Simple Roasted Capsicum, Butter Bean and Feta Salad

A simple bright salad that will add a burst of flavour to your meal whatever you are serving up! Take a big dish of this on your next summer picnic, or serve it next to your roasted veggies in the middle of winter. Whatever the occasion this Simple Roasted Capsicum, Butter Bean, and Feta Salad is the perfect side dish.Simple Roasted Capsicum, Butter Bean and Feta Salad | Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life | thoroughlynourishedlife.comI love complex, multi-layered salads that are meals unto themselves, but sometimes a simple but powerfully flavourful side salad is exactly what you need. When you are using only a few ingredients you want to make sure that you choose the best quality produce and let each ingredient shine by highlighting its best incarnation. For capsicum, that means roasting them until they are soft, slippery sweet pieces. I love roasted capsicum, and golden capsicums are especially sweet after their time blistering in the oven. You could just as easily use red capsicum here if yellow is unavailable, but I wouldn’t substitute green as they are too young and grassy.Simple Roasted Capsicum, Butter Bean and Feta Salad | Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life | thoroughlynourishedlife.comSweet roasted capsicums find their perfect pairing with salty Greek feta, peppery rocket, and a simple balsamic vinaigrette. Butter beans are a mild but toothsome protein source and soak up the vinaigrette nicely. This salad is deceptively simple in ingredients, but the flavour is far from meek and mild. This is one stand out side dish. As someone with special dietary needs I often find myself making meals out of the side dishes available, so I take a little extra care when creating side dishes to serve to my friends because I don’t want them to be merely expected offerings, but tasty morsels in their own right. That doesn’t mean slaving over side dishes for hours – you just need to consider a few elements to create the perfect side salad.

My side salad tips:

  • Choose the freshest greens available – try a mix of leaves if you want to boost the flavour even more. This mix here included both baby spinach and baby rocket.
  • Have one super star ingredient and make it shine – roasted yellow capsicums in abundance anyone? Yes please!
  • Sprinkle on something salty – feta, parmesan cheese, toasted nut or seeds – make it interesting and choose a few!
  • Add some protein to keep it hearty – butter beans, chickpeas, quinoa, maybe a few halved boiled eggs? Make your sides simple but substantial.

I think this Simple Roasted Capsicum, Butter Bean and Feta Salad is my new favourite combination! What’s yours?Simple Roasted Capsicum, Butter Bean and Feta Salad | Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life | thoroughlynourishedlife.com

 

Simple Roasted Capsicum, Butter Bean and Feta Salad

Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Serves 3-4 as a side

Ingredients

  • 3 small yellow capsicums (substitute red if yellow are unavailable)
  • 400 gram can of butter beans, drained and rinsed well
  • 4 cups (4 large handfuls) baby rocket leaves
  • 75 grams Greek Feta
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180C (350F) and place an oven shelf as close to the top broiler as possible. Line a baking sheet with aluminium foil and set aside.
  2. Cut capsicum into large pieces around the core and place skin side up on the baking sheet.
  3. Place sheet under the broiler until the skin is blackened and blistering. This should take about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and place capsicum into a container with the lid only loosely on. Allow capsicum to cool.
  4. Once capsicum is cooled peel blackened skin off and cut into capsicum flesh into large strips.
  5. In a large salad bowl toss together butter beans, rocket, and capsicum strips.
  6. Crumble feta over the salad.
  7. Whisk together olive oil, vinegar, oregano, and salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Pour vinaigrette over the salad and serve.

Simple Roasted Capsicum, Butter Bean and Feta Salad | Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life | thoroughlynourishedlife.com

Summer Eggplant and Tomato Bake | Gluten Free | Vegetarian

Eggplant and tomato are combined with a smoky, spicy tomato sauce and baked until tender and sweet. This is a celebration of the end of summer and the most beautiful bounty straight from the garden.

Eggplant and Tomato Bake | Gluten Free | Vegetarian | Thoroughly Nourished LifeChris’s parents must have been surprised when he brought me home for dinner the first time – here was their omnivorous, bacon-loving son bringing home a hippy-dippy gluten free vegetarian. I know I was nervous, and mostly I was afraid of putting them out. When you are the ‘weird dietary needs girl’ you are always worried about causing people extra stress around meal times. But, Chris’s parents took it in their stride and cooked up a perfect dinner that everyone could enjoy. In the last two-plus years that Chris and I have been together we have enjoyed countless family dinners and every time Ruth (Chris’s mum) creates something new, exciting, and delicious to suit my funny tummy (as a trade I provide dessert offerings).

Eggplant and Tomato Bake | Gluten Free | Vegetarian | Thoroughly Nourished LifeRuth makes the most beautiful crustless quiches and zucchini and rice bake, but last time she tried a new recipe and it was one of my favourites yet. She started with three fat shiny obsidian eggplants, then topped them with a variety of summer sweet tomatoes – some from her own garden – and a gorgeous olive oil, verjuice, and tomato-based sauce. We sipped some beautiful white wine and watched the sun set over the mountainside as the whole lot baked away in the oven. Just before it finished cooking Ruth sprinkled the dish with pine nuts and feta and slid it back in so the feta could soften and the nuts could toast.

