Tag Archives: Vegetable

Spring Socialising

It’s hard to believe it’s November already. For me, November heralds the start of the party season and the count-down to Christmas. As your calendar starts to fill up, it’s handy to have some tasty recipes for entertaining.

I actually “borrowed” this recipe from a friend who recently purchased a thermomix. Now I love my kitchen gadgets, but haven’t been able to make the commitment to purchase one, but I’ve heard they are fantastic and she was excited to be experimenting with new recipes. I’ve added my own twist to the ingredients and come up with the below version (no thermomix required). I used a store-cupboard standby with the roasted peppers, but you could roast your own fresh red capsicum if you desire. If you would like a chunkier version of this dip, process the ingredients without the cashews first, then add the cashews and pulse the food processor until you achieve your desired texture. If your dip is a little to thick, you could add a bit of the drained oil that the tomatoes came in to help in getting the desired texture.

Serve your dip with your favourite accompaniments – crackers or vegetable crudités.

What I was cooking this time last year: Passionfruit and Strawberry Gum Bavarian

Cashew and Tomato Dip


  • 100g semi-sundried tomatoes in oil, drained
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 birds eye chilli
  • 50g roasted red peppers or roasted red capsicum, drained
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 120g raw unsalted cashews
  • 30g parmesan cheese


  • Add the tomatoes, peppers, cashews, garlic, chilli, lemon juice and parmesan cheese to your food processor or thermomix bowl.

Cashews, tomato, pepper, chilli, garlic, cheese, ingredients

  • Blend until you have achieved your desired texture.
  • Transfer your dip to a bowl and serve (or refrigerate until ready to serve). Enjoy.

Cashew and tomato dip

What is your favourite stand-by recipe when friends drop by? Has this post inspired any new ideas?


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Filed under Capsicum, Cashews, Cheese, Dip, Lemon, Nuts, Recipes, Savoury, Tomato, Vegetarian

Picnic in the park

I was meeting friends in Centennial Park today for a baby shower picnic, and was responsible for bringing dips. I wanted to bring one of my favourite dips, tzatziki. After researching different recipes, it seems the secret with this dip is to keep things simple. I was thinking of experimenting with the addition of spices, but the only things that seem to be added are a generous amount of salt and pepper, and either mint or dill. I went with adding both herbs, and some lemon zest and lemon infused olive oil for an extra citrus kick.

The raw garlic actually adds a bit of heat to the dip, so taste as you go when adding the garlic and pepper. Some recipes ask you to peel the cucumber and / or scoop out the seeds, I didn’t but instead allowed the yoghurt and grated cucumber to drain to remove some of the excess liquid. Suspend your strainer over a bowl to allow the liquid to drip through.

Serve this dip with your favourite crackers, or vegetable crudités (I used celery and carrot sticks) or as part of a Middle-Eastern inspired feast.

What I was cooking this time last year: Asian Marinated Salmon

Tzatziki Dip


  • 1 cup natural greek-style yoghurt
  • 1 cucumber
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (I used lemon infused)
  • 1 garlic clove, finely crushed
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill leaves
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • Grate the cucumber and add to a suspended strainer.
  • Add the yoghurt to the grated cucumber in the strainer and set aside for the excess liquid to drip through.

Yoghurt and cucumber straining

  • Set aside the draining yoghurt and grated cucumber for half-an-hour while you prepare your vegetable crudités.
  • Discard the liquid and add the yoghurt and grated cucumber to the blow.
  • Grate the lemon zest and finely mince the garlic and add to the bowl.
  • Add the finely chopped mint, dill, olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.

Tzatziki ingredients

  • Mix with a spoon until everything is combined.
  • Transfer your dip to a bowl and serve (or refrigerate until ready to serve). Enjoy.

Tzatziki dip celery carrot crudité

What is your favourite dip? Has this post inspired any new ideas?


Filed under Dip, Herbs, Lemon, Recipes, Savoury, Vegetarian

Beetroot blast

Beetroot are in abundance at the moment, and are the inspiration for this recipe. Ingredients that compliment beetroot include cumin, walnuts and feta, which produce a vibrantly coloured purple dip – what’s not to love. This recipe makes quite a large batch, so feel free to halve if you aren’t cooking for a crowd or don’t want to be eating it for the next week.

To toast and grind your cumin seeds, cook them without any oil in a fry pan over a low to medium heat – be careful to keep the spices moving so they toast evenly and only cook until lightly toasted and the aroma is released, don’t let the spices burn, then grind to get maximum flavour into your dip. The cumin seeds can be ground in a blender, coffee grinder or a with a pestle and mortar.

