BBQ eggplant and french onion salad with rocket, feta and pine nuts

bbq-eggplant-french-onion-rocket-salad-2It’s spring in Australia which means the weather is warming up and people are dusting off their BBQs (if they were ever out of use). Eggplants are in season so what better than a BBQ eggplant and french onion salad to accompany your favourite BBQ cut of meat or fish.

Cooked eggplant is a good source of fibre along with a host of other vitamins and minerals. Eggplants are rich in phytonutrients, many of which contain powerful antioxidant qualities including one of the most powerful free-radical scavengers in the plant kingdom.

French onions are also rich in phytonutrients, particular flavonoids (like eggplants, thanks to their purple colour). Flavonoids contain a host of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities that have been widely credited for supporting cardiovascular health and helping reduce the risk of cancer.

Rocket/arugula is a lesser known member of the cruciferous vegetable family (think kale, broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage) and contains chlorophyll which is thought to help block the carcinogenic effects that may be caused by grilling foods at high temperatures.

This salad works beautifully topped with pine nuts and feta – I like to use goat’s feta but use whatever you like best.

Ingredients

  • 2 eggplant/aubergines (medium to large)
  • 3 french onions (medium to large)
  • 100g / 3.5oz rocket/arugula or mixed salad leaves
  • 100g / 3.5oz good quality feta (I like goat’s fetta)
  • 50g / 1.75oz pine nuts
  • Half a lemon
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

Dressing

  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons good quality balsamic

Method

  1. Pre-heat the BBQ to medium-high heat and allow to heat for 5-10 minutes
  2. Cut the eggplant/aubergine into slices around 1.5cm or half and inch thick and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  3. Cut the onion into wedges and drizzle with a tablespoon of olive oil
  4. Place the eggplant/aubergine and french onion on the BBQ
  5. The eggplant will need to cook for around 12 minutes on the first side then around 8 minutes on the second side (check during this time however to make sure it doesn’t burn)
  6. The french onion will need to cook for around 10 minutes total – turn a couple of times during this period so that it’s nicely cooked all over
  7. Remove the eggplant and onion from the BBQ and allow to cool
  8. Bring a frying pan to a medium to high heat then add the pine nuts and toast for a minute or two until lightly browned. Be careful not to burn as the pine nuts cook quickly
  9. Meanwhile mix up the dressing and place the rocket in a large salad bowl
  10. Cut the eggplant/aubergine into large chunks and add to the salad along with the rocket and BBQ French onion
  11. Add the dressing a little at a time until the rocket and vegetables are lightly coated (you may not need the whole lot) then crumble through the feta and top with the toasted pine nuts

 

Serves 4

Broccolini with toasted almonds and pancetta

broccolini-pancetta-almonds2It’s winter in Australia and broccolini is in season. A member of the cruciferous vegetable family, broccolini is rich vitamin C and just a single cup serve contains the recommended daily intake of this vitamin which is a powerful antioxidant. Broccolini is also rich in vitamin A, an essential nutrient for eye health and contains plenty of potassium which helps support brain function, muscle growth and a healthy nervous system.

This recipe makes a great side dish and the pancetta and almonds really boost the flavour making it appealing to the whole family.

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch broccolini
  • 35g/1.25oz pancetta
  • 30g/1oz almonds (you can use raw or toasted if you prefer), roughly chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely sliced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Method

  1. Steam the broccolini for a couple of minutes until tender but still nice and crunchy
  2. Bring a frying pan to a medium-high heat, add a little olive oil and toast the almonds for a couple of minutes until they’re just starting to brown. Set aside
  3. Again, bring a frying pan to a medium-high heat, add a little olive oil and cook for a minute or two each side. Set aside
  4. For the last time, bring a frying pan to a medium heat, add a little olive oil and cook the garlic for 30 seconds or a little more until lightly turning brown then add the broccolini to the pan for another minute.
  5. Serve the garlic and broccolini sprinkled with the fried pancetta and toasted almonds

Serves 2

Lentil, roast beetroot, fetta and herb salad

lentil-beetroot-fetta-salad

This is a tasty and substantial winter salad recipe that can be enjoyed as a meal in itself or to compliment your favourite protein.

Lentils are high in fibre which lowers bad cholesterol and helps prevent blood sugars from rising sharply after a meal. They are a good source of protein for vegetarians and are loaded with vitamins and minerals particularly folate which plays an important role in DNA synthesis and repair, and aids tissue growth. Folate is an essential nutrient for pregnant women particularly the first trimester.

