Slow baked sweet potato stuffed with ancient grain salad

Baked sweet potato with grain saladWhat you’ll need:
Big organic sweet potatoes for 4-6 people
1 bunch coriander, washed and chopped
1/2 bunch parsley, washed and chopped
1/2 red onion, finely diced
1 cup of your favourite grain: freekah, quinoa or cracked wheat
1/2 cup of Puy lentils
2 tablespoons of pumpkin seeds, lightly toasted in coconut oil
2 tablespoons of hazelnuts, lightly crushed in your mortar and pestle. If you don’t have one, just use a clean a tea towel and a rolling pin
2 tablespoons of baby capers
1/2 cup organic black currants
Juice of one medium lemon
3 tablespoons of EVOO
Sea salt
1 pomegranate, halved and deseeded

Hot tip:
Having to deseed a pomegranate put me off readily using these incredible fruits laden with Vitamin C, Vitamin K and fibre.  Then I discovered this video: How to deseed a pomegranate

For the dressing you’ll need:
1 cup of coconut yoghurt (available at all good health food stores)
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds, crushed

How to prepare:
Preheat your oven to 220 degrees
Wash and pat dry your sweet potatoes
Place them in your preheated oven and turn heat down to 200 degrees to bake for 1 hour. Cooking time will vary due to size

Blanch your chosen grain and lentils separately in boiling water until al dente
Drain well and allow to completely cool
Mix your coconut yogurt and cumin and set side
In a medium bowl, place herbs, red onion, grain, lentils, nuts, seeds, capers, currants, lemon juice, olive oil, pomegranate and hand toss
Season with sea salt
Test your baked potatoes

Plating up + wine match:
Place a sweet potato on a plate
Slice open length ways and part
Spoon in your grain salad and lots of it
Top with yoghurt dressing
This dish goes beautifully with a Pinot Gris. I chose a 2014 Domaine de Belle Vue, from the Loire Valley France RRP $30AUD


Raw A+B+C Salad

Apple, beetroot and carrot… well, salads just don’t come any easier or fresher than this. The divine flavours of the fruit and vegetables are prefect as they are, so no dressing is needed. If you like, add a little white cabbage and this dish moonlights as a fantastic dairy free coleslaw. Either way, you are going to love this.

What’ you’ll need: serves 4-6
3 fresh beetroots (440g) peeled and quartered
3 small carrots (100g) peeled and chopped into fours
½ a red onion, peeled and quartered
1 granny smith apple peeled, cored and quartered
¼ of a cup of fresh coriander, washed and chopped
½ cup of walnuts (optional)


How to prepare:
Place apple, beetroot, carrot and onion into the TM bowl of your Thermomix
Chop on speed 4 for 7 seconds, then transfer salad into a serving bowl and garnish with walnuts (optional) and fresh coriander
If you don’t have a Thermomix, you can use a blender but will have to prepare the salad in batches
With no dressing this salad remains equally tasty day two. Any left overs are delicious in a toasted wrap with smashed white beans (stay tuned, that recipe is on its way).

Warm, rustic chickpea and green bean salad

I am so excited I can hardly sit still to type. Following my cauliflower and butter bean soup post I had a tonne of mail requesting more Christmas day menu ideas. So, over the next few days I will have a complete cruelty free Christmas day menu, ready for you to road test this festive season. To get things rolling, this sublimely fresh and rather substantial warm chickpea salad is the perfect accompaniment to the nut roast, which will be this year’s ‘main event’ at our place. Stay tuned…

Rustic chickpea salad

What you’ll need: (serves 4)
300g of green beans, topped and tailed, then halved
10 grape or cherry tomatoes washed, then halved
Olive oil
1 x garlic clove, peeled then sliced
1 x 400g can of organic chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 x lemon
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons of coarsely cut fresh mint
2 tablespoons of coarsely cut fresh basil

How to prepare:
Zest lemon into a bowl. Cut lemon and juice into the same bowl trying to avoid any pips, set aside
Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a simmer, then add beans
Cook beans for three minutes. Drain and set aside
Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a saucepan, over medium heat and cook garlic for 30 seconds or until fragrant
Add drained chickpeas, stir and warm through for no more than two minutes
Stir in lemon juice and zest, then remove from heat
Add beans to a mixing bowl, then tomatoes, sea salt and pepper and herbs, then lightly toss
Add chickpeas and lightly toss again
Transfer to a serving bowl and enjoy!

