Grilled Mushrooms and Zucchini with Avocado Basil Pesto and Millet

Grilled mushrooms and zucchini are tossed in bright basil pesto with an avocado twist and served over buttery millet in this light but substantial gluten free, vegetarian dinner that is sure to become a weeknight favourite.

Grilled Mushrooms and Zucchini with Avocado Basil Pesto and Millet | Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life | thoroughlynourishedlife.comWhen you are surrounded by piles of unshelved books and mountains of unpacked boxes it’s tempting to ‘just have something quick’ so that you can get on with the insurmountable ‘to do’ list, and forget about sitting down to a real meal. The same thing happens on busy weeks when you aren’t moving house. But in those busy moments, when it is so easy to forget about treating our bodies well, we should take a deep breath and a few moments to focus on thoroughly nourishing ourselves. Half an hour of self care can recharge your batteries and give you the energy to face down that ‘to do’ list and defeat it. That was my story last night. Instead of opting for the quick option (cheese, avocado and rice crackers) I took an hour (including 30 minutes to fuss about with photos) to myself between gym time and unpacking time to make a real meal, the first in our new house, and then I powered through our walk in robe for the rest of the night. Now, let’s talk about what fuelled my fashion foray. Grilled Mushrooms and Zucchini with Avocado Basil Pesto and Millet | Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life | thoroughlynourishedlife.comFirst, let’s talk about this pesto. This stuff is dangerously easy to eat straight from the jar. Or spread on any available edible surface. Luckily I managed to control myself and most of it ended up in dinner. I love this avocado-spiked pesto so much. It’s creamy, and smooth but still has signature basil pesto flavour. And it’s super easy to make! In the bowl of a small food processor you just whiz together avocado, almonds, lemon juice, basil leaves, salt and pepper and then stir in finely grated parmesan right at the end. How easy is that!

The pesto is the star of this dish and can save you from many a midweek dinner problem. Some more ideas for this creamy, lemony, basil-filled flavour bomb:

  • Use as the dressing for potato salad
  • Toss with cooked pasta for a super quick dinner
  • Spread it on toast at breakfast time
  • Slather it on buns with veggie burgers
  • Dip your sweet potato fries in it

So many uses for this easy to prepare, bright and moreish condiment!Grilled Mushrooms and Zucchini with Avocado Basil Pesto and Millet | Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life | thoroughlynourishedlife.comIn my midweek offering this week my amazing sauce coats hearty grilled button mushrooms and zucchini with a side of buttery millet. As soon as these photos were taken you can bet I mushed everything around so that even the millet was coated in creamy avocado and basil pesto. I just wanted to maximise the amount of pesto in my face. As soon as summer comes I am planting my own basil crop just so I can have this pesto on tap at all times! No more midweek dinner dilemmas!Grilled Mushrooms and Zucchini with Avocado Basil Pesto and Millet | Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life | thoroughlynourishedlife.com

Grilled Mushrooms and Zucchini with Avocado Basil Pesto and Millet

Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Serves 3 | Time: 30 minutes

Veganise it: simply leave out the Parmesan cheese for a vegan dinner!

For the omnivores: toss in some grilled chicken with your mushrooms!

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup dry millet
  • 1 1/2 cups salt reduced vegetable stock (or water)
  • 3 cups button mushrooms, halved
  • 1 medium zucchini, chopped into half moons

For the Avocado Basil Pesto

  • 1 small ripe avocado
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons whole almonds
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup (packed) basil leaves
  • 1-2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated parmesan
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

Method

  1. Rinse millet thoroughly in water and drain well. Place in a medium size saucepan with the vegetable stock and bring to the boil over a medium-high heat. When millet reaches boiling point, reduce heat to a simmer and cover the saucepan with a lid. Cook without stirring for 10 minutes or until the water is absorbed. Remove the millet from the heat and stand for 5 minutes before fluffing with a fork.
  2. While the millet is boiling, make the pesto sauce. In the bowl of a small food processor combine avocado flesh, garlic, almonds, lemon juice, and basil leaves. Puree until smooth. The thickness should be similar to mayonnaise. Add 1-2 tablespoons of water if required. Stir in grated parmesan, and season with salt and black pepper to taste.
  3. On a medium non-stick grill pan (or non-stick frying pan) saute mushrooms and zucchini until cooked but still firm. This should take about 5 minutes. Stir frequently.
  4. Once the vegetables are cooked toss the pesto through the vegetables.
  5. Divide millet between plates and top with pesto coated vegetables. Enjoy!

