Category Archives: cooking with vegetables

Recipe: Ravioli primavera

An actual savoury recipe!  Who knew I could still do those?  Actually, I have an uneasy feeling I’ve done something very like this before.  I mean, me, pasta, vegetables – that’s basically my default work night dinner, frankly.

But I think this is a little different to my last primavera, primarily because I’ve gotten a lot lazier since then.  Also, someone told me that adding some pasta cooking water to one’s pasta sauce makes it come together better, and they are quite right, so if nothing else, this recipe has that particular upgrade!  (I’m still hopeless at remembering to salt my pasta water, however…)

This is a pea-free primavera, because Andrew doesn’t like peas.  It is also a broad-bean-free primavera, because shelling broadbeans is for people who are much less lazy than me.  Besides, Woollies had pea ravioli with spinach and feta, so I figured our pea requirements were covered.

And that’s about it.  It’s a simple, tasty meal for four, and a good celebration of spring.

Your shopping list

Olive oil
1 bunch baby carrots
2 golden shallots (the French ones that look like miniature onions)
2 bunches asparagus
200g cherry tomatoes
60 g baby spinach
2 tablespoons pesto
100 g ricotta
50 g parmesan, finely grated
650 g vegetable ravioli (I used the aforementioned pea ravioli and a sweet potato one.  But any light-tasting vegetable ravioli will do.)
a ladle or two of reserved cooking water Continue reading

Review: The Forest Feast Cookbook

I love this cookbook.  Love it, love it, love it.  So much.  I bought it just under a week ago and so far I have made twelve recipes from it, and they were all gorgeous and it just makes me so happy, especially when Erin Gleeson uses vegetables I’ve never even heard of, but ought to have, like watermelon radish, which is a seriously wild-looking radish that is green on the outside and sort of fuchsia-magenta in the middle, and is clearly a vegetable worth using as often as possible.

Feast

And yes, that last sentence went on forever, but that’s because I love and adore this book and am too excited for sensible grammar.

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Recipe: Stuffed zucchini on roasted tomatoes

I was originally going to post this to my Tomatoes challenge, but then grant season got the better of me and nothing happened at all.  And now I have a Tofu challenge in play, and I have no idea what I’m going to do with that.  But right now, I’m working on the backlog of recipes that I created and scribbled down onto random pieces of paper in February (in fact, what I scribble down is a list of ingredients and quantities, trusting myself to remember the method, which is a bit of a gamble if the piece of paper then gets knocked off the desk by a cat, and batted under a couch, and then only found many weeks later), since this blog has been very nearly a recipre-free zone of late.

Anyway.  Zucchini flower season is almost over for us in Australia, but for once, I can give the Europeans and Americans a thrill by posting something that is about to come into season for a change!  I am constitutionally incapable of not buying zucchini flowers when I see them, which means that I then have to instantly re-jig any menu plans I’ve made, as zucchini flowers must be used the day you buy them, or at the very most, the day after.  In all probability, there are better ways to cook them – in fact, I am constantly being exhorted by farmers to try deep-frying them, stuffed or un-stuffed, in tempura batter, but since deep-frying is the one un-healthy culinary habit that I do not have, I am reluctant to learn it, even if tempura zucchini flowers does sound amazing.  God, that sentence was dreadful.  Sorry. 

Anyway, since I eschew the deep-fryer, my preferred option for zucchini flowers has always been to stuff them with a herby spinach and ricotta mix, and then bake them either in a simple tomato sauce or on a bed of roasting tomatoes. So far, nobody has complained at the lack of deep-frying, so here, for your delectation, is the recipe I normally use.  I apologise for the poor photographs – the light in my kitchen isn’t very good for photography.  I promise you, these zucchini flowers taste amazing, however they may look in these photos.

IMG_5129

Your Shopping List

12 zucchini flowers, preferable with the little zucchini still attached
1 kg assorted beautiful tomatoes
salt, pepper
1 tsp brown sugar
olive oil
2 tsp vinegar
oregano, to taste
150 g frozen spinach, defrosted (or a bunch of fresh)
300 g ricotta
50 g parmesan
a handful each of mint and basil leaves, chopped finely
nutmeg, pepper
1 egg
 
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Recipe: Eggplant with Tomatoes and Yoghurt

yogurtThis recipe is inspired by our local Turkish restaurants, which we don’t go to nearly often enough, actually.  They all have some variation of eggplant ‘yogurtlu’, eggplant that has been fried in oil until it is sweet and caramelised, and then cooked into a yoghurt sauce.  Or something like that – I can deduce the ingredients, but I’m not 100% sure of the method.  It’s amazing stuff – juicy and tangy and sweet and addictive – possibly the best ever use for eggplants.

