Stuffed Aubergines with Mozzarella & Tomato

A delicious summery dinner you can make as a vegetarian centrepiece for dinner parties or even a weeknight meal. These aubergines are stuffed with a tomato sauce filled with capers and shallot, fresh mozzarella cheese and breadcrumbs. These taste almost like a classic aubergine parmigiana but (a) a lot prettier and (b) a lot easier to make (no frying involved = much less hassle). I know aubergine skins can often become tough and chewy when baked but here, they are soft and melty! The inner aubergine flesh is scooped out and cooked into the tomato sauce which makes it silky smooth and means you don’t waste any part of it. I think these are the perfect thing to make for a Summer-y yet comforting meal and are a bit fancy looking too so are great for when guests come round. Serve them up as a starter (just 1/2 an aub per person) or a main (1 aub per person) with a side salad & some bread.

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a plate of stuffed aubergine halves with tomato, mozzarella and basil

A delicious summery dinner you can make as a vegetarian centrepiece for dinner parties or even a weeknight meal. These aubergines are stuffed with a tomato sauce filled with capers and shallot, fresh mozzarella cheese and breadcrumbs.

stuffed aubergine half with mozzarella, tomato and basil

These taste almost like a classic aubergine parmigiana but (a) a lot prettier and (b) a lot easier to make (no frying involved = much less hassle). I know aubergine skins can often become tough and chewy when baked but here, they are soft and melty! The inner aubergine flesh is scooped out and cooked into the tomato sauce which makes it silky smooth and means you don’t waste any part of it.

I think these are the perfect thing to make for a Summer-y yet comforting meal and are a bit fancy looking too so are great for when guests come round. Serve them up as a starter (just 1/2 an aub per person) or a main (1 aub per person) with a side salad & some bread.

Stuffed Aubergines with Mozzarella & Tomato

Stuffed Aubergines with Mozzarella & Tomato

Yield: serves 2-4
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 medium aubergines
  • olive oil, for drizzling
  • salt
  • 1 shallot (or 1/2 small onion), finely diced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 200g (7 ounces or ~4 medium) tomatoes, roughly diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp capers (optional)
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 4 Ryvita dark rye breads
  • 25g (1/2 cup) Pecorino or Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 3 sprigs thyme, leaves picked
  • black pepper
  • 125g ball fresh mozzarella, drained and diced
  • fresh basil/thyme leaves for garnish

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 180C fan (350F).
  2. Cut the aubergines in half down their lengths. Use a spoon to scoop out the centre flesh of the aubergine leaving a 1cm thick border. Save the flesh for later.
  3. Place the aubergine halves on a baking tray, cut side up, and drizzle with some olive oil. Use a pastry brush or your fingers to spread it around over the cut surface of the aubergine and sprinkle with a pinch of salt.
  4. Bake for ~20 minutes until soft.
  5. Roughly chop up the aubergine flesh from earlier. Set aside for now.
  6. Heat a large non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. Add the chopped aubergine flesh and a pinch of salt to the dry pan. Cook until the aubergine has shrunk and is starting to brown then add 1 tbsp olive oil and cook for a few minutes more to help the aubergine soften.
  7. Add the shallot and cook, stirring, until translucent (~5 minutes). Next stir in the tomato and garlic. Finally stir in the balsamic vinegar, capers and tomato paste. Take it off the heat and set aside.
  8. Place the ryvita rye breads into a sandwich bag and bash them up until broken down to the size of small breadcrumbs. Mix with the pecorino, thyme leaves and a few grinds of black pepper in a bowl and set aside.


Assemble and bake:

  1. Take your baked aubergine halves from earlier. Place a spoonful of the tomato mixture into the base of each half and spread out into an even layer. Top with a layer of diced mozzarella and a layer of the ryvita mixture. Repeat this layering once more to use all the remaining tomato/mozzarella/breadcrumb mixture.
  2. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and bake for a further ~30 minutes until the cheese has melted and they're golden and bubbling.
  3. Sprinkle with some fresh thyme/basil if you like and serve hot.

