Category Archives: Vegetarian

Middle Eastern Pearl Barley Salad

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It’s the hint of sweet spices, orange juice and currants that I love most in this Middle Eastern spiced pearl barley salad.  The flavours and the irresistible turmeric colouring infuse into the nutty pearl barley, making every mouthful layered with taste. A sprinkling of toasted almonds, garnished over the top, adds the perfect and necessary crunchy texture to this salad. So it’s no surprise when people ask me to ‘bring a salad’ this is often the one I resort to.

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Let’s face it, dried grains, particularly pearl barley, are a very affordable way of feeding people. And unlike some of the other more robust pulses (chickpeas or black beans) pearl barley can be cooked straight from the packet, no pre soaking required. It makes it an excellent choice for those who forget to plan ahead – or for those who tend to leave cooking to the last minute.

This salad doubles as a side dish, and it works served either cold or served warm. Try it with these barbecued lamb skewers, or even this delicious Moroccan roasted chicken .

It combines effortlessly with an arrangement of other salads, like with this roasted cauliflower salad, or this Kale and pickled carrot slaw.

Because of the filling nature of grain salads there are often left overs (I’m not complaining). Put them to good use. I sometimes fry up any remaining pearl barley and eat it rolled in a wrap the next day with some tahini, extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice and green salad leaves.  It’s perfect lunch time fare.

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Middle Eastern Pearl Barley Salad

Ingredients 

1 cup pearl barley

1 brown onion, roughly chopped

2 carrots, roughly chopped

1 stick celery, roughly chopped

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp all spice

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp turmeric

2 tsp cumin

1/3 cup dried currants

1 orange

1/2 cup chopped parsley

1/3 cup toasted slithered almonds

Place the pearl barley in a pot, cover with plenty of water, bring to the boil and cook for 35 – 40 minutes or till pearl barley is just cooked through. Drain and rinse briefly under hot water, set aside.

Meanwhile, place the roughly chopped onion, carrot and celery in a food processor and blitz lightly to a small dice.

Warm 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil in a saucepan, add the vegetables, all the spices and a large pinch of salt, stir and cover with a lid, cook on a gentle heat for 5 minutes.

Zest half the orange, then juice the whole orange. Add the orange zest and juice to the saucepan along with the currants, cover with a lid again and cook a further five minutes. Remove from heat and set aside for flavours to infuse for 10 minutes.

Place the spiced vegetables and currants in a medium bowl, add the cooked pearl barley and chopped parsley, stir well to combine. Check the seasoning, and drizzle with a little more extra virgin oil if needed.

Serve on a platter or in a large bowl and scatter with the toasted almonds.

Any left overs store in the fridge for 2-3 days.

An Abundance Of Lemons And How To Preserve Them

 

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One of the first things that drew me to the house we have lived in for the past couple of years were the two lemon trees growing in the back yard. This is not entirely unusual for Sydney, yet to find a sunny back yard that had TWO established lemon trees was a bonus. It not only appealed to my culinary side, but also helped me feel a tiny step closer to my long-term dream of living on a property where we will one day grow, pick, and eat our own food (I did say long-term right?)…

As much as the flavour of lemons are reminiscent of summer, my trees bare their fruit in winter. This means each year I have an abundance of fruit to use, and I inevitably end up preserving more than a handful of jars of lemons to extend their shelf life.

Lemons are the citrus of choice for most cooks; I certainly would be at a loss without them in my kitchen. And although I love to preserve them I use them in all manner of cooking. 

When I use their pungent zest in cakes, or dressings,or marinades, I delight in the fact that their skin, let alone juice, has so much flavour to offer. Having home-grown lemons means no wax ( it drives me crazy that the shop-bought lemons are coated in a thin layer of wax, why do they have to do this!). Wax-free lemons should be available to all. It’s unadulterated zest, the best of its kind.

