oriental chunky vegetable & pork

I love the sweet, savoury, umami flavours that ingredients like soya, honey and fish sauce add to a dish. Stir fries are easy, flavourful and healthy and right at the top of my list of good, nutritious meals. An old Chinese method of cooking, which is a little time consuming in preparation but only takes minutes of cooking.
It always reminds me of my travels to far away countries with beautiful cultures and cuisine and hot, summer days.

A wok is the best pan for stir-frying because its curved surface distributes the heat more evenly and more food can be fried in less oil. If you don’t have a wok, a sauté pan will make a good substitute.

Serve this dish with rice or noodles and extra homemade chilli paste.

ingredients | serves 4-6 | easy
1 red onion, sliced
5 garlic cloves, sliced
3 carrots, sliced into large sticks
4 zucchini, sliced into large sticks
200g button mushrooms, halved and quartered
1 red pepper, sliced
500g pork loin steak, cubed
1/4C honey
1/2C soya
3T sweet soya
1T fish sauce
1t sesame oil
1/2t red chilli flakes (optional)
2T olive oil & extra for browning meat
2T butter
1T sesame seeds (i used white and black)
1/2C cashew nuts, chopped
1C rosa tomatoes, whole or halved
large bunch fresh coriander, half chopped, half for garnish
handful fresh parsley, finely chopped
1/2t salt
good grind of black pepper

method
In a large wok or pan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and brown the cubed meat all over. Set aside.
In the same pan, without wiping it clean, heat an extra 2 tablespoons olive oil and the butter and sauté the red onion for about 2 minutes. Add the vegetables and garlic, toss and cook, while stirring or tossing, for about 8 minutes.
Add the red chilli flakes, tomatoes and the meat, stir to combine and then add the soya, honey, sweet soya, fish sauce & sesame oil. Stir to coat and cook for about 5 minutes, occasionally stirring until meat is cooked through. Season with salt & pepper.
Add the sesame seeds, cashew nuts, parsley & chopped coriander and stir to combine.

Garnish with fresh coriander and serve with steamed basmati rice or noodles.




wild rice pilaf

Pilaf is a rice dish that is cooked in stock or broth, adding spices and meat or vegetables. I think quite similar to a fried rice, without the egg, obviously.
For this dish I cheated a bit and bought ready-to-eat wild rice that I added to my fried vegetables. This really saved me a lot of time that allowed me to focus on other things like dessert and a bottle of good red wine.

I used vegetables that I had in my fridge, making this a fairly ‘rule-free’ recipe. I don’t, however, suggest using root veggies here. Keep it simple with ingredients that cook fairly quickly, similar to stir fry vegetables.

A delicious side dish or light meal.

ingredients | serves 6 | easy
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
250g cooked wild rice
2 carrots, julienne
2 zucchini, cubed
200g button mushrooms, quartered
1/3C slivered almonds, toasted
3T soy sauce
handful fresh parsley & coriander, finely chopped
1t ground cumin
1/2t ground coriander
2T olive oil
3T butter
1 spring onion, sliced (optional)

how to
In a large skillet, melt the olive oil & 1 tablespoon butter. Saute the onion & garlic until translucent. About 4 minutes. Add the ground cumin & coriander, stir and cook for 1 minute.
Add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, zucchini & mushrooms and cook for about 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the rice and julienne carrots, stir and cook for 5 minutes.
Add the soy sauce and almonds and cook for a further 3 minutes while stirring.
Stir the parsley & coriander through the rice mixture.

Garnish with sliced spring onion or coriander leaves.



quinoa & couscous salad

Winter seems to be disappearing quickly so it’s time to start stepping up on delicious, healthy and flavourful summery dishes! Salads scream summer and this is another favourite of mine that is a delightful on its own or served as a side with just about anything.
To make life easier I always cook things like quinoa, lentils, spelt & barley in big quantities, portion and freeze it until I need it. This way I can quickly whip up a beautiful meal without spending hours behind the stove.
Once frozen, thaw the quinoa in the fridge overnight.

Quinoa, with its fluffy texture and subtle flavour is high in protein, B vitamins & dietary fibre, making it a healthy and delicious good for you grain.

ingredients | serves 4-6 | easy
2C cooked quinoa
1C cooked couscous
1/2 small red onion, finely diced
20 small rosa tomatoes, halved
1 tub bocconcini cheese, halved or buffalo mozzarella, torn
5 radish, sliced
1/2 cucumber, deseeded and cut into small blocks
100g mange tout, sliced diagonally
1 ripe avocado, cut into blocks
handful fresh coriander/cilantro, finely chopped
handful fresh parsley, finely chopped
1/4C pumpkin seeds, toasted
1/4C sunflower seeds, toasted

for the dressing
4T red wine vinegar
1T dijon mustard
3T lemon juice
1/2C olive oil
1t dried oregano
1 garlic clove, crushed
1T brown sugar
pinch salt
good grind of black pepper

how to
In a glass jar or mixing bowl, combine all of the dressing ingredients and shake or whisk well until emulsified. Set aside to infuse for about 30 minutes.
Tip the cooked quinoa & couscous into a large dish.
Add all the salad ingredients to the quinoa mixture and toss well.

Pour about a quarter of the salad dressing over the salad and mix to coat.


cumin baked chicken

Cumin, a spice often used in my kitchen for various dishes, is an earthy, warm spice that adds the most beautiful hearty depth to any dish. A delicious match for meat, it also adds complexity to vegetarian dishes.

As part of last night’s dinner, I served these flavourful baked thighs and drumsticks with my lentil and grilled vegetable salad. This is a delicious and healthy dish that is as easy to prepare as it is to eat. With the skin moreishly crispy, the meat is succulent , tender and flavourful. A perfect and easy family go-to meal!

Serve with couscous, salad or grilled vegetables for a healthy family mid-week meal or serve it with a cucumber & yogurt dressing for a delicious, heart warming snack.

ingredients | serves 3-4 | easy
8 chicken thighs & drumsticks
2t crushed garlic
2t ground cumin
1t cumin seeds, crushed in a pestle & mortar
1T black pepper
1/3C olive oil
juice & zest of 1 lemon
1T fresh thyme leaves
1/2t red pepper flakes, optional
fresh cilantro/coriander to serve

method
Place all of the ingredients into a large freezer bag and shake well to coat.
Place the bag into the fridge to marinade for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180C.
Arrange the chicken pieces in a baking tray, season with a little salt and bake for about 40 minutes until cooked through.

Drizzle the roasting juices over the chicken pieces and garnish with fresh coriander/cilantro.

Serve warm.


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

method
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.