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.

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Eggplant Tapenade Tuna Nicoise Salad
Course Salad
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Course Salad
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
  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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Asparagus and spinach soup

IMG_4399 The lovely people at the Australian Asparagus Council surprised me with multiple bunches of asparagus recently. And, given that asparagus is one of my favourite Spring ingredients, I wasted no time in putting it to good use. IMG_1737 First up – was this delightful soup. Made one particularly chilly day – when time was short and comfort food was craved. And, as is the case with most homemade soups, it was so easy and speedy to prepare. IMG_4396 And despite being a comforting meal, this was also a healthy one. With lots of green! IMG_4397 I loved the little roasted spears on top, and the drizzle of natural yoghurt. And a good amount of black pepper. Never forget the pepper! IMG_4400 Asparagus and Spinach soup (serves 2-3)

  • 1tbs olive oil
  • 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed into 3cm pieces
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 potato, peeled and cubed
  • 1 L vegetable stock
  • 60g spinach leaves
  • 1 tbs lemon juice
  • pepper, to taste
  • natural yoghurt to serve
  1. Heat oil in a medium saucepan. Add the asparagus, onion and garlic and sauté until the onion starts to soften. Remove a few of the asparagus tips for serving later.
  2. Add the potato and stock, and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the potato is tender.
  3. Add the spinach leaves and allow to wilt, before blending the entire mixture until smooth.
  4. Add lemon juice and pepper to taste.
  5. Divide among serving bowls and top with natural yoghurt and the asparagus spears to serve.

Oh and be sure to check out for more recipe ideas. What about you? Are you a fan of asparagus?

Pearl barley, turkey and asparagus salad with lime tahini dressing

IMG_3973 I cant help but feel a little sorry for the ol’ traditional grains. For with the emergence of the new ‘cool’ grains (freekeh, millet, teff… I’m looking at you!) well some of the ones I grew up with seem to have been forgotten.  Perhaps even labelled a little dorky. I’m sure they will be rediscovered again by the populous at some point, but for now they appear to have been cast to one side. Or to the back of the pantry, at least. Well not in this household. For I am loving pearl barley at the moment. Cheap, quick and easy to prepare, and so much more versatile than simply being a a staple in my Mum’s vegetable soup! IMG_3955IMG_3956 Recently, I cooked up a batch of pearl barley and used it as the ‘filler’ in our dinner salad. Combined with zucchini, grilled asparagus, mint, chives and craisins – and dressed in a lime/tahini dressing, well it was a rather tasty addition to our weekly menu plan. IMG_3963 On this occasion, I opted to add some grilled turkey breasts for a little extra protein kick. But I have no doubt the salad would have worked fine by itself as a vegetarian main or side dish. IMG_3969 Yes, pearl barley, I have not forgotten you or your wonderful nutty chewiness! You are a keeper, for sure. Pearl barley, turkey and asparagus salad – serves 2

  • 1/2 cup pearl barley, rinsed
  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • 1 zucchini, cut into ribbons
  • mint leaves and chopped chives
  • 1 tbs craisins
  • 2 turkey breast steaks, pan-fried and sliced.
  • 1 tbs tahini
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  1. Place pearl barley in 1.5 cups water in a small saucepan. Cover and simmer for 35 minutes or until tender.
  2. Meanwhile, spray asparagus with a little olive oil and season. Grill until tender then slice. Blanch zucchini in boiling water, then drain.
  3. Combine the tahini, olive oil and lime juice in a small bowl, and set aside.
  4. Place prepared pearl barley, asparagus, zucchini, herbs and craisins in a bowl and toss to combine. Divide among serving plates, top with sliced turkey and drizzle with the lime tahini dressing.

What about you? Are you a fan of pearl barley?

Asparagus and goats cheese tart

IMG_0985Happy Monday Tuesday Wednesday THURSDAY (!?) lovely people! Gosh these short weeks confuse me, particularly when we’ve been travelling and the days all blend into one another. But we are back on deck now, or should I say “back to reality”. The reality of an empty post-holiday fridge, that is. Needless to say there has not been a lot of creative cooking in the BBB household this week. So let me share with you the last asparagus inspired dish I made a few weeks ago, when the fridge was a little fuller after being gifted with bunches of gorgeous asparagus. On the menu? An asparagus and goats cheese tart. Made one evening where I was feeling inclined to make pastry – and had the patience to let it rest and do its thing. IMG_0969 As for the filling, I kept things simple. Goats cheese, eggs, cream, mustard. IMG_0970 Poured into the tin, then lined with the beautiful asparagus spears. IMG_0971 Baked for 25 minutes or so – and what a sight awaited when the oven door was opened! IMG_0982 An enticingly golden brown tart, just perfect for a light dinner. IMG_0983IMG_0999 On this occasion, we served portions of the tart with sautéed kale and peas, sprinkled with a little caramelised balsamic vinegar. IMG_0994 But it was an equally nice lunch when served the next day, and one to keep in mind next time we are having guests over for lunch! Asparagus and goats cheese tart (serves 4-6)

