roasted carrot + ginger ninja soup

roasted carrot + ginger soup

There’s something about a good soup recipe. Even better – a soup recipe that uses up all of those random carrots that I tend to find at the bottom of my vegetable crisper. I swear, they seem to multiply down there when I’m not looking.

Soup is something I cook when I know I’m going to be short on time, but still want something satisfying, wholesome and soul-filling. This soup reaches right down to the bottom of your toes, filling you up with a ginger-y warmth that tingles on your tongue.

It’s also a nutritional powerhouse. Lots of onion, garlic + ginger (all awesome for digestion and discouraging cancer), carrot (vitamin A), turmeric (stellar inflammation fighter), and miso. Inspired by this recipe from smitten kitchen, I decided to adapt it to my tastes by roasting all the vegetables first. This intensifies their flavour and gets rid of some of the moisture, which should prevent a watery soup. Most soup recipes can be adapted to a roasting method, and they all do better for it I think.

Around here lately, it’s been hot, and humid, and generally quite disgusting. But I still want to eat this soup – it’s like a big umami hug. Life feels busy at the moment, but productive and whole. Let’s just say I’m enjoying being present – it feels good. X

carrots
chopped up
carrot-soup-combo
soup w trimmings

roasted carrot and ginger ninja soup

serves 4-6

recipe notes

  • this soup is delicious as is, but i also imagine that the addition of a bit of sweet potato, pumpkin or normal potato wouldn’t hurt it either
  • the sesame oil to finish is something you really shouldn’t skip. this soup is also delicious served with a scoop of brown rice and some roasted (or fresh) tofu.
  • i give two methods for blending the soup – my preference is for blending in batches in a blender, as I find that I get a much smoother, creamier result – but it’s your preference.

ingredients

  • 700 g (1 lb 8 oz) carrots
  • one decent thumb-sized piece of ginger
  • 1 large (~200g) zucchini
  • 1 large (~160 g) onion
  • 3 fat garlic cloves
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (not extra virgin)
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 c shiro miso paste
  • 5-6 cups of vegetable broth or water

to serve:

  • sesame oil
  • shichimi togarishi (Japanese seven-spice mix)

Preheat oven to 190 C (375 F). Roughly slice the carrots, and zucchini (leaving the carrot peel on). Roughly dice the ginger and onion (no need to peel the ginger either!). In a large baking tray, toss the carrot, zucchini, onion and ginger with the olive oil. Do not salt at this stage – there will be plenty of salt in your miso and broth. Wrap the whole garlic cloves in foil and nestle somewhere in the tray. Place the tray in the oven and bake for 45-55 minutes, until everything is soft and lightly browned.

When cooked, remove the vegetables from the oven. Squeeze the soft garlic from its skins. You can now proceed in two ways: (1) blend the cooked vegetables with the remaining ingredients in a blender in batches, and combine the batches in a large saucepan to heat up again. Or (2) place the cooked vegetables with the remaining ingredients in a large saucepan and blend with an immersion blender. For both methods, adjust with more or less liquid to achieve your desired thickness.

Warm the soup for a few minutes – it shouldn’t have lost too much heat during the blending. Serve with a drizzle of toasted sesame oil, and a little bowl of shichimi togarishi on the table for sprinkling.

taco fiesta + raw garlic sauce + simple tomato salsa

taco assembly

We’re big into Mexican flavours in this house. Burrito night at our favourite Taqueria is at least once a week, and at home, burrito bowls, mini-burritos and tacos make a regular appearance. There’s something magical about the bringing together of corn, lime, tomatoes, avocado, beans and chilli. It’s fresh and tasty and always satisfying.

Here I’ve included a little recipe for corn-free and gluten-free taco tortillas (adapted from Elenore’s recipe over at Earthsprout). They’re definitely not traditional or authentic in any sense, but I think they’re a nice little change. Also – unlike the gluten-free tortillas you can get from the supermarket, they’re not full of numbers (because numbers are crap). These tortillas are best served straight away, but the next day they also work up nicely into a quesadilla.

The accompaniments are also crucial – lime-y tomato salsa, and a raw garlic sauce that is just so delicious. It uses cashews as the base, so the sauce is creamy and smooth. It’s also great over soups, in sandwiches, on top of salads, or as a dip.

One of my favourite aspects of this sort of meal is that you really can put almost anything in a tortilla – it really depends on what you’ve got on hand – some of my favourites are: fresh (raw) corn, salad mix, avocado, massaged kale, black beans, coriander leaves, sliced spring onions. Basically whatever is good.

