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

 

 

 

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.

Spinach and Feta Pasta Shells

Another weekend, another opportunity to stock my freezer with prepared meals for work lunches! Yes there is more to my life than meal prep I promise but I have always found cooking quite therapeutic so it’s always a breeze for me to prepare my own food for work and not worry about foraging every lunch time!

I find at home that we end up with bits and pieces leftover from where we have tried new recipes or have just decided to experiment with different ingredients. As a result, we at my household tend to end up with random portions of ingredients which often get neglected or unfortunately thrown out if they’re there for long enough…

Alas, leftover meal prep is my favourite. Ideally with this approach, you only need to purchase maybe one or two ingredients to make a complete dish. In this case, I only bought some basil as it is a seasonal herb and our current garden supply has died off. Our lovely next door neighbour kindly donated some of her homegrown spinach which I put to use straight away. An ingredient that goes perfectly with spinach, feta! Feta is basically a staple in my house. With these and a couple of other bits and pieces, we have a dish!

Let’s get into it!

Spinach and Feta Pasta Shells (serves 2)

What you’re going to need

12 giant pasta shells

1 bunch spinach, stems removed

150 g feta

1/4 cup walnuts

6 basil leaves

cheddar cheese, grated for topping

salt and pepper to season

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celcius.
  2. Cook pasta shells as per packet instructions until al dente.
  3. In a pulse blender/food processer, add the spinach, feta, walnuts, basil, salt and pepper. Blitz until well combined and a chunky paste is formed.
  4. Have a medium sized baking dish ready. Carefully hold a pasta shell (as they are still very hot) and place a spoonful of mixture inside. Place inside the baking dish. Continue until all shells and mixture have been used. Once all in, place as much or as little grated cheddar on top as you like.
  5. Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until cheese on top has melted and darkened.
  6. Serve immediately or allow to cool completely and then package up in the freezer.

Spinach and Feta Pasta Shells

 

 

Sweet Potato Salad with Honey Mustard Dressing

For the most part, I am trying to eat healthy. I am quite a bit fussy about salads though. They can just be so ordinary and unfulfilling. I always need something to give them a bit more substance. For example, quinoa, pearl couscous or a starchy vegetable like in this case, sweet potato. I cook with sweet potato quite a lot because it’s flavoursome, healthy and most importantly filling.

I was out shopping earlier for groceries and noticed that my local store had pomegranates! I’ve eaten them numerous times but have never actually bought one. Decided to take the plunge and buy one. With a bit of manual labour, I managed to get out all the seeds ready for use. I normally don’t like fruit in my savoury salads but pomegranates are the exception. So in went a handful of fresh pomegranate seeds. Now for a dressing. I wanted something tangy but not with too much vinegar so went with a honey mustard style dressing. Easy to make with ingredients that most people will have in their pantries staples.

Sweet Potato Salad with Honey Mustard Dressing

What you’re going to need

Salad

½ gold sweet potato, peeled and chopped into small even pieces

Generous handful of mixed green salad leaves

1 tablespoon pomegranate seeds

20 g feta cheese

Dressing (note: these are rough measures so taste you as go until you’re happy)

2 tablespoons olive oil

½ tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon honey

Pinch sea salt

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celcius.
  2. On a baking tray, add the sweet potato with a drizzle of oil and pinch of salt. Bake until soft. (15-20 minutes roughly)
  3. Whilst the potato is baking, place all salad ingredients on your serving plate.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together all dressing ingredients until well combined (you’ll find that the dressing will split if you leave it sitting on the bench so whisk just before serving as well)
  5. Once potatoes are cooked, allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving with the rest of the salad and dressing.

 

 Sweet Potato Salad

 

Spinach and Feta Fritters

I don’t know about you but I have a tendency to crave ultimate mood food (aka pizza, burgers and the like) when I am relaxing. To me, Sunday is my day of relaxation. I am usually at home and pretty lazy quite frankly but a girl’s gotta eat right? And so comes today’s recipe.

Opened the fridge and it was pretty bare. However we tend to freeze our leafy greens when they’re no longer good for fresh use so I had a whole stash of kale and spinach ready to go. Next stop, creamy element. I’m a big sucker for cheese and eat it religiously so threw some feta in the mix for these ones as it pairs perfectly with leafy greens. Lastly, a twist. A half filled jar of semi dried tomatoes that lifted the dish to what became a really great lunch.