Anyway, there were really beautiful eggplants at the shops yesterday, and we had guests round to dinner, so I thought I’d try giving it a shot.  My version of eggplant yogurtlu was a great hit, with the one problem being that I have hardly any leftovers.  We had it with youvetsi, a Greek lamb and tomato stew, because one of our guests doesn’t really eat vegetables unless you disguise them really well, or unless they are potatoes.  But it would also be fabulous as a meal in its own right, just served with really good Turkish or Lebanese bread, or, of course, as part of a mezze platter.

Your Shopping List

2 large eggplants (about 750 g)
salt
quite a lot more olive oil than most people would recommend, but really, it’s wonderful and you need it.
6 roma tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic, crushed

400 g tinned tomatoes

salt, pepper, fennel, chilli, lavender
250 ml Greek yoghurt (incidentally, if you have access to Black Swan low fat Greek Yoghurt, I recommend it with enthusiasm)
small bunch mint leaves

 

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Recipe: Tuna Salad

salad2We’re getting into the really hot days now, when any recipe that doesn’t involve switching on the stove, oven, or even toaster, is a recipe to be valued.  And in these post-Christmas weeks, there is a certain urge towards salad, to balance out all the rich foods we have been eating recently…

This recipe is another one of those embarrassingly simple ones, but it’s so very useful I’m putting it here anyway.  There’s a lot to be said for a recipe that requires no measurements, is portable, and gives you a reasonably filling and balanced lunch at the end of it.  Now, if only I had a really good vegetarian version of this… (stay tuned, however – I have plans!)

Your shopping list (serves 2)

1 lebanese cucumber
1 red capsicum
1 green capsicum
350g – 500 g  (1 1/2 – 2 punnets) cherry tomatoes, any kind, or 3 nice tomatoes
1 x 185 g tin of tuna or salmon, in olive oil if possible
2 x 125 g tins four bean mix
black pepper
1-2 tbsp red wine vinegar

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Recipe: Vegan Pizza Primavera with Salsa Verde

There seems to be a bit of a theme on this blog recently, doesn’t there?  But what can I say?  It’s Spring! And that is, after all, what Primavera means…

I tend to be much more vegetarian-oriented in the months from about October to April each year.  It’s to do with what’s in season, I think – it’s really not difficult to come up with lovely vegetarian meals based around tomatoes, eggplants, mushrooms, asparagus, beans, corn, zucchini, and all the other lovely things we get around here at this time of year. And the warmer weather encourages shorter cooking times and lighter appetites and fresher tastes. So we will be vegetarian four or five days a week, and sometimes more at this time of year.  Winter is harder – it’s difficult for me, at least, to get truly inspired by meals centering around root vegetables and leafy greens.  I have some, of course, but they are fewer and farther between.  I don’t really like stodgy food, either, and seasonal vegetarian food for winter often is stodgy…

Anyway, this pizza is so brilliant that it really doesn’t matter whether you are a vegetarian, a vegan or an omnivore.  It’s gorgeous whichever way you slice it (and speaking of slices, I recommend scissors for cutting up pizza – good enough for my Nonna, and now good enough for me, too).  It is, I must admit, particularly welcome on a night like tonight, being set out in company with a pumpkin, feta and rocket pizza (for which I must also provide the recipe one day), a conventional sort of pizza with eggplant, salami, roasted peppers, semi-dried tomatoes and mozzarella, and Nigella Lawson’s Meatzza, which is a Margherita pizza with a meatloaf base.  This pizza provides much needed lightness and freshness to the meal, and the salsa verde keeps it zingy.

But it’s pretty fabulous all on its own, too, and we have eaten it as a meal on several prior occasions, without feeling any lack of meat.  Give it a try!