Adam and I enjoyed this taco feast last Friday for Valentine’s day, and the next day, the leftovers were just as good. Happy taco-making, friends!

taco-split
simple salsa
tortilla stack
assembly line
taco spread
taco

multigrain tortilas

makes about 15 taco-sized tortillas

adapted from Earthsprout

notes:

  • these are best served straightaway, however the next day they’re excellent warmed and then used to make quesadillas

ingredients:

  • 1/2 c buckwheat flour
  • 1 c millet flour
  • 1 c brown rice flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2.5 c water
  • 4 tbsp olive oil + more for frying

In a large bowl, combine flours, salt + baking powder. Create a well in the centre, and pour in the water and oil. Whisk to combine. All to sit for 10 minutes – by this time, the batter should have a thick, but flowing consistency.

Heat a frying pan over high heat. Lightly brush with oil. Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, pour 1/4 cup of batter into the pan, tilting it to spread the batter around. Cook for 1 minute or so, until bubbles have formed and the surface is no longer shiny. Using a spatula, flip and cook for another minute.

Remove the tortilla from the pan and wrap in a tea towel – this step is crucial as it traps the steam and softens the tortilla, making it possible to use it for tacos.

Repeat with remaining batter, making sure to lightly re-oil the pan for each tortilla. If not eating immediately, wrap in your tea towel and store in an airtight container in the fridge until needed. The tortillas can be reheated by covering in a damp tea towel and gently heating in an oven until hot.

simple tomato salsa

makes ~ 1 cup

ingredients

  • 125 g cherry tomatoes, diced small
  • 1/8 large, or 1/4 small red onion, diced small
  • pinch of salt
  • juice of 1/4 lime

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and allow the flavours to mingle for 30 minutes before serving. The salsa will keep in the fridge for 2 days or so.

raw garlic sauce

makes ~ 3/4 cup

ingredients

  • 1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked for 4 hours or overnight, then drained
  • 1 fat, or 2 small, garlic cloves
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • juice of 1/2 lemon

Combine all ingredients in a blender (the higher the speed, the better). Blend on high until the sauce is thick and silky smooth – this make take some time, and will require you to scrape down the sides of the blender every so often. It may be necessary to add 1-2 tbsp water to thin, if desired – but take care to only add 1 tbsp at a time. The sauce should be pourable but not watery. Pour into a glass jar and store in the fridge until required, where it will keep for 3-4 days.

taco fiesta filling ideas

  • mixed salad leaves
  • fresh, raw corn corns
  • fresh coriander leaves
  • sliced avocado
  • hot sauce (naturally)
  • lime wedges
  • black beans
  • sliced spring onions

lentil, quinoa + greens salad w lime + mustard dressing

lentil + greens salad w lime + mustard dressing

enormous pot of mint

It’s no secret that I don’t have the greatest green-thumb. In fact, I have a pretty great track record of killing plants. Combine that with the fact that we have a resident possum that loves anything green and leafy, and it makes it a little difficult to grow anything super delicious. But, I’m making progress I think – so far, the rosemary, chives, lemon balm and mint are all still standing. And oh my, the mint. I have so. damn. much. of it. It’s never-ending.

But really, this isn’t a post totally about mint, it’s about this salad. Because as much as I love mint on its own, mint does really special things when it’s combined with parsley and lentils and a delectable dressing.

I made this salad on the weekend for the very fancy Hannah’s birthday get-together. I wanted a salad that was sturdy, that likes (nay, LOVES) dressing, that was filling, and wasn’t going to look like it had been sitting in a hot room (you know, that sort of wilted and sad look lettuce gets if it’s been in contact with dressing for more than 10 seconds?). And I think this one fits the bill (not to mention that it’s completely allergen-friendly!). That being said, if you wanted it would be delicious with some baked tofu, or roasted pumpkin, or sourdough along side it, if you so desired.

Lastly, can we just pause on the realisation that it’s December? Where in the world did this year go, sheesh. When I think back on all that’s happened this year, and all that I’ve managed to achieve, it truly, really, boggles my mind. Finally, though, work has basically wound up for the year – only two meetings this week and then I’m on holidays! – And I’m also now allowing myself to get excited for Christmas – last night we decorated, and I’m stoked to get into some serious Christmas cooking. Which reminds me – what would be at your ideal Christmas meal? I’d love to know, so please leave a comment below.

