Pesto Coated Cannellini Beans & Gluten Free Vegan Gravy - two simple sauces for when you're in a hurry

No, you don't eat these together silly;) Actually, these are just two recipes I've made in the last week that were particularly memorable, so I thought I'd share them with you.

The pesto coated cannellini beans were made for a quick lunch, which I served alongside a simple bulgar wheat salad consisting of cubed cucumber, peeled broad beans, spring onions, raisins and chopped parsley. I squeezed in some lemon juice, olive oil and seasoned generously with salt and pepper. Oh, and I almost forgot, I added a little cumin, cinnamon and chilli powder to the bulgar wheat before soaking it in freshly boiled water - I find bulgar wheat can be a little bland if spices and herbs aren't added at this stage.

Right then. The pesto. I heart it.

Traditional pesto is, of course, made with the inclusion of parmesan cheese, so when I first became vegan I thought my pesto days were over and that was a difficult pill to swallow. As my knowledge of veganism grew I soon learned that pesto need not be off limits and really and truly the parmesan isn't as crucial as you might be led to believe.

Since then I've made a bucket load of the stuff and used it in all manner of dishes. It's such a great standby sauce that can be whipped up in seconds, so I use it frequently and liberally.

Ditto gravy. Love it, love it, love it.

Coming into these colder months (it's happening already - ugh) I plan on making a lot gravies and wholesome, hearty meals - perfect for warming those cockles on a blustery autumn evening.

This gluten free gravy was simply outrageous and so incredibly easy - I'm talking a few effortless minutes and et voila, you have a lusciously smooth flavourful sauce that is ideal for use in a multitude of meals. I just so happened to have a couple of vegan schnitzel's in the freezer and I thought some mashed tatties and boiled cabbage (I'm a sucker for boiled cabbage - don't judge!) would go nicely - and it did. Oh my goodness, was this tasty. Tas.ty.

Bonus that it happens to be a b12 fest! Nutritional yeast flakes and yeast extract - essential ingredients for your vegan cupboard and lifestyle. Don't be skimping on that b12 intake, ya hear?!

So, if you're stuck for time but still want something a bit special, both of these recipes are the perfect way to bring a little pizzazz to lunch or dinner.

pesto coated cannellini beans

ingredients

2 tablespoons pine nuts (you could also use walnuts)

1/4 cup (packed) fresh basil leaves

1 garlic clove

juice 1/2 lemon

3 tablespoons olive oil

salt and pepper

1 1/2 cups of cooked cannellini beans

Drain and rinse the cannellini beans and set aside.

Place all the pesto ingredients (pine nuts, basil leaves, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and salt & pepper) into a hand blender and blitz until fully combined - it shouldn't be completely smooth.

Transfer the cannellini beans to a bowl and season with a little salt and pepper - this will make a difference. Then stir through the pesto ensuring the beans are completely coated. Set in fridge to allow the flavours to amalgamate or eat immediately. I had enough for two lunches.

gluten free vegan gravy

1 heaped tsp vegan vegetable granules or 1 stock cube

2 tbsp gluten free flour (gluten free mix or rice flour)

1 tbsp soy sauce (or shoyu/tamari)

1 tbsp vegan Worcester sauce

1 tbsp marmite or other nutritional yeast extract

1 tbsp agave or other vegan sweetener (except maple syrup)

2/3 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes

2 cups water

Place everything into a shallow pan - I actually used a deep frying pan/skillet - and whisk all the ingredients together.

Bring to a gentle boil and keep whisking until there are no lumps. Turn down the heat and allow the sauce to simmer and thicken - this take between five to ten minutes. Stir frequently - whisking if it becomes to thick and clumpy.

The gravy should be ready to serve in 15-20 minutes. If it isn't thickening how you'd hope then add another tablespoon of flour and whisk vigorously to incorporate. Likewise, if it is too thick for your taste, thin it out with a little water.

Can be used in a range of dishes but especially good with mashed potato!