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Crispy Rice Salad (Vegan)

This post was sponsored by Tropical Sun – thanks for supporting this blog! The zingy flavours in this salad make it perfect as a light side dish (or lunch) with some fresh Thai flavours. This recipe is inspired by a mixture between a dish called Nam Khao (Lao crispy rice salad) and a crispy rice salad served at the restaurant Sqirl. The recipe uses day-old rice as it is drier than the fresh stuff and thus fries up very well! When trying to make this with freshly cooked rice, I encountered some issues with spluttering oil due to the remaining water on the surface. I did find that drying out the rice in the oven for 15 minutes helped a lot with this so if you’re in a rush, that is always an option. I used the Tropical Sun USA easy cook rice here as I liked that the grains are slightly chubby. This produces a nice crispy, puffy texture once fried – ideal for this salad. The rest of the salad is quite simple, the remaining rice is fried with some ginger, spring onion and cabbage. Then a simple dressing based on lime juice is poured over everything and […]

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an overhead view of a bowl of crispy rice salad with lime wedges and thinly sliced red onion

This post was sponsored by Tropical Sun – thanks for supporting this blog!

The zingy flavours in this salad make it perfect as a light side dish (or lunch) with some fresh Thai flavours. This recipe is inspired by a mixture between a dish called Nam Khao (Lao crispy rice salad) and a crispy rice salad served at the restaurant Sqirl.

The recipe uses day-old rice as it is drier than the fresh stuff and thus fries up very well! When trying to make this with freshly cooked rice, I encountered some issues with spluttering oil due to the remaining water on the surface. I did find that drying out the rice in the oven for 15 minutes helped a lot with this so if you’re in a rush, that is always an option. I used the Tropical Sun USA easy cook rice here as I liked that the grains are slightly chubby. This produces a nice crispy, puffy texture once fried – ideal for this salad.

a bowl of vegan crispy rice salad with red onion, tropical sun rice and lime wedges

The rest of the salad is quite simple, the remaining rice is fried with some ginger, spring onion and cabbage. Then a simple dressing based on lime juice is poured over everything and tossed together. I add thinly sliced red onion on top (you can leave this out if you’re averse to raw onion) as well as a lot of fresh coriander & mint for that light, bright flavour. This one is best assembled when you want to eat it but you can prep everything ahead (the crispy rice will keep in an airtight container overnight at room temp).

Crispy Rice Salad (Vegan)

Crispy Rice Salad (Vegan)

Yield: serves 4
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

Ingredients

  • 200g (1 cup) Tropical Sun USA easy cook rice
  • Tropical sun vegetable oil, for frying
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, finely grated
  • 1/2 head cabbage (sweetheart, white or red)
  • 2 spring onions, roughly chopped
  • 1 large carrot, grated

Dressing:

  • 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon vegan 'fish' sauce (or light sauce)(Can also use standard fish sauce, if not vegan/veggie)
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon Tropical Sun agave syrup
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed

Garnish:

  • Large handful fresh coriander, roughly chopped
  • Handful fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced

Instructions

  1. Cook the rice according to the directions on the package. Once cooked, drain to make sure there’s no water left. Spread the rice out on a baking tray and allow to cool completely at room temperature. Leave overnight (or for at least 1 hour) in the fridge to dry out.
  2. The next day, pour enough oil into a large frying pan to cover the base of it generously. Heat over a medium-high heat. Test the temperature by dropping a grain of rice into the oil, if it starts to bubble it is ready.
  3. Turn the heat down to medium-low then take a handful of rice and add it to the oil. Stand back as the oil will bubble up and may spit. Once the rice has reached a golden colour, remove from the oil with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with some paper kitchen towel. Repeat this two more times so you have about 3 handfuls of crispy rice.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat and decant most of the oil into a heatproof container, leaving some oil in the pan.
  5. Return the pan to the heat. Add the ginger and cook over a medium-low heat for 1 minute. Add the cabbage and cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring often, until softened slightly. Add the remaining cooled rice, the spring onions and grated carrot and stir together in the pan on the heat.
  6. In a jug, mix all of the dressing ingredients together. Pour over the rice and vegetables in the pan and stir to coat.
  7. Tip the contents of the pan out onto a serving dish. Top with the crispy rice, coriander, mint and red onion. Eat warm .

Notes

This recipe requires cooked and cooled rice. It's important that the rice is cooled as quickly as possible once cooked to reduce the possibility of getting food poisoning. This is why I recommend spread it out on a tray to increase the surface area so the rice can cool quickly.

If you’re finding that the oil is spitting excessively when frying, the rice is still too moist. You need to dry it out a bit more before frying. To do this, transfer the tray of rice to an oven heated to 100 C and let it toast for 10-15 minutes in there, stirring occasionally, until it feels dry.

