Spring Pea and Broad Bean Salad

Now that spring is well and truly here, fresh salads are back on the menu. Our veggie garden is also ripe for the picking, with the main vegetables being broad beans and snow peas, so it made sense to make this super easy and delicious salad.

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If you haven’t tried broad beans before, I highly recommend trying them. They are great in a salad, with pasta or made into a dip. They do take a little bit of work to peel, but are worth it. If you grow broad beans at home and have a lot of them, you can shell them, blanch them and then freeze them for later.

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I have used Meredith dairy marinated goats feta for this salad, mainly because i love it, but you can use any goats cheese or feta you like. The combination of this cheese with the mint and lemon juice really compliments the beans and peas and lifts this salad.

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My kids love snow peas and normal peas, so adding broad beans and feta (another one of their favourites) meant this was a great one for them also.  Mark and Claire helped me to shell the broad beans as well, which they enjoyed and were much more proficient at than this time last year 🙂

Enjoy xx.

Ingredients:

Serves 4

  • 2 cups shelled broad beans
  • 1 cup shelled peas or frozen peas
  •  2 cups snow peas
  • 50g Meredith Dairy marinated goats feta
  • 1/4 cup chopped mint leaves
  • 1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon

Method:

  1. Place broad beans, snow peas and peas into a bowl and blanch by covering with boiling water and allow them to sit for 2-3 minutes. Drain and run under cold water to refresh.
  2. Add olive oil and lemon juice and toss to combine.
  3. Add feta and mint and carefully toss to combine.
  4. Serve with fish, meat or as a side to your favourite main.

Sweet Potato, Thyme and Polenta Chips

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Polenta chips are a good alternative to your normal potato chip. They are simple to make, but do require a bit of planning as the polenta needs to set before the chips are baked. The final product is a crunchy outside with a soft inside that has a slight sweetness due to the sweet potato.img_1713.jpg

Polenta is an Italian staple that is also known as cornmeal. It is gluten free, making it suitable with individuals with Coeliac Disease or gluten intolerance. It can be consumed hot and soft, almost like a porridge or can be left to set, as I have done in this recipe. The sweet potato, thyme and parmesan cheese give these chips a bit more pizazz and flavour than a normal polenta chip. Polenta chips are a great accompaniment to a piece of meat, fritters, rissoles, or even on their own as a snack. If you were having guests, they could take a spot of another carby dish, such as a potato salad or roast potatoes.img_1714.jpg

Initially, the kids weren’t too sure about these, but once they tried them, they were hooked, which is great, as polenta chips make a good snack or lunch food for the kids. These chips can be made and refrigerated or frozen prior to baking, making them quite quick and easy to make once they have been prepared. They will keep for up to 5 days in the fridge and 1 month in the freezer, so I’d suggest making 1-2 batches and freezing what you don’t need so you can just pop them out and into the oven to crisp up.

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img_1718.jpgEnjoy xx.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup polenta
  • 1 cup mashed sweet potato
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 tbs butter
  • 1 tbs thyme, chopped
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 tbs extra virgin olive oil

Method:

  1. Line a 30 x 40cm baking dish with baking paper.
  2. To make sweet potato mash, peel and chop sweet potato and cook in a steamer basket over boiling water. Once soft, mash sweet potato and set aside.
  3. Bring 4 cups of water to the boil in large pot. Once boiling, add the polenta and cook over low heat, stirring regularly, for 15 minutes. Once cooked, add the sweet potato, thyme, butter and parmesan and stir until smooth.
  4. Pour the polenta into the baking dish and smooth out evenly. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours or until polenta is cool and firm.
  5. Preheat the oven to 200°C and line a baking tray with baking paper.
  6. Remove the polenta from the fridge and remove from the tray onto a chopping board. Cut the polenta into chips, about 2cm thick, and place onto baking tray. Once all chips are cut, brush with oil, taking care when turning them, and season with salt and pepper.
  7. Place into the oven for 30 minutes, turning the chips after 15 minutes.

Potato Salad

A potato salad is a fabulous addition to any barbecue and is also a good alternative to mashed potato, jacket potato or oven baked potatoes. The other bonus is that it is actually quick and easy to make, with the most time consuming part being waiting for the potatoes to cool.

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A lot of potato salads use mayonnaise and sour cream as the dressing, but I like to use a thick Greek style yoghurt with a small amount of mayonnaise and herbs and mustard to give the flavours. The yoghurt makes the dressing higher protein and lower fat than if you were to use mayo and sour cream.

