Kabocha, Spinach, Brown Rice & Miso Broth

In case you didn’t see on Facebook or Twitter- the winner of “Super Healthy Snacks and Treats”, picked out of 101 entries using a Random Number Generator, was…number 7- Janet from The Taste Space! Congratulations to Janet and thank you to everyone for taking part. I’m sorry I couldn’t give you each a copy! If you want to buy yourself a copy or ask for it for Christmas, it’s available from Amazon.com, Amazon UK or through the author’s website.

Now on to today’s recipe!

Kabocha, Spinach, Brown Rice & Miso Broth

So my plan to try all the different varieties of squash out there this winter rather failed. I haven’t made it to the Saturday morning farmers’ market as much as I’d have liked, and when I have picked up squash I haven’t been able to identify them anyway! Recently I spied one I did recognize but hadn’t yet sampled- Kabocha!

Photo Credit: blog.cookingchanneltv.com

Photo Credit: blog.cookingchanneltv.com

Kabocha is an Asian variety of squash, commonly called Japanese pumpkin. I think they’re rather cute, all short and squat, and cutting through the dull green skin revealed a brilliant orange flesh.

As I said, this was my first time trying it, and much as I’d read it described it had a very sweet, almost chestnut-like flavour and was softer and more starchy than other squash- quite similar to sweet potato in texture.

Considering its Japanese roots I thought I’d go that direction with it. I had seen a recipe in The Asian Vegan Kitchen for a side-dish of kabocha simmered with tamari and mirin, and turned it into a complete meal with chewy short-grain brown rice and greens in a soupy miso broth. A bowl of pure, nourishing, comfort food.

Kabocha, Spinach, Brown Rice & Miso Broth

Kabocha, Spinach, Brown Rice & Miso Broth:

1/2C Short-grain Brown Rice
220g/1/2 lb Diced Kabocha Squash (approx 1 1/2” pieces)- Simply remove the seeds and stringy fibres from the squash and dice, leaving skin on.
1T Tamari
1” Fresh Ginger, finely minced/grated
1/2T Mirin
1T White Miso
2 1/2C Vegetable Broth OR Water
2 Green Onions, thinly sliced
100g/4oz Spinach
Red Chili & Squeeze of Lime (optional)

Cook your brown rice first (You could also use other hearty grains like barley or farro) per package directions. Set aside.

In a small bowl whisk together tamari, ginger, miso and mirin until smooth and gradually whisk into the broth in a large pot.

Add the kabocha and simmer for approx 10 minutes (don’t boil) until the squash is soft but not falling apart. Add the brown rice to warm through and the green onions and spinach to wilt.

Finish with a squeeze of lime, and a little sliced red chili (optional).

Serves 2

Other squash recipes I’ve made this season:

Butternut, Barley & Lentil Pilaf

Linguine with Pumpkin & Chard

Warm Butternut & Lentil Salad with Tahini Dressing

Miso Curry Roasted Squash with Crispy Chickpeas & Kale

Chocolate Pumpkin & Cranberry Muffins

Pumpkin Pie

I’m keen to try spaghetti squash too but it sadly remains elusive…

Do you have a favourite variety of squash?

If you’re new to Coconut and Berries, Please sign up for email updates and join me elsewhere: I’m on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram (@coconutandberries), Google + and Twitter!

Chili-Lime Crusted Tofu with Creamy Herbed Rice

I typically rely on beans and lentils, whole grains, nuts and seeds for the bulk of my protein needs and am more than happy eating this way most of the time. Every now and again though I get a hankering for a good chunk of tofu or tempeh- perhaps the vegan equivalent to an omnivore’s steak cravings?!

Chli-Lime Crusted Tofu with Creamy, Herbed Rice

If you’ve cooked with tofu before it’s almost inevitable that the first few times it was verging on inedible. Learning to cook tofu well is definitely something that took me some time. For the weekly @veganrecipehour chat on Twitter last week (Thursdays 8-9pm GMT #veganrecipehour) we were talking about all things tofu, sharing tips and recipes and so I dug out a few of my favourites from the archives:

Cauliflower Fried “Rice” with Grilled Asian Tofu

Nutty Crusted Tofu, Mediterranean Israeli Couscous Pilaf & Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Cheesy Tofu Scramble & Chipotle Sweet Potato Tacos

The key to good tofu almost always comes down to pressing and marinating. You need to first squeeze out the watery liquid in the tofu so it can soak up your marinade and give it the flavour it doesn’t have on its own.