Spinach and Feta fritters (yields 4-6 small fritters) 

What you’re going to need

1 heaped cup of baby spinach and kale

3 small semi dried tomatoes, roughly chopped

20g feta cheese

1 egg

1/2- 1 tablespoon self raising flour

salt and pepper to season

basil + olive oil to dress (optional)

Method

  1. In a pulse blender, combine the baby spinach, kale feta and semi dried tomatoes. Pulse until roughly chopped (don’t blend too much or you’ll end up with more of a dip consistency)
  2. Transfer mixture from the blender to a small bowl. Add the egg and mix well with a fork. Once combined, add small amounts of flour and stir until mixture holds well together but it’s not too thick. (too much flour makes fritters rubbery in texture and taste. Add with caution)
  3. Heat up a non stick fry pan on medium. Once hot, spoon even amounts of the mixture onto the pan. Cook on one side for about 2 minutes or until you can comfortably flip them over with a spatula. Flip over and cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute until golden brown
  4. Serve immediately with chopped basil and olive oil drizzle.

Spinach and Feta Fritters

 

Vegetarian Stuffed Pasta Shells

Hope everyone is having a great Easter long weekend! I have been cooking away and experimenting a fair bit and I’m excited to share another recipe with you all.

I aim to make my work lunches with tuna or make them vegetarian just because meat is so expensive! I have been on a bit of a streak lately where I have come up with some tasty, filling and cheap lunch options. There were some odds and ends around the kitchen today. I wanted to use up the bits of food we had leftover both in the fridge and pantry to make this dish. I decided to substitute the meat in this dish with potato. It worked well and gave the dish the substance to make it a complete dish. I have also developed the flavours with cheese, garlic and Barilla Basilico Pasta Sauce.

Vegetarian Stuffed Pasta Shells (serves 2)

What you’re going to need

10 giant pasta shells (these were from a local food market which sells an abundance of Italian food products)

1 medium potato, diced

100 grams baby spinach

50 grams feta

1 clove garlic

1/2 cup Italian pasta sauce (I used Barilla Basilico Pasta Sauce)

100 grams cheddar, grated (I used Mersey Valley)

salt and pepper to season

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celcius
  2. In a small saucepan, add the diced potato to cold water and bring to the boil. In a medium saucepan, bring a pot of water and salt (1/2 tablespoon) to the boil. Once boiling, add pasta and cook until al dente.
  3. In a food processor, blitz the spinach, feta, garlic, salt and pepper until coarse. (you don’t want to blitz it for too long and end up with a dip…)
  4. Mash the potato to remove the large lumps and then combine with the spinach mixture.
  5. Have a small baking dish ready. Place a heaped spoon of the filling into each of the giant pasta shells and place in one layer in the baking dish until all the shells are filled. Spoon pasta sauce over the shells and cover the top and around the sides. Place the grated cheddar on the top evenly.
  6. Place in the preheated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes. Serve hot.

Stuffed Pasta Shells

 

Shakshuka

Shakshuka or “baked eggs” as it may be more commonly known, is a spicy tomato sauce based dish with eggs being the hero! I have never tried it before I made it myself so not sure what it is meant to taste like traditionally, however, my version tasted amazing regardless! I invested in a Baccarat Granite fry pan and it is glorious. No need for butters when you’re cooking and absolutely nothing sticks so it’s super quick to clean! It is also oven safe which worked perfectly for this dish and reduces the amount of dish washing afterwards! My recipe is not strictly traditional as I opted not to use capsicum but mushrooms instead. Here’s what I came up with!

Shakshuka (serves 1)

What you’re going to need

2 eggs

1 tin diced italian tomatoes

1 teaspoon tomato paste

1/4 brown onion, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika

3 button mushrooms, sliced

salt and pepper

1 teaspoon olive oil (for browning onions and garlic)

sourdough toast for serving

Method

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees

2. Warm up the oil on a medium heat in a small frypan (preferably an oven safe pan because it will keep this as a one pan dish). Add the onions and garlic and cook through until softened

3. Add the tin tomatoes, tomato paste, cumin, paprika, salt and pepper. Stir through making sure everything is well combined.

4. Once sauce begins to thicken, add the mushrooms.

5. For the eggs, you can either crack them directly into the sauce, evenly spread apart. (or what I did was crack them one at a time into a separate container, just to avoid any possibility of eggshell falling in the sauce and also so I could get a perfect position in the pan for the eggs) Once eggs are in the pan on top of the sauce, place the fry pan in the oven for 10 minutes or until eggs are cooked to your desired preference.

6. Serve with sourdough toast (or any kind of toast will be fine too!)

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