Serve your dip with your favourite biscuits or rice crackers, and / or vegetable crudités.

What I was cooking this time last year: Chocolate Beetroot Cake

Beetroot dip


  • 1 bunch of beetroot, approximately 1 kg
  • 200g feta
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 50g toasted walnuts
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 lemons, zest and juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • Turn the oven on to 180°C.
  • Peel the beetroot and chop into pieces.


  • Lay beetroot pieces on a baking tray, add the garlic cloves (with skins intact).

Beetroot pieces garlic

  • Put the beetroot into the oven to start roasting while you prepare the walnuts.
  • Put the walnuts in a heat proof dish and put in the oven for 10 minutes or so, until the nuts are toasted and fragrant.
  • Set aside the walnuts to cool.
  • Toast the cumin seeds in a dry pan until fragrant, stirring occasionally to ensure they cook evenly.

Toasting cumin seeds

  • Grind the cumin seeds.
  • Roast the beetroot until it is tender, then remove from the oven and allow to cool.
  • Add the roast beetroot, feta, ground cumin, peeled garlic cloves, walnuts, lemon zest and juice and olive oil to your food processor bowl or blender.

Beetroot feta

  • Blend until smooth and everything is combined.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste and blend to combine.
  • Transfer your dip to a bowl and serve (or refrigerate until ready to serve). Enjoy.

Beetroot dip

What is your favourite dip? Has this post inspired any new ideas?

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Filed under Beetroot, Cheese, Dip, Recipes, Savoury, Spices, Vegetarian

Roast risotto

This is not so much a baked risotto, but a risotto with roasted flavours. I wanted to experiment with some winter ingredients and used roast chestnuts and roast butternut squash.

Chestnuts are not that common in Australia, but are referred to in British and American literature – I thought I was missing out on something exciting. I’m still not sure what all the fuss is about, but they did add a nice texture contrast to the risotto. If you can’t get your hands on chestnuts, or don’t like them, you could use some toasted pine nuts instead. The first time I tried to roast chestnuts, I didn’t realise that there were some tricks to preparing them, and they consequently exploded and splattered all over the inside of my oven. For tips on how to successfully roast chestnuts, refer to this article over at the Healthy Chef blog.


If you have some home-made vegetable stock, feel free to use that instead of the stock powder and hot water. I used a little butter to finish the risotto, and skipped the cheese, but feel free to add some parmesan or other cheese as well as or instead of the butter.

What I was cooking this time last year: Date, Apricot and Walnut Pudding with Caramel Sauce

Roast Butternut Squash and Chestnut Risotto

Serves 2


  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 small red onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 cup of arborio rice
  • 250ml white wine
  • 500g butternut squash
  • 8 chestnuts
  • 30 sage leaves
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary leaves
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable stock powder (I use vegeta brand)
  • hot water from the kettle
  • 20g butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • Turn the oven on to 200°C.
  • Peel the butternut squash and scoop out the seeds. Chop into small 1cm dice.

Butternut Squash

  • Add the diced squash to a baking tray, drizzle over 1 tablespoon of oil and tuck in the two garlic cloves unpeeled.
  • Put the squash into the oven to start roasting while you prepare the chestnuts.
  • Cut an x into each chestnut top, place them in a baking tray and add to the oven.
  • Cook the squash until it is tender, then remove from the oven.
  • Cook the chestnuts until they split their shells and are cooked.
  • Remove the cooked chestnuts from the oven and wrap them in a tea-towel until they are cool enough to handle.
  • Shell the chestnuts.

Roast Chestnuts

  • Finely chop the red onion.

Onion, Sage, Rosemary

  • Heat the remaining oil in a frying pan over a medium heat.
  • Fry the sage leaves until crisp, then remove from the oil with a slotted spoon. Set aside to use as a garnish at the end of cooking.

Sage leaves frying

  • Add the chopped onion to the sage infused oil, cook for a couple of minutes until the onion starts to soften.
  • Squeeze the roast garlic cloves into the pan, the soft centers should end up in the pan and you can discard the skins.
  • Add the chopped rosemary, vegetable stock powder and rice to the pan, and stir to combine.

Risotto rice

  • Cook for a couple of minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add the white wine and stir. Keep cooking and stirring occasionally until most of the wine has evaporated.
  • Add 1/2 a cup of hot water from the kettle at a time. Keep adding liquid, cooking and stirring occasionally until most of the liquid has evaporated and the rice is almost cooked. Taste to test the rice, it should be slightly too firm but almost ready.
  • Add the roast squash and stir to combine. Cook for a couple of minutes more until the squash is heated through and the rice is cooked.