Eggplant and Tomato Bake | Gluten Free | Vegetarian | Thoroughly Nourished LifeOn a cool, late summer night we sat on their deck with our wine and shared dishes of Ruth’s perfectly baked eggplant dish along with slices of grilled sweet potato (and steak for the omnivores). It was a wonderful moment in time, and since that dinner I haven’t been able to get that eggplant dish out of my mind. My twist on the dish is a little different to Ruth’s divine summer night creation. I have spiced mine with paprika and sumac to highlight the smokiness of the eggplant, and swapped almonds for pine nuts (you could use either). Time in the oven transforms eggplants from a spongy odd vegetable into a silken and soft wonder. When you pair eggplants with their best friends tomato and garlic, magic happens. This dish is the definition of a late summer evening for me.

Summer Eggplant and Tomato Bake is the best ingredient for your next relaxed evening at home. You chop the eggplant, layer it in your dish with tomatoes, red onions and a tomato sauce, and then let the oven do the rest. It makes a great light meal when paired with a green salad, or you could serve it with a scoop of herbed quinoa (try this one) for a heartier evening meal. If you are cooking for a crowd, you will love this dish because you can easily double or triple the recipe and it’s so easy to make. Sometimes the simplest things: perfectly in-season vegetables; a glass of wine on a summer night; and time with family are the most nourishing to mind, body and soul. Eggplant and Tomato Bake | Gluten Free | Vegetarian | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Summer Eggplant and Tomato Bake

Gluten Free | Vegetarian | Serves 2 | Easily multiplied

Make it vegan: leave out feta from topping.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 2 small red onions
  • 1 punnet (250 grams / 1/2 pound) cherry/grape tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup verjuice (or dry white wine)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sumac
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 large cloves garlic, crushed
  • 60 grams Greek feta, crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons almonds, chopped
  • For serving: basil, side salad, or grains.

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180C (350F).
  2. Slice your eggplant into ~1cm (1/2 inch) slices. Peel red onions and chop into quarters.
  3. Whisk together tomato paste, verjuice (or wine), olive oil, balsamic vinegar, smoked paprika, sumac, oregano, and garlic.
  4. In a small baking dish (mine was about 10 inches by 7 inches) place one layer of eggplant slices, tuck half the onion quarters in the gaps and sprinkle over half the tomatoes. Spoon half the sauce over this layer.
  5. Repeat with remaining eggplant, onion, tomatoes and sauce.
  6. Bake for two hours, checking occasionally for burning. 10 minutes before you remove the dish from the oven sprinkle feta and chopped onions over the top.
  7. Remove from oven and serve with a few sprigs of basil and a green salad.

Eggplant and Tomato Bake | Gluten Free | Vegetarian | Thoroughly Nourished LifeThis is my favourite time of the year indeed.

Also: My friend Matt from Bent on Better interviewed me for his podcast – and it went live today! Head on over to listen to me talking about what makes a Thoroughly Nourished Life.

Shredded Vegetable Salad with Red Curry Coconut Dressing | Vegan | Gluten Free

Crisp shredded summer vegetables come together with a spicy-creamy dressing in this fresh summer salad that is the perfect side for any of your summer meals.

Shredded Vegetable Salad with Red Curry Coconut Dressing | Vegan | Gluten FreeSummer has firmly established its humid grasp on Brisbane and our appetites are changing in response to the longer days and warmer nights. When people in Australia talk about the weather, we aren’t just being polite and passing time. The weather here is a living, breathing entity unto itself. An afternoon thunderstorm can bloom in a clear blue sky and bring a city to its knees; the streets become canals and suburbs become islands. A long, clear stretch of blue skies and hot days with no relief cracks the land and drives stoic farmers to tears. Here in the land down under we are in tune with the weather because this wide, red land demands that we are.

Shredded Vegetable Salad with Red Curry Coconut Dressing | Vegan | Gluten FreeI try to live in tune to the seasons, try to tailor what we eat to how our appetites respond to the weather outside. Our thunderstorm last week heralded the beginning of our summer season. The days have been reaching for higher and higher temperatures and come nightfall we aren’t craving our usual weekly rotation of pasta, rice, and mashed potatoes. Our bodies are ready for bright summer vegetables in large quantities, we are ready for clean spicy flavours and the crunch of freshness.

