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

Pear, Quinoa, and Walnut Salad | Vegetarian | Gluten Free

Let the winter light in. Golden-skinned pears coupled with salty feta, hearty quinoa, and toasty walnuts in a salad that’s all about celebrating the nourishment of winter produce.

Pear, Quinoa, and Walnut Salad | Gluten Free | Vegetarian | Thoroughly Nourished LifeSometimes I eat chocolate like it’s my job. Sadly, it’s not my job, and sadly a woman cannot live on chocolate alone. (Although, I am willing to give it a try!) Because woman cannot live on chocolate alone, and this one cannot afford to keep buying new pants if she did live on chocolate alone, there is the salad. I am all about the salad as you know by now. And, as you know by now I’m not talking about your backyard barbecue iceberg lettuce and pink tomato species. I’m talking about Big.Fat.Salads.

Pear, Quinoa, and Walnut Salad | Gluten Free | Vegetarian | Thoroughly Nourished LifeBig, fat, juicy, hearty salads full of grains and interesting greens, and crunchy, nibbly bits that you want to save until last. I’m about the salty and the creamy and the crispy fresh bite. I’m about salads that leave you full after you eat them, not wondering where your second course is. This is my latest Big.Fat.Salad. Our base: hearty, protein-packed quinoa. Our interesting green: handfuls of peppery baby rocket. Our crispiness: sweet, seasonal Bosch pears with their golden skin left on. Our crunchy nibbly bits: roasted walnuts. Add some salty feta and a maple, mustard and verjuice dressing and you have the perfect winter salad.

Pear, Quinoa, and Walnut Salad | Gluten Free | Vegetarian | Thoroughly Nourished LifeI have tasted so many incarnations of the fruit, nut and cheese salad. In fact, if there is one on the menu it is often the first place my tastebuds go. I have fond memories of a beetroot, apple, candied pecan and goat cheese salad on a blustery afternoon in San Francisco; pear, walnut, and blue cheese salad at the Coronado in San Diego; and oh so many in between. There are myriad incarnations of this simple but delicious formula, and this mix is my latest obsession. The addition of quinoa makes this a suitably substantial lunch salad, or a hearty but light dinner. Open up the curtains, and settle in for season, let the winter light in and make some Big.Fat.Salads.

Pear, Quinoa, and Walnut Salad | Gluten Free | Vegetarian | Thoroughly Nourished Life

 

Pear, Quinoa, and Walnut Salad

Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Serves 2 (easily multiplied)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup dry quinoa
  • 1 cup low sodium vegetable stock
  • 1/3 cup walnuts
  • 4 cups baby rocket leaves
  • 1 large Bosch pear (you can substitute another variety if these aren’t available)
  • 1/3 cup crumbled feta

For the dressing:

  • 2 tablespoons verjuice
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon wholegrain mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Method

  1. Thoroughly rinse quinoa in a fine mesh sieve. Place washed quinoa into a medium saucepan with vegetable stock and place, uncovered, over medium-high heat. Bring quinoa to the boil. Once it is boiling, cover with a tightly fitting lid and reduce to a simmer. Cook without stirring for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat. Allow to sit for 5 minutes then fluff grains with a fork. Cool to room temperature.
  2. While the quinoa is cooking preheat oven to 180C (350F) and spread walnuts over a baking sheet. Cook for 10 minutes or until fragrant. Remove and allow to cool.
  3. Make the dressing: place all ingredients into a small bowl and whisk until combined.
  4. Once the quinoa is cool assemble the salad. Place rocket and quinoa in a large bowl. Quarter, core, and thinly slice pear and add to the bowl. Add dressing and toss well to combine.
  5. Portion salad onto plates and sprinkle over toasted walnuts and crumbled feta.

Pear, Quinoa, and Walnut Salad | Gluten Free | Vegetarian | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Cumin Roasted Pumpkin and Brown Rice Moroccan Salad | Vegan | Gluten Free

Filling, healthy comfort food perfect for autumn evenings. Chunks of sweet pumpkin roasted in cumin pair with a pilaf of brown rice studded with plump dried apricots and toasted cashews highlighted with fresh, peppery rocket and a spicy lime and coriander dressing. This is a simple, easy to make meal made with high flavour ingredients to satisfy your tastebuds and quell comfort food cravings.

