If you follow me on social media, you might be aware that in 2022 I started working with a certified plant-based nutritionist and fitness coach, Belinda Lagasi. My entire approach in the kitchen has changed under her guidance, and I’ve increased the amount of real vegetables and plant-based proteins I’m eating by more than I can really even account for. Every single meal has at least 2-3 “big handfuls” of vegetables included, according to her guidelines. Most of my meals are oil-free, high protein, moderate in carbs, and low in fat. Of course I am still the force behind Bake and Destroy, so I never deny myself a sweet treat or some comfort food when I want it. But I’ve learned to love vegetables in their purest form in a way I wish I had much earlier in my vegan journey.
So, that brings us to Plant-Based Delicious, a new cookbook from Ashley Madden. This book revists comfort food favorites like pasta, casseroles, and chocolate chip cookies but with a focus on wholesome ingredients, and all of the recipes are gluten-free as well as oil-free. When you’re trying to eat your veggies, I mean really eat them, it’s easy to get stuck in a rut of salads and stir fries. So I love all of the creative recipes in this book that both feature vegetables – like this Mediterranean Cauliflower Casserole – and, sneak them in where you don’t expect them, as in the case of Double Chocolate Chip Chickpea Cookies.
I’m really excited about the Mediterranean flavors in this casserole – olives, tahini, oregano and parsley. For my own macros, I would probably replace the chickpeas with seitan (which isn’t gluten-free) but that’s what’s great about a smart recipe – it should inspire you to make it your own.
Absolutely check out this book if you’re looking for better-for-you plant-based recipes, and follow Ashley on Instagram at @riseshinecook for more inspiration.
Mediterranean Cauliflower Casserole
For the Casserole:
- 4 cups (400 g) bite-sized cauliflower florets
- 1 large red onion thinly sliced
- 1 red or yellow bell pepper seeded, stemmed and cut into 1˝ [2.5-cm] pieces
- 1 cup (100 g ) pitted black or green olives, sliced if desired
- 1 ½ cups (255 g ) cooked or canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup (30 g ) baby spinach
- 1 cup (180 g ) uncooked millet or white quinoa
For the Sauce:
- ⅓ cup (80 g ) stirred tahini
- ⅓ cup (80 ml ) fresh lemon juice
- 3 large cloves garlic crushed and peeled
- 1 tbsp (15 ml ) red wine vinegar
- tsp(2 g ) dried oregano
- 1 tsp dried parsley
- ¾ cup (175 ml ) water
- 1 tbsp (8 g) arrowroot starch
- ¼ tsp sea salt or to taste
- Pinch of black pepper
- 1 small bunch fresh mint
- 2 tbsp (16 g ) sesame seeds
- Lemon wedges
- Preheat the oven to 425ºF (220ºC).
- Start with the casserole: Put the cauliflower, onion, bell pepper, olives and chickpeas in a 9 x 13–inch (23 x 33–cm) casserole dish.
- Make the tahini sauce: In a blender, combine the tahini, lemon juice, garlic, vinegar, oregano, parsley, water, arrowroot, salt and pepper, and blend until smooth. Pour the sauce over the vegetables in the casserole. Stir to coat all the veggies, then cover tightly with tinfoil.
- Roast in the oven for 60 minutes, stirring once around the 40-minute mark. It’s done when the cauliflower is fork-tender and the sauce is bubbling.
- When about 20 minutes are left on the casserole, cook the millet according to the package directions. Once cooked, fluff with a fork and cover until needed.
- When the casserole is ready, remove it from the oven and stir in the spinach. Cover again for a few minutes to let the greens wilt. Taste and reseason with salt, if needed.
- Spoon the millet into bowls and top with the casserole. Garnish with mint and sesame seeds and serve with a lemon wedge.
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