Vegan Mofo 18: R is for raw buckwheat rolls with Red Bean filling

Sweetened red bean paste (anko) opens the door to East Asia, where it is used in a variety of Chinese, Japanese, and Korean desserts from soups to pancakes to ice creams. I have not worked with red beans before so I thought I’d give it a go. Note that red beans, also known as azuki or adzuki beans, should not be confused with red kidney beans, which are much larger in size.

Recently I came across a very inviting recipe for raw buckwheat cinnamon rolls which looked just like swiss rolls. Currently in a buckwheat phase, I combined the idea of a buckwheat roll with anko filling, thinking that the earthy buckwheat flavor would be a nice complement the sweet anko. In the original recipe, 100% raw groats were used, but I decided soaking and sprouting would be better on the digestive system.

Red bean paste generally comes in two consistencies: chunky (tsubu-an) and pureed (koshi-an). I went for a chunkier filling as I prefer more bite to the rolls. Most recipes call for a 1:1 ratio of beans to sugar but I drastically reduced the sugar amount, because the rolls had dates in them and I didn’t want to overdo the sugar.

But it still turned out quite a sugar-rush though. Buckwheat + dates + sweetened red beans, that makes a triple carbo-load! Also the rolls lacked textural contrast as everything was quite pasty (somewhat like energy balls). On hindsight, chop nuts such as walnuts studded on top would add a lovely crunch. Even better, use crushed pistachios for a red-and-green festive look that would be perfect for Christmas. Overall I love the concept of the buckwheat rolls but the filling needs tweaking.

Raw Buckwheat Rolls with Red Bean Filling (recipe-in-progress)
Makes 10 small rolls.
Vegan.
Buckwheat Rolls adapted from Vegan Fusion; Red Bean (Anko) Paste adapted from Just Hungry.

Ingredients
Raw & Sprouted Buckwheat Rolls

  • 2/3 cup raw buckwheat groats
  • 2/3 cup Medjool dates (about 8 dates), coarsely chopped

Red Bean Paste (will make extra paste)

  • 2/3 cup (125g) red beans (adzuki beans)
  • Water
  • 2 tbsp sugar

Directions

  1. Day 1: soak buckwheat. Two days before making the rolls, soak the buckwheat overnight in water.
  2. Day 2: sprout buckwheat & soak red beans. The next day, drain the buckwheat and rinse well under running water to remove the slime. Once the water runs clear, leave the groats in the sieve and place it away from direct sunlight. Allow the groats to sprout for one day. Also, soak the red beans overnight in water.
  3. Day 3: make the rolls.
  4. First prepare the red bean paste. Drain the beans and put them in a saucepan with water to cover. Bring the water to a boil, boil for a minute then drain the beans. Repeat the boiling and rinsing three times. (Apparently this helps to get rid of the impurities and give a cleaner taste). Then add water again, just enough to cover the beans, and boil for about one hour until the beans can be squashed easily with the back of a spoon. Drain the beans, reserving the cooking liquid. Add sugar and mix well. If it is too dry, add a little of the reserved cooking liquid back in. Once sugar has completely mixed in, pour into a container to cool down.
  5. Meanwhile as the red beans are boiling, prepare the buckwheat paste. Place sprouted buckwheat and dates into the food processor and pulse until slightly crumbled and doughy, but with some bits of buckwheat groats still visible (I may have overprocessed mine!). Then spread dough out onto a parchment paper and press the dough into a square/rectangle that is roughly ¼-inch thick.
  6. Spread the red bean paste over all of the dough except for about 1/2-inch along the far long edge.
  7. Roll the dough up by making a small fold along the near edge, pressing it down, peeling back the parchment, and continuing to roll in the same way, making sure to press the whole thing together as you go so that you have a tight roll. Refrigerate for a few hours to harden.
  8. For a clean slice, use a thread to cut into 1-inch pieces.

 

Vegan Mofo 17: S is for Sesame Tofu (Goma Dofu)

Think tofu has to be made from soy? When I first came across this Japanese dish called Goma Dofu or sesame tofu, I thought it was an ingenious idea – a soy-free tofu made from sesame paste!