Strawberry and macadamia nut salad with raw vegan ‘cheese’

I eat salad almost everyday, no matter what the season. And this one is my new favourite. To me, a perfect salad requires both the refreshest ingredients and good layering. For a salad like this one, tossing or mixing it just won’t do.  Layering means each serve has just the right amount of every ingredient. I served this salad aside delicious, piping-hot pumpkin and lentil pasties last night. There were lots of  ‘mmms’ and not a crumb, or a seed left on the plates. Oh and if you loved last month’s killer sandwich‘ post, this dish is just another great way to experiment with raw, vegan cheese.

What is vegan cheese?
Instead of dairy (or anything derived from an animal, rennet included), vegan cheeses are created entirely from plant-based foods. A great option for those of us who care about the welfare of our animals and who are making a conscious effort to tread a little lighter on our planet. It also means that they are completely free of any antibiotics and hormones. Generally speaking, the plant-based origin also means more nutritional value. Especially when the vegan cheese is raw. In this case, Botanical Cuisine, the Australian brand I love is! It is made from raw cashews and a bunch of other wholesome, organic ingredients.


Seasonal alternatives
While strawberries aren’t supposed to be in season, they seem to be everywhere at the moment. You could easily substitute strawberries with what is truly seasonal like mandarin segments or nashi slices and hazelnuts are a great seasonal alternative too.

What you’ll need: serves 2-4
200g of four-leaf salad mix
Half an avocado, diced
A punnet of strawberries, halved
1/2 a small red onion, finely sliced
3 tablespoons of linseeds
3 tablespoons of chia seeds
11 small tomatoes, halved
A cup of macadamia nuts
Botanical Cuisine’s lemon and dill ‘cheese’
Olive oil, fresh lemon, sea salt and cracked pepper to season

How to prepare:
Rinse salad mix, pat dry with a clean tea towel and add to your salad bowl.  I always remove the very ends of each leaf as I add them to the bowl
Next add your avocado, strawberries and tomatoes, dropping them at even intervals around the bowl. Followed by the red onion
Now sprinkle your linseeds and chia seeds allowing them to fall through the leaves
Add the macadamia nuts at even intervals, also dropping them onto and through the salad leaves
Then finish with teaspoon-sized dollops of smooth vegan cheese. I always make sure I use enough, but not too much, so you’re left wanting more
I just pop the olive oil, a cut lemon, sea salt and cracked pepper on the table for guests to season for themselves

Killer salad sandwich with avocado mousse and lemon and dill ‘cheese’

The humble sandwich has definitely become one of life’s simple forgotten pleasures. Fresh, light, cleansing and so damn tasty. These have become an all-year-round, weekly staple in our home… but as I’ve learnt, there’s a few tricks to making a ‘killer’ sandwich.

Sandwich 3

What you’ll need (serves 4-6):
Naturally, I buy organic wherever possible…
2 carrots grated
2 large beetroots boiled and sliced (allow an hour) see how to prepare beetroot here
1 cucumber sliced
2 tomatoes sliced
Lettuce leaves
1/2 red onion finely sliced
2 lemons
2 ripe avocados
Sea salt and cracker pepper
Wholegrain mustard
Good quality, soft bread with no nasties (I’m loving Ancient Grains organic kamut ‘giza’ sourdough loaf)
Botanical Cuisines’s lemon and dill raw, organic vegan cheese. You’ll find your local stockist here

Vegan Cheese
Avocado Mousse:
Halve, deseed and scoop out avocado into your blender
Add juice of one lemon and a generous pinch of sea salt
Blitz, scrape down the sides and blitz again, until light and fluffy
You may require the juice of your second lemon. Taste and adjust seasoning
For those of you with a Thermomix blitz for 15 seconds from speed 6 to 10. Scrape down the sizes and repeat 3 times until you have a light, mousse-like consistency

Avocado Mousse

How to make the perfect sandwich:
Organic and fresh is always best. And if you can’t find vegan cheese, just leave it out

