Creamy cauliflower coconut pasta sauce

Another week has flown by in Melbourne and I am now getting into the rhythm of the city. I love the fact that practically everything is in walking distance and there is so much to see, do and eat, of course. My list of foodie places is growing everyday and am looking forward to trying them all out, eventually!

Adding to my healthy pantry! Emma Lauren Food.

Adding to my healthy pantry!

As well as dining out, I have been enjoying some delicious meals at home. I mentioned in my previous post that I will be adding to my healthy pantry each week to keep inspired to create healthy meals and treats. Yesterday I purchased chia seeds, unhulled tahini, coconut flakes and slivered almonds. Almond milk and coconut yoghurt are staples on my weekly shopping list, along with fresh fruits and vegetables.

Creamy cauliflower coconut sauce. Emma Lauren Food.

Filled with Australian products

Not long before I moved to Melbourne, I was lucky enough to receive a Native Box from the lovely owners! As I’ve mentioned before, Native Box is packed with Australian eco-friendly products, sample and full-sized. Once again, I was amazed by the quality of the products and the size of them too! Included in this box was a full-sized packet of Orgran’s gluten free buckwheat pasta spirals which I used in my creamy pasta recipe featured in today’s post – that’s what I love about the Native Box, it allows you to try products you wouldn’t normally! I’ll definitely be purchasing this pasta again now that I know how delicious it is and will try out some more of the Orgrans product too!

Head over the to Native Box website to see how you can get your hands on one of these eco-friendly boxes and to learn more the company’s fantastic work!

Creamy cauliflower coconut pasta sauce. Emma Lauren Food.

Orgran buckwheat pasta that arrived in my Native Box!

The Orgran buckwheat pasta has an earthy flavour to it which complements the shiitake mushrooms and asparagus in the creamy sauce.

Creamy cauliflower coconut pasta sauce. Emma Lauren Food.

Cooked cauliflower

It’s important the cauliflower is completely cooked through so it can be blended easily. I love how the blended cauliflower takes on a cream-like texture; it is definitely going to become a substitute in many more of my recipes!

Creamy cauliflower coconut pasta sauce. Emma Lauren Food.

Aromatic

When the leek and garlic are cooked they release an aromatic smell that fills the room. I like to use leeks in my cooking when I am short on time or only want a subtle onion flavour. Plus, they are a beautiful green colour.

Creamy cauliflower coconut sauce. Emma Lauren Food.

Creamy sauce taking shape

By adding the blended cauliflower and coconut milk to the frypan, it allows the sauce to become fragrant due to the cooked leek and garlic.

Creamy cauliflower coconut sauce. Emma Lauren Food.

Adding the remaining ingredients

I’ve added shiitake mushrooms and asparagus to this sauce to enhance the flavour and texture. The mushrooms lend a ‘meatiness’ and the asparagus provides a crunch. Nutritional yeast adds the cheesy flavour to the sauce and is packed with vitamin B. It can be purchased from most health food stores or from your local supermarket in the health food aisle.

Creamy cauliflower coconut sauce. Emma Lauren Food.

Stirring through the cooked pasta

Once the pasta is al dente, add it to the creamy sauce and as the pasta is a spiral shape the sauce will cling to the ridges.

Creamy cauliflower coconut sauce. Emma Lauren Food.

Ready to be devoured

There are so many vegetables in this pasta, some obvious and others hidden – the cauliflower! I’m sure if you served this with just the creamy sauce, your guests would think they are enjoying an Alfredo pasta dish made with cream, little would they know it has been made with cauliflower!

Creamy cauliflower coconut sauce. Emma Lauren Food.

Bowl of creamy pasta!

This pasta will keep in the fridge for up to two days in a sealed container.

Now, all I feel like is a big bowl of this healthy pasta for dinner!