The juice of lemons can be a cooks best friend in the kitchen, and as a rule of thumb, keeping one or two in the fruit bowl will enhance all manner of dishes. Again, the juice is excellent in marinades, especially for chicken. Green tahini dressing is lifted to new heights, and even just a small squeeze of the pale yellow liquid will enhance soups, stews, or any slow cooked meats.

 

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Preserving lemons is very simple. The preparation is next to nothing: it’s the preserving that takes time; I leave mine at least six weeks and up to several months. The salt and juice slowly break down and soften the flesh whilst also mellowing the flavour, and this process just can’t be hurried.

As with all of the above ways of using fresh lemons, preserved lemons can be applied in much the same manner.

Check out this chermoula recipe for marinating and roasting on a chicken, or these lamb skewers  perfect for barbecuing.

I usually use a few 750ml parfait jars with working seals on them, but I also utilise large glass jars that I’ve washed and stored exactly for this reason.

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Preserved lemons

Makes 3-4 jars

Ingredients

15 large juicy lemons (wax free if you can)

3/4 cup cooking salt

12 cardamon pods

3 tsp coriander seeds

1 tsp whole  black pepper corns

First you need to sterilise the jars. Pre heat oven to 120C. Remove the rubber seal, wash the jars in warm soapy water, rinse, place on a tray and place in the oven for about 25 minutes. Turn the oven off and leave them there till you are ready to fill them.

Wash lemons. Take 10-12 of the lemons and cut in half. Slice through each half leaving 4cm of the top of the lemon un-cut. Squeeze the majority of the juice from each lemon and set the juice aside in a jug.

Juice the remaining 3-5 lemons, and add this to the reserved lemon juice. You should by this stage have about 3 cups of lemon juice.

Sprinkle the salt all over the cut lemons, rubbing it into the flesh. Take the sterilised jars from the oven and stuff each jar with lemons, press them in firmly to fill the jars. Divide the cardamon pods, coriander seeds and peppercorns between the jars. Then divide the lemon juice between the jars pouring it over the lemons. Top up each jar with boiling water so the lemons are completely covered.

Seal the lids and gently shake the jar several times to combine. Place lemons on a shelf in the pantry to preserve for about 6 weeks, or longer. Once you open a jar refrigerate the contents for up to 2 months.

Roasted Brussel Sprout And Chickpea Salad With Garlic Yoghurt

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A dear friends Aunty who I lived with for six months in Brighton, the UK, (20 odd years ago now), would steam her brussels for hours on end.

On a Sunday morning (it was always a Sunday) she would begin the day by steaming the vegetables for the evening meal (gulp). The poor overcooked brussel sprouts would then sit all day on the stove top sweating in their pot till we all came home from the pub and she’d proceeded to heat them again before serving our Sunday roast with something I can only refer to as muck.

It was a crime against the vegetables and one that brussel sprouts never made a recovery from. That is till this year, when I pushed aside those horrid memories and took to roasting them.

 

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Suddenly there was reason to love this misrepresented vegetable. To write a recipe for it. To post it here on this food blog.

I urge anyone who has a brussel sprout phobia to fight back. To say ‘No’ to hating brussel sprouts, and ‘Yes’ to roasting them.

This quick and easy way of preparing them with za’atar, garlic, chickpeas and extra virgin olive oil is so delicious, and so simple, that it is side dish you will be sure to fall back on time-and-time-again.

It’s a side dish to serve with a roast, or a good steak, or any number of other vegetable dishes like creamy potatoes and baked pumpkin.

And what I really love about this dish is the whole cloves of garlic, roasted with the sprouts then skinned and chopped and folded through Greek yoghurt with mint if you fancy, the taste is strong yet subtle, creamy and rounded.

 

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Roasted brussel sprout and chickpea salad with garlic yoghurt 

600g brussel sprouts, washed and halved

400g can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 tbsp za’atar

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to drizzle at the end

4 cloves garlic, smashed but kept in their skin

Sea salt

Cracked black pepper

1/2 cup Greek natural yoghurt

1 tbsp chopped mint

1tbsp lemon juice

Pre heat oven to 200C.

