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.



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.





vegetable fried rice

I have very fond memories of delicious rice dishes in both Thailand and Bali during my travels. Unlike my mother, I love rice and can eat it with almost anything.
This is a delicious, healthy meal and a great way of using any leftover rice and extra vegetables you may have in your fridge. Perfect fried rice is best when using cold, leftover long grain rice. A very hot wok is ideal but a large skillet will also do.

To simplify things and ensure even cooking, I like to grate some of the vegetables that would normally take longer to cook.
Great on its own or served as a side dish, you will most definitely return for seconds.

ingredients | serves 4-6 | easy
2C long grain rice, preferably a day old
2T olive oil
2T butter
1/2 white onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 large carrot, grated
1 large zucchini, grated
1c broccoli, florets
1c mushrooms, sliced
1/2c frozen peas
2t grated ginger
1/4c soy sauce
1T sesame oil
2t fish sauce
1/2t red chili flakes, optional
3 eggs, beaten
1/2c spring onion, sliced diagonally
bunch fresh coriander/cilantro, roughly chopped
salt to taste
black pepper
sesame seeds, garnish (optional)

how to
Heat olive oil & butter in a large wok or skillet. Fry the onion until glossy. Add the garlic and cook for one minute.
Add the carrot, zucchini, broccoli & mushrooms and cook for three minutes, tossing occasionally. Add the ginger & soya sauce, toss and cook one minute.
Add the rice, stir and toss as you cook for a further three minutes, then adding the peas, fish stock, sesame oil and chili flakes if using. Toss to coat and cook for three minutes.
Make a well in the center and add the eggs. Leave the eggs to cook for about a minute and then gently start folding the vegetable mixture through the eggs.
Season with salt & pepper and keep folding while the eggs cook.
Once the eggs are cooked, remove the wok / skillet from the heat.

Stir the cilantro through the mixture and garnish with the sliced spring onion & sesame seeds.

Serve warm.









Brussels side

Brussels sprouts may not be to everyone’s taste but i really love them. This side dish is the perfect table wow factor and will leave your guests (and kids) loving brussels.
I used beautiful fatty streaky bacon here to add to the flavor of the dish. This can however be substituted for pancetta, chicken/duck/turkey bacon or reduced fat pork bacon.
For a simple and quick lunch, toss it through lemon, garlic & chilly spaghetti. Delicious!

ingredients | serves 2-4 | easy
300g Brussels sprouts, halved
125g streaky bacon, sliced
40g walnuts, roughly chopped
2 leeks, sliced diagonally
4 sprigs thyme, leaves only
2T olive oil
1T butter
1/2t salt
good grind of black pepper
zest of half a lemon

how to do it
Heat a dry pan over medium heat and toast the walnuts. Keep your eye on the pan to avoid it from burning.
Set aside.
Bring a pot of water to the boil. Submerge the halved Brussels sprouts in the water and blanch for three minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the water bath by running cold water into a large bowl and add one cup of ice to it. Remove the sprouts from the boiling water using a slotted spoon and submerge it into the iced water. Leave to cool and then drain.
Heat the olive oil and fry the bacon until almost crispy.
Add the leeks and Brussels sprouts, toss and then add the tablespoon of butter and the fresh thyme.
Cook on a moderate heat until the bacon have crisped beautifully and the sprouts has a nice color to its skin.
Sprinkle the toasted walnuts into the skillet and toss.
Season with the salt, pepper & lemon zest and toss to coat.

From my kitchen to yours, with love x