Cumin Roasted Pumpkin and Brown Rice Moroccan Salad | Vegan | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeOn Saturday night I rescued a dog. I was out for a second walk in the afternoon (after some major cupcake testing) when I came across a very friendly, very lost looking, little white dog. There were no open gates nearby, no owners calling out for the puppy to come back, so I approached and gently picked the little puppy up. She obviously belonged to someone because she was plump and well-cared for and very friendly. After knocking on doors in the street for 20 minutes, and encountering some helpful neighbours, I still had a little puppy with no home.

Luckily we have a 24 hour vet close by, so with the help of one of the neighbours and his rope-tying skills (it’s a good thing to live near a marina in these times) the little pup and I walked the 3km to the vet in the growing dark. Though we were complete strangers to each other, our companionship was thick and fast. When we reached a road I would carry the little pup across and in turn she would snuggle into my chest and keep me warm from the wind. On arrival the vet scanned the pup and luckily found a microchip with all the owner’s details. I knew that in an hour or so my little walking companion would be safe and sound in her parent’s arms. Lesson learned: when the universe leads you to go on a second walk in the afternoon you should listen. It feels good to do good sometimes.

Cumin Roasted Pumpkin and Brown Rice Moroccan Salad | Vegan | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeAfter my walk back home through the chilly night I was cold and wishing for a bowl of something hearty to soothe a hungry belly. I needed spice and whole grains and sweet roasted winter vegetables. This salad was exactly what I was craving.

Cumin Roasted Pumpkin and Brown Rice Moroccan Salad | Vegan | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeIt all starts with a pot of brown rice boiled with spices and chunks of golden butternut pumpkin rolled in cumin and olive oil and roasted until they are soft and golden. These two are joined by fresh peppery rocket, sweet dried apricots and crunchy roasted cashews. The dressing is easy to whisk together, lime juice, fresh coriander, and more spices. Every layer of this salad echoes a mix of spices. The result is a simple, easily-made salad with layers of flavour and texture. This is healthy, nourishing, autumn comfort food at its best. Being kind and nourishing to your body gives you the reserves to be kind and nourishing to others.

Cumin Roasted Pumpkin and Brown Rice Moroccan Salad | Vegan | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeCumin Roasted Pumpkin and Brown Rice Moroccan Salad

Vegan | Gluten Free | Serves 4 as a light meal | Leftovers will keep in airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days

Ingredients

  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 4 teaspoons ground cumin seeds
  • 3 teaspoons ground coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 small butternut pumpkin (500-600 grams)
  • 1/4 cup cashew halves
  • 4 cups baby rocket leaves
  • 1/3 cup chopped dried apricots
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh coriander

Method

  1. Gather all your spices so that you know you have everything you need.
  2. Preheat your oven to 200C (400F) and line a baking sheet with baking paper.
  3. Place brown rice in the bottom of a heavy-based saucepan along with 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon coriander, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Place over a medium heat and toast until spices become fragrant. Turn the heat to low and add the water. Be careful as it may sputter a little. Increase heat to high and bring to the boil. Once boiling,  and reduce to a simmer. Cook, without stirring for 30 minutes. Remove from heat, drain the excess liquid and allow to cool.
  4. While rice is cooking prepare the pumpkin. Peel butternut pumpkin and dice into large-ish cubes (about 2.5cm/1 inch cubed). Place on prepared baking sheet. Drizzle over 1 tablespoon of olive oil and then sprinkle on 2 teaspoons ground cumin. Roll the pumpkin around so that everything is coated in oil and spice. Roast in preheated oven for 30 minutes or until the pumpkin is tender all the way to the centre. Add the cashews in the last 5 minutes of cooking to roast them.
  5. Once your pumpkin, cashews, and rice are cooked you are ready to assemble the salad.
  6. Place rocket leaves and apricots into a large bowl. Add pumpkin, cashews and rice.
  7. Whisk together lime juice, remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil, remaining spices, salt and pepper. Pour dressing over the salad and toss gently but thoroughly. Sprinkle chopped coriander on top and serve.

