Grilled eggplant and lentil salad

I’m going through a bit of a phase.

An eggplant phase.

Yes not the normal sort of phase you might find yourself going through, but its a recent craving that I’ve been more than happy to satisfy.

I suspect it has something do with eggplant’s heartiness. It feels like it adds a bit of bulk to dishes – particularly when you are using it in place of meat, for example.

Take this salad, for instance. So simple to prepare, but quite easily a stand-alone meal (although it would almost certainly work as a tasty side dish too).

I thinly sliced the eggplant, and grilled the slices for 5 minutes or so until soft and golden. Then it was simply a matter of combining the eggplant slices with baby spinach, lentils, capsicum, cucumber and feta – and finishing the dish with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.

I’d give you a recipe – but there really is no more to it. Just lots of simple, fresh flavours – that come together to make a tasty meal.  Not to mention colourful!

Roasted pumpkin, quinoa and feta salad

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It’s safe to say, I’m a salad girl.

Perhaps it was ingrained in me when I was young – when a big bowl of salad would make an appearance on the family dinner table every other night. Although, on reflection, those salads were pretty standard and definitely reflective of the time. No mesculin or interesting tomato varieties – just plain ol’ icerberg lettuce, white onion, carrot and cucumber, topped with sliced cheddar cheese and drizzled with, most probably,  French dressing. Out of a bottle.

Then came high school, when I would usually spend my lunch money on a freshly made salad roll (being sure to ask for ‘no beetroot’ as it made the roll soggy by lunchtime).

Flash-forward to uni, where my love of salad continued. In fact, with a ‘poor’ uni student budget meaning a lot of my meals consisted of hot chips and beer from the uni pub after class, I really looked forward to the treat of a warm chicken salad a few times a week from a  favourite local cafe.

Over the years, my salads have become a little fancier. The local greengrocer stocks a good range of interesting salad leaves, tomato varieties and I should probably take out shares in avocados given the amount I consume!  And while cheddar cheese doesn’t normally feature in my salads any more, other cheeses, such as feta, sure do!

I’ve heard that famous catch-cry  “you don’t win friends with salad”,  but l I beg to differ. For a salad that graced our dinner table over the weekend, when we had some dear friends around for a BBQ, did not disappoint. And I’m pretty sure that our friendship remains intact. Despite salad, a roasted pumpkin and feta salad in fact, being served.

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I could give you the recipe – but there really is not a lot to it. Simply slices of jap pumpkin and red onion, drizzled with olive oil and baked for 30 minutes at 180C. Then drizzled again – this time with balsamic vinegar – and roasted for a further 20 minutes until golden.

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Combined with a cup of cooked quinoa (I used white as that was what I had), a pile of mesculin and a cup of various mini tomatoes which I had halved. Finished with a liberal amount of crumbled feta and a squeeze of lemon juice.

IMG_7961 Yes I think this love affair will be a long one!

What about you? Are you a salad fan?

Let them eat….soup!

IMG_3573 I’m always a little hesitant to put soup on the menu for dinner, perhaps because it seems too ‘light’ and not hearty enough to satisfy hungry appetites at the end of the day. But there is no denying that it is healthy and quick to prepare, and rather comforting when the cool evenings arrive. Then I came across a recipe for broccoli and lemon soup in a recent edition of Taste magazine (you can also find the recipe online here) and had a bit of a light bulb moment. For this soup was more than just blended veggies (although it had its fair share of those too) – as it was ‘beefed’ out with the addition of quinoa. Brilliant! IMG_3561 And, true to form, the soup was quick and easy to throw together. Onions, broccoli (stalk and all), garlic and potatoes, chopped and cooked in chicken stock until tender. IMG_3564 Finished with an entire tub of baby spinach, lemon juice and a big handful of fresh mint. IMG_3569 Blended until smooth, and served with quinoa (prepared separately), marinated feta and some lemon zest. IMG_3572 Friends, I’m not kidding when I say this was one tasty little soup – made all the more special with the zesty lemon and creamy feta. IMG_3578 It has immediately been added to ‘the list’ – ie the ever-growing collection of  dishes that would be perfect to serve when guests are in town! What about you? Made any nice soups lately?

