Italian Meatballs With A Tomato And Basil Sauce

These bad boys really pack a flavour punch, perfect with pasta or on their own with some salad. They’re also super tasty served cold and would make a great lunch box snack for the little ones. They hold their shape well so there’s no messing around and they cook easily. This recipe makes about 24 completely vegan meatballs that even your omni friends would be delighted to try and will come back for more. Make a batch at the weekend and separate into portions for the freezer, you’ll be chuffed to come home to this easy to prepare meal after a busy day. Oh! They’re also super healthy too and if you’re gluten-free just swap out the regular oats for gluten free oats. Serve with a sauce of your choice but I love them with my tomato and basil sauce, they’re a perfect combo.

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What you’ll need for the meatballs: (makes 24)

  • 1 large white onion, finely diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, grated
  • 400g chestnut mushrooms, cleaned with a damp cloth and sliced
  • 400g tin of black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 and 1/2 cups of porridge oats
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato puree
  • 2 tablespoons of ground flax seeds
  • 1 tablespoon of vegan worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons of smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon of hot paprika
  • 1/4 cup of basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 tablespoons of oil and a little extra for cooking

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What you’ll need for the tomato and basil sauce:

  • Tin of chopped tomatoes (400g)
  • One onion, finely diced
  • About a handful of basil (1/3 of a shop bought plant)
  • Some Olive Oil for frying
  • Some sugar (optional)

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Method for the meatballs:

  1. Add 1 tablespoon of oil to a large pan and place over a medium heat, add the onions and cook until translucent, remove and set aside. Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan and add the mushrooms. When they are almost done add the garlic and continue to cook for another 3 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile place the porridge oats into a food processor and whizz until you have a flour that’s as smooth as possible. Remove from the food processor and place in a bowl, add the beans and the other ingredients, including the onion and the mushrooms and mix well. If you have a very large food processor you can just add everything to it but mine is medium-sized and the mix is a little too big for it.
  3. In separate batches of about 2 to 3 add the mix back into the food processor and blend until smooth, combine the batches all together in the bowl.
  4. Using a tablespoon as a measure scoop up some of the mix and form into balls, you should get about 24. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  5. Add a little oil to a pan and place the pan over a medium heat, add the meatballs and cook gently until they are warm all the way through and are browned nicely on the outside.
  6. Add the sauce to the pan and serve with pasta or how you like.

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Method for the tomato and basil sauce: 

  1. Add a little oil to a large pan and gently heat over a low flame. Add the onions and cook until they become translucent. Add the tinned tomatoes and give it a good stir. Chop your basil and add to the pot. Have a little taste and add some sugar if needed. Simmer on a low heat until the sauce becomes a beautiful, deep orange colour (approx 20mins). Using a hand blender give the sauce a good whizz until smooth (the large pan comes in handy here as it can get a tad messy). And that’s it! Yum! You can use straight away or freeze.

Share and enjoy!

If you try this dish at home please take a photo of it and tag @thetinyvegankitchen on Instagram or@thetinyVK on Twitter I’d love to see them.

Tanya x

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Aubergine and Whole Cherry Tomato, Gnocchi Bake

Whole cherry tomatoes, what a magical burst of flavour these guys add to any dish. Gnocchi can sometimes be dry so the cherry toms complement them so well. This is a truly scrumptious, cheesy dish and it goes down so well with the kids. When I make it for me, I add a generous sprinkle of chilly flakes for a kick!

What you’ll need: (serves 4-6)

  • I large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 medium aubergines, cleaned and cut into bite size chunks
  • About 4 cherry tomatoes per person
  • 500g packet of gnocchi
  • 2 cans of chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 block of vegan cheese from Violife, cut into 1cms cubes
  • 1 teaspoon of dried oregano
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 red chilli, chopped or a teaspoon of chilli flakes
  • 1 tablespoon of tamari
  • salt and pepper to taste

*** You can add some sugar to the tomato sauce if you prefer it less sharp. I’m trying to cut out sugar so I haven’t added it into this dish.

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Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Add two tablespoons of the oil to a large baking tray and heat before adding the aubergine. Toss the aubergine making sure it’s well coated in the oil and bake for about 30mins. Then add in the tomatoes and bake for a further 10mins.
  3. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to a large pan and add the onions. Cook on a low heat until the onions are soft and translucent, about 15mins.
  4. Add the chilli and oregano to the onions and stir well, then add the tinned tomatoes. Simmer for about 5mins.
  5. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and cook the gnocchi according to the packet instructions. Drain and hold back 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid. Use this liquid to rinse out the tomato cans into the tomato pot. Add the gnocchi to the pot.
  6. When the aubergine is cooked gently add the mix to the sauce, making sure not to break up the cherry tomatoes.
  7. Gently spoon the mix into a large oven tray, adding cubes of the cheese as you layer up.
  8. Top the dish with a generous helping of cheese and some vegan parmesan. Place in the oven and bake for 10mins.