Beetroot, known as beet in the US, is also an excellent source of folate. Traditionally revered for helping purify the blood and liver, beetroot is widely credited for aiding the body’s detoxification process. Beetroot has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and is one of nature’s richest sources of glutamine, an amino acid essential to the health and maintenance of the intestinal tract.

Parsley and coriander/cilantro are rich in phyto nutrients and are both excellent sources of vitamin k. Fresh lemon juice is wonderfully alkalising and has a number of properties that aid digestion and help alleviate the symptoms of bloating and heartburn.

To improve the digestibility of this salad, I like to soak the lentils overnight before cooking. However, if you’re short of time this step is not essential or you can choose tinned lentils instead.

Ingredients

  • 3 medium sized beetroot/beets (or substitute with a 400g/14 oz tin if you prefer)
  • Large handful of parsley leaves, approx 10g or ⅓ oz
  • Large handful of coriander/cilantro leaves, approx 10g or ⅓ oz
  • 200g/7oz black (French) lentils (or substitute with a 400g/14 oz tin if you prefer)
  • 100g/3.5 oz fetta
  • 30g/1oz rocket/arugula
  • Half a french onion
  • 1.5 tablespoons olive oil

Dressing

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1.5 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 0.5 tablespoon whole grain mustard
  • 1 small clove of garlic, crushed
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. If you have time, soak the lentils overnight (ideally for at least 12 hours) then rinse
  2. Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius or 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  3. Peel the beetroot and cut into smallish chunks (roughly 2.5cm/1 inch each side), drizzle with approximately 1.5 tablespoons of olive oil and roast for an hour
  4. Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to the boil and cook the lentils for 20-25 minutes. If you don’t have time you can use tinned lentils instead
  5. Finely chop the onion, parsley and coriander/cilantro leaves
  6. Mix the salad dressing ingredients in a small glass jar and shake well
  7. Place the lentils, beetroot, herbs, rocket and onion into a large salad bowl
  8. Gradually add the dressing until there’s plenty to cover the salad ingredients but not too much (you may not need to use all the dressing)
  9. Crumble the fetta over the top

This salad can be enjoyed hot or cold.

Serves 2 as a main or 4 as a side

Red cabbage, goat’s cheese, walnut & sultana salad

red-cabbage-saladThis salad is extremely quick and easy to make, packed with nutrition and is particularly good for the stomach and digestive tract.

Cabbage contains sinigrin which has been linked to helping the body fight cancer, in particular bladder, colon and prostate cancer. It is high in fibre, has unique cholesterol lowering properties and is wonderful for the stomach and digestive tract (cabbage juice is often used as a tonic to help heal stomach ulcers). Red cabbage contains higher phytonutrient quantities than other cabbage varieties and up to 6-8 times more antioxidants.

Raw apple cider vinegar is a wonderful health tonic. It has been proven to help lower blood sugar levels which is particularly beneficial for those suffering from diabetes. Raw apple cider vinegar is anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, has an alkalising effect on the body and is a marvelous digestive tonic that can help alleviate reflux, bloating and indigestion.

Walnuts are rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids and contain a form of vitamin E that is said to help protect the body against cardiovascular disease. They are also rich in copper and manganese.

Ingredients

  • Quarter of a red cabbage, roughly chopped
  • 100g/3.5 oz goat’s cheese or fetta
  • 70g/2.5oz walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 70g/2.5oz sultanas/raisins

Dressing

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive
  • 2 tablespoons raw apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons whole grain mustard
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. Make the dressing by placing the ingredients in a glass jar with a lid and shaking well
  2. Place the cabbage in a salad bowl and gradually add the dressing until it gently coats all the cabbage – don’t overdo it (you may not need all the salad dressing)
  3. If you have time, allow to sit for 10 minutes then add the walnuts, sultanas/raisins and crumble the cheese through

Serves 4

 

Sauteed brussel sprouts, green beans, cauliflower and pine nuts

Sauteed-brussel-sprouts-cauliflower-green-beans2
It wasn’t until recently that I fell in love with brussel sprouts. The bland vegetable that I loathed as a child has been revolutionised, appearing in delicious forms in modern cuisine.

A member of the cruciferous vegetable family (think broccoli, cauliflower, kale etc), brussel sprouts are extremely high in vitamins K and C and are a good source of minerals and antioxidants. Brussel sprouts have been credited for their ability to lower bad cholesterol and protect white blood cells within the body against DNA damage.

Cauliflower is nutrient dense vegetable and like brussel sprouts contains a compound called sulforaphane which has been linked to helping promote digestive health and is also used for the prevention of prostate cancer.

