Vegetarian Corn, Brown Rice and Chia Tacos with Avocado Salsa and Sauerkraut

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I was down the coast a few weeks ago and my friend Carmen whipped up these super yummy tacos. She used quinoa instead of brown rice, and they were so delicious, but I had brown rice in the cupboard at home, hence the change. Making vegetarian dishes seem just as appetising in their own right can sometimes be a challenge, but I definitely think these tacos do the trick. I didn’t even think about the lack of meat when I ate them. The addition of egg, which is used to bind the rice and corn, adds a creaminess and really balances out the filling. Once they’re topped with the salsa and sauerkraut it gives you the zingy, freshness that tacos need and makes these a real crowd pleaser. Bonus: they’re super easy and can be made in about 30 minutes!

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Vegetarian Corn, Brown Rice and Chia Tacos with Avocado Salsa and Sauerkraut

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons coconut oil
  • 1 small brown onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, diced
  • Kernels from 1 cob corn
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1 teaspoon chilli flakes
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 avocado, roughly chopped
  • 1 handful coriander leaves
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 2 tablespoons green sauerkraut
  • 4 soft corn tacos
  • Salt and pepper to season

Method:

  1. In a medium sized frypan, melt the coconut oil over a medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and corn and cook until the onion and garlic are softened. Next, add the rice, chia seeds and chilli flakes and cook until the rice is warmed through. Then add the eggs until they have evenly coated all the other ingredients (about a minute). Remove from heat.
  2. To make the salsa, put the avocado and lime juice in a bowl and mix together, seasoning with salt and pepper.
  3. Warm the corn tacos and place the egg and rice mix on first, followed by the avocado salsa, finishing with the sauerkraut.

Quinoa Minestrone

Minestrone Soup

Soup is the ultimate winter warmer. I love to make a big pot of this comfort food. While I love a smooth, silky, pureed soup, there’s something satisfying about the chunkiness of minestrone where you get to experience different textures. This soup has all the flavours synonymous of your typical minestrone, but instead of adding unnecessary carbs in the form of pasta, I’ve replaced it with quinoa which fills you up but not out 🙂 You can freeze this in portions if you’re not ready to use it all at once and just defrost after a long day at the office. Trust me, you’ll be thankful you planned ahead when gobble this up!

Quinoa Minestrone

Serves 6

Ingredients :

  • 3 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced into 1cm cubes
  • 2 zucchini, diced into 1cm cubes
  • 1 parsnip, peeled and diced into 1cm cubes
  • 350g butternut pumpkin, diced into 1cm cubes
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 50g English spinach, leaves only and sliced
  • ¾ cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • 750ml vegetable stock
  • 250ml water
  • 400g diced canned tomato
  • 1tbs tomato paste
  • Chervil, to garnish
  • Chilli flakes, to garnish

Method:

  1. Fill a medium sized pot with water and place over a high heat and bring to the boil. While waiting for the water to come to the boil, prepare an ice bath. Core the tomatoes and using a pairing knife make a small ‘X’ slit on the base of the tomato. Place the tomatoes in the water for about 30 seconds or until you can see the tomato skin slit all the way up the tomato, then put straight into a water bath. Leave to cool for 5 minutes then peel the skins off the tomato and dice the flesh. Set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over high heat. Add the onion, garlic, salt and pepper and sauté until softened and translucent. Add the stock, water, canned tomatoes, bay leaves and thyme and bring to a simmer. Reduce the temperature to medium, add the quinoa, carrots, zucchini, parsnip, pumpkin and tomato and cook for 15-20 minutes or until the quinoa is cooked. Remove from the heat and stir through the spinach. Divide into bowls and sprinkle with chilli flakes and chervil to serve.

