Broccoli Salad with Tahini Dressing

It’s all too easy to turn to the ol’ green salad or Greek salad when guests are due. Well for me anyway.

With this in mind, I’m always on the lookout for new and interesting salads. Something that is fresh, healthy and full with flavour – and well this one definitely hit the mark.

For rather than just relying on the  usual salad base of mesculin, this salad was also filled with another favourite green of mine – broccoli!

Jazzed up with some snowpeas and flaked almonds for crunch and lightly coated in a little sesame oil. Then finished with a creamy tahini dressing on the side.

On this occasion we served the salad alongside some chicken burgers, but it would easily work as a tasty meal  on its own. Definitely a keeper!

Broccoli Salad with Tahini Dressing 

  • Mesculin leaves
  • 1 head broccoli, broken into small florets (and slice the stem thinly)
  • Handful of snowpeas, sliced
  • Handful of chopped fresh herbs (I used parsley and mint)
  • 1/3 cup flaked almonds
  • 1 tbs sesame oil
  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • 2 tbs natural yoghurt
  • 2 tbs white vine vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  1. TO make the dressing, combine the tahini, yoghurt, vinegar and garlic. Add a few tablespoons of water, or until the desired consistency is reached. Set aside.
  2. Steam the broccoli for a few minutes or until slightly softened. Place in a bowl with the lettuce, snowpeas, herbs, and sesame oil and toss to combine.
  3. Arrange the salad on a plate, and sprinkle with the almonds. Serve with the tahini dressing.

Buffalo Chicken Salad with Healthy Ranch Dressing

There have been a lot of salads for dinner in the MCP kitchen of late, but the warmer weather brings with it my general craving for salads. Something cool and crunchy, with an added protein, and a nice homemade dressing – yes nice healthy end to the day when I don’t feel like turning the oven on.

This recipe for a Buffalo Chicken Salad that I came across here caught my attention. A spicy chicken, served on a bed of lettuce, carrots, celery and crunchy gala apples.But instead of going with a store-bought ranch dressing, I decided to make my own – with a couple healthy tweaks.

Greek yoghurt in place of mayonnaise, spiced up with garlic powder, mustard powder and a bunch of fresh herbs. And after playing around with the ingredients for a while, I soon had a blend that I will be sure to make again.

Tangy from the yoghurt, and packed with flavour owing to the fresh herbs, this is one versatile dressing! I think you could quite easily use it as a dip too – just add a little less water…

Healthy Ranch Dressing

  • 1 cup natural yogurt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp mustard powder
  • a handful of chopped fresh herbs (I used parsley, chopped dill and basil)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 tbs water*
  1. Combine all ingredients with 1 tbs water. Add more water if you would like a thinner dressing (or keep it thicker if you are using it as a dip).
  2. Store in the fridge until ready to use.

Australia Day 2017

You might recall that last year we indulged in a full tasting menu for Australia Day. Yes, 8 courses that took us on a culinary tour around the Country – celebrating fresh, local and seasonal produce.

And while this year was much more ‘low key’, we still filled the day with family and food, and a favourite pastime – a morning hike!

Needless to say after the morning’s outdoor adventures, we were quite hungry when the afternoon rolled around. Our family joined us for an early dinner – and with the temperature exceeding 30 degrees outside, a BBQ seemed to be the most logical, if not sanest, choice.

On the menu?

Some homemade sausages by our local butcher. Served with a few “Aussie-themed” sides.

Starting with a mango macadamia salad – comprising of salad leaves, fresh mango, avocado and macadamias. Dressed simply with a mixture of lime juice, seeded mustard, oil and sliced red chilli.

I also turned on the oven for 20 minutes or so, in order to make another iconic Australian side…damper! Flavoured with camembert and cracked pepper (and these turned out very moreish indeed).

For dessert we kept things pretty simple. Instead of a large pavlova, I went with mini versions instead. Topped with cream, lemon curd and a fresh raspberry.