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The humble potato often gets a bad wrap, being a high GI carbohydrate, but it is actually very good for you. It is a good source of dietary fibre, vitamin C, vitamin B6, folate and potassium. The key is to not go overboard. By cooking and cooling a potato (as you would in a cold potato salad) the starch structure of the potato actually changes, increasing the resistant starch, which resists digestion and promotes gut health, feeding the good bacteria in the large bowel. A cooked and cooled potato is also a lower GI option, meaning that it causes less of a spike in blood sugar levels, making it more suitable for individuals with insulin resistance or Diabetes. I also like to leave the skins on for a potato salad, as a lot of the nutrients in a potato are stored in the skin, and the skin is adds more dietary fibre to the dish. You can also use sweet potato or a combination of the two for something different.

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Another thing to keep in mind when making a potato salad is to use the number of small-medium potatoes per person you are feeding. ie. if you are feeding 4 people, use 4 small to medium potatoes to get the portions right.IMG_9275

If you are time poor, you could boil the potatoes and leave them to cool in the fridge overnight or throughout the day and then pull them out, put the dressing together and you would have a potato salad in about 5 minutes at the end of the day.

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I have found that the kids can be hit and miss with potato salad, even though potatoes are one of their favourite foods. Kids, in general, often prefer foods that are less flavoursome and more bland than adults and I think that it is the dressing that throws them. Often, when we have potato salad, if I can’t be bothered enduring the battle, I will just leave some potatoes out undressed, so they can just have boiled potatoes instead – makes for more peaceful meal times!!

Enjoy xx

Ingredients:

Serves 4

  • 4 small to medium potatoes
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced
  • 3 rashers bacon, fat trimmed, diced
  • 2 eggs, hard boiled (optional)
  • 3-4 heaped tbs thick Greek style yoghurt
  • 1 1/2 tbs whole egg mayonnaise
  • 1 small gherkin, finely diced
  • 1 tsp baby capers, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp wholegrain mustard
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbs dill, finely chopped + a sprinkle to garnish
  • 1 tbs parsley, finely chopped + a sprinkle to garnish
  • Salt and pepper

Method:

  1. Chop potatoes into 2-3cm cubes and place into a pot of boiling water. Cook for ~15 minutes or until potato is tender but still holds its shape. Once cooked, drain water and run under cold water to stop the cooking process. Allow to cool slightly before refrigerating to cool completely.
  2. If using eggs, place them into the boiling water with the potato to cook.
  3. Heat a medium sized frypan over medium heat. Add bacon and onion and cook, stirring, until bacon starts to colour and onion becomes translucent. Allow to cool.
  4. To make the dressing, combine yoghurt, mayonnaise, gherkin, capers, mustards, dill and parsley into a small bowl. Mix well to combine and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Once the potato is cool, place into a large bowl. Peel and roughly chop the eggs (if using) and add to the potato along with the bacon and onion. Place dressing on top and using a large spoon or your hands, gently mix to coat thoroughly. Place into serving bowl and garnish with reserved herbs.

 

 

Honey Roasted Beetroot and Cauliflower Salad

I love the ease of meal preparation in Summer – throw some meat on the BBQ and serve it with some salad…simple!

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This salad was particularly easy, as I pre-prepared most of it earlier in the day, between feeding Elise, while Mark and Claire were at Kinder and childcare, respectively. If you would prefer the beetroot and cauliflower to be warm, then it can most definitely be made just before serving.

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Beetroot is a vegetable that grows very well for most of the year. We have heaps of it in the garden at the moment and it can stay there, within reason, until it is ready to be used (if they are getting too big, I’d recommend picking them as they can get quite woody). Pairing the beetroot with cauliflower, especially roasted cauliflower, is a great combination. The caramelisation of the roasted cauli works so well with the bitter-sweetness of the beetroot. You could also add some nuts or seeds to this salad for some crunch – walnuts, hazelnuts or peptise would work really well.

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On this particular occasion, we had this salad with steak and sausages (for the kids), but it would be an excellent accompaniment to a fillet of salmon, white fish or chicken. The kids enjoyed it, once they actually tried it! I find this is often an issue with kids – they say they don’t like something before they have actually tried it, so we make them try something before they say they don’t like it, and in most cases, they do enjoy it.

