spinach

½ cup parsley

¼ cup flaked almonds

2 cloves of garlic

zest of 1 lemon

juice of ½ a lemon

½ cup light olive oil

¼ cup grated parmesan

2 tbsp water (optional)

Method

  1. Throw all the ingredients except the water and parmesan cheese in the blender and pulse until smooth and creamy.
  2. Add the parmesan cheese and pulse for another 30 seconds until incorporated. Check the consistency of the pesto, if you find it to be too thick (as I did) then add in the water and stir. Store in a glass jar in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

 

You can stir a couple of tablespoons of this right into your pasta and top with Parmesan cheese 

Ricotta White Cheese Pizza with Honey Balsamic Reduction

Ciao!

Today I am going to change your life. And I am going to do that with the one startling revelation that you can make your own cheese at home. In under an hour. No joke.

In all seriousness, once I discovered how to make my own ricotta cheese, I have never looked back. And even gone so far as to make my own paneer and yoghurt using these helpful guides from The Kitchn. Honestly speaking, this will change your life.


Let me break this recipe down for you: first of all, it will take you less than 30 minutes to prepare. This is one of those quick Sunday lunches to prepare when still slightly famished from breakfast, but not hungry enough for a full blown meal. It’s light, it’s easy and you can incorporate lots of vegetables into the toppings to maximize healthiness. In short, this recipe is flawless.

The honey balsamic reduction is completely optional but I feel that this white cheese pizza cannot reach its full potential without the tangy flavours of this sauce. I feel that it really cuts the soft and creamy flavour of the cheeses with a sharp, distinct taste and that that ties the whole meal together.

Starting with a preprepared pizza dough, you can use this recipe, all that you have to do is roll out the dough, add your desired toppings, bake for 15 minutes and you are well on your way to tasting Nirvana. You can prepare the balsamic honey reduction whilst your pizza is baking and just pour it straight over the pizza as soon as it gets out. Uggggghhhhhh heaven.


Ricotta White Cheese Pizza with Honey Balsamic Reduction

Pizza

1 pizza dough, either store bought or made from this recipe

1 cup ricotta cheese

1 cup grated mozzarella cheese

1/2 cup chopped spinach

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Optional additives: 1/4 cup sliced red onion, 1/2 cup sautéed mushrooms, 1/2 cup grated feta cheese, 1/4 cup caramelised onions

Honey Balsamic Reduction

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

2 tbsp raw honey

1 tbsp cornflour + 1 tbsp COLD water

Make the pizza: 

  1. Start by preheating your oven to a temperature that is above 200°C/400°F, basically, just turn your oven up to its highest setting (mine goes up to 225°C/450°F). High temperatures are a key element in getting the perfect crust on pizza, so we have to make sure that every inch of that oven is burning hot. Place the pizza stone/baking sheet that you’re going to bake the pizza on in the oven as well. These steps are crucial for obtaining optimum golden brown crust.
  2. On a large piece of parchment paper, roll your pizza crust into a large rectangular shape, about 6 inches wide and 12 inches long and 1/2 inch thick. For a thin crust pizza, you can roll it out even thinner, but I prefer to keep it at its thickness as a thin crust pizza may not be able to support all your toppings and you may end up with a soggy crust.
  3. Spread the ricotta cheese all over the pizza crust, leaving a border that is about a 1/4 inch wide. Sprinkle on half the mozzarella cheese and half the parmesan cheese. Arrange the chopped spinach carefully over the pizza base. Finally, top it all off with the remaining mozzarella and parmesan.
  4. Remove your hot baking sheet from the oven (use gloves!) and carefully slide the parchment paper with your pizza onto the baking sheet. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until the cheese is bubbling and the crust is golden. Whilst your pizza is baking, make the honey balsamic reduction.

 

Make the honey balsamic reduction: 

  1. Combine the balsamic vinegar and honey in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring mixture to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes.
  2. In a cup, dissolve the cornflour in the cold water and stir together until no lumps remain (you may need to add more water). Pour into the balsamic honey mixture and stir until mixture has thickened such that it coats the back of a spoon. Drizzle over baked pizza and serve immediately.