Grilled Mushrooms and Zucchini with Avocado Basil Pesto and Millet | Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life | thoroughlynourishedlife.com

Creamy Mustard, Mushroom, and Broccoli Pasta | Gluten Free | Vegetarian

Winter is here, come inside and try my newest healthy comfort food dish inspired by one of my childhood favourites. Creamy Mustard, Mushroom, and Broccoli Pasta is a hearty but healthy dish perfect for the cooler days ahead.

Creamy Mustard, Mushroom, and Broccoli Pasta | Gluten Free | Vegetarian | Thoroughly Nourished LifeWhen I was in primary school I had three favourite dinners: steak with mashed potato; roast beef with gravy; and chicken in mustard sauce. The last of these generally involved a large amount of chicken breast diced and seared with a large dollop of mustard then more cream than is legal poured on top and bubbled and reduced to thick creamy goodness. Gah. Now this girl is in deep with her vegetarian life (and has loved it from day one) but sometimes a girl craves a good creamy pasta dish. This girl also craves the feeling that she hasn’t completely blown her daily run with merely a bite of her dinner, so into the kitchen this girl goes. I should really stop talking about myself in third person. It’s getting weird.

Creamy Mustard, Mushroom, and Broccoli Pasta | Gluten Free | Vegetarian | Thoroughly Nourished LifeI feel like winter can be a big creamy, baked, cheesy, trap when you are trying to eat more healthfully. On dark-skied days when the rain clouds hang low, and your nose is at a constant drip during a chilly run you don’t feel like coming home to a big crunchy salad. At least, this girl doesn’t (there I go again). At least, I don’t (better). I feel like coming home to a big bowl of something hearty and warming. A meal that will stick to my ribs (I have always hated that visual), fill up my chilly tummy, and send me drifting off into dreamland. But, I also want to wake up the next morning feeling good about how I nourished my body the day before, and leave some room for a square or two of after-dinner dark chocolate. The secret: you can have both. You can have a hearty, creamy dish and nourish your body with healthy whole foods.

Creamy Mustard, Mushroom, and Broccoli Pasta | Gluten Free | Vegetarian | Thoroughly Nourished LifeThe secret to this creamy dish: almond milk. Just the barest touch. We go deep into the comfort flavour pool with mustard, balsamic vinegar, garlic, and onion to satisfy every corner of your tastebuds and merely finish the dish with a splash of almond milk. You could use dairy or soy if that is what you have at hand. Mushrooms make this meal substantial and bring their own earthy sweetness. Mushrooms, balsamic vinegar, mustard and creamy almond milk are a match made in heaven. Add some al dente gluten free pasta shells, broccoli blanched in the pasta water, and baby rocket wilted at the final moment and your bowl is filled to the brim with feel good comfort food.

I enjoyed this with a side of Orange is the New Black and my favourite blanket draped over my knees. I am old. I am cold. But, I am no longer hungry.

Creamy Mustard, Mushroom, and Broccoli Pasta | Gluten Free | Vegetarian | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Creamy Mustard, Mushroom, and Broccoli Pasta | Gluten Free | Vegetarian | Thoroughly Nourished LifeCreamy Mustard, Mushroom, and Broccoli Pasta

Gluten Free | Vegetarian | Vegan option: leave out Parmesan cheese or replace with your favourite cheese-substitute | Serves 3

Note: If you are the calorie counting type you might be interested to know that a third of this recipe (a decent serve) comes in under 400 calories.

Ingredients

  • 180 grams (6 ounces) dry small shape gluten free pasta (I used shells)
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 small brown onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 cups sliced mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
  • 1/2 cup almond milk (or dairy/soy as per preference)
  • 1/2 tablespoon gluten free cornflour
  • 2 large handfuls baby rocket leaves
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 1 small head broccoli, cut into florets
  • Parmesan cheese, to serve (if desired)

Method

  1. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to the boil. Add pasta and cook as per packet instructions.
  2. While you are waiting for the water to boil peel and finely dice onion, and peel and crush garlic.
  3. When you have added the pasta to cook. Heat olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook until onion is translucent.
  4. Add mushrooms and saute until mushrooms are softened.
  5. Add balsamic vinegar and mustard and cook until vinegar is reducing.
  6. Whisk together almond milk and cornflour until smooth.
  7. Turn heat to low and add almond milk, baby rocket, and a decent pinch of salt and black pepper.
  8. Cook over low heat until almond milk is reduced and sauce is thick.
  9. In the last two minutes of pasta cooking add broccoli florets to the water to blanch. Drain pasta and broccoli well and add to the reduced sauce. Stir gently until everything is well coated.
  10. Serve with Parmesan cheese if desired.

