a fresh take on coleslaw

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www.nourishfoodlife.com.auDespite its German origins, coleslaw has somehow become classic Australian fare, and is now as much a part of the traditional Aussie barbie spread as snags, tomato sauce and tinned beetroot. To make matters worse, the coleslaw that is served up is most often smothered in a rich sugary mayonnaise that all but drowns out the flavour of veggies within and eclipses any health benefits they might offer.

Luckily though, Australia is moving on and is starting to live up to the foodie reputation we’ve been gaining around the world lately. The weekend back-yard barbecue is becoming more sophisticated, as we become inspired by celebrity chefs, dine at the plethora of fabulous restaurants popping up everywhere and experiment with the amazing produce that our farmers are bringing to our local farmers’ markets for us to buy.

With just a tiny bit of reworking, coleslaw becomes a gorgeous, mouthwatering salad in its own right that you’d be proud to share with friends and family; colourful, antioxidant rich and delicious.

This recipe is fairly close rendition of Fiona Inglis’s New Wave Coleslaw, which features in her book The Garden Cook. Fiona went from being a Masterchef contestant to teaching kitchen garden cooking to kids at an Adelaide Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Program school (just like me…minus the Masterchef bit!). I think this recipe reflects her delicate approach to combining flavours, textures and colours, as well as her crowd-pleasing abilities. Crunchy and fresh, with a little burst of sweetness here and there from the currants, you’ll find that kids and adults alike will be coming back for seconds.

A Fresh Take On Coleslaw

  • ½ small red cabbage
  • 2-3 carrots, peeled and grated
  • 1 red capsicum, white membrane removed and finely sliced
  • 1 small red onion, finely sliced
  • 1/3 cup currants
  • ¼ cup roughly chopped parsley
  • ¼ cup roughly chopped mint
  • 1 cup greek-style yoghurt
  • juice of a lemon
  • 2 tsp red wine vinegar
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Remove the outer leaves from the cabbage and wash well. Remove the core and finely shred. Add to a large bowl along with the carrot, capsicum, onion, currants, parsley and mint.

To make the dressing, whisk together the yoghurt, lemon juice and vinegar, along with a good pinch of salt and some pepper, until silky smooth.

Pour the dressing over the salad and then mix the whole lot together until evenly combined. Serve at once, or pop in the fridge until needed. This is one salad that works well to make ahead as the flavours develop beautiful upon standing.

kale & feta frittata

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Let’s face it, many of us are time poor these days and eating well can be a challenge when life gets too busy. So it’s good to have a few recipes up our sleeves to throw together a quick, healthy meal without too much thought or effort.

Frittata is a great lifesaver recipe for these times. It that can be prepared in minutes at the end of the day, and the veggies and herbs in the recipe are interchangeable with whatever you have on hand – just follow the basic process and it will work a treat. And it’s good cold the next day, so make two and you have tomorrow’s lunches sorted too.

Kale & Feta Frittata

  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • Small bunch kale, stems removed and leaves roughly chopped
  • 8 eggs
  • 120g feta, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup (20g) freshly grated parmesan
  • ½ cup roughly chopped parsley
  • Zest of ½ lemon, finely grated
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the grill to high. Heat the oil in a 23cm non-stick ovenproof frypan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until the onion has softened but not browned. Add the kale and cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender.

Meanwhile, whisk the eggs with a fork until combined, then season with salt freshly ground black pepper. Stir in the feta, then add the mixture to the pan. Tip pan to spread egg mixture evenly, sprinkle with parmesan then return to a low heat on the stovetop for 10-15 minutes until almost firm.

Place the pan under the grill for a further 5 minutes or until the frittata is golden-brown and cooked through.