There is a trick to layering, so your sandwich doesn’t fall apart and so that every bite has all the ingredients

Spread one slice with Nuttelex
The other with lemon and dill raw, organic vegan cheese, then some wholegrain mustard. Don’t be shy, a generous spread is best
Go back to the first slice and add lashings of avocado mousse then add tomato (4 slices), cracked pepper, cucumber (4 slices), beetroot (4 slices), grated carrot, red onion and lettuce
Pop the wholegrain mustard bread slice on top, press down firmly and slice
As you cut you can literally smell the the fresh, wholesome goodness

One more thing… never pack up your ingredients after just one sandwich because everyone always wants a another one

Have you tried my busy burritos?

Autumn beetroot salad with asian vinaigrette

This salad is one of my go to lunches ‘with the girls’ or a fantastic autumn dinner party starter. Loaded with iron and vitamin C, beets can be boiled, juiced, pickled and made into dip or crisps. My little ones eat them just like an apple, as soon as they have been peeled and while they are still warm…


What you’ll need: serves 2-4

250g baby spinach leaves
250g rocket leaves
2 large beetroots
150g Green beans
Mung bean or salad spouts
80g Pine nuts
Himalayan sea salt


For the vinaigrette you’ll need:

3 tablespoons unpasteurised red wine vinegar (I’m loving Biona Organic)
3 tablespoons tamari
3 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons agave

For the vinaigrette:

Simply measure out your ingredients into a bowl and whisk to together ready to serve.

For the salad:

Top and tail the beets. Place them in a pot, cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Cook for 1 hour or until tender – when you stick a small knife into each beet, it should go in smoothly.  Leave to cool, then peel. You should be able to peel the skin away with your fingers. Cut beets into slices, then into 1cm thick chips and set aside.

Wash spinach and rocket, drain and gently towel dry. Set aside

Top and tail, then halve your green beans. Fill a medium saucepan with cold water and bring to the boil. Blanch the beans for 3 minutes, then lift them out and into iced water to refresh. Drain and dry, then set side.

In individual dishes arrange the spinach and rocket, then toss. Add a generous handful of green beans, top with mung beans, pine nuts, then your beets.  Finally a few more mung beans and pine nuts and a good few grinds of sea salt. Finish with a generous drizzle of vinaigrette. Or leave your guests to dress their own salad, by serving the vinaigrette in a funky jar on the table. Add some warm crusty bread, good olive oil and a glass of pinor noir and you’re done.


Black garlic the cook and me

I am in love. Vegies, the debut cookbook penned by Simon Bryant, the ‘cook’ from the hugely successful ABC series The Cook and the Chef has just arrived in my hot little hands.
Bursting with seasonal cookery and beautiful photography, Simon’s passion for ethical eating has you seeking unusual ingredients like black garlic, nasturtium flowers, panch phoron and more.
Cleverly divided into seasons to help you make the most of fresh, seasonal produce, I found myself rushing off to the market as soon as I laid eyes on Simon’s spring recipe using quinoa, black garlic and asparagus.
I had never seen black garlic, much less heard of it… so when I easily found it I couldn’t wait to get cooking. For my Melbourne readers I found almost everything I needed from Damian Pike aka the ‘Mushroom Man‘ at the Prahran market and if he didn’t have something on my list, he knew exactly who would.
Here’s my attempt at Simon’s dish. Its presentation, spectacular flavours and nutritional goodness were a hit at our place and the subsequent dinner parties and lunches where I’ve opened with this dish. In fact, this would make the perfect Christmas day starter because the dressing and quinoa can be prepared ahead of time.  Then everyone can gather around the BBQ with a glass of bubbles while you char-grill the asparagus.
Shopping list:
Red quinoa seeds
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt flakes and cracked pepper
Ground fennel
Black garlic
Nasturtium flowers
Dill and 
Vegies by Simon Bryant RRP $39.95 ISBN 978 192 138 2703
How is black garlic made? Garlic bulbs are fermented at high temperatures causing the sugars and amino acids within to produce melanoidin, a dark-coloured substance that results in black cloves rich in antioxidants. It lasts for ages, so stock up.
A little about quinoa (pronounced keen wah) Discovered by the Incas, quinoa which is considered to be a whole grain, is actually a seed. This delicious seed provides you with all 9 essential amino acids making it a complete protein. Dubbed a ‘super food’ quinoa is high in magnesium, copper and manganese which helps promote cardiovascular health and boosts your immune system. Perfect for vegetarians, vegans and those seeking a healthy alternative to animal protein. You can buy red, black or white quinoa at any health food store and it is now readily available at most supermarkets in their health food isle.

