Roasted Veg Salad (vegetarian)

We all have our list of ‘lazy meals’ that we go to when we can’t really bare to think anymore about what to feed the family. 

Although this salad looks a little fancy, it has become one of my ‘what to eat when I haven’t thought about what to eat’ meals. 

The beauty of this recipe, if you can indeed call it one, is that you roast whatever you have on hand or needs using up. The day I took these photos, it was tomatoes, capsicums, potatoes and sweet potatoes, and I threw some asparagus in for the last 5 minutes of roasting time.

But the options are endless – beetroot, pumpkin, leeks, onions, carrot, zucchini – if it’s in your fridge or cupboard, wash it, chop it into even chunky sized pieces and throw it on the tray. 

Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and scatter with  some fresh or dried herbs – rosemary, thyme or oregano are often my choice for veggies like these. 

If you cut them into small-ish chunks they should only take about 30 minutes in a 200 degree oven. 

I like to let them cool for a moment, before tumbling onto a platter of mixed salad leaves. You could leave it at this and it would be fabulous, or to snaz it up a bit, add some goats cheese or fetta. 

It is such a versatile dish – eat it on it’s own or alongside some protein like chicken, red meat or fish. 

I often try to do a little extra, because a container of these veggies, cold the next day makes for a quick and yummy lunch. 

Here’s to finding new inspiration to keep feeding our families without going mad!

E x

 

 

 

Salmon & Quinoa Salad with Lime Mint Dressing (gluten free)

I love a protein packed salad for lunch at this time of year. Especially one that is easy to prepare, or can be prepped in advance for you to take to work. 

This one uses a tin of pink salmon and some cooked quinoa for your midday protein hit. If you’re not in a habit of eating protein at lunch, give it a try and see how much it keeps your afternoon hunger and the 3pm slump at bay. 

Add some avocado and veggies for all round goodness and throw on a slurp of your favourite dressing, store-bought or homemade, whatever works for you. 

The quantity below made enough for my lunch for 2 days. I just added some more avocado and the dressing on the second day. 

Keeping tins of tuna or salmon in the pantry and cooking a few cups of quinoa at the beginning of the week, will mean you have your main ingredients ready to go each day. We all know that the secret to eating a good lunch or dinner is in a little advance thought and preparation. 

I am looking forward to making a huge bowl of the this the next time a friend pops in and perches at the bench for a quick lunch.

 

Salmon & Quinoa Salad with Lime Mint Dressing
Serves 2
A simple, fresh salad packed with protein, raw veg and a zesty dressing.
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Prep Time
10 min
Total Time
10 min
Prep Time
10 min
Total Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 cup cooked tri-colour Quinoa
  2. 185 gram tin of salmon or tuna
  3. 1 small cucumber, finely chopped
  4. 1/2 avocado, flesh diced
  5. 1/2 punnet cherry tomatoes, halved
  6. Lime Mint Dressing
  7. 1/4 cup good quality extra virign olive oil
  8. 1/4 lime juice (approx 2 limes)
  9. 1 tablespoon honey
  10. 1 tablespoon of fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix gently.
  2. For the dressing, combine the dressing ingredients in a jar with a lid, and shake well to combine.
  3. If making in advance, leave the avocado and dressing out and add just before eating.
Notes
  1. Cooked quinoa will last in the fridge for 3 days, covered in an airtight container.
  2. The dressing will last in the fridge for about a week, but the mint will lose it's colour and flavour over time. It is best used on the day it's made, or alternatively, leave the mint out and add to the dressing just prior to using.
cook fast eat slow http://www.cookfasteatslow.com/

 

 

Farewell Summer Salad

When Autumn officially started 11 days ago, I was all ready with my soup pot and slow cooker, dreaming of new ways to use autumn’s rich bounty of fruits and vegetables. 

As anyone reading this in Sydney would know, we’ve had 2 extra weeks of summer, as temperatures have stayed above 30 degrees and the humidity has been at 1000% every day and some nights too. 

The hydrangea, my favourite summer flower, has continued to give me great joy with this extended heat. They began flowering early, last October in fact, and this beauty is the very last one in my garden. I just had to capture it in the fading afternoon sun. 

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So officially Autumn, but in the midst of a heat wave, we have kept enjoying The Weather of Salad. 

It was on a bend on a very busy road that I saw the mango man, and probably with not enough warning for the drivers behind us, screamed at my husband to stop and let me get what would probably be the last box of mangoes for the season. 