Green beans are high in antioxidants and support cardiovascular health. Like brussel sprouts and cauliflower, green beans have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body that helps fight against cancer.

I like to make this recipe with ghee which has a high smoke point and is revered in ayurvedic medicine for aiding digestion and detoxifying, however it’s just as tasty made with butter. It can also be made with olive oil for those who prefer to avoid dairy.

Ingredients

  • 400g/14oz brussel sprouts
  • 300g/10.5oz cauliflower
  • 300g/10.5oz green beans
  • 3 schallots/baby spring onions
  • 50g/1.75oz pine nuts
  • 50g/1.75oz ghee/butter or 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice (juice of around half a small lemon)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. Bring a frying pan to a medium high heat and toast the pinenuts for a couple of minutes, tossing regularly until browned. Remove from heat and set aside
  2. Steam the green beans for a couple of minutes, ensuring they remain crunchy. Set aside
  3. Grate the brussel sprouts in a food processor, or by hand or alternatively they can be finely chopped
  4. Cut the cauliflower into small florets, not more than an inch in size
  5. Finely chop the shallots
  6. Bring a frying pan to a medium heat and add the ghee/butter or olive oil then fry the cauliflower for around a minute, then add the brussel sprouts and shallots and fry for another 2 minutes until the vegetables are starting to turn golden brown then add the beans and stir through until warm
  7. Stir through the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper
  8. Remove from heat, sprinkle with the pine nuts and serve immediately

Serves 4 as a side

Radish salad with avocado, mango & walnuts

radish-mango-avocado-salad2
This is a lovely salad to make in late summer, when mangoes, radishes and avocado are all in season.

Ingredients

  • 6 small round red radishes (or use any type of good eating radish that is available locally and in season)
  • Half a medium to large sized mango (or a whole small mango)
  • Half a medium to large sized avocado
  • 110g/3.5oz mixed leaves/ 4 tightly cupped packs
  • 30g/1oz walnuts, chopped into small pieces
  • Dressing

    • Fresh juice of one lemon – should equate to roughly 3 tablespoons of lemon juice
    • Equal parts olive oil (I choose cold pressed) – again, should equate to roughly 3 tablespoons depending on how juicy your lemon is
    • 2 teaspoons dijon mustard

    Method

    • Make the dressing by adding the ingredients to a small glass jar with a lid. Shake well and set aside
    • Place the washed lettuce leaves in a large salad bowl
    • Wash the radish and slice using a vegetable peeler so that you get lovely thin slices
    • Cut the mango and avocado into small chunks and add to the salad bowl
    • Pour roughly 2 tablespoons of dressing over the salad – this should be plenty but if not add a little extra (the rest will keep in the fridge for several days – I keep mine for a week and it’s always fine)
    • Serve sprinkled with the chopped walnuts

    Enjoy with your favourite protein (poached chicken works well).

    Serves 2 – 4

    Makes 2 large salads or 4 smaller side salads

    Health benefits

    Revered by the Chinese for their health promoting properties, radishes are great for the stomach and liver and have wonderful detoxification properties. They’re rich in vitamin C and contain the flavonoid anthocyanins, which has been credited for its anti-inflammatory and cancer fighting properties. Some research studies suggest that radishes are also good for cardiovascular health.

    Avocados are extremely rich in monounsaturated fats including oleic acid  which is said to enhance memory and brain activity and improve healthy cholesterol levels. Healthy fats play a vital role in helping the body absorb vitamin D.

    Mangoes are loaded with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants and their delicious sweet flavour provides a pefect compliment to the radish in this salad.

    Walnuts are rich are extremely rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids which promotes heart health and good cholesterol, they’re rich in antioxidants, minerals and vitamin E.

      radish-mango-avocado-salad

    Broccolini salad with greens, seeds and sweet potato

    Broccolini-greens-sweet-potato-salad
    This is a delicious salad packed with nutrition thanks to a variety of tasty, nutritious ingredients.

    Broccolini originates from Japan and is a hybrid of broccoli and kai-lan (also known as Chinese broccoli or Chinese kale). It’s rich in vitamins C and K and like other members of the brassica family is loaded with antioxidants and credited for its cancer fighting properties.

    Spinach is off-the-scale rich in vitamin K, which plays an important role in the body for bone health as well as it’s vitamin D absorption. In fact, a 60g serve (which is an individual serve according to the ingredients below) provides 329% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin K (and that’s without factoring in the other ingredients).

    Snow pea sprouts are grown from pea seeds and like other sprouts are teaming with life. They’re rich in vitamins C & A, relatively high in protein and contain significant amounts of folic acid making them ideal for pregnant women.

