Vegetarian [kind of] meets BBQ

I guess you could say I was a little out of my element? The BBQ and I aren’t exactly the best of friends…

A few months ago the Recipe Redux theme was ‘Start Smoking in the New Year’ – (yeah, I’m getting in a little late) hence the BBQ idea popping up:

The New Year is heating up with smoke and spiciness. From boldly flavored smoked salts to actual smoking techniques, subtly smoked food is on-trend. The same can be said for spice as we savor heat from harissa, sriracha and smoked paprika. Show us the healthy dish you’re heating up with smoke and/or spiciness.

My first thought was my Vegetarian Chilli but then I thought I should try something new. I follow a few American nutrition and food blogs and quite often see a recipe call for ‘Liquid Smoke’, but I have never been able to find it anywhere in Oz. So the cheat’s way was out…then I wondered how I would go about doing it the proper way. But how to smoke food without a barbecue? This just opened up a can of worms..and a trip to the hardware store… and a house smelling like ribs. Got there in the end.

Smoked Tofu, Almonds & Green Beans.

Once upon a time I found a block of smoked tofu in a health food shop. It was delicious, and expensive, and I never bought it again. So here is an attempt to recreate it! And an impressive option for all you vegetarians and vegans going to summer barbecues, only to face a sad bowl of ice berg lettuce and bread rolls with tomato sauce. I feel ya. Take this and everyone will want to be your friend. I mean, it’s not going to pass as sticky ribs anytime soon, but who wants to have to eat with their fingers and get sauce all over their face anyway? 

IMG_1201

Get your smoke on.. 

1 x block of tofu, cut into slices

1 x cup wood chips (I used hickory)

1 x aluminium baking tray

a lot of foil

Soak the wood chips in water over night. Layer the bottom of the tray with the wood chips and a little bit of water, then sit an elevated tray inside the aluminium tray for the tofu slices to sit on. Wrap well in foil. Place in the oven and leave it in there for 3 hours.

SIX HOURS later and I took my tofu out of the oven.

To be perfectly honest, I was really disappointed that it wasn’t ‘smokier’. Seeing as how I had committed half my life to this recipe, the tofu was a bit of an anti-climax. Ahh well, you live and you learn. The end result was delish – read on for the saviour – the tahini dressing and green beans are a win for sure.

greenbeans

And the rest…

2 cups green beans

1/2 cup roasted almonds, chopped

100g fresh rocket leaves

2 TBS tahini

1 TBS lemon juice

salt & pepper

Top & tail the beans and saute them in a bit of olive oil. Add them to a big bowl with roasted almonds, rocket and tofu.

Combine the tahini, lemon juice and s & p in a small bowl and then pour it on over. I added a little warm water to the dressing to thin it out a bit, but whatever goes.

(I will certainly not hold it against you for saving six hours and not trying this one at home).

The end x

Zucchini Ribbon Spring Salad

We have had some beautiful days in Melbourne so far this Spring. And I’ve been lucky enough to just come back from a weekend in far north Queensland. The anticipation of summer is increasing!

This is the ultimate cool down salad for those days when it’s too hot to eat anything heavy. The zucchini is full of water for a start, a good thing for hydration levels (we get fluids from foods too, not just when we drink water) – and lots of mint to keep it really fresh. Mint contains menthol, which is what gives it that cooling sensation. Use the other half of the bunch to make fresh mint tea, or add it to a jug of cold water with some lemon slices. (This salad would be equally good with cucumber too.)

Tastes best when eaten in the sunshine!

zuc sal1

Zucchini Ribbon Spring Salad

 

2 x zucchini, cut into ribbons

1/2 bunch fresh mint, finely shredded

2 spring onions, chopped

100g feta cheese, diced

1 x tin chickpeas, drained

1/2 x cup dried freekeh

1 x TBS olive oil

1 x TBS lemon juice

S & P

Place freekeh in a saucepan with 1 1/2 cups of water and bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 15 minutes, then drain

While the freekeh is cooking, prepare the rest of the veggies

Throw everything into a bowl and toss with olive oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper

Easy peasy

zuc sal

The Mysterious Jerusalem Artichoke

I was inspired by my salad at Brighton Schoolhouse last week, so off I went to find some jerusalem artichokes for myself and ended up learning a bit about them along the way. I was pleasantly surprised to find out they are a really good source of iron, with 150g providing 5.1mg, which is 28% of the RDI for women aged between 19 and 30 (we need higher amounts of iron to account for losses during menstruation).

