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

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

 

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?

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.

Garden Vegetable Risotto

Very rarely do I give myself the chance to just stare into space anymore. Once upon a time I was a Walter Mitty style champion of adventures in the ether. I need to bring that mind-wandering time back into my life: for stress relief, and for creativity to flow.

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Risotto is a dish that forces you into a slow down; it encourages a mental hiatus. You are bound to the stove for the better part of half an hour tending to the tide of rice and liquid.

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Risotto is active meditation.
You peel and measure. Heat and stir. Add liquid and wait for the magic of absorption and stir and stir and stare out the window while the grains swell and soften.
Shower in your vegetables and herbs and watch them surrender their juices and flavour to the dish.
Just let your mind wander into the night while the cheese binds everything together and then gather at the table and share your imaginings with the one you love.

And the thing you will love about this risotto is that it is easy, and it uses ingredients you probably already have in your cupboard. It’s creamy without being heavy thanks to the creamed corn, which also means that it is lower in fat than traditional risotto. This risotto will save you time after a busy day because even with the grating and chopping it only takes about 40 minutes from start to finish. Enough time to make a cup of tea and let your mind wander.

Garden Vegetable Risotto

Gluten free. Vegetarian, vegan without the cheese.
Serves 4 satisfactorily. Chris’s suggestion: pair with sausages or chicken for an omnivorous meal. A salad would round this out nicely.

Cheddar is what we had on hand, but you can definitely use Parmesan or Pecorino if you have it available.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 400 gram tin creamed corn
  • 1 medium carrot, grated
  • 1 medium zucchini, grated
  • 3/4 cup frozen peas
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 6 sage leaves finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup grated cheddar, and extra to serve
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

Method

  1. Warm stock to a simmer in a medium saucepan.
  2. Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until transparent.
  3. Add arborio rice and stir until grains are shiny and coated in olive oil.
  4. Add warmed stock one ladle at a time, stirring well between each addition and ensuring that each ladleful is absorbed before adding the next.
  5. When all liquid has been added and mostly absorbed, add creamed corn, grated carrot and zucchini, and peas. Stir well to combine.
  6. Add fresh herbs and simmer for 5 minutes or until the peas are cooked.
  7. Just before serving stir in cheese and season to taste.
  8. Serve with extra cheese.

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How do you meditate dear reader? Do you cook? Run? Sit quietly? Me, I run and cook, and dance in the kitchen while singing pop tunes.

Lunchbox Love: Quinoa, Chickpea, and Capsicum Salad with a Lime-Honey Dressing

I have a confession: as much as I love salad even I get bored of the same leaf, tomato, legume and antipasto combination. This often leads to me resorting to my next option: cottage cheese and crackers or avocado sushi.

In an attempt to revamp my lunch situation, and to ease night-before-work decision-making fatigue, I made a big batch of this quinoa salad. Full of bright vegetables, healthy protein (from the chickpeas and quinoa), fibre, and complex carbohydrates (slowly broken-down for longer-lasting energy and fullness) it will last in the refrigerator all week long safely divided into four lunchbox-ready containers.

I have also made this salad for a work function and a family barbecue. It makes a perfect pot luck dish because it suits so many different special diets (gluten-free, vegetarian, dairy-free) while still tasting delicious (I’ve had reports). I simply doubled the amount and it made a healthy side dish for 10-12 hungry people. Vegetarian friends, this is a complete protein meal; omnivorous friends, I have reports that it goes rather nicely with grilled chicken or fish.

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Quinoa, Chickpea, and Capsicum Salad with a Lime-Honey Dressing

Gluten-free. Vegetarian. Dairy-free.

Serves 4 as a main dish. 6-8 as a side dish.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa (I used red, but any colour will be delicious)
  • 3 cups salt-reduced vegetable stock
  • 1/2 medium red capsicum
  • 1 400 gram can of corn kernels
  • 1 400 gram can of chickpeas
  • 1 small cucumber
  • 2 stalks of spring onion
  • 3 cups baby spinach leaves

Dressing:

  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1-2 teaspoons poppy seeds

Method:

  1. Rinse quinoa thoroughly and add to a small saucepan with the vegetable stock. Heat on a medium-high stove until it comes to the boil. Reduce heat to low. Cover pot and cook for 15 minutes or until tender. Drain well and return to pot to cool to room temperature.
  2. Meanwhile dice cucumber, capsicum, and spring onions. Drain corn kernels. Drain and rinse chickpeas well.
  3. Add quinoa to a large bowl and add diced and drained vegetables. Toss mixture together with spinach leaves.
  4. To make the dressing whisk together all dressing ingredients.
  5. Add dressing to bowl and toss well.

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Serving suggestions: Perfect the way it is, although sometimes I crumble some feta over the top of mine, or add a sprinkle of pumpkin seeds. Omnivores may like to add grilled chicken or fish (dressed with some extra lime perhaps). Vegans you can substitute agave for the honey.

Nutrition Information: (Per serve. 4 serves per batch.) 315 cals | 1315kJ | 5.55g fat | 0.9g saturated fat | 13.8g protein | 57.8g carbohydrates | 7.8g sugar | 5.2g fibre |

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