Tag Archives: nori

Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free at Saf Restaurant & Bar

Saf cashew cheese

Zoe at Saf

Peter, Zoё and I went to Saf Restaurant Kensington recently. Located on the first floor of Whole Foods, Kensington, this “Botanical Fine-Dining Restaurant” serves up delicious, contemporary raw and vegan food, next to the other food outlets. Ever since I went to Saf in Old Street with a friend, I’ve been a huge fan. I’ve been to the Kensington branch, too, and this time I took Peter and Zoё. I knew that Peter would like the food but I hadn’t realised how much Zoё would, too!

We had a truly delicious meal – full of wonderful flavours and textures, which is a real feat for a restaurant that produces many of the meals as raw food. We started with the raw, gluten-free Pesto au Poivre (basil pesto between layers of their signature cashew cheese with a dehydrated pink peppercorn crust, served with rocket salad, raw flax seed crackers and drizzled with balsamic glaze) and raw, gluten-free Dolmades (vine leaves filled with cauliflower rice, pine nuts, cumink, lemon juice and dill served with vegan yogurt and cucumber dip). The Pesto au Poivre was awesome – bright colours, and a delicious combination of flavours. And the Dolmades was lovely, too. Cauliflower rice is one of those things that has to be tried to be believed – because it really does taste great.

Saf vine leaves

Then we had the iconic raw, gluten-free Saf Pad Thai (carrot, courgette and mangetout noodles, sprouted lentils, mung bean, enoki mushrooms, spicy cashews, tossed in their chipotle almond sauce topped with fresh coriander and chilies) and gluten-free Slow Roasted Vegetable Farinata (slow roasted peppers, courgette and tomatoes in a chickpea farinata crêpe served with lemon-tarragon aioli and salad). The Pad Thai was as amazing as it always is – full of vivid colours and flavours, and the Farinata was a lovely comfort-food recipe, with a delicious edge from the aioli.

Saf pad thai

Saf farinata

The really wonderful thing, though, was how much Zoё enjoyed the meal. She does like things like sushi, seaweed, veggies, nuts and salad. But she also loves things like chips and tomato ketchup, so this wasn’t a foregone conclusion, by any means. But she helped herself to my flax seed crackers, to Peter’s nori and then nabbed his plate of Pad Thai and sat happily trying everything. I’m sure the beautiful colours in the dishes made them enticing, but perhaps this shows that you don’t have to be a raw/vegan food fan to enjoy this food – that literally everyone can!

Zoe and Peter at Saf

Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Sushi from Renée Elliott’s Me, You & the Kids, Too

Zoe loves nori which is great because it’s amazingly good for you. Like other sea vegetables, it is high in B vitamins, beta-carotene, calcium, iron and zinc, so it is brilliant at boosting your immune system. And it’s particularly high in vitamin A which helps prevent colds and sore throats, as well as maintaining healthy skin. She’ll eat the sheets of nori by themselves (and I’m inwardly cheering as she nibbles all those fantastic nutrients!) and is particularly keen on having it as sushi, especially with this avocado/mayonnaise filling.

I used to make sushi the more standard way, by rolling the nori over the filling and then cutting each roll into pieces. But then Renée Elliott showed me how easy hand rolls are to make – in fact, you can put all the ingredients on the table and let everyone (kids included) make their own rolls. This recipe is adapted from Renée’s latest book, Me, You & the Kids, Too – you can use any combination of veggies – we used the cucumber and carrots we had in the fridge this time (and added extra avocado), instead of the asparagus, sprouts and beetroot in Renée’s recipe.

The additional bonus about this recipe (like all the recipes in Me, You & the Kids Too) is that you can also make nutrient-dense purées for your baby, from this recipe. There’s no need for additional ingredients, you just take from the main amount. And bingo – a meal that feeds all. However, as Zoe told me this morning (on her first day at nursery/school), she’s not my baby any longer. So no more purées for her… Sob!

gluten-free, wheat-free, yeast-free, dairy-free, soya-free, nut-free, seed-free

Makes: 20     Preparation time: 20 minutes, plus 40 minutes cooking the brown sushi rice     Cooking time: 5 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 10 asparagus, woody ends removed and halved
  • 40 green beans, trimmed
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 200g/7oz/1 cup brown sushi rice or brown short grain rice
  • 10 nori sheets, halved lengthways
  • 12 tbsp wasabi (optional)
  • 1 beetroot, grated
  • 50g/134oz sprouts such as alfalfa, broccoli or mung (optional)

For the sauce:

  • 2 avocados, peeled, pitted and mashed
  • 2 tbsp mayonnaise
  1. Put the rice and 455ml/16fl oz/scant 2 cups water in a saucepan and bring to the boil over a high heat. Turn the heat down to low and simmer, covered, for 40 minutes until the rice is just cooked but still retains a slight bite.
  2. Put the asparagus and green beans in a steamer and steam, covered, for 5 minutes until the vegetables are cooked but still slightly crunchy. Add the salt to the cooked brown sushi rice and mix well.
  3. To make the sauce, mix together the avocados and mayonnaise in a bowl until smooth.
  4. To make a hand roll, spread 1 tablespoon of the sauce diagonally down the centre of one nori sheet, then add a little wasabi on top, if using. Put 1 tablespoon of the cooked brown sushi rice, 1 piece of asparagus, 2 green beans and 1 tablespoon each of the beetroot and sprouts, if using, on top of the sauce. Take the nori sheet in your hand and roll into a cone shape. Repeat with the remaining ingredients and serve.

Green bean, Avocado & Rice Purée for a 6–9 month old baby

  • Put 4 tablespoons of the cooked brown sushi rice and 135ml/4½fl oz/generous ½ cup boiling water in a saucepan and simmer, covered, over a low heat for 10 minutes. Add 4 green beans and cook, covered, for a further 10 minutes until completely soft. Transfer to a blender and add 2 tablespoons of the avocado and 3 tablespoons water. Blend for 30 seconds, adding extra water 1 teaspoon at a time, until smooth. Serve warm.

Vegetables, Avocado, Sprouts, Beetroot & Rice for a 6–9 month old baby

  • Put 4 tablespoons of the cooked brown sushi rice and 135ml/4½fl oz/generous ½ cup boiling water in a saucepan and simmer, covered, over a low heat for 10 minutes. Add 2 green beans and 1 asparagus piece and cook for a further 10 minutes until completely soft. Transfer to a blender and add 2 tablespoons of the avocado, 1 tablespoon each of the beetroot and sprouts, if using, and 3 tablespoons water. Pulse for 15 seconds, adding extra water 1 teaspoon at a time, until the mixture forms a lumpy purée. Serve warm.