Share and enjoy!

If you try this dish at home please take a photo of it and tag @thetinyvegankitchen on Instagram or@thetinyVK on Twitter I’d love to see them xTx

 

Creamy Mushroom Linguine

A lot of people assume that being vegan must be really hard when it comes to eating and that I must spend a lot of my time craving the foods that I used to eat. The simple truth of it is that I still enjoy all of my favourite meals, the difference is that now they are all plant based. Are they lacking any flavour? Heck no! Part of the fun for me is in recreating my favourite dishes using only plant based ingredients. In sharing these recipes I allow the food to do the talking. An old favourite of mine is linguine in a creamy mushroom sauce. And here’s the recipe.

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What you’ll need: (serves 4)

  • 1 cup of cashew, soaked over night
  • 2 cups of filtered water
  • 400g of linguine
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 400g of chestnut mushrooms (or mushrooms of your choice)
  • 187ml of vegan white wine
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast
  • 1 tablespoon of oil
  • Violife parmesan

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Method:

  1. Heat the oil over a medium heat. Add the mushrooms and toss making sure they are coated in the oil. Grate in the garlic and continue to cook.
  2. Cook the pasta to the packet instructions.
  3. Drain and rinse the cashews. Add to a food processor with half of the water and blend. Add in the rest of the water, bit at a time. This makes a really thick sauce so if you prefer a more watery consistency then just add more water.
  4. When the mushrooms have cooked turn up the heat and add the wine. Bring to the boil and then reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the liquid has reduced by half.
  5. Add the thyme and the cashew cream, stir well and add the nutritional yeast.
  6. Season well and add the pasta.
  7. Serve up and top with some vegan parmesan.

Share and enjoy!

If you try this dish at home please take a photo of it and tag @thetinyvegankitchen on Instagram or@thetinyVK on Twitter I’d love to see them xTx

Tortilla Pizza

During my recent visit to Assisi I devoured some amazing pizzas, senza formaggio of course. All of the restaurants that serve pizza have wood burning ovens so the bases are light and ultra crispy. It’s like pizza heaven. Since I’ve been back I’ve been craving pizza but I didn’t want a heavy, doughy base that would leave me feeling full and heavy. My sister’s been trying tortilla pizzas recently and raves about them so I thought I’d give it a go. There’s no going back; guilt free midweek pizzas have arrived at casa mia!

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What you’ll need for the sauce: (makes enough for 3-4 pizzas)

  • 4 to 6 sundried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes
  • 4 to 6 wild garlic leaves (if using regular garlic use 2 cloves and sauté in some oil first)
  • Teaspoon of dried oregano (optional)
  • Salt and pepper for seasoning

What you’ll need for the pizzas: (choose your own toppings, I went with my Assisi favourites and ingredients are per pizza)

  • 1 tortilla wrap per pizza
  • 1 large portobello mushroom, cut into 1cm slices
  • 2 to 3 artichoke hearts, quartered
  • 3 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • some Violife cream cheese with herbs
  • wild rocket leaves for garnish
  • some oil for frying

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Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°. Cut the tortillas into quarters and cook tortillas for 5 minutes.
  2. Add the tinned tomatoes to a pan along with the sundried tomatoes. Cook for about 20mins over a medium heat, until some of the water has evaporated. When ready blend the mix using a hand blender.
  3. Heat a little oil on a pan and cook the portobello mushrooms. Season with some salt when done.
  4. Cover the tortilla slices with some sauce and layer up the pizza with the toppings of your choice. Return to the oven and continue to cook for a further 10mins.
  5. Remove from the oven and add some vegan cream cheese and rocket.
  6. Finish with some chilli flakes.

Share and enjoy!

If you try this dish at home please take a photo of it and tag @thetinyvegankitchen on Instagram or@thetinyVK on Twitter I’d love to see them xTx

Courgetti Bolognese

Growing up, I loved Bolognese but in our house it was almost exotic, we rarely had it until we were well into our teens and then, each time it was made, it was devoured by all. Sometimes Mam would have the special spaghetti dish ready for us when we got home from school for lunch. Needless to say after that massive feed very little attention was paid in class, we’d practically roll back to school for the afternoon. Although so much has changed since then and I no longer eat meat, I love this favourite dinner of my teens, the vegan version. In this recipe I recreate that dish, without the meat and without the pasta too. This is a lighter way to enjoy a bolognese, full of tomato flavour, you’ll want to lick the bowl, I did. This bolognese recipe is very similar to the one I’ve used for my Lentil Lasagne but it’s not as traditional.

Another super easy recipe for Meatless Monday. You will need a spiralizer for the courgettes but they’re not that pricey and during the summer months you’ll get great use out of it for delicious salads. If not you can also use regular dry pasta.