Shredded Vegetable Salad with Red Curry Coconut Dressing | Vegan | Gluten FreeIt’s time to bring out bright, brash, bountiful salads to pair with Chris’s fish and my chickpeas and this one delivers on flavour, crunch, and substance – and it’s midweek-after-work-easy too! All things that are a must have for summer sides in our house. First you shred some carrot and zucchini (super easy with a julienne peeler), add some finely sliced capsicum and green onion, toss through roughly chopped coriander (or Thai basil if you aren’t a coriander fan – Mum…) and then anoint each portion with the spicy red onion, lime juice,and coconut milk dressing. A perfect combination of flavours, heat and spice, cool and crunchy for the stormy summer ahead.

If you are cooking for younger, or more delicate tummies you can reduce the red curry paste or just use a sprinkling of curry powder instead. If you want to make this ahead simply leave the salad and dressing separate until serving. This vegan, gluten free, clean salad is perfect for every member of the family (and bikini friendly too, ahem) and will be on high rotation in the Thoroughly Nourished house all summer long.

Shredded Vegetable Salad with Red Curry Coconut Dressing | Vegan | Gluten FreeShredded Vegetable Salad with Red Curry Coconut Dressing

Serves 2 generously, easily multiplied | Gluten Free | Vegan

Note: I served my vegetarian portion with some chickpeas and extra macadamia nuts, while Chris suggests some panko crusted baked chicken breast.
Also, note: this recipe makes a large quantity of dressing. If you do not use the whole amount (we certainly didn’t) it will last up to four days in an airtight container in the fridge. It also makes an excellent marinade for chicken breasts.

Ingredients

  • 2 medium carrots
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 1/2 medium red capsicum
  • 2 stalks green (spring) onion
  • 1/2 bunch fresh coriander
  • 2/3 cup light coconut milk
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 large garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons red curry paste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped macadamia nuts

Method

  1. Julienne (or very thinly slice) carrots and zucchini and place in a large bowl.
  2. Thinly slice red capsicum and green onions and add to bowl.
  3. Roughly chop coriander and add to vegetables. With clean hands (or salad servers) toss everything until well mixed.
  4. To make dressing: whisk together light coconut milk, lime juice, crushed garlic, and red curry paste.
  5. Pour desired amount of dressing (see note) over salad and sprinkle with macadamia nuts. Serve immediately.

Shredded Vegetable Salad with Red Curry Coconut Dressing | Vegan | Gluten Free

Do you try to keep your eating in line with the seasons? What is your body craving right now? I think mine might be a little confused by all the wonderful treats my Northern Hemisphere friends keep making because I am craving peppermint after seeing this post today!

Don’t forget Thoroughly Nourished Life has a home on Facebook now! Come and join me to talk about all sorts of yummy and inspiring things from all over this wide web world of ours.

Paprika Corn Stuffed Mini Sweet Peppers

It has come to my attention that in the two and a half year life of this blog I have never posted an appetiser recipe. Please don’t think I am anti-appetiser. Quite the opposite in fact. I fully acknowledge the power of an interesting and palate delighting appetiser to help stimulate conversation between dinner guests and bring people together over a new flavour experience. The corks are popped, the first glasses of wine are poured and just like magic the veil of the night is drawn over the party and conversations, laughter, and friendly arguments begins.

Paprika Corn Stuffed Mini Sweet Peppers | Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Appetisers are a welcoming gesture to your guests. They set the dinner party apart from an every night meal. They show that you have given extra thought to what might delight their senses and relax them into the evening.

When I saw these miniature sweet peppers at the markets the other weekend I knew they would make the perfect base for a summertime appetiser. The first stalks of sweet corn have been showing up in our markets and grocery stores lately too, and rather than just eating them all quickly steamed and greedily devoured in a shower of corn juice, I decided to celebrate these two heralds of summer with a recipe perfect for long hot evenings filled with cool glasses of sparkling wine, and the sparkling company of my friends.

Paprika Corn Stuffed Mini Sweet Peppers | Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

The best part of this appetiser is that it will not have you stressing out. These boats of summery goodness can be prepared in advance, and they are just as good served hot, cold or anywhere in between. If you have an eclectic mix of dietary requirements at your dinner party (which is increasingly common nowadays) you can rest assured that these are gluten free, vegetarian, and can be made dairy-free/vegan by omitting the cheese. I do love the addition of the cheese to the sweet thyme, smoky paprika, and slight bite of chilli flakes.

Paprika Corn Stuffed Mini Sweet Peppers | Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Paprika Corn Stuffed Mini Sweet Peppers | Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

 

Paprika Corn Stuffed Mini Sweet Peppers

Makes 20 halves | Easily multiplied | Vegetarian | Gluten Free

Vegan variation: leave out mozzarella. Otherwise prepare as directed.

