Carrot, orange and currant salad

orange-salad

Inspired by Mark Jensen’s Carrot, orange and blackcurrant salad in The Urban Cook. I’ve adapted his recipe and left out the red chilli and sherry vinegar, which he added although saying it was not in the traditional middle eastern version. I’ve also reduced the ingredients to serve one person. Mark recommends having the dish in Autumn when both oranges and carrots are in their peak.

1 Tbsp dried currants or raisins
1 orange
1 carrot, peeled and grated
1 Tbsp olive oil
several fresh mint leaves, chopped

  1. Soak the dried currants or raisins in water to make them easier to digest.
  2. Cut the top and bottom off the orange, and then cut off the rest of the skin to ensure all of the white pith has been removed. Cut the orange into segments. Add any juice and the segments to serving bowl.
  3. Peel and grate the carrot and add to the bowl, along with the mint, drained currants and olive oil.
  4. Mix all the ingredients to together and season with salt and pepper.

Serves 1.

Market salsa

market-salsa

The markets were quiet today – just how I like them. I was able to pay straight away (without queuing) and no bumping into dogs, prams and market trolleys. The ingredients for this salad are made from purchases from the same stall where the owners play music to their vegetables. I’m hoping this salsa makes me sing all afternoon.

1 cucumber, small
handful of tomatoes
3 capsicums, one of each colour
lime, juiced
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
several leaves of fresh basil
a few strands of chives

  1. Peel the skin off the cucumber and dice. Dice the tomatoes and capsicum (red, orange and yellow). Add them to a serving bowl.
  2. Add the lime juice and extra virgin olive oil with the chopped herbs as a dressing. Mix together and serve.

Serves 2.

Carrot soup

carrot_sweetpotato_soup

Any easy carrot soup. Here’s my current favourite lunch time meal. Adding the rice milk or another type of milk at the end adds some depth and makes it ‘creamier.’

1 onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 tsp ginger, minced (optional)
4 carrots, chopped
4 cups of vegetable stock + hot water
1 tsp of parsley, ground or finely chopped
½ cup of rice milk

  1. Brown the onion in some oil in a pot.
  2. Boil the kettle for your stock. Make up stock and add to the pot.
  3. Add the carrots, garlic and ginger. Add more hot water to cover all the ingredients.
  4. Gently simmer until the carrots are soft, about 30 minutes.
  5. Add the rice milk and remove from the heat.
  6. Blitz well with a hand blender or food processor. Add more stock until you have the consistency you want.
  7. Season with sea salt.

Serves 2-3.

Nuts berry crumble

This is a raw nuts berry crumble inspired by the Renegade Health Show’s recipe for Blazing Berry Crumble. The only problem was my food processor has given up the ghost, so this is a quick version.

LSA stands for linseeds, sunflower seeds and almonds. Linseeds are also known as flaxseeds. It’s better to grind these up yourself fresh using a coffee bean grinder or a mortar and pestle. If you do buy them pre-ground from the shop, make sure they were stored in the fridge. When you get them home put them in an air-tight container and keep in the fridge for up to a month. They are packed full of fibre, calcium, essential fatty acids, protein and minerals.

1 Tbsp LSA
1 Tbsp hazelnut meal
1 Tbsp honey
1 small punnet of strawberries

  1. Hull and quarter the strawberries.
  2. Add the LSA and hazelnut meal, stirring to mix.
  3. Add the honey and stir well to serve straight away.

Serves 1-2.

Carrot and sweet potato soup

Another simple soup for warming up in winter. I’ve made many pumpkin soups in my time, but I enjoyed this one so much that it will become another favourite in rotation. Both carrots and sweet potato are packed with beta-carotene, which is great for healthy skin and eyes. You could replace the rosemary with parsley. Give this orange soup a go.

1 onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 sweet potato, chunks
2 carrots, chopped
4 cups of vegetable stock + hot water
½ tsp of rosemary, ground

  1. Brown the onion in some oil in a pot.
  2. Boil the kettle for your stock. Make up stock and add to the pot.
  3. Add the carrots, sweet potato, garlic and rosemary. Add more hot water to cover all the ingredients.
  4. Gently simmer until the carrots and sweet potato are soft, about 30 minutes.
  5. Remove from the heat and blitz well with a hand blender or food processor. Add more stock until you have the consistency you want.
  6. Season with sea salt.

