Quinoa, Sweet Potato and Beetroot Salad

It’s probably too late to be saying “Happy New Year” since it’s past the Australia Day long weekend but will say it anyway. Happy New Year! Hope you are all feeling refreshed and ready to give your best in 2019. As January seems to be a time when people decide to form a list of resolutions that they will keep for two weeks, I figured there was no better time than now to share a wonderful healthy recipe for you all.

I am not a dietitian or a nutritionist but there is definitely a good balance of flavours and food groups here – protein, carbs and the good types of fat.

It is also good enough that you can eat it for lunch multiple days in a row! (where normally I strongly dislike doing this in order to avoid having FOMO when someone has a better lunch than me in the office)

The challenge I’ve had in the past with eating salad for lunch is the lack of feeling full afterwards. Turns out if you put enough grain and carby vegetables in, this issue is alleviated.

Alright, enough blabbing. For those who are feeling the whole “new year, new you” mentality or even the “new year, same you” mentality, this salad is for you.

Quinoa, Sweet Potato and Beetroot Salad (makes 3 lunches or 4 side dishes)

What you’re going to need

1/2 cup dried quinoa

1 medium sweet potato chopped into small, even pieces

3 baby beetroots (sold in a pack at the supermarket), roughly chopped

50g feta cheese, chopped into small cubes

handful walnuts, roughly chopped

6 basil leaves, sliced thinly

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)

salt and pepper to season

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celcius. On a lined baking tray, add the sweet potato, 1 tablespoon of EVOO and salt. Bake until soft and slightly more golden in colour
  2. For the quinoa, I cooked it in the microwave as per the packet instructions. Simply rinse the quinoa in a strainer, then place in a heatproof bowl that fits in the microwave with 1 cup of water (1:2 quinoa water ratio). Cover the bowl with a lid or a plate and cook for approximately 5 minutes. Stir and then pop it back in for 2 minutes. Leave to stand with the lid/plate still on until most of the water has absorbed. Strain remaining water and set aside.
  3. Once the quinoa had cooled down a bit and the sweet potato is ready, place these plus all the other ingredients into a bowl. Mix well until all flavours are combined. Add seasoning where appropriate. Note: if you’re storing this for work lunches, keep the beetroot separated so the colour doesn’t run through the whole salad. 
  4. Serve immediately at a warm temperature or eat cold later on.

quinoa sweet potato salad

 

 

 

Tagliatelle with Napoletana Sauce

I just love the versatility of using a tomato based sauce. It works beautifully on its own as simple passata with seasoning or you can amp it up and throw a heap of veggies in, or pretty much any kind of meat and maybe even some cheese!

So the Sunday night ritual continues and the dilemma of how can I make an amped up sauce that suits one who doesn’t like cheese, one who won’t eat a non meat dish and the other who wants more than “just” bolognese.

I’ve over killed it with mince at the moment so decided not to use it and went with chorizo instead as the meat option. I love the flavour it gives the dish and it’s a bit more substantial than bacon or pancetta. I also used Barilla Napoletana Sauce as my tomato base and added in a heap of veg to make it an even more nutritious meal.

To make this a complete dish, I used Barilla Egg Tagliatelle as the base and to mix through the chunky sauce! I love the texture it has and it holds the sauce really well. It also cooks really quick (5 minutes in boiling water).

So if you’re salivating and to want to give this dish a go, keep on reading for the recipe!

Tagliatelle with Napoletana Sauce (serves 4-5)

What you’re going to need

250g pack Barilla Egg Tagliatelle

1 jar Barilla Napoletana Sauce

125 g chorizo, sliced evenly (1 sausage)

3 medium cup mushrooms, sliced thinly

generous handful baby spinach

1/3 medium zucchini, finely grated

1/3 medium carrot, finely grated

handful pitted kalamata olives

6 basil leaves, roughly chopped

salt and pepper to season

1 tablespoon olive oil for frying

Method

  1. Prepare a large saucepan with salted water and place on a low heat.
  2. In a large frypan, add the olive oil and bring up to a medium heat. Once hot, add the carrot and zucchini and fry for 2-3 minutes. Once softened, add the napoletana sauce. Before discarding the jar, half fill with water and shake with the lid on to get the extra sauce stuck to the sides of the jar. Add the water from the jar to the sauce. Stir well and bring to a simmer.
  3. Once simmering, add the sliced mushrooms and spinach and reduce to a low heat.
  4. In a small frypan, fry the chorizo until cooked. Drain on some paper towel and set aside.
  5. Once water is boiling, cook the pasta as per packet instructions. Whilst the pasta is cooking, add the chorizo and olives to the sauce. With 1 minute to go, add the basil.
  6. Serve immediately on warmed plates. (your choice if you want to mix the pasta through the sauce or serve the sauce on top)

Disclaimer: The Barilla Pasta and Napoletana Sauce were provided as a gift. I only support and endorse products that I have used or cooked with myself. 

