Zucchini, Tuna And Borlotti Bean Salad With Chilli And Lemon

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Not even I can deny the convenience of opening a can of pulses, rinsing them under water, and having them ready to use. It’s what I call fast food. The type we should all be eating.

Whether it’s Borlotti beans, cannellini beans or chickpeas (which by the way, the later two make a great substitute to the borlotti in this salad) the fast access to a pulse that would usually need to be soaked over night and cooked for 30 minutes or longer just can’t be denied.  So I’m happy to use this short cut when I need fast feeding.

This recipe proves that fast food can be healthy. The spirals of zucchini (which look like pasta in this shot) are my favourite element to the salad. I’m grateful for my spirelli cutter, which makes quick work (and beautiful spirals of zucchini). If you aren’t a convert yet, you can use a peeler, a mandolin, do the old fashioned way and use a knife, or – though it’s not as pretty – as a last resort, just grate the zucchini.

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A large glug of extra virgin olive oil (don’t be shy here, it’s so good for you) is heated lightly for the garlic and chilli to gently cook in. In goes the zucchini, a quick swizzle in the pan before turning off the heat and adding the drained tuna, lemon zest (wax-free if you can), juice and rinsed borlotti beans.

If you’re in the middle of winter (like I am) you’d eat it warm, but if you’re beating the heat of summer, let it cool and eat it cold – either way, it’s just so good!

Each time I walk past my bowl of organic homegrown lemons, sitting by the window sill, I think of how lucky I am to have wax-free lemons picked from my own tree. I wonder why all store-bought lemons can’t be wax-free. Surely everyone deserves wax-free lemons. If you don’t have a lemon tree, find someone who does, or, buy organic wax-free lemons, you will benefit immensely.

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I’ll never tire of the classic combination of garlic, chilli, lemon and tuna. I don’t think you will either. It’s so Italian. It’s so simplistic. It’s just right.

And really, any food this delicious that can be made in ten minutes deserves a little attention.

Zucchini, tuna and borlotii bean salad with chilli and lemon 

Serves 1

Ingredients

50ml extra virgin olive oil

1 clove garlic, sliced thinly

1/2 long red chilli, deseeded and sliced

2 small-medium zucchini

95g can tuna, drained (I use Sirena, Italian style)

3/4 cup borlotti beans, drained and rinsed

1 wax-free lemon

Sea salt 

Cracked black pepper

Scattering of picked parsley 

Prepare the zucchini into thin long strips by your preferred method of a spirelli cutter, mandolin, knife or grater.

Zest the lemon and juice half of it.

Warm the extra virgin olive oil in a medium fry pan, add the garlic and chilli, and cook gently for 2 minutes. Add the zucchini, sea salt and cracked pepper, cook gently for 1-2 minutes.

Turn off the heat, add the drained tuna, drained borlotti beans, lemon zest and juice, toss lightly to combine. Serve warm scattered with parsley and if so desired grilled bread.

Medjool Date And Cranberry Balls With Chia And Macadamia

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Truth be known – I adore Medjool dates, and think they are fabulous simply eaten as is. Their soft, sweet, distinct caramel flavour, can’t be beat.

But you take that flavour and add it with other goodies like chia seeds, spices, coconut, and nuts and you get date balls. They are my latest obsession, and they might become yours too.

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The dried cranberries can be left out entirely. But I quite like the tart flavour they add. Instead of cinnamon you might use mixed spice, ground ginger, or even a pinch of nutmeg. As an alternative to rolling them in coconut you might roll them in sesame seeds, or raw cacao. But I love anything rolled in coconut…

As long as the Medjool dates you buy are fresh, these balls will last for up to a month in an airtight container in the fridge. That is if they aren’t eaten well before then.

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Medjool date and cranberry balls with chia seed and macadamia nuts 

Ingredients

1 tbsp black chia seeds

150g macadamia nuts

450g Medjool dates 

80g dried cranberries

1 tsp cinnamon 

1 cup shredded coconut 

Place the chia seeds in a small bowl with 1/4 cup cold water. Whisk till combined and stand for 10 minutes. The chia seeds will swell up and turn to a gel consistency.

Meanwhile, roast the macadamia nuts in a moderate oven (180C) for about 8 minutes. Set aside to cool. Once cooled, place in a food processor and blitz to a rough crumb. Set aside.

Break open the dates and remove the pip. Roughly chop the dates and place in a food processor with the cranberries. Add the soaked chia seeds and cinnamon. Blitz the mix till the dates are well combined. In the final 30 seconds add the chopped macadamia nuts, the mix should come together in a ball.

Divide the mix into about 20 balls, rolling them between your finger tips and the palm of your hand. Place them on a tray. On a second tray, lay the shredded coconut. Roll each ball in the coconut till covered all over.

Store them in an air tight container out of the fridge. Eat within one month.