main grains & vegetable dishes

a gentle late summer vegetable dish served with whole-wheat couscous

29th September 2015


For Yasmin – a favourite of yours and a thank-you for all your patience in holding those heavy skillets, plates, seeds, vegetables and flowers in all sorts of elements – wind, rain, cold and in all those inconvenient times…Xx

4V7A8725_1980x1297 4V7A8355_1980x12974V7A7634_1980x1297

This is one of the weekly lunches I make for the children to take to school, Jonathan to work and for me to have my first meal at around 10 ish.  I have a list in the kitchen of meals which I refer to so I don’t have to spend time thinking about what to make when I start cooking early morning and the combination works for everyone’s likes and dislikes. 


a gentle late summer vegetable dish served with whole-wheat couscous

Serves 4

This dish is perfect when needing a gentle tasting, soft dish.  The key is the lightly cook the vegetables so they remain vibrant & firm.  When needing a more hearty, protein dish instead of the potatoes, add a cup of cooked chickpeas.  When available, corn fresh off the cob is a nice addition.  The couscous is great as it cooks up in only 10 minutes.  Whole wheat couscous is a finely crushed form of durum wheat semolina, less processed than pasta with more fibre and nutrients.

for the couscous

2 cups whole-wheat couscous

3 cups boiling water

1 Tbsp ghee

½ tsp salt

for the vegetables

2 Tblsp oil of choice

1 Tblsp yellow mustard seeds

1 fresh/dried bay leaf

2 carrot, chopped into diagonals

2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut

½ – 1 cup water

1 bulb of fennel, thinly sliced into rounds/2 sticks celery

1 zucchini or handful of green beans, chopped into diagonals

1 red bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped

3 Tblsp small dried currants

salt and pepper, to taste

fresh coriander/parsley

¼ cup lightly toasted pine nuts/pine nut parmesan

preparation :

Place the couscous in a large bowl with 1 tablespoon of ghee/oil and salt.  Pour the boiling water over the couscous.  Cover and leave for 10 minutes, when ready to serve fluff up with a fork.

Place the peeled and chopped potatoes in a saucepan with a little water and simmer until soft and cooked.

In a medium-sized heavy-bottomed saucepan heat the oil, when hot add the yellow mustard seeds and saute for a few seconds.  Add the bay leaf, chopped celery, carrots, red pepper, and green beans.  Cover and simmer for four minutes or more.

Once the vegetables have softened slightly but still firm & vibrant, add the soft potatoes and currants.  Simmer for a further 2 more minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in the salt and a generous few rounds of freshly ground pepper.

To serve, spoon the couscous into a deep plate, bowl or lunch box.  Sprinkle over a good helping of fresh parsley or coriander.  Spoon the vegetables onto the centre of the couscous.  Drizzle with a good tasting olive oil, a generous sprinkling of pine nut parmesan or toasted pine nuts, garnish again with freshly chopped coriander or parsley & a few rounds of freshly ground pepper.


Goodness shared by Stacey

baked vegetable samosas with a spicy mango chutney (also a quick puff pastry option)

29th March 2015


I woke with a feeling of peace in my heart….

4V7A0400 4V7A0401 4V7A0426

all day I breathed softly, moved slowly

afraid it might disappear….


baked vegetable samosas

Makes 13 half-moon samosas

I made these for a special dinner to have sitting around the fire outside.  I used a good quality ready-made puff pastry for my first attempt, but the second time I made my own pastry, which was a recipe tried and tested from Noa.  Both were great – it just depends on how much time you want to spend making them.  

