Gluten Free Vegetarian Lasagna

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I am very excited to introduce this recipe – my first Gluten Free + Vegetarian recipe.

While I’m very fortunate not to require any special diet, I always love eating vegetables, and recently I realised that my body functions better after eating a lot of veggies. On the other hand, my husband seems to like eating less carbs these days. I think that we both started realising changes in our bodies (aka aging!).  To meet our body requirements, and furthermore, to feel better in ourselves, I have been trying to change my cooking tendency as well (cool less & serve less by my husband…. As Japanese, this is very difficult to do….).

Then, I met Lupin Flakes – my new Super Food. Once I learnt how to use Lupin, while I understand Lupin is good to “Add” to normal meals, I thought that we can “Replace” too, just like I did for Lupin Hummus. Then, this idea came up to me, “how about Lupin Béchamel Sauce”. Lupin Béchamel still has the creaminess. I also used smoked paprika to add a bit of funkiness to the sauce.

For other ingredients, I use Zucchini to replace Lasagne sheets. Zucchini has to be cooked on a very high heat to make Zucchini smoky and funky. Mushrooms give a similar texture to beef mince to Bolognese sauce.

This Lasagna is quite light and does not make your stomach heavy, and yet it is quite satisfying. Hope you like it too.

Ingredients (serving for 4 people. I use 24cm round baking dish.):

For Mushroom Bolognese Sauce

1 Onion – finely chopped

1 Carrot – finely chopped

5-6 Flat Mushrooms – roughly chopped

1 clove of Garlic – finely chopped

1 tablespoon of Olive Oil

1 tin of Tomato

2 pinches of Salt

For Zucchini Lasagne Sheet

2 Zucchinis

4 pinches of Salt

1 teaspoon of Olive Oil

For Lupin Béchamel Sauce

100ml of Lupin Flakes

100ml of Milk

40g of Parmesan Cheese – grated

¼ teaspoon of Smoked Paprika

A pinch of Black Pepper

For Topping

20g of Parmesan Cheese – grated

 

Method:

For Mushroom Bolognese Sauce

  1. Heat olive oil and garlic on medium/high heat in a medium size pot. Once the garlic becomes fragrant, add onion, carrot and mushrooms to the pot and keep cooking for 1 minute or until the onion becomes translucent. Reduce heat to medium – low and put a lid on. Keep steaming the vegetables for 2-3 minutes while stirring them occasionally. This method helps to bring the sweetness of vegetables out.
  2. Add a tin of tomato and salt to the pot. Put the lid back on and simmer it for 30 minutes or until the sauce is well reduced and the liquid has almost evaporated. While cooking, please stir the sauce occasionally.

For Zucchini Lasagne Sheet

  1. In the meantime, we prepare Zucchini Lasagne Sheet. Slice zucchini lengthwise into 4. Sprinkle 2 pinches of salt on each side of the zucchini slices. Lay them on 3-4 layers of paper towels, and then place another 3-4 layers of paper towels on top of the slices. Leave them for 10 minutes. This is to remove some moisture from the zucchini, to avoid them becoming soggy when they are cooked.
  2. Pan-fry the zucchini. Heat olive oil to high in a frying pan. Once the frying pan gets really hot, lay the zucchini slices into it. Cook them for 1 minute on each side or until the zucchinis’ surface is nicely coloured. Transfer them to a place and put them aside.

For Lupin Béchamel Sauce

  1. Place Lupin Flakes in cold water and bring to boil. Boil it for 3 minutes. Drain and rinse the lupin a few times, and then drain off the water from the lupin very well. Place it into a bowl or a food processor if you have one.
  2. Add milk to the lupin. With a hand mixer (or a food processor), make the lupin a little bit smoother. It does not need to be super smooth. It is fine even if a few of the grains are still left.
  3. Put the mixture into a small sauce pan. Heat the pan to medium/low and warm the mixture up slowly. When the milk is just before boiling (please do not allow it to boil), turn the heat off. Add parmesan cheese, smoked paprika and black pepper. Stir to make the cheese melt and put it aside.