Ingredients

  • 10 mini sweet peppers (capsicums)
  •  2 large cobs of corn, outside layers removed
  • 1 small red onion
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoke paprika
  • Small pinch chilli flakes (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  •  1/3 cup grated mozzarella

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180C (350F) and line a baking sheet with baking paper. Set aside until needed.
  2. Halve mini peppers from top to bottom. Remove white ribs and seeds from the inside. You can leave the green stalk on for decorative purposes, or remove if you wish.
  3. Lay halved peppers on the prepared baking sheet.
  4. Cut kernels from each corn cob. The easiest way to do this is to cut each cob in half and place the flat (cut) section on the chopping board and then cut down, keeping close to the cob, removing the kernels.
  5. Finely dice red onion.
  6. Heat olive oil over a medium heat in a medium frying pan. Place corn kernels, red onion, paprika, chilli flakes (if using), fresh thyme, salt, and pepper into pan. Cook until the onion is translucent and the corn has turned a darker yellow. Remove from heat and place in a bowl. Cool to room temperature.
  7. Mix grated cheese into cooled corn mixture.
  8. Using clean hands scoop corn mixture into the prepared sweet peppers. Press down slightly to ensure the mixture is packed inside. Place stuffed peppers back onto baking tray. Repeat until they are all filled.
  9. Place peppers into preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes.
  10. Remove and serve. Leftovers will keep up to two days in the refrigerator. They are an excellent addition to a lunchtime salad.

Paprika Corn Stuffed Mini Sweet Peppers | Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

 

Crispy Cauliflower and Spiced Millet Salad

Let me take you inside one of my favourite day dreams…

It’s lunchtime, or maybe just before, and your tummy has just started to rumble a little. You are walking down a suburban city street. Tall trees line the wide footpath and flowers blossom in window boxes; bright splashes of red and yellow against the brickwork. Further down the street you happen upon tables set out on the footpath, and a bell tingles as the shiny glass and wood door opens and a waitress steps out with a tray filled with bowls of fresh salads. She delivers them with a smile and then holds the door open to admit you.

Crispy Cauliflower and Spiced Millet Salad | Gluten Free | Vegan | Thoroughly Nourished Life

As you step over the threshold you are welcomed into a small but substantial café. Tables are intermingled with bookshelves, which are stacked to the brim with used books ready to be read by patrons as they nibble their lunch or coffee time treats.

Here I am, standing behind our long wooden counter. A curved glass window over part of the counter displays our selections for the day: hearty salads filled with grains and beans and delicious things; fresh baked sweet treats small and large; seasonal fruits and locally made dairy delights. You order, we exchange smiles, and then you are free to choose a table, await your lunch, and wile away some time with a book, or simply watching the crowds drift by.

Crispy Cauliflower and Spiced Millet Salad | Gluten Free | Vegan | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Thank you for indulging me, dear reader.

In one of my day dreams I have the best healthy lunch spot in town with dishes to nourish body and soul. We serve cake, and salad. And applaud both choices. In my dreams, I bet this Crispy Cauliflower and Spiced Millet Salad would be on high rotation in the winter months. The natural sweetness of cauliflower is coaxed forth by time in the oven, and rendered crispy by a high temperature. Tiny grains of millet swell when boiled with herbs and spices. The whole lot comes together with the fresh grassiness of parsley, tiny jewels of apricots and almonds and a generous squeeze of lemon juice. This is light, bright winter fare that does just as well for a desktop lunch or a winter potluck, and because it’s gluten free and vegan everyone can enjoy a serving. And because it’s served at room temperature, you can make it ahead and just add the parsley and lemon at the last moment.

Crispy Cauliflower and Spiced Millet Salad | Gluten Free | Vegan | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Crispy Cauliflower and Spiced Millet Salad

Serves 3-4 | Gluten Free | Vegan | Leftovers will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days

Ingredients

  • ½ medium head cauliflower
  • ½ tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons almonds
  • 1 medium red onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon dried rosemary
  • ¼ teaspoon dried ginger
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ uncooked millet
  • 1 cup vegetable stock (reduced salt)
  • ¼ cup dried apricots
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • ½ cup (packed) parsley leaves

 Method

  1. Preheat oven to 220C (430F). Line a medium sized baking tray with aluminium foil.
  2. Cut cauliflower into small/medium sized florets. Toss with 1 teaspoon olive oil and spread across prepared baking tray. Roast for 30-40 minutes or until cauliflower is slightly browned in spots and cooked all the way through. Remove, place in a large bowl, and allow to cool at room temperature.
  3. Sprinkle almond across baking sheet and toast in oven for 5 minutes. Remove and allow to cool.
  4. Dice onion and crush garlic.
  5. Add remaining olive oil to a medium sauce pan and place over a medium heat. Add onion and garlic.
  6. Combine cumin, coriander, rosemary, ginger and paprika and add to onions. Cook until onions are softened.
  7. Rinse millet well and drain thoroughly. Add millet and vegetable stock to the sauce pan. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover with a tight-fitting lid and cook without stirring for 20-25 minutes or until the liquid has been absorbed.
  8. Remove from heat and allow to sit for 10 minutes before fluffing with a fork.
  9. While millet is cooling, roughly chop almonds and apricots.
  10. To finish: combine cauliflower, millet, almonds and apricots in a large bowl. Squeeze over lemon juice and then toss with fresh parsley.
  11. Serve with a smile.

