It has been HOT in Johannesburg lately. The temperature just seems to be climbing, and consequently, energy levels and appetites decline sharply. I’m not sure if it works this way for everyone else too, but when it is hot, I eat because I have to, not because I am hungry. Consequently, yesterday by the time 5 o’ clock rolled around and I had to start prepping dinner, I was at a loss. Following a series of major flops this week (including unappealing pancakes that stuck to the bottom of the pan and tofu stir fry which I am sure did not contain 100% fresh tofu) my inspiration levels were low.
Just as I was about to suggest eating salad and toast for dinner, I realised I needed to run to the shops for bread and thankfully, as I was perusing the fresh produce aisle inspiration – in the form of big black braai mushrooms – hit! Suddenly excited and forgetting all about my complaints of not being hungry and thinking dinner was a silly idea, I rushed home and started prepping what you see before you today – creamy, slightly spicy cashew sauce mixed into carrot, beetroot and baby marrow vegetable ‘fettuccini’, topped with saucy black braai mushrooms and rocket. Flavourful, fresh and most of all, light enough to not leave you feeling like you have to digest a rock, this is a perfect summer evening meal for two. I also imagine it might make an excellent starter when served alongside a heavier meal on a cold winter day.
BRAAI MUSHROOMS AND CREAMY VEGETABLE FETTUCINI
For the fettucini and cashew sauce
- 4 baby marrows
- 2 medium carrots
- 1 medium sized beetroot
- 1/2 onion
- Rocket to taste
- 1 cup cashews (I used roasted and unsalted)
- 1 tbsp lemon juice (preferably fresh)
- 3/4 cup water
- 1/2 tsp parpika
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (or to taste)
- 1 tbsp nutritional yeast (I used Health Connection’s brand – available at Dischem)
- 1 tsp garlic
For the mushrooms and frying sauce
- 1 punnet of braai mushrooms
- 1 tbsp thick soy sauce
- 1 tbsp normal soy sauce
- 1 – 2 tsp Worcester sauce
- 1 tbsp molasses
- 1/4 tsp chili (or cayenne pepper if you do not enjoy the spicy chili taste)
- 1 tsp garlic
- 1 tsp mixed herbs
- salt and pepper to taste
- Blend the cashews along with the water and lemon juice for about 30 seconds – until creamy .
- Whilst blending, add the nutritional yeast, paprika, cayenne pepper, black pepper and salt. I like using a fair amount of black pepper as it enhances the flavour of the sauce. The nutritional yeast is also a great addition as it gives the sauce a ‘cheesy’ taste. This sauce is similar in taste and texture to those white sauces served over steaks and chicken schnitzels.
- Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.
- Decant sauce into a bowl and set aside for later use.
- Peel the carrots using a handheld vegetable peeler. Once peeled, use the peeler to cut the carrot into thin, long strips – they should resemble fettucini pasta.
- Repeat this procedure with the baby marrows – but keep the skin of the marrows as part of the ‘pasta’ too.
- Repeat procedure with the beetroot (you may find it easier to just grate the beetroot – this can work too)
Mushroom frying sauce
- Simply mix the thick soy sauce, normal soy sauce, Worcester sauce, molasses, garlic and chili together and set aside.
Once all the prep work has been done, you can start putting the meal together (do not worry – the prep work is the most time consuming part. Once that is done, cooking is a breeze).
1. In an electric frying pan or large non-stick pan, heat a bit of avocado or coconut oil.
2. Add the chopped onion and saute until translucent.
3. Adjust the heat to a medium-low setting and add the braai mushrooms, placing them with stems facing upward. Add the mixed herbs and allow to fry for a minute or two.
4. Pour the mushroom frying sauce over the mushrooms and fry for another few minutes – be careful not to let the mushrooms stick to the bottom of the pan.
5. If using an electric frying pan, fit the lid on and allow to cook for 2-3 min or until the mushrooms start producing water.
6. Remove mushrooms from the pan and set aside, keeping the sauce and onions in the pan.
7. Next, add the 1 tsp of garlic and the vegetable fettucini. Stir fry the vegetables in this sauce for about two minutes, making sure to coat them with the sauce in the pan.
8. Remove the pan from the heat and add 3/4 of the cashew cream sauce to the vegetables. Mix well.
9. Dish the vegetables into plates, place the braai mushrooms on top and garnish with some fresh rocket and the remaining cashew sauce.
Note: This recipe makes two servings – with (sadly) no potential to return for seconds. It is a light summer meal. If you would like to cook for more people, I would recommend doubling the recipe.