 I keep the filling mild, as the chutney adds the spark it needs, but if you like strong flavours, increase the spices by ¼ teaspoon each.

for the dough:

350 grams flour (I use 200g white & 150g wholewheat)

½ tsp rock salt

1 tsp sugar

200g unsalted pure butter

100mL very cold water

for the filling:

1 large bulb fennel/2 sticks celery (160g)

1½ cup/220g finely diced sweet potato/pumpkin

1 cup/190g finely diced potato/parsnip

1 cup/90g finely chopped cabbage

1½ cups/180g finely chopped cauliflower

½ tsp brown mustard seeds

1  tsp cumin seeds

1 Tblsp finely grated ginger

½ tsp home-made garam masala powder

½ tsp turmeric powder

½ cup coconut milk/water

¾ cup/90g frozen peas

to make the dough :

Place the flour, sugar and salt into a bowl and mix.  Cut the butter into hazel-nut size pieces and add to the flour, making sure all the pieces of butter are well coated with the flour.  Cover and place in the freezer for a minimum of an hour or overnight.

In a food processor with an S-blade attached, add the very cold flour and butter, process for 20 seconds (the mixture should resemble fine meal).

Add the very cold water and pulse in short bursts.  The dough will still look crumbly, but if you press it between your fingers, it should become smooth.  If the dough is too dry and is not coming together, add ice water a tablespoon at a time.

Turn dough out onto a clean work surface.  Gather and press the dough together to form a unified mass.

Divide the dough into 12 equal balls, each one weighing roughly 50 – 55 grams each.  Press each ball into a small round disc, wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate for at least one hour and up to 24 hours.

to make the filling :

In a small pan dry-roast the cumin seeds, then place in a mortar and pestle and ground coarsely.  Add the turmeric and garam masala into the pestle.  Set aside.

Remove the outer leaf of the fennel and the middle core.  Finely chop into very small pieces.  Set aside.

On another chopping board, peel the sweet potato and finely chop the rest of the vegetables. Remove the thicker stems of the cauliflower and chop into thin shreds.

In a large skillet over moderate heat, add a tablespoon of oil/ghee.  When hot, add the mustard seeds, and then when they pop and splutter, add the ginger and rest of the spices.   Add the fennel/celery, cauliflower, potato and sweet potato, and cabbage, stir in the coconut milk/water and saute covered for 5 -7 minutes.   Add the peas and turn off the heat, cover and allow to rest so that the vegetables continue to soften.  Set aside to cool for 30 minutes.

to assemble the samosas :

Remove one of the discs of dough from the fridge.  If they are very firm, let sit for a few minutes at room temperature until the dough is pliable enough to roll.  The dough will soften and become easier as you work with it.  Roll each disc between two pieces of cling film, into a circle of 5½ inches.  (When using the cling film there is no need to use any flour).  Place two heaped tablespoons of the vegetable mixture into the middle of each circle (I like to put as much filling as I can in).  Brush the edges with milk/ghee, and flip the corner over the mixture to create a half-moon.

Press the edges together with a fork and prick the top twice to allow the heat to escape.  Repeat with the remaining pastry.  Brush the top with melted ghee/milk, then sprinkle over black sesame seeds.  If not cooking immediately, cover and place in the refrigerator until ready to bake.

Make the mango chutney (recipe below).

when ready to bake:

Place the tray into a preheated 210C/420F oven and bake for 20 – 25 minutes.

If using ready-made puff pastry, they will take longer to bake – about 30  – 40 minutes or until golden brown.

spicy mango chutney (mango gojju)


Inspired by South Indian yogic cookbook

I make this quick & easy chutney when I see green mangoes in the stores.  Can be also made with barely ripe mangos as well.  It is so tasty and deeply fragrant.  I use it as a replacement for pickle in dishes like this one.   It makes a great dipping sauce for these samosas.  Also great as an accompaniment to any rice dish or Indian meal.  Rasam powder can be bought at any Indian Store.

Makes about 1½ cups

ingredients :

2 medium-large/765g green mangoes (half-ripe, green outside & yellow inside)

½ tsp mustard seeds

2 small whole chillies

6 fresh curry leaves (optional)

¼ tsp asafoetida powder

¼ tsp turmeric powder

2 heaped tsp rasam powder

½ tsp rock salt

2 heaped tsp jaggery/brown sugar

preparation :

Peel the mango and cut into tiny cubes, then set aside.

In a heavy-based saucepan, heat a little ghee/oil.  Add the mustard seeds, then when they start to pop, add the whole chillies, curry leaves and asafoetida powder.