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I’d love to see how it went! Tag me on instagram @izyhossack and hashtag it #topwithcinnamon so I can have a look & reshare in my stories!

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Brussels Sprouts with Chestnuts & Smoky Olives

Come Christmas or Thanksgiving, these crisp, golden Brussels sprouts will always be a favourite. My mum used to make sauteed brussels sprouts with chestnuts, juniper and bacon when I was growing up. The pairing of sprouts and chestnuts is so classic and for good reason – the sweet, creamy chestnuts match perfectly with the earthy sprouts. I pan roast my sprouts here so they get golden and caramelised but still have bite to them (NO soggy sprouts allowed!!!). Instead of bacon, I opted for a salty olive to offset the sweetness, cooked in a smoky, spicy chipotle paste for that almost meaty flavour. I do love a Nocellara olive for their sweet, buttery flavour but you can also use a more bitter, black olive (like I’ve done here with Moroccan dried olives) or even capers if that’s your jam.

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Close up of pan roasted Brussels Sprouts with chestnuts and smoky olives

Come Christmas or Thanksgiving, these crisp, golden Brussels sprouts will always be a favourite.

My mum used to make sauteed brussels sprouts with chestnuts, juniper and bacon when I was growing up. The pairing of sprouts and chestnuts is so classic and for good reason – the sweet, creamy chestnuts match perfectly with the earthy sprouts.

A bowl of roasted Brussels Sprouts with chestnuts and smoky olives on a table

I pan roast my sprouts here so they get golden and caramelised but still have bite to them (NO soggy sprouts allowed!!!). Instead of bacon, I opted for a salty olive to offset the sweetness, cooked in a smoky, spicy chipotle paste for that almost meaty flavour. I do love a Nocellara olive for their sweet, buttery flavour but you can also use a more bitter, black olive (like I’ve done here with Moroccan dried olives) or even capers if that’s your jam.

Pan Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Chestnuts & Smoky Olives

Pan Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Chestnuts & Smoky Olives

Yield: serves 4 to 6
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 500g (1lb 2 ounces) Brussels sprouts
  • 2 tbsp refined olive oil
  • salt
  • 100g (heaped 1/2 cup) cooked, peeled chestnuts
  • 50g (heaped 1/4 cup) your favourite olives, pits removed, roughly torn (see notes)
  • 1 tsp chipotle chilli paste (I use Gran Luchito) (see notes)

Instructions

  1. Trim the bases off the Brussels sprouts and cut them in half. Remove any gross outer leaves.
  2. Heat 1 tbsp of the olive oil in a large frying pan (I like to use cast iron here) over a medium-low heat. Add the Brussels sprouts in a single layer, cut side down - you'll probably need to do cook them in two batches. Let them sit, undisturbed, until golden underneath (about 5 minutes). Flip and let cook until tender (roughly a further 5 minutes). If they still seem too crisp, cover with a lid and let cook on low for another 1-2 minutes to soften. Tip into the serving dish.
  3. Return the pan to the heat, add the remaining olive oil and cook the rest of the sprouts, as before adding them to the serving dish too.
  4. Return the pan to the heat and add the cooked chestnuts. Cook on high for a minute or so just to warm through, then scatter over the sprouts in the serving dish.
  5. Return the pan to the heat. Add the torn olives and the chipotle paste and cook, stirring constantly, until coated and hot. Scatter over the sprouts in the serving dish and serve.

Notes

- For the olives, I really like Nocellara olives as they are juicy, sweet & buttery. If you prefer something deeper, try using 'dried' olives - they usually come in a jar without brine/oil and look slightly wrinkled. They have a more bitter flavour and chewier texture to them.

- An alternative to the chilli paste is 1 tsp smoked paprika.

Have you made this recipe?
I’d love to see how it went! Tag me on instagram @izyhossack and hashtag it #topwithcinnamon so I can have a look & reshare in my stories!