Cut the washed brussel sprouts in half and place in a large bowl. Add the drained chickpeas, za’atar, 2tbsp extra virgin olive oil, garlic, and sea salt and cracked pepper, toss till well coated.

Line a large tray with baking paper and spread the brussels over the tray. Roast for 30 minutes, or till roasted and caramalised looking.  Half way through cooking sprinkle the sprouts with 1 tbsp water to add moisture during the roasting process.

Set the sprouts aside and pick out the garlic, remove the skin and chop it to a fine paste, combine the garlic with the yoghurt, mint, lemon juice, 1 tbsp water, and season with sea salt and pepper.

Dollop the garlic yoghurt all over the brussel sprouts and serve warm.

Quinoa, Cinnamon And Chia Seed Bars

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It’s been a lot of years since I have eaten store-bought muesli bars. They have too much sugar for my liking and added preservatives that I just don’t care for. I prefer to make my own.

This simple recipe is adapted from one I wrote for Who Magazine last year.

Oats and quinoa flakes are combined with spices, dried fruit and nuts. It uses rice bran syrup as a natural alternative to highly processed sugar, and chia seeds soaked to a gel to help hold it all together during baking.

 

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Using rice bran syrup makes these quinoa and chia seed bars low Gi, and that’s a good thing! Low GI foods are digested slower, causing a lower rise in blood glucose levels making it a more sustainable energy source, which also keeps you fuller for longer.  Yay! 

For those of you with children who face the weekly ordeal of packing lunch boxes,(I have two of them that like to inspect the contents of their boxes each day), teach them good food doesn’t come from a packet and add these to their weekly routine.

For hikers and bushwalkers, these bars can quickly become a backpack staple, and one you’ll be happy to have near by when hitting those mountains.

And if you are the type of person to have breakfast on the run (not me, I am truly dedicated to this first meal of the day, and cannot leave home with out it) these bars would get you off to a good start.

Get baking!

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Quinoa and chia seed bars 

1 tbsp (Australian standard size: 20ml) black chia seeds

1/2 cup rice bran syrup

1/4 cup rice bran oil, or grape seed oil

2 tbsp honey

1/2 tsp mixed spice

1 tsp cinnamon

1 cup quinoa flakes 

3/4 cup rolled oats

1/2 cup shredded coconut

1 1/2 cups trail mix (dried fruit and nut mix)

Pre heat oven to 175C

Place the chia seeds and 1/4 cup of cold water in  a small bowl, whisk and stand for 10 minutes till chia seeds turn to a thick gel.

Place the rice bran syrup, oil, honey (if using) and spices in a small saucepan, bring to the boil, turn off the heat and set aside.

In a large bowl combine the quinoa flakes, rolled oats, shredded coconut and trail mix.

Add the soaked chia seeds to the warm rice bran syrup and whisk to combine. Pour onto the quinoa and oat mixture and stir till well combined.

Line a 30cm shallow baking tray with baking paper. Place the quinoa mixture  into the lined tray and using a spatula press it firmly all over till it’s smooth and level.

Bake in the oven for 35 minutes. Allow to cool slightly in the tray before cooling on a wire rack.  Once bars have cooled, use a sharp knife to cut bars to desired size. Store in an air tight container for up to one week.

Note: For a vegan version of these bars, leave out the 2 tbsp of honey.

(C) Copy right foodfrommichelleskitchen 2016 –  Quinoa and chia seed bars

 

 

 

 

Kale And Pickled Carrot Slaw With Green Tahini

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I have about half a dozen fantastic salads I’ve been eating over the summer that have all been on high rotation. There’s barely been a sandwich in sight!

And why not? Salads have become the staple that make me happy. They lessen the guilt of chocolate… cheese… and wine… The simpler the salad the better. Like this kale and quick pickled carrot salad.