Creamy Mustard, Mushroom, and Broccoli Pasta | Gluten Free | Vegetarian | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Grilled Mushrooms with Coriander Millet and Lemon-Tahini Sauce | Gluten Free | Vegan

Bright, fresh, grilled sweet corn and coriander pair with buttery millet and hearty grilled portobello mushrooms and creamy lemon-tahini sauce. This dish is just what I want to come home to while the summer sun is still shining, but a heartier autumn wind is setting in. Overall, a simple, elegant, and fast week night meal to make healthy, seasonal eating easy and delicious. Roasted Mushrooms with Coriander Millet and Lemon-Tahini Sauce | Gluten Free | Vegan | Thoroughly Nourished LifeHas anyone been mushroom foraging before? Me neither, but it is high on my foodie bucket list. Mushroom foraging seems to be a hobby for the landed gentry who drive Land Rovers and wear tweed hats and those puffy jackets that only look good on middle aged women bearing a resemblance to Helen Mirren. Given our recent rainstorms and hot fuggy days our backyard has become prime mushroom growing ground. Not that we are eating any of those mushrooms! Luckily the weather has been kind to our local mushroom growers too, and our favourite varieties of fungi have started sprouting at stalls all across the farmers market too. No need for a tweed hat or puffy vest at all. Today’s recipe uses large portobello mushrooms. I find that they have a lot more flavour than flat field mushrooms, and they are often thicker and more substantial too.

Roasted Mushrooms with Coriander Millet and Lemon-Tahini Sauce | Gluten Free | Vegan | Thoroughly Nourished LifeOur long hot summer means that the hot weather harvest vegetables are still going strong, and the corn at the markets is extra sweet. I love the mingling of summer and autumn that happens in March. This plate is a celebration of the end of a sweet summer and the beginning of a rich and nourishing autumn.

Millet is one of my favourite wholegrains. It’s actually an ancient seed, and used most commonly in birdseed, but the birds certainly know a thing or two: millet is super nourishing. Naturally gluten free, and filled with iron, B-vitamins and calcium, this little seed is a nutritional powerhouse and a great alternative to quinoa or rice. Millet by itself has a buttery flavour and I cook mine in low-sodium vegetable stock for added flavour and then spice it up at the end with handfuls of chopped fresh coriander. The tahini, lemon and garlic dressing is a creamy and bitey finishing touch.

Roasted Mushrooms with Coriander Millet and Lemon-Tahini Sauce | Gluten Free | Vegan | Thoroughly Nourished LifeThis recipe is simple, so remember to choose the best of each ingredient. Glossy sunshine yellow sweetcorn, firm portobello mushrooms and the freshest herbs you can find. Hopefully next summer I’ll be foraging fresh herbs from my own garden! Now that’s at the top of my foodie bucket list! Other contenders: picking apples, owning an olive tree (there’s a farm nearby where you can ‘sponsor an olive tree’ and they harvest and preserve each year’s harvest for you), making my own cheese, and going on a wine tour in France, among other things. For now, I’ll settle for a hearty and bright autumn plate and a food magazine to dream over.
Roasted Mushrooms with Coriander Millet and Lemon-Tahini Sauce | Gluten Free | Vegan | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Grilled Mushrooms with Coriander Millet and Lemon-Tahini Sauce

Gluten Free | Vegan |  Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup millet
  • 1 cup reduced-salt vegetable stock
  • 4 large flat portobello mushrooms
  • 2 cobs sweetcorn, husks removed
  • 1/2 cup chopped coriander
  • Juice 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons tahini
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 large garlic clove, crushed

Method

  1. Rinse millet and place in medium saucepan with vegetable stock. Place over high heat and bring to the boil. Once it starts boiling, reduce to a simmer and cover with a lid. Cook for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and stand for 5 minutes before fluffing grains with a fork.
  2. Heat a large non-stick griddle pan (or non-stick frying pan) over a medium-high heat. Cook mushrooms cap side down for 3 minutes or until starting to brown. Turn over and cook cap side up for another 3 minutes. Grill corn at the same time, turning frequently so that all sides are cooked evenly.
  3. While the mushrooms and corn are grilling make the dressing. In a small bowl whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, tahini, salt and pepper, and garlic until well mixed and creamy.
  4. When corn is cooked cut kernels from the cob. Mix corn and coriander through cooked millet and divide between plates.
  5. Top millet with mushrooms and drizzle sauce over the top.

