Eggplant Tapenade Tuna Nicoise Salad

Following on from my recent “Eat the Freezer” post, I should probably pull together an “Eat the Pantry” series. For similar to my freezer, my pantry is starting to fill up with lots of bits and pieces.  Half packets of pasta, noodles, vinegars and sauces….

You get the idea.

A little while ago I came across this lovely little eggplant tapenade hiding up the back that, from memory, arrived in a gift box of edible goodies for my birthday. And while I would normally save tapenade for pasta, I had a lighter meal in mind, and so this eggplant tapenade nicoise salad came to be.

I steamed baby chat potatoes then, while they were still warm, stirred through a few generous spoonfuls of the tapenade. The remainder of the salad was built using steamed asparagus and beans, chargrilled corn, mesculin, tinned tuna and, of course, a soft boiled egg.

Despite the abundance of other ingredients, the tapenade really shined! It added lots of flavour to the salad, with no additional dressing required. And while on this occasion I used eggplant tapenade,  I think an olive or pepper tapenade would also work really well.

Print Recipe
Eggplant Tapenade Tuna Nicoise Salad
Course Salad
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings
people
Course Salad
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings
people
Instructions
  1. Chargrill corn in a pan until golden brown. Remove kernels and set aside.
  2. Steam chat potatoes for 8 minutes, or until cooked. Place in a large bowl, and while warm, stir through the tapenade.
  3. Steam the asaparagus and beans for 3 to 4 minutes, then refresh by running under cold water.
  4. Add the corn, asparagus, beans, lettuce and tuna to the potatoes, stirring gently to combine.
  5. Place lettuce in serving bowls, and top with the tuna / potato salad mixture, along with two egg halves. Season and serve.
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Cherry Ripe Power Balls

Growing up, our family had a regular Sunday night ritual. After dinner, Dad would present four chocolates of different varieties to the family, with instructions that we could each choose one. We’d then sit down to some TV time as a family, and noting the era, we probably watched an episode of The Wonder Years, Xena Warrior Princess or, perhaps, Home Improvement.

Generally Dad presented a mars bar, a crunchie bar, a picnic and a cherry ripe. Or, if he was feeling particularly creative, maybe a curly wurly or a kit kat.  And generally there were no arguments when it came time to choose, with each family member having their preferred variety of sugar hit.

Dad would take the picnic bar, Mum would take the cherry ripe, and my brother and I would negotiate over whatever was left.

Although, if we were to have that ritual these days, I would almost certainly opt for the cherry ripe.

For dark chocolate + cherries = yes please!

These tasty little cherry ripe power balls use dates, dried cherries, coconut and cocoa to create a flavour combination that is not all that dissimilar to the ol’ cherry ripe bar.  They are rich, but not overly sweet.

They are, however, a lot healthier and definitely lunchbox friendly – as well as a tasty snack to reach for throughout the day.

What about you? What is your favourite chocolate bar?

Print Recipe
Cherry Ripe Power Balls
Course Baking
Cuisine Baking
Prep Time 15 minutes
Servings
balls
Course Baking
Cuisine Baking
Prep Time 15 minutes
Servings
balls
Instructions
  1. Add all ingredients to a food processor, and process until well combined.
  2. Shape and roll into balls, and place on a paper-lined plate. Store in the fridge.
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Green Chicken Curry Meatballs

My love of spicy foods has definitely grown and developed over the years. So much so that aside from a brief abstinence during my first pregnancy (when all spicy foods randomly lost their appeal) many of our dinners will include some sort of chilli or heat-inducing spice.

I’ve also been known to snack on carrots dipped in chilli sauce, but that’s a story for another day…

Needless to say,  a recipe for green chicken curry meatballs in a recent Taste magazine edition caught my attention. You can find the recipe here. 

The chicken meatballs were made using mince, coriander, ginger, garlic and spring onions. Lightly fried, then added to a spicy green curry mixture. Served with rice vermicelli noodles, bamboo shoots and spinach, and finished with some fresh coriander and cucumber (and a good amount of lime juice). Resulting in what can only be described as a rather tasty (and spicy!) mid-week meal.

What about you? What is your favourite curry?

Roasted chorizo and vegetables with couscous

If I had to name my top 3 grains, couscous would definitely be right up there. For not only does it taste good, it is really quick and easy to prepare (aka. the two winning factors in my dinner-making book).

I generally reach for the couscous when I have something spicy or herb-filled on the menu. For it seems to lend itself to Mediterranean-style meals, adding some ‘filler’ without adding too much flavour to what is already a bold-flavoured meal.

So when I had a big batch of vegetables and spicy chorizo roasting in the oven a  while ago, it was little surprise that I made a bowl of couscous to serve alongside. Flavoured simply with a squeeze of lemon juice and some fresh herbs.

A dinner bowl packed with flavour – with the couscous being the star accompaniment for sure!

Print Recipe
Roasted chorizo and vegetables with couscous
Course Main Dish
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Servings
people
Ingredients
Course Main Dish
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 200C. Line a roasting dish with baking paper, and spread over the chopped onion, capsicum, pumpkin and chorizo.
  2. Combine the oil, honey, harissa and cumin, and pour over the vegetables and chorizo. Bake for 30 minutes.
  3. Add the chickpeas and zucchini to the baking tray, and continue to roast for a further 20 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, place couscous in a bowl with 1.5 cups of boiling water. Cover and allow to stand for 5 minutes, or until cooked. Fluff the grains with a fork, and then stir through the lemon juice and herbs.
  5. Serve the couscous with the roasted chorizo and vegetables, along with some mixed lettuce leaves.
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Vegetable and Bean Chilli

I spoke a little while ago about make ahead meals. Ones that I can prepare in advance, then reheat when dinnertime arrives. Well the other advantage of these meals is that you often have leftovers too – which can be portioned and frozen for future meals.

