Happy new year everyone! I just love the vibrant colours in this bowl. With the festive season meaning eating and drinking a LOT more than usual, I wanted to start 2018 eating something healthy. (Full disclosure, this was the start, but then the rest of the day was filled with an entire box of jaffa cakes haha)
I am s-l-o-w-l-y coming around to salads. I am a believer of simple food. Admittedly mostly because I while I have time to cook, I have little time to prepare, and also because I have a love of knowing meals that I cook have less than ten ingredients. It’s my little way of balancing out the immense ingredient list of processed foods that we inevitably eat.
The problem I have with salads, is that a good salad needs a lot of preparation – selecting the right ingredients (of which there are usually many) and then finding a dressing that brings them all together. Salad spinners, toasting nuts, mixing the dressing – it’s all a bit much for a simple (read: sometimes lazy) me. Especially if it’s a salad on the side of something you’ve already spent time preparing.
I bought Thermobexta’s Summer Meal Mix Up book – basically a book of delicious salads, and am loving it! (I have a Thermomix but all her salads can be made without one). I’m trying to have meatless Mondays at home and if the salad is the main event, then I don’t mind all the prep at all. And discovering delicious and substantial salads like this beetroot and lentil salad, makes me like them a little more each day. I also love that these salads can be made ahead of time and leftovers are just as tasty (vs salads you must dress immediately before eating then anything that isn’t finished needs to be binned).
Bring on 2018!!!
As we head in to the festive season, I find that I need to balance out the indulgences of this time of year, with home cooked, healthy (at least semi-healthy) meals.
Packed full of goodness, and also gluten-free (for any of you who are gluten intolerant), this baked quinoa “pie” with spinach and feta is as comforting as it looks. Hot from the oven, the quinoa are almost pillowed amongst the ingredients, adding a lightness that you wouldn’t get if I omitted them. I only need to cook for two, so I made enough for four, split the mixture in to two small pie tins, and will freeze the other portion for a time when I need something easy, quick and delicious. All I have to do is warm up and eat.
This recipe is really versatile – adding in ham or bacon would work too.
Ingredients (for one large pie to feed four or two smaller pies)
- 1 cup quinoa
- 2 large handfuls of fresh spinach leaves
- 200g feta (you can also substitute ricotta or even cottage cheese)
- 4 large eggs
- Splash of milk
- 1 cup of grated parmesan, divided in to two portion
- salt and pepper to taste
- Pre-heat your oven to 180C/350F
- Cook the quinoa in 2 cups of water. Cover, bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 12-15 minutes, until tender and the germ is visible
- Stir in the spinach leaves as you fluff the quinoa – the residual heat will wilt the leaves
- Crumble the feta in and mix
- In a bowl, whisk the eggs with a splash of milk and one portion of the parmesan
- Add a pinch of salt and a good grind of pepper – don’t over-salt as the cheeses will already add some savouriness to the dish
- Loosely spoon the quinoa mixture into your pie dish, pour over the egg mixture and combine the two in the dish
- Flatten the top and sprinkle the second portion of parmesan over the top
- Bake for 30-35 mins until the top is golden
- Allow to rest for 5 minutes and then enjoy hot !
I’m so happy – I found kale ! After reading all your posts about how delicious it is, and how wonderfully nutritious it is, and the amazing recipes you share (eg kale chips which are being made as I type this), I FINALLY FOUND KALE. We went to Pasar Bella yesterday and bought an entire trunkfull of delicious meats, cheese and vegetables.
Today for lunch I made a vibrant, bursting-full-of-goodness soup, with a smoked bacon stock – making it bursting-full-of-flavour soup.
Again soups like this can be entirely adjusted depending on what vegetables you have handy in the fridge – I used yellow and purple carrots and the leaves of purple and green kale. The quinoea gives the soup an added protein boost.
Ingredients serves 6 for lunch or as a starter at dinner
- 400g smoked bacon bones
- 1 onion, diced
- 3 stalks celery, sliced
- 2 medium carrots, diced
- 1-2 bay leaves
- large handful kale leaves, stalks removed, thickly sliced
- 1/4 cup raw quinoea
- Brown the bacon bones on medium-high heat in a large, heavy-based saucepan
- Remove from pan reduce heat to medium and soften the onions for 5 minutes
- Add the celery and carrots and soften, an additional 5 minutes
- Add the bacon back to the pan, add the bay leaves
- Add water so that everything is just covered, and simmer on low for 2 hours
- Remove the bay leaves
- Add the quinoea and continue to simmer for 10 minutes
- Add the kale leaves and simmer for a final 5 minutes
- Season to taste with salt and pepper
Warming and simple, I whipped this soup up in less than 15 minutes. Don’t be fooled though, into thinking simple isn’t delicious. Blending the soup gives it a wonderfully thick and creamy consistency.
