grilled vegetable, lentil & couscous salad

Food is a big part of my daily life and I love eating well. Although I absolutely love rich pastas, decadent desserts and have a very weak spot for dark chocolate; healthy, hearty and nutritious food is what I enjoy most.
I like salads that are filling, heart warming, flavourful and comforting all at the same time and that is exactly what you can expect from this one.
As dressings go I am all for homemade, so take five minutes and shake up the zesty dressing ingredients that complements this salad so well.

This salad is perfect on its own with toasted ciabatta or served with a protein of your choice.

ingredients | serves 4-6 | easy
3C cooked lentils (brown or green works well here)
1C cooked couscous
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 large carrot, cut into small blocks
3 zucchini, cut into blocks
1 red pepper, deseeded and cut into blocks
20 rosa tomatoes, halved
1 tub bocconcini cheese, halved
handful fresh parsley, finely chopped
handful fresh mint, finely chopped
handful fresh coriander/cilantro, freshly chopped
chives, chopped
1 avocado, cut into blocks
1/2C pumpkin & sunflower seeds, toasted
2T olive oil
black pepper
1/2t garlic powder

for the dressing
2t crushed garlic
3T lemon juice
3T apple cider vinegar
1T brown sugar
1t dijon mustard
1/3C olive oil
1T fresh thyme leaves
pinch salt
black pepper

Preheat the oven to 190C. In an oven proof dish, coat the carrots, zucchini & red pepper with olive oil and season with garlic powder and black pepper. Place into the oven to roast until tender. About 20 minutes.

Meanwhile make the dressing.
Combine all the ingredients together in a jar with tight fitting lid and give it a good shake until emulsified. Set aside to infuse.
Tip the lentils & couscous into a large mixing bowl.
Add the remaining ingredients to the salad and gently mix to combine. Once the vegetables have cooled, add it to the salad and mix through.

Mix about half of the dressing into the ingredients and serve the remainder alongside.

spelt, barley & wild rice salad

Spelt & barley are good-for-you grains with many health benefits ranging from better digestion to reduced hunger since both are high in fibre.
I love the nutty, chewiness of spelt, which complements the barley and wild rice beautifully in this very delicious salad.
This salad is great served on its own or as a side to just about any meal and will not leave you hungry or feeling guilty. For a great meat free Monday meal add some roasted beetroot or butternut.

Instead of using canned kernel corn I steamed mini corn cobs and added chickpeas for extra protein.

Besides using the freshest produce available to you I don’t think there are any rules to a salad. Try and add the ingredients that you enjoy most, keep it fresh, keep it simple and make the time to mix your own salad dressing.
With these simple guidelines I doubt much can go wrong…

ingredients | serves 6 | easy
250g cooked spelt & barley mix
150g cooked wild rice
1 small red onion, finely chopped
5 mini corn on the cob, steamed
200g mini rosa tomatoes
1 can chickpeas, drained & rinsed
1 tub bocconcini mozzarella, halved
1C walnuts, chopped & toasted
bunch fresh mint, chopped
bunch fresh coriander/cilantro, chopped
avocado, optional
fresh rocket, optional

6T white wine vinegar
1/2C olive oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 1/2T brown sugar
1/2t salt
1/2t black pepper
squeeze lemon juice
1T chopped fresh parsley

how to
Combine all the salad ingredients in a large salad bowl or dish.
Combine all the dressing ingredients except the parsley in a jar with lid or mixing bowl. Whisk or shake until emulsified. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Pour a little dressing over the salad and mix to coat.

