vegetarian

silverbeet, ricotta and feta cannelloni

silverbeet-ricotta-feta-cannelloni-philippa-moore

This is vegetarian winter comfort food at its finest. Silverbeet (chard in the UK) is such a nutritious winter vegetable and can be bought readily and cheaply at this time of the year. It goes in everything - pasta sauces, stir-fries, soups, stews, pies, frittatas. This is eating seasonally at its best!

And if fussy eaters in your family sometimes eschew the silverbeet stalks, I promise they’ll barely notice them in this delicious dish. You can use a bechamel sauce to top the pasta rolls instead of passata if you prefer, but I love the acidity and brightness of a tomato-based sauce with this dish. It contrasts so nicely with the creaminess of the cheese and the filling.

This dish has become my standby for winter entertaining, and everyone I’ve served it to has exclaimed with pleasure on taking their first bite. I’m sure you’ll be the same!

It partners well with a rocket salad, steamed green beans, broccoli or any green vegetable on the side - just keep it simple. This dish is the soprano in the mid-week dinner opera.

Silverbeet, ricotta and feta cannelloni

Serves 4-6 depending on appetite

1 onion, finely chopped
3 large cloves garlic, crushed
2 bunches silverbeet (or you can use cavolo nero, kale, spring greens or chard, if you’re in the UK), washed and chopped reasonably finely (stalks and leaves)
Stock or wine, just in case it sticks
1 teaspoon dried mixed herbs or oregano OR a handful of fresh sage and rosemary, finely chopped
1 x 375g tub ricotta
100g (roughly 1/2 a packet) feta
Any other cheese you might have lying around you want to use up (blue cheese is especially good)
1 x 150g tub basil pesto (Coles does a good one)
Zest of 1 lemon, finely grated
A bit of freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of chilli flakes (optional)
1 x 375g pack fresh lasagna sheets (roughly 12 sheets)
1 x 690g jar tomato passata
1 x 220g tub cherry bocconcini (baby mozzarella balls)
A sprinkling of fresh parmesan (optional)
A little chopped fresh rosemary and oregano to sprinkle over the top
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 200 C. My oven needs to be on 220 to get it to this temperature - you want a hot oven basically!

Heat some olive oil in a large, non-stick pan (which has a lid) over medium-high heat. When hot, add the onion and garlic, and cook for a few minutes until starting to soften. Add the chopped silverbeet and continue to cook, stirring constantly, for a minute or so until it starts cooking. You can then reduce the heat slightly, put the lid on and leave for a few minutes for the stalks to cook and soften. Add some stock, water or wine to the pan if it starts to stick.

Once the silverbeet is cooked, turn off the heat and set the pan aside to cool slightly while you assemble the rest of the filling ingredients.

Add the herbs and ricotta, crumble in the feta, and grate or crumble in any other cheese you wish to use (I find making this is wonderful around Christmas too, when you’ve inevitably got lots of random bits of cheese in the house). The add the tub of pesto, lemon zest, nutmeg, chilli, any other herbs you might like or have lying around (parsley, thyme and basil are all good) and a good cracking of fresh black pepper and a smidge of salt (you won’t need much because of the feta). Mix everything together well.

Assemble a large baking dish (what you’d normally cook a lasagna in), buttering/oiling it if need be. Take each fresh lasagna sheet and place roughly two tablespoons (1/12th) of filling on top, spreading it slightly but keeping it mostly in the middle, then roll up loosely to enclose the filling. Place the rolled cannelloni, seam-side down, in the dish, taking care not to pack them in too tightly. Continue until all the lasagna sheets and filling are used.

Pour the jar of passata over the top, spreading the sauce out evenly. Place the cherry bocconcini evenly on top, to ensure equal cheesiness in each portion! You may not need all of them. Finally, sprinkle the top with a little fresh parmesan (if using) and the chopped fresh herbs.

Place in the hot oven and bake for around 35 minutes (if your oven is temperamental like mine, check after 25 minutes) until the dish is bubbling and the top is golden brown and looking irresistible.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before dishing out and enjoying, preferably with a glass of excellent red wine alongside. If a Barbaresco is easily available where you are, I highly recommend that. Otherwise, an Australian pinot noir or cab sav is delightful.

tofu, broccoli, cashew and macadamia stir-fry

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In an effort to demonstrate my diet is much more than soup and baked goods - though my most recent recipe posts on here would suggest otherwise - I’m sharing this amazing stir-fry that has found its way into my repertoire of late.