Cumin Roasted Pumpkin and Brown Rice Moroccan Salad | Vegan | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Roasted Sweet Potato and Spiced Chickpea Salad with Honey-Mustard Dressing | Vegetarian | Gluten Free

Tender roasted sweet potatoes and chickpeas coated in spice come together in this salad with a sweet mustard dressing for a light seasonal dish with colour and flavour.

Roasted Sweet Potato and Spiced Chickpea Salad with Honey-Mustard Dressing | Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day everyone! I don’t have any leprechaun/whiskey/shamrock inspired treats to share with you today, but I do have a big green salad with potatoes. Well, they’re sweet potatoes, but just concede the point to me please. I woke up at 4.30 a.m. and wore my shirt inside out to the gym this morning and didn’t realise until I got home again. In other words, it’s Tuesday. Salad might not be a traditional Saint Patrick’s Day meal, but March in Queensland is most definitely not cabbage and corned meat weather (currently 29C/85F), and stew is still a foreign concept on the faraway winter horizon. Thus, I humbly offer you a sweet potato and spiced chickpea salad.

Roasted Sweet Potato and Spiced Chickpea Salad with Honey-Mustard Dressing | Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeCubes of sweet potato are transformed into tender roasted morsels in the oven while the chickpeas get rolled with spices and crisped in olive oil on the stove top. Once they’ve both come to room temperature they unite with fresh baby spinach and thinly sliced onion before the whole salad meets sweet and spicy honey mustard dressing. I am not a huge fan of too-sweet honey mustard sauces, so this one packs a double mustard punch with both Dijon and wholegrain mustards and gets an extra flavour boost from a squeeze of lemon.

We enjoyed this as part of our family feast on Saturday night and I had leftovers for lunch for the next two days. I would recommend adding the dressing to each serving as you go so that the leaves don’t get too soggy. The salad holds up quite well for about three days as long as you keep it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. If you are looking for a fresh and light dinner tonight try this salad, I hear it tastes great with a generously buttered slice of Irish Soda Bread on the side and maybe some Irish Coffee Ice Cream for dessert?

Roasted Sweet Potato and Spiced Chickpea Salad with Honey-Mustard Dressing | Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Roasted Sweet Potato and Spiced Chickpea Salad with Honey-Mustard Dressing

Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Serves 4 as a light meal or 2 more substantially

Make it vegan: replace honey in dressing with maple syrup.

Ingredients

  • 1 large sweet potato (about 750 grams / 1.6 pounds)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 (400g) can chickpeas
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin seeds
  • 1 small red onion
  • 5 cups baby spinach leaves
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon wholegrain mustard
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Pinch of salt and black pepper

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 200C (400F) and line a baking tray with baking paper.
  2. Peel sweet potato and cut into large cubes (1.5cm cubed). Toss with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and bake until golden on the outside and soft in the middle. This should take about 30-40 minutes. Remove and allow to cool to room temperature.
  3. Drain and rinse chickpeas and drain well to remove most of the water. Place on several layers of paper towel and pat dry. Allow the chickpeas to dry on towels for about 10 minutes.
  4. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a heavy bottomed fry pan over medium heat. Add chickpeas, paprika, and cumin and stir well to coat. Fry chickpeas for 10 minutes, stirring frequently to avoid them sticking and burning. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
  5. Peel and thinly slice red onion and place in a large bowl with the baby spinach. Add chickpeas and sweet potato and toss well to combine.
  6. To make dressing: combine remaining ingredients in a small bowl and whisk vigorously to combine.
  7. Pour dressing over salad and serve immediately.

Roasted Sweet Potato and Spiced Chickpea Salad with Honey-Mustard Dressing | Vegetarian | Gluten Free | 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!

Sweet Potato, Haloumi, and Quinoa Salad

Chunks of roasted sweet potato, and squeaky, salty haloumi fill this salad with flavour and personality. A hearty dish to serve by itself for a light meal, or alongside the protein of your choice for something more substantial, this salad delights tastebuds, and keeps tummies full with healthy proteins and complex carbohydrates.

Sweet Potato, Haloumi, and Quinoa Salad | Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Chris and I are off to the beach tomorrow! After three days of feasting, family, and long digestive naps we are leaving our cares behind, packing our sunscreen, and heading up the coast road for a few days of sun, sand, and nights under the stars. I am looking forward to long walks along the beach, and simple, laid back meals that can be eaten one handed while I’m reading a book in the sunshine. What are your plans for the rest of the holiday season?