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What you’ll need: (serves 4)

  • 200g brown or green lentils
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 punnet of sunblush cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 tablespoon of very finely chopped rosemary
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon of tamari or soy sauce
  • 600ml of veg stock
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • salt and pepper for seasoning
  • 3 to 4 zucchinis
  • vegan parmesan from Violife
  • some oil

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Method:

  1. Heat some oil in a large pan and gently cook the onion until it has softened and is translucent. Add the lentils and give a good stir to coat them in the mix. Add the tomatoes, herbs and the water/stock and bring to the boil. When the liquid has reduced by 1/3 lower the heat and leave to simmer for about 30 minutes, until the lentils have cooked. Add a splash of soy sauce or tamari, salt and pepper to taste and remove the bay leaves before using the ragu.
  2. Spiralize some zucchini and either serve straight away or you can heat the zucchini through by tossing it on a hot pan.

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Costing: 

  • 200g brown or green lentils = €0.74
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped = €0.33
  • 1/2 punnet of sunblush cherry tomatoes, halved €1.25
  • 1 tablespoon of very finely chopped rosemary (from the garden, lets add €0.10)
  • 2 bay leaves = €0.10
  • 1 tablespoon of tamari or soy sauce = €0.10
  • 600ml of veg stock = €0.50
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes = €1.89
  • salt and pepper for seasoning
  • 4 zucchinis €3.58
  • vegan parmesan €0.20
  • some oil

Prep Time & Cook Time:  45mins 

Cost per person is €2.19 for 4 people using zucchini pasta but if you use regular pasta each portion will cost you €1.79

Share and enjoy!

If you try this dish at home please take a photo of it and tag @thetinyvegankitchen on Instagram or@thetinyVK on Twitter I’d love to see them xTx

Melanzane alla Parmigiana (Aubergine with Parmesan)

I love Italy, I love everything about it; the architecture, the language, the animated ways of communicating. But I especially love the rituals involved around eating in this stunning country.

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This naturally gluten free dish is one of the first that I cooked on a culinary trip to Lazio, a number of years ago. I guess you could call it a vegetarian lasagne that I’ve veganised. It’s hearty and meaty, its packed with flavour and it’s made in one pot!

I’ve made a few changes to the construction of this dish as I found the layering-lasagne-type method difficult to serve up without it looking like mush on a plate. This new way takes a little more time but it looks so much better served up now so it’s worth it. If you have kids, get them on board with the making, it’s easy and fun!

Now, instead of layering strips of aubergine, I create little rolls:

Involtini di Melanzane alla Parmigiana! Buonissima!

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What you’ll need: Serves 4-6

Method:

Preheat your oven to 160°C. Cut the aubergines length ways into 0.5cm strips. Brush a large oven tray with some olive oil and arrange the aubergine slices. Brush the tops of the aubergines with a little more olive oil and gently cook until they are soft.

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While the aubergines are cooking you can cut the tomatoes into 1cms lengths, dice the vegan pizza cheese and grate the vegan parmesan cheese so that you’re all set up for rolling.

Remove the aubergines and allow to cool. In the meantime spoon some of the basic tomato and basil sauce onto the bottom of a casserole dish.

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Now it’s time to make the rolls, gather up the kiddy troops and set each one a work station…or else you could just do it yourself. Lay each strip of aubergine down with the widest part closest to you. Place one basil leaf on top, followed by a slice of tomato, some cheese and season well with salt and pepper. Now roll the aubergine strip away from you encasing the ingredients inside.

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Arrange in the casserole dish leaving a little space between each one. When the dish is full cover with more of the tomato and basil sauce and finish with some grated cheese.

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Place in the oven and cook at 180°C for about 30 minutes or until the top is golden.

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Share and enjoy!

If you try this dish at home please take a photo of it and tag @thetinyvegankitchen on Instagram or @thetinyVK on Twitter I’d love to see them xTx

Basic Tomato and Basil Sauce

This simple sauce is packed with flavour and there are only three ingredients! I use this sauce in many of my recipes throughout the blog. It’s great as a base for pizza and it’s the sauce that’s traditionally used in Melanzane alla Parmigiana (Aubergine with Parmesan).

What you’ll need:

  • Tin of chopped tomatoes (400g)
  • One onion, finely diced
  • About a handful of basil (1/3 of a shop bought plant)
  • Some Olive Oil for frying
  • Some sugar (optional)

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Method: 

Add a little oil to a large pan and gently heat over a low flame. Add the onions and cook until they become translucent. Add the tinned tomatoes and give it a good stir. Chop your basil and add to the pot. Have a little taste and add some sugar if needed. Simmer on a low heat until the sauce becomes a beautiful, deep orange colour (approx 20mins). Using a hand blender give the sauce a good whizz to smoothen (the large pan comes in handy here as it can get a tad messy). And that’s it! Yum! You can use straight away or freeze.

Top tip : divide the mixture into 6 freezer bags, each bag = sauce for one medium pizza!

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