Tofu, in the traditional sense, is made by coagulating proteins in soy milk. Common coagulants used are magnesium chloride (nigari), calcium chloride or calcium sulphate (gypsum). (The divalent cations of these salts react with the anionic groups of the soy proteins, which destabilizes their structure and cause coagulation.) However since sesame does not contain as high levels of protein as soy, Goma Dofu is solidified using a starch, typically kuzu or kudzu starch, although arrowroot or potato starch may also be used. On the differences between the different starches, kuzu starch, which is extracted from the root of the kuzu plant, imparts a more elastic texture than arrowroot or potato starch.

I bought the Goma Dofu from a Japanese supermarket although it can be easily made from just three ingredients – sesame paste (white or black), kuzu starch and water. My first thought? Bleah, just pass me real tahini instead! It was starchier than expected but less so than tapioca balls, slightly gelatinous and wobbly, and its consistency was firmer than silken tofu not quite as firm as an agar jelly. It had a mild hint of sesame just enough to be noticed, but left you craving more, and being the ardent tahini addict, I proceeded to smother the goma dofu in a coat of tahini. Much better!

Typically, Goma Dofu is served as an appetizer or as a course in kaiseki dining. It was probably invented by Japanese Buddhist monks and is considered the most symbolic food of Shojin Ryori (vegetarian temple cuisine). Apart from excluding meat and fish, one website even says that root vegetables are excluded! It is believed that harvesting will cause the death of the vegetables, which is against their principle philosophy of “don’t kill.” As such, only grains, beans, nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruits are used. An in-depth article on Shojin Ryori can be found here.

So overall, I didn’t quite take to Sesame Tofu, although some has gone so far as to describe it as giving melt-in-your mouth experience. Sesame Tofu is not only the faux tofu; this can also be made with ground peanuts (peanut tofu), or also check out Shan tofu, a Burmese staple made from chickpea flour.

Vegan Mofo 10: L is for Lentil Sunday Roast

A flavourful roulade packed with meaty mushrooms, toothsome lentils and nutritious spinach. Perfect for Thanksgiving, Christmas or just a normal night’s dinner.

I stumbled upon this savoury roulade recipe by the Mouthwatering Vegan when I was actually searching for a vegan dessert roulade. But what an accidental fortuitous find! It looked absolutely scrumptious that I bookmarked it immediately. Furthermore it gave an opportunity to work with phyllo for the first time. Phyllo has a fussy reputation – a delicate and messy dough that requires tedious buttering and layering. But I’m always up to a challenge and so down to work it was!

But back to lentils (the post should be about lentils after all). Lentils are another favorite pantry staple; they are tasty, cook in a cinch and its uses highly versatile, from bulking up a simple salad to becoming a creamy base for soups and stews. Furthermore, the nutritional value of lentils is well-established. For example did you know that lentils pack the third highest level of protein of all legumes and nuts, trailing after soybeans and hemp only? There’s much to love about lentils!

Lentils come in a myriad of colors including brown, green, yellow, red. The difference between them is the cooking time and texture. Red and yellow lentils cook in about 30 mins and tend to break apart when cooked; hence they are often used in soups, stews and Indian daals or curries. On the other hand, green (or French/Puy) lentils are sturdier and retain their shape when cooked, which make them a better choice for salads. I also find that green lentils have a stronger, more earthy taste than the other varieties, which I adore. In case you were wondering, green lentils are also called Puy after their origin in the Puy region of France.


And for a final lentil tidbit – lentils have been eaten since antiquity and actually appears in the Bible four times (Genesis 25:34; 2 Samuel 17:28 and 23:11; Ezekiel 4:9). The most famous account is in Genesis 25:34, in which Esau exchanged his birthright to Jacob, his younger brother, for a bowl of lentil stew. Either Esau had been truly starving, or that must have been some serious stew!


For the lentil roulade I used green lentils for a more toothsome bite and extra flavour. I’m sure yellow or brown lentils would work too although it may turn out more mushy. Apart from lentils, the filling contains mushrooms and spinach. The trio are seasoned with Middle Eastern spices and reduced to a delicious stewy mix before spreading onto phyllo, then topped with a nutty mix. In fact if you are pressed for time, the filling itself makes a pretty good dish on its own!

The roulade came out fantastic. There were playful textures and flavours for the palate to take pleasure in – a fragile frame of crispy phyllo that shattered into a million delicious pieces upon stabbing with a fork. Then there is the filling – meaty and earthy mushrooms and lentils with the nuttiness of crunchy nuts in between. To balance out the savouriness, I served this with some crisp-steamed broccoli and fresh cherry tomatoes. This is a crowd-pleaser that will warm the hearts of both vegan and non-vegan friends.