Allow the frittata to stand for 5 minutes, while you mix together the parsley and lemon zest. Now turn the frittata out onto a board to slice into desired servings. Sprinkle with parsley and lemon mixture before serving.

golden crispy potatoes

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www.nourishfoodlife.com.auPotatoes have gone and got themselves a bit of a bad reputation in recent years, but let’s face it, they taste so good. Do we really need to ditch the humble spud in order to be healthy? Not necessarily. Let’s have a look at some of the facts around potatoes, and you’ll see why I think we can enjoy them, deliciously, as part of a nourishing food life.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the average Australian eats 63 kg of potatoes a year. This is in comparison to just 2 kg of broccoli! (Really…? Who are these people…?) A good (or not so good) proportion of this 63 kg of potatoes is eaten as French fries or potato chips, which we all know are loaded with unhealthy fats and have little to no nutritional value.

But as a veggie in their own right, potatoes aren’t so bad as all that. They are a good are a source of potassium, vitamins C and B6 and also contain a decent amount of fibre. It’s important to note that most of the goodness in potatoes is in the skin, so keep it on wherever you can – just give them a scrub with a veggie brush to clean them up before using.

There are countless varieties of potatoes on the market. I tend to favour the Nicola potato, given that they are a lower-carb variety than others, they’re versatile to use and they taste great, but I can’t resist Sapphire potatoes if they catch my eye at the farmers market; they have an amazing violet colour which is an added visual bonus to their antioxidant properties.

One point that’s worth remembering when buying potatoes is that this is a case where organic is definitely best. Being a root vegetable, potatoes draw in deeply whatever nutrients and chemicals are present in the soil around them, storing them inside their flesh, which we then eat at the table. Conventionally grown potatoes tend to be heavily sprayed, both during the growing season, and again after they’re harvested to prevent them sprouting and so giving them a longer shelf-life. Organic potatoes taste so much better too.

So to sum up, I tend to think of potatoes as the carbohydrate portion of a meal, meaning that I wouldn’t serve them alongside other carbs like bread, rice, pasta or couscous. I certainly wouldn’t have them every day, and fries and chips don’t even get a look in. But when potatoes are in season, there’s no reason not to enjoy them as you would any other freshly harvested bounty from the garden.

This recipe has been adapted from one by Jamie Oliver, which brings together the heavenly flavour combination of potatoes, rosemary, garlic, and salt.

Golden Crispy Potatoes – serves 4

  • 1 kg organic potatoes
  • 6 large cloves garlic
  • 3-4 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • Sea salt flakes

Give all the potatoes a good scrub with a veggie brush and rinse off. Trim off any discoloured parts then cut them into 2-3cm pieces. Put into a large saucepan, and put a kettle of water on to boil.

Flatten the garlic cloves with the edge of a large knife, remove the papery skins, then pop the cloves into the pot with the potatoes.

When the kettle has come to the boil, cover the potatoes with the boiling water, and put the saucepan on the stove to maintain a gentle simmer. Cook until the potatoes are only just tender when tested with a skewer.

Drain the garlic and potatoes into a colander. Place a large frying pan on the heat, and add the olive oil. Add the potatoes, along with the rosemary and a good sprinkling of sea salt flakes. Fry the potatoes, tossing every now and then, until they are golden brown and crispy. Serve at once.

 

 

beetroot risotto

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nourishfoodlife.com.auVeggies can taste incredibly different depending on how they’re prepared, and beetroot is a classic case in point. It can be boiled whole and pureed, then whipped into Chocolate Beetroot Muffins or delicious dips; it can be grated into Borscht; or paired with apple, coriander and mint for an amazing salad.

In this recipe, beetroot comes into its own with the addition of basil – the oh-so-delicious result of having an abundance of both beetroot and basil at point of harvest in my garden one summer.

Beetroot’s vibrant colour and rich, earthy flavour is enough reason to get to know it better. An added bonus is that it’s full of immune-boosting nutrients and essential minerals, and has blood-purifying qualities as well.

Beetroot Risotto – serves 4-6

  • 8 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 leek, finely sliced then rinsed (you can substitute one finely diced onion if you prefer)
  • 1 large beetroot
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 cups arborio rice
  • ¼ cup of white wine or verjuice
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • A handful of flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
  • A handful of basil leaves, roughly chopped
  • Extra fresh herbs, to garnish

Pour the stock into a medium-sized saucepan and heat to a gentle simmer.

