Tag Archives: mint

Recipe: Crisp Vegetable Salad for Spring

I haven’t been doing much cooking recently, or at least, not much that is creative, but this little salad has been a nice change from the usual lettuce-cucumber-tomato-capsicum deal, and is a nice, fresh, crisp-tasting side-dish for spring.

Today’s version is brought to you by my friend A, who gave me a bag of baby carrots – really carrot thinnings, so even cuter – mint and other goodies from her garden when we went to pick her up for a freecycling trip.  The amounts are vague, because I am vague too, but the combination of small, sweet, crisp carrot with spicy radish, fragrant mint and aniseedy fennel is very tasty, and very easy to bring together on a plate.  You can use any light tasting vinegar – cider or white wine vinegar would work – but strawberry vinegar seemed to fit with the spring-like theme of this salad.

This recipe serves two as a side dish.

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Recipe: Eggplant Tarts

My brother and I have an annual tradition for Christmas, where his gift to me is a ticket to one day of the Boxing Day test, and mine to him is a picnic lunch for my brother and sister-in-law and their guests at the cricket that day.  It’s a pretty good deal all round, except for the fact that my entry into the MCG seems to be the cue for everyone to forget how to bat properly – I’ve watched four batting collapses in four days of cricket over the last three years.  But this year, I was in luck, and got to spend a fabulous day yesterday watching India play test cricket as though they were playing a one day match, and the batting was spectacular (the less said about Australia’s fielding, the better.  Let’s just say that the batsmen spent most of the day throwing caution to the wind and hitting fours all over the place with impunity.  I loved it.).

I always over-cater, and never more so than this year, especially because my mother inexplicably decided to bring lunch for her and dad.  Apparently, it didn’t occur to my mother that I would be catering for them as well.  Anyone would think she had never met me…

Anyway, I made a big beetroot and carrot salad, and planned to make spiced roast pumpkin pasties, only I was really tired when making the pastry and quadrupled the flour when I meant to double it… and of course once I figured that out, I had to add more of everything else and had way too much pastry, so I decided to throw together some eggplant tarts as well.  Naturally, these turned out to be the hit of the day, which is a bit of a pest, since I hadn’t written down anything I’d done.  Or taken any photos, which is why these ones are so bad.

So this is my attempt to reconstruct said tarts, because they really were tasty, and I’d like to make them again sometime.

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90 ml olive oil
90 ml cold water
380 g flour (3 cups)
1 tsp herbed salt – I used the Garlic Lovers Spice from Gewürzhaus
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1 egg + 1 egg yolk

olive oil
lavender salt
2 cloves garlic
2 medium eggplants
1/4 cup white wine
2 roasted peppers, sliced
1 x 180 g container Persian Feta, drained
a large handful of mint leaves, finely chopped

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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.

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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: Strawberry, Mint and Dark Chocolate Gelato (Vegan!)

I blame FaceBook for this recipe.  I was just minding my own business, girding my loins for the next battle with spreadsheets, when FaceBook reminded me that this is strawberry season, and wouldn’t it be nice to make strawberry ice-cream?  As it happens, I had about three punnets of tiny strawberries in my fridge, waiting for me to think of something clever to do with them, and my first thought was that really easy strawberry frozen yoghurt recipe by David Lebovitz.  A sensible choice for a weeknight.  

served

Only then for some reason it occurred to me that this frozen yoghurt doesn’t have eggs, therefore it was my clear duty to make it vegan.  (No, I don’t follow that particular leap of logic either.  This is just the sort of thing that happens in my head sometimes.  It can’t be helped.)  Almond milk seemed like the way to go, especially as I love the combination of strawberries with mint, and coconut milk would have been a bit overpowering.  And then I remembered another ice-cream recipe that I have, for fresh mint ice-cream with dark choc chips…

I wanted the smoothness that one gets from making a sorbet-ish syrup, but I also really like the freshness of an uncooked strawberry ice-cream, so I compromised by blending all the strawberries and then taking out half a cup and boiling them into a syrup with the sugar.  Though not very well, as they were determined to erupt from my slightly-too-small saucepan.  The results weren’t quite as smooth as I’d hoped, but the texture was somehow pure gelato.  I have no idea how one makes an actual gelato, but I seem to have reverse-engineered it.

It’s good.