Pumpkin risotto liquid

  • Add the butter and chopped chestnuts and stir to combine.

Pumpkin Risotto

  • Add the salt and pepper to taste and stir to combine. Sprinkle with the fried sage leaves to serve. Enjoy.

Roast squash and chestnut risotto

What is your favourite winter ritual? Has this post inspired any new ideas?

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Filed under Herbs, Pumpkin, Recipes, Rice, Savoury, Vegetarian

Twist on a classic

This is a pescetarian twist on the comforting classic carbonara classic recipe. The traditional carbonara generally consists of eggs, cheese, bacon (or similar) and black pepper. I’m not sure what it is about the creamy richness of the sauce, smokiness from the fish combined with the zesty tang from the lemon, but this is my ultimate (savoury) comfort food.

When adding the lemon juice to your cream and egg mixture, add a little juice at a time and stir as you go to combine and prevent curdling (and don’t try and add cream to lemon juice or you really will end up with a mess).

I used hot smoked trout which has a texture similar to cooked fish, but with the delicious smokey flavour.  You could also use regular smoked trout or smoked salmon to similar effect. This is to substitute for the bacon flavour in the original carbonara recipe.

Regarding your herbs, feel free to experiment. I used lemon thyme and tarragon because that is what I happened to have growing and both go well with seafood. I added the spinach in a feeble attempt to inject some healthiness into the recipe.

I love the slurpiness of spaghetti, but feel free to use your favourite pasta.

What I was cooking this time last year: Thai Curried Pumpkin Soup

Creamy trout pasta

* This recipe was adapted from a Lemon Linguine recipe in “How to Eat” by Nigella Lawson. I have modified and adapted it over the years to come up with the below reincarnation.

Serves 2


  • 2 egg yolks
  • 150mls cream
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped herbs (I used lemon thyme and tarragon)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 spring onions
  • 100g hot smoked trout
  • 2 large handfuls of baby spinach
  • salt and plenty of black pepper
  • Pasta for 2
  • parmesan cheese, to serve


  • Put a large saucepan of salted water on to boil to cook your pasta.
  • Finely chop the spring onions and crush the garlic.
  • Heat the olive oil in another saucepan over a low heat and add the garlic and chopped spring onions.

Garlic and spring onions

  • In a measuring jug add the cream and egg yolks. Add salt and pepper to taste and stir to combine.

Cream pepper herbs

  • Zest the lemon and add to the cream mixture.
  • Juice the lemon and add a little juice at a time, stirring to combine.
  • Add the cream mixture and herbs to the garlic and onions and stir to combine.
  • Put your pasta on to cook in the boiling salted water.
  • Flake the trout and add to the cream sauce, stir to combine.

Trout cream sauce

  • Add the baby spinach and stir to combine and wilt the spinach.

Baby spinach

  • Once the pasta is cooked, drain and add to the cream sauce.
  • Stir to combine.
  • Serve, garnished with parmesan cheese. Enjoy.

Creamy trout pasta

What is your favourite pasta dish? Has this post inspired any new ideas?

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Filed under Cheese, Lemon, Pasta, Recipes, Savoury, Seafood

The superfood band wagon

There has been quite a bit of noise lately about kale being a superfood. Now, I am no expert, but in an effort to get back in touch with the healthy(ish) end of the cooking spectrum, and bracing myself for my next herbalist appointment (that will involve an iridology reading, which doesn’t lie and I’m conscious that I will have nowhere to hide), I decided I should experiment. When I heard via a friend that kale can be turned into a chip, I was sold. It was also helpful that now that the weather has turned a little cooler kale was not too tricky to track down at my local health food shop.

Be warned that cooking your kale chips will stink out your kitchen (think cabbage cooking). If you can go with it, get past the smell and focus on the end goal, you will be rewarded with some tasty chips. You can pimp your kale chips in the flavour stakes any way you like. I did two batches. One batch I sprinkled with a teaspoon of cayenne pepper, and these chips were hot! The other batch used the zest of a lemon (because I like all things citrus) and after consulting with my spice collection, a teaspoon of Herbie’s Spices Fish Cake spice mix (which is made up of coriander seed, sumac, fennel, mace, ginger, lemon myrtle, dill, parsley and pepperberry). Get creative and feel free to experiment with your favourite flavours. Or stick to classic salt and pepper.

I used rice bran oil because it has no cholesterol, has a neutral flavour and has a high smoke point so it is good for cooking. The Not Quite Nigella blog had a great tip for your leftover kale stalks, you could use the leftover stalks in a similar way to asparagus.