With big, relieved, almost-on-holidays hugs, H x

fennel heart
preparing the salad
mint 1
lime + mustard dressing
lentil, quinoa + greens salad

lentil, quinoa + greens salad w lime + mustard dressing
serves 4-6
recipe notes

  • Of course, feel free to substitute regular quinoa (or what about millet? or wild rice?) instead of the red quinoa if you prefer.</em?
  • If you like, adding some wholegrain mustard to the dressing would also be a stellar idea.
  • I’ve given the cooked measurements for both the lentils and quinoa – my advice is to make a big pot of both: use some for this salad, then sequester the rest away in your fridge for easy meals the next few days.

for the salad

  • 1.5 c cooked French lentils
  • 0.5 c cooked chickpeas
  • 1.5 c cooked red quinoa
  • a generous handful of mint, chopped
  • a generous handful of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1/3 c pepitas, toasted
  • 1/2 bulb of fennel, tops removed, fronds chopped and bulb thinly sliced
  • 1 spring (green) onion, thinly sliced

for the dressing

  • juice and zest of 1 lime
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp dry English mustard
  • sea salt and pepper

Start by preparing the vegetables for the salad, chop and slice away. In a large bowl, combine all the salad ingredients and gently toss. Prepare the dressing by combining the juice, zest, oil and mustard in a glass jar, securing with a lid and shaking vigorously to combine. (Alternatively you could whisk everything in a small bowl.) Taste the dressing, and adjust the seasoning with sea salt and pepper to your liking. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss again to coat thoroughly. Store in the refrigerator until serving.

the orange-iest salad + an article

blood orange and sweet potato salad

Today I’ve got something I’m very excited to share with you: a recipe to go along with my article that appears in Chickpea’s new Winter 2013 edition! Haven’t heard of Chickpea? It’s the sweetest vegetarian and vegan quarterly floating around – gorgeous photos, writing and so many amazing ideas! I’m so grateful and excited to be involved. If you like, you can grab a copy in their online store (for now, only the digital copy is available, but the print version should be out soon!).

I won’t spoil the gist of my article for you, but it’s a very Harriet-style musing on winter. When I started thinking about this piece, I really asked myself what signifies winter to me – what evokes its shorter days and cooler nights? Blood oranges immediately came to mind – they’re one of my favourite fruits, and I love them all the more for their limited season. You appreciate them all the more, I find.

This salad – something I find myself making regularly when blood oranges are in season – is seriously delicious. Filling, flavourful and also a feast of colour for your eyes – just check out all that orange! Need I mention that it’s packed full of nutrients? Probably not (even though it is!).

Wherever in the world you might be, I hope you’re enjoying the change in seasons. Here, winter has gone and we’re heading full-throttle into summer. I’m almost wishing for those cooler days again.

blood oranges
the orange-iest salad
chickpea
blood orange + sweet potato salad w blood orange citronette

serves 4

recipe notes

  • If you’re not sure how to supreme a blood orange, check out the instructions below.

ingredients
for the salad

  • 4 sweet potatoes (900 g / 2 lb)
  • 1 sprig rosemary, leaves removed
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • a pinch of sea salt
  • freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/3 c (45 g) pepitas (pumpkin seeds), toasted
  • 1 c (160 g) cooked cannellini beans (tinned is fine)
  • 2 blood oranges, supremed
  • 4 stems of dill, fronds removed and roughly chopped

for the citronette

  • 1/3 c (80 ml) blood orange juice (from 1 orange)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • a pinch of sea salt
  • freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar (to taste)

Preheat your oven to 190 C (375 F) and line an oven tray with parchment paper. Quarter the sweet potatoes lengthwise, then cut into 2 inch segments. In a large bowl, toss sweet potatoes with rosemary leaves, oil, salt and pepper. Spread onto baking tray in a single layer. Place into the oven and roast for 35 minutes, until soft. Allow to cool slightly before assembling the salad.

Meanwhile, make the citronette by combining all the ingredients in a glass jar, seal with a lid and shake to combine (or whisk together in a bowl). Adjust seasoning to taste if necessary.