  • 2 cups flour
  • 150g butter, chilled and cubed
  • 1 egg + 3 eggs
  • 300ml thin cream
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 2 bunches baby asparagus – trimmed
  • 50g goats cheese, crumbled
  1. Process flour and butter in the food processor, until it resembles fine crumbs. Add 1 egg, and process slowly until the mixture forms a dough. Wrap in gladwrap and chill for 30 minutes.
  2. Grease a rectangle tart tin with removable base. Gently roll out the dough and line the tin (pushing into the sides). Trim excess. Prick all over with a fork, and chill in the fridge for another 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 180C. Blind bake the dough for 12-13 minutes, then remove weights / rice and continue baking for another 3 to 4 minutes or until golden brown. Place tin on a baking tray and set aside.
  4. Meanwhile, whisk the remaining 3 eggs, cream, mustard and half the cheese, and season. Pour into the pastry case, and line up the asparagus spears on top. Sprinkle with remaining goats cheese.
  5. Bake for 20-35 minutes or until just set. Allow to rest for 10 minutes, then slice and serve.

And a big thanks again to the Australian Asparagus Council for their surprise asparagus gift!

Lemon feta asparagus

The asparagus theme continues this week, as we happily munch our way through the various bunches gifted to us. IMG_0916 I opted to keep things simple with our second dish. No fuss, no messing around. But also no compromising on flavour. IMG_0936 Simply – asparagus spears – grilled to perfection. Then topped with mint leaves, lemon rind and a good amount of creamy feta. IMG_0937 Finished with a drizzle of olive oil and lemon juice – and our lovely little side dish was complete! IMG_0938 Served, on this occasion, with some steak and olive sourdough. Although the real star, hands down, was that grilled asparagus. Just delicious really! IMG_0944 Thanks again to the Australian Asparagus Council for their surprise asparagus gift!

Chicken & asparagus salad with pesto yoghurt dressing

IMG_0911 Happy Monday lovely people! We just finished a beautifully balanced weekend. Some chores, some fitness, some good eating , and some relaxation. And we are all feeling very accomplished! I am also loving what appears to be the return of my energy levels now that the first trimester has passed. Not to mention the return of my appetite for healthy foods and salads.  IMG_0905 (my dinner-making audience) Thus a delivery from the Australian Asparagus Council last week could not have been more timely. For come Friday night, and after a big lunch, I was craving salad for dinner. And with the asparagus as a starting point, the rest came together pretty quickly. IMG_0914 Grilled chicken for protein, along with the asparagus that I also grilled. IMG_0906 Piled high on a salad of lettuce, cherry tomatoes, avocado and creamy feta. IMG_0901 Finished with a little ‘throw together’ dressing of two big spoonfuls of yoghurt – mixed with a spoonful of pesto. IMG_0899IMG_0902 All together now! IMG_0910 Gosh I am loving that my appetite for dinners like this has returned – so many flavours and textures in one bowl! IMG_0908 And with the warm chicken and charred asparagus – this was one tasty meal indeed. What about you? What is your favourite way to use asparagus? ps. Did you know that you can store asparagus by standing it upright in a container in the fridge,  with 1cm of cold water in the bottom (covered)?  I had no idea! Check out for more handy asparagus tips! Thanks again to the Australian Asparagus Council for their surprise asparagus gift!

Plate of random – take 4

I am no stranger when it comes to creating a ‘plate of random’ for dinner.

These plates generally seem appear when stocks in our fridge are getting low, or when there are leftovers that need to be eaten but those leftovers are not enough to create a full meal. Such as tonight. IMG_4381 Haloumi. IMG_4385 Asparagus and zucchini. IMG_4384 Brown / white rice. IMG_4387 And … cornchips??? IMG_4386 Yes, cornchips. Poppy seed and cheddar cornchips to be precise. For no other reason than the bag was open, and I find them rather delicious. IMG_4382 A tasty, albeit random, dinner indeed! What about you? Eaten anything ‘random’ lately?