Lentil Sunday Roast
Makes one roulade, about 10 1-inch slices.
Vegan.
Adapted from The Mouthwatering Vegan.

Ingredients
Lentil, Spinach & Mushroom Stuffing

  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 4 cups mushrooms, chopped into small pieces (I used a mix of portobellos and shiitake)
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 250g cooked green puy lentils (can prepared from 125g dry or 1 400g can)
  • 6 oz (170g) spinach, roughly chopped
  • 3 whole sundried tomato, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Juice of 1 slice of lemon (about 2 tsp)
  • Zest of half lemon

Nut Topping

  • 3/4 cup nuts, finely chopped (I used a blend of almonds, walnuts and brazil nuts; you can process them in a food processor, but don’t make powder of them, they still need to be in small pieces)

Puff Pastry

  • 5 sheets of vegan phyllo pastry, thawed (I used Fillo Factory Organic Whole Wheat Filo Dough)
  • Non-dairy milk to brush onto pastry

Directions

  1. If using dry lentils, cook the lentils. Place lentils in a saucepan and cover with cold water to cover. Simmer for 25-30 mins until tender. Set aside. If using canned lentils, drain and rinse. Set aside.
  2. In a large skillet, sweat onions in about 1 tbsp of olive oil until they turn soft and translucent, about 10 mins.
  3. Add garlic, mushrooms and 3 tbsp olive oil. Cook until mushrooms release their juices and become soft, stirring often. This will take about 10-15 mins.
  4. Then add in the tomato paste and spices and mix well to combine. Cook on medium-high for about 2 mins until the spices release their aromas.
  5. Finally, add in the cooked lentils and stir, then the spinach and remaining ingredients for the stuffing. Cook on low for about 10-15 mins until the spinach has wilted and the mixture is thick, rich and aromatic. Remove from heat and allow to cool to lukewarm temperature.
  6. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C. Then prepare the pastry sheets. On a floured surface, fold the pastry sheets together in such a way that you create one sheet approximately 10″ x 7″ (25 cm x 18 cm).
  7. Spoon the thick lentil stuffing onto the pastry sheet. Flatten and evenly distribute it using the back of a large spoon, leaving a 1/2″ (1.3 cm) gap all round. Then top with the chopped nuts. Roll along the length to make log. If any bits fall out of the side, just push them back into place.
  8. Brush the roulade with non-dairy milk, then make horizontal cuts at 1-inch (2.5 cm) intervals on the surface of the dough. These will be your markers for each slice once cooked.
  9. Transfer the roulade onto a parchment-lined baking tray and bake at 400°F/200°C for 25-30 mins until golden brown.
  10. As the roulade is baking, you may want to prepare some steamed veggies (eg broccoli or carrots), potatoes or a salad to go with the roulade.
  11. Remove roulade from oven and let cool slightly before slicing (it will be very flaky). Impress your non-vegan friends!

Also, check out this interesting post about how to sprout lentils, and a sprouted lentil vegetable stew.

Loaded Spanakopita Money Bags with Rags to Riches Tomato Balsamic Sauce

This dish is an entry for the Nom Yourself Birthday Challenge. Mary Matten is the amazing chef behind the creative dishes at Nom Youself. To celebrate her first year blogaversary, she is holding a contest with amazing prizes to be won, including a Vitamix and Nom Yourself cookbook! All you have to do is to recreate any dish from the Nom Yourself instagram account (@nomyourself), but to put your own creative spin on it. You can read more about the contest description and rules here.

NomYourself blurlots backgd final

The dish that I chose to recreate was Crispy Spinach Puffs with Creamy Balsamic Dipping Sauce. Spanakopita (Greek Spinach Pie) comes in a myriad of shapes and sizes, typically rectangular slices or triangular parcels. Yet another fun way to pack in those delicious creamy spinach fillings would be in the form of money-bag-shaped dumplings. I borrowed this idea from the classic Chinese wanton money-bags, a perennial dim sum favourite. To make the money-bags from phyllo, simply cut the pastry into circles then fold inwards to form a pouch.