    Sweet potatoes are also rich in vitamin A, thanks to the beta-carotene which gives them their orange colour, while the seeds are both rich in essential fatty acids and antioxidants and contain significant amounts of vitamin E.

    Ingredients

    • 4 broccolini stems – approx 60g or just over 2oz
    • 1 medium-to-large sized sweet potato
    • 120g / 4.25 oz / approx 2 tightly packed cups of baby spinach leaves
    • 50g / 1.75oz snow pea sprouts (a large handful)
    • 30g / 1oz sunflower seeds
    • 30g / 1oz pepitas (aka pumpkin seeds)
    • 1 generous tablespoon of olive oil

    Dressing

    • 1 tablespoon good quality sesame oil
    • 1 tablespoon tamari
    • 1 tablespoon good quality rice vinegar (I choose brown rice vinegar)

    Method

    1. Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius or 350 degrees Fahrenheit
    2. Peel the sweet potato and chop into pieces roughly 2cm/1 inch each side
    3. Toss the sweet potato in the olive oil and roast in the oven for roughly an hour until they start to turn golden brown and are cooked through. Remove and allow to cool
    4. Steam the broccolini for a couple of minutes until cooked through but still nice and firm then allow to cool
    5. Bring a frying pan (ideally stainless steel) to a medium-high heat and cook the sunflower seeds for a couple of minutes until golden brown, tossing regularly to ensure they do not burn. Remove from heat immediately and allow to cool.
    6. Repeat step 5 with the pepitas
    7. Add the dressing ingredients to a small jar with a lid and shake well
    8. Chop the cooled broccolini into pieces and add to a large salad bowl along with the other vegetables
    9. Pour a third of the dressing over the salad and mix through well. If you need more dressing, add gradually – the dressing has a lovely bold flavour so you don’t need too much (any the left over will keep in the fridge for several weeks)
    10. Top with the seeds and your favourite protein

    Serves 2-4

    Makes 2 large salads or a small side salad each for 4

    Coconut & Lime Ceviche

    IMG_7139
    Ceviche is a deliciously light dish that tastes amazing and is wonderfully quick and simple to make.

    Made by marinating white fish in lime juice and coconut milk, the lime juice cures the fish so that there’s no need to cook (hence no nasty fish smells in your kitchen).

    Best enjoyed in summer – when limes are tasty, abundant and cheap – limes have many health promoting properties. They are rich in vitamin C and are excellent for digestive function, thanks to their natural acidity which stimulates the secretion of digestive enzymes. Limes are high in flavonoids, best known for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties – the latter making them good for arthritis sufferers. Limes are also said to be good for the skin (especially the oil in the skin, which is present in this dish thanks to the zest) and help regulate sugar absorption in diabetic patients.

    Coconuts are a superfood of the moment and although the milk can be a little on the heavy side, you don’t actually consume a great deal in this recipe as you discard much of the marinate.

    The cucumber is light and alkalising, the chilli is also good for digestion and the coriander/cilantro contains helps the body reduce swelling and inflammation.

    Make sure you choose a good quality firm white fish for this dish – if unsure check with your fish monger.

    Ingredients

    • Approx 500g / 18oz (2 -3 fillets) of firm white fish
    • 4 eschalots (Australia) /scallions (US) /spring onions (UK)
    • half a bunch of fresh coriander/cilantro leaves
    • quarter bunch fresh mint leaves
    • Juice and zest of 2 limes
    • 150ml/ 5fl oz coconut milk
    • 1 long red chilli (deseeded)
    • half a lebanese cucumber
    • Salt and pepper to serve
    • Extra lime wedges to serve

    Method

    1. Finely zest the lime using a grater, then juice the limes and combine with the coconut milk
    2. Remove the blood line from the fish and cut into small cubes just under 1cm each side or about a third of an inch
    3. Place the fish into a glass or non-reactive bowl, cover with the lime and coconut milk marinade and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. This process will cure the fish. I like to leave mine for an hour but ideally you should not leave for longer than 2 hours.
    4. Meanwhile, peel the cucumber, remove the inner part and finely chop the flesh then place in a sieve over a bowl and lightly salt – this will leach the excess water from the cucumber
    5. Remove the seeds from the chili (i like to use gloves for this so as not to burn my hands), wash and finely chop
    6. Finely chop the white and light green part of the spring onion
    7. Once the fish has cured, remove from the fridge and drain ensuring that you keep the coconut and lime marinade
    8. Mix the chilli, cucumber, spring onion, coriander and mint leaves through the fish and top with a little of the coconut and lime marinade (although not too much, you don’t want it to be soupy)
    9. Serve with fresh lime wedges

    Serves 4 as a starter or 2 as a main dish.