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Base

1 tbsp dry yeast
1 cup water that is just barely warm to the touch
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cups fine semolina or 2 cups high protein flour, or half and half

Salsa Verde

1 cup basil leaf
1 cup flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup mint
1/4 cup coriander
2 Garlic Cloves crushed
50 g salted Capers well rinseded
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
45ml Extra Virgin Olive Oil
a good pinch of salt
freshly ground Black pepper

Vegetable topping

2 bunches asparagus
1 baby fennel bulb
1 small zucchini
300 g cherry tomatoes
6 small mushrooms
1 tbsp olive oil
oregano, black pepper

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Recipe: Quinoa Salad with Corn, Coriander and Lime

I’ve started a lunch swap at work with a colleague of mine. On Mondays (or sometimes Tuesdays), I bring lunch lunch to share with her, and on Thursdays, she brings lunch to share with me.  My colleague is vegetarian and can’t eat wheat or dairy, which makes life a bit more challenging, but it’s also kind of good, because I think it’s healthy to be vegan and gluten-free once in a while!

This week’s lunch was going to be quinoa tabouli, but when I got to the shops on Monday night, they were out of mint and flat-leaf parsley, which are kind of a necessity.  So I looked around the supermarket to see what they *did* have, and found coriander and basil and zucchini and roasted peppers and tomatoes and corn … I had limes and curly parsley and quinoa and spring onions at home, so I thought this might be the basis for an American-inspired sort of salad.

It’s pretty good, actually.  Lovely and fresh and terrifyingly healthy – and yes, it’s vegan and gluten-free and quite high in protein from that quinoa.  A good lunch for a sticky, humid day…

Your Shopping List

1/2 cup quinoa, any kind
1 cup water
3 small white zucchini or 3 large pattypan squashes
2 corn cobs
1 small chilli, optional
6 spring onions (the kind that look like overgrown chives)
400 g assorted cherry tomatoes
1 bunch coriander
1 bunch parsley
10 basil leaves, or thereabouts
1/2 cup roasted peppers
juice of 1 lime
salt, pepper, olive oil

 

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Recipe: Vegan Pasta Primavera

First up, I should confess: the version of this dish you see is not 100% vegan, because I had this beautiful fresh egg pasta that needed to be used.  But the sauce is definitely vegan, and as I actually cook with egg-free pasta most of the time, it will certainly be vegan next time I make it.  So I think this counts as a vegan pasta dish, at least in its heart!

The sauce for this pasta is light and herby in flavour – I was trying to get a sort of ricotta-ish personality to the tofu, and I think I succeeded.  It’s actually based on a cheese, nut and herb purée from Mark Grant’s excellent book, Roman Cookery: Ancient Recipes for Modern Kitchens.  If you have any interest in historical foods that are actually edible and don’t involve flamingoes or dormice, I can highly recommend this cookbook.  The vegetables were what looked good at the farmers’ market and at the supermarket.  This recipe is, of course, even more fun if it’s what looks good in your garden, so if you have zucchini peas or string beans growing, feel free to use them in place of some of the other vegetables.  This recipe is very forgiving.

Don’t be intimidated by the very long list of ingredients for this recipe, by the way.  I promise that this recipe is very easy to make (the blender does much of the work), and practically every ingredient can be substituted for what you have on hand.  If you have a herb garden, you can have a lot of fun picking the different herbs for the sauce.  If not, don’t worry if you miss a few of them.  I think the parsley, coriander and mint are the most important, though the basil is good too.

Above all – enjoy!

Your Shopping List

200 g tofu
150 g pine nuts
half a bunch of fresh parsley
half a bunch of fresh coriander
two sprigs of mint
two sprigs of basil
one sprig of oregano
four sprigs of dill
80 ml olive oil + more to sauté the vegetables
60 ml red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
salt to taste
150 g shelled broad beans (about 400g in the pod)
3 baby leeks, halved lengthways and sliced
1 baby fennel bulb, or half a standard fennel bulb, sliced finely
1 bulb of baby garlic (at the point where it is still a single clove), or one clove of the mature kind, chopped finely
12 baby carrots, as many colours as possible!
2 bunches of asparagus (about 225 g prepared weight)
1/2 cup white wine
400 g cherry tomatoes, as many colours as possible!
60 g spinach or rocket or a combination of both
500 g pasta, to serve