Spanakopita_04

To make it a more wholesome and satisfying meal, the filling comes with lentils in addition to the staple spinach and “ricotta” cheese, which is based on a cashew/tofu blend. Plump phyllo pockets loaded with lentils, tofu, cashews and spinach – now, you’ve got a balanced mix of carbo, protein, greens and healthy fat. I’ve seen versions of spanakopitas that come with chickpeas and black beans; it’s pretty versatile so you may use whatever you have on hand.

As for the accompanying sauce, the original Creamy Balsamic Dipping Sauce was given full-blown upgrade to a rich and hearty tomato sauce, with lots of garlic and just a hint of sweetish balsamic dancing in the background. It is certainly the tomato sauce that made this dish so nom-worthy!

Nom Yourself Crispy Spinach Puff
Spanakopita Money Bags with Tomato Balsamic Sauce

 

So that’s my take on Crispy Spinach Puffs. In case you were wondering about the pun with money, that’s because NomYouself has a way with words and the name of her dishes always tell a story. So this is my (amateur) attempt at word play. I hope you enjoy!

Loaded Spanakopita Money Bags with Rags to Riches Tomato Balsamic Sauce
Makes about 12 money-bags; Serves 4.
Vegan.
Ingredients

  • About 18 sheets phyllo pastry, thawed
  • Bunch of spring onions
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 150g box fresh spinach
  • 3/4 cup cooked green lentils (prepared from 1/4 cup or 50g dry)

Cashew Tofu Ricotta (adapted from Vegan Yumminess)

  • 1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked 2+ hours
  • 3/4 cup crumbled firm silken/pressed tofu
  • 3 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano

Tomato Balsamic Sauce

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 14.5oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup dry red wine
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • Chopped fresh Italian parsley

Directions

  1. The night before making the dish, defrost phyllo pastry in the refrigerator and soak cashews in water.
  2. The next day. If preparing lentils from dry, place the lentils into a saucepan and fill with water to cover the lentils. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 20-30 mins until tender but not mushy. Set aside. If using canned lentils, measure out about 3/4 cup and set aside.
  3. In a medium frying pan, saute onion with 1 tablespoon of olive oil until onion turns translucent, about 3-4 mins. Then add in garlic and saute 1 min, followed by the spinach. Cook the mixture until the spinach is just wilted.
  4. Next, prepare the cashew tofu ricotta. In a medium sized bowl, mash about 2/3 block of tofu with a fork until it fall aparts. Take about 3/4 cup of your crumbled tofu and put it in the food processor with the soaked cashews and the remaining seasonings. Process on high until the mixture is smooth. Then add in the cooked spinach mixture and pulse a few times until the spinach is just chopped up.
  5. Remove the spinach/ricotta mixture and place into a large bowl. Add the cooked lentils and fold in to incorporate. This will be the filling for the money-bags.
  6. Preheat oven to 350°F/175°C. Cut out phyllo circles for the money bags. Take a stack of phyllo pastry and place on a flat surface. Place a 7″ dish or cake tin over and using the knife, trace around the dish/tin to make an indentation. Use a pair of kitchen scissors to cut out the circles fully. Altogether you should get 36 circles to make 12 money-bags (3 circles per money bag).
  7. To make each money-bag, brush each circle generously with olive oil. Lay another circle on top. Brush again with olive oil. Lay one more circle on top. Place about 3 tbsp of the filling into the center of the circle and fold to create a bag. Secure with spring onion stalk. Repeat the same for the other money-bags. Finally, brush each money-bag with olive oil and bake for 20-30 min until the outsides are browned and crispy.
  8. Meanwhile as the spanakopitas are baking, prepare the tomato balsamic sauce. Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and saute until soft. Stir in tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, wine, and basil. Simmer 15 mins.
  9. To serve, ladle tomato balsamic sauce onto a plate and place about 3 money-bags on top. Garnish with chopped parsley.

Black Bean, Sweet Potato & Oat Veggie Balls

The meatless veggie burger should be a familiar one to vegetarians/vegans. Far from being boring as some carnivores might scoff, they are a delicious smorgasbord of versatile ingredients and a great way to unleash one’s creativity. The basic veggie burger typically uses beans and other starchy vegetables as a binding ingredient, while nuts, seeds, grains, tofu, herbs and spices add texture, flavour and colours. Check out an excellent veggie burger tutorial here.