Saute for 20 seconds, then add the turmeric and mango.  Saute until the mango becomes soft, adding ½ cup of water when it starts to stick. Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes.

Turn off the heat, and add the salt, jaggery and rasam powder.  Taste, adding more jaggery or salt.  Puree half the mixture with a hand- immersion blender. (I try to puree at least one of the chillies for a really spicy chutney.)



I make this version on a regular basis.  I follow the recipe but instead of making my own pastry I buy a good quality organic puff pastry. Brush the outer edge of the circle of the pastry with melted butter or milk.   Take the vegetable filling and scoop inside the circle of pastry leaving a space of one-inch around the outer edge.  I flatten the top of the filling with a back of the spoon so that there is less of a mound. Take the other round pastry from the fridge and gently place over the filling, so that it sits evenly on top.  Roll the edges over itself and press to seal with the edge of a fork.  Place in the fridge for 10 minutes to firm up, then move the pastry back to your work surface. Brush the top with melted butter or milk, slash decoratively and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Prior to baking rest in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to prevent shrinkage during baking.

Place the tray into a preheated 200C/400F oven and bake for 40 – 50 minutes, until deeply golden.  Serve with a very green Tabouli salad of soaked bulgar, with lots of finely chopped parsley, coriander and lemon zest.  Serve with the spicy mango chutney.


Goodness shared by Stacey

winter roasted kabocha pumpkin

31st January 2015


My Winter garden is looking quite sad and neglected at the moment, soon I will spend the day in there, planting broad beans, sweet peas, more cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and preparing the soil for Spring. I also aim to turn over the compost and dig in the horse manure I just purchased.  I will then cover the soil with cardboard and newspapers, ready for planting in a month or two.

I still have a pumpkin or two left over from last year’s harvest. They came out quite small, but bright and tasty.



roasted kabocha pumpkin

Serves 4 as a side dish

We seem to be having this three times a week as an accompaniment to any meal I make.  Last night it was this dal with a bean & broccoli palya.  Or my favourite this mung bean dish with roasted tomatoes added to the pumpkin.  It is also lovely with a salad of kale or spinach. The golden colour is right up there with the freshly picked, squeezed orange juice we have been having most mornings.)  

The kabocha pumpkin is much sweeter than other pumpkins and the texture is smooth and creamy – very much like a cross between a sweet potato and a pumpkin.  It’s packed with fibre, beta-carotene, iron, Vitamin C and B vitamins.

The outer skin becomes soft and sweet when it’s roasted, so no peeling is necessary. It is packed with great nourishment.

ingredients :

1 whole/2 small kabocha pumpkins (or any pumpkin will work fine)

1 Tbsp melted ghee/oil

1 tsp coarse salt

freshly ground black pepper

red pepper flakes

1 tsp fresh thyme leaves

preparation :

Heat the oven to 400 F/200 C.

Scrub the pumpkin.  Cut in half and scoop out the seeds with a spoon.  Take one of the halves, lay down on its flat side, and cut the kabocha into one-inch slices.

In a large bowl, gently toss the pumpkin with the oil/melted ghee, salt, a couple of grinds of freshly ground black pepper, a good pinch of red pepper flakes, and the thyme.  Mix everything together with your hands.

Arrange the squash on a baking sheet, and bake for 35 – 45 minutes, until the squash is tender when pierced with a knife and charred along the edges.


Goodness shared by Stacey

spiced adzuki bean stew with vibrant green chard

23rd November 2014


Delicious splashes of autumn colours

4V7A0011_1980x12974V7A0010_1980x12974V7A0016_1980x1297 4V7A0062_1980x1297

here and there…

spiced adzuki bean stew with vibrant green chard

Serves 4

Grounding, Warming and Hearty.  Sometimes I alternate between using kidney beans instead of adzuki beans.  The adzuki beans are much easier to digest.  If I am short on time, I replace the ground spices and chilli with a tablespoon of sambar powder.   Serve with avocado raita/greek yoghurt, crunchy green, cucumber salad and a bowl of quinoa.

ingredients :