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!

Tuna, eggplant and feta salad

IMG_7087 After a rather indulgent weekend, with cupcakes and champers galore, I returned home craving salad. But having a relatively bare fridge after the few days away–  well, this meant getting creative in order to get dinner on the plate. Saved….in this case…..by a tin of tuna (in springwater), that I mixed with carrots, tomatoes, cucumber, capsicum and a good sprinkle of dried oregano. IMG_7086 Piled atop a bed of lettuce, finished with some grilled eggplant and crumbled feta…. IMG_7088 And you may never have guessed this was a throw-together meal!? IMG_7089 My favourite part?? The grilled eggplant slices (sliced, salted, rinsed then grilled for a good 10 minutes until soft and a little charred). They worked just beautifully with the creamy feta – which simultaneously reminded me that when it comes to feta – Greek is best! IMG_7090 Delish! What about you? Are you a fan of feta?

Pumpkin, feta and red onion salad

I really do enjoy playing around with different salad combinations, particularly when they involve a warm ingredient – like pumpkin or sweet potato. Something that you may not necessarily think of when putting together a salad creation. IMG_3093 For our recent Christmas in July Dinner, I had quite a multitude of dishes occupying my oven, so rather than add roasted vegetables to the dinner menu, I went with a pumpkin salad instead. pump A pumpkin, feta and red onion salad….to be precise. Quite simply, I peeled and sliced a portion of pumpkin thinly, then microwaved it for 5 minutes or so – until it was starting to soften. Then, to add some ‘char’, I grilled the slices on my trusty grill until they were properly cooked through. IMG_3095 The, it was simply a matter of combining the pumpkin with red onion and mixed lettuce leaves, and topping it with a sprinkle of feta and a drizzle of olive oil / wholegrain mustard. IMG_3100 Simple – yet delicious! What about you? Are you a fan of pumpkin in salad?

Warm silverbeet and chorizo salad

IMG_8954 The run of my vegetable box inspired meals continues, with this dinner that was a recent favourite of mine. Inspired by… IMG_8944 A gorgeous bunch of silverbeet. Oddly enough, although I regularly cook with spinach, I had never tried silverbeet before. And all I can say is ‘wow’. I am impressed. So much so that I have already bought two more bunches since trying it for the first time. Unlike spinach, it held together really well, and added quite a bit of bulk and texture to this salad – which in itself was super easy to put together. IMG_8947 Silverbeet leaves (that I had trimmed, washed and sliced), fresh corn, carrot and cannellini beans. IMG_8950 Sautéed in a little olive oil, with some sliced chorizo. IMG_8951 Piled high, topped with feta… IMG_8952 And this rather random, yet rather delicious salad, was complete. IMG_8953 The silverbeet soaked up all the lovely chorizo flavours, resulting in a spicy tasty salad. IMG_8954 Certainly not a boring salad by any means. And one I will definitely be making again. Particularly given it went from thought to plate in less than 10 minutes! What about you? Are you a fan of silverbeet?

Mango rocket salad

Thankyou for your helpful comments re yesterday’s post. The more people I talk to about my ‘walking pains’, the more I am becoming certain that they might be braxton hicks contractions. Who knew!They are certainly not too painful, just annoying more than anything. Pregnancy talk aside, after a big late lunch today, I did not feel like a heavy dinner. Just salad and a bit of protein was what I went in search for when we returned home after our evening walk. And, the world’s largest mango proved to be the perfect ingredient for a summer salad. Just 4 ingredients. IMG_4394 Mango, rocket, feta and french vinaigrette. IMG_4396 And with a few (oh how very Australian) rissoles on the side, dinner was complete. IMG_4397 I loved the freshness of the salad, which had a nice mix of sweet (from the mango), salty (from the feta) and pepper (from the rocket). I am really loving fruit in salads at the moment! What about you? Are you a fan of fruit in salads?