We’ve had mango at breakfast, after lunch and at dinner over this last 2 weeks of our extended summer, a fitting farewell to the fun, outdoor season that we love. 

While the BBQ was heating and the boys were finishing in the pool, this salad was thrown into a bowl. Being honest, most of the ingredients chosen were because I was once again, doing a fridge clean out. But as I began throwing this in with that and chopping this, I could see that the colours and flavours were actually working. 

I hope you enjoy it as much as we did. 

Farewell summer, we’ve had a blast.

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Farewell Summer Salad
Serves 5
A colourful and fresh salad topped with avocado, mango, feta and fresh herbs.
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Prep Time
10 min
Total Time
10 min
Prep Time
10 min
Total Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. 3 big handfuls of baby spinach leaves, washed
  2. 1/8 purple cabbabe, finely shredded
  3. 1 large cucumber, halved lengthwise and cut into thin rounds
  4. 1 corn cob, husks removed, or 1 small can of corn, drained
  5. 1 avocado, flesh sliced thinly
  6. 1 large mango, flesh sliced thinly
  7. 100 grams greek feta, cut into cubes
  8. a handful of yellow cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  9. a handful of fresh mint
  10. juice of 1 lime
  11. salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. If using a fresh corn cob, steam it in the microwave for 2 minutes or until soft. Using a sharp knife, remove the corn from the cob.
  2. Layer the baby spinach and cabbage in the bottom of a large salad bowl.
  3. Add cucumber, corn, avocado and mango.
  4. Top with fresh mint leaves, feta and cherry tomatoes.
  5. Squeeze lime juice all over the salad, finishing with a pinch of salt and pepper to taste.
Notes
  1. As with all salad recipes, leave out ingredients you don't like or have on hand, and substitute with whatever takes your fancy. There are really no limits when it comes to salads, however, the fresh mint and lime juice really do finish this salad off.
cook fast eat slow http://www.cookfasteatslow.com/

Sweet Potato & Cashew Salad (vegetarian)

I recently got to hear Nigella Lawson speak at the Opera House.

What a night it was, listening to this amazing lady, (who refuses to admit she has a food empire!) share of her journey with food and her desire to champion the home cook.

“No human being should be ill at ease in the kitchen” was one of many quotable quotes from her that night, interspersed with her obvious love of using store-bought stock and frozen peas in her recipes wherever possible! She’s the real deal that lady.

Inspired to reconnect with her cookbooks, I started reading Forever Summer again, one of her early cookbooks.

It was this paragraph that I related to as I now blog about my home cooking journey and share it with you all.

“If at anytime I’m still wondering if this or that particular recipe is worth keeping, I set myself a scene – a friend, a reader, a fellow mother at the school gate, is coming up to me, telling me that she is going to cook my something-or-other. If I’m not filled with impatient, evangelical enthusiasm at the imagined exchange, and if that recipe doesn’t also inspire in me unwavering, bossy confidence, then out it goes. I want to write only about the food I love, and I want you to love it too.”

I couldn’t agree more.

This salad I found by accident.

After begging my friend Rebecca for one of her dessert recipes, I was excited to receive my photocopy from her. Scrawled in handwriting at the bottom of this photocopy, was the recipe for this salad. I read it and thought that sounds beautiful, but the photocopy was filed in DESSERTS in my overflowing recipe folder and it was a while till I remembered to look at it again.

Fast forward to the day of our office Christmas Party. My husband, the fearless leader, was taking his team out on the harbour sailing and my job was to feed them all day!

After filling lots of portable containers with salads, meats, snacks and desserts and transporting it to the boat, I was reminded by one of the team, that most of the men on our staff didn’t actually like or eat salad! Imagine my joy…..

As often happens, this salad was inhaled by our team as we sat moored in a bay off Pittwater.

“Can you please give this recipe to my mum?” said one of the team. “This is going to be the only salad I eat from now on.”

I smiled and happily emailed it later to his mum.

So it’s been called ‘Rebecca’s salad’ by me, then it’s been called ‘Emma’s salad’ and now, finally, it will be known as the Sweet Potato and Cashew Salad.

I’ve made it as a side dish many times, but we’ve also had it for lunch and dinner, with a piece of grilled meat on the side.

Go forth and try it and maybe a non-salad eater in your life just might love it too.