2 cups dry adzuki beans

1 tsp whole cumin seeds

1 tsp whole coriander seeds

¼ tsp hot chilli flakes (or half a fresh chilli)

1 Tbsp ghee/oil

1 tsp turmeric powder

¼ tsp asafoetida powder

2 cup chopped tomatoes

2 Tblsp tomato paste

2 medium carrots

3 sticks celery

bunch of chard, kale or spinach

a handful of roughly chopped fresh coriander

1 tsp rock salt

freshly ground pepper to taste

1 tsp jaggery

preparation :

Pick through the beans and soak overnight, or for 24 hours with one change of water. This is for better digestibility.

In a medium saucepan, place the drained beans and a generous amount of water.  Bring to a rapid boil, then reduce to a simmer until beans are soft (approximately an hour).

In a small pan, dry roast the cumin, coriander and chilli flakes until there is a lovely aroma (be careful not to burn).  Remove from heat and grind in a coffee grinder or mortar and pestle.

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the oil/ghee add the asafoetida, turmeric and the ground spices. Saute for a few seconds.  Add the chopped tomatoes and tomato paste, then cover and simmer for 20 minutes.  Add the carrots and celery. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes longer.

When the beans are soft, drain, then add to the tomato mixture with the addition of one cup of water.  (I found if the stew sits for half an hour the beans soak up some of the liquid and the consistency becomes thicker.)   Add the roughly chopped chard and fresh coriander.  Stir through for 2 – 5 minutes and season with salt, freshly ground pepper and add jaggery.  Remove from heat and serve.


Goodness shared by Stacey

beetroot fennel & black currant quinoa pilaf with a leafy lemon garden herb salad

8th May 2014


Create an INTENTION to practise conscious eating, connecting to your food with all of your senses and with a grateful attitude.  Here are a few mindful intentions that help to guide me.

Invite a feeling of gratitude and thanks by blessing your food before and after eating.

Nourish yourself by practising silence when eating your food.

Take the intention to always sit down to eat.

Eat only when hungry and drink only when thirsty.

Nutrients are better absorbed when meals are kept simple, not mixing too many different foods together.

Thoroughly chew your food and eat slowly.

Increase awareness and avoid drinking large quantities of liquid, especially cold when eating.

Open your heart by using candles, special dishes, flowers to create beauty around meal-time.

Never eat in an agitated or angry state and always eat in a calm, relaxed, settled and quiet atmosphere.


beetroot fennel & black currant quinoa pilaf

A favourite way of serving this is with a freshly made still warm hummus and a leafy, lemon, garden herb salad. When I am short of time, I put everything into the pot to cook with the quinoa – not as aesthetically looking, but still deliciously tasty. This could be made with rice, barley, millet or any grain of choice.

ingredients :

1 cup quinoa

1½ cups water

1 small fennel bulb

1 medium beetroot

1 medium carrot

½ tsp coriander seeds

½ tsp pink peppercorns

2 Tbsp small black currants

salt to taste

preparation :

Wash the quinoa in water three times and allow to sit in the water for 10 minutes.  Rinse. Place in a saucepan with the water, bring to boil, turn down the heat and allow to simmer covered until the water has absorbed (Try to just under-cook the quinoa slightly – it gives a nice texture and nutty bite).  Allow to sit for 15 minutes.

Finely slice the fennel.  Peel the beetroot and carrot and cut into very small cubes. (Cutting them small allows them to become tender quicker without overcooking the fennel.)

In a mortar and pestle, roughly grind the coriander seeds and peppercorns.