Serves 2-3.

Pumpkin and apple soup

Before the drought, my aunt and uncle used to have a lush native rainforest in their backyard. Unfortunately with the water restrictions it has since been cut back and only the hardy plants remain. Over the autumn, they  found two different pumpkin vines growing from their compost heap. They harvested over  30 pumpkins and my aunt made soup, bread, and curry. We gratefully received one golden nugget and one jap.

I try to keep my soup recipe simple and let the pumpkin shine. Having said that, some pumpkins taste much better than others, so try a different kind if you think you don’t like them. If it’s a special occasion and you have the time, you could roast the pumpkin and apples first (and then follow the rest of the recipe cutting down on the simmering time). The apple and nutmeg give this comforting pumpkin soup a flavour lift.

It’s also worth using a decent stock as there are so few ingredients in this recipe. If you boil the kettle, you can top up with more hot water as you go and the soup won’t lose heat.

1 red onion, chopped
2 apples, peeled and chopped
½ pumpkin, peeled and chopped
2 cups of vegetable stock + hot water
½ tsp of nutmeg

  1. Brown the red onion in some oil in a pot.
  2. Boil the kettle for your stock. Make up stock and add to the pot.
  3. Add the pumpkin, apples and nutmeg. Add more hot water to cover all the ingredients.
  4. Gently simmer until the pumpkin and apples are soft, about 30 minutes.
  5. Remove from the heat and blitz well with a hand blender or food processor. Add more stock until you have the consistency you want.
  6. Season with sea salt and pepper.

Serves 4.

Taking lunch

I’ve never been very good at taking lunch to work, but when I do it’s usually leftovers. It doesn’t help that I crave variety and hate stale bread so sandwiches are out.

Last year, I worked with a lovely accountant, who had a fabulous food preparation area. Everyone had closed-in bookshelves above our desks, and instead of storing paperwork there, she had a mini-kitchen. Her space included cutlery, plate, bowl, sharp knife, cereal, sugar and tea bags. She also had her own scrubbing brush and clean tea towels (a revolutionary idea for me, as I hated using the communal ones!)

Since then I’ve been more adventurous with my lunch preparations. I love the “The Top 100 Recipes for a Healthy Lunchbox” book as it gives a good range of options and also points out allergy friendly options. There are plenty of blogs dedicated to lunchbox ideas and they provide plenty of inspiration. Perhaps the most amazing one is the Vegan Lunch Box (and book).

Bento boxes communities and blogs include Bento ChallengeBento Lunch, Just Bento, and  What’s for lunch at our house. I love the way some people use cookie cutters to create fun shaped food, although I guess that’s really for the kids.

It’s good to have some dedicated containers for lunch. This will minimise your packaging waste and may help to stop your food from leaking in your bag. Look for heavy plastic containers (numbers 1, 2, 4 or 5) are best. Tupperware containers are a popular option. You may like to consider the following:

Baba ghanoush (Greek)

We are currently growing a beautiful Italian heirloom variety of eggplant called Listada de Gandia – the best thing about them is that they are a really good size (not too big or small) and you don’t need to salt them.

The first way I learnt to make baba ghanoush was to simply roast the eggplant, remove the skin and place it in a food processor with a little olive oil. I hadn’t really liked eggplant until then.

To jazz up your eggplant (aubergine) dip try this recipe with a few more ingredients. Tahini is made from sesame seeds, which makes it very high in calcium, and like sesame oil it can have a strong taste. You could roast the garlic with your eggplant for a milder taste.

1 medium sized eggplant
1 clove of garlic
½ lemon, freshly squeezed juice
1 tbsp tahini
extra virgin olive oil
spray oil

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C.
  2. Lightly spray oil on the outside of the eggplant and place on a prepared baking tray. Roast, turning occasionally, for about 30 minutes or until very tender. Remove the skin.
  3. Place the eggplant flesh and the other ingredients into a food processor. Process until you have a smooth paste.

Serve warm or cooled with Turkish or pita bread.

Written for Daily Tiffin’s Grow Your Own 2009 May #28 challenge.