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Recipe: Roast Potatoes with No Photos (Because we ATE THEM ALL)

No, I didn’t eat the photos.  I haven’t even eaten these potatoes all that recently, which is a tragedy, because they are possibly my favourite food in the world.  And, actually, I probably do have photos of these potatoes somewhere, which I will add at a later date.  But this post is a bit ad-hoc because I have become involved in Surprise Last-Minute Opera this week, and so my blog has been rather neglected (and probably will be for a few more days).  I wanted to write something, at leastt so that you didn’t think I had run away to join the… opera… hmm…

(Actually, the opera thing is fairly exciting – I got this email on Monday that some singers from Opera Australia were putting on a small production of Tosca this weekend and needed a few more people for the chorus, so I duly put my hand up, had rehearsal on Tuesday and Wednesday, and will be singing tonight and tomorrow night – just two choruses, but hey, it’s a chance to see Tosca and sing some Puccini, neither of which are things I’ve done before.  And it’s going to be a good and rather intimate performance, too – 5 soloists, ten or so people in the chorus, and all performed in a smallish church, so that the audience will really feel in the middle of things rather than at a distance.)

Anyway, recipe!  Everyone always asks me for my roast potato recipe, and it’s not really a recipe, but since I can make it in my sleep – which, coincidentally, is about how I feel right now – here goes!  These potatoes should be golden and crispy on the outside and nicely soft inside, with a happy garlicky rosemaryish personality.  They go with everything.  Personally, I like them with a tuna salad, because then I can pretend I am being healthy.  Or alternatively, they are great as part of a whole collection of roasted vegetables which you might serve with meat or stuffed mushrooms, but could just as easily serve as their own meal, with a big bowl of pesto or salsa verde or garlicky white bean dip or aioli on the side.  Yum.  Why aren’t I having this for dinner tonight?

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(Oh dear.  I really have no idea how many potatoes I usually use!)

750 g potatoes.  Maybe.  Really, use however many you would normally use for a roast potato side dish.  Do not use new potatoes – pick all-purpose or floury ones
2 red onions, sliced in the wrong direction so that they are little half moon shapes
3 tablespoons of olive oil.  I am totally making this quantity up.
a teaspoon or two of dried rosemary, or three sprigs of fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons or so of garlic powder.  Yes, I know it’s disgusting, appalling stuff, but it is the best way to get the garlic flavour through the potatoes.
salt, black pepper
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Recipe: New World Stovetop Veggie Feast

So I kind of accidentally got captured by the internet last night and then it was 8pm and I hadn’t really thought about dinner, except that it needed to include corn, and all my cookbooks were useless on the subject, so I had to randomly make up this stew, which I didn’t think was going to be all that good.  Only then it was really good, so I had to write down the recipe and take bad photos of what was left in the pan, which is why the photos in this blog post are less than stellar.  But I promise you, the stew itself is lovely.

This meal is a very simple sauté-turned-stew of the kind of late-summer vegetables that I associate with the Americas.  I suspect it is vaguely Mexican, but I only suspect that because I know nothing about Mexican cooking… Anyway, it’s very easy to make, and also terribly healthy, as well as being gluten-free, vegan and low-GI, but it’s basic purpose was to do something with the corn I had bought at the Farmers’ Market as soon as possible, since corn is one of those vegetables that loses flavour within minutes of being picked (or so I am told – I’ve never grown corn, which means, I suppose, that I don’t actually know what it should taste like, really).

Also, it’s very pretty!  Look at all those lovely colours!

Your Shopping List

olive oil
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 red onions, chopped (I cut them in half through the root, then in half again across the equator, then I slice them into what would be half-moons if it weren’t for the equatorial slicing)
1 red chilli, finely chopped
1 tbsp cumin (or thereabouts – I wasn’t measuring)
1 tbsp oregano
1 tsp ground chilli
1 pinch of ground fennel seeds
salt, pepper
3 capsicums, all in different colours, chopped
1 sweet yellow chilli, chopped
kernels from 3 cobs corn
6 little zucchini, some yellow, some green (about 3 normal-sized zucchini, I should think), sliced
150 g cherry tomatoes, halved
2 tins chopped tomatoes
1 tin black beans
small handful coriander, chopped
guacamole, corn chips or cornbread, and grated cheese (to serve)
 

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