Roasted Mushrooms with Coriander Millet and Lemon-Tahini Sauce | Gluten Free | Vegan | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Mushroom and Basil-Walnut Pesto Pasta Salad | Gluten Free | Vegetarian

Tender baby button mushrooms paired with peppery rocket, gluten free pasta, and a lemony basil walnut pesto in this light but filling salad that is perfect all year round.

Mushroom and Basil-Walnut Pesto Pasta Salad | Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeWe drove back from the coast this morning. After one last long walk along the coast line and one last breakfast in the sunshine we farewelled Chris’s family and drove back home to join my family in a little New Year’s celebration. Jess and Trent are kindly hosting us, and I couldn’t turn up empty handed. I want to end the year contributing to the bounty of the table as a sign of the blessings of the old year and the amazing things to come in the new year. After travelling all morning though, I wanted something simple to throw together, and something that I would be happy eating for lunch in the first few days of 2015.

Mushroom and Basil-Walnut Pesto Pasta Salad | Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeThis salad combines hearty gluten free spiral pasta (I am partial to the San Remo brand) with a generous amount of briefly sauteed button mushrooms, fresh rocket, and home-made walnut and basil pesto. The important point to remember with pasta salad is to not overcook anything. Boil your pasta until it is just al dente. Follow the instructions on the packet of whichever brand you use, and when the time is almost up test a few pieces. If the pasta is still crunchy in the middle, cook it for longer. If the pasta is firm but cooked the whole way through then you have the perfect pasta for salad. Remove from the heat, drain, and rinse. Pasta salad is the only time I advocate rinsing pasta (the starch usually helps the sauce to stick to the strands) because it prevents the strands from clumping together. The mushrooms are likewise just cooked until golden on the outside and tender in the centre. You want them to still look like mushrooms and to hold up to a bite.

Mushroom and Basil-Walnut Pesto Pasta Salad | Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeThis pasta salad is perfect the whole year round. You can serve it warm during the winter months, or room temperature/cooled during the long hot summer days. I love this salad for entertaining too because you can make it up to a day ahead! Just bring to room temperature and add the rocket and pesto before serving so that the rocket does not wilt.

Mushroom and Basil-Walnut Pesto Pasta Salad

Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Serves 4-6 generously

Note: if you do not require this to be gluten free please feel free to use 250 grams dried pasta made with wheat.

Ingredients

  • 250 grams dried gluten free short pasta
  • 3 cups diced small button mushrooms
  • 2 large handfuls rocket leaves
  • 1 cup (packed) basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted
  • Zest and juice 1 lemon
  • 4 tablespoons grated vegetarian parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Generous pinch salt and black pepper

Method

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and cook pasta to packet instructions. Once cooked, remove from heat, drain, rinse, and cool to room temperature.
  2. While pasta is cooking, spray a non-stick pan with cooking oil and sauté mushrooms until starting to turn golden on the outside and cooked all the way through. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
  3. To make the pesto place basil leaves, toasted walnuts, lemon zest and juice, 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese, and olive oil into a small food processor (you could also use a handheld stick blender and a deep bowl) and process until a thick paste forms. You may add up to 1 tablespoon of water if required. Stir in the remaining parmesan cheese.
  4. To bring the salad together place pasta, mushrooms, and rocket into a large bowl. Add the pesto and toss gently until pesto is well distributed.
  5. Serve as a side to your protein of choice, or as a light meal.

Mushroom and Basil-Walnut Pesto Pasta Salad | Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeI can imagine this salad in my lunchbox when I go back to work in a few weeks. For now though, I’m going to put on the awesome pants Mum bought me for Christmas (black with white pineapples on them!), grab my boy and a bottle of something sparkly, and celebrate the end of 2014 with my loved ones. Happy New Year my beloved readers!

Roasted Shallot and Mushroom Risotto (gluten free)

I work with a gentleman who has a booming great laugh. When he is in a meeting room you can hear him across the office and through the walls. His laughter drowns out phone conversations. But I love it because it sounds like true mirth to me.