Crispy Cauliflower and Spiced Millet Salad | Gluten Free | Vegan | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Quinoa, Olive, Zucchini and Rocket (gluten free, vegan)

Do you ever hold onto things that you know you need to let go of to live a healthy, authentic, and truly nourished life? Something that you know isn’t helping you to be the healthiest and happiest version of yourself that you just can’t seem to lay to rest?

Quinoa, Olive, Zucchini and Rocket Salad | Gluten Free | Vegan | Thoroughly Nourished Life

A few weeks ago I made a decision to let go of something I had been holding onto for a long time; something that I was trying to shape my life to fit around; something that was making me feel unhealthy, tired, and worthless. In a moment of abrasive clarity I realised that I needed to let go of this goal that I had been trying for so long to achieve, because it wasn’t really a goal at all: it was a wall to hide behind rather than confronting the work needed to bring my real dreams to life. And so, I let go. I bundled up the unkind thoughts that had been running through my mind, the stress that was making me unable to sleep, and the anxiety that was affecting my relationships with the people I love, and I just let it all go. Almost instantly I felt better, lighter, happier. Over the past couple of weeks I feel a change within me, and a change in the way I am approaching the dreams that I wanted to work towards all along.

Quinoa, Olive, Zucchini and Rocket Salad | Gluten Free | Vegan | Thoroughly Nourished Life

My decision was to graduate early from my post-graduate study. I am stopping here for a while, taking my graduate diploma, and choosing to leave my Master’s dissertation in order to pursue the goal that I have harboured in my heart for so long. I am giving myself over to the pursuit of my dream of writing and submitting a manuscript for a cookbook. This is the dream that I had in my heart when I started on the road of further study, and I have learned so much during the course of my study. It fed me and sustained me while I was going through some other changes in my life, and now I have reached the end of my journey with this degree and I am ready to take the leap into putting into practice what I have learned. I will work for this dream, and I know it will be a long road with rejections and frustrations along the way. When those frustrations arise in the way of a goal you are passionate about then you can find the energy to work through them and they make you stronger in your pursuit. Here is to letting go, finding the strength to set myself free and set myself on the way of my true dream. Sometimes you just need to be brave enough, and kind enough to yourself to let it go.

Quinoa, Olive, Zucchini and Rocket Salad | Gluten Free | Vegan | Thoroughly Nourished Life

This salad is something that I made to fill my lunchbox this week. I am lucky that any of it survived taste testing though because I couldn’t help but keep diving in for ‘just another taste’. The quinoa and rocket are the backbone of this simple, but exciting, lunchtime meal. Quinoa is a gluten free seed (not a grain!) and contains plenty of protein and complex carbohydrates to keep you powered through the afternoon. The salty black olives are balanced out by the sweet roasted onion and zucchini, and walnuts provide the all important ‘crunchy’ factor as well as some important omega 3 fats. This salad makes enough for two decent lunches, but can easily be multiplied if you want to make it for a larger gathering. I can imagine this being passed down the dinner table at a summer barbecue later this year, or accompanying some roasted chicken at a winter family dinner. And it is naturally gluten free and vegan, so even guests like me will have a satisfying and delicious option on the table.

Quinoa, Olive, Zucchini and Rocket Salad | Gluten Free | Vegan | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Quinoa, Olive, Zucchini and Rocket Salad

Serves 2 but easily multiplied | Gluten Free | Vegan

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup quinoa
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable stock (salt reduced)
  • 2 small zucchini
  • 1 medium red onion
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • 1/4 cup pitted black olives
  • 3 large handfuls rocket leaves

For the dressing

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Pinch salt
  • Pinch black pepper

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C (400F) and line a baking sheet with baking paper. Set aside until needed.
  2. Place quinoa in a fine mesh sieve and rinse thoroughly. Tip quinoa into a small saucepan along with vegetable stock. Place over medium heat and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat, put lid on the saucepan, and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and rest quinoa for 5 minutes before fluffing with a fork. Transfer quinoa to a big bowl and allow to cool to room temperature.
  3. While quinoa is cooking, chop zucchini into ~1cm (1/2 inch) thick slices and place on lined baking sheet. Halve and peel onion and chop each half into 6 pieces. Place on baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil across. Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until onion is softened.
  4. In the last 5 minutes of the vegetables baking, roughly chop walnuts into large pieces and sprinkle across sheet to roast. Remove everything from the oven and allow to cool.
  5. Make the dressing by combing all ingredients in a small bowl and whisking thoroughly.
  6. To assemble the salad: halve the olives and add to the cooled quinoa along with the vegetables and walnuts and rocket leaves. Drizzle dressing over the salad and using freshly washed hands or salad servers toss the salad thoroughly until everything is mixed through.
  7. Serve, or store in airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Quinoa, Olive, Zucchini and Rocket Salad | Gluten Free | Vegan | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Chris’s Fried Rice