Asparagus and capsicum frittata muffins (GF)

Tonight we turned to our freezer for dinner inspiration, given that we seem to have collected a variety of frozen meats that need to be used up. So, while Mr BBB headed out to the BBQ to cook up a batch of sausages, I looked in our fridge to see what else I could make to fill out our dinner plates. I found a bunch of asparagus, a capsicum and some of the lovely eggs from my boss’ farm, and it wasn’t too long before an idea popped into my head. IMG_3874 Frittata! But not just any frittata… IMG_3883 Asparagus and capsicum frittata muffins! I started by chopping 3 asparagus spears and half of the capsicum into small pieces. IMG_3875 I then gave Mr BBB the remaining asparagus, drizzled with a little olive oil and sprinkled with lemon pepper, to grill on the BBQ. IMG_3885 But back to the frittata muffins. I combined three eggs, milk (I used almond milk because that’s what I had in the fridge), gluten free SR flour and grated cheese…. IMG_3876 I divided the vegetables among a well greased 6 hole muffin pan.. IMG_3877 Topped with the egg mixture… IMG_3878 And baked for about 30 minutes, until the egg mixture had set. IMG_3881 IMG_3883 And we had ourselves pretty little frittata muffins! IMG_3884 Then it was time to put our dinner together. IMG_3886 Sausages, frittata muffins and grilled asparagus. IMG_3887 And, in true Aussie style, let’s not forget a good dollop of tomato sauce on the side. Mr BBB and I both started with 2 muffins, but each went back for a third…. IMG_3889 So they cant have been too bad. Actually, they were far from bad – they were light and fluffy, and rather moreish. I think they would also make a nice addition to a breakfast or brunch table, or be a portable snack to take to a picnic. And, don’t feel that you have to use asparagus and capsicum, I am sure that other vegetables and herbs would work easily as well. The possibilities are endless! Asparagus and capsicum frittata muffins (makes 6)

  • 3 spears asparagus, sliced
  • 1/2 red capsicum, diced
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk (dairy or non dairy)
  • 2tbs gluten free SR flour
  • 1/4 cup grated cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 190C, and grease a 6-hole muffin pan well.
  2. Divide vegetables evenly among the 6 holes.
  3. Whisk eggs and milk, then add grated cheese and flour, stirring to combine.
  4. Pour over the vegetables.
  5. Cook for 25-30 minutes, or until the eggs have set.
  6. Allow to cook for 5 minutes in the pan, then turn out onto a wire rack. Serve warm.

What about you? Are you a tomato sauce fan?I am a tomato sauce / mustard gal for sure. Although you can keep your BBQ sauce bleh!

Stuff it…

Training: Swim / Run Today saw the return of a swim / run training combination. My day started with an hour in the pool before work where I swam 2km broken up as follows:

  • 500m warm up / freestyle
  • 500m – quad breathing
  • 500m – tri breathing
  • 500m -  pull buoy (various breathing)

I am really noticing the different in my ‘breathing’ since working on quad / tri breathing over the last few months. While I used to struggle to last more than 25 metres when using alternative breathing, I can now swim quite comfortably over longer distances. I am actually hoping to use it as a strategy to keep ‘occupied’ during the half ironman swim to avoid tiredness / panic setting in. I figure that that concentrating on something other than the distance itself will hopefully make the swim pass more quickly? Besides, I would assume that it is far more energy efficient to breath every third or fourth stroke. Can any swimmers out there confirm / deny this? Mr second workout of the day was a 7km run – that I completed after work. I was ‘supposed’ to run 9km according to my schedule, however I have a special event planned for Sunday and I didn’t want to overdo the run mileage this week. You will just have to stay tuned …. Side note: On my double training days, I leave the house early wearing my swimming clothes, but taking work clothes and running clothes with me. Despite having two big bags full of gear, I always seem to forgot something. Today it was…….running socks!!! PS – running 7km without socks = YUCK!!!! Dinner While Mr BBB was mountain biking this evening, I had extra time to prepare dinner. I had chicken breasts in the fridge, plus a variety of other ingredients which needed to be used up, so a stuffed chicken dish it was. I ‘stuffed’ the chickens with a mixture of wilted spinach, parsley,  semi-dried tomatoes and parmesan. IMG_1898 Pan-fried for a few minutes each side and then baked in the oven for 15 minutes. IMG_1903 Served atop a bed of polenta… IMG_1904 And alongside steamed asparagus… IMG_1905 And drizzled with a classic jus I won a while ago from the lovely Lorraine…. IMG_1896 Despite being quite a gourmet-looking dinner, it was super easy (and quick) to prepare. I think it went from idea to dinner table in around 40 minutes. IMG_1908 What about you? What is your favourite meal that looks gourmet but is super easy / quick to make? Happy Baking 🙂