Scrub the beetroot, and peel if needed. Dice into 1 cm cubes.

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-based pan. Add the leek or onion to the large pot, along with the garlic, and sauté gently until the onion has softened. Add the beetroot and cook for a few minutes, taking care not to brown the onion.

Add the rice to the large pot and stir with a wooden spoon until all the rice is coated in oil and is a lovely pink colour. Add the wine or verjuice and stir through.

Use a soup ladle to add a ladleful hot stock to the rice, stirring all the while. As each ladleful of stock absorbs, add another, and continue like this until the rice is tender.

Remove the pan from the heat while there is still a bit of soupy liquid left in the pan, as this will continue to absorb on standing.

Add the cheese, basil and parsley to the risotto and gently mix well to combine. Sprinkle with the extra herbs and serve at once on warmed plates.

 

 

caramelised fennel with lentils

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Spring has well and truly arrived to the Adelaide Hills. The fruit trees that have stood bare all winter are now adorned in their blossomy gowns, sending out their petals on the gentlest breeze and scattering them like confetti. The sunshine is warm and delicious while the sun’s high; in the early evenings, a chill still sets into the air, and we know we’ll enjoy a few more nights yet with the fire roaring.

It’s at this exquisite time of year that fennel makes its appearance in the garden, and it’s as if mother nature created it with these golden days and frosty nights in mind. Raw, it’s crunchy, fresh aniseed flavour is delicious finely sliced into a fresh salad of raw greens and segments of late winter orange. But roasted to caramelised perfection it makes the ultimate warming comfort dish, lending itself perfectly to this hearty lentil base.

The lentil part of the dish is adapted from one I learnt from Simon Bryant, one of our local Adelaide food celebrities, of The Cook & The Chef TV series fame, and author of Vegies. I think Simon’s just awesome because one, he creates incredible recipes that let plant foods shine in their own right; two, he’s got a great ethical conscience around food and its production; three, he genuinely cares about the health of kids and young people; and four, when I summoned my courage and invited him to join us for the launch of one of the kitchen garden programs I am involved in, he said yes without hesitation, and showed up, despite hills weather so dark and wintery it was as if the sun had forgotten to rise.

Like I said, he’s awesome. And you’ll think so too, once you’ve tasted these lentils.

With Maggie & Simon at our kitchen garden launch (thanks N. Mullins for the pic!)

With Maggie Beer & Simon at our kitchen garden launch (thanks N. Mullins for the pic!)

Caramelised Fennel with Lentils – serves 4-6

  • 2 large fennel bulbs
  • 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 4 cups cold water
  • 300g puy or french-style lentils
  • few sprigs thyme, tied into a bunch with kitchen string
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 tsp sea or river salt flakes, plus extra for sprinkling (if using fine salt crystals you’ll need much less)
  • 1/4 cup verjuice (or white wine)

Preheat oven to 200°C

Trim the fennel, and cut the bulbs into quarters lengthways. Remove the cores, then cut the rest into 1.5 cm strips. Put into a colander and rinse under cold water, to remove any traces of soil that may have been caught between the fennel’s inner layers.

Drain the fennel well, then place into a large baking dish. Toss through 3 tbsp of the olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and pop into the oven. Bake until well caramelised, opening the oven door now and then to let out the steam. Don’t worry if some of the ends of the fennel strips start to blacken ever so slightly – these little bits are just delicious!

Once the fennel is in the oven, place a large saucepan over medium heat and add the remaining oil. Sauté onion until soft and translucent, then add the garlic. Cook to soften.

Add the water to the pan to cool it, then pour in the lentils. Toss in the thyme and bay leaves and stir the whole lot together. Cover, bring to the boil then simmer gently until the lentils are tender but not mushy, and the liquid has reduced.

Remove the thyme and bay leaves, then stir in the sea salt and verjuice.

Serve immediately topped with strips of caramelised fennel.