Heat a little ghee or oil and add the coriander and peppercorns.  Saute for a minute, then add the fennel, carrot and beetroot.  Cover and saute on a low heat until just tender, 12 -15 minutes, stirring occasionally.   Add the small currants and the cooked quinoa.  With a fork, fluff up the quinoa as you stir to combine.  Season with salt.  Garnish with finely chopped fennel leaves.  Serve warm or at room temperature.


lemon leafy garden herb salad with a pine nut lemon dressing

for the salad :

a mixture of small garden leaves of parsley, fennel, mustard, spinach, lettuce and coriander

edible garden flowers

1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and sliced

1 avocado, cut into small cubes

for the dressing :

¼ cup pine nuts

1 Tblsp sesame seeds

½ juice of a lemon

pinch of salt

freshly ground pepper

¼ cup cold press olive/flax oil

In a skillet, dry-roast the pine nuts and sesame seeds until golden.  Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl to cool.  Roughly chop 2 tablespoons and set aside.  In a blender place the remaining pine nuts with the rest of the ingredients and blend on high for 1 minute.  While blender is running add the oil, blend until thick and creamy.  Transfer to a jar and set aside.

Gently wash the garden flowers separately, and place on a cloth to dry. Wash and spin the salad leaves and place in a bowl with the cucumber and avocado.  Shake the dressing and drizzle over the salad and lightly toss.  Sprinkle over the lemon rind, pine nuts and edible garden flowers.

Find a quiet place, bless, and enjoy with gratitude.


Goodness shared from Stacey

baked cauliflower slices with a green garden sauce & a vegetable garden in Portugal

13th June 2013


When we moved to Portugal almost a year ago in the height of Summer from Israel and released two bewildered cats and a very dishevelled elderly dog into their new home, a new country and into the beauty of this lush, green cool climate with the potential of lots of overcast and raining days, it was a dream come true for me.  After many very hectic days, one of the first things I did was find a potential spot for my vegetable garden.  A spot of peace, calm, quiet and completeness. A spot to be inspired and for the JOY it will bring.  The spot I found was this one.


It was a much narrower space to work with than my garden in Israel but I knew I wanted to create the same idea with a central point and in some form or shape of a mandala.  What I chose is this rectangular space.  Protected from the winds which blow strong off the Atlantic in the Summer months.   A blank canvas with a gardenia and plum tree at the very end, which could extend in the future when I needed more space –  I envisioned beds of potatoes and sweet potatoes way down there.


So as we prepared the soil, I sat on those stairs and started sketching and planning.


While it took shape, I planted in pots outside the kitchen, zucchinis, tomatoes and different fresh herbs, and even a spaghetti squash which took off in an abundance of leaves.  It bared no flower or fruit, but with much leafy enthusiasm threatened to enter into our kitchen.  So as Summer ended and Winter passed, the spaghetti squash, tomatoes and zucchini in the pots died off and Spring began.


And with another Summer just beginning –  a vegetable garden takes shape.



This space does have a feeling of being hidden.  You need to walk down into it and when I work, I feel enclosed, protected – a secret space where I can disappear into and not be seen or found for hours.  On either side, it has a long shrub of rosemary bushes and a row of the sweetest smelling roses.  I have thrown in seeds of flowers and sunflowers and by the mid-Summer, it will be a surprise to see what survives and thrives.  In the early and quiet of the morning, I come to check on everyone’s growth.  I enjoy the buzz of watching green shoots poke through the soil and I wait for the inspiration as to what to make and add to everyone’s lunches when I go back to the quiet of the kitchen.  Maybe a flower or two to surprise them when they sit to open and eat some hours later at school or work.

Right now, as I write, my little vegetable garden is home to four varieties of courgettes, two varieties of beans, the climbing yard bean you see in the distance and a French green bean, three varieties of tomatoes, radishes gone to flower, chard, spinach and small kale plants which I save from the snails each morning. Purple and red cabbage, the last of the broccoli, rhubarb, eggplant, endless varieties of lettuce, arugula gone wild, sweet peas, capsicum, cucumber seeds just now pushing their way through the soil, more herbs, plenty of flowers and the last of this cauliflower.

baked cauliflower slices with a green garden sauce

A dish inspired by Mia

ingredients :

1 large head cauliflower

3 Tbsp oil/ghee

10 cm sprig fresh rosemary

cup flaked almonds/breadcrumbs

coarse salt and pepper to taste

sprinkling paprika

for the green, garden herb sauce

parsley leaves – a generous handful

mint – 6 bushy sprigs

basil leaves – a handful

whole grain Dijon mustard – a tablespoon

olive oil – 6 tablespoons

lemon juice – 2 tablespoons

preparation :

Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.  Line a baking sheet with baking paper.

