Tag Archives: goats cheese

Salad love – Lilly pilly, goats cheese and honey

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There’s been much salad love this year. When I work from home I can mix together a salad in no-time. For me, salads are all about texture. There must be something crunchy, either a raw vegetable or toasted nut (I keep a small amount toasted on hand). There must be something soft – goats cheese, ricotta, feta are all excellent additions (i’m a sucker for cheese). There must be something sweet – peach, pear, raspberry and watermelon – to name just a few. There must be something sour – lemon, apple cider vinegar, or pickled vegetables. If I can get a cooked grain or pulse in there then that only adds to the balance of textures, and of course nutrition. And a salad just wouldn’t be a salad without a smooth extra virgin olive oil.

I took it as a challenge when my brother in-law offered me a kilo of lilly pillies the other day, freshly foraged from his back yard. I accepted them immediately with the after thought of “what do you do with lilly pillies?” Most recipes I researched are for jam, or chutney. I think I’ll do a small batch of both. But what else could I do with these lilly pillies?

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The gorgeous pink fruit of the lilly pilly is know for being slightly sour. Tick. I could do a salad. I figured as long as the dressing had a sweet edge then that would balance the sharpness of the berries. Since red grapes have been going in my salads of late, it didn’t take long to figure out I could swap the grapes for lilly pillies and make one of my favourite combinations with goats cheese, toasted pepita and sunflower seeds. But as well as being sour, lilly pillies have a really interesting texture, kind of soft yet crunchy.

My husband reminded me that a few years ago, before we were married, I had a lilly pilly tree growing in the back yard of a previous house. It had been under my nose all that time. I was amazed that I’d never thought to use the berries, or that he never thought to tell me to use the berries! I read in Juleigh Robins book – Wild food , which by the way has some lovely recipes using Australian ingredients, that lilly pillies (also known as riberries) were always eaten by the East coast indigenous people of Australia from Victoria right up to Queensland. They’ve been eating them for thousands of years. They’d pick them straight from the trees and eat them raw. I had the proof. They can go in salads – i’m so impressed!

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Next time you spot a lilly pilly tree in your area why not try foraging yourself some of these gorgeous little fruits, and hey, make this salad, why not?

Lilly pilly salad with goats cheese and honey

This recipe makes one small salad. If you can’t get your hands on lilly pillies, swap them for red grapes and swap the honey for balsamic vinegar.

Ingredients

A handful of rocket leaves, washed and picked

1/4 cup lilly pillies cut in half, tiny seed removed

1 tbsp soft goats cheese

2 tbsp toasted pepitas seeds and sunflower seeds

For the dressing

1 tsp honey

1/2 tsp seeded mustard

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Wash the lilly pillies and cut in half with a small knife. Remove the tiny pip from inside, it should just kind of fall out. Place them in a bowl with the rocket, goats cheese, toasted pepita seeds and toasted sunflower seeds, toss lightly.

For the dressing combine the honey, seeded mustard and virgin oil in a small bowl, stir to combine. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and eat immediately.

French Ratatouille

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Ratatouille, I’m sure you’ve heard of it. It’s a fancy French name for cooked provincial vegetables, consisting of eggplant, peppers, garlic and tomatoes. It’s one of my favourite dishes, yet I can forget to cook it for months at a time. How can this be?

What I love about this ratatouille recipe is everything is popped into one tray. You will need lots of extra virgin olive oil. But that’s not a bad thing. I recently heard Ottolenghi talking about how much virgin oil he uses when cooking eggplant. He advised, use lots, then use more. So don’t be shy.

The ratatouille vegetables are covered with foil and roasted in the oven. The flavours have no other choice than to blend together. This method also ensures the eggplant is soft, just the way properly cooked eggplant should be. The peppers and onions take on a sweetness from the tomatoes and finishing the dish with vinegar and brown sugar sharpens all those flavours. 

 

 

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By all means, you can replace the tinned tomatoes with fresh ones. If doing this, four would probably be enough. I had tinned on hand this particular day and as long as they are whole tinned, you can then squeeze the tomatoes in your hands and squash them to the desired consistency (this is actually quite fun).

There are times where I desire soft goats cheese. I like to crumble chunks of it into the warm ratatouille. It adds a creaminess that is irresistible with the tomatoes. You might consider giving this a try.

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The obvious first choice of serving ratatouille is with pasta. You can’t go wrong here. Toss 2/3 of the ratatouille through your al dente pasta, spoon into bowls then top with the remaining ratatouille, crumble over extra goats cheese, black pepper and fresh herbs.

Ratatouille makes an excellent side-dish that you might serve with fish, lamb or chicken. Or it can be eaten spread on toasted baguette as a light lunch.