Did you know that as we grow up our laughter rates fall from about 400 times a day as a toddler to an average for adults of only 15 times per day? Not a very funny statistic at all in my opinion. The sound of a laugh is the precious, and I think in this often too serious world that we need to bring back some of the laughter.

Do you remember being younger and laughing more? I can think back to high school and walking home in the afternoons with my sister and friends and just laughing into the clear blue sky until I thought my cheeks would fall off. Who doesn’t want to feel that happiness again?

Roasted Shallot and Mushroom Risotto | Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

And laughter has so many beneficial health effects too. According to WebMD, research has shown that laughter helps with: increased blood flow, better immune response, decreased blood sugar levels, and better relaxation and sleep. The Mayo Clinic takes it further revealing long term benefits of laughter such as pain relief and increased personal satisfaction. So, to live a thoroughly nourished life, we need to increase the amount of laughter we get in every day.

I am not an adult who is naturally buoyant, so I am lucky to have Chris in my life. He can see the fun and laughter in nearly any situation, and has a wide ranging appetite for comedic relief. We watch stand-up comics on television, satirical political shows, and send each other funny cartoons throughout the day. My Mum, Dad, and sister all take part in group emails where we share funny emails with each other too. I guess I might be over the average for adults then!

Roasted Shallot and Mushroom Risotto | Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

This mushroom risotto was made on a wintery Tuesday night. A night where we had both stumbled home through the darkness (our porch light is defective) and wanted something that could be cradled in our hands while watching British comedy panel shows. By the end of the night tummies were filled and cheeks were hurting.

I’ve written of my love of risotto before, and this one is even easier to make on a weeknight after work because most of the work is done by the oven. While I love standing at the stove and stirring away my stress, sometimes I want to come home, roast some vegetables and put rice and liquid in the oven too. Thirty minutes later (or one glass of wine later) you combine the two and presto! Dinner is served. I have used Swiss brown mushrooms here as they have an earthier, more wintery taste to them. I also added a small splash of cognac, feel free to leave it out, but which adds a subtle background taste. If you cannot find shallots (look carefully in the onion section of the grocery store) then feel free to use two small purple onions.

Tell me dear reader, what makes you laugh?

Roasted Shallot and Mushroom Risotto | Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Roasted Shallot and Mushroom Risotto

Adapted from this recipe at Taste | Serves 4 | Gluten Free | Vegetarian | Make it vegan: leave out feta cheese at the end

Ingredients

  • 200 grams shallots (also called French shallots)
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 400 grams Swiss brown mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 250 grams Arborio rice
  • 2 1/2 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 tablespoons cognac
  • 1/3 cup crumbled feta
  • Small bunch fresh parsley, roughly chopped

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180C (350F). Line a baking sheet with baking paper.
  2. Peel brown skin from shallots, slice in half lengthways, and place on baking tray. Put tray into preheated oven and roast for 30 minutes.
  3. While the shallots are roasting. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over a high heat. Saute garlic, mushrooms and dried rosemary and thyme until mushrooms are soft.
  4. Add rice and cook until the grains are shiny and coated with the oil. About 1 minute.
  5. Add cognac and cook until the liquid is absorbed.
  6. Add stock and bring to the boil.
  7. Carefully spoon the rice mixture into a large ovenproof casserole dish and cover tightly with lid or aluminium foil.
  8. Bake for 10 minutes covered, then remove lid and cook for a further 10 minutes or until rice is softened but still firm to the bite and liquid has been absorbed.
  9. Remove from oven and stand aside for 5 minutes.
  10. Remove shallots from oven and remove any burnt pieces.
  11. Stir shallots, parsley and feta into risotto.

Serve with a side of laughter.

Roasted Shallot and Mushroom Risotto | Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Spicy Mushroom and Broccoli Stir Fry

Recently I met a new friend at the wedding of two other new friends. This last weekend we all gathered in our newly-married mutual friend’s house sharing some wine and talking late into the night, really early into the next morning. This new friend is a busy professional woman and she often doesn’t get home until 8 o’clock at night! That doesn’t leave much time for making and eating dinner before falling into bed. Her dilemma got me thinking, after all, dinner is one of my three favourite meals of the day…

Spicy Mushroom and Broccoli Stir Fry | Vegan | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

I am lucky in my job that I get home after the gym most days with plenty of time to potter about the kitchen and make dinner for Chris and myself, but there are nights when I get caught up in something and don’t make it home until late. I feel like they become more common in autumn and winter as the days grow shorter and the night gathers her arms around us more quickly. I come home in the dark and still want the comfort of a home-cooked meal but I also want to be curled up on the couch with a book or watching television with Chris. Rather than pulling out the takeaway menu, or settling for beans on toast (which are a totally acceptable comfort food sometimes) I like to have some quick, healthy recipes on hand that I can throw together with barely a thought while I am catching up with Chris and trying to transition my brain from work mode to home mode.