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700g hulled strawberries (which is about 3 1/2 punnets before you hull them.  You’ll just have to eat the rest.  It’s a hard life.
1 cup caster sugar
1 1/2 cups almond milk
4 sprigs of mint
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp strawberry jam (optional)
100 g good dark chocolate (oh so very compulsory)

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Recipe: Spring Vegetables with Lemon Gnocchi and Mint

I love this time of year at the farmers’ market.  After living in the land of brassicas and root vegetables for months, suddenly we are gifted with sweet baby carrots, new peas, herbs, greens of all kinds, and, of course, asparagus.  Add a packet of beautiful gnocchi from Take Me Home and some ghee from the Butter Factory, and you have a meal I could eat every day for a month.  Or at least, that’s how it feels right now.

This may look kind of messy, but it really is a thing of beauty when you taste it – bursting with the sweet flavours of new vegetables, with a zing from the lemon in the gnocchi, and a touch of freshness from the mint.  Perfection.

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185 g peas (fresh if possible, frozen if that’s what you can get)
25 g ghee (or olive oil, if you are veganly inclined)
4 spring onions
10 baby carrots (about 175 g)
2 cloves garlic
10 asparagus spears (about 240 g before you snap off the ends)
3 tiny zucchini (about 180 g)
500 g lemon gnocchi (or plain gnocchi, and the zest of one lemon)
lavender salt (or plain salt plus some lavender or tarragon), black pepper
250 g cherry tomatoes
350 g fresh spinach (a medium-sized bunch)
a good handful of mint

ingredients

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Recipe: Simple Mint Syrup / Mint Cordial

drinkThis recipe is a very simple one, born out of the fact that my husband really, really loves mint.  I thought it would be nice to make a fresh, minty drink for these hot days.  Though, having made it, I can’t help thinking that it would be gorgeous added to a rich hot chocolate drink, too.  Or drizzled over berries and ice-cream, for that matter.  Or frozen and churned into sorbet.

Or just eaten with a spoon.  Why bother freezing it first?

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35 g fresh mint leaves – this would be the leaves from one nice bunch of mint, or from two dodgy bunches of mint, which is what I had.
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 cups water
 

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Recipe: Inside-out salad

stuffedAt last!  An entry for the Vegetarian Lunchbox Challenge!  And it’s only taken me three weeks since I thought of this recipe to actually make it and write it up…

This recipe is inspired by all the beautiful tomatoes I’m getting from my garden at present.  Not big ones, alas – those I had to buy – but very colourful, sweet baby tomatoes in a lot of colours.  I thought it would be fun to do Tomato On Tomato – a whole festival of tomatoes inside a bigger tomato, but with a bit of extra protein.  Hence the quinoa.  And it was.  These are not, I fear, perfect – I think they really wanted a few toasted nuts or seeds in them for crunch, and I totally forgot that there’s this thing called seasoning – but they are lovely and cool and fresh in this endlessly hot weather.  I’d use this recipe as a template and then add your favourite salad goodies to it at the end.

(I will try to make some more sweet recipes soon, but the combination of very hot weather that makes baking undesirable, a broken food processor that makes a lot of my favourite un-baked sweets impossible, and the usual work-related exhaustion is not really conducive to inventing sweet delights…)

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1 cup quinoa
265 g assorted small tomatoes
1 bunch mint
1 bunch coriander
1 orange capsicum
1 roasted pepper
100 g feta cheese
juice of half a lime
8 large tomatoes
3 -4 large lebanese cucumbers

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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.

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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: Pasta with Ricotta, Herbs and Spring Vegetables

This is the revised version of a recipe I noted down here a while back, because I never really put in any quantities, just typed in the ingredients as I remembered them, because it was late and I was tired!

But the recipe really is too delicious not to be written up properly, and with Jacqueline at Tinned Tomatoes starting a new Pasta Please monthly challenge with a cheese theme for January, it seemed the perfect time to re-visit this recipe and do a proper version of it.  So here is the new, improved version with actual quantities and also variations!

The quantities I’ve noted below will definitely work, but feel free to experiment or change things – the essence of this dish is pasta, ricotta, and some herbs and vegetables so that you can pretend it isn’t all about the cheese.  You really can’t go wrong with this sort of meal.

Vague shopping list

1 punnet (250 g, approx) shelled broadbeans

1 small bunch of parsley

1 handful each of basil and mint

350 g ricotta

100 g parmesan, grated
25 g salted butter
black pepper
1-2 tablespoons of butter, olive oil, or, ideally, a combination of the two, for sautéing vegetables.
3 spring onions (the long skinny kind)
1 baby fennel bulb
2 small bunches asparagus
3 yellow pattypan squash
350 g rigatone pasta
 

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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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