And to keep us hydrated, we served a fresh fruit cocktail.

Akin to a punch – I guess you’d say – made with vodka, coconut rum, cooled tea, pineapple juice and ginger ale – finished with some frozen honeydew balls, mint and raspberry.

And so another Australia Day came to pass  – and we retired to bed with full bellies and fond memories of the day.

What about you? What did you get up to this Australia Day?

Spiced fish with quinoa salsa salad

If I was to name one ingredient that I’m a little hesitant to cook, at least with any regularity, it would have to be fish. It’s not that I don’t enjoy eating fish, because I certainly do, I think it just takes me out of my comfort zone. It’s the choosing the right type, then storing it the right way, then working out the best cooking method – yes I find it a tad overwhelming.

Silly really.

For dishes like this spiced fish with quinoa salsa salad are are actually pretty simple to throw together. Particularly when I send the husband to the fishmonger (ie. tasking him with choosing a good variety) and then get him to cook it on the BBQ!  My main role was mixing together the spices to coat the fish, then throwing together the rest of the meal – the salsa salad.

For the fish – we used ling fillets. Sprayed lightly with oil, then coated with a spice mixture of garlic salt, paprika, cayenne and a little lime rind. Onto the BBQ for around 4 minutes each side, until cooked through.

As for the salad, well that came together in the kitchen. Starting with corn kernels – removed from the cob and pan-fried until charred slightly- combined with tomatoes, lettuce, sliced sugar snap peas and cooked quinoa. Finished with a squeeze of fresh lime juice and a sprinkle of coriander.

Yes, friends, this is one fish dish that I must make again!

Spiced fish with quinoa salsa salad (serves 2)

  • 2 fish fillets (we used ling – but you could use any firm white fish)
  • olive oil spray
  • Juice and rind of 1 lime
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • corn kernels from 2 cobs, charred slightly
  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
  • 125g cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 100g sugar snap peas, sliced
  • lettuce leaves
  • coriander leaves to serve
  1. Lightly spray the fish fillets  with olive oil.
  2. Combine the lime rind and spices in a small bowl. Coat the fish on both sides with the spice mixture.
  3. Preheat a BBQ hot plate – then cook the fish for 3 to 4 minutes each side, or until cooked through.
  4. Meanwhile, combine the corn, quinoa, tomatoes, sugar snap peas and lettuce in a bowl. Divide the salad between 2 serving plates.
  5. Top the salad with the cooked fish. Drizzle over lime juice and sprinkle with coriander leaves.

What about you? Are you a fan of cooking fish at home?

Easy pearl couscous salad

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The tree is up, presents are wrapped, and the girls are well and truly in festive mode.

Yes, Christmas is coming, and I must say – I’m pretty excited.

Sure – our social schedule looks a little crazy (actually, the kids’ social schedule looks a lot crazy), and little J thinks its pretty fun to remove all the baubles from the lower half of the Christmas tree on a daily basis, but we are heading into the holiday break with gusto.

And while there has been a lot of eating out (and takeaway on the way home from various events), there have also been some home-cooked meals. One such meal featured this rather tasty salad – when I had a particular craving for this almost pearl couscous.

img_1404And boy was it simple and quick to throw together.

Pearl couscous, cooked for 8 minutes or so, to which I added cucumber, cherry tomatoes, olives, parsley, lemon juice and olive oil – to give the dish a little Mediterranean  vibe.

No recipe needed, lovely people. Just add the lemon juice and olive oil to taste, with a little cracked pepper for good measure. And feel free to throw in any other fresh herbs you might have on hand too.

img_1408 Stir, and serve (in a little Christmas bowl if you are feeling so inclined!).

We dished this salad up with some baby spinach and grilled chicken. And it made for a wonderful lunch the next day, when the flavours had developed even more.

A lovely little Summer salad indeed.