Sixteen months ago something wonderful, someone wonderful, happened to me. You see him quite regularly around here: the tall, ginger man with a talent for technology, making bacon disappear, z-snapping like no one else, and making me laugh. That would be Chris. If he thought he’d caught me with our first date (fancy restaurant, ice cream, sipping whisky in one of my favourite places in Brisbane) then he knew he had me on our second date. He picked me up and drove me to his grandmother’s house and we all had fried rice together, talked about tennis, and after dinner Chris took me for a long walk along the harbour. I can’t imagine how intimidating, annoying, and puzzling it must have been for him to have to make dinner for a vegetarian gluten free date. Did I mention that I didn’t tell him about any of my food issues until we sat down at the restaurant for our first date and there was nothing Amy friendly on the menu? No? Well, you can just add that to the list of reasons I admire Chris. He handled it without a blink, and hey I did get a second date didn’t I!

Chris's Fried Rice | Thoroughly Nourished Life | Vegetarian | Gluten Free

Fast forward to today. We have gone from dating to living together and we even bought a house (and are patiently waiting for it to be built!) together. I may dominate our kitchen by the bay, but when given the chance Chris is a great cook. He makes the best scrambled eggs; fragrant spaghetti bolognaise (trying to convince him to make me a veggie version soon); and inventive hot dogs. One of the things we love the most about each other (and I have this confirmed by Chris) is that we both love to eat. Last night, the first day back at work after a long weekend, Chris stepped into the kitchen to recreate our second date meal. Simple, nourishing, soul-warming, like all the best love stories. I was happy to sit and talk to him, play sous chef when needed, and just reflect on how content and happy my life has become since this man pulled up the bar stool next to mine.

This fried rice comes together easily after a long day at work and yields plenty of leftovers for lunch or dinner the next day. Chris filled it with plenty of fresh vegetables and we seasoned it simply with soy sauce and sweet chilli. The egg omelette added some protein and Chris served his with some chicken drumsticks while I sprinkled some chickpeas over mine. This meal is perfect for meat lovers and vegetarians alike. It can even be vegan if you leave out the omelette – perhaps some firm tofu is more your style. Gluten free people, just make sure your condiments are gluten free, and then go ahead and serve yourself a large bowl of this goodness.

Pro tip if making this for your potential significant other: take him/her for a romantic walk after dinner and whisper sweet nothings in his/her ear. Another date will surely follow.

Chris's Fried Rice | Thoroughly Nourished Life | Vegetarian | Gluten Free

Chris’s Fried Rice

Serves 4-5, even more as a side dish.

Gluten free. Vegetarian.

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups uncooked basmati rice
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 ½ cups frozen peas, thawed
  • 3 spring onions, finely chopped
  • ½ medium capsicum, diced
  • ½ medium head of broccoli chopped into florets
  • 1 cup button mushrooms, chopped into chunks
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon gluten free soy sauce
  • Extra soy sauce and sweet chilli sauce to serve

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 160C.
  2. Place rice and water in a large, microwave safe bowl. Cook for ten minutes on high. Stop at five minutes and stir.
  3. Once the rice has finished cooking spread across a large baking tray lined with baking paper and place in the oven to dry out for 10 minutes. Remove until needed.
  4. While rice is cooking prepare vegetables.
  5. Heat a small non-stick frying pan and spray with cooking oil. Whisky together eggs and add to heated pan. Allow to cook into a large sheet of omelette.
  6. Remove from pan and thinly slice into squares. Set aside until required.
  7. Heat the olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan. Add spring onions and capsicum and sauté until softened, about two minutes.
  8. Add rice and soy sauce and stir well.
  9. Add remaining vegetables and chopped omelette to the pan and stir through the rice. Cook until broccoli is slightly softened and rice is heated through, about five minutes.
  10. Serve with extra soy sauce and sweet chilli sauce.
  11. This will keep well in the fridge for two to three days.

Chris's Fried Rice | Thoroughly Nourished Life | Vegetarian | Gluten Free

Tell me, dear reader, what was the first meal your significant other made for you? Or, what dish would someone have to make to steal your heart?

Spicy Thai-Inspired Kale Salad

The past three weekends have been majorly food-centred: weddings, birthdays, Easter…to be truthful it’s been going on for the past two months…or maybe there hasn’t been a break since Christmas… In light of the season of skinny jeans and tight sweaters I am feeling the need to lighten up a little.

Let’s have a little more balance around here readers, a few weeks of salads and complex, vitamin-filled nutritious stuff, shall we?

Spicy Thai-Inspired Kale Salad | Thoroughly Nourished Life | Vegan | Gluten Free

I’m not talking crash-diets, fad diets, or paleo anything; rather, I am talking about reducing my dessert every night habit to a once a week treat. I am talking about increasing my incidental exercise, squeezing in a few more weights sessions, and being more mindful in my food choices.