My first experience with veggie burgers came from Amy’s burger range. Initially dubious, I was amazed at how tasty a mish-mash of vegetables could be. Sadly my pitiful student income could only afford them when they were on discount, and so the veggie burgers were a rare treat.

But it shouldn’t be the case. Except for some chopping, veggie burgers are simple to prepare and easily scaled up and stored for future lunches/dinner. So I thought I’d give them a go. My choice of ingredients: black beans, sweet potatoes, carrots, rolled oats and spices. I also made them into balls rather than patties just because balls are more fun!

Slightly sweet from the sweet potato, these veggie balls are also a textural treat from the doughy beans and chewy oats. Make a big batch to tide you through your studies! I learnt that patience goes a long way in achieving the perfect crispy exterior. On the first try the balls suffered in texture but after increasing the baking time to 40 mins on the second try and they came out better, with a crackly crust surrounding a slightly crumbly centre. I still hope to improve on the texture to make it more firm, which may require further adjustments to the baking time and temperature.

Everybody knows a good burger (or meatballs) should be accompanied by a great sauce. These were delectable with nutritional yeast cheese sauce, but also great naked, with the natural sweetness of sweet potato shining through. Feeling too lazy to whip up a sauce? Ketchup would do too!

Black Bean, Sweet Potato & Oat Veggie Balls
Makes 6 golf-sized balls.
Vegan.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 15-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed or 3/4 cup cooked black beans (prepared from 60g dried beans), divided
  • 1/2 cup sweet potato puree (prepared from steamed or boiled sweet potatoes)
  • 1/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup chopped carrots
  • 2 roasted garlic cloves or 1 clove raw garlic, minced
  • Herbs: dried basil
  • Spices: cumin, cayenne pepper

Directions

  1. In a bowl, mash half of the black beans.
  2. In another large bowl, combine the mashed beans with the remaining beans and all the other ingredients. Mix very well to combine into a sticky dough.
  3. Form into balls or patties.
  4. Chill in the refrigerator for one hour to allow it to firm up. Extra balls or patties can also be frozen at this stage.
  5. Bake for 30-40 mins in oven preheated to 375°F/170°C, rotating every 10 mins. If using frozen balls, allow them to defrost before cooking.

 
Here are some additional ingredient ideas for veggie burgers (curated from my favourite Amy burgers!)

  • Grains: oats, quinoa, buckwheat, millet, bulgur, rice, bread crumbs, wheat bran, wheat germ
  • Beans & Legumes: black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, soy beans, chickpeas, lentils
  • Starchy veggies: potato, sweet potato, pumpkin, yam
  • Other veggies: carrots, corn, peppers, zucchini, celery, mushrooms, tomatoes
  • Nuts & Seeds: almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds
  • Seasonings: onion, garlic, chipotle, chili, cilantro, mustard, nutritional yeast
  • Others: tofu

Save some money and make your own nutritious tasty veggie burgers!

Slow Cooker Veggie Tempeh Curry

Once in a while I do hanker for a spicy belly-warming veggie stew. Of course nothing beats having a hot stew on a cold rainy day, but when the craving hits, you just gotta have it regardless of the weather. This afternoon was one of those blisteringly hot days, and I was actually sweating as I shoved spoonfuls of gravy down. The hot weather actually accentuated the enjoyment in a sadistic fashion actually. You’ve heard of people eating ice cream during winter, well why not curry during summer?

Using the slow cooker for curry is an extremely smart way to save time, and it still produces excellent results, if not better, than regular stove-top curry. Just throw in your favourite veggies, set the heat, and forget about it. After a long hard day’s work, dinner (or lunch) has already prepared itself.

While you could use any type of veggies, I stuck to cauliflower, eggplants and peas, as well as tempeh for some protein. I love these veggies as they turn oh-so-mushy as they soften. Black beans further help to thicken the stew, and also making it a complete meal.

There are thousands of variations of curries, from the mild coconutty Thai green curry to the fiery Indian style. I took on the middle lane, but omitted the coconut milk because I wanted to keep it light. The standard spice mix consists of curry powder, turmeric, cumin and chili/cayenne pepper, but feel free to zest things up with other herbs and spices such as lemongrass or fenugreek as you please.

Be prepared to sweat with this veggie curry!

Slow Cooker Veggie Tempeh Curry
Makes two large bowls or three small bowls.
Vegan.