Herbed Yoghurt Potato Salad

img_0521As the warmer weather approaches, so does our tendency to put “BBQs” on the menu for dinner. Mr BBB is usually in charge of the meat, while I take care of the sides – the ‘regulars’ being a green salad or oven baked potatoes.

But recently I went for another potato option…potato salad!

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An Aussie favourite – that is usually loaded with mayonnaise and bacon. But on this occasion, I created a ‘lighter’ version. Still packed with flavour, yes, however in place of mayonnaise I went with natural yoghurt – and left out the bacon all together. Instead, the salad was given a flavour kick with lots of fresh herbs and another one of my favourite – dill pickles!

It didn’t take too long to prepare, and was far from difficult. With the added bonus  that I could make it in the morning and let the flavours develop throughout the day.

img_0517A nice take on an old classic indeed!

Herbed Yoghurt Potato Salad

  • 1.5kg potatoes (desiree or something similar) I left the skins on, but you could peel them if you prefer.
  • 3/4 cup natural yoghurt
  • 2 tbs whole egg mayonnaise
  • 1 tbs red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbs Dijon mustard
  • 100g dill pickles, chopped
  • 3 green shallots, sliced thinly
  • Handful chopped herbs (I used dill and mint, but parsley would work nicely too)
  1. Boil the potatoes until tender, then set aside to cool slightly. Dice.
  2. Combine the yoghurt, mayonnaise, vinegar and mustard, and season to taste.
  3. Add the dressing to the potatoes (while they are still slightly warm), along with the remaining ingredients. Stir gently until combined.
  4. Cover and place in the fridge until required.

Turkey Avocado Cobb Salad (and how I cook perfectly boiled eggs)

img_0468It’s no secret that I am a fan of loaded salad bowls for dinner. Not only do they generally hit the ‘health’ target – they are a great way to use up leftover ingredients in the fridge (particularly at the end of the week when I find myself with lots of bits and pieces in the crisper drawer).

And so this Turkey and Avocado Cobb Salad came to be!

img_0460Lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, capsicum, avocado and tasty cheese. With some chopped turkey breast, a little bacon and a boiled egg for protein. A long ingredient list, yes, but so very easy to throw together at the end of a long work day. With the only things requiring any real attention are the boiled eggs and bacon!

As for a dressing – well this was pretty simple too. A little mayonnaise, jazzed up with some lime juice and chilli sauce.

img_0467And just like that – dinner was served.   I’d give you a recipe – but there really is no need. Just go with what you have, and enjoy!

Although I can share my method for boiling eggs with you – as I think I’ve now mastered it…

Place the eggs in a saucepan, cover with water, and bring to a boil. Once at a boil, turn off the heat and leave your eggs in the water for 4 minutes (covered). After 4 minutes, place the eggs in a bowl of iced water and leave for 5 minutes or so. Peel and enjoy!

Warm honeyed sweet potato salad

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Yesterday there were hopeful signs of Spring in the air. I left my heavier jacket at home, and embraced the shining sun and blue skies when I went to collect Miss C from school.

Today? Well sadly I can’t say the same thing. The temperature has dropped, my heavy jacket was definitely required for the school drop off, and I can hear the rain falling steadily as I sit here typing.

But chilly days make for great ‘catch up on work’ days, so I’m doing just that. Starting with a long overdue post – on a recipe that has become quite a favourite in our household nonetheless!

Warm Honeyed Sweet Potato Salad.

A.k.a. a great compromise when you want salad for dinner, but the weather calls for something warm too.

I really love how quickly this salad comes together. It would be a lovely little side dish, although it easily extends to a main course.

IMG_8682 Simply – sweet potatoes – sliced and drizzled with spices and honey – then roasted. Piled atop a bed bed of lettuce and purple cabbage, and sprinkled with parsley, almonds and persian feta. Completed with a warm honey vinegar dressing.
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But now…where did I put my slippers??