Ingredients – serves 4
- 1 onion, diced
- 1/2 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
- 3-4 cups chicken stock
- Sweat onions in a little olive oil over medium heat in a heavy based saucepan
- Add the cauliflower and enough stock to just cover the cauliflower
- Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5-7 minutes, until the cauliflower is just tender
- Blend thoroughly
- Season to taste with salt
- Serve hot with a good drizzle of good olive oil and freshly cracked black pepper
Whenever I can get my hands on juicy plump figs, this is my go to salad. Vibrant and fresh, it’s such a versatile and simple salad, and I love the delicate balance of salt, sweet and savoury. You can also coat the tuna in fennel or coriander seeds instead of sesame seeds (I used what I had available in my pantry).
It makes a healthy light lunch, or would work as a starter for dinner.
- 6-8 figs quartered
- sashimi grade tuna – about 400g
- 4 tbs sesame seeds (I used black)
- 2 tbs coarsely cracked black pepper
- 2 tbs coarse sea salt
- 2 tbs olive oil
- 4 large handfuls of rocket
- 4-8 thinly shaved slices of prosciutto
- 2-3 tbs extra virgin olive oil
- 2-3 tbs lemon juice
- lemon wedges to serve
- Combine the sesame seeds, black pepper and salt and place on a flat plate
- Cut the tuna into thick strips – about 5cm wide
- Coat the tuna with the sesame seed/pepper/salt mix
- Heat olive oil in a pan. Sear the tuna strips on all sides for 1 minute on each side – it should be rare inside. Set aside to cool for 5 minutes
- Thinly slice the tuna and arrange with the figs on top of the rocket.
- “Drape’ slices of prosciutto on top
- Dress with olive oil and lemon juice
- Serve immediately
My introduction to beetroot, growing up in Australia, was the obligatory slice of tinned beetroot whenever you had a burger. But beets are so much more than wet slices from a tin – I love simply roasting them. They have a wonderful sweetness with that earthy undercurrent – someone once described that flavour as the dampness in the earth after a thunderstorm. A warning if you’re cooking with them – make no mistake – that colour is going to stain. So wear gloves and wipe up any juices immediately unless you want deep pink tinges on your fingers and all over your kitchen.
This salad would work equally well with roasted figs – the baking seems to intensify their delicate sweetness, and that would hold up to the robustness of the feta and balsamic dressing.
Actually, this simple salad would work well with any leftover roasted root vegetables too.
Ingredients no portion size given, make this as big or as small as you want !
- Roasted beetroot
- Feta cheese, cubed – I like Danish feta for its rich creaminess but you could use Greek feta as well. You could also use goats cheese (which I don’t like, hence the feta)
- Baby beet leaves or any salad leaves
- Aged balsamic – or if you don’t have that in your pantry then reduce some ordinary balsamic till it becomes thick and syrupy
- If you haven’t already got roasted beetroot, you can simply pop them in a hot oven 200C/400C for 30 minutes until tender
- As soon as they are out of the oven, pop them in a clean glass bowl and cover tightly in clingwrap so that the beetroots continue to steam inside the bowl
- After 5 minutes, the beetroot should be cool enough to handle. WEAR GLOVES and simply peel/rub off the skin – or you can also rub the skins off with a paper towel
- While the beets are cooking, toast the walnuts in the oven for 5 minutes till you can smell the fragrant oil
- Slice the beetroot
- Assemble the salad – see ? Simple ! (Yet delicious)
A delicious salad that would make a great lunch or as a lighter side to a juicy steak or roast, rather than the usual roasted vegetables.
Fun fact: I think potatoes have had a bit of a bad rap with their high GI. However, if you dry cook potatoes (ie roasted vs boiled) and also allow them to cool, their GI actually lowers. It has to do with the effort your body has to expend to digest foods and increasing their resistant starch. I won’t go into the details – you can do more research if you want, here is a nice quick reference if you’re interested.
Keep the potato skins on for added nutrition. The skins have B vitamins, vitamin C, iron, calcium, potassium and also provides lots of fibre. Be sure to wash the potato well and remove any obvious blemishes before cooking.
Ingredients serves 2 as a main or 4 as a side
- 750 g new potatoes or if using larger ones, select a waxy variety, like the red potato, so they “hold together” when you mix them
- *optional – rosemary
- 4 rashers of streaky bacon
- 1 bunch of spinach leaves
- 1 clove garlic – skin on
- 2 tbls red wine vinegar
- 1 tbls dijon mustard
- 3 tbls olive oil (see note below)
- *optional – squirt of mayonnaise
- Good handful of grated fresh parmesan cheese
- salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 200C/400F
- Place the potatoes in a baking tray
- Drizzle olive oil and season with salt and pepper and rosemary if you have it
- Bake in oven for 30-40 minutes
- Pop your clove of garlic in with the potatoes 10 minutes before they have to come out
- COOL YOUR POTATOES TO ROOM TEMPERATURE
- Blanch the spinach leaves until wilted, drain and squeeze out as much liquid as you can – you don’t want a soggy salad !