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Sweet Potato and Cashew Salad (vegetarian)

  • Prep Time: 10m
  • Cook Time: 30m
  • Total Time: 40m

Ingredients

  • 500 grams sweet potato (kumera), peeled and cut into small pieces (1 medium size sweet potato, use more if you are using this as a main or feeding a crowd)
  • 1 cup mint leaves
  • 1 cup basil leaves
  • 1 cup baby spinach and rocket mix (more if you are feeding a crowd)
  • 1/2 cup roasted cashews
  • juice of 1 lime, to produce at least 1/4 cup (you may need 2 limes if they are not juicy)
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon heaped, of freshly grated ginger or ginger paste

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees celsius.
  2. Place cut sweet potato on a baking paper lined tray and roast for approx 30 minutes, or until golden and soft. Set aside.
  3. Place fresh herbs and salad leaves on the base of a large plate or platter.
  4. Add sweet potato and cashews.
  5. Combine the lime juice, sesame oil and ginger and shake. Pour over the salad.
  6. If you are making this for a large group and want to use more sweet potato and greens to bulk it out, double the dressing ingredients also.

Thai Beef Salad

This Thai Beef Salad was the first meal I made after we got home from our holiday.

Along with our watches, phones and schedules, ‘meal planning’ went out the window for our holiday.

We went back to simple and no frills this time around. A basic cabin, a beach, some bike riding and bush walking, card games, slow mornings and late nights.

Like all family holidays, there were fights, tantrums, storms and torrential rain, power outages, laughs, hugs, big waves and beautiful sunsets. There was on any given day a million compromises to be made between 5 people who all wanted or expected something different.

Just like normal life, but in a different location.

It was a chance to be away from the rush and noise and endless demands of the business we run, home and school life. The biggest joy was having my husband with us, relaxed and engaged.

I did lots of reading, which is my other great love that I often don’t make time for when at home. Reading on holidays is starting to get a little easier now that the kids are getting older.

Even in it’s imperfect moments, we were together, making memories, good and bad ones and refilling our tanks before a new year begins.

When it comes to food on holidays, I find the break from thinking ahead and making all the decisions on my own about food quite liberating. Having another person around to share in that process is so good, not to mention the break from the dishes!

It means our eating habits change too, but that’s part of the novelty of the holidays. Way too many hot chips, ice-blocks, cereals the kids get to choose from the ‘normaly banned list’, treats in the car while travelling, christmas leftovers and more. There are pretty much no rules.

My husband and I share a love of cheese and wine and so that became our holiday ritual after a day on the beach. That’s one of the things I already miss the most. I told the wheel of Brie I saw in the shops the other day that we will reconnect at Easter. It’s not that long away is it?

I digress.

Back to the Thai Beef Salad.

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Now that we are home, salad and protein in different forms pretty much makes up our summer menu.

This is my kid friendly Thai Beef Salad, with no raw onion or spicy sauce. Just fresh and flavoursome and super quick. And just as I thought, vegetables that would otherwise be left on the plate, were gobbled up in this salad. It shows you what a little added flavour can achieve.

I hope you are having a great summer break and your re-entry back into your ‘normal’ isn’t too painful.

E x

Thai Beef Salad

  • Prep Time: 10m
  • Cook Time: 5m
  • Total Time: 15m

Ingredients

  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger or ginger paste
  • 600 grams rump steak
  • 100 grams baby spinach or mixed salad leaves
  • 1 punnet cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 large cucumber, sliced thinly into rounds
  • 1/2 capsicum (red, green or yellow), thinly sliced
  • 100 grams snow peas, raw, thinly sliced
  • 1/8 purple cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup fresh herbs, a mixture of basil, coriander and mint or whatever you like. (If you can get it, vietnamese mint works perfectly with asian salads)

Method

  1. Combine all ingredients for the dressing in a jar and shake to combine. Set aside.
  2. If you have time, bring your meat to room temperature before cooking.
  3. Brush both sides of the meat with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Heat a non stick frying pan (or BBQ) over medium to high heat and add the meat.
  5. When blood rises to the surface, turn your meat. Continue cooking and turning until your meat is cooked to your liking. You can press the meat with your finger to test how cooked it is. The firmer it feels, the more well done it will be.
  6. Remove from the pan and set aside on a plate to rest. Don't skip this step.
  7. Once rested for a few minutes, slice thinly.
  8. Combine all salad ingredients in a bowl.
  9. Add the steak and pour over the dressing. Give it a big toss.
  10. Place on the table with servers and bowls and let everyone help themselves!