Ingredients

  • 2/3 small red onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2″ fresh ginger root, peeled and grated
  • 2 tsp coconut oil, divided
  • 1 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (add more if you prefer a spicier kick)
  • 1/8 tsp turmeric
  • 3/4-1 cup cooked black turtle beans (prepared from ~1/2 cup or 80g dry beans)
  • 1 cup cauliflower florets
  • 1/3 medium eggplant, diced into large chunks
  • 1/3 cups sliced carrots
  • 3 tbsp frozen peas
  • 2/3 package (60g) tempeh (can substitute firm tofu if unavailable)
  • 2/3 can (1 1/3 cup) whole peeled tomato
  • 1 1/3 cup water
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) unsweetened coconut milk (optional)
  • 2 tbsp fresh cilantro, roughly chopped (optional)
  • Few leaves of Thai basil, torn (optional)

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, toss tempeh in 1/4 tsp curry powder and 1/2 tsp coconut oil.
  2. Heat pan over med-high heat and add tempeh. Cook until browned, stirring occasionally (about 3-4 mins). Set aside.
  3. Heat remaining 1/2 tsp oil and saute onions, ginger, and garlic for 5 mins until onion is softened. Stir in remaining curry powder and spices and saute another min until fragrant.
  4. In a slow cooker, combine the tempeh and onion mixture with the remaining ingredients. Stir well to distribute the spices.
  5. Cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for to 5-6 hours. The beans should be soft. Stir once or twice if possible.
  6. Add salt and if using, coconut milk, cilantro and basil just before you’re ready to serve. It can be enjoyed alone or as a side dish with rice or naan.

A Veggie Casserole for the Le Creuset

To break into my new lovely kiwi green Le Creuset casserole, I decided to bake a veggie casserole, specifically a trio of eggplant, zucchini, sweet potato. The ingredients are almost what you can find in a veggie lasagna, sans the pasta sheets. I did a very successful vegetarian moussaka before, but decided to go completely vegan this time (part of the reason being my laziness to create a “bechamel” sauce). The resulting dish is light, befitting for these hot summer days, but no less flavourful given the abundance of herbs. I mostly adapted the recipe from the genius Angela at OhSheGlows.

Veggie casserole

Layered Veggie Casserole
For one casserole.
Vegan.

Ingredients

  • 2 medium eggplants, sliced
  • 1 large zucchini, sliced
  • 1 large sweet potato, sliced
  • Large bunch of baby kale leaves (spinach or arugula would also work well)
  • 3/4 jar pasta sauce (I used Alce Nero brand, tomato with basil)
  • 1 can (15oz) haricot beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano (if pasta sauce does not already contain herbs)
  • 1 tsp dried basil (if pasta sauce does not already contain herbs)
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil (I used avocado oil)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 180C. Place sliced eggplants on a lined baking sheet and pre-cook for about 15 min, or until shrivelled (see picture below). Remove from oven and cool. Once cooled, you can easily peel the skin from the eggplant slices (if you’re finicky like me).
  2. While the eggplant is cooking, prepare the bean filling. Place the drained beans, herbs, garlic, and oil in a food processor and blend until smooth.
  3. Layer the casserole. I did mine in the following order: pasta sauce, eggplant, bean mix, sweet potato, pasta sauce, kale, bean mix, zucchini (see picture below). The order doesn’t matter much though although on hindsight it is probably wise to have layered the harder veggies (ie the sweet potato) at the bottom where it would have cooked better. In total, the veggies were sufficient to yield two of such layers.
  4. Bake for about 40-50 minutes at 200C. (Hunger got the better of me; I was impatient and removed the casserole nearing 40 min but some sweet potato slices were still crunchy, so I recommend 50 min to be safer.)
  5. Let cool and dig into the amalgam of mushy beany goodness!

 
Veggie casserole layers

By some sort of unexplained science, the bean mix, which was very pasty and difficult to spread pre-bake, had “melted” and “melded” together with the pasta sauce into a wonderful mushy beany combination. If you like beans, you gotta love this.

Veggie casserole served

I have to say that having a cheesy bechamel topping would certainly elevate this casserole up a notch. Nevertheless, it was still very tasty and pizza-ish (thanks to the pasta sauce). I reheated the leftovers for lunch today and it was even better after all the flavours melded together overnight. Hooray for the first recipe in the new LC casserole!