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!!!
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)
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
One of the many upsides of doing a detox apart from feeling full of energy is that I swear you almost glow from the inside. OK perhaps it’s because I eat more non-detox food than I should, so when I am eating a diet of whole food, full of vitamins and nutrients … it shows more ?
I am convinced that I feel and look better because of all the wonderfully nourishing foods that are in this salad. Chickpeas provide zinc and folate for healthy skin, and the almonds and avocado provide heart-healthy, skin-moisturising mono-saturated fats. Beauty in a bowl !
Ingredients for two
- 2 large handfuls of baby spinach leaves, washed
- 1 small zuccini, sliced
- 1 small red capsicum, sliced
- handful of raw almonds, dry toasted
- 1 avocado
- 100g chick peas, cooked
- Tahini – see recipe below
- Grill the zuccini slices
- Arrange salad in bowl and dress with tahini, thinned with water to desired consistency
lightly dry toast 100g sesame seeds and grind finely in a food processor. Add a good squeeze of lemon juice, 1 small clove of garlic and a pinch of salt and blend well.
Trying to fully recover from this flu I’ve had for over two weeks now, I am putting a bit more effort in to preparing meals that are packed full of vitamins and antioxidants to help my body fight off the bad guys.
This quinoa salad I made for lunch was super easy, delicious, and full of goodness. I love quinoa – you cook and eat it as a grain, but it has a very high protein content (unlike wheat or rice) and is also gluten-free (for those of you who are intolerant).
Any suggestions on new and inventive ways to include quinoa in my diet ?
Ingredients (makes 2-4 lunch-sized portions)
- 1 cup quinoa – rinsed if not already pre-rinsed to remove the bitter outer coating
- 2 cups boiling water
- 2 cups of any vegetables you have in your fridge, diced: this time for me I had capsicum, cucumber, tomatoes, broccoli, red onions and mushrooms
- juice of 1 lemon (or to taste)
- extra-virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper
- optional – add nuts for more super goodness – toast some raw almonds or pinenuts
- another option – crumble tangy salty feta cheese on top
- Add the quinoa to the boiling water and cook for 15 minutes. The cooked grain should have a tiny curl that has separated from the seed, and have a nice bite to it (like al dente pasta)
- Transfer to a large salad bowl and fluff with a fork (as you would with couscous)
- Add the vegetables and mix
- Dress with the lemon juice, a good glug of the olive oil and salt and pepper
Do you really need a recipe for a salad ? I guess not, but I was so impressed at just how good my salad looked that I wanted to record it for posterity. I need as much encouragement as I can with salads. It’s not that I don’t like them, there are just so many better alternatives in my eyes (or stomach). And I think with salads there are some combinations that just work better than others. Enjoy and feel healthy while your eyes feast on the joyful colours in the bowl 🙂
- Butternut pumpkin
- Sea salt
- Olive oil
- Pine nuts
- Baby spinach leaves
- Dried cranberries
- Dried apple
- Cut the pumpkin into chunks, toss in some olive oil, sprinkle some sea salt and roast in a hot oven (200C/390F) for 40 minutes
- Dry fry the pine nuts till they have a nice golden brown colour
- Mix everything together and dress with a drizzle of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste
Attempting to try to eat a little healthier of late, I decided to make a quinoea salad. High in protein, quinoea is also high in dietary fibre, phosphorous, magnesium and iron, and is also gluten-free. Preparation is similar to cooking rice or couscous and it has a mild, slightly nutty flavour. I also like the slightly “crunchy” texture it has.
Ingredients (makes a huge big bowl of salad)
- 3/4 cup quinoea
- 2-3 cups vegetable or chicken stock – I used a shitake concentrate
- 1/2 punnet baby roma tomatoes (or cherry) cut into quarters
- 1 small red onion, finely diced
- 1 small cucumber, peeled, deseeded and finely diced
- handful of parsley leaves, roughly chopped – you can use any herbs you like, I also added coriander and basil
- half block feta, cubed
- 4-6 tbs extra virgin olive oil
- 2-3 tbs red wine vinegar
- juice of half a lemon
- salt and pepper to taste
- Bring the stock to boil and add the quinoea, covering at a low simmer and cooking for aournd 15 minutes or until the germ separates from the seed (the cooked germ looks like a tiny curl and should have a slight bite to it (like al dente pasta)
- Once cooked, set aside and allow to cool
- Mix all the other ingredients together, add the cooked and cooled quinoea and mix well
- Allow to sit in the fridge for at least an hour to allow the quinoea to absorb all the yummy flavours
- Serve as a main or as a side. It would go well with pretty much anything.