 

my new favourite seed crackers

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nourishfoodlife.com.auDo you ever come across a recipe that is so simple to make, so delicious to eat, and so nourishing for your body that all it takes is to make it just once for it to put down its roots in your kitchen and become a pantry staple? That’s how this recipe was for me when I first made it some weeks back. Now find myself whipping up a batch every few days or so, spreading them with creamy avocado and a squeeze of lemon, dipping them into soups, serving them up with scrambled eggs and popping them into lunch boxes.

I love that these little crackers are high in protein and fibre, low in carbs and full of nourishing micronutrients.

The recipe is by the very talented Sarah Britton, who named them The Life Changing Crackers. Now that I’m hooked I can see why she did!  As I’ve been making them true to her recipe, I’ll send you over here to get it. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

 

kale & potato soup

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kale & potato soup nourishfoodlife.com.auYou have probably all heard by now about the wonderful health benefits of eating kale. But how do we get kids to eat it happily? When I first introduced this soup to the kitchen garden kids a few years back I was a little apprehensive. I hadn’t been working with them long and knew that the general consensus amongst kids was that green things were to be avoided at all costs. It was to my delight then that I found them lined up across the room waiting for seconds. How did that happen?!

The obvious reason is that it tastes great, but there’s something else going on too. Part of the secret to creating an environment where kids are willing to try new foods is to remove all pressure of exactly that – trying new foods – and to engage the child’s natural sense of curiosity.

In my classes with kids, I do have some expectations. I expect that they participate in both the cooking and the cleaning up. At the table, I expect that they use basic good manners – passing plates around rather than leaning across the table, waiting until everyone is seated before we start eating, listening quietly when someone else is talking – but I never expect them to eat the food. I do ask, however, that they serve at least a tiny bit of everything onto their plate, out of respect for the people who made it. If they don’t want to eat it, I tell them, that’s no big deal, they can quietly scrape the food into the chooks’ bucket at the end of the meal. Once the pressure is taken away, you would be amazed how many kids will be unable to resist a teensy taste, once their curiosity gets the better of them. Sometimes they’ll even eat it all. Repeat this experience enough times and next thing you know, you have a room full of kids happily eating their greens.

Instead of actively trying to encourage our children to accept different foods, it’s so much more productive (and enjoyable!) to sit back and travel the journey of discovery with them. I can tell you from my own experience, and from the feedback from parents of the kids I teach, that it really does lead to acceptance of a wider range of healthy foods.

This recipe is by Deborah Madison, and uses loads of immune boosting garlic, creamy potatoes and a pinch of chilli to give a warm tingle at the back of the throat. Oh, and don’t leave the chilli out because you think the kids won’t like it. Try it first. You may be pleasantly surprised.

Kale & Potato Soup – Serves 4-6

  • 1 bunch kale (you can use any variety, but I have to warn you, Red Russian will give you a pretty awful, swampy colour)
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
  • 1 small red chilli, or ½ tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 medium potatoes, scrubbed and diced
  • 1.75 litres water or unsalted stock
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Using a sharp knife, remove the kale leaves from their stems and cut them into pieces roughly 5cm square. Wash well and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a soup pot, add the onion, garlic, chilli, bay leaf and salt, and cook over medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add the potatoes and 1 cup of the water or stock. Stir together, cover and cook for about 5 minutes.

Add the kale and the rest of the water, and bring to the boil. Simmer, covered, until the potatoes are soft.

Puree using the stick blender. Taste the soup, and add more salt if need, plus a generous grinding of black pepper (If you’re using water, a scant teaspoon of salt should be just about right).

Serve with a dollop of crème fraiche, sour cream or natural yoghurt if desired.

 

 

spinach & ricotta filo rolls

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nourishfoodlife.com.auThere are some recipes that are firm favourites with the kids in my kitchen garden cooking classes, and this is one of them. These little filo pastry rolls tick all the boxes when I’m choosing what to make with them: they’re simple enough for the kids to make but still tricky enough to keep them happily engaged, they are filled with green goodness from the garden and, most importantly, the kids love to eat them. Give them enough dishes like this to try, and before you know it they will be telling you they love spinach! It’s a delight to watch how carefully the kids handle the delicate filo pastry, the concentration given to master the folding and rolling and how proud they are of their efforts at the end.