Wash the cauliflower and remove the tough outer leaves of the cauliflower and discard.  Leave the core stem intact.  Cut the base so that it can stand up without moving around.

Place the cauliflower, base side down, on a work surface.  Using a very sharp knife, and starting at the top centre of the cauliflower head, cut down the centre of the cauliflower head to divide it in half. Then carefully cut four ¾ – inch thick slices (two off each half).    You should get two large slices and two medium slices.  Pieces will crumble off – don’t  worry.

Lay the slices and bits in a single layer on the baking sheet.

Brush or drizzle the cauliflower slices with oil/ghee.  Generously sprinkle with flaked almonds, rosemary and season with paprika.

Place in the oven and roast for 15 – 20 minutes.  Turn the slices around, and roast for 10 – 15 minutes more, or until the edges start to brown.  Season with salt and black pepper.

To make the sauce, chop the herbs quite finely or alternatively place in a small blender and blend for a few seconds.  Stir in the mustard.  Pour in the olive oil slowly, beating with a fork.  Stir in the lemon juice and season with salt and black pepper.  Be generous with the seasoning, tasting as you go.  The sauce should be vibrant and bright.

Serve the cauliflower with the sauce.


Goodness shared from Stacey

mellow tofu & vegetable stew with kombu

15th July 2012

deep breath in…..

and let go….

I did ask for something tremendous to come into my life and I think this is it.

This shift. I’m grateful.

But then with these

shifts, there’s always a letting go.


mellow tofu & vegetable stew with kombu

I usually make this for a Friday lunch when the children get home earlier from school.  I change the vegetables to suit the seasons. Quick, simple and tasty.  Inspired by an old friend, Cher, who was an inspirational sparkle in the kitchen, putting quick, healthy meals on the table for her 4 children.  The secret to this dish is to simmer the sweet potato until it is soft and breaks up, as it thickens the sauce and makes it especially tasty.

ingredients :

1 Tblsp ghee/ oil

200 grams tofu

2 medium carrots

2 medium sweet potatoes

6-inch strip of kombu (kombu contains glutamic acid – a food tenderizer and flavour enhancer)

2 small zucchini

handful green beans

handful cabbage

½ tsp cumin powder

½ tsp turmeric powder

½ tsp paprika

6 – 8 cups vegetable stock

fresh coriander

salt to taste

preparation :

Peel the sweet potatoes and carrots and cut all vegetables into bite-sized wedges. Heat a little ghee in a heavy based saucepan and saute tofu.  Add the turmeric, paprika, and cumin powder.  Allow to saute with the tofu for a few seconds, then add the stock, kombu, sweet potato, zucchini and carrots. Simmer for 20 – 30 minutes or until the sweet potato is soft.  Remove the kombu, slice into half-inch squares, then add back into the soup.   Add the green beans and cabbage, simmer for 10 minutes more or until tender.  Add salt to taste and freshly chopped coriander.

Serve with rice or quinoa.


Goodness shared from Stacey

:: lentil millet chilli ::

17th November 2011


Before you taste…

Pause to smell.

 Take in the beauty of dish in front of you.

Take a moment to be grateful.


Take a bite.

Let the flavours greet your tongue.

Feel your mouth water.

Then, chew, slowly.

Close your eyes.

::lentil millet chilli::

Inspired by this post

Serves 4 – 6

ingredients :

1 Tbsp olive oil/ghee

1 red pepper/capsicum (the second time I made this  – for the photo I used a green capsicum as I had no red ones left in the garden, much prefer the sweetness of the red)

1 Tblsp cumin powder

1 Tblsp sweet paprika

1 tsp hot paprika (or chilli powder)

1 Tblsp coriander powder

1 x 240g can crushed tomatoes

1 x 100g tub tomato paste

2-inch strip of kombu (optional – adding seaweeds to recipes soften the beans/lentils and speed cooking time, as well providing a wealth of nutrients)

¾ cup green brown lentils

¼ cup red lentils

¼ cup millet

4 – 6 cups water/stock

salt and pepper, to taste

finely chopped fresh parsley

preparation :

Heat 1 tablespoon of ghee or olive oil in a saucepan.  Add the chopped red capsicum and saute gently for a few minutes.  Add the cumin powder, hot and sweet paprika and coriander powder continue to cook for a minute.