In a large bowl, combine roasted sweet potato with pepitas, beans, blood orange segments, and dill. Pour over dressing and mix gently to coat. Serve and enjoy.

how to supreme a blood orange

  1. Using a sharp knife, slice off the ends of the blood oranges, to reveal the top of the flesh.
  2. Turn the orange so one of the flat ends is down on the cutting board, and slice between the flesh and the pith, moving around the orange in sections, until the skin and pith is removed.
  3. Pick up the orange, and slide your knife between the membrane and flesh of one segment. Repeat on the other side of that segment, loosing it from the orange.
  4. Repeat step 3, working you way around the orange until all the segments are free from the membrane.

almond + chickpea felafels

almond + chickpea felafel

Ok, so you’re getting into the healthier side of things. You’ve started making your own nut milk (Yay you! That’s awesome!), which is pretty rad. But the sight of all that nut pulp going to waste hurts your inner-recycling genie. Well have I got the recipe for you: almond and chickpea felafel.

I know the universe has been going a little crazy for nut-based felafels lately, and they’re delicious to be sure. But, I wanted to challenge myself to use that bag of frozen almond pulp that’s been sitting in my freezer for months (because I couldn’t bring myself to throw it away). I’ve tried making nut-hummus (but didn’t fall in love with it) and I’ve even made my own almond meal by drying the pulp slowly in the oven (extremely delicious, but a little time consuming and the meal doesn’t have the shelf life of store-bought versions). So with several felafel ideas doing the laps around my brain, out came these babies. And aren’t they tasty.

And versatile! I threw these on top of salads, Adam put them in sandwiches, and I even popped a couple in my mouth for an afternoon snack. Also – the sauces you could serve these with are endless. How about: garlicky tahini, hummus, pesto, coriander cashew cream, creamy dill dressing, or a chunky tomato relish? There’s a lot you can do with them, and I think that’s a big part of their charm for me!

Need I even mention their stellar protein content? And wonderful fats? Since first making this version, I’ve also done a super herby mix (with loads of parsley, coriander and mint), which also turned out great. These felafels are a blank (but not bland) canvas for you to make your own. If you do, I’d love to hear your take on them!

Big felafel-y love X

in the processor
rolled felafel
felafel time
baked felafels
a simple serving suggestion

Almond and Chickpea Felafels

makes about 12

Recipe notes

  • I’m pretty sure almost any nut pulp would work here in place of almond, but I can’t vouch for them.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup almond nut pulp
  • 1.5 cups cooked chickpeas (canned is fine)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
  • handful of fresh coriander leaves
  • 1/2 red onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 tbsp tahini (I used unhulled, but hulled would work fine too)
  • 3 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1 tbsp nigella seeds
  • sea salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 175 C (350 F) no fan, and line a baking tray with baking paper. Combine chia seeds with 3 tbsp hot water and whisk to combine. Set aside for 5-10 minutes to form a gel. In a food processor, combine garlic, onion, coriander leaves, cumin seeds and coriander seeds. Process until finely chopped. Add pulp, tahini, chickpeas and chia gel. Season to taste. Process to combine – you may have to scrape down the sides a few times.

In a bowl, combine sesame and nigella seeds. Roll the felafel mixture into balls with your hands, then roll them in the seed mix to coat. Refrigerate for 30 minutes, or until required. Bake for 50-60 minutes, until the felafels are crisp on the outside and golden brown.

hand food: pumpkin + chickpea samosas and pear pies

samosas and pear pies (made from a wholewheat-spelt pastry)

A few weeks ago, my parents and brother moved house. In and of itself, this isn’t a strange or rare occurrence in our family – we’re definitely gypsies. Moving house is a stressful time, as I’m sure we can all relate to. Your stuff is everywhere, your plates and cooking tools packed away, and you stand around an empty house feeling a bit overwhelmed but excited. Moving into the new house is just as stressful, but equally exciting: finding everything its place, heck, finding you a space!

I’d been helping out here and there, packing boxes and taking things to the new house the week before they moved. But, I decided that for moving day itself, a bit of extra help was needed. The last thing you should be doing during a stressful life event is chowing down on whatever is most convenient, but usually the least of what your body actually needs. I wanted to bring food for moving day that was filling, wholesome, delicious and convenient to eat. Here’s where hand food comes into play. Food that’s easy to transport, eat and enjoy. No cutlery and no plates required. Perfect for a busy day of coordinating removalists, and unpacking boxes. But, you know, equally perfect for picnics, parties, and road trips. Crowd pleasers.