Chili-Lime Crusted Tofu with Creamy, Herbed Rice

I used a recipe similar to my simple Asian grilled tofu, then added a crunchy cornflake topping spiked with lime zest, chili and herbs before putting it in the oven to get nice and chewy.  In the pictures It’s shown cut into two but I would actually recommend cutting the rectangles in half again to get thinner slices for a better texture.

The tofu is quite spicy but the creamy, herbed rice is a lovely cooling contrast and will soothe your tingling lips!

Chili-Lime Crusted Tofu with Creamy, Herbed Rice

Chiil-Lime Crusted Tofu with Creamy Herbed Rice:

1/2 400g/14oz pkg Firm Tofu, Pressed and sliced into 2 (or 4) rectangles
2T Mirin
3/4T Tamari
1/2T Lime Juice
1/2t Toasted Sesame Oil
1/3C Crushed Cornflakes OR Breadcrumbs
1 Small Chili, deseeded and minced
Zest of 1 Lime
1T Chopped Fresh Basil
1T Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper

For the Rice:

1/2C Long-Grain Brown Rice
1/2T Olive Oil
1/4 Red Onion, diced small
1/2 Red Pepper, diced small
Large Handful of Spinach (approx 50g/2oz)
2T Chopped Fresh Basil
1/2C Unsweetened Non-dairy Yogurt
1T Lime Juice
Salt & Pepper

Combine mirin, tamari, lime juice and sesame oil, place tofu rectangles in a dish and pour over this mixture. Leave to marinade for a minimum of 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 180C/350F

Combine cornflakes ( use a food processor or a rolling pin to crush them), chili, lime zest, basil and oil and season well with salt and pepper.

Transfer tofu to an oven-proof dish and top with the cornflake mixture.

Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Cook brown rice according to pkg instructions. I use the absorption method.

Sauté onion and pepper in the oil until soft (5-10 mins) then stir through the spinach just to wilt.

Add the vegetables to the rice along with the yogurt, basil and lime and again season well with salt and pepper.

Serve alongside the baked tofu.

Serves 2

I’m submitting this recipe to the weekly link-up, Wellness Weekends.

Chili-Lime Crusted Tofu with Creamy, Herbed Rice

If you liked the dish I brought along to the Virtual Vegan Potluck- Vegan Crepes with Date & Orange Compote & Cinnamon Ice-Cream-I’d really appreciate you voting for Coconut and Berries in the dessert category. You can select your favourite for each of the 8 course categories here. Thank you!

If you’re new to Coconut and Berries, Please sign up for email updates and join me elsewhere: I’m on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram (@coconutandberries), Google + and Twitter!

“Cheesy” Meals

If you caught my Lentil and Sausage Stew recipe post last week you’ll know that during Vegan MoFo I won a bunch of Vegusto meat and cheese “alternatives”. Until recently they haven’t been too widely available in shops, and this, along with actually never being a cheese fan pre-vegan, meant that I hadn’t bothered to seek them out. I’ve kept hearing more and more about them though and they seem to be taking the European vegan market by storm, so winning the giveaway I was actually pretty excited to try their stuff out for myself.

I thought I’d share my thoughts on the products and what I made with them today.

Vegusto Meat & Cheese Alternatives

Pictured above is the selection of products I won. They’re not too attractive in their packaging, but is uncooked meat and packaged cheese really particularly nice to look at?

-Farmhouse Sausage
-Mushroom & No-Moo Burgers
-No-Moo Melty
-No-Moo, Mild-Aromatic
-No-Moo, Piquant

Vegusto Mushroom & No-Moo Burger

I was really impressed with these burgers. I haven’t had many meat alternatives before so don’t have a lot to compare them with in that regard, but they certainly have a very meaty texture and flavour, as the sausage did. There are little flecks of cheese in the patty itself which makes them extra juicy. I ate them on homemade spelt/rye buns with rocket, avocado and salsa, and a side of carrot sticks Smile

Vegusto Mushroom & No-Moo Burger

Next up was the No-Moo Melty. This is the Vegusto product I’d heard most about so had high hopes. I certainly wasn’t disappointed and it melted like a dream. Tomato soup and cheese on toast are classic comfort foods so on a dreary day here I thought I’d have them together! I whipped up a quick tomato soup, grilled some nice seedy bread in the oven, then popped it back in with the cheese on top to melt.