And so with the husband making his way back from Sydney the other day – I dove into the freezer and pulled out two portions of this vegetable and bean chilli. Reheated on the stove top, and kept warm until he walked in the door. Served with quinoa, and finished with some fresh parsley.

 This vegetarian chilli is packed with beans, spices and vegetables. In fact, it is so filled with flavour that you don’t miss the meat component at all. And while on this occasion I served the chilli with quinoa, you could easily substitute the quinoa for rice or even tortillas. The addition of fresh avocado or some  natural yoghurt or sour cream would also work beautifully if you had any on hand.

Print Recipe
Vegetable and Bean Chilli
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Vegetarian
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Vegetarian
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Add the onion and garlic and fry for a few minutes.
  3. Add the spices, and cook for 30 seconds, stirring.
  4. Add the vegetables, and stir to coat with the spices.
  5. Add the tomatoes, beans and water, and simmer for 20 minutes.
  6. Stir through the spinach, cacao powder and parsley, and heat for a few minutes, Season to taste.
  7. Divide and among serving bowls, and serve with quinoa or rice and extra parsley.
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Vegetable and Lentil Soup with Spiced Eggplant

One of my favourite meals to make in the cooler months is soup. For it is both easy, and versatile, and almost certainly guarantees that those last few veggies in your crisper drawer are used up at the end of the week.

I find that soup is also a particularly good option on the days when I know that the husband will be home late from work. I make a batch during the day and eat early with the kids. Then his serve can easily be re-heated when he arrives home – without the worry of it being mis-timed or overcooked.

On this occasion, I found inspiration in Taste Magazine – in the form of a tomato based vegetable and lentil soup – that was topped with spicy eggplant. And we all know how much I like my eggplant! 

The addition of lentils resulted in a hearty soup, that warmed us up from the inside out. The eggplant was quite the star too – and definitely not short on spice!

From memory we served the soup with some toasted sourdough with lashings of butter (of course).  The perfect soup ‘dipper’.

What about you? Do you have a favourite soup?

(ps. I hope you are enjoying the new ‘printer’ friendly versions of my recipes, which I think you can also adjust to suit what serving size you are after. Let me know what you think!)

Print Recipe
Vegetable and Lentil Soup with Spiced Eggplant
Course Soup
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Course Soup
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat.
  2. Add the leek, carrots and zucchini, and cook for a few minutes (or starting to soften). Add the garlic and spices, and stir until fragrant.
  3. Add the lentils, tomatoes and stock. Bring to the boil then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
  4. Season the soup, and divide among serving bowls. Top with fresh parsley and the spiced eggplant.
For the Spiced Eggplant:
  1. Preheat oven to 200C, and line a tray with baking paper. Dice an eggplant into 1-inch cubes. Combine 1tsp garam masala, 1 tsp ground coriander, 1/2 tsp chilli flakes and 1/4 tsp turmeric in a bowl. Add the eggplant and toss to coat. Spread onto the lined tray and drizzle with olive oil. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until cooked through and golden brown.
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Brussels Sprout and Bacon Pasta

I can’t help but feel rather sorry for brussels sprouts. For unlike some of their more revered vegetable counterparts, they seem to be misjudged. Sure, when boiled to extinction they may be a tad tasteless, but when they feature in a flavoursome bacon-laden pasta, well they are rather delicious indeed!

Pasta doesn’t feature too often in our household, but when it does I like to make it special. And this brussels sprout and bacon pasta ended up being just that. Special.

Brussels sprouts, bacon, garlic and lemon, stirred through fusilli, resulting in a quick and easy weeknight meal.

Fresh, light and full of flavour!

Print Recipe
Brussels Sprout and Bacon Pasta
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
To serve
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
To serve
Instructions
  1. Preheat fry pan over a medium heat. Cook the bacon until golden brown, then set aside in a bowl lined with paper towel.
  2. Heat oil in the same frypan. Add the brussels, garlic and chilli, and cook - stirring - for 5 minutes or until the sprouts have softened.
  3. Return the bacon to the pan, along with the cooked pasta and reserved cooking liquid. Add the lemon juice and zest, and stir until heated through.
  4. Season, and serve with parmesan cheese.
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Healthy Lamington Balls

This week’s healthy lunchbox treat was named by Miss C. For she is a big fan of lamingtons, and declared these little balls to be rather similar to lamingtons when I packed some in her lunchbox.

But, unlike their cake counterparts, these little balls have no butter, sugar or flour. Rather, they are sweetened with medjool dates, and given their chocolate flavour with some cacao powder.

Some I rolled in coconut….

Others I kept ‘plain’…

But both came together beautifully, and we now have a big bowl of these lamington balls in the fridge to ‘grab and go’ when the afternoon slump hits.

Kid approved!

Print Recipe
Healthy Lamington Balls
Prep Time 10 minutes
Servings
balls
Ingredients
Prep Time 10 minutes
Servings
balls
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Process the oats and sunflower seeds in a food processor until smooth.
  2. Add the dates, coconut, honey, chia seeds, coconut oil and cacao powder- and process until combined. Add a little water if you think the mixture needs more liquid.
  3. Roll into balls (and coat with extra coconut if you like). I wet my hands a little to help with this step.
Recipe Notes

These balls are best stored in the fridge.

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