I made a double batch of the best vegan pastry recipe I’ve ever come across: Perfect Vegan Pie Crust from Food52. I made a wholewheat-spelt blend pastry this time, and I went from there. After seeing Laura’s (from The First Mess) strawberry hand pies a couple months back, I decided something similar was definitely on the cards. Instead of strawberries, I opted for the adorably blushing corella pears that had been languishing in my fruit bowl. Now what to do with the other half of the dough? I wanted something savoury – super savoury – and samosas it was!

Now, I know most vegetarians and vegans have had the experience of turning up to a function, cocktail party or other event and being served an oily, greasy lump of pastry stuffed with equally unsatisfying filling. Not these samosas my friends. When Adam tried a samosa, the first thing he asked was that I make the filling again and we eat it with rice like a normal curry. I know I’m probably biased, but that’s how delicious this filling is, truly. The pumpkin almost melts around the chickpeas, and the spices are flavourful without being overpowering.

I arrived for moving day, my bag stuffed with pies and samosas, eager to help in more ways than just moving boxes around. I gave everything a quick reheat in the oven (thought they’re equally fine cold or at room temperature), served them up onto a platter (pulled from a box I’d just unpacked) and watched them disappear. No plates, no forks, and no fuss.

corella pears
pear filling (all the cinnamon)
pumpkin & chickpea filling
pumpkin & chickpea samosa filling
slightly overfull pear pies
workspace
crimped
samosas in progress
pear hand pie
pear pies
pumpkin & chickpea samosa
samosas

Pear Hand Pies

makes about 15

Recipe notes

  • For the pastry, I used 2/3 wholewheat flour, 1/3 wholegrain spelt.
  • Don’t be tempted to overfill – I always remove filling as I’m folding them over – you don’t want your pastry to rip.

Ingredients

  • 1 quantity vegan pie crust
  • 3 medium corella pears, peeled, cored and diced
  • juice of 1/4 lemon
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • pinch of ground clove
  • pinch of freshly ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 180 C (355 F) without fan. In a bowl, combine pears with lemon juice, syrup and spices. Stir to combine. Roll out the dough to 0.5 cm (1/4 inch) thick, and using a cookie cutter approximately 4 inches in diameter, cut out circles of pastry and place on a tray. Repeat rolling and cutting until all the dough is used. Spoon a small amount of filling into the centre of each circle (you’ll be able to tell if you’ve overfilled – just remove some and continue). Fold the circle in half, and seal by crimping the edges with a fork. Repeat for remaining pies.

Brush the tops of the pies with the juices that have collected in the bottom of the filling bowl. With a small sharp knife, poke a little hole in the top (this lets steam out during baking). Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, until cooked and lightly golden. Cooled thoroughly, they should keep for 2-3 days in the fridge.

Pumpkin and Chickpea Samosas

makes about 15

Recipe notes

  • See notes above regarding pastry and filling
  • You can prepare these in advance and freeze them, unbaked, until required. Thaw thoroughly first before baking.

Ingredients

  • 1 quantity vegan pie crust
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 brown onion, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 250 g pumpkin (peeled and deseeded weight), cut in a small dice
  • 1/2 tsp tumeric
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 cup cooked chickpes (tinned is fine)
  • sea salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 180 C (355 F) without fan. In a large frying pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the cumin and mustard seeds and fry gently until fragrant. Add the onion and garlic, cooking for 5-10 minutes, until translucent and soft. Add the pumpkin, the rest of the spices and cook, stirring occasionally for 10-15 minutes, until the pumpkin is soft. You may like to add a couple of dashes of water, so the mixture doesn’t stick to the pan. Add the chickpeas and parsley, cooking for a further few minutes. Season to taste. Remove filling from heat and allow to come to room temperature.

Roll out the dough to 0.5 cm (1/4 inch) thick, and using a cookie cutter approximately 4 inches in diameter, cut out circles of pastry and place on a tray. Repeat rolling and cutting until all the dough is used. Spoon a small amount of filling into the centre of each circle (you’ll be able to tell if you’ve overfilled – just remove some and continue). Fold the circle in half, and seal by crimping the edges with a fork. Repeat for remaining samosas. With a small sharp knife, poke a little hole in the top (this lets steam out during baking). Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, until cooked and lightly golden. Cooled thoroughly, they should keep for 2-3 days in the fridge.

massaged kale salad w a maple-lemon truffle dressing

massaged kale salad w strawberries, tomatoes + maple-lemon-truffle dressing

The salad screams of the transition between winter and summer. The kale is still going strong at the markets, which are also flush with strawberries (though it’s almost the end of strawberry season…sniff) and tomatoes. What better than to combine them into a massive, delicious kale salad? Nothing, dear reader, could be better than that.

