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!
Vegetarian Corn, Brown Rice and Chia Tacos with Avocado Salsa and Sauerkraut
- 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
- 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.
- To make the salsa, put the avocado and lime juice in a bowl and mix together, seasoning with salt and pepper.
- Warm the corn tacos and place the egg and rice mix on first, followed by the avocado salsa, finishing with the sauerkraut.
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!
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
Our oven broke last week and it forced me to get a bit experimental in my cooking. I’m confident in my normal domain – the oven and stove. But when you take the oven out of the equation, your choice become considerably more limited. Sure, you can get creative and there are countless dishes you can make that require solely a stove-top. But when you get home from work the first dish that creeps into your head will undoubtedly be pasta. And after a while, or my third night consecutively chowing down on the delicious carb-loaded aforementioned meal, I had reached my limit. I needed something baked. Then I remembered we had a barbeque. That foreign object that sits outside in the garden. To me, the barbeque is the domain of steaks and sausages, not the domain of slow roasted meat, or caramelized vegetables. However, I decided that I needed to break-free from my comforting inside-oven domain and brave the grey, rainy weather to use the barbeque. Under the careful prowess of my boyfriend who helped me turn it on (yes, you read the correctly) I started to get acquainted with the big, scary barbeque. And I can tell any of you other non-barbecue-users that it’s not as a scary as you may think.
My barbeque has a temperature dial, which helped when trying to figure out how long and what temperature to cook things at. However, a barbeque cannot be treated in the same way as an oven as the heat is not regulated in the same way and may not cook things as evenly as you might be used to. Do not despair. Just keep an eye on what your cooking, move it around to a different part of the barbeque and play with the temperature dials a bit until you get a feel for it. You will get there, I promise and the results will be worth it!
While the barbeque does produce a decidedly more smoky flavoured result, this can be absolutely perfect for some recipes. This recipe for middle eastern braised eggplant being one of them. I have made this dish before in the oven but I was pleasantly surprised that the barbeque produced a far more flavorsome meal. The smoky, charred flavour that finds its way into the eggplant means that the eggplant is soft and tender inside, with a crisp, crunchy skin. Pair this with a tangy, creamy tahini dressing and a fresh hit of pomegranates and I promise you’ll be grateful that you ventured outside.
Middle Eastern Barbequed Eggplant with Tahini Dressing and Pomegranates
Serves 6 as side
- 2 medium sized eggplants, sliced into 1cm thick discs
- ½ bunch chopped coriander
- ½ cup pomegranate seeds
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 4 tbs olive oil
- 1 tsp ground chilli
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground coriander seeds
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 2 tsp dukkah
- Sea salt to season
- 2 tbs tahini
- 2 tbs olive oil
- 1 tbs water
- Juice from 1½ lemons
- 1 clove crushed garlic
- Sea salt to season
- Preheat the barbeque to 200°C and line two baking trays with baking paper.
- Combine all the ingredients for the marinade in a bowl.
- Place the eggplant discs flat on the baking trays and spread out evenly.
- Using a pastry brush, dip it into the marinade and baste each disc with the marinade. Repeat on all the discs, turning each over to coat each side.
- Put the eggplant into the oven and cook for 30 minutes or until soft in the middle and crispy on the outside. Be sure to turn the eggplant discs over so they cook evenly about half way through cooking.
- While the eggplant is cooking you can make the dressing. For the dressing, combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir well. The tahini will absorb a lot of the liquid so if it looks a little thick, add a bit more oil, lemon juice or water and taste.
- Remove the eggplant from the barbeque and place onto a serving tray. Drizzle with dressing and sprinkle with pomegranates and top with coriander. Serve warm.
When Sunday night comes around the last thing you want to do is be faced with the thought of cooking a big dinner, because honestly who wants to wash up endless dishes the night before the working week starts again. All you want to do is relax with a glass of red and some easy-watching television. Maybe that’s just me, but I think Sunday night calls for a tasty, easy, crowd pleaser. And tabbouleh is just that. It’s zingy and fresh and the perfect accompaniment to grilled lamb or chicken.