Don’t worry, this is not about to become a weight loss blog – I have a coconut ice recipe coming your way on Friday – I am just getting back on track to a thoroughly nourished life in the most delicious way possible of course.

This salad came at the beginning of the Easter feasting. Luckily, because I ate more than my fair share of brownies, cookies, and peanut m&ms… This Spicy Thai-Inspired Kale salad is filled with crunchy green kale leaves and raw capsicum, soft baked sweet potato and salty cashews. Everything is coated in a spicy thai-inspired dressing that soaks into every fold in the frilly leaves. I felt bright and light and full after finishing my lunch. The protein from the chickpeas and cashews keeps you full for hours. You could add some leftover cooked quinoa for a bigger protein boost and to make this a more substantial meal for dinner.

Spicy Thai-Inspired Kale Salad | Thoroughly Nourished Life | Vegan | Gluten Free

Spicy Thai-Inspired Kale Salad

Gluten Free. Vegetarian. Serves 2-3. 

If you do not like kale try another dark leafy green or even baby spinach would work. To make this vegan replace the honey with agave syrup.

 Ingredients

  • 1 medium bunch of kale
  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 1 small red capsicum
  • 1 small Lebanese cucumber
  • 400 gram tin chickpeas
  • 1/3 cup roasted cashews

For the dressing

  • 2 tablespoons Gourmet Garden Thai  Seasoning
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon sriracha sauce
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Salt and Pepper

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200C (400C). Peel and dice medium sweet potato. Spread out on a baking paper lined baking tray and roast for 30 minutes or until soft all the way through when pierced with a toothpick. Remove sweet potato from oven and allow to cool.
  2. Rinse kale well and pat dry with paper towel. Cut thick rib out of each leaf and then roughly chop the leaves. Place in a large bowl.
  3. Chop capsicum and cucumber into a large dice. Place into bowl with kale.
  4. Rinse chickpeas well and add to bowl.
  5. Once sweet potato is cool add to kale mix. Toss all ingredients well.
  6. To make dressing place all ingredients into a small bowl and whisk vigorously.
  7. Add dressing to bowl and toss well so that all is coated.
  8. Sprinkle cashews over the top and serve.
  9. This salad will last well overnight in the fridge but will become softer as the dressing soaks into the leaves.

Spicy Thai-Inspired Kale Salad | Thoroughly Nourished Life | Vegan | Gluten FreeChris is definitely not a kale fan, which is fine by me because I get it all to myself. Are you a kale salad fan? No? 

Anyone else trying to lighten up a little after Easter feasting?

Roasted Carrot and Mountain Rice Salad

I was asked recently to seriously consider these questions: What do you want from your life? What would you like people to say about you at your 90th birthday party?

I was being asked to think about my life goals in reverse. What do you want to be able to say when you reach the end? Let that lead your life goals rather than looking out from the situation you find yourself in at the moment. The glasses looking from here into the future are murky and smudged, but the lens from that future point back to where you are anchored at present is sharper.

When I (hopefully) reach that milestone birthday and have blown out the candles on my three-tier chocolate cake (you know it) what would I like people to say about me? What would I like to be able to say about my own life?

Firstly, I would want people to say that I lived, I didn’t just survive or exist, I lived my life. I took risks and played the game of life. I didn’t sit on the sidelines. I was the adventurer, the discoverer, the unafraid.

I would want people to know that I lived my life with love. I let love guide my actions and decisions. It might not always be the wisest of actions, but letting love guide your life will lead you to more unexpected blessings than letting logic guide your every step. I would want the people gathered around my armchair to know that I loved them, for them to be able to say that we never parted on an angry word, that they always knew I loved them, that I showed my love through service to the people around me.

I would want the speeches to say that I was leaving work behind that mattered; I had created something that would endure long after my name had been forgotten by my descendants. I had crafted something that touched people’s lives, not in a grand way, but in some small way that was unique to me.

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I would want people to reminisce about the meals we had shared at the kitchen table. Our home had always been open to any travelling past, any lonely soul, any celebratory moment, and there was always a spot at the table for the ones who wanted to stay. I would want them to talk about the simple nights, the rowdy nights, the late into the morning nights, the breakfasts, the long lunches, and the smell of baking wafting from my ever-busy stove. I would want to look over at Chris and see in his eyes the shared memory of nights when it was just the two of us, hungry after a walk, with a bag of mixed rice and a few carrots, that became nourishment and a moment stolen from a day dictated by the world’s demands. That too speaks of love, of what my life goals really are.

This meal came together in the middle of a busy week. Chris was waiting at the door for me when I got home, and suggested that we go for a walk along the harbour. We walked along, hand in hand, the most timeless expression of togetherness, of being tethered heart to heart. We talked about now, about then, about the future. We arrived home relaxed and I carried that spirit of simple joy into the kitchen. Some mixed rice, a few sweet carrots, some basil freshly picked from my co-workers garden, some honey, and a dollop of mustard, added together we had dinner fit for two.