Of course there are never any leftovers at when we make them school, but at home, they make a great lunch box addition too.

Spinach & Ricotta Rolls (makes 20)

  • 1 small bunch spinach (silverbeet or rainbow chard will do just as well)
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 brown onion, finely diced
  • 3 small garlic cloves, crushed
  • 250 g fresh ricotta
  • 150 g feta, crumbled
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 10 sheets filo pastry, cut in half to make 20 long rectangular sheets

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper.

Heat a little of the oil in a large frying pan over a medium-low heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring until soft. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for a further 30 seconds or so.

Wash the spinach and cut down both sides of the stems. Discard stems. Finely chop the leaves and add to the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally until the spinach has wilted.

Meanwhile, place the ricotta, feta, nutmeg and pepper into a bowl and mix together. Add the spinach mixture, discarding any liquid that may be left in the bottom of the pan, and stir to combine.

Unwrap the pastry and place on a clean work surface. Cover with a clean, dry tea towel, followed by a damp tea towel, to keep pastry from drying out. Take one sheet of pastry and lay it down with the shortest side closest to you. Brush the sheet with olive oil.

Spread a tablespoonful of the mixture evenly along the narrow end of the pastry, about a centimeter from the edge. Fold the end of the pastry over the mixture, then fold the long edges in about a centimeter and roll up gently. Place seam side down on the tray. Repeat with the remaining pastry and filling.

When all the rolls are done, give them a light brush with olive oil then pop them into the oven for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.

lemon slice

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lemon slice - nourishfoodlife.com.au

About once a term, the kids in my kitchen garden cooking classes come into the kitchen to find dessert on the menu along with the usual veggie-based dishes. Being winter there are plenty of lemons to play with, so when dessert week came around this term I decided to indulge them with Stephanie Alexander’s deliciously sweet and tangy Lemon Slice. It’s a fun recipe to make, in that it’s baked in two separate layers, but it comes out looking more like three; crumbly and biscuity at the bottom, cakey on the top, and lusciously gooey in the middle. Magic!

Lemon Slice – makes about 16 squares

  • 75 g plain flour plus 3 tbsp
  • 65 g cold butter, roughly chopped, plus extra for greasing
  • 1 cup caster sugar plus 2 tbsp
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • icing sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 160°C. Butter a 18 cm x 18 cm baking dish and line with baking paper.

Put the 75 g flour, the butter and 2 tbsp of the caster sugar into a food processor, if you have one, and whizz until it starts to form a ball. If you don’t have a food processor you can use your fingers to rub the butter through the dry ingredients, then gradually work into a smooth dough.

Press the dough into the tin with your fingers, then bake for 20 minutes or until golden.

When the base is nearly cooked, whisk the eggs and remaining sugar until well mixed but not thick. Stir in the lemon juice, then sift in the remaining 3 tbsp flour and whisk gently to combine.

Remove the base from the oven and reduce the temperature to 150°C. Pour the lemon mixture over the base then bake for another 35 minutes or until the top is golden and is springy to touch.

Allow to cool completely before cutting into squares and dusting with icing sugar.

green tomato chutney

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green tomato chutney - nourishfoodlife.com.au

At this time of year, if you still have tomato bushes in the garden, there’s a good chance they are holding onto a few green tomatoes that are never destined to ripen. Rather than toss them onto the compost heap, you can turn them into a delicious, spicy chutney instead. This recipe has evolved in my kitchen from one by Sophia Young. As I tend work with the ingredients that I have on hand, I have used red onion for the chutney that you see in the photograph. Using brown onion instead will give you a greener Green Tomato Chutney, which is lovely too.

Green Tomato Chutney

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
1 small red chilli, finely chopped or ¼ teaspoon red chilli flakes
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon sea salt
100g caster sugar
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
4 large green tomatoes (or equivalent), cut into quarters then thinly sliced

Heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the onions, mustard seeds, chilli, allspice and sea salt and cook until the onion has softened and become translucent.

Add sugar, vinegar and tomatoes and cook for a further 10 minutes or until tomatoes are soft. Allow to cool before serving.

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