 

 

 

Herb Crusted Lamb Rack

I love a good Sunday roast and since I cook dinner at home every Sunday, guess what was on the menu tonight. Lamb! Served up with roasted veggies, it is a treat. It is a all round crowd pleaser at my house and it is easier to cook than you think!

I’m just providing the recipe for the lamb rack. Feel free to serve this with any sides that you like but simple roast veggies always do the trick if you get stuck!

Herb Crusted Lamb Rack

What you’re going to need

1 frenched lamb rack roast (~400g)

1 tablespoon dijon mustard

1/2 loaf bread, crust removed (I used pane di casa)

zest of 1 lemon

handful fresh parsley

handful fresh thyme

salt and pepper to season

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celcius.
  2. Remove lamb rack from packaging and trim any thick excess sinew. (a bit of fat is good so don’t cut it all off, just the harder bits that won’t render down in the oven)
  3.  On a lined baking tray, place the lamb in the centre and bake for 15 minutes.
  4. Whilst the lamb is browning, prepare the crumb. In a pulse blender/food processor, place the crust-less bread, herbs, lemon and seasoning and blitz until well combined and a creates a chunky crumb.
  5. Once the 15 minutes have elapsed, remove the lamb from the oven and spread the dijon mustard over the top and sides. Add the crumbs evenly and cover as much of the lamb as possible leaving the bones exposed.
  6. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes. Pull out of the oven and leave to rest on the tray for 8-10 minutes before slicing.

Herb Crusted Lamb Rack

Chicken Sausage Casserole

It’s the long weekend, it’s cold and I am being especially lazy. Alas, I still wanted to cook something delicious and healthy for dinner tonight. I went with an adaptation of my mum’s sausage casserole.

Let’s get straight into it

Chicken Sausage Casserole (serves 4-5)

What you’re going to need

8 medium chicken sausages (mine were parsley flavoured)

1/2 cauliflower, roughly chopped

2 medium carrots, chopped evenly

1 potato, chopped evenly

1 potato, sliced thinly using a mandolin

50 grams fresh green beans, chopped evenly

500 mls/2 cups reduced salt chicken stock

2-3 tablespoons cornflour

1 tablespoon cream

salt and pepper to season

olive oil for frying

Method

  1. Place mandolin sliced potatoes in water and bring to a boil. Once boiling for 30 seconds, remove from heat and strain. Set aside.
  2. In a large cooking pot that can be used on the stove top, add some olive oil and bring to a medium heat. Add the sausages and cook until lightly brown. Remove from pan, slice into even pieces (~1cm each) and set aside.
  3. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celcius.
  4. In the same cooking pot, add an extra drizzle of oil and add all the vegetables. Fry the veggies for 2-3 minutes. Add in the chicken stock, cream and cornflour. Leave to simmer for 5-10 minutes until sauce begins to thickens. Add the sausages back in. Simmer for another 5 minutes.
  5. In a large baking dish, add the casserole mix and top with the mandolin potato slices. Drizzle olive oil over the potatoes and spread with a pastry brush. Season with salt and bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until potatoes on the top are golden brown. Serve hot*.

*Recipe is freezer friendly, save your leftovers!

 

Risotto Style Pearl Couscous with Roasted Vegetables

I randomly bought pearl couscous on a whim about 6 months ago. Guess what was still sitting in my pantry unopened today?

It wasn’t because I didn’t have any ideas about what to cook with it, it’s just that I seldom cook with pearl couscous and last time I made it I wasn’t too happy with how it turned out so needed to get motivated to try cook with it again.

Alas, I have taken a risotto style approach for preparing the couscous instead. What I ended up with a huge burst of flavour within a filling and healthy meal. Perfect!

I was hesitant to include the word risotto in this recipe at all because quite frankly it’s not a risotto. But it is similar to the style of cooking I used to prepare the couscous today. Grains absorbing the cooking liquid and leaving them al dente with additional ingredients mixed in. Works for me.

This recipe is conveniently vegetarian.