Serve with the dressing on the side.

mushroom soup

Meat free Mondays doesn’t have to be boring nor tasteless. With a few simple ingredients and beautiful fresh produce, you can enjoy a flavourful vegetarian dish, without feeling you have missed out on life.
By building a strong foundation, adding the right spices and umami for richness, you can create a sensational meal.
Mushrooms are a rich, low calorie source of protein, fiber and antioxidants and may reduce the risk of developing serious health conditions, such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
This soup has a strong, earthy taste and smell with beautiful umami flavour from the shitake mushrooms and soy sauce. It is creamy and comforting with a complex texture.

ingredients | serves 4-6 | easy
1/2 white onion, finely chopped
2 leeks, halved and sliced
2t garlic, crushed
250g button mushrooms, sliced, halved & quartered
150g shitake mushrooms, halved, sliced & quartered
200g brown mushrooms, sliced
1/3C soy sauce
6 thyme stalks, leaves only + extra for garnish
3C chicken stock
1t paprika
1/2t smoked paprika
1/2C cream
2T olive oil
2T butter
handful fresh parsley, finely chopped
creme fraiche, optional

In a large pot, heat the olive oil and butter and sauté the onion until glossy. Add the leeks & garlic and cook for a further two minutes while stirring.
Add the mushrooms, stir to coat and then add the paprika and cook for two minutes while stirring.
Pour the stock and soy sauce into the pot followed by the thyme.
Stir and bring the mixture to the boil. Turn the temperature down to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes until the mushrooms are fork tender.
Remove the pot from the heat and using a stick blender, puree only half of the soup. Taste and season with salt & black pepper.
Return the pot to the heat and stir in the cream. Cook for 5 more minutes on a low heat.
Stir the chopped parsley through the soup.

Serve warm with a dollop of creme fraiche, additional black pepper and thyme leaves.

roast baby cabbage with fennel

Cabbage, a vegetable that many seldom cook with, is delicious boiled, sauteed, blanched or roasted. This is a cool and versatile, low calorie come-back vegetable that can be enjoyed in various ways.
It is closely related to broccoli, cauliflower & Brussels sprouts, so it comes as no surprise that this leafy green is always welcome in my fridge.

This is a quick and simple recipe for a side dish that you will most definitely return to.

I used two baby cabbages for this recipe. Double the recipe ingredients if you want to cook more or if you are using large heads.

ingredients | easy
2 baby cabbage, halved or one head green cabbage, cut into 4 wedges
1t fennel seeds, crushed
1t garlic powder
2T olive oil
4T butter
1t fine salt
good grind of black pepper
1/2t red pepper flakes (optional)
1 lemon, wedges

Preheat the oven to 210 degrees.
Crush the fennel seeds using a pestle & mortar.
Melt the butter and mix it with the olive oil. Brush the butter & oil mixture on all sides of the cabbages. Season with the fennel seeds, garlic powder, salt, pepper and red chili flakes, if using. Place the cabbage on a baking sheet and roast for 15-20 minutes until nicely browned. Turn and roast for a further 15 minutes until tender.

Place a piece of butter onto each half to melt into the vegetable and serve with a lemon wedge or two.

Serve warm.

side dish – creamy garlic baby potatoes

A good side dish can either steal the shine from your main event or assist in making your main event just a little more special and enjoyable. I prefer the latter.
This is saucy dish, rich in flavor and taste and will compliment things like chicken breast or a beautiful piece of steak very well.
New potatoes work well here but thick slices of any decent quality potato are just as delicious.
Adding sliced shitake or oyster mushrooms, crushed nuts and a sprinkling of red chili flakes will most certainly take this dish to a different level of delicious…

ingredients | serves 2 – 4 | easy
500g baby potatoes, halved
3T olive oil
knob of butter
2t crushed garlic
5 sprigs thyme, leaves only
handful fresh parsley, roughly chopped
3/4C chicken stock
1/2C cream, full fat
salt to taste
good grind of black pepper

how to
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Place the potatoes face down into the pan and cook until beautifully golden. Turn onto the skin side and cook until golden.
Add the butter and the garlic and cook for one minute. Add the thyme leaves and stir.
Pour the chicken stock into the pan, cover with a tight fitting lid, turn down to a low simmer and cook for about 6 minutes, or until the potatoes are knife tender, stirring once or twice.
Remove the lid and cook on medium heat to reduce half of the liquid if there is still a bit of liquid left over.
Season with salt & pepper and stir to coat.
Pour the cream into the pan and cook until thickened and reduced.
Garnish with the chopped parsley.

Serve immediately.