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Simple Garlicky Vegan Sourdough Stuffing

Stuffing is always a popular Thanksgiving side dish, isn’t it? Basically just crispy pieces of bread intertwined with chunks of delicious veg. Almost like a warm panzanella! This vegan version is just as good – I cook down leeks and garlic until soft and sweet to fold into the crusty sourdough chunks. Then the whole thing is covered with herby broth and dotted with salty soy-coated mushrooms for those who you know might miss the meat! Other than that it’s a simple affair as that helps it pair really well with all the other side dishes you have at a roast (and definitely goes well with gravy!). The most extravagant part really is the decent amount of garlic I add whiiiich basically makes it into a big ol tray of garlic bread. Other vegan Thanksgiving recipes Vegan Pecan Pie Vegan Cauliflower Cheese Gratin Brussels Sprouts with Chestnuts & Smoky Olives Hassleback Squash with Garlic-Sage Butter

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A close up of a dish of vegan sourdough stuffing with leeks and soy-sauce mushrooms

Stuffing is always a popular Thanksgiving side dish, isn’t it? Basically just crispy pieces of bread intertwined with chunks of delicious veg. Almost like a warm panzanella!

A dish of sourdough vegan stuffing on a table

This vegan version is just as good – I cook down leeks and garlic until soft and sweet to fold into the crusty sourdough chunks. Then the whole thing is covered with herby broth and dotted with salty soy-coated mushrooms for those who you know might miss the meat! Other than that it’s a simple affair as that helps it pair really well with all the other side dishes you have at a roast (and definitely goes well with gravy!). The most extravagant part really is the decent amount of garlic I add whiiiich basically makes it into a big ol tray of garlic bread.

Other vegan Thanksgiving recipes

Simple Vegan Garlicky Sourdough Stuffing

Simple Vegan Garlicky Sourdough Stuffing

Yield: serves 4
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp olive oil, divided (plus extra for greasing + drizzling)
  • 1 large leek, cleaned, sliced into 1 cm (1/2 inch) coins
  • 5 large (or 7-10 medium/small) cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 200g (7 ounces) shiitake or chestnut mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 tsp ground white pepper
  • 1 tbsp dark soy sauce or tamari
  • 250ml (1 cup) hot vegetable stock/broth
  • 1 sprig rosemary, leaves picked and finely chopped
  • 3 sprigs thyme, leaves picked
  • 7 cups (300g) sourdough bread, cut into 3cm (1 inch) cubes

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C (400F) and grease a medium roasting dish (around 1.5 litre capacity) with a bit of extra olive oil.
  2. Heat 1 tbsp of the olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the coins of sliced leek and season with a pinch of salt. Stir to coat with oil and turn the heat to low. Leave to cook for 5-10 minutes, stirring every now and then, until soft. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 more minute. Tip the cooked leeks and garlic into a large bowl.
  3. Place the frying pan back on the heat and add the mushrooms to the pan with a pinch of salt. Allow to cook, stirring often, until most of the water has been drawn out and evaporated from the mushrooms. Once you see them start to brown, add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, the white pepper and soy sauce and let cook until reduced and dry. Set aside to cool.
  4. To the bowl of leeks add the vegetable broth, rosemary, thyme and bread cubes. Stir to allow the bread to soak up the liquid. Tip into the prepared roasting dish. Dot with spoonfuls of the soy sauce mushrooms. Drizzle with a bit of extra olive oil.
  5. Bake for 25-35 minutes until the top is crisp and starting to brown. Serve hot.

Notes

To make ahead:

Prepare up until just before you bake it. Cover the dish (I just use a baking sheet to cover it) and place in the fridge for up to 2 days. Uncover and bake straight from the fridge, no need to bring to room temperature.

Have you made this recipe?
I’d love to see how it went! Tag me on instagram @izyhossack and hashtag it #topwithcinnamon so I can have a look & reshare in my stories!

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Vegan Cauliflower Cheese Gratin

This creamy, vegan ‘cheese’ sauce is the perfect base for steamed cauliflower and broccoli to reinvent the British classic Cauliflower Cheese. A crispy topping of breadcrumbs makes it even better!! The sauce is based off of one by Kenji at Serious Eats – I changed it to suit my tastes and I’ve used it multiple times now to make vegan mac and cheese. I think the addition of a few key things really helps. Firstly, the potato helps give the sauce a thickness and stretchiness that you can’t get from a flour-based roux. It’s the blending action on the potato that really makes this work. Secondly, adding a bit blob of something salty & savoury – my favourite is marmite and I have to say, I haven’t even been the biggest fan of marmite in the past. This sauce has changed my mind. Lastly, a bit of acidity & sweetness from the mustard (I use the French’s yellow mustard as it’s quite neutral but sweet) and apple cider vinegar. All of that together helps to create that faux cheesy effect and without having to resort to using pre-made vegan cheese (most of which smells kinda weird). Anyway, I used this […]

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A tray of vegan cauliflower cheese gratin with a pair of hands holding it

This creamy, vegan ‘cheese’ sauce is the perfect base for steamed cauliflower and broccoli to reinvent the British classic Cauliflower Cheese. A crispy topping of breadcrumbs makes it even better!!

