Penne Pomodoro with Vegan “Tuna”

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I have crawled up in a rusty canopy swing with the computer in my lap, spiderweb from the canopy tangled up in my hair, Mr Bojangles on repeat (I always write with a single song on repeat in my ears) and Elsa balancing on my legs. We are spending a few days at my dad’s summerhouse and while Luise is drawing with Isac, I wanted to tell you about this pasta dish that we cooked and photographed the other day.

I’m trying to formulate my thoughts into words. How soaked sunflower seeds almost magically get the texture of canned tuna when mixed in a food processor. But it’s not easy. Elsa is using every muscle in her body to steal my attention from the computer screen. Her mouth is forming words (that I can’t hear because of the earplugs), her head is jumping from side to side while her eyes are actively seeking mine. She is smacking her hands together right in front of my face and she grins when I finally look up from the computer and pull out the earplugs.

– Do you know what this means on sign language? She asks me with giggle in her voice while she keeps smacking her hands together and then pointing at herself.

– No, tell me.

– I want a saaaaandwich!

– Are you hungry?

– No, I’m just teaching you sign language.

– Ok, nice. But I’m working right now. Maybe you can teach me more later?

– Ok. Just one more. Do you know what this is? [Taps her forehead with her hand and pulls it away in a half circle.]

– Ehm, maybe a unicorn?

– Nooo stupid, it means thank you. Actually, I think I want a sandwich.

– Maybe you can ask mom to help you?

– Okaaaaaaay.

She jumps down and runs into the house. Earplugs back in. I’m guessing that I have approx 5 mins to write this. Here we go.

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It’s not often that we create dishes that mimics meat. In fact, we often do the opposite by letting the vegetables shine in all their glory. I don’t remember eating tuna a lot before I became a vegetarian, but after having seen a few vegan sunflower seed “tuna” recipes on the web (especially this beautiful Tuna Tartine from Faring-Well) I suddenly got this weird craving for it. So we decided to give fake-tuna a try. By pulsing soaked sunflower seeds in a food processor together with salty capers, shallots, oil, apple cider vinegar, lemon and nori sheet, you actually get something that looks weirdly similar to canned tuna with a crumbly, moist texture and a flavour that reminds me of salty seas and umami.

Most recipes we’ve seen use this sunflower seed tuna as a spread or as a tuna salad (often with the addition of celery and herbs) but we instead added it to a tomato sauce and served it with penne, creating a classic Italian poor mans dish. The vegan “tuna” adds a nice texture to the sauce and it improves the flavour as well. The kids loved it! It is a simple recipe if you are on a budget and it is a tad more special than your basic pasta pomodoro. So go put your sunflower seeds in water and pretend they are a fish.

I can see Elsa eyeballing me from the window now so I better round this up. I have got a class in imaginative sign language up ahead with my favourite teacher.

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Penne Pomodoro with Vegan “Tuna”
Serves 4

It’s important to soak the sunflower seeds to achieve the right texture so don’t skip that step. If you’ve got some white wine opened in the fridge, you can add a glug of that for extra depth and flavour.

Vegan Tuna
140 g / 1 cup raw sunflower seeds, soaked in water for 6 hours or overnight
1 small shallot or red onion, minced
3 tbsp capers + brine

1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp cold-pressed olive oil (coconut oil, ghee or butter)

1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp sea salt

1/2 sheet of nori (the seaweed you use for sushi), cut into tiny pieces (optional)

Pomodoro Sauce
1 onion

2 cloves of garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
3 x 400 g / 14 oz cans of chopped tomatoes
1 handful fresh basil or 2 tsp dried

sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Serve with
Pasta of choice (we use wholegrain penne or a gluten free version made from dried beans)
80 g / 1/2 cup large capers
fresh parsley, finely chopped
ruccola

To prepare the “tuna”, simply add all ingredients to a food processor. Pulse a few times until it you have a coarsely textured mixture. Taste and add more salt, lemon juice or vinegar. Pulse again and scoop the mixture into a bowl.

Peel and finely chop the onion and garlic. Place a large sauce pan on medium heat and add olive oil. Sauté the onion and garlic for a few minutes until fragrant. Add tomatoes, basil, salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes. Taste and adjust the flavours throughout. Add a splash of water or white wine if it starts looking dry.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the instructions on the package.

When the tomato sauce is ready, stir in 2/3 of the “tuna”, saving the rest for serving. Divide the pasta in 4 bowls, top with tomato sauce, capers, fresh parsley and a drizzle of olive oil.

Blackberry Saffron Honey

The first time I made this was a year or two back, while visiting my friend Bonni’s cabin. It’s a riff on the Saffron Honey I included in Near & Far. Both rely on a technique using the alcohol in either vanilla or almond extract to pull the saffron flavor into a liquid. You then stir that saffron liquid into honey (or whatever else you like). It’s incredible. Drizzle over cheese, yogurt, oatmeal, waffles – you get the idea. When blackberries are in season, I like to heat them just long enough for them to break down a bit, and then stir the berries into the honey as well. That’s what you see here. I used blackberries, but blueberries or other ripe, seasonal berries are equally delicious. It’s one of those things you can make in a flash that ends up putting a special accent on a breakfast, brunch, cheese plate, etc.