Tomato Soup,Vegusto No Moo Melty Cheese on Toast

After my first melting success I had to make a cheesy pizza. I haven’t had a cheese pizza in a very long time. I do occasionally add cashew cheese or tofu ricotta to my pizzas but usually go completely cheese-less and just let the vegetables shine or sometimes add a different sauce like the pesto and romesco pizzas I made this summer.

Southwestern-style BBQ Pizza (with Vegusto No-Moo Melty)

I didn’t stick to classic cheese and tomato with this one either (you’ve probably realized by now that I can’t resist trying new things!). I opted instead for a “Southwestern” style pizza with a homemade wholewheat crust, BBQ sauce (I use Isa’s recipe which isn’t too cloyingly sweet like the commercial ones typically are), No-Moo Melty, peppers, red onion and creamy avocado. I really loved this and am not sure I will be able to stop myself adding avocado to all my pizzas in the future!

I didn’t go overboard on the cheese, and honestly don’t think I would have missed it here, but maybe should have given it a whirl on a more simple pizza.

Southwestern-style BBQ Pizza (with Vegusto No-Moo Melty)

The Vegusto website described the No-Moo Mild-Aromatic as a “Cheddar alternative” so I had a think about how I remembered cheddar being used in the past. It’s a very English cheese so I decided it had to be a very English recipe! Afternoon tea is perhaps what England is know best for in food terms, so with this in mind I came up with cheesy scones, more than fit for a fancy afternoon spread!

Vegan Cheese Scones (with Vegusto No-Moo Mild-Aromatic)

Bath, the city  where I’m now living, has dozens of tearooms, and cheese scones seem to feature on most of their menus. They were very easy to veganize using oil instead of butter, flax instead of eggs and Vegusto instead of dairy-cheese. Despite the changes they turned out beautifully. Lovely and flaky with a prominent cheese flavour.

Vegan Cheese Scones (with Vegusto No-Moo Mild-Aromatic)

I like the sweet/savoury combination and served mine fresh from the oven with raspberry jam, but they’d be lovely all on their own just with a cup of tea.

I also liked them as an addition to a little brunch I put together- along with sautéed balsamic mushrooms, tomatoes and spinach.

Vegan Cheese Scones (with Vegusto No-Moo Mild-Aromatic)

I don’t really remember the taste of cheddar but the smell of this was exactly the same! Although I was never a cheese-eater, my Dad (and dog!) loved the stuff. When I opened the Vegusto packet it took me right back to childhood lunches and the moment the lid was lifted off the cheese box!

Vegan Cheese Scones (with Vegusto No-Moo Mild-Aromatic)

I’ve only tried the No-Moo Piquant on oatcakes so far but surprised myself in enjoying it just like that! The flavour has been compared to a French Gruyère so I’m thinking it would be nice in a simple tart or for a kick of flavour in a potato gratin…

Other than the products I tried there are lots more- a Blue cheese, a Herb cheese and a Walnut cheese (maybe nice for a cheeseboard?), various other sausage and burger flavours, sandwich slices, steaks, schnitzels and mince, as well as roasts, dips and sauces!

Vegusto definitely place an emphasis on quality ingredients, something which is important to me. All their cheeses are made with a base of organic nut butter and for salts and oils they only use rock salt, and cold pressed oils, including coconut, sunflower and rapeseed oil in their products, unlike most dairy cheese alternatives which rely on soya and palm oil.

I would definitely recommend these products and think they’d be especially useful for those transitioning to a vegan diet and looking for more familiar foods. I enjoyed trying them and can see myself buying them on occasion, even if they’re not going to be new staples for me.

Do you like any meat or cheese alternatives? How would you use the Vegusto products?

Disclaimer: I won these products in a giveaway but was not required to write a review. All opinions are my own.

Sign up for email updates and join me elsewhere: I’m on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram (@coconutandberries), Google + and Twitter!

U is for…

Udon Noodles!

Tofu, Miso, Udon Noodle Soup (for one)

Udon Noodles are chewy, soft and silky-textured and tied with soba are my favourite noodles to use. You can find them in their dried form and boil them like pasta, and the pre-cooked type which can go straight into your wok or soup pot.