- Pan-fry or microwave the bacon till their nice and crispy
- Make your dressing
- Remove the skin from the garlic and either mince/mash into a jar with a tight fitting lid
- Add the red wine vinegar, mustard, oil, mayonnaise (the mayonnaise makes the dressing a teeny bit creamier – use as much or as little as you like but add that in a little at a time until you get the desired consistency
- Pop the lid on and shake well to mix
- Add the cooled potatoes, spinach, crumbled bacon to a large bowl
- Dress lightly – you want the dressing to just coat the potatoes, not be gluggy
- Top with grated parmesan and mix again
- Season with salt and pepper to taste
NOTE: I think anchovies are one of the best things in the world, and always have a big jar of marinated anchovies in my fridge. When cooked they don’t smell too fishy, they melt into the sauce and add a complex savoury note to whatever dish you are making. With this dish, instead of using plain olive oil, I used the anchovy oil. You’ll need to make sure you taste the final dressing and dish before you season with salt so it’s not too salty.
My husband calls tofu “a non-food”. His explanation: that “it doesn’t taste of anything”. Which is actually quite true. My take on tofu is because it has no strong taste, it can (and does) absorb flavours really well, so marinating tofu gives you the protein-packed goodness of it, with all the wonderful flavours of your marinade.
This is an asian-inspired salad that is light from the dressing, yet filling and nutritious. Marinating the tofu does take time but once it’s ready you can put this salad together very quickly.
Ingredients makes 2 servings
- 2 squares firm tofu
- Edamame – squeeze out the edamame from their pods – I buy frozen edamame still in the pod from my supermarket, they’re super easy to use – just take the amount you want, cover with hot water for a few minutes and they’re ready !
- Mixed salad greens
- 1/2 small Japanese cucumber, sliced
- handful cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1/2 avocado
- 3 tbls raw pine nuts, toasted
- 1/2 thumb-sized piece of ginger – peel off the outer skin and grate finely
- 8 tbls mirin
- 8 tbls rice vinegar
- 6 tbls neutral flavoured oil – I used rapeseed
- 2-3 tbls soya sauce
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- Mix all the dressing ingredients together and pour 3/4 of it into a ziplock bag
- Pop the tofu in the bag with the dressing and let marinate for at least a few hours, preferably overnight
- When ready, heat up your skillet on high heat and fry the tofu
- While the tofu is cooking prepare the rest of the salad
- Dress the salad lightly with the remaining salad dressing
- Pile salad on to a salad bowl/plate and top with sliced tofu
Quick, healthy and delicious – who could ask for anything more in just one dish ?
Packed with lean protein, you can whip this up for a simple lunch that will keep you satisfied till dinner-time.
Ingredients makes 2 lunchtime servings
- 1/2 cup quinoea
- 1 cup hot chicken broth
- handful coriander
- handful flat leaf parsley
- cherry tomatoes, quartered
- 1/2 small red onion, diced
- 1/2 cucumber, sliced
- few cubes feta cheese – I used Danish but any feta would do
- juice of 1/2 – 1 lemon
- few tbls good olive oil
- few tsp red wine vinegar
- salt and pepper to taste
- Bring the chicken broth to boil, add quinoea, lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until the germ of the quinoea appears
- Strain any excess liquid if there is any, fluff up the quinoea in the pot and let cool till warm (just so that it won’t cook the herbs)
- Add the vegetables and herbs
- Mix the lemon juice, olive oil, vinegar and salt and pepper together – adjust to taste
- Dress the quinoea salad and you’re ready to eat !
I hope you all had a fun-filled and happy start to the new year !!
The last few weeks of 2012 saw the silly season in full swing in our household and whilst I had a ball on Monday night with my friends, I think I would be happy to be booze-free for at least a few weeks (I can’t even fathom a whole month of not drinking), lighter food and more home-cooked meals – and thought I’d start the year at least eating healthily.
I think the earthiness of these ingredients makes it a more substantial salad than a green leafy salad – it’s filling and full of goodness that will keep you feeling satiated until it’s time for your next meal. The pomegranate molasses adds a wonderfully rich sweetness to the dressing.
Carolyn’s new year salad of lentils and quinoa with balsamic and pomegranate molasses dressing
Ingredients serves 2
- handful puy lentils
- handful of uncooked quinoa
- 1 cup chicken broth
- sprig of thyme
- handful of swiss brown mushrooms, thickly sliced
- small handful 0f cherry or baby roma tomatoes, halved
- 1/2 avocado (or 1 if you love them)
For the dressing:
- 2 tbls balsamic vinegar
- 4 tbls good extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp pomegranate molassas
- salt and pepper to taste
- Cook the lentils and quinoa in the chicken stock and thyme, and simmer for 10-15 minutes until the lentils are tender and the quinoa germ has spiralled out
- Drain and discard the stem of thyme
- Let cool slightly then mix together with the mushrooms, tomatoes
- I add the avocados on top just because I want them to not be too mushy
- For the dressing, add all ingredients to a jar, and mix well