While London of course did have Chinatown, one thing I love about being back in Australia is the array of wonderful Asian ingredients you can get just in the local supermarket. Shao xing, for example - or Chinese cooking wine - I was never without it when I lived in Melbourne, and yet it proved elusive while I lived in London (and when I did find it, it was a lot of money!). I got a bottle for something ridiculous like $3 on my last trip to Woolworths. Not to mention the noodles! The sauces! The varieties of tofu and tempeh! Admittedly, Australia has a way to go when it comes to the availability of other vegetarian foods (I so miss Alpro single cream) but when it comes to the proliferation of delicious Asian ingredients, I can’t complain!

I had also forgotten the delight of macadamia nuts. I buy a mix from Woolworths of unsalted cashews and macadamias, which is what I use in this stir-fry. You can use any nuts you like. Always good to have nuts and tofu in a vegetarian stir-fry for extra protein!

My favourite tofu so far has to be Coles own brand Hard Tofu. It’s made in Australia, so bloody cheap and easy to cook with! It’s my tofu of choice for this stir-fry but you can of course use your favourite.

Or, if you’re my parents, use chicken. Amused face.

Tofu, broccoli, cashew and macadamia stir-fry

Makes 3 large serves

4 dried noodle nests
Rice bran oil, for frying
1 x 300g pack hard tofu, cut into cubes
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 large red chilli, finely chopped
1 large head broccoli, chopped, including the stalk
3 stalks silverbeet, chopped
1/2 cup cashew and macadamia nuts (or however much you want)
Splash of shao xing (Chinese cooking wine), or cooking sherry, or vegetable stock
Vegetarian oyster sauce (made with mushrooms - although apparently oysters are vegan, that’s a post for another day)
Sesame seeds, to serve (optional)

Boil the kettle. Put your dried noodle nests in a heatproof bowl and when the kettle is ready, cover the noodle nests with boiling water. Set aside while you do the rest.

Place a generous splash of rice bran oil in a large wok or frying pan over high heat. Add the tofu. Cook the tofu for a few minutes, stirring/turning occasionally until it is light brown on both sides. If you want it crispier, cook it until it is golden brown all over.

Then add the onion, garlic, chilli and broccoli/silverbeet stalks (reserve the florets and leaves until last). Cook, stirring constantly, for a few minutes until soft. Add a splash of shao xing to get all the yummy flavours talking to each other. Add the nuts, continuing to stir. You can put a lid on at this point to get the stalks of the vegetables cooked a bit more, I find it speeds things up. Otherwise keep stirring and cooking until the stalks are tender.

Add the broccoli florets, silverbeet leaves, another splash of shao xing (or soy sauce, or vegetable stock if you’d prefer) and the oyster suace (as much as you like). Stir everything to combine. Keep stirring as the broccoli cooks, or alternatively you can put a lid on the pan and leave it to cook on its own (purists will tell me technically this then makes this dish not a stir-fry, but hey!).

At this point, drain the noodles and then add to the pan.

Toss it all together until thoroughly combined. Add some more oyster sauce if you like (or any other asian sauce you might have lying around that you want to use - I have a chilli soybean one that’s very good). Toss again until everything is mixed together and piping hot.

Spoon into giant noodle bowls, sprinkle with sesame seeds, maybe add a bit more chilli if you like it hot (like I do) and then tuck in. I do enjoy the frisson of greedy pleasure that a delicious noodle dish inspires - you just want to keep shovelling it in! (or is that just me?)

I don’t know what it is but the combination of spongy tofu, crunchy nuts, wholesome broccoli, slippery noodles and spicy chilli is an absolute winner. Serves 2 for dinner and leftovers for one lucky person the next day. Be prepared to fight over who gets it!

hearty sweet potato and brown rice soup

hearty-sweet-potato-and-brown-rice-soup-philippa-moore

I’m writing this with my thickest sweater on, wrapped in a dressing gown and wearing fingerless gloves to type. Am I in London? No, I’m in Hobart, as the last days of autumn have begun to blur into winter.

Tom and I have just moved to a house on the fringe of the city - a house built between the wars, so roughly 100 years old, with lots of original features but not the most modern heating. It will be trial and error to see how we go keeping warm in this place over the winter! The one thing UK winters have going for them is the pretty standard central heating of homes and offices. I had forgotten how airy houses in Australia are - because they have to be, otherwise you would suffocate in the warmer weather! So the upside is that, in theory, this house will be a haven of coolness in the summer.

Back to soup. It’s all I want to eat at the moment, something warm and nourishing. I saw an ad for Australian sweet potatoes on Instagram with an interesting sounding soup, and as I had one in the fridge to use up, I glanced at my pantry shelves and recreated what I saw in the image. Thick and hearty, and full of goodness, it was just what we wanted on a four degree evening, alongside some toasted sourdough from Imago, my new favourite local bakery.