Creamy cauliflower coconut sauce

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cauliflower, washed and cut into florets
  • 1 TBSP coconut oil
  • 1/2 leek, washed and sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk, approx. 270mL
  • 3 TBSP nutritional yeast, extra for topping
  • 1 bunch asparagus, washed and chopped
  • 100g shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 250g buckwheat or gluten free pasta
  • 1 cup kale, washed and chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Add cauliflower florets to a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a rolling boil and cook for 5 – 7 minutes until tender then drain and set aside.
  2. Add coconut oil in a large frypan over medium heat and add leek and garlic. Cook for 2 – 3 minutes until softened.
  3. Add cooked cauliflower and coconut milk to a blender/Vitamix and blend until smooth.
  4. Add blended cauliflower and coconut to the cooked leek and garlic. Stir until well combined.
  5. Bring a large saucepan of water to boil. Add the pasta and boil for time instructed on the packet.
  6. Stir in the nutritional yeast, asparagus and shiitake mushrooms to the sauce.
  7. Drain pasta in a colander, reserving 1 cup liquid in case sauce becomes too dry.
  8. Add pasta and kale to sauce in frypan and cook until sauce begins to cling to pasta, 1 – 2 minutes. If it’s too dry, add a little pasta liquid and stir it through.
  9. Divide among bowls or serve on a large plate, top with extra nutritional yeast and enjoy!
Creamy cauliflower coconut sauce. Emma Lauren Food.

Dinner is served!

This pasta dish was served with a side of sweet potato and potato wedges, and hummus.

I hope you all enjoy this meal during the coming winter, it’s a quick yet comforting mid-week meal!

Roasted vegetable quinoa salad with pesto

I cannot believe it has been a week since Melbourne Cup, as the year goes on time just seems fly by! To celebrate Melbourne Cup at work we all brought in a dish to enjoy for lunch whilst watching the race. I hope you backed a winner!

I made this roasted vegetable quinoa salad with pesto as it caters for almost all dietary requirements as it’s gluten free, vegan, dairy free and can be made nut free by swapping the pine nuts for pumpkin seeds in the pesto.

Basil pesto

My very first post was a quinoa salad (actually, very similar to this one) and remembered how delicious it was. It’s really the perfect dish as it feeds a lot of people, it’s very tasty and you can use whatever vegetables you have in the fridge.

I added lemon juice to the pesto as it lends a freshness to this otherwise heavier salad due to the roasted vegetables.

Salad ready to be served!

This salad will keep in the fridge in a sealed container for up to 3 days.

Roasted vegetable quinoa salad with pesto

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 4 cups vegetables (I used carrot, sweet potato, red and green capsicum, potato, pumpkin and zucchini), all thoroughly washed and diced*
  • Coconut oil
  • 1 cup baby spinach leaves, washed
  • 2 cups basil, washed and dried
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1 TBSP nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 TBSP fresh lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/8 cup macadamia oil
  • Salt and pepper

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180C/350F and line two baking trays with baking paper.
  2. Place vegetables onto baking paper and coat with just enough coconut oil.
  3. Roast for 20 minutes or until cooked through. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool down.
  4. Place basil, pine nuts, nutritional yeast, lemon juice and garlic in the food processor. Process until everything is combined. Slowly add macadamia oil (you may not need 1/8 cup) and continue to process until it forms a paste. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Mix together the cooked quinoa, roasted vegetables and spinach leaves in a large mixing bowl.
  6. Fold through the pesto and mix until the quinoa and vegetables have all been coated. Enjoy!

Notes:

  • If you like to keep the skin on your vegetables (like me) ensure they are washed thoroughly to remove all the dirt
  • This is delicious when topped with hummus and sliced avocado!
  • I doubled the recipe for Melbourne Cup and it served 10 people easily
  • If you don’t use all the pesto, keep it in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 4 days!

What’s your favourite dish to bring to a friend’s party/work function?