Add the tin of crushed tomatoes and refill the can and rinse out any goodness left in the can into the pot.  Add the tomato paste and the strip of kombu.  Clean and rinse the lentils and millet and add to the pot. Add another 3 – 4 cups of water.   Partially cover with a lid and continue to cook at a slow simmer for 1 and ½ hours.  Add extra liquid if it is low.

After the long simmer add the salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle with finely chopped fresh parsley.

I serve it with cooked millet or quinoa a dollop of yoghurt and a green salad and guacamole.  A very grounding and earthy dish.

Goodness shared by Stacey

cherry tomato sauce

5th July 2011


As promised in Stacey’s last post, I have finally finished this ‘Cherry Tomato Sauce’ post.  (Thanks for the pics, Stace).

Ever since sampling the ‘real’ pizzas in Italy a few years ago and hunting down the ‘authentic’ ones here, I have been experimenting with a sauce that replicates the simple version they use.  This is as close as I can get it at the moment. I have discovered that to achieve that ‘real’ tomatoey taste, frying off the tomatoes in hot olive oil, so they caramelise, and a long-simmering and resting time is a must.

After reading Stacey’s ‘Lasagne with a Creamy Basil Sauce’ post, it reminded of that lasagne I sampled many a time at her place, so I was inspired to make it myself, using this sauce as the base.  I did not have any cream, so I substituted yoghurt instead which worked quite well.  Next time, I’ll try ricotta instead of the cream.  A very tasty lasagne, perfect for Winter and perfect for left-overs, which seems to be my eating habits at the moment.

My other favourite uses for this sauce are: tossed through spaghetti and a generous helping of shaved parmesan and fresh, torn basil leaves; or as a pizza sauce on wholemeal Lebanese bread with bocconcini and mozzarella cheese and fresh basil leaves.  Very simple, and a quick, tasty snack.

cherry tomato sauce

ingredients :

1 large punnet (2 small) cherry tomatoes or 2 standard-size (400g) tinned cherry tomatoes

2 Tblsp good quality olive oil

2 – 3 sprigs fresh oregano

3 – 4 sprigs fresh thyme

1 – 2 tsp sea salt flakes

fresh, cracked black pepper

50g tomato paste (approx. 2 heaped tab.)

approx. ¼ cup water (enough to ensure a sauce consistency)

1 Tblsp raw sugar

preparation :

Heat olive oil in a large heavy based saucepan (should be hot enough so that herbs sizzle when added).  Add whole herb sprigs (no need to chop).  Toss in the hot oil so that the flavour infuses and herbs turn bright green.

Add whole cherry tomatoes (yes, no need to chop).  Toss so that all are coated in oil.  Add salt and plenty of pepper.  Leave to sizzle on medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Mix in tomato paste and sugar.  You may need to add about a ¼ cup water (or enough to rinse out cans is if using canned tomatoes) to ensure the sauce is not too thick. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and let stew away for about an hour.

Turn off heat.  Taste and adjust seasoning (sugar, salt and pepper).  Use as is, without straining or mashing (some tomatoes should still be somewhat whole), or if prefer a smoother sauce, strain so that seeds and skins are removed.  I prefer the unstrained version as the chunks are quite tasty.

Serve immediately with a dish of choice (pasta or as a pizza sauce), or if using later, let sit covered at room temperature.  Freezes well in airtight containers.