Hearty sweet potato and brown rice soup

1 onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed or chopped finely
1 medium piece of fresh ginger, crushed or chopped finely
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed
3 large stalks silverbeet (chard), chopped
3 stalks celery (including leaves), chopped
1 tablespoon of your favourite curry powder (more if you like it spicy)
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper or chilli flakes
1 cup red lentils
1 cup brown rice
2 litres vegetable stock (you may need more as the soup cooks and thickens)
1 can coconut milk
Spinach and parsley, as much as you want, to stir in at the end
Lemon juice, to taste, to stir in at the end
Coriander pesto, to serve (optional)

Drizzle a little olive or coconut oil in a large stockpot and place on medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and ginger and cook for a few minutes until softened and fragrant. Add the vegetables, curry powder and cayenne pepper and stir to get everything coated and cook for a few minutes until fragrant. Add some water if it starts catching or browning too quickly.

Add the lentils and brown rice, stirring so they are distributed evenly. Then add the stock and coconut milk, and a bit of salt and pepper to taste. Make sure everything is fully covered with liquid to spare, add more stock if you need to (or just rinse out the coconut milk can with water, I usually do). Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer, place the lid on top and cook for about 30 minutes, or until the rice and lentils are cooked. You might need to add some more stock at this stage if you prefer your soup “soupier”!

Once you’re happy the rice and lentils are cooked (and the sweet potato of course, but if the grains are cooked then the vegetables will be too!), add some spinach and parsley to finish, and some fresh lemon juice. Stir well to wilt the greens and distribute the fresh flavour of the lemon. Taste and add salt and pepper if liked.

Ladle into bowls and serve either as is or with a dollop of delicious coriander pesto (I buy mine from Hill Street Grocer - it’s one of my many food obsessions) and some toasted sourdough or pitta bread alongside.

Just the thing to get you through the wintry nights!

spinach, risoni and lemon soup

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This is one of my most favourite soups of all time. And if you’ve been reading my ramblings for a while, you’ll know how much I love soup and therefore that is not a statement I make lightly!

This soup came into my life like so many good things have - in Melbourne, through a friend. The original recipe had chicken in it and when I used to eat meat, I made the original recipe and it was truly ambrosial. Then when I went vegetarian 12 years ago, I used Quorn in place of the chicken. These days, I am mostly in favour of eating natural, unprocessed stuff as often as possible (I make an exception for Smith’s Salt and Vinegar chips but I digress) so I have ditched the chicken substitute all together for a can of cheap, nutritious beans.

And therefore, the 2019 version of this soup is quite frankly the best ever.

Try and grind cumin seeds fresh if you can - I must confess I only did this when I found myself in a kitchen that only had seeds, not ready-ground cumin! It is such an essential part of the soup and when freshly ground, there is an added magical earthy deliciousness to it. But don’t worry if you can’t or don’t want to, it will be just as tasty! You can also add the liquid from the beans in to the soup, I often do. I find it helps the soup to thicken. But by all means drain them first if you prefer.

This soup makes an elegant and delicious meal for friends and an equally nourishing meal for just yourself. Soup is the ultimate act of self care. Well, in my world it is.

Spinach, risoni and lemon soup

Makes heaps

1 tablespoon olive oil (or you could use cooking spray)
1 leek, thinly sliced or 1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons ground cumin
A splash of dry white wine (optional)
1.5-2 litres vegetable (or “chicken style”) stock
250g risoni (orzo in the UK) or any other short pasta
1 x 400g can cannellini or butter beans
Zest and juice of 1 large or 2 small lemons
250g spinach leaves, washed (and chopped if they are large)
Chopped fresh dill, as much as you like


Heat the oil in a large pan on low heat.  Add the leek/onion and garlic and cook for 3 minutes or until soft.  Add the cumin, saute for 1 minute. Add the wine, then the lemon zest, risoni, beans and stock.

Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and allow to cook for about 10 minutes or until the pasta is cooked. Add the lemon juice, spinach leaves and dill.  Simmer for a few minutes until the spinach is wilted.  Season with salt and pepper (and more lemon juice if you like) and then serve.

I love dill so I am very liberal with the amount I use.  I also sometimes put some stalks in with the broth to cook the pasta in.  If you don't like dill you can use parsley.  You can also add other green vegetables you might need to use up, like celery, zucchini (courgette) or green beans. If you have a heel of stale sourdough or other good bread lying around, you can also put the piece of bread in your bowl first, then ladle the hot soup over the top and leave for a few minutes to grow soft before eating. Divine. And no waste! (my favourite).

Despite being filled with pasta and beans, it's wonderfully light and nourishing.  You can feel it doing you good as you spoon it up. If I have a cold, this soup is all I want to eat.

roast pumpkin and cauliflower curry

I also added tofu and silverbeet from my dad’s garden to this particular version of the curry - which I’d highly recommend!

