Chickpea and kale salad

My plan to eat more salads as meals hasn’t completely fallen by the wayside since I bought my pressure cooker.

This roasted chickpea and kale salad with a simple tahini dressing is a surprisingly substantial meal. Even the fussiest eater in my household agrees.

Chickpea and kale salad
Serves 3-4 as a meal or 6 as a side

For the chickpeas
1 tin of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1-2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sweet smoked paprika
1/2 tsp pepper
Pinch of chilli powder

For the kale
2 bunches of kale, washed and roughly cut
1-2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
Salt and pepper, to taste

For the dressing
1/3 c tahini
1/3 c filtered water
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp-1/4 c chopped parsley
Salt and pepper

To serve
1/2 c quinoa, cooked
Leftover roast cauliflower florets
2 tbsp pumpkin seeds, toasted
200g cherry tomatoes, quartered
2 Lebanese cucumbers, sliced
2 tbsp sesame seeds

To make the chickpeas, preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. In a mixing bowl, coat the chickpeas with olive oil and then add the spices. Mix to combine, then spread out on a baking tray and bake until crisp.

To make the kale, massage the kale leaves with olive oil and sprinkle nutritional yeast and salt and pepper over the leaves. Spread evenly on a baking tray and cook for 5-10 minutes until crisp. The leaves can easily burn so keep your eye on them.

To make the dressing, add the tahini to a bowl and whisk in the filtered water until smooth. Then add lemon juice, parsley and salt and pepper and mix until combined well.

To assemble, add ingredients in the following order: kale, quinoa, cauliflower, chickpeas, tomatoes, cucumbers, pumpkin seeds, tahini dressing, sesame seeds.

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Warm brussels sprout, broccoli and grape salad

This warm salad is inspired by a side dish I ate at a restaurant while on holiday in New York. After all these years, I still think of it – and when I can go back to enjoy it again. Sure, this warm salad does a great job at reliving the memory, but it’s not the same as the OG.

Warm brussels sprout, broccoli and grape salad
Serves 4-6 as a side

200g brussels sprouts, halved
200g broccoli, roughly cut into pieces as large as brussels sprouts
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 tsp rice wine vinegar
1 c red grapes
1/4 c pistachio nuts, shelled
1/4 c pumpkin seeds, lightly toasted
2 tbsp sultanas, blended with 1-2 tbsp water to make a paste
Zest of 1 lemon
Small handful fresh mint, roughly cut

Toss brussels and broccoli with olive oil and salt and pepper.

Air fry on an even layer for 5 minutes at 200 degrees C. Shake the contents of the tray and air fry for a further 3-5 minutes until browned well. You might have to air fry in two batches depending on the size of your airfryer.

Transfer brussels and broccoli to a large mixing bowl. Add rice wine vinegar and toss to evenly combine.

Add grapes, nuts and seeds. Then mix through sultana paste.

Garnish with mint leaves and lemon zest.

Falafel nourish bowl

Earlier this year, I was housebound with a hand injury that made it difficult for me to do things like put toothpaste on my toothbrush and button up my jeans. It didn’t help that my partner travelled to Melbourne, leaving me to manage the household and look after our mischievous puppy (who enjoys being particularly naughty when it’s just the two of us. Sigh) as well as cook and clean up after myself. It had its challenges, but here I am on the other side, relatively unscathed.

While I was off work, one pot wonders were all I could whip up. But I was dreaming of nourish bowls after having enjoyed a few good ones over summer break.

As soon as I could muster the strength, I made this falafel nourish bowl. At the time I wasn’t sure if it was really good, or whether I just thought that because it satisfied the craving that burned within. I can confirm it’s definitely the former – this nourish bowl is really good. (And really filling).

Falafel nourish bowl
Makes 4 bowls

For the falafel
180g dry chickpeas, soaked overnight, drained and rinsed
1/2 red onion
2 garlic cloves
1/2 cup flat leaf parsley
1/2 cup coriander
1 tbsp besan flour
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander powder
Salt and pepper, to taste

For the fresh tomato salsa
4-5 medium-sized tomatoes
2 medium-sized red onions
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 2 limes
Pinch of salt

To serve
Hummus
Quinoa tabbouleh
Avocado
Fresh baby spinach leaves
Toasted pumpkin and sesame seeds

To make the falafels, blitz the chickpeas with onion, garlic, herbs, spices, besan flour, and salt and pepper.