This is a picnic-friendly, make-ahead, forget-about-it-in-the-frigde-for-a-few-hours kind of salad. It actually gets better the longer you leave it sitting in its own dressing (a rare beauty in the salad game). After a little while, the strawberries and tomatoes start to release their juices, enhancing the already kick-ass dressing, which by itself is zingy and light, with a touch of I-don’t-know-what thanks to the truffle oil. The almonds are toasty and crunchy, throwing their nutty, roasted flavour profile in the mix.

I took this salad to a birthday-picnic this past weekend, and perhaps it’s just my ego (a little), but this sturdy salad seemed to go down a treat. It makes a lot, and is definitely a salad to share. Need I mention the sheer physical joy of massaging kale? You may feel a little weird at first, but kale needs love (like everything), and getting your hands in there is the best way to go about it. After its massage, and a few hours marinating? macerating? (what verb to use?!), the kale softens and becomes silky, with the dressing clinging to all its nooks and crannies.

I think I’m going to be eating riffs on this salad all summer long. It’s simple and easy to make, but incredibly to both look at and taste. My sort of food. I’m already craving the next one. Enjoy! x

curly kale
torn kale leaves
tomatoes
the pinkest strawberries
strawberries + tomatoes
fresh mint
the salad of spring
massaged kale salad

massaged kale salad with maple-lemon truffle dressing

serves 6-8

recipe notes

  • If you don’t have truffle oil, don’t worry! Use regular olive oil, and it will still taste great.
  • If you’ve got basil instead of mint, feel free to substitute! I hand mint on hand, so used it.
  • I can’t stress enough how the kale really needs a decent massage here. Don’t be meek. Scrunch, rub, and crinkle it into a massaged glory.

for the salad

  • 1 bunch (3 stems) curly kale, stems removed
  • 1/3 cup flaked almonds, toasted
  • 250 g (just over 1/2 lb) fresh strawberries, hulled and halved
  • 320 g (about 5 smallish) tomatoes, sliced into bite-size wedges
  • 1/2 cup packed mint leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup spring onions, finely sliced

for the dressing

  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp truffle oil
  • pinch of sea salt
  • lots (about 1/2 tsp) freshly cracked black pepper

To make the dressing, combine all ingredients in a jar and shake, or mix in a small bowl. Tear the kale leaves into bite-size pieces, similar in size to the halved strawberries. In a large bowl, combine the dressing and torn kale. With your hands, massage dressing into kale leaves for at least one minute, preferably a couple more.

Add the rest of the salad ingredients to the bowl and stir (with your hands or spoon, whatever) to combine. Here, I usually add even more black pepper, but – up to you.Refrigerate until required, but eat the same day.

macaroni and cheese w grilled zucchini

vegan macaroni and cheese

Sometimes, you just need some comfort food. Some serious, serious comfort food. This recipe has been banging around in my brain for a while, but I’ve had some doubts about posting it. (Is this something people are interested in? Is it even macaroni and cheese? Is this silly?) A chat with a friend (who reminded me that not only vegans, but also those with lactose-intolerance, would find this recipe valuable) and Adam’s response while eating it (murmurs and exclamations of joy – from a man who is usually skeptical about ‘my’ versions of meals), were enough to overcome my self-doubts. And here we are.

It’s mac-and-cheese, but not as you know it! This is a gluten-free version, made with gluten-free macaroni (you could, of course use regular macaroni if you like). The sauce (which I could eat from a spoon) has a base of cashews, and made super savoury and delicious by nutritional yeast, miso paste, garlic, and a handful of herbs and spices.

On a nutritional note: nutritional yeast is a great source of vegan B12; and this dish is loaded with good-for-you monounsaturated fats, a respectable 13 g of protein and a decent amount of iron as well. Based on my (very approximate) calculations.