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To be honest, a lot of the salads I make use tahini in the dressing (just quietly, I think I’m addicted!). I truly can’t stop eating tahini. I love that there’s always a jar in my pantry. I love that it’s a great source of calcium (among other nutritional benefits). I love that it goes so brilliantly with lemon, let alone when you blend it with lots of parsley too.

Oh, and I only buy the un-hulled tahini. The hull is left on during the processing leaving the nutrients in the tahini.  Basically it’s the wholegrain version.

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This fabulous kale coleslaw is simple and easy but does require a little preparation the day before. The quick pickled carrots may not be as quick as some would prefer. They need a day to pickle. But in comparison to the several weeks that my other pickled vegetables are left to mature, I think they can retain their title of ‘Quick’. Everything else is raw and can be shredded right before eating.

For those who like to dabble in leftovers, this green tahini coleslaw keeps in the fridge far better than one that’s dressed with mayonnaise. It’s fabulous the next day piled in a fresh piece of Lebanese bread, drizzled with chilli oil and lightly grilled.

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Kale and quick pickled carrot coleslaw with green tahini 

 

For the quick pickled carrots – start the day before – makes 750ml jar

3 cups thinly sliced (peeled) carrots – 2mm thick, use a mandoline if you have one

1 1/2 cups white vinegar

1/2 cup sugar

1 tbsp salt

1 tsp cumin seeds

10 whole black pepper corns

2cm piece fresh turmeric sliced, or substitute 1/2 tsp ground dried turmeric

  • Rinse a 750ml jar with boiling water. Place the sliced carrots in the jar.
  • Place the vinegar, sugar, salt, cumin seeds, black peppercorns, turmeric and 125ml water in a pot and bring to the boil. Cook on a rapid heat for 3 minutes.
  • Whilst hot, pour the pickling liquid into the jar over the carrots. Seal the lid, and leave to pickle on the bench for 24 hours. After 24 hours store the carrots in the fridge.

For the kale coleslaw 

2 cups of shredded kale

2 cups shredded white cabbage

1 large celery stick washed and sliced thinly on an angle

1/2 cup sliced pickled carrots, sliced into thin match sticks

Sesame seeds and chopped mint to garnish

For the dressing

1/3 cup un-hulled tahini

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 cup picked parsley leaves

1/4 cup water

Sea salt and white pepper

  • Combine the shredded kale, cabbage, celery and carrot.
  • Place all the ingredients for the green tahini dressing in a blender. Blitz for 45 seconds till well combined.
  • Pour the dressing over the kale and cabbage and toss to combine. Serve sprinkled with sesame seeds and roughly chopped mint.

 

(C) Copy right 2016 – Kale and quick pickled carrot coleslaw with green tahini

Roasted Broccoli And Garlic Frittata With Pine Nuts And Thyme

 

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I guess I’m one of those lucky parents; my kids have always eaten broccoli. There possibly was some persuading in the beginning but I never had to hide it in their food, or tell them funny stories about eating their ‘trees’. It was, and still is, their most beloved vegetable.

And although my interest in vegetables – of all tastes and flavours –  is far greater than theirs, for me broccoli is a green I always want to see on my plate.  Strangely enough, it’s comfort food.

 

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You are probably familiar with the concept of roasting cauliflower. Its green cousin, – broccoli -can be prepared in exactly the same manner. The florets are sliced into large pieces drizzled with olive oil, salt pepper, maybe a spice, maybe a herb, and roasted in the oven for about 30 minutes.

After you’ve roasted a batch for this frittata, you really must roast another tray and serve it as a side dish on another occasion. We ate roasted broccoli with preserved lemon chicken and quinoa tabouleh a few nights ago and it was delicious.

For this frittata I’ve thrown in whole cloves of garlic to roast. The cloves are then squeezed and the cooked garlic puree (which softens in flavour) is whisked into the egg mixture. It’s fabulous.