It’s also nice to use pearl couscous in place of traditional burghul (cracked wheat) that is most commonly used in tabbouleh. This variety of grain is larger than regular couscous with a round, plump shape. Because of its slightly bigger size the texture is slightly more chewy and it has a gently, nutty flavour. Like most whole grains Israeli couscous is a little bland on it’s own but its enlivened with zingy citrus and punchy fresh herbs. This salad is so simple that you can whip it up in fifteen minutes, which makes it perfect for those moments when you can’t be bothered to cook but don’t want to scrimp on flavour or resort to the takeaway menu. And it also works a treat for lunch the next day. Win.
Israeli Couscous Tabbouleh
Serves 6 as a side
- 1 cup Israeli couscous (pearl couscous)
- 4 sprigs spring onion, diced
- 1 ½ punnet heirloom cherry tomatoes, finely diced
- 1 ½ bunches flat leaf parsley, chopped
- 1 bunch mint, chopped
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- sea salt
- Cook couscous according to packet directions. Drain and rinse with cold water to avoid the couscous from becoming sticky and overcooking.
- Place couscous in a large bowl and add the spring onion, cherry tomatoes, parsley, mint, lemon juice and olive oil. Season with sea salt and serve.
There’s something about the rain that makes you crave comfort. Soft blankets, hot tea and a terribly bad but oh so good romantic comedy. And maybe something to satisfy your belly as well. Last night the rain was torrential. I find it rather peaceful and soothing when it rains, especially when you can watch the droplets fall from the comfort of your dry, warm home. But some people don’t find it so comforting. Take my two dogs for example. Something inside them stirs and they turn into highly-strung, barking maniacs. So sadly, my moment to enjoy the rain was short lived last night. Instead I went to bed feeling rather annoyed at my cute but crazy canines. To make up for such an uneasy night I decided to comfort myself with these Middle Eastern baked eggs for breakfast this morning. And they seemed to do the trick.
This recipe is quite similar to shakshuka. I made it once at home when the pantry was rather sparse and it turned out to be a rather tasty dish. The main difference is that shakshuka contains capsicum and my dish does not, instead I use chickpeas. The spices too are quite similar. The lemony, citrus flavour of the freshly ground coriander seeds, the pungent earthiness of the cumin, the sweet paprika and hot dried chilli. I also add a little cinnamon for the beautiful aroma it provides and that spicier sweetness.
This dish is so simple and quick to make but still satisfies comfort food cravings. It is important to sauté the onions and garlic until they are translucent so that the sharp, slightly bitter taste subsides and the sweetness starts to shine through. The tomatoes adore this sweet garlic and onion mixture and once it is reduced further the dish turns a dark, velvety red and the sauce becomes rich. To finish the dish coriander is a lovely accompaniment, but sadly I had run out this morning. However I normally do add a little and it gives the dish that nice fresh hit to balance the rich tomato sauce.
Middle Eastern Baked Eggs
- 1 onion finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
- 400g diced canned tomatoes
- 125g canned chickpeas
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- ⅓ tsp chilli flakes
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp sweet paprika
- 2 eggs
- Salt and pepper
- Preheat the oven to 200°C.
- Place the onion and garlic in a skillet pan or small frying pan. Sauté over a low heat until they start to become soft and translucent in colour.
- Add the canned tomatoes and cook over a medium heat for about 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Add the cumin, coriander seeds, chilli flakes, cinnamon, paprika and chickpeas and stir. Season generously with salt and pepper. Continue to cook for about 4 minutes or until the sauce starts to reduce and thicken.
- Crack the two eggs into a bowl. Make a well in the centre of the pan and pour the eggs in. Leave to cook on low heat for about a minute and then transfer to oven to cook for 12 minutes. Serve.