Sweet Potato, Haloumi, and Quinoa Salad | Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeIn preparation for our trip I made a big batch of this salad to take with us for quick, light lunches and dinners that will keep us sustained for trips to the beach, but won’t weigh us down. The fried haloumi makes this salad indulgent enough for the festive season. Each squeaky golden cube is a bite of savoury delight. The roasted sweet potato and quinoa keep this firmly on the healthy side and the salad is rounded out with soft buttery lettuce leaves and toasted walnuts. I kept the dressing interesting but light, and the surprise ingredient may shock you – raspberry jam! It may sound strange, but the sweetness of the jam contrasts perfectly with the astringent balsamic vinegar for a simple but flavoursome vinaigrette.

Sweet Potato, Haloumi, and Quinoa Salad | Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeI made this salad recently for our family Christmas gathering and it was a hit on the smorgasbord spread. Luckily I salvaged the leftovers for my lunch the next day. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since. The haloumi definitely has something to do with that! If you are vegan, you could replace the haloumi with extra firm tofu, but if you do eat dairy I recommend spoiling yourself with some of this. Yes, it is indulgent, but every now and again a girl just needs fried cheese in her life, and because it is surrounded by complex carbohydrates (sweet potato and quinoa), healthy fats (walnuts and olive oil), greens (butter lettuce), and lean proteins (walnuts and quinoa) – I still feel good about eating this before I put on my bikini and head out to the beach.

Sweet Potato, Haloumi, and Quinoa Salad | Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeSweet Potato, Haloumi, and Quinoa Salad

Gluten Free | Vegetarian | Serves 3-4 as a light meal | Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to three days.

Note: I used a tri-colour quinoa mix, but you can use whatever colour you have on hand.

Ingredients

  • 1 large sweet potato (about 500g / 1lb)
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 3/4 cup quinoa
  • 1 1/2 cups low sodium vegetable stock
  • 180 grams (6 oz) haloumi
  • 1/2 head butter lettuce
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tablespoon raspberry jam
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Pinch salt and black pepper

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 200C (400F) and line a baking sheet with aluminium foil.
  2. Peel sweet potato and then dice into medium size cubes (~1.5cm / 3/4inch) and place on baking tray. Bake for 30 minutes or until the centres feel tender when pierced with a fork.
  3. In the last ten minutes of baking the sweet potatoes, spread walnuts across the tray to toast. Remove tray from oven and allow sweet potatoes and walnuts to cool to room temperature.
  4. Place quinoa and vegetable stock in a medium size saucepan. Cover and bring to the boil. Allow quinoa to boil for 5 minutes, then turn the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, drain thoroughly, and allow to come to room temperature.
  5. While quinoa, sweet potato, and walnuts are cooling, dice haloumi into small cubes. Heat a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. Fry haloumi until golden. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature while you make the dressing.
  6. To make dressing: whisk together balsamic vinegar, raspberry jam, olive oil, salt and pepper.
  7. Tear butter lettuce leaves into large pieces. Add quinoa, sweet potatoes, walnuts, and fried haloumi. Pour dressing over and toss gently but thoroughly until all ingredients are mixed and coated with dressing.
  8. Serve at room temperature.

Sweet Potato, Haloumi, and Quinoa Salad | Vegetarian | Gluten Free | 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.

Coriander Cashew Pesto Quinoa Salad (gluten free, vegan)

Some days, some weeks, I feel like we should all be given awards for being grown-ups. Gold stickers for remembering to put your pants on in the morning. Smiley face stamps for making it home with all everything on the grocery list. A trophy if you make it to Thursday without raiding the secret chocolate chip stash that isn’t for making cookies, but for just those moments when the dark organic “grown-up” chocolate just won’t fill the sugar monster hole inside you. You should certainly receive a gold medal if you pack your lunch and don’t go down the deep-fried temptation rabbit hole.