Ottolenghi’s green bean salad masterpiece

It would be down right mean not to share this best-ever green bean recipe with you. I crave this dish and love it even more every time I make it.  This versatile salad is great with a potato vindaloo, a winter vegetable tart, or a simple olive and cherry tomato spaghetti. One thing is for sure, it won’t be long until you are making it again and again.


What you’ll need: Serves 4-6

250g French beans, trimmed
250g sugar snap peas, trimmed
250g fresh green peas
2 teaspoons coriander seeds, roughly crushed with pestle and mortar
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon nigella seeds (black cumin)
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
1 mild fresh red chilli, deseeded and finely diced
1 garlic glove, crushed
Grated zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons of chopped tarragon
30g or baby chard or radicchio leaves (optional)
Coarse sea salt


How to prepare:

Fill a medium saucepan with cold water and bring to the boil.  Blanch the French beans for 4 minutes, then immediately lift them out of the pan and into iced water to refresh.  Drain and dry.

Bring a fresh pan of water to the boil and blanch the sugar snap peas for one minute only. Refresh, drain and dry.  Use the same boiling water to blanch the peas for 20 seconds.  Refresh, drain and dry. Combine the beans, sugar snaps and peas in a large mixing bowl.

Put the coriander seeds, mustard seeds and oil in small saucepan and heat up.  When the seeds begin to pop pour the contents of the pan over the beans and peas.  Toss together, then add nigella seeds, red onion, chilli, garlic, lemon zest, baby chard or radicchio and tarragon. Mix well and season with salt to taste.

This best-ever recipe is from Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbook ‘Plenty’ rrp $55 ISBN: 9780091933685



Busy Burritos

You’ll be hard pressed to find a quicker, healthier or tastier Mexican feast than these guys. After a busy weekend, this is an easy dinner to whip up.  Trust me when I say, resist the temptation to serve these with cheese and sour cream. They are so tasty and cleansing without it, you won’t miss it, nor will your waistline.

For those of you who are disciples already, you might like to try my readers’ suggested condiment ideas: peas, chopped curly kale, hummus, creamed corn, spring onions, cucumber slices, red capsicum strips, grated carrot, parsley, tomato slices, red onion and home-made pesto.


 What you need

 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil

1 onion finely chopped

1 teaspoon of ground cumin

1 teaspoon of ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon of chilli powder mixed into 50ml of water

400g can red kidney beans rinsed and drained

3 medium fresh tomatoes chopped or half a can of organic diced tomatoes

8 tortillas (warmed)

Chopped or shredded lettuce leaves

2 small diced tomatoes

Sliced whole jalepenos, if you can get them, otherwise a jar of jalepenos

1-2 corn on the cob

1 avocado diced

Salsa topping (your favourite brand)

Coriander leaves (chopped)

1 lime (cut into wedges)

Soy yoghurt (optional)

Set a pot of water to boil, peel the corn on the cob and sit it going. Once cooked, cut corn from the cob

To make the filling heat the olive oil in the pan. Add the onion and cook over medium heat for 3 minutes or until soft. Add spices and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the beans and then the tomatoes with the juices. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 4 minutes or until thickened slightly.

To serve, divide the filling amongst the tortillas. Roll up and top with lettuce, tomato, corn, avacado, jalapenos, salsa and soy yoghurt.  Top with fresh coriander and a generous squeeze of lime juice.

An alternative to the spicy bean mixture if you are super short of time, is Amy’s Vegetarian Organic Refried Beans (traditional or black bean).  Available at all good health food outlets.  Just heat them and serve.


Here’s a cool tip: to keep the tortillas from drying out try Jamie Oliver’s trick.  Scrunch up some baking paper under cold running water until soft.  Wrap the tortillas and put them in oven as directed.

Have you tried my tuscan cabbage, silver beet and cannellini bean soup?