This stir-fry is a recipe for one of those nights.

Anna, this one is also for you. (Thanks for reading my blog)

The chunky-cut mushrooms will provide B vitamins and minerals and fill you up without weighing you down. Easy-to-prepare rice noodles are my favourite way to imitate comforting takeaway without all the mystery ingredients and the sauce coats everything in a spicy sweet splendour. You can make this even easier by using pre-sliced mushrooms and broccoli, or even a stir-fry mix. From start to finish this meal takes about 20 minutes. I served Chris’s with some grilled lamb and mine in its original vegan state.

Spicy Mushroom and Broccoli Stir Fry | Vegan | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Spicy Mushroom and Broccoli Stir-Fry

Serves 2 with leftovers | Gluten free | Vegan

If you do not have Gourmet Garden Thai Stir-In Seasoning simply leave it out.

Ingredients

  • 250 gram packet dried rice noodles
  • 500 grams mushrooms (button, Swiss Brown or Cups are perfect)
  • 1 brown onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 red capsicum
  • ½ head broccoli
  • ½ tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon sriracha
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons gluten free soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Gourmet Garden Thai Stir-In Seasoning
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh coriander

Method

  1. Prepare rice noodles as per instructions on packet.
  2. Chop mushrooms into quarters. Peel and thinly slice onion. Chop broccoli into florets. Slice capsicum into strips.
  3. Whisk together sriracha, brown sugar, soy sauce, Thai seasoning, and 2 tablespoons water.
  4. Heat oil in a large wok or frying pan over medium heat.
  5. Add mushrooms, onion, garlic and capsicum and cook stirring until onion just starts to turn opaque and mushrooms soften.
  6. Add broccoli and sauce and continue cooking until broccoli florets are al dente. This should take about 2 minutes.
  7. Remove from heat. Toss through fresh coriander. Serve with rice noodles.

Spicy Mushroom and Broccoli Stir Fry | Vegan | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Balsamic-Glazed Onion Tacos Two Ways

Let’s get back to some regularly scheduled eating now, shall we?

Relationships, like dinners, are about compromise.

I don’t see compromise as a negative experience – at dinner or in a relationship. In fact it’s usually an essential ingredient for true satisfaction in both endeavours. I believe that when two people come to the table (literal or figurative) with open hearts and minds in the absence of malice or greed then they can together forge a third option that is more fulfilling than either one’s idea alone.

Chris and I often come to a middle way when we decide what’s on the menu:

  • He wants chicken, I want chickpeas: we have stuffed capsicums suited to our individual tastes.
  • He craves bacon, I crave poached eggs: we top our vegetable fritters with our protein of choice.
  • His tastebuds seek deep fried satisfaction, my skinny jeans demand a slimmer option: we get takeaway. Fish and chips for him, vegetarian sushi for her.

See relationships – compromise – dinner.

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Luckily, when it comes to tacos we are on an even playing field. We both love them. We also both love balsamic-glazed onions on just about anything. Anything.

Compromise: steak for him, mushrooms for me. Happy tummies all round.

You need to make these tacos (in either or both incarnations) very soon. They fulfilled every nook and cranny of our taco craving. The sweet vinegary onions that almost melted together into a gravy, the grilled meat/mushrooms with a savoury perfumed edge from the thyme, the soft crunch of the butter lettuce, topped with salty cheese and wrapped into one easily eaten parcel inside a soft corn tortilla. Perfection.

 Despite the scarily long list of things to do, these come together very quickly, and if you aren’t greedy with the onions they make an excellent addition to a cold sandwich or salad the day after.

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Balsamic Glazed Onion Tacos – two ways (gluten free)

Serves two. One omnivore, one vegetarian.

Easily multiplied to serve more. If making for vegetarians only leave out the meat and double the mushrooms to serve two plentifully. If only serving omnivores increase the steak to 400 grams and still make the mushrooms as they are a delightful addition to a steak filled taco.