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Enjoy xx

Ingredients:

Serves 4 as a side

  • 3 medium beetroot, peeled
  • 1/3 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 3 large handfuls of rocket leaves
  • 50g feta
  • 1 tbs honey
  • 1 tbs balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Dressing:

  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 1 heaped tsp wholegrain mustard
  • 1 tbs apple cider vinegar
  • salt and pepper

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a baking tray with baking paper.
  2. Peel beetroot and cut into ~3cm x 3cm pieces and place into a bowl. Add 1 tbs honey, 1 tbs balsamic vinegar, 1 tbs olive oil and a sprinkling of salt and stir to coat. Place onto baking tray and bake for 45 minutes.
  3. Cut the cauliflower into medium sized florets and place into a bowl. Add 1 tbs olive oil and season with salt and pepper, stir to combine. Once the beetroot has been cooking for 25 minutes, add the cauliflower onto the same tray and cook for the remaining 20 minutes. Remove from the oven once the cauliflower is golden brown and the beetroot is tender. Allow to cool.
  4. To make the dressing, combine all ingredients into small jar and shake well to combine.
  5. To assemble salad, place rocket into bowl, top with roast cauliflower and beetroot. Crumble feta over the top and dress. Gently toss to combine.

Chicken, Freekeh and Corn Salad

Summer is the best time to experiment with different types of salads, especially in the week after Christmas when everyone is needing a light dinner and a bit of a break from the indulgence.img_8276.jpg

This salad was a bit of a throw together salad, but definitely one worth jotting down for a quick, easy salad. Most of the preparation can be done earlier in the day, leaving the cooking of the chicken and dressing of the salad for immediately before serving. Being heavily pregnant, while trying to wrangle 2 small children, meals like these are great as I can get dinner pretty much prepared while Claire is sleeping and Mark is having is quiet time, then while they are watching Peppa Pig at 5:40pm, I can throw it altogether and have dinner on the table before 6pm.

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The leaves I have used are kale and spinach (out of the garden) and some bought salad mix. When adding kale to a salad, the key is to give it a wash and massage it. The massaging helps to soften the leaf as well as decreasing the bitterness.

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Zucchini and corn can be added in raw, but by popping them in a frypan and lightly grilling them, it allows a fantastic caramelisation to be added to the salad with very little extra time taken. I have used golden beetroot today, but either purple or golden will work well.

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If you haven’t tried freekeh before, I highly recommend it. It is a wheat grain that is made from roasting green grains. As they are harvested while they are still green, they contain more protein, vitamins and minerals than the same mature grain. Freekeh is naturally a low GI, high fibre grain and is a good source of probiotics (food for the good bacteria in the gut). You can buy cracked and uncracked freekeh, I recommend the cracked freekeh as its less chewy and takes less time to cook.

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The dressing on this salad is very simple and brings the whole dish together. The addition of the chicken completes the meal and adds a good quality protein source, although the salad could be made to accompany a fillet of fish or with some chickpeas for a vegetarian option.

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As far as the kids went with this one….they are tired, having spent 5 days at the grandparents over Christmas, with not enough sleep, dinner tonight was a struggle. They both said they didn’t like it before they even tried it and complained, wanted toast, but we persevered and they both ate about 75% of their meals, so obviously didn’t hate it that much!

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Enjoy xx.

Ingredients:

Serves 4 as a main

  • 1/2 cup cracked freekeh, rinsed
  • 1 chicken breast, cut into strips
  • 1 medium zucchini, cut into sticks and grilled
  • 2 medium beetroot
  • 1 cob of corn, kernels removed and grilled
  • 1/2 punnet cherry, tomatoes, halved
  • 2 cups mixed lettuce leaves (kale, spinach, rocket, lettuce, etc)
  • 2 handfuls basil leaves, roughly torn
  • 80g feta, crumbled
  • 1/4 red onion, diced
  • 2 tbs pine nuts, toasted

Dressing

  • 3 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbs white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp wholegrain mustard
  • Salt and pepper

Method:

  1. To cook the freekeh, place into a medium sized saucepan along with 2 cups of water. Bring to the boil and reduce the heat once boiling. Cook for ~25-30 minutes or until tender. Drain and set aside.
  2. Cook the beetroot by placing the beetroot into a saucepan and covering with water. Bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer and cook until tender when a knife is inserted, ~45 minutes. Drain and run under cold water, rubbing the skin off. Set aside to cool. Once cooled, dice.
  3. Cook the zucchini by heating a medium sized frypan over medium heat. Add a drizzle of olive oil and place zucchini sticks into the pan and cook, turning occasionally until lightly golden. Remove from pan.
  4. In the same pan, cook the corn kernels, stirring occasionally, until they start to change colour, ~3-4 minutes. Remove from pan.
  5. Cook the chicken breast by heating a medium sized frypan over medium heat. Add a drizzle of olive oil and the chicken and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side.
  6. While the chicken is cooking, make the dressing. Place all ingredients into a jar and shake well to combine.
  7. To assemble the salad, place the green leaves into a bowl, along with the torn basil, freekeh, beetroot, zucchini, corn, cherry tomatoes, onion, feta and toasted pine nuts and gently toss to combine. Top with the dressing and the grilled chicken and toss well to combine.