    White cabbage and iceberg salad

    white-cabbage-iceberg-salad3
    I’m loving this white cabbage salad at the moment. The combination of herbs, capers and toasted sunflower seeds coupled with the white wine and lemon dressing give it a really unique flavour. I’m not usually the biggest fan of dill but it really works well in his recipe.

    Best of all the cabbage is super nutritious. A member of the cruciferous vegetable family, cabbage is rich in antioxidants and like other cruciferous vegetables has been credited for its cancer fighting properties. Cabbage is high in glucosinolates, a group of natural plant compounds that help the body stimulate detoxification and fight inflammation, activities that are particularly beneficial in the fight against breast, bladder, colon and prostate cancer. Cabbage is also wonderfully soothing for the stomach and digestive tract.

    I didn’t used to think too much about the health benefits of herbs but parsley is extremely rich in vitamin K which plays a major role in promoting healthy bones and supporting calcium absorption and blood clotting within the body. Dill is a great source of calcium and although the serve in this dish is small it’s important to consume nutrients from a wide variety of natural plant sources. The generous sprinkling of sunflower seeds provides a good source of vitamin E and a range of trace minerals.

    Ingredients

    • 200g /7oz white cabbage (around a quarter of a small-to-medium sized cabbage)
    • 100g /3.5 oz iceberg lettuce (around a quarter of a small-to-medium sized iceberg lettuce)
    • 4 tablespoons sunflower seeds
    • 2 small eschalots/scallions/small spring onions
    • generous handful of flat parsley leaves (around 10g / ⅓ oz)
    • small handful dill leaves (around 5g/ ⅕ oz)
    • 1 teaspoon capers
    • Salt and pepper to taste

    Dressing

    • 3 tablespoons lemon juice (approximately the juice of a small-medium sized lemon)
    • 3 tablespoons cold pressed extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 tablespoon good quality white wine vinegar

    Method

    1. Toast the sunflower seeds for a couple of minutes until golden brown (I do this under the grill or in a dry frying pan over a medium-high heat). Check/toss regularly while cooking to make sure they don’t burn. Set aside to cool
    2. Wash the lettuce and cabbage and slice into long thin strips then place in a large salad bowl
    3. Finely chop the white part of the eschalots/scallions/spring onions, the parsley, dill and capers and mix through the cabbage and lettuce
    4. Drizzle lightly with the dressing (you’ll only need a couple of tablespoons, not the whole lot). Mix through thoroughly and add a little extra if need be
    5. Season with salt and pepper then add the sunflower seeds and mix through

    This dish works well topped with some poached chicken or served with fish or with legumes for vegans/vegetarians. It also tastes great with half an avocado chopped and mixed through.

    Serves 2

    Roast vegetable ratatouille

    Roast-vegetable-ratatouilleThis is my take on the classic French Provencal vegetable stew. I love to make it a night or two ahead so that the flavours blend beautifully and I have a light and healthy vegetable dish ready for an easy after-work meal. It’s highly versatile and is suitable for those on a paleo diet, people looking to limit their calorie or starchy carbohydrate intake and vegans.

    Traditionally, the vegetables are pan friend however I prefer to roast them with some garlic. This adds a delicious caramelised flavour to the dish which I balance by adding a generous serve of black olives. If you’re not a fan of olives, simply leave them out, the dish is delicious without them too.

    I always have fresh basil on hand but if you have fresh thyme available throw in a handful of chopped leaves when you add the roast vegetables to the crushed tomatoes.

    Ingredients

    • 2 medium sized red capsicum (or one red and one yellow)
    • 1 medium sized eggplant
    • 2 small to medium zucchinis
    • 1 medium to large sized onion (I like Spanish but brown works too)
    • 6 garlic cloves
    • 1 x tin 400g tin/14 fl oz can of crushed tomatoes
    • Large handful of fresh basil leaves to serve
    • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    • Optional: 18 black olives, pitted

    Method

    1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius/350 degrees Fahrenheit
    2. Peel the garlic cloves
    3. Chop up the rest of the vegetables into medium sized chunks
    4. Drizzle the chopped vegetables and garlic cloves with the olive oil
    5. Place on a baking tray and cook for in the oven for 50 minutes
    6. Remove and add to a large saucepan with the crushed tomatoes and optionally the black olives (if using them)
    7. Simmer for 20-30 minutes until the flavours have merged well

    Delicious served with cous cous (great for vegans), some baked white fish or with your favourite protein.

    Serves 4 (as a side dish)