Once processed into falafel texture, transfer the mixture to a wide-based pan with a little olive oil. Cook about 5-8 minutes until garlic is fragrant and mixture starts to brown. Set aside to cool.

Mould into balls and cook in the oven for 15-20 minutes at around 200 degrees C. (You could air fry or even deep fry the falafels instead).

To make the salsa, roughly chop the tomatoes and onion. Add them to your food processor with olive oil, lime juice and salt. Pulse 3-4 times until tomatoes and onion are in small chunks. Transfer mixture to a bowl to rest. (Make sure you transfer the juice that has been released from the tomatoes to the same bowl as it will help balance out the flavours from the lime juice and olive oil).

Add small amounts of falafel, salsa, hummus, quinoa tabbouleh, avocado, baby spinach and toasted seeds to your bowl, as pictured – and enjoy.

Whole roasted cauliflower

This is the whole roasted cauliflower to end all recipes for roast cauliflower. And the trick is to lightly pre-cook the cauliflower in a magic, white wine-based poaching liquid. Really, there’s not much more to say other than to read on and give it a go.

Whole roasted cauliflower
Serves 4-6 as a side

2 litres filtered water
2 c dry white wine (organic preferred)
Juice of 2 lemons
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp Himalayan rock salt
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp coconut sugar
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs of lemon thyme (optional)
1 head of cauliflower, outer leaves trimmed

Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees C.

Put all ingredients excluding the cauliflower in a stock pot and bring to a boil.

Add the cauliflower floret side-down into the pot and let simmer for 8-10 minutes. Flip the cauliflower and let simmer for a further 5 minutes.

Remove the cauliflower from the poaching liquid and place base side-down on an oven tray.

Cook in the oven for about 45 minutes, or until the surface starts to brown.

Remove from oven and serve in a salad or as a side to virtually anything!

NOTE: You can keep the poaching liquid to pre-cook other vegetables before roasting. Keep it in an air-tight container in the fridge for 3 days.

Vegan BLAT salad with green goddess ranch

I’m sure many vegetarians and vegans will agree that the thing they miss the most is bacon.

While nothing really comes close to the taste and texture of real bacon, homemade coconut bacon is my preferred option – and an option much lower in soy than tofu bacon or store-bought mock bacon.

Here, I’ve paired it with a classic BLAT (in salad form) – because a BLT is good, but what is life without avocado?

Vegan BLAT salad with green goddess ranch
Serves 2 as a meal or 4 as a generous side

For the coconut bacon
3 tbsp gluten-free soy sauce
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp liquid smoke (I prefer ‘hickory’ flavoured)
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp sweet smoked paprika
1 c unsweetened coconut flakes

For the green goddess ranch
1/4 c raw cashews
1/4 c tahini
1/2 c filtered water
1/4 c flat-leaf parsley
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp maple syrup
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper, to taste

To assemble
2 gem lettuces, stems trimmed and leaves hand torn
200g cherry tomatoes, halved
2 avocados, skin removed and flesh cut into strips

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.

To make the coconut bacon, add all ingredients excluding coconut flakes in a bowl. Stir to combine then add the coconut flakes and mix to coat.

Line a baking tray with parchment and scoop out the coconut flakes from the bowl onto the paper. Spread them as evenly as possible, then pour the remaining marinade over the top.

Place in the oven for 8-10 mins. After around four minutes, remove from the oven and mix the flakes to ensure they cook evenly and avoid them burning.

Return to the oven and check every two minutes after that. Once browned, remove from oven and set aside in the tray to cool.

To make the green goddess ranch, add all ingredients into a high-speed blender and process until well combined and smooth. Add water to get your preferred consistency. Set aside.

To assemble the salad, place the lettuce leaves in a salad bowl, followed by tomatoes and avocado pieces. Spoon some green goddess ranch dressing in then sprinkle with coconut bacon bits.