Coriander Pesto Quinoa Salad | Gluten Free | Vegan | Thoroughly Nourished Life

This salad is the trick up your sleeve for winning that healthy but delicious eating gold medal. Gluten free, and vegan, and packed with good-for-your-body ingredients this salad will have you sprinting over the healthy eating finish line all week long. We’ve got quinoa, chickpeas, vibrant veggies and plenty of greens too.

Coriander Pesto Quinoa Salad 3But, just because this salad falls within the “healthy green” category doesn’t mean it isn’t also packed with some big flavours that take care of nourishing your taste buds too: coriander, spinach, cashews, and a touch of chilli pack a punch in what may be my new favourite pesto recipe. I had to stop myself from just eating the pesto and abandoning my packed lunch project. Seriously, this pesto will be a permanent feature in our fridge throughout spring. Just add rice noodles for an easy dinner.

Coriander Pesto Quinoa Salad | Vegan | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeI’m so glad I didn’t abandon this salad in a pesto-eating-craze though because I will be eating this salad all week long for work. I coupled the flavour-dense pesto with chickpeas, quinoa, soft butter lettuce leaves, cucumber, and bright red capsicum. The pesto to salad ratio is high, which results in each mouthful being packed with vibrant coriander and buttery cashew flavour. You will want to lick the bowl. I did.

Coriander Pesto Quinoa Salad | Vegan | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeCoriander Cashew Pesto Quinoa Salad

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

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 1 (400g) can chickpeas
  • 1/2 large red capsicum (bell pepper)
  • 1 small cucumber
  • 1/2 head butter lettuce

For the pesto

  • 1/2 cup roasted cashews
  • 1 cup (packed) coriander leaves
  • 1 cup (packed) spinach leaves
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • Sprinkle chilli flakes (depending on your taste for spice)

Method

  1. Spread cashews on a baking tray and bake at 180C (350F) for 10 minutes. Cool completely before making pesto.
  2. Place quinoa in fine mesh sieve and rinse thoroughly. Place in a medium saucepan with vegetable stock and warm over a medium-high heat. Bring quinoa to a boil. Once boiling, place a lid on the saucepan and turn heat to low. Simmer for 15 minutes then place quinoa into a large bowl to cool.
  3. While quinoa is cooking make pesto. Place all ingredients into a high speed blender or food processor and blitz until smooth.
  4. Rinse chickpeas and add to quinoa. Dice capsicum and cucumber into large chunks and add to bowl. Gently tear butter lettuce into large pieces and add to bowl.
  5. Add pesto to bowl and toss salad thoroughly until pesto is well incorporated.
  6. Serve.

Coriander Pesto Quinoa Salad | Vegan | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeSee, grown-up gold medal is in my pocket for this week for sure.

 

French Lentil and Tomato Salad

This Wednesday marked four years since I decided to become a vegetarian. My decision to give up meat and fish illustrates the way I do many things in life: I research my decision and read all the information I can get my hands on and then I just do it. Usually when I dedicate a lot of time to thinking about something I know I have already made the decision in my heart and I am just waiting for my head to catch up. This wasn’t something expected of me: I was the biggest carnivore as a kid and even as an adolescent I could out-steak my Dad. Funny, now I don’t even crave meat. Not once in the past four years have I cracked and had even one little bite of someone’s burger, taco, or chicken wing. On the morning of the 13th of August 2010 it was though a switch had flipped in my head: I was a vegetarian and it was the most natural progression in the world.

French Lentil and Tomato Salad | Vegan | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Now, I am not going to preach at you here and insist vegetarianism is the way for everyone. I know it’s not. There are many paths to the same wellness I derive from my plant-based diet. I still cook meat every night for Chris and nothing pleases me more than pulling out a perfectly crispy skinned roast chicken and presenting it to a table of hungry guests. I have written about why I love meat before and this still holds true. But my tastebuds don’t well up at the thought of a perfectly medium rare steak or a bowl of fresh summer prawns: I am drawn to the protein of the earth. My mouth waters when I discover a new type of legume, or some clever dish concocted from quinoa, or a gooey-centred poached egg. That’s just the way I work.