But nutrition is boring, and I bet you’re really wondering what it tastes like. It’s incredibly umami (savoury), the sauce is silky, rich and soft from the cashews. It is incredibly filling and satisfying. Because this is quite a rich dish, I prefer to serve it with some fresh green veggies. Here I’ve grilled some zucchini, but I’ve also used cooked (steamed, roasted, whatever) kale, broccoli, and spinach to great effect.

mac and cheese ingredient selection
blender shot
zucchini coins
grilled zucchini
mac and sauce

One final thing to mention: this recipe is quick. Very quick. If you’ve got the blender ready to go and your greens pre-cooked, it could take just the time it takes to cook the pasta. Quick, delicious, serious comfort food.

macaroni and cheese

Macaroni and Cheese with Grilled Zucchini

inspired by The Post-Punk Kitchen’s Chipotle Mac & Cheese

serves 4

Recipe notes

  • After many failures with gluten-free pasta, I’ve discovered the secret is a solid 1 minute of stirring from the second you’ve put the pasta in the water. Otherwise it tends to clump awkwardly.
  • Feel free to up the ante heat wise, by adding chilli flakes to taste.
  • If you save some and want to reheat it later, add a dash of water to loosen up the sauce.
  • The method for cooking this should flow something like this: prep zucchini, set water to boil, grill zucchini, add pasta to water, put sauce ingredients in the blender, when the pasta is almost done add pasta water to blender and blend sauce, drain the pasta, mix with sauce and serve.

Ingredients

  • 250 g dry macaroni pasta (I use san remo’s gluten free)
  • 1 cup (150 g) cashews, soaked in water overnight, then drained
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 2 tbsp shiro (white) miso paste
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/2 tsp English mustard powder
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp tumeric
  • 1/4 tsp chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • lots of cracked black pepper
  • 1 cup cooking water from the pasta
  • lemon wedges and chopped chives, to serve

For the zucchini

  • 2 large, or 3 medium zucchini, sliced into coins
  • olive oil
  • sea salt

Fill a medium pot full of water, and add a big pinch of salt. Cover and bring to the boil. Meanwhile, in a large frying pan, heat a drizzle of olive oil. Working in batches, fry the zucchini coins in a single layer (sprinkle with a little salt) on both sides until crispy and golden. Re-drizzle with oil between batches.

Add the dry pasta to the saucepan of boiling water, stirring to ensure they don’t clump. Cook for the time indicated on the packet.

To make the sauce, put all the ingredients in a blender (add the pasta water towards the end of the pasta’s cooking time). Blend on high for 1-2 minutes, until a silky sauce is achieved. Drain the pasta and return to the pot. Pour in the sauce and stir to combine. Serve with grilled zucchini, sprinkle with chives, and squirt with lemon.

truffled pumpkin and green bean salad

on the plate

I feel like it’s time I probably wrote something about Adam over here (I have, after all, just married the guy). I have a phobia about putting anything too personal out there on the internet, but I think I can overcome it for Adam.

Adam is the most driven, dedicated human being I know – this is a man who translates Julius Caesar at 11 pm, who is constantly revising vocabulary (Ancient Greek, Latin, and German are all in the mix at the moment), who is always ready to talk about ideas and concepts. His passion is the most motivating thing I can think of, and more than once has inspired me to get off my ass and do some work.

He’s all the things you could want in a partner (I’m sure everyone thinks that), and I’m so grateful that the guy from my ancient Greek art class, who helped me with an assignment, turned out to be Adam. He’s helped me grow in so many ways (and probably lots more that I’m not aware of), and seeing him develop and grow is one of my favourite things about our relationship. There is something new to love about him all the time (the other night he spent at least two hours clearing out paperwork and tidying his desk).

butternut pumpkin halves
patch of hazelnuts
lemon truffle pumpkin and green bean salad
while the pumpkin is roasting

I first made a version of this salad one weekend, stuck in an apartment at the beach on a very, very rainy day. We were going a little stir crazy, to say the least. It was good enough to brighten the shitty circumstances, and I made it again almost as soon as we got home. You wouldn’t think the combination of lemon and truffle oil would work, but it really does, especially with the sweet pumpkin.

roasted pumpkin
lemon truffle salad w hazelnuts

Truffled Pumpkin and Green Bean Salad

serves 2

Recipe notes

  • If you don’t have truffle oil, this salad will still be delicious! Use whatever good-quality olive oil you have on hand.
  • This salad could be easily made to go further by adding a few handfuls of rocket or baby spinach.
  • Serving suggestions: crusty toasted bread, roasted tofu or tempeh if you like!