Homemade zucchini pesto ‘pasta’ with goat cheese and asparagus

As much as I love cooking, usually the last thing I feel like doing after a long busy day is cook a complicated meal. This zucchini pasta recipe is very simple yet packed with flavour. It is a great dish to have any night of the week!

Vibrant green pesto

After making your own fresh pesto it is very difficult to go back to using the store-bought version. When you do have the chance to make some, make enough to last a few meals and store in a glass container in the fridge. That way you’ll always have fresh pesto on hand to enhance any meal.

Ribboned zucchini

By using ribboned zucchini instead of actual pasta, you are still able to have the ‘pasta’ experience along with all nutrients from the zucchini.

Asparagus

A little tip when preparing asparagus for cooking, always break the ends off. This removes the woody end and leaves you with the fresh spear. I actually find snapping the ends quite therapeutic!

Light, healthy dinner served

Homemade zucchini pesto ‘pasta’ with goat cheese and asparagus

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 2 zucchinis, ribboned
  • 1 bunch asparagus, sliced
  • 2 TBSP coconut oil
  • 50g goat cheese
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, washed
  • 1/2 cup spinach leaves
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, extra for on top
  • 2 garlic cloves sliced, 1 for pesto and 1 for zucchini
  • 1 TBSP nutritional yeast
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Method:

  1. Place basil, spinach leaves, pine nuts, 1 garlic clove and nutritional yeast in the food processor. Process until well combined. Add the olive oil slowly whilst processing. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. In a large frypan, place the other garlic clove and 1 TBSP coconut oil over medium heat. Add zucchini and cook for 2 minutes.
  3. In a small frypan, add 1 TBSP coconut oil and asparagus over medium heat. Cook for 2 minutes.
  4. In two bowls, place zucchini, asparagus, pesto and goat cheese. Top with pine nuts and season with salt and pepper. Enjoy!

What is your go-to meal after a long busy day?

Raw tacos and corn chips

By the time dinner comes around, all I often feel like is a light but tasty meal. I first made raw tacos in January when I was detoxing as I was sick of eating virtually the same salad day in, day out. Much to my surprise, it was full of flavours that complemented one another and was really easy to make.

I realise there are many individual parts that make up this recipe but it is definitely worth the effort!

Nutritional yeast flakes used to give a the ‘cheeze’ a cheesy flavour

Nutritional yeast is packed with protein and is ideal for vegans and vegetarians. It is rich in vitamin B 12 and other minerals including iron, magnesium and zinc. You can buy nutritional yeast from most health food stores.

What the raw cashew nut ‘cheeze’ should look like

By soaking the cashews in water for at least two hours (I like to soak them for 8), it ensures the ‘cheeze’ is creamy and processes together easily.

Raw nut ‘meat’ mixed with spices

The raw nut ‘meat’ should resemble ground meat once processed and mixed with all the spices. It really is full of flavour and the consistency of the nuts work well with the ‘cheeze’.

Trying to convince even the biggest meat eaters is easy with this meal. My Dad, who loves his meat, was a huge fan! That is definitely saying a lot!! 

A healthy, light dinner is served

The raw nut ‘meat’ and cashew nut ‘cheeze’ will keep in the fridge in a sealed container for up to 4 days. The salad and guacamole should be eaten by the following day.

Raw tacos and corn chips

Serves 4 (generously)

Ingredients:

Raw cashew nut ‘cheeze’

  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups cashews, soaked in water for at least 2 hours
  • 1 TBSP nutritional yeast
  • 1 TBSP fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Spring onion finely sliced for decoration

Raw nut ‘meat’

  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1 cup almonds
  • 1 TBSP cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 TBSP olive oil

Guacamole

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1 spring onion, finely sliced
  • 1/2 lime, juiced
  • salt
  • pepper

Salad

  • 1 green capsicum, cut into cubes
  • 1 red or orange capsicum, cut into cubes
  • 1 cucumber, cut into cubes
  • 1 TBSP parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 spring onion, finely sliced
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • salt
  • pepper

Other

  • 12 medium romaine lettuce leaves, washed and dried
  • 1 bag corn chips

Method:

To make ‘cheeze’

  1. Place garlic and salt in a food processor; process into small pieces. Add cashews and process into a paste. Add lemon juice and water and process to mix well. Set aside in a bowl and decorate with spring onion.