 

 

Beetroot Carpaccio

Traditionally, the word carpaccio belongs to raw beef or fish, but for this side dish of thinly sliced beetroot there is no more appropriate term than carpaccio, so beetroot carpaccio it is!

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When we were in Mexico on our honeymoon, we stayed in this lovely B&B in a small coastal town on the Baja Peninsula called Todos Santos (highly recommend going there if you’re in Mexico). Our ‘hosts’ at the B&B were such amazing people. They made an appetiser very similar to this to go with our beers when we first arrived – so fresh and tasty. Since I can’t remember exactly what was in the original dish, I have created my own version.

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Beetroot is one of those vegetables that grows a lot of the year round and adds great colour and flavour to whatever it is added to. Beetroot is also a good source of fibre and vitamin C. This dish is great as a starter or as a salad/side dish for a main meal. It is also very easy and the beetroots can be boiled a day or two in advanced and kept in the fridge.

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Ordinarily, I would use purple beetroot as the colour contrast is better, but on this occasion we only had the golden beetroot. You can also use a combination of the two.

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You can use any sort of goats cheese or feta that you wish, but I love love love Meredith Goats Feta, and the oil is very handy to use as a dressing. Similarly with the gherkins, they can be any gherkins, but the ‘juice’ in sweet spiced gherkins also makes a great addition to the dressing. If you are using a non sweetened gherkin, you will need to add 1/2 a teaspoon of sugar to the dressing.

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This was the first time that I made this for the kids and they loved it. Mark asked for second and third helpings and Claire happily polished off her portion. We had it with crispy skinned salmon, greens and roast potatoes.

Enjoy xx.

Ingredients:

Serves 2-3 as a side

  • 2 medium beetroots
  • 1 spring onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small gherkin, finely diced
  • 2 tsp Meredith Dairy goats feta
  • 1/4 small red onion, finely diced (optional)
  • 1 radish, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbs nuts, toasted – walnuts or pine nuts work best

Dressing

  • 1 tbs oil from the goats feta
  • 2 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tbs ‘juice’ from the gherkins
  • Salt and pepper

Method:

  1. To cook the beetroot, place beetroot into a medium sized pot of water and bring to the boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat and allow to cook for ~40 minutes or until tender.
  2. Once cooked, drain the water and run beetroot under cold water until cool enough to handle. Rub off the skin under the cold water and place into the fridge to cool.
  3. Once beetroot has cooled, shave the beetroot finely using a vegetable peeler. You can also use a knife, but you won’t get it as thin. Arrange onto serving plate.
  4. To make the dressing, place all ingredients into a small bowl and mix well to combine. Set aside.
  5. To toast the nuts, heat a small frypan over medium heat, add the nuts and toast until light browned.
  6. Sprinkle the spring onions, red onion, diced gherkin over the beetroot. Crumble the feta over the top, followed by the radish and then pour the dressing evenly over the top. Finish off with the toasted nuts.
  7. Either leave for flavours to marinate in the fridge for up to half an hour or serve immediately.

Fennel, Orange, Broccoli and Almond Salad

Fennel is a great vegetable and is well and truly in season at the moment.

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This crisp, fresh salad is a great accompaniment to a meat heavy or a richer dish to help to lighten it up. If you prefer not to use broccoli, a couple of handfuls of rocket work really well as a substitute and make for a more summery salad.

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Fruit in salads always seems to keep kids interested, so if your kids don’t love salads, try popping some fruit in there – this often works better in Summer with stone fruit, but apples and oranges go really well in a salad.

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Enjoy xx

Ingredients:

Serves 4

  • 2 baby fennel bulbs
  • 1 orange, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 cup of broccoli, cut into small florets
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted.
  • 1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbs white balsamic vinegar

Method:

  1. Steam the broccoli for 2-3 minutes or until just tender. Drain boiling water and refresh in cold water. Set aside.
  2. Using a mandolin on the finest setting, finely slice the fennel, reserving the fronds. Place fennel into a medium bowl.
  3. To the fennel slices, add the broccoli, olive oil and white balsamic vinegar and toss to coat.
  4. Slice the orange in a cross section in 5mm slices. Set aside.
  5. To toast the almonds, heat a small frypan over medium heat. Add the almonds and cook for 2-3 minutes or until golden.
  6. To assemble the salad, place the fennel and broccoli onto serving platter, top with orange slices and sprinkle with almonds, lightly toss to combine. Sprinkle with reserved fennel fronds.