Pearl Couscous – Risotto Style (serves 2-3)

What you’re going to need

3/4 cup pearl couscous

1 400 ml bottle passata (or 1 tin tomatoes, pureed using a stick blender)

1 clove garlic, minced or grated with a microplane

1/2 zucchini, sliced into thick matchsticks

1/2 eggplant, sliced lengthways into rectangular pieces

3 small vine ripened tomatoes, kept whole

50 g haloumi, processed into a rough crumb

small handful basil leaves, roughly chopped

olive oil

salt and pepper to season

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees celcius. On a lined baking tray, add the eggplant, zucchini and tomatoes. Drizzle with olive oil. Bake until soft and browned (~20 minutes)
  2. Using a saucepan that has a lid, heat up a small drizzle of olive oil on a medium heat. Cook the garlic for 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Add the Passata and mix well.
  3. Add the pearl couscous, mix and allow to get to a simmer. Place the lid on whilst cooking and stir every 2 to 3 minutes. Season to taste. Cook until pearl couscous is al dente and tomatoes are still saucy. (Note: if you’re finding it too thick, add small amounts of water). Mix in chopped basil.
  4. In a small fry pan, quickly pan fry the haloumi for 1-2 minutes.
  5. Once couscous, eggplant and zucchini are ready, mix together in the saucepan with the haloumi. Serve hot with the roast tomato in the centre.

Pearl couscous with roast vegetables

 

Eggplant, Kale and Feta Lasagne

So this one will be a polarising recipe! People tend to love or hate eggplant so if you’re one of the haters, this one isn’t for you sorry!

For the lovers, there is plenty of eggplant goodness! Layered up with lasagne sheets, crushed tomatoes, kale and feta this is perfect for dinner or in my case, work lunches!

This one is so easy I’m going to jump straight into it! Recipe conveniently vegetarian for those interested!

Eggplant, Kale and Feta Lasagne (serves 4)

What you’re going to need

1 medium eggplant, sliced thinly into circles (5mm)

1 cup kale, roughly chopped into small pieces

100 g Danish feta

6 lasagne sheets (I used San Remo)

1 tin tomatoes (whole, peeled Italian tomatoes)

tasty/cheddar cheese, grated

salt and cracked black pepper to season

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celcius
  2. In a large measuring jug, add the tin tomatoes. Crush using a stick blender until it becomes a chunky liquid. Add the kale, mix through and set aside.
  3. Heat up some olive oil in a medium sized frypan. Cook the eggplant until it is almost fully cooked. Set aside.
  4. In a large square baking dish, start with 2 lasagne sheets on the bottom. Next, add a layer of eggplant and pour half of the tomato and kale mixture over the top. Spread evenly. Crumble feta evenly across the top then season with salt and pepper. Repeat. For the third layer (the top), place the last two lasagne sheets and then add the grated cheese evenly.
  5. Place in the oven with dish covered in foil for 45 minutes. When there is 10 minutes to go, remove the foil to get crispy golden cheese on the top.
  6. Serve immediately or allow to cool completely before storing for work lunches.*

*This recipe is freezer friendly.

Pesto Chicken Pasta with Extra Veg

Want to up the veg but are craving carbs big time and you want more variety than just more baked potatoes?

To make this dish a quick one (~25 mins), you need to choose vegetables that cook quickly in a fry pan. My new favourite kitchen technique for cooking things quickly is ribboning your vegetables! It almost feels like you get more yield per individual vegetable as opposed to slicing them up. Easy as, all you need to do is peel your veggie of choice (usually carrot, eggplant or in this case zucchini) and peel and peel and peel to get long thin slices that will cook in about 2-3 minutes. Amazing!

Next, to pump up the veg even more i threw in some cherry tomatoes and chopped green beans! I added in chicken as well to satisfy the family taste buds but for work lunches i’d probably omit it for cost and longevity in the fridge reasons. This dish is also conveniently dairy free.

Anyway, let’s get into the recipe!

Pesto Chicken Pasta with Extra Veg (serves 4)

What you’re going to need

3 cups spiral/fusilli pasta (I use Barilla)

1 small chicken breast, sliced into strips

1 medium zucchini, sliced into ribbons with peeler

handful fresh green beans, chopped into even pieces

handful cherry tomatoes, sliced in half lengthways

Pesto

1 cup fresh basil leaves

1 cup baby spinach

1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (I use Cobram Estate)

2 tablespoons pine nuts

1 clove garlic, grated with microplane/crushed

zest of 1/2 lemon, grated with microplane

salt to season

Method

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Once boiling, add pasta and cook based on packet instructions.
  2. In a pulse blender, add all the pesto ingredients and blitz until at the desired consistency (not a paste but not too chunky). Set aside
  3. In a lightly oiled fry pan on a medium heat, cook the chicken until 90% cooked. Remove from pan and place in a bowl.
  4. Add the beans and tomatoes and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the zucchini ribbons, cook for 1 minute.
  5. Reduce heat to low and add the chicken and pesto. Stir well ensuring the pesto coats all ingredients.
  6. Strain cooked pasta and add to the fry pan of ingredients. Mix well to coat pasta in pesto. Serve immediately.*

Chicken Pesto Pasta

*Can be served cold. Will keep in the fridge for ~3 days (with chicken) and ~5 days (without chicken).