For Construction and Baking

  1. Preheat oven to 220◦C.
  2. In a baking dish, spread 1/3 f the Mushroom Bolognese Sauce first. Arrange 4 slices of the Zucchini over the sauce. Spread another 1/3 of the Mushroom Bolognese Sauce and then spread ½ of the Lupin Béchamel Sauce over it. Again arrange another 4 slices of the Zucchini and spread what’s left of the Mushroom Bolognese sauce. Spread all of the Lupin Béchamel Sauce over. Sprinkle 20g of Parmesan cheese over it, as a topping.
  3. Bake it for 20-30 minutes or until the surface becomes golden. Once it is done. Remove it from the over and serve it while hot.

Lotus Root Kimpira – Renkon no Kinpira

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I was so excited to find fresh Lotus Roots in a shot the other day. In Japan, Lotus Roots are very common and can be purchased throughout the seasons. Since they are so common over there, to be honest, I did not know when Lotus Roots were in season before…, whoops….

Why am I so exited? It is because not only they are rare to find here in Australia, but they are also my father’s favourite vegetable. Especially this recipe, Lotus Roots Kimpira, was his favourite veggie dish. When I cooked it for him, I remember him praising me saying “Yours is better than your mum’s”. which was the best praise you could get from him.

In the shop, I put a small fresh Lotus Root in my basket without hesitation, just to make this dish. I went to the cashier and realised that the small lady cost me $9.00…. Well…, there was no option for me not to buy it, but I felt just little nostalgic….

Here is my father’s favourite recipe. Really hope you enjoy it.

 

Ingredients (Serving 4 as a side dish)

300g Lotus Root (Renkon) – peeled and sliced into thin rounds. Soak the slices in water for 5 minutes. This is to avoid them discolouring.

15ml Dashi stock

2 Tablespoons of Cooking Sake

½ Tablespoon of Sugar

½ Tablespoon of Mirin

1 Tablespoon of Soy Sauce

½ Teaspoon of Sesame Seeds

 

Method:

  1. Drain and dry the Lotus slices with paper towels. Heat a small amount of oil (not included in the ingredients’ lost above) in a fry pan on medium heat. Stir-fry the Lotus for a couple of minutes or until translucent.
  2. Add Dashi Stock, Cooking Sake, Sugar and Mirin. Cooking them for 2-3 minutes or until the liquid is half gone.
  3. Add Soy Sauce and cook them for 2-3 minutes or until the liquid is almost gone.
  4. Turn heat off and sprinkle Sesame Seeds over the lotus. It can be served both warm and cold.

 

 

Penne with Celery Sauce – How to use up a big bunch of Celery

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We buy celery very often. It is reasonable and often on sale. It can be eaten raw and is good in any cooking. It is just, especially with 2 of us in the household, sometimes it is difficult to use up a big bunch of celery while it is still fresh.

The other day, I was looking in the fridge and thinking what I can do with this “better to eat now” celery. A new idea came to me when our manager took us for lunch. One entrée we were sharing was “chilli octopus with CELERY PUREE”. I thought this is it!

While the sauce features celery’s flavour,  garlic + chilli + parmesan cheese bring richness and funkiness to the sauce. I add bacon because I think the smokiness makes a good contrast to the celery’s freshness, however if you are after vegetarian option, it can be removed.

Ingredients: Serving for 2-3 people

For Celery Sauce

3 Celery Stalks including leaves – roughly chopped

3 cloves of Garlic

300ml Water

A good pinch of Salt

A pinch of Black Pepper

50g Parmesan Cheese

For Pasta

250g Penne

3 slices of Bacon – roughly chopped

½ Onion – finely chopped

1 clove of Garlic – finely chopped

1 Red Chilli – finely chopped

Method:

  1. Firstly make celery sauce. Place celery stalks, garlic and water in a pan and cook them until the celery stalks become soft. This will take about 20-30 minutes.
  2. Once the celery stalks are soft, remove the pan from the heat. Blend and mash them with a hand blender or food processor until it becomes smooth. Once it becomes smooth, add parmesan cheese and combine with it. Season the sauce with salt and pepper. Put aside.
  3. Start cooking pasta as per instructions on the package.
  4. Meanwhile, cook bacon in a frying pan over medium/high heat until it becomes crispy. Add onion, garlic and chilli. Cook them for 2-3 minutes. Add the celery sauce into the frying pan. Add a ladle of the pasta cooking liquid (from Method 3), if the sauce becomes too thick.
  5. Add the cooked pasta into the sauce and toss to combine. Serve hot.