There’s only a small window when the jerusalem artichoke is in season, late winter July/August in Melbourne, and they proved to be a bit tricky to find, so you might have to go on a bit of a hunt – worth it though! The best way I can describe them is like a roast potato, but a bit sweeter.

Just a simple salad for lunch. Eat it warm or cold, lasts in the fridge for a few days so it’s a good one to take along to work. Recipe based on My New Roots.

 

Jerusalem Artichoke, Kale & Lentil Salad

photo

1 x bunch kale, shredded

1/2 x red onion, finely chopped

1 TBS x minced garlic

1 TBS x olive oil

500g x jerusalem artichokes, diced (6-7 artichokes)

1 x tin lentils (or 1/2 cup dry puy/brown lentils, cooked)

1/3 cup x toasted almonds

Coat the artichokes with 1/2 the olive oil and roast in a hot oven for ~30 minutes or until tender

Saute the onion and garlic in the rest of the olive oil for a few minutes

Add kale and cook until leaves turn bright green, take off the heat

Dry roast the almonds in a hot pan until evenly browned (you should be able to smell them when they’re done but don’t let them burn)

Stir through lentils and almonds

Dress with equal parts olive oil & lemon juice (i used a TBS of each) and some chilli if you like

Season with S &P

My Kale Romance

Ever since I can remember I used to have a problem with green leafy vegetables. Throw anything at me and I would eat it, but the green leafy stuff I just couldn’t do. It was a textural thing I think. The thought of putting a big bunch of salad leaves in my mouth still turns me off a bit..especially that ‘gourmet salad mix’ with the red lettuce leaves..that one’s the worst 😦

It was a shame really, because the first thing that comes to mind when we think of ‘health food’ is green veggies. And rightly so. They are definitely full of the good stuff. So my not eating them probably didn’t do me any favours…..Our green leafy friends do all sorts of things..they provide us with fiber, folate, fat soluble vitamins A, E and K and can also be a good source of Calcium and iron. Fiber provides the roughage in our diet that keeps our digestive system happy and also fills us up. Folate is needed for cell growth and development and is especially important during pregnancy as it reduces the risk of neural tube defects. And for those of us who are not eating red meat, green leafy veggies are a really important source of iron! Combine with a source of vitamin C and even better, so throw some red capsicum into the mix too 🙂

I could continue raving about them but I’m sure you get the point?!

Then one day I discovered rocket/roquette/arugula/whatever and my world was turned upside down (this also coincided with the Green Smoothie Discovery – but that’s another for another day). I loved the stuff! I like the peppery taste and it must be because the leaves are a bit finer so it doesn’t give me that horrible soggy texture thing going on in my mouth.. Anyway I used to eat bags of the stuff..take a look at my mega sized salad bowl that I would eat out of at work (I was the running joke come lunch time.)

68914_10152614623059805_3393057730043357428_n

Fast forward to 2014 and I have ventured out into bigger and bigger things (sorry rocket). Kale! I really dislike following trends..especially nutrition trends..and I know kale is one of those super foods at the moment, but I honestly think it is fantastic. Again, it’s the textural thing. You can cook it and it doesn’t break down or go soggy. I usually just stir fry it for a few minutes until it turns bright green and then throw it into a salad, or you can bake the leaves and make kale chips, or you can shred it finely and put it into a soup, the possibilities are endless! Can you tell I’m in love?

Here is a really simple, tasty recipe that I’ve found on Taste.

IMG_0720

Roast Pumpkin & Kale Salad

500g pumpkin, diced

1 TBS olive oil

1 TBS minced ginger

1/2 tsp sea salt

1tsp cumin

1 bunch kale, shredded, stalks removed

1 cup cooked quinoa

1/4 cup toasted pumpkin seeds

Toss the pumpkin in the oil, salt, ginger and cumin, place in a roasting pan and cook for 30 minutes on 180C or until golden and tender.

Use cooking oil spray to oil a deep frying pan to lightly cook the kale until leaves turn bright green.

Don’t skip toasting the pumpkin seeds, it makes the flavour a million times better! Place them in a dry frying pan and toast until lightly golden, watch they don’t burn.

Toss the roasted pumpkin, kale, quinoa and pumpkin seeds in a big salad bowl.

Drizzle with olive oil and add S & P to taste.

Makes around 3 large or 4 small serves