French Lentil and Tomato Salad | Vegan | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

I am not a vegan either though (see aforementioned gooey egg), and I did give it a good shot for about six months a few years ago. For me a lot of veganism involves eating ‘fake foods’. I don’t want veggie sausages or “not chicken” made out of soy protein isolates and a whole host of other unknown substances requiring a chemistry degree to pronounce. I want real food, earth food, whole food. I know exactly what I am getting when I open up a tin of chickpeas or a bag of dried lentils. When I fry an egg I can see the whole process from raw ingredient to perfect meal. I crave food whose journey is short from paddock, to chopping board, to plate. I guess that’s why I became a home cook in the first place. I watched my Mum and Dad make meals from ingredients that were straight from the grocer, no packets or mysterious tins required. And now, as an adult, as a vegetarian cooking meals for her beloved omnivore, that is still what I crave: real food, earth food, thoroughly nourishing food. Happy Veggie-versary to me.

French Lentil and Tomato Salad | Vegan | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

French Lentil and Tomato Salad

Vegan | Gluten Free | Serves 3-4

Adapted from Pinch of Yum‘s Sautéed Garlic and Tomato Lentil Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups dried Puy lentils
  • 4 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 4 large, ripe tomatoes
  • 1 large clove garlic (or 2 small cloves)
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 small red onion
  • 4 large handfuls baby spinach

For the dressing

  • Juice of 1 large lemon
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Method

  1. Place lentils, water, salt, dried thyme, and dried rosemary into a medium-size saucepan and place over medium heat. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook for 25-30 minutes or until cooked but still firm. Drain well, place in a large bowl, and allow to cool until required.
  2. Chop tomatoes into a large dice and mince garlic. Heat olive oil in a large frying pan and sauté garlic and tomatoes until garlic is tender and the tomatoes have started to soften. Add lentils and tomatoes to lentils.
  3. Peel and dice red onion and add to lentil and tomatoes along with spinach.
  4. To make dressing: whisk together all ingredients. Pour over salad and mix everything gently with two large salad servers or with clean hands.
  5. Serve room temperature or chilled. Lasts well in the fridge for up to two days.

French Lentil and Tomato Salad | Vegan | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Apple, Celery, and Walnut Salad with Mustard Dressing

This salad is a fancy plate salad. If we were at a restaurant where you could order this salad I would probably be wearing a dress, and perhaps a hat. In my fancy lady fantasies I am always wearing a hat. We would be sipping on something bubbly with fruit in it, and talking about what we are going to do in the summer. The tablecloths would be starched white linen and the plates rimmed in gold and painted with colourful flowers. The waiters would go by in their pressed shirts and black bowties and the sound of a grand piano would be drifting in the background as the perfect accompaniment to our light and fancy lunch.

Apple Celery Walnut Salad 2

It’s worth dreaming isn’t it? In reality I ate this salad while sitting on our back porch with a winter breeze tickling my knees and a bright patch of sun warming my back while I looked out at the ocean and listened to a podcast. Not a bad alternative to a fancy plate place in my opinion. The second helping will be eaten at my desk at work, hopefully followed by a walk along the dusty industrial estate sidewalk outside my office. But in my mind I will be sitting on a breezy verandah with starched tablecloths and fancy plates.

Each bite of this Apple, Celery, and Walnut Salad brings something different and each mouthful is filled with crunch. The apple and celery provide salty sweet fresh dynamic with the lemon juice balances it all out with some acidity. The roasted walnuts are my favourite part of this salad, that and the mustard and yoghurt dressing that finds its way into the crevice of every soft buttery leaf of lettuce.

Apple Celery Walnut Salad 1

Apple, Celery, and Walnut Salad with Mustard Dressing

Serves 2 | Gluten Free | Vegetarian

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1 apple of choice (I used a Sundowner)
  • 2 sticks celery
  • 4 cups chopped butter lettuce
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yoghurt
  • 1 heaped teaspoon seeded mustard
  • 1 heaped teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. Spread walnuts over a sheet pan and roast at 180C (350F) for ten minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
  2. Core apple and dice into small chunks. Chop celery across stem into medium slices. Place into a large bowl.
  3. Add half the lemon juice to the apple and celery and toss to coat well.
  4. Roughly chop walnuts and add this to the bowl along with the lettuce. Toss until completely mixed.
  5. To make dressing whisk together remaining lemon juice, yoghurt, seeded mustard, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper.
  6. Divide salad among plates and top with dressing.

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