The sauce is based off of one by Kenji at Serious Eats – I changed it to suit my tastes and I’ve used it multiple times now to make vegan mac and cheese. I think the addition of a few key things really helps. Firstly, the potato helps give the sauce a thickness and stretchiness that you can’t get from a flour-based roux. It’s the blending action on the potato that really makes this work. Secondly, adding a bit blob of something salty & savoury – my favourite is marmite and I have to say, I haven’t even been the biggest fan of marmite in the past. This sauce has changed my mind. Lastly, a bit of acidity & sweetness from the mustard (I use the French’s yellow mustard as it’s quite neutral but sweet) and apple cider vinegar. All of that together helps to create that faux cheesy effect and without having to resort to using pre-made vegan cheese (most of which smells kinda weird).

Anyway, I used this for a vegan Christmas dinner I did last year for my friends and it went down super well with everyone! I added the breadcrumbs for a crispy top but if you’re coeliac, just leave them off or use GF ones instead!

Other vegan Thanksgiving recipes:

Vegan Cauliflower Cheese Gratin

Vegan Cauliflower Cheese Gratin

Yield: serves 4
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

A super creamy & tangy vegan 'cheddar cheese' sauce coating steamed cauliflower and tenderstem broccoli, with a crispy breadcrumb topping.

Ingredients

For the vegan 'cheese' sauce:

  • 60ml (1/4 cup) extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 white onion, finely sliced
  • 120g (~3/4 cup) peeled, cubed potato
  • 130g (1 cup) cashews
  • 375g (1 1/2 cups) water
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic granules
  • 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tbsp marmite, soy sauce or miso (my fave is marmite)
  • 1 tbsp yellow mustard
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
  • Salt
  • Black pepper

For the gratin:

  • 1 medium head cauliflower, cut into medium florets
  • 150g (5.4 ounces) tenderstem broccoli (optional)
  • 3 tbsp breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil

Instructions

    For the 'cheese' sauce:

    1. Heat 4 tbsp of the olive oil in a large pot over a
      medium-low heat. Add the onion to the pot and saute until it starts to brown
      slightly – about 10 minutes. Add the potato, cashews, water, smoked paprika,
      garlic granules, nutritional yeast, soy sauce/miso, and mustard to the pot.
    2. Bring to the boil and turn down to simmer – leave for 15
      minutes so that the potatoes and cashews can soften.
    3. Pour the contents of the pot into the jug of a high-speed
      blender along with the apple cider vinegar and blitz until completely smooth,
      adding more water as needed to get the right sauce texture (I added about 250ml/1 cup to get it thin enough). Taste and season
      with salt and black pepper.


    For the gratin:

    1. Preheat your oven grill to a medium heat and place an oven rack in the top third of the oven.
    2. Pour a few cm (1-2 inch) depth of water into a large pot and set over a high heat on the stove. Once the water is boiling, add the cauliflower and broccoli to the pot. Cover with a lid, turn down the heat to low, and let the veg steam for 4 minutes until tender but still with firmness to it.
    3. Drain the veg and add to a roasting dish. Pour over the 'cheese' sauce and stir to coat. Mix the breadcrumbs and oil in a small bowl until coated then scatter this over the vegetables.
    4. Place under the grill in the oven and watch carefully. You want the breadcrumbs to toast and the sauce to brown slightly. This should take around 5 minutes but will depend on your grill.
    5. Once finished, remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before serving.





Notes

To make ahead:

  1. Prep the sauce and store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
  2. Prep the veg and, once steamed, store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
  3. When ready to assemble: Gently warm the sauce with an added splash of water, in a small pot on the stove, stirring often until hot. Toss with the cold vegetables in a roasting dish and continue with the recipe as usual.


To make gluten free:

Use gluten free breadcrumbs for the topping

Have you made this recipe?
I’d love to see how it went! Tag me on instagram @izyhossack and hashtag it #topwithcinnamon so I can have a look & reshare in my stories!

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