Either way, they’re a fabulous option for a whole variety of dishes, from piping hot noodles in broth to satisfyingly rich stir fries, and succulent salads. Tofu, Miso, Udon Noodle Soup (for one)

This hearty bowl of slurpy noodles was inspired by Wagamama, a Japanese restaurant and noodle bar, and one of the few restaurant chains over here that I really love.  I went a few weeks ago and had a delicious vegetable udon stir-fry but was very tempted by all the warming soups on the menu.

This recipe for Tofu, Miso, Udon Noodle Soup takes just minutes to put together and is great for cold-weather lunch option when salads and sandwiches are less appealing.

Don’t feel constrained by the listed ingredients either. It’s very much one of those dishes which works well with any number of vegetables. Don’t have spinach on hand? Try bok choy or broccoli. No shitake mushrooms? Use a different type. I sometimes also add seaweed for a different flavour profile.

Tofu, Miso, Udon Noodle Soup (for one)

Tofu, Miso, Udon Noodle Soup (for one):

3 Dried shitake mushrooms (or use fresh)
1 1/2-2C Water
1/2t Grated ginger
50g Dried udon noodles (or use fresh)
1/2 Large carrot, julienned
Large handful of spinach
1/2T White miso
1t Tamari
75g Silken tofu, cubed
1 Green Onion, thinly sliced
Drizzle of toasted sesame oil (optional)

If using dried mushrooms, soak in boiling water for at least 30 minutes to rehydrate. Drain (reserving water) and slice.

Cook noodles according to packet instructions, drain and set aside in a bowl

Boil 2C Water (including the reserved mushroom soaking water), add ginger, sliced mushrooms, carrot and spinach and cook for 1 minute to wilt the greens. Remove from heat and stir through miso and tamari.

Pour vegetables and the broth over the noodles. Top with silken tofu, green onions and sesame oil (if using)

Serves 1


pasta please (200x143)

I’m submitting this recipe to the Monthly Blog Challenge, Pasta Please

Tofu, Miso, Udon Noodle Soup (for one)

A few other Udon noodle recipe ideas from the web:

Udon Noodle Salad with Peanut-Lime Sauce

Gingered Sesame-Coconut Udon with Roasted Broccoli

Curried Udon Noodle Stir-Fry

What’s your favourite type of noodle?

Hope you’re all having a lovely weekend, and that those who’ve finished their Vegan MoFo posts are having a good break!


Sweet Potato, Spinach + Coconut Dahl

I tend to think of Indian dishes as pretty omnivore-friendly. Not usually any tofu, tempeh, seitan or any other ingredients less familiar to non-vegans. So, when I needed to whip up a casual dinner for a few family members, including one particularly unambitious eater…Indian it was!

This was very speedy to put together and didn’t even need a long simmer so it’s ideal for when you don’t have much time to devote to cooking the evening meal.

It might not look that filling, with just a 1/2 cup red lentils to thicken up the sauce, but the canned coconut milk gave the dish richness, as well as adding that silky smooth flavour I adore so much.

I kept it mild for she-who- will- not- be- named (!)…and actually found I didn’t really miss the heat, but you could add a little chili if you wanted a bit more kick.

Sweet Potato, Spinach + Coconut Dahl with Brown Rice

Sweet Potato, Spinach + Coconut Dahl:

1T Coconut oil
1 Onion, chopped
1/2T Minced ginger
2 Cloves garlic, minced
1 Chili, minced (optional)
1t Curry powder
1t Ground cumin
1t Turmeric
1/2t Salt
1 Large sweet potato, chopped into 1” cubes
1/2C Red lentils
1 Can (400ml) Coconut milk (I like Biona Organic)
1C Vegetable broth
Several handfuls spinach, torn or roughly chopped
Juice of half a lemon

Warm coconut oil in a pot over medium heat, add onion and cook for 5 minutes. Add ginger, garlic, optional chili, spices and salt and continue to cook another couple of minutes until smelling very fragrant. Don’t worry if it looks dry at this stage. Mix in sweet potato, lentils, coconut milk and broth, cover and simmer gently for 20-25 minutes. The sweet potato should be soft and very easily fall off a fork when pierced. Pack in your spinach and keep stirring so it wilts and makes room for more in the pot. Cook a further few minutes uncovered. Turn off the heat and add a good squeeze of lemon, stir again and serve.