I also added tofu and silverbeet from my dad’s garden to this particular version of the curry - which I’d highly recommend!

Tasmania had a rather hot summer this year. Compared, at least, to what the summers were like when I last lived here 14 years ago! In fact, it’s now been revealed Australia experienced one of its hottest Januarys on record. Talk about a welcome home!

So you might be surprised to hear that curry remained on dinner rotation throughout the summer season for Tom and I. We eat vegan half the time and a curry, or some variation of it. is a deeply satisfying vegan meal.

I have also become addicted to pumpkin since moving home. In the UK, you could only really get butternut squash in the supermarkets - none of the beautiful Queensland Blues or grey green-skinned Kents that I so loved. Of course the open-air farmers markets had more variety than my local Sainsbury’s but most of the time I couldn’t be bothered schlepping to Portobello Road or Marylebone early on a weekend morning. My elbows needed a rest from the working week commute! So it has been heaven to enjoy pumpkin again more regularly. It’s very cheap here too, and I find a decent piece from the Hill Street Grocer stretches to at least two meals, if not more.

I prefer roasting pumpkin because you can keep the skin on - saves you a horrendous job! - and once roasted it is edible. It goes so beautifully crisp. And it’s so delicious. I have no idea why people would cook pumpkin any other way!

Back to the curry - a great way to make curry in warmer weather is to barbecue or roast vegetables that you’d normally cook in the sauce, and then add them to the sauce (or pour over) just before serving. Thanks to air con I could have the oven on inside and not roast myself, but if you want to avoid having the stove on more than necessary, outdoor grilling of the veg is the way to go.

It’s a pretty basic sauce that I’ve done here, naturally you can use whatever combination of spices you like. I quite like the occasional return to curries that remind me of health-food shops when I was growing up - the milder, garam-masala heavy curries I remember from the late 1990s, trawling through my mother’s cookery books and turning my hand to a few dishes, some of which were complete disasters but many of which my family liked. This was one of them.

Roast pumpkin and cauliflower curry

Makes four good servings, can be stretched to more if served with rice

1 medium cauliflower, cut into florets (including the leaves)
750g (roughly) piece of pumpkin (I mostly use Kent), skin on, chopped into medium chunks
2 teaspoons garam masala
Cooking spray or olive oil
2 teaspoons coconut oil
1 medium brown or red onion, finely chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 inch sized piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 small red chilli, finely chopped (take out seeds if you want it less hot)
2 teaspoons garam masala
1-2 teaspoons Keen’s Curry Powder
1 x 420g tin chickpeas
1 x 400ml tin coconut cream or milk (I prefer cream as it makes a thicker, more luscious sauce but either is fine)
Handful of spinach leaves (or any greens you like)
Sea salt and lemon juice to taste

* You can use dried chilli flakes if you don’t have fresh chilli. Or both if you want a chilli fest! My family do not have the same enjoyment of heat as I do so I err on the side of caution. On that note, always try a piece of fresh chilli before you add it to your dish. The heat varies! You may end up only needing half of the chilli. Remember, you can always add more - but you can’t take it away!

Preheat the oven to 200 C. Oil or spray a roasting tin. Place your cauliflower and pumpkin pieces in a plastic bag (or a bowl, and just stir to coat) and add the garam masala. Tie up the bag and toss around to coat the pieces in the spice. Empty the bag into the roasting tin, distributing the pieces evenly (you might need two trays). Bake in the oven for about 45 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked and golden brown.

While the pumpkin and cauliflower are roasting, make your sauce. Heat the coconut oil in a large saute pan (alternatively you could use a Le Creuset cast iron casserole dish). Once melted, add the onion, garlic, ginger and chilli, cook for a few minutes and then add the spices. Stir to coat everything well and cook until it’s nicely fragrant and toasted, but not browning or sticking. If you find it’s sticking, add a splash of water.

Then add the chickpeas and coconut cream, and stir everything to combine well. If you want more liquid, you can add a cup of vegetable stock (you can get a wonderful vegan “Chicken Style” stock in supermarkets here which I like to use) at this stage. Bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes or until your roast vegetables are ready. At this stage, make some rice if you like.

Once the pumpkin and cauliflower are done, this is a nice swift operation. Allow the roast vegetables to cool slightly and then add to the simmering curry sauce, along with the spinach leaves. Stir through gently to coat everything in the sauce and allow to heat through. Taste for seasoning, adding salt and lemon juice (I find a curry normally needs both) to your taste.

Serve immediately! I’ve had it with rice, with bread and all alone. Any way you enjoy it, this is a dreamy, satisfying and nourishing meal.