Monday, 30 January 2017

Quinoa Salad - Asian Style

Oh my, January has almost gone and we are rushing headlong into 2017.

I'm hoping for a healthier 2017, filled with amazing adventures, travel, new food combinations, weight loss (yes I am still trying), finding new things to try, taking more photographs, getting fitter!!! The list goes on. 

Fingers crossed, I will be launching my new look blog in 2017 which will have more features and lots of new recipes. So keep a look out!

My biggest hurdle for this year, apart from getting my new blog working, is to find ways to reduce calories, get high nutrition and still have enjoyable food.

What I want to reduce - apart from my waistline - is having too many 'trendy' ingredients that you use once and then hide in your pantry until you throw them out in a years time. Great food, great tastes, simple as......

It's summer here and we had a ridiculously early start to hot weather  - 41 degrees C on Christmas Day, and our Tour Down Under (cycle race) last week experienced temperatures in the 40's too. We have had hot, humid weather and more storms than ever before. 

Don't despair, I've got some great salads for you.

This week I am sharing one of my favourite salads. Low calorie, a healthy combination, high in protein and it tastes pretty damn good! 

In hot weather, this salad is fantastic, there's so little cooking.

Quinoa Salad - Asian Style

Ingredients - serves at least 6 as a side dish

1 cup Quinoa - I use red, but any colour will be fine
2 cups water
1 cup  red cabbage shredded
1 cup shelled edamame
2 carrots shredded
1 zucchini shredded
1 red capsicum chopped
1/2 large continental cucumber diced
pinch salt and pepper


1 spring onion finely sliced
1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1/8 teaspoon chilli flakes
1/4 cup of Tamari/ soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar 
2 tablespoons of chopped coriander
2 tablespoons water - optional

Wash the Quinoa well and place into a medium saucepan with 2 cups of water and a pinch of salt. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer until all water has evaporated. This usually takes 10 - 15 minutes. Cool slightly.

While Quinoa is cooking prepared salad vegetables. I use a mandolin to cut cabbage, zucchini and carrot. Place in a bowl and mix well. Add chopped red capsicum and edamame beans and mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Make the sauce by mixing all the ingredients together in a small bowl. Now if the sauce looks a little thick (depends if you go overboard with the coriander), then add 1 - 2 tablespoons water and mix well.

Once the Quinoa has cooled slightly, mix into the salad vegetables. Add the sauce and mix well. Sprinkle with a few chopped coriander leaves and slices of spring onion.

Serving suggestions

This salad can be used on its own or as a side dish. 

You could add some cooked tofu, omelet, or nuts. You can also substitute the Quinoa for brown rice or other grains you prefer.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Pasta with Roasted Peppers - Inspired by Nigel Slater

Nigel Slater is one cool dude. He's my food hero!

While most famous chefs show signs of being a megalomaniac, Nigel comes across as a quiet, chilled out, low profile chef who is highly respected in the industry. There's no yelling in his kitchen, no puffed out chest or big noting himself. He's just a man in black working quietly and comfortably at his own pace.

Having watched a few of his DVD's, read his memoir "Toast"  and a number of other cook books he has published, I am a true Nigel Slater 'Groupie'. Somehow he seems to blend the right amount of herbs or spices in the simplest way and team ingredients to give un complicated and delicious dishes. If you are unfamiliar with Nigel's work, then just go to this link.

Inspired by one of his couplings - Pasta with Peppers, I have tried to recreate the dish without his actual recipe. I hope I have done it justice.

I served this to a group of friends for lunch, just before Christmas and it went down really well. I was feeling pretty rushed at the time and wasn't sure what to make as it was quite a warm day and we were eating outside.  I made up a big Mezze Plate for Entree, stuff I didn't have to cook; Dolmades, Greek Beans, olives, semi-dried tomatoes, dips, etc. Such an easy way to entertain a lot of people when you have little time.


I have worked on the ratio of 2 capsicums (peppers) per person, but only one if they are very big. Once cooked they do tend to shrink a little.

Serves 4

6 Capsicums (peppers) red, green or yellow 1. 5  - 2 per person
large bunch of basil
6 shallots finely sliced
6 - 8  cloves garlic peeled, finely chopped
250g ripe cherry tomatoes
olive oil
100g pine nuts, lightly toasted
250g pasta - I use penne or spirals
2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley
salt and pepper
Crème Fraîche -optional

In a dry pan, toast the pine nuts until golden and set aside.

Take each pepper and take a small slice out of it lengthways. The capsicums are going to act as little 'boats' to support the tomatoes and garlic. Place the capsicums into a lined baking dish. 

Put the garlic, shallots and tomatoes into a bowl.  Chop the slivers of capsicum that you sliced off and add this to the bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

Add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and using your hands, mix the whole lot together and divide the mixture between the capsicums, filling up the cavities.

Take a large bunch of basil and a very large slug of olive oil and blend the two together, until they resemble a thin sauce.  Add a pinch of salt. 

Tip the basil sauce over the capsicums, and bake in a preheated oven at 170º fan forced for around 40 - 50 minutes until the capsicums are nicely charred, soft and very very juicy.

While the capsicums are cooking, bring a large saucepan of water to the boil and cook the pasta following the recommended guidelines.

Remove the cooked capsicums from the oven, place them on a serving dish and sprinkle with toasted pine nuts. Retain all the lovely juices from the pan. 

Once the pasta is cooked, drain and add to the juices in the pan, warming slightly on the cook top. Tip the pasta into a serving bowl and add chopped parsley. It is advisable to serve the pasta and capsicums separately.

I remember Nigel served his peppers with a dollop of Crème Fraîche and that is a option, if you don't mind the extra calories.