Blackberry Saffron Honey

Blackberry Saffron Honey

Continue reading Blackberry Saffron Honey…

Roasted Tomato Salad

I’ve done a number of these roasted tomato salads over the years, but this is the one I featured in Near & Far. I introduced it by saying, the next time you think of making a caprese salad, consider this instead. And I meant it. It’s a bit of extra effort (not much), but the combination of both raw and roasted tomatoes is special. And the bright harissa oil brings an element of the unexpected. You can roast the tomatoes and prepare the harissa oil ahead of time. Keep the roasted tomatoes in a jar covered in oil, bring to room temperature, and drain before continuing with the recipe.

Roasted Tomato Salad

Continue reading Roasted Tomato Salad…

Beet & Berry Yoats + Big Love

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A few years ago we had a section on this blog called Big Love where we shared links and things that inspired us at the moment – high and low. We’re reviving it today as we have too many unanswered emails and comments asking about everything from our favorite places, books, ceramics and camera gear. We also added a couple of other things to the list, like Elsa’s favorite song. Of course we’re also sharing the recipe for these Yoat jars further down in this post.

Big Love!

• Our cookbook shelf is always overflowing, here are our two latest additions. My Darling Lemon Thyme (by Emma Galloway) is a truly great book with recipes right up our alley (all vegetarian and gluten free). Tasting Rome (by Katie Parla and Kristina Gill) brings back so many memories from the time I was living there. Beautiful photography both of the city and its food.

• Luise is in love with the apron that Sara from Sprouted Kitchen made in collaboration with her sister from Stone Cold Fox. Luise is wearing it in this blog post and it can be found here.

• The ceramics from this Danish family company will make any food look pretty. Here are two examples where we have used it {uno | due}.

• If you are visiting Scandinavia, make sure to check out these links to some of our favourite places in Stockholm and Copenhagen.

• Our smoothie book is coming out in the US next week and can be pre-ordered here!

• For those of you asking about camera gear. I have a Canon EOS 5D mark iii with two different lenses. A 50 mm f/1.2 for all top shots and a 100 mm f/1.8 macro lens for all close-ups. I use the same equipment when I film videos for our youtube channel. When we travel I use this camera bag.

• If you love kombucha you should check out this incredible guide by Sarah from My New Roots.

• Even if it is our third time around, I will never get tired of seeing Luise’s tummy growing.

• Elsa is constantly humming on this song by two 14-year old Norwegian twin brothers (gone are apparently the days when she just played with teddybears and sang Twinkle Twinkle…).

• Isac’s new hair style – the boy-bun.

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We call this quick breakfast recipe Yoats. It is a mashup of yogurt and oats (and a few other simple ingredients) that we prepare in jars for a simple outside breakfast in the sun. In a way, this recipe is similar to a bircher muesli as you can leave it in the fridge overnight, but because the yogurt loosens up the oats real quickly, it can also be indulged right away. For flavour and extra va-va-voom, we layer it with a rather thick raspberry and beetroot smoothie (maybe puree is a more describing word?) and also add some of it to the oats for a beautiful pink hue. The layers are not only visually appealing but also more interesting as the flavours change as you work your way through the jar. Beetroot for breakfast might sound scary but the earthiness from the root is perfectly balanced with tanginess from the lemon, sweetness from dates and fruitiness from the raspberries. We’ve tried the yoats recipe with coconut yogurt (as a vegan option) and Greek yogurt and they both taste great. Obviously you can change the flavour by simply making a different smoothie/purée.

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Beetroot & Raspberry Yoats
Serves 4

Yoats
2 cups / 500 ml plain thick yogurt, Greek or Turkish (vegans can use Coconut Yogurt)
1 cup / 90 g rolled oats
¼ cup /35 g sunflower seeds
1 small apple, cored and roughly grated on a box grater
1 pinch ground vanilla or vanilla extract
1 tsp freshly grated ginger or ground ginger

Beet & Raspberry Purée
1 cup / 125 g raspberries (fresh or thawed frozen)
1 small raw beetroot (approx 65 g / 2 oz), peeled and coarsely chopped or grated (depending on the strength of your blender)
½ lemon, juice
2 tbsp water
2 soft dates, pitted

To serve
raspberries
fresh mint leaves, chopped
bee pollen

Place all ingredients for the yoats in a mixing bowl and gently stir to combine. Set aside.
Meanwhile prepare the purée. Add all ingredients to a high speed blender and blend until smooth. Taste to see if more lemon juice, water or dates are needed. When done, mix ¼ cup of the purée with the yoats. Then divide the rest of the purée into 4 glass jars. Spoon the pink yoats into each jar. Eat right away or store in the fridge for up to a couple of days. Ideally make the recipe in the evening and serve for breakfast the following morning. Top with fresh raspberries, chopped mint and bee pollen before serving.