Ingredients

  • 480 g (just over 1 lb) butternut pumpkin, deseeded and sliced into 1 cm half moons
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • leaves from 4 sprigs of thyme
  • 175 g green beans, trimmed
  • 1/3 cup (40 g) toasted hazelnuts, chopped
  • sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

For the dressing:

  • 1 tsp truffle oil
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • pinch of salt
  • freshly cracked black pepper

Preheat oven to 200 C (390 F). In a large bowl, toss pumpkin slices with olive oil, thyme leaves and salt and pepper to taste. Spread out in a single layer on a baking tray. Roast for 25 minutes, turning slices over half way through. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes.

While the pumpkin is roasting, bring a medium pot of salted water to the boil. Boil green beans for 3 minutes, then drain.

Make dressing by putting all components in a glass jar, screw on the lid, and shake.

In a large bowl, toss roasted pumpkin slices, beans, dressing and hazelnuts. Arrange on a plate, with most of the hazelnuts on top. Enjoy!

food crush: fennel

Fennel slices
Roasted fennel and jazzy rice

Holy shit guys, do I love fennel. Adam does not (weirdo). So the other week when I saw whole (massive) fennel bulbs for $1 each (!) I knew that their cheap fennel-y goodness would be all mine. It was so cheap because fennel is a winter vegetable, and it’s winter here in Australia (ha, our version of winter – it’s 20 degrees C today). So I bought two enormous bulbs. All mine.

Balsamic covered fennel
Tricked-out rice
Roasted fennel - oblique

One morning at 5 am, I woke up and knew what I wanted to do with it – combine it with all the other things Adam doesn’t like a lot (like balsamic vinegar and brown rice) and eat them all off one plate like the greedy guts I am. I’m such a fennel greedy guts that I even snuck toasted fennel seeds into the tricked-out brown rice.

Seriously though, I wish Adam liked fennel more, because then he’d be in for one of the tastiest, most versatile vegetables out there. Fresh and raw, or soft and caramelised, fennel is delicious either way. You can even eat it’s seeds and fronds. Sweet!

A final gush about this recipe: the roasted fennel works amazingly with the nutty brown rice and the toasted hazelnuts (I’m not sure another nut would have the same effect, but if you don’t have hazelnuts, try almonds). Some sort of fennel-hazelnut-brown rice love triangle happened. And it was delicious.

If you haven’t tried fennel before, and aren’t really sure if it’s your thing, I highly recommending roasting it (like in this recipe). Roasting fennel until it’s soft and caramelised mellows the aniseed flavour (which can be pretty full-on raw) and makes the fennel sweet and sublime.

On the other hand, if you’re a fennel hound like me, it’s perfect in raw in salads, and practically has a love affair with rocket and lemon juice.

A few more fennel-focussed recipes:

A few more fennel-y ideas:

  • Slice raw fennel and serve with with a selection of dips (salsa verde and romesco spring to mind)
  • Top pizza or flatbreads with roasted fennel
  • Thinly shave fennel and toss with rocket, lemon juice and olive oil for a simple green salad
  • Add sliced fennel to tomato-based vegetable soup to take it up a notch (or five)

Balsamic roasted fennel and brown rice with hazelnuts
Balsamic roasted fennel and brown rice

Roasted Fennel with Tricked-Out Brown Rice

serves 2

Recipe notes

  • This is enough to serve two people generously. I know that if I had some rocket lying around it definitely would have made its way into this salad, so don’t be shy if you’re luckier in the rocket department than me.
  • My only other suggestion is that this salad should ideally be served at room temperature. Add some cooked cannellini beans for some extra protein and deliciousness if you desire.

Ingredients

  • 1 large fennel bulb, top trimmed, fronds reserved, halved lengthwise and thickly sliced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • sea salt
  • black pepper
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice, at room temperature
  • 1.5 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1/3 c whole hazelnuts
  • 1 spring onion, greens parts only, thinly sliced
  • lemon wedges, to serve

Preheat oven to 200 C (390 F) (no fan) and line a baking tray with baking paper. In a medium bowl, toss sliced fennel with oil, vinegar and season to taste. Arrange on the tray and bake in the oven for 30 minutes, until soft and caramelised.

Meanwhile, toast fennel seeds in a dry pan over medium heat until fragrant, and set aside to cool. In the same pan, toast the hazelnuts over medium heat. Remove hazelnuts from pan and allow to cool for a few minutes before roughly chopping. In a medium bowl, combine rice, hazelnuts, fennel seeds and sliced spring onion Stir to combine and then divide evenly between two plates.

Once the fennel is roasted, arrange on top of the rice and garnish with the reserved fennel fronds. Serve with lemon wedges. Best enjoyed warm or at room temperature.