Frittata is simple food. It’s dinner. It’s lunch. It’s even breakfast if you’re that way inclined. In fact, sandwiched between two pieces of bread it becomes picnic food too. Eggs are such an easy meal for any time of the day. I would be lost without them.

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Roasted broccoli and garlic frittata with pine nuts and thyme

Ingredients

350g broccoli (one large head stalks included)

4-5 cloves garlic

2 tbsp chopped thyme

1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

6 free range eggs

200ml thickened cream 

Sea salt

Cracked black pepper

Olive oil

Pre heat oven to 200C.

Slice the broccoli into1cm thick pieces and scatter it on a large tray (lined with baking paper if you wish). Sprinkle the broccoli with olive oil, chopped thyme, salt and pepper and whole cloves of garlic (skin and all). Roast in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove and set aside.

Turn the oven down to 175C.

When the garlic has cooled slightly squeeze it out of the cloves. Roughly chop it. In a medium sized bowl whisk together the eggs, chopped garlic, cream, salt and pepper.

Line a 23cm square tin with baking paper. Place the broccoli into the base of the tin and scatter over the toasted pine nuts. Pour the egg mixture over the broccoli and top with grated parmesan.

Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes. Cut into pieces and serve warm or cold.

(C) Copy right 2016 – Roasted broccoli and garlic frittata with pine nuts and thyme

Turmeric Potato Salad With Red Quinoa And Yoghurt

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This is far from the conventional mayonnaise based potato salad that most people have in their repertoire. This little beauty uses fresh turmeric added to the potatoes before boiling so the colour leaches out and stains the potatoes a vibrant yellow.

It’s flavoured with coriander seeds, cumin seeds and nigella seeds, which are all roasted off in a pan first to best release their flavour.

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Each time I make this salad my head starts to nod of it’s own accord. I cheer the brilliance of turmerics soft gentle flavour and what roasted spices can do here, and that just right flavour that slow cooked onions adds to this dish.

And there’s the yoghurt. Spices and yoghurt could go with just about anything. Wouldn’t you agree?

This extraordinary tasting salad can be eaten warm or cold. As a side to a steak, chicken or fish. As part of a buffet of salads, or even served in a wholemeal wrap with extra yoghurt and coriander. The possibilities are endless. So spice it up.

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Turmeric potato salad with quinoa and yoghurt

Ingredients

900g desiree potatoes

35-40g fresh turmeric

1/4 cup red quinoa

1 tbsp coriander seeds

1 tbsp cumin seeds

2 tsp nigella seeds

1 brown onion, sliced thinly

2 tbsp chopped coriander stem, plus coriander leaves for garnish

Rice bran oil

Greek style yoghurt

1/2 lemon juiced

Sea salt

Cracked black pepper

Leave the skin on the potatoes and cut them into 4cm dice. Place in a medium pot and cover with cold water. Add the grated turmeric and a large pinch of salt. Bring to the boil and cook for 8 – 10 minutes or till potatoes are just soft. Drain and leave to steam in the colander for 5 or more minutes.

Meanwhile, place the quinoa in a small pot, cover with water bring to the boil and cook for about 15 minutes, drain and set aside.

Place the coriander seed, cumin seed and nigella seed in a separate small pan. Toast the spices till they start to pop. Cool slightly them ground roughly using a mortar and pestle.

Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large frypan. Add the onion, season with salt and pepper and cook on a low heat for about 8 minutes, till caramalised. Set the onion aside.

Wipe out the fry pan and add 1 tbsp oil, add the cooked potatoes and fry lightly in the pan for about 5 minutes.

Add the chopped coriander stem, cooked onion, roasted ground spices and cooked quinoa. Toss to combine. Season with lemon juice and taste for extra salt and pepper.

Serve the potatoes on a large platter, garnish with dollops of yoghurt and picked coriander leaves.

(C) Copy right 2016 : Food From Michelle’s Kitchen Turmeric potato salad with red quinoa and yoghurt