Warm Honeyed Sweet Potato Salad (serves 2)

  • 1 large sweet potato, scrubbed and sliced
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tbs honey
  • 2 cups mesculin lettuce
  • 1 cup shredded purple cabbage
  • 2 tbs flaked almonds
  • 2 tbs persian feta
  • 2 tbs chopped parsley
  • 1tbs white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  1. Preheat oven to 200C, and line a baking tray with baking paper.
  2. Place sweet potato on tray, and spray with olive oil spray. Sprinkle with cumin and cinnamon, and drizzle with 1tbs honey. Roast for 30-40 minutes or until tender.
  3. Meanwhile, combine 1 tbs honey, vinegar and juice in a small dish, and microwave until warmed through.
  4. Place salad leaves and cabbage into two large serving bowls. Top with the cooked sweet potato, almonds, feta and parsley. Drizzle with warmed dressing.

Warm Chicken and Quinoa Salad

If I needed any reassurance that we are a long way from Summer, the fact it was minus 4 on my morning walk was proof enough. Crunchy white grass met me as I stepped outside, and the neighbourhood cars were covered with a thick layer of frost.

I was pretty warm with my 4 layers of clothing on (plus gloves and beanie), admittedly, although my nose wouldn’t stop running and I returned home with a nice ‘red cheek’ glow.  And my cravings throughout the day were a long way from the salads I normally have for lunch. Instead I opted for a big plate of comforting pasta, without a moment’s hesitation.

Although salads do tend to lose their appeal in Winter, this one was still a winner. The fact it was warm probably helped, and the quinoa added a nice feeling of ‘bulk’ to what was, in all reality, a rather light dinner.

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I opted to oven-bake the chicken (free house heating!), although you could quite easily pan-fry the chicken too – if that is your preference.  And feel free to play around with the ingredients – depending what you have on hand!

IMG_8147 Warm Chicken and Quinoa Salad (serves 2)

  • 1/2 cup quinoa, cooked per packet directions
  • 2 x small chicken breasts (or one large)
  • Juice and zest of half a lemon + extra
  • 1 tbs olive oil  + extra
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 1tsp minced lemon grass
  • chopped sundried tomatoes and pitted kalamata olives (as many as you like)
  • A few handfuls of baby spinach
  • 1/2 cucumber, diced
  • The kernels from one corn-cob
  • 1/2 avocado (or more if you like), sliced
  • a handful of chopped parsley and coriander + extra to serve
  1. Preheat oven to 200C.
  2. Combine the lemon juice, zest, oil, ginger and lemon grass in a small bowl.
  3. Place chicken and  in a baking dish, and pour over the oil mixture. Turn to coat well. Bake for 40 minutes or until cooked through.
  4. Meanwhile, combine the remaining ingredients, and divide among serving bowls. Top with the sliced chicken and remaining herbs. Drizzle with a little olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice.

What about you? Do you crave salads in Winter?

Sweet Potato Buddha Bowl

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What a wet and wild weekend that just was!

We stayed mostly in the warmth and comfort of home, with some baking and lots of games being the name of the weekend. We did, however, sneak out for a little parents-only dinner which was rather lovely too – and we are officially converted to the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of Uber!

And while I finished the weekend with a belly-warming balsamic roast beef, with all the Sunday roast sides, I made a promise to myself that I would clear the archives first before posting “live”.

And this spectacular sweet potato buddha bowl has been lying dormant in the archives for too long, despite being quite the tasty mid-week meal.

And not to mention healthy.

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Inspired by a Taste Magazine recipe (you can find the recipe online here), it took less than half an hour to make. I used quinoa in place of freekeh, and built the salad with roasted sweet potato, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, kale (that had been ‘massaged with olive oil), and some crunchy salad seeds.

Made all the more special with a spicy roasted capsicum sauce on the side (simply roasted capsicum, blanched almonds, chilli flakes, olive oil and balsamic vinegar – processed until smooth).
IMG_6678 Yes, friends, this is now one of my favourite ‘go to’ salads. Great for lunch, and substantial enough for dinner too.