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Roasted Carrot and Mountain Rice Salad

I used a mountain rice blend (from here) because Chris doesn’t like brown rice, and white isn’t quite right for a salad. You could of course, replace the mountain rice with the same amount of brown rice or even spelt. Cooking times may vary from those listed below. Replace honey with agave or maple syrup to make this a vegan meal.

Serves 2-3. Gluten free. Vegetarian. Vegan option.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup mountain rice blend (see note)
  • 4 cups water
  • 6 small carrots
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon local honey
  • Ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup flaked almonds
  • 2 cups rocket leaves

For the dressing

  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon local honey
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons seeded mustard
  • 1 handful fresh basil, finely chopped
  • Salt and black pepper

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 200C (400F) and line a medium size baking sheet with baking paper.
  2. Place rice and water in a medium size saucepan and bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer and cook uncovered for 30 minutes. Drain rice, return to pot and cover to keep warm.
  3. While rice is cooking. slice carrots lengthwise into long fingers. Place into a bowl with olive oil, honey and pepper and toss to coat. Spread out onto prepared baking sheet and roast in the oven for 30 minutes or until carrots are tender.
  4. Spread almonds onto a small baking sheet and toast in the oven for 3 minutes or until lightly browned. Watch them carefully because they will cook very quickly. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
  5. While the rice and carrot are cooking make the dressing. Place all ingredients into a small bowl and whisk vigorously with a fork. Set aside until needed.
  6. To serve: spread rocket leaves onto a large platter. Spread rice over the rocket. Place carrots on top. Pour over the dressing and sprinkle with toasted almonds.

I served mine with some toasted chickpeas while Chris enjoyed his with crispy skinned salmon. This salad is equally pleasant and filling as a meal in itself.

Charred Corn, Capsicum, and Quinoa Salad

You need to make this salad. You need to make this salad because no one really wants another iceberg lettuce concoction on the buffet table at Christmas time (except the one your Aunty makes because it tastes just like it did when you were a kid). You need to make this salad because when you bring it to a party all spread out on a pretty white platter it looks so festive and everyone thinks you put in way more effort than you did. You need to make this salad because while you are making it you have time in between to shower, find your prettiest party dress, and put on some mascara and shiny earrings. You need to make this salad because between the sweet baked concoctions that abound at this time of year you need to eat something fresh and healthy and equally delicious.

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The mix of red and white quinoa is probably unnecessary, but it adds a festive touch, in my humble opinion, and the grilled capsicum and corn a sweet jewels hidden among salty fetta and deeply toasted almonds.

You need to make this salad because it will help you keep a healthy festive glow and keep you in fitting into your pretty party dress. And, it makes an acceptable midnight snack when you get in from a holiday party that went exceptionally well.

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Charred Corn, Capsicum, and Quinoa Salad (gluten free and vegetarian)

You can of course use 1 ½ cups total of either red or white quinoa instead of half and half. Serves 6-8 as a side dish. This salad will keep for 3 days in the fridge.

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup white quinoa
  • ¾ cup red quinoa
  • 3 cups room temperature water
  • 1 teaspoon powdered vegetable stock (ensure this is gluten free)
  • 230 gram jar red pepper relish (I love this new one by Always Fresh)
  • 1 red capsicum (bell pepper)
  • 3 cobs of corn
  • ¾ cup almonds
  • 3 cups baby spinach leaves
  • 100 grams Greek-style Fetta
  • Olive oil spray

Dressing:

  • 1 tablespoon white balsamic
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper

 Method

  1. Rinse quinoa and drain well. Place in a medium-size saucepan along with the water and powdered vegetable stock. Bring to the boil over medium heat then reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook for fifteen minutes. Remove from heat and stand for 5 minutes before fluffing with a fork. Allow to cool completely.
  2. Heat a grill plate to high and oil lightly with olive oil spray. Grill corn for 10 – 15 minutes turning regularly until the kernels have turned darker yellow in colour and there are charred spots. Remove from grill and allow to cool slightly. Chop kernels off the cob and place in a large bowl.
  3. Meanwhile, remove core from capsicum and cut into four large pieces. Place skin side down on grill with corn until the skin is blackened. Remove from grill and place in a plastic bag for 5 minutes before peeling off the skin. Slice into thick ribbons and add to the large bowl.
  4. Heat oven to 180C (356F) and spread almonds on a baking sheet, when the oven is heated toast almonds for 5 minutes. Remove and chop roughly and add to bowl.
  5. To the corn, capsicum, and almond mixture add the cooled quinoa, baby spinach leaves and red pepper relish. Mix carefully with two spoons. Use a lifting and fluffing motion.
  6. For the dressing: whisk together all ingredients and pour over the quinoa mixture.
  7. Spread out on a platter and crumble fetta over the top. Serve immediately.

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PS: You should also make these Spirit of the Season Blondies to take along to the party as well because, more is always more.