Ingredients

For the onions:

  • 2 medium red onions
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons raw sugar
  • Pinch each of salt and pepper

For the steak:

  • 200 grams rib fillet steak
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil

For the mushrooms:

  • Two large field mushrooms
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • Pinch each salt and pepper

To serve:

  • 4-6, 6-inch corn tortillas (check package to ensure gluten free if required)
  • 2 cups torn butter lettuce leaves
  • ½ cup shredded cheddar (feta would also be enchanting here)
  • Optional: sliced avocado or sour cream

Method:

  1. Prepare your onions first. Peel and slice the two medium red onions into medium-thick half moons. Place them into a small saucepan with the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. Cook with lid on over low heat for about 10 minutes or until the onions are softened. Remove the lid and continue to cook for another 15 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated.
  2. Meanwhile, cook the steak. Mix together thyme, salt, pepper, and olive oil on a small plate. Coat both sides of the rib fillet in this mixture. Heat a heavy-based non-stick pan to medium-high heat and sear the steak for one minute. Turn over to sear the other side. Cook to your preferred level. This article from Taste.com.au is very useful for those of us who are a little nervous when it comes to cooking steak. Once the steak is cooked to your preference, remove and allow to rest before slicing into strips.
  3. While your steak is cooking, slice the mushrooms thickly. Heat a non-stick pan to medium-high and warm the oil. Add mushrooms, thyme, salt and pepper and stir-fry until well cooked.
  4. Once onions, steak, and mushrooms are cooked, heat your tortillas and serve.

I layered mine thus: tortilla, lettuce, mushrooms, onion, and cheese. Chris added some steak into his.

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Lunchbox Love: Roast Pumpkin, Mushroom, and Brown Rice Salad with Soy-Sesame Dressing

This salad is absolutely delicious. Please forgive my immodesty, but I have a deep and abiding love for the soy-sesame combination, and for anything with roasted pumpkin in it. Not only is this salad delicious; not only does it last three days in the fridge (cook once, eat lunch all week long); but it’s also full of healthy, energy-enhancing, tummy-filling ingredients. Given my semi-nomadic lifestyle I even had the chance to test the appropriateness of the salad in different locations.

I had it for dinner on Tuesday night after a long night at university talking about travel writing and the dirtiness of Chaucer’s The Miller’s Tale. I ate it curled up next to Chris while watching The Colbert Report and reading A Clash of Kings (so in love).

I packed this lunch on Wednesday when I headed into my internship at the Australian Writer’s Marketplace and ate it at my desk while I lost myself in articles about the winner of the 2013 Stella Prize (Carrie Tiffany), the daily routines of famous writers, and dealing with being a book abandoner (I got most of the way through Gone Girl but I just couldn’t finish it).

I packed this lunch on Thursday when I went to work at the research centre and it powered me through data analysis, meetings, and talking to patients (along with a cookie and a coffee), and gave me the energy to go running after work and make orange and poppyseed cupcakes for Chris to take to work.

Wherever you find yourself eating lunch, remember to take a moment to pause in the middle of the day and breathe. Be thankful for something that has happened in your day already, and think of all the adventures that still await in the post-lunch world.

Dear reader, what does your favourite lunch spot look like? Do you like to secret yourself away and read during lunch, or are you a social butterfly?

Big batch of salad.

Big batch of salad.

Roast Pumpkin, Mushroom, and Brown Rice Salad with Soy-Sesame Dressing

This salad is gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, dairy-free, and tastes wonderful made ahead. My omnivorous friends might want to try this with some shredded roast chicken. 

Ingredients:

  • 400 grams peeled and diced butternut pumpkin
  • 1 cup small mushrooms, quartered
  • 1/3 cup brown rice
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 400 gram tin brown lentils
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds

Method:

  1. Heat oven to 210C (410F). Line baking tray and spread out diced pumpkin and quartered mushrooms.
  2. Roast pumpkin and mushrooms for 15-20 minutes or until pumpkin is soft. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare the brown rice as per packet instructions. Allow to cool.
  4. Drain and rinse brown lentils well.
  5. Mix pumpkin, mushrooms, rice and lentils with baby spinach in a large bowl.
  6. Pour over sesame oil, soy sauce, and sesame seeds. Toss salad well.
  7. Allow to rest in the fridge for a few hours as the flavours will develop even more.
Dig in!

Dig in!