Goodness shared by Donna

lasagna with a creamy pesto sauce

5th June 2011


I found gold today at the very back of the garden, right next to the chicken coop under a very neglected grapefruit tree.  Gardener’s gold in the form of well-rotted chicken and geese poo, mixed around with lots and lots of hay, garden scraps, the odd bit of newspaper and grass clippings. Sitting there for months and months after the chicken house was cleaned, and decomposing with an abundance of nutrients and goodness.  Not totally composted, but perfect for use as mulch for the vegetable garden.  I managed four heaped wheelbarrows and spread this gold over at least three triangles of my garden.  This will keep the weeds at bay, and then be dug back into the soil for the next lot of vegetables.  I could feel the vibrations of all the recently planted little summer seedlings saying, “Thank you, thank you.”  Tiny and green and full of hope, adventure and abundance – a promise of good things to come.


In this recipe, I am giving you my tomato sauce that I also use for pizza bases, pasta sauce and of course, it is perfect for this lasagna.  In Summer, I use fresh tomatoes from the garden and fresh basil leaves when they are obscenely abundant.  I ensure this sauce has a long, slow cooking to give it a depth of flavour and a richness in texture.  With a fresh, green, baby leaf salad from the garden, it is so delicious.

This is quite a decadent lasagna, or at least for me it is, but it is so delicious.  It is something which we spoil ourselves once a month with.   To give a more robust taste, sprinkle chopped walnuts on top.


lasagna with a creamy pesto sauce

If wanting to keep this lasagna vegan, omit the cheese and sprinkle the top with whole-wheat breadcrumbs and chopped walnuts/pine nut parmesan, before baking.  When making it vegan brush thin slices of eggplant with oil and saute in a hot skillet until soft, for the last layer of the lasagna.

Serves 4, with seconds

ingredients :

1 packet lasagna sheets (I usually do four layers in a 13 x 8-inch deep baking dish)

1 – 2 cups grated mozzarella cheese

tomato sauce –

¼ cup olive oil

4 sprigs fresh oregano

4 sprig fresh thyme

2 long 10 cm twig fresh rosemary

¼ tsp chilli flakes

1 bay leaf

1 large/220g fennel bulb, cut into thick rounds

2 medium/130g carrots, chopped

1 medium/100g red bell pepper

1 x 140g tube tomato paste

1kg ripe cherry tomatoes

1 heaped tsp salt

1 heaped tsp sugar

creamy pesto sauce –

2 – 4 big bunches fresh basil (110g basil leaves, stems removed)

1 cup raw cashew nuts (soaked for 4 hours)

1 cup nut milk

¼ tsp freshly ground pepper

pinch of salt


for the tomato sauce –

Wash the cherry tomatoes and leave them whole, chop the fennel into thick rounds, chop the carrot & red pepper.  I like to keep the vegetables quite chunky, especially the fennel.

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, drizzle in the oil, add the fennel and fry until the fennel starts to soften, add the fresh oregano, rosemary, thyme, bay leaf and chilli flakes.  After a minute, stir in the vegetables and tomato paste.  Allow to simmer for five minutes, and then add the whole cherry tomatoes.  Cover and simmer very gently for 1 – 2 hours, stirring occasionally.  Turn off the heat, take out the bay leaf, rosemary, oregano and thyme stalks, add the sugar and salt.  Set aside.

make the creamy pesto –

Drain the cashews and add to a blender, with the nut milk, blend until broken down & creamy, (depending on the consistency you may need to add more nut milk) add the basil leaves, salt & pepper, and blend again until well incorporated.  You want the sauce quite thick. Set aside.

assemble the lasagna –

Ladle a cup of the tomato sauce into the bottom of a baking dish, then a layer of the lasagna sheets. Another layer of tomato sauce and lasagna sheets add a layer of sauce, then half the pesto cream.  Finish with the last sheet of lasagna and remaining pesto cream on top.  Sprinkle with grated mozzarella so that you have a wonderful, cheesy top.  Sprinkle over a handful of roughly chopped walnuts or pine nut parmesan.

When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 190C/350F.  Cover the lasagna with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the aluminium foil, and bake for another 20 – 30 minutes until golden on.  Allow to sit for 5 minutes, so that the juices settle and the filling firms up. Serve with your favourite green salad.


Goodness shared from Stacey

All rights reserved © Goodness is…. · Theme by Blogmilk + Coded by Brandi Bernoskie