To make ‘meat’

  1. Place walnuts and almonds in a food processor. Process into small pieces until the mixture looks like ground meat. Be careful not to over-process as it will turn into butter.
  2. In a bowl combine ground nuts, cumin, paprika, coriander and salt. When combined add olive oil and mix well. Set aside in a bowl.

To make guacamole

  1. Scoop out avocado flesh and place in bowl.
  2. Add spring onion and lime juice. Mash until at a smooth consistency.
  3. Season with salt and pepper, and set aside in a bowl.

To make salad

  1. Mix capsicums, cucumber, parsley and spring onion in a bowl.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Whisk until well combined.
  3. Dress the salad with the lemon juice mix and toss until it is all coated.

To eat tacos

  1. Scoop 1 TBSP salad down the inside spine of each romaine leaf. Sprinkle with 1 TBSP ‘cheeze’ and 1 TBSP ‘meat’. Add guacamole. Enjoy!

Raw taco all ready to be eaten

Just look at all the bright colours of the ingredients! You can’t help but feel healthy after eating this meal!

Have you ever had raw tacos before?

Roasted vegetable quinoa salad with homemade pesto, goat cheese and avocado

This was just a dish I threw together for a quick lunch before an 11-hour shift at work. It’s full of protein, good fats and vegetables to keep me going.

I love cooking with quinoa as it is so light to eat yet very filling. It is such a great base to any dish – savoury or sweet.

This dish will keep fresh in the fridge in a sealed container for up to 2 days.

Roasted vegetable quinoa salad with homemade pesto, goat cheese and avocado

Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups uncooked quinoa
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 eggplant, diced
  • 1/2 pumpkin (I like to leave the skin on), diced
  • 1 zucchini, diced
  • Coconut oil
  • 1 tin red kidney beans, drained and rinsed *
  • 1 tin 4-bean mix, drained and rinsed *
  • 150g goat cheese
  • 2 cups spinach leaves
  • 1 Avocado
  • 1 bunch basil, leaves only, wash and pat dry with paper towel
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts, plus extra for sprinkling on top of salad
  • 1 TBSP nutritional yeast
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper

*See notes below

Method:

  1. Place the uncooked quinoa in a sieve and rinse under cold water. This removes the natural coating which can make it taste soapy or bitter. Place the quinoa in a medium saucepan, over a high heat, with water. Bring to a rolling boil and cook for 1 minute. Reduce heat to a simmer and cover with lid. Simmer for 15-20 minutes until all of the water has been absorbed. Remove from heat and let it stand for 5 minutes to slightly cool on stove and allow it to become fluffy.
  2. Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Place your vegetables into a bowl and coat with just enough coconut oil. Place onto baking paper and season with salt. Roast vegetables for 20 minutes until cooked through. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool down.
  3. Place the basil, pine nuts, nutritional yeast and salt in the food processor. Process until everything is combined and has a finely ground consistency. Slowly add olive oil (you may not need 1/3 cup) and continue to process until you get a creamy sauce. **See note.
  4. Place the cooked quinoa and roasted vegetables in a large mixing bowl. Mix together until combined. Fold in the pesto and mix until the quinoa and vegetables have all been coated. Add in beans, goat cheese and spinach leaves.
  5. Serve with 1/4 avocado, pine nuts, salt and pepper. Enjoy!
  • Note: You can also add chicken or chickpeas instead of the beans.
  • Note: If you don’t have a food processor the pesto can be made by hand. Finely slice the basil and roughly chop the pine nuts. Mix together and add the nutritional yeast and salt. Slowly add the olive oil until it reaches a desired consistency.