When given a chance to lessen the dishes, I take it. I revel in it. One tray food, yes please!

 

One tray ratatouille 

Ingredients 

1 small eggplant

2 red onions, diced

1 red or green pepper (capsicum), diced

2 cloves garlic, sliced

5 whole tomatoes from a tin (with a little of the juice) or 3 fresh tomatoes chopped

lots of extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt

Black pepper

1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary

1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano (or basil)

1 -2 tbsp sherry or balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp brown sugar

50-80g soft goats cheese

 

Pre heat oven to 200C.

Peel the eggplant and cut into 1cm dice, place in a large baking tray. Add the onions, peppers, and garlic. Squeeze the whole tomatoes, in the palm of your hand, onto the vegetables (or if using fresh ones, chop them into a rough dice). Drizzle with lots of extra virgin olive oil, season with sea salt and black pepper, sprinkle with rosemary and oregano and toss gently to combine.

Cover with foil and roast for about 45 minutes, or till eggplant is soft.

Remove from oven, add the vinegar and sugar, toss gently till sugar dissolves. Allow to cool slightly then sprinkle with goats cheese and fresh oregano (if desired).

Pumpkin freekeh salad with basil and goats cheese

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I’m not going to tell you about my landlord selling our house, or how we’ve spent copious amounts of time looking for a new home. I’m not going to tell you about all the packing and sorting and cleaning to be done. No I won’t tell you any of that. Instead, let me tell you about this delicious, wholesome salad with roasted pumpkin, goats cheese, fresh basil and freekah.

 

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Freekeh, if you’re yet to be acquainted, is young green wheat that’s processed and dried by roasting over an open flame. It has a nutty, smoky flavour, with a firm (much firmer than pearl barley) chewy texture. It’s brilliant cooked and served cold in salads, as you might brown rice. It’s nutritious too and high in fibre. And for the sake of convenience, supermarkets are now stocking this delicious grain. You can also buy freekah cracked, which cooks much faster and doesn’t require soaking over night – not that I soaked the freekah for this salad (see recipe for fast track cooking) – there’s far too many boxes piling up to be that organised!

 

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This is the gorgeous basil I have growing in my back garden, and the one I picked fresh for this salad. I can’t take credit for being the grower, that would be my green thumbed man, he’s very handy in the garden. I chopped the basil back two weeks ago and made fresh pesto to eat with linguini and already it’s screaming out to be used again. Now of course, not everyone will have access to basil from their own back yard, that’s fine. My tip is to smell the basil before you buy it. It should be pungent and have an almost over powering perfumed smell, if it smells of freshness and sweet summer then it’s good to buy.

 

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The dressing for this salad uses roasted caraway and mustard seeds. Caraway seeds have a flavour similar to star anise and fennel and are often used to flavour rye bread. Roast and pound the seeds, in a mortar and pestle, together with vinegar and extra virgin olive oil, sea salt and cracked pepper.

Now, the goats cheese crumbled over the top gives the creaminess this salad requires – the fresh basil – the lightly caramalised onion – its all top shelf. I love eating this salad with a good sourdough bread, or it’s also excellent served with a grilled steak or barbecued lamb cutlets.

 

Pumpkin, goats cheese salad with freekeh and basil

Ingredients

1 cup whole freekeh (soaking overnight cuts cooking time)

1 kg butternut pumpkin (skin on weight)

2 red onions, peeled and sliced into thin wedges

1/2 bunch thyme, chopped

1 cup picked basil leaves, washed

100g soft goats cheese

Sea salt

Cracked black pepper

For the dressing

1 tbsp caraway seeds

1 tbsp mustard seeds

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

50 ml extra virgin olive oil

 

Soak freekeh in cold water over night. Cook in a medium pan with plenty of water for about 45 minutes. Or if you forget to soak freekeh, cook in plenty of water for 1 hour, turn off the heat and stand in the hot water for a further 30 minutes. Drain and rinse, set aside to cool.

 

Pre heat oven to 200C or 180C fan forced. Peel and cut pumpkin into 2cm dice, place in a baking tray with sliced red onion, chopped thyme, a drizzle of olive oil, sea salt and black pepper, mix together with your hands and roast in the  oven for 40-45 minutes, stir once during cooking. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

 

For the dressing, place caraway seeds and mustard seeds in a small fry pan, toast in a dry pan till seeds start to pop. Place in a mortar and pestle and pound to a rough powder, add vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, a pinch of sea salt and a large crack of pepper, whisk to combine.

 

Pour the dressing over the cooked freekeh and toss to combine, add cooled roasted pumpkin, and picked basil, toss gently to combine. Place on a large platter and sprinkle with crumbled goats cheese. Eat with good sourdough.