Easy quinoa tabbouleh

Remember when I told you that there was a time in my life when I ate fried rice for lunch every single day? Well, there was also a time when I ate tabbouleh for lunch every single day.

I recently realised that since giving up wheat, I haven’t spent a lot of time revisiting my tabbouleh days. When I whipped up this test batch of wheat-free quinoa tabbouleh, it was clear that ignoring it for all these years was a huge mistake.

Not a fan of tabbouleh? I get it. But make sure you’ve really given it a go first. Sometimes, I cook some gluten-free penne pasta, drizzle it with a touch of red wine vinegar, sprinkle it with some nutritional yeast flakes and mix a couple of dessert-spoons of this tabbouleh through it. Some might call it carb overload. Others (myself included) would question whether that’s really such a thing.

Easy quinoa tabbouleh
Makes enough to feed four people as a generous side

1/3 c extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
200g cherry tomatoes, quartered
3 spring onions, finely sliced
1 c parsley, finely chopped
1/2 c mint, leaves torn
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp sumac
1/2-3/4 c cooked white quinoa
Salt and pepper

In a small bowl, whisk olive oil with lemon juice. Set aside.

In a medium-sized bowl, add tomatoes, spring onions, parsley, mint and spices. Mix to combine.

Gently fold the quinoa through the salad ingredients. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Falafel baked cauliflower {vegan, gluten-free}

A recipe I’m working on has me totally stumped. It’s a dessert. An adaptation of a childhood favourite that mum and I would make together. I’m going to give it one last shot before I throw in the towel. Because I know that most of the time, persistence pays off.

Speaking of persistence, this falafel baked cauliflower has been a work in progress for a while. I had such high hopes for it that I first made it for a dinner party I hosted. I wasn’t 100 per cent happy the dish was ‘there’ but someone even went in for seconds so there’s that.

I found it challenging removing the stalk while keeping the florets attached. After a few failed attempts, I decided to carve out the inner part of the stalk with a small paring knife. Success.

After that and a few small tweaks, I had the perfect dish. Cauliflower so soft it melts like butter in your mouth around falafel stuffing. And a crisp outer layer that’s like the shell of a giant falafel. This, dear reader, is a dish I dream about.

Kale-Mary-baked-falafel-cauliflower

Falafel baked cauliflower
Serves 4

1 cauliflower
180g dry chickpeas, soaked overnight, drained and washed
1/2 red onion
2 garlic cloves
1/2 cup flat leaf parsley
1/2 cup coriander
1 tbsp besan flour
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander powder
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup gluten-free bread or rice crumbs
Extra virgin olive oil, to coat cauliflower

Preheat oven to 220 degrees C and fill a large stock pot with water to boil.

Trim the leaves off the cauliflower. Turn it upside down then carve out the stalk. Be careful not to take too much off the sides of the stalk as you want to keep the florets attached and intact.

Blitz the soaked chickpeas with onion, garlic, herbs, spices, besan flour, and salt and pepper.

Once blended into a falafel texture, transfer mixture to a wide-based pan with a little olive oil. Cook about 5-8 minutes until garlic is fragrant and mixture starts to brown. Set aside to cool.

Add the whole cauliflower to the stock pot when the water has boiled. Let it cook for around 8 minutes until cooked through.

Spoon about half of the falafel mix into a separate bowl and add the bread or rice crumbs. Mix then add enough olive oil to combine and coat the crumbs.

Grease a baking dish and place the cauliflower into the dish stalk-side up. Using a spoon and your fingers, stuff the falafel mix into the hole where you carved the flesh out of the stalk. Then stuff around the florets as best you can without breaking them off.

Carefully turn the cauliflower floret-side up being careful to keep the stuffing from falling out. Rub olive oil over the florets, then coat the cauliflower with falafel and bread or rice crumb mix.

Once the cauliflower is coated with the falafel crust, cover with foil and place in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove foil and cook for another 15 minutes until crust browns and hardens.

Cut into quarters and serve with hummus or this cashew butter and salad.