Spiced Chocolate Granola

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I try and whip up a batch of granola every week or two. It’s ridiculously easy to make and it ends up being a lot healthier and a lot cheaper to do it yourself. The store bought varieties are often laden with sugar and can cost $15 for one packet! There are countless combinations and variations to try for granola. This recipe is my go-to standby because I love the chocolatey hit of the cacao and the extra sweetness you get from the spices, which also provide a delicious aroma throughout the house while its baking. Feel free to play around with spices, different nuts and seeds though – whatever mix is your favourite really. You can also sweeten with honey or maple syrup if you can’t find rice malt syrup, I just like the flavour of the rice malt because it’s a bit milder than honey. Once you’ve baked the granola and cooled it, it should last about two weeks in a sealed jar, which makes deciding what to eat for breakfast super easy! Try this and let me know how you go 🙂 Do you have any other granola combinations you love? Izzy

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Spiced Chocolate Granola

Ingredients

  • 1 cup chopped natural almonds
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • ½ cup chopped cashews
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 1 tbs goji berries
  • 1 tbs pumpkin seeds
  • 1 tbs sunflower seeds
  • 1 tbs cacao nibs
  • ¾ cup natural oats
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 2 tbs melted coconut oil
  • 2 tbs rice malt syrup

Method:

Preheat oven to 200C. Place all ingredients in a large bowl and mix to combine, making sure that the coconut oil and rice malt syrup evenly coat all the dry ingredients. Place the mix onto two trays lined with baking paper and spread evenly over the trays. Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let it cool, this will allow all the ingredients to crisp up and form clusters. Store in a sealed jar for up to two weeks. Serve with fresh berries, milk or yoghurt.

*N.B. To make this gluten free, omit the oats and add some extra nuts and seeds 🙂

Lemon Polenta Cake with Mascarpone Icing

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Lemon polenta cake sounds like the sort of cake you would have in the oven in case someone popped in for afternoon tea. People don’t seem to drop by anymore though. Our society isn’t very conducive to this type of lifestyle. We are all so rushed and frantic trying to fit everything into our busy schedules that the thought of just popping over to a friends unannounced seems bizarre, as does the thought that said friend would just be waiting and available at home.

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In my grandmother’s day having a friend over for afternoon tea was the done thing and she still does it with her friends nowadays. And I think it’s lovely. It’s a time to enjoy something sweet, sip on tea and catch up. It makes me a little sad to think this tradition is being lost. It’s such a nice way to enjoy someone’s company – so quaint and charming. Slices, biscuits, fruit breads and teacakes are recipes from a different era but still no less delicious.

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This cake is an amalgam of Italian and English desserts. The polenta lends it it’s Italian heritage while the syrup saves it from being too dry, as while I love Italian food their cakes do err on the side of dryness. This dessert is a sweet yet sharp cake with a sticky syrup that highlights it English heritage. The cakes sweetness is not sickly-so, thanks to the sour nature of the mascarpone and lemon. The slightly gritty texture of the polenta paired with the nutty, fragrant almonds provides a lovely change from a simple flour cake. While there may be a fear that polenta in a dessert would make it stodgy, this fear is unwarranted thanks to the syrup, which brings a lovely wetness to this perfect afternoon treat. So why not whip this up next time you have a minute to spare, call up a friend and spend the afternoon catching up like we used to, not over a rushed coffee on the way to somewhere else.

Lemon Polenta Cake with Mascarpone Icing

Cake:

  • 3 eggs
  • 200g butter, softened and diced
  • ¾ cup caster sugar
  • Zest of two lemons + juice of one
  • 1 cup polenta
  • 1½ cups almond meal
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence

 Syrup:

  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup lemon juice

Mascarpone Icing:

  • 250 mascarpone
  • ½ cup icing sugar
  • 2 tbs lemon juice
  • Zest of ½ lemon

Method:

  1. Cake: Preheat oven to 160°C
  2. Grease and line 20cm springform cake tin.
  3. In a medium sized bowl beat together butter and sugar with electric mixers until pale and creamy.
  4. Add lemon rind and vanilla and beat well.
  5. Add the eggs one at a time beating well after each addition. Don’t be alarmed if the mixture looks a little curdled and lumpy, once the polenta and almond meal are added it will regain a smoother appearance.
  6. Add lemon juice, almond meal, polenta and baking powder. Using a wooden spoon stir until mixture is smooth.
  7. Bake for an hour. Cake will be ready when an inserted knife comes out clean. If the cake looks to be browning too much while it’s cooking cover it with a layer of foil.
  8. Syrup: Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and place on stove over a low heat. Stir until the sugar is dissolved, and let it come to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn off heat.
  9. Icing: Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix until smooth.
  10. Assembly: Make indentations over the cake using a skewer or fork. Gently pour syrup over cake letting it run into the holes. Leave the cake in tin to cool. Once cool, remove from tin and spread with icing. Garnish as desired.