You could munch on your kale chips as they are, or accompanied by your favourite dip (as a bit of random trivia chips are called crisps in the UK). The cooled chips will also keep in an airtight container for a couple of days (if you can hang onto them for that long).

Kale Chips


  • 2 tablespoons of rice bran oil
  • 1 bunch of kale
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Herbie’s Spices Fish Cake Spice Mix
  • Zest of 1 lemon


  • Pre-heat your oven to 160°C.
  • Wash and dry your kale.


  • Chop your kale into slightly larger than bite size pieces (there will be a shrinkage factor), avoiding the stems.

Chopped Kale

  • Transfer your kale pieces to a large bowl, add oil and salt and pepper.

Kale salt and pepper

  • Toss to combine.
  • Divide the coated kale pieces between two baking trays.
  • To one tray, sprinkle over the lemon zest and Herbie’s Spices Fish Cake spice mix.

Kale lemon zest

  • To the other tray, sprinkle over the cayenne pepper.

Kale cayenne

  • Put your trays into the oven.
  • After 15 minutes, toss your kale pieces to ensure they cook evenly.
  • Return to the oven for another 15 minutes or so until crispy and chip like.

Kale baked chips

  • Once your chips are crisp, remove from the tray and drain on paper towel to absorb any excess oil until cool.
  • Your chips are ready to serve. Enjoy.

Kale chips

What is your favourite chip flavour? Has this post inspired any new ideas?


Filed under Baking, Recipes, Savoury, Spices, Vegetarian

Celebrating the last of summer vegetables

With my New Year resolution to lead a wholesome life well and truly broken, I thought it was time I spent some time at the healthy end of the cooking spectrum. The warm weather is continuing to hang around in Sydney at the moment, and the last of the summer veggies are still plentiful and delicious.

If you are getting a bit sick of pasta, try risotto as an alternative. This is one of my favourite recipes, and can be easily adjusted to suit your tastes or what you have available in the cupboards and fridge. If you don’t like chilli, leave it out; if you’re coming down with a bug, pimp up the garlic; if you have some fresh tomatoes to use up, throw them in; if it is the middle of winter or you simply haven’t been shopping and tinned tomatoes or dried herbs are all you have access to, throw them in.

If capsicums are a good price at your green grocer, they are easy to roast; refer to one of my earlier posts for instructions on how to roast capsicums. If capsicums are out of season or too pricey, there are plenty of pre-prepared roast capsicums (sometimes labeled as roast peppers) you can buy from your deli counter or in a jar.

I prefer to use large mushrooms (called portobello mushrooms in the UK) rather than the small button mushrooms, as the large mushrooms have more flavour. If you want an extra rich risotto, you could add a little pesto or olive tapenade at the end of the cooking instead of, or as well as, the cheese.

I tend to eat this risotto with my favourite piece of cutlery, the  splayd. A splayd is part fork, part spoon.

Summer vegetables

Summer Vegetable Risotto

Serves 2


  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 shallot or 1/2 an onion
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 small chillies
  • 1/2 cup of arborio rice
  • 250ml carton of V8 vegetable juice
  • 1 large mushroom
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 punnet of cherry tomatoes
  • 1 roast capsicum
  • 2 large handfuls of baby spinach leaves
  • 2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves
  • hot water from the kettle
  • 50g grated parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • Finely chop the shallot.
  • Finely chop or crush the garlic.
  • Finely chop the chillies.
  • Chop the mushroom into dice size pieces.
  • Heat the pan over medium high heat and add the olive oil, the chopped shallot, garlic, chilli and rice.
  • Turn the heat down to medium and cook until the rice is coated in oil and the onions are slightly softened.
  • Add the mushrooms to the pan and cook until the mushrooms start to wilt.

Mushroom risotto

  • Add the vegetable juice to the fry pan and stir occasionally until the liquid is absorbed.
  • Meanwhile, grate the zucchini, chop the roast capsicum, cut the cherry tomatoes in half and pick the oregano leaves from the stem.
  • Add a little hot water at a time to the fry pan and stir until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is almost cooked. Taste to test the rice, it should be slightly too firm but almost ready.

Spring Vegetable Risotto

  • Add the zucchini, roast capsicum, cherry tomatoes, baby spinach and oregano to the fry pan, continue cooking until the vegetables wilt and the rice is cooked, then turn off the heat.
  • Add the cheese and stir to combine.
  • Add the salt and pepper to taste and stir to combine. Your risotto is ready to serve. Enjoy.

Vegetable risotto splade

What is your favourite risotto recipe? Has this post inspired any new ideas?

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Filed under Capsicum, Herbs, Pasta, Recipes, Rice, Savoury, Vegetarian, Zucchini