I just served it with some plain brown basmati rice but if I’d had a little more time  I’d probably have jazzed it up a little with some fresh coriander and toasted slivered almonds.

This would also be great served in a bowl with some roti for dipping. If I were to go that route I’d probably use a full cup of lentils so the dahl is a bit thicker and more scoop-able.

Serves 4-6

Sweet Potato Spinach Coconut Dahl

Do you have an easy meal you like to serve to omnivores, or to more traditional eaters?

Creamy Spinach + Leek Stuffed Mushrooms

Whenever I have portobello or flat mushrooms on hand I always seem to go to my default recipe- marinated in a sweet balsamic dresssing, grilled, and then served any of a number of ways: sliced into chunky strips strewn over a salad,  squished between a bun with lots of toppings… When I’ve found a recipe I love I get it into my head that nothing else I make with that ingredient will be as good and so I stick to the tried and tested.

I was definitely proven wrong today. I pushed myself to try something new and I may just have knocked my old fave off the top-spot!

These beauties really have that “umami” flavour and although rich-tasting they are pretty darn healthy too. I’d very happily eat a couple of them simply accompanied with some crusty bread for a satisfying lunch, light dinner, or even for breakfast.

Creamy Spinach + Leek Stuffed Mushrooms

I used coconut milk for the creaminess here and the coconut flavour wasn’t too strong for me when combined with plenty of garlic, earthy leeks and spinach as well as a good dose of nutritional yeast, but if you’re not a fan then you could swap in any other non-dairy cream (soy, coconut etc- there are various available commercially these days). A hint of nutmeg rounds these out nicely, but again you might prefer to go with a dash of cayenne instead for a slightly different background note.

Pictured below I served them with sweet potato chunks, roasted until the edges turn caramel-crisp and some delicately seasoned beluga lentils.

Creamy Spinach + Leek Stuffed Mushrooms

Creamy Spinach + Leek Stuffed Mushrooms

Creamy Spinach + Leek Stuffed Mushrooms:

3-4 Large Flat/Portobello Mushrooms
1 Leek, diced
3 Cloves garlic, minced
Few grinds nutmeg and/or cayenne
Several handfuls spinach
1/2C Coconut milk/non-dairy cream
2T Nutritional yeast
salt + pepper, olive oil

Preheat your oven to 180C/350F

Prepare your mushrooms- either wipe with a damp cloth or peel and de-stalk, brush with olive oil, sprinkle with a little salt and pepper and lay them on a baking sheet.

Sauté leeks over medium heat for 5 minutes until softening nicely, add minced garlic and cook for a further couple of minutes. Add your spinach (be generous as it will shrink down a lot) and spices of choice and cook until wilted. Pour over coconut milk, warm through and season.

Spoon creamy filling onto your prepared mushroom caps and sprinkle with nutritional yeast. Bake 20-30 minutes until turning golden.


What about you, do you stick to your tried and tested with certain ingredients, or are you open to trying new ideas?

Orzo, Spinach + Almond feta bake

The pantry decimation challenge is going well, another package finished! This time it was a lonely half cup of ground almonds (I think this is known as ‘almond flour’ outside the UK, i.e. blanched  very finely ground almonds).

This time Deb at maple spice came to the rescue with her beautiful Greek-style Orzo Bake.


This was so delicious and incredibly easy to put together. Just a matter of cooking up your pasta and spinach and combining with some fresh herbs- I went for basil as that’s what I had on hand- and the quick almond feta which is simply: blended ground almonds, lemon juice, garlic, salt, water + a little olive oil, then baking it in the oven for 30mins.

As I’m just cooking for me I divided the recipe by 3 (the amount of almonds I had left was exactly right!), and it gave me two small-ish but filling portions.

As Deb says, the recipe is very adaptable, you can mix up the herbs and add other veggies. I prefer to cook with whole grains and whole wheat orzo is quite hard to find over here so I’m thinking I might try it with brown rice next time and also add more basil and some chopped sun-dried tomatoes too.


As this was so quick I mixed up Deb’s mustard-dill vinaigrette for a little side salad too. Nice and tangy, just how I like it.

Do pop over to maple spice and take a look, there’s a whole host of fab recipes over there.

Hope you’re having a lovely weekend and the sun is shining in your part of the world!