Sriracha Roasted Chickpeas

If you haven’t gotten on the Sriracha bandwagon yet, it’s not too late!

If you don’t know what I’m talking about – Sriracha is a Thai chili sauce, most popularly sold in bottles with a bright green cap and a rooster on the label. If you like all things chili and spicy, you might totally fall in love with this stuff.

If I’m preaching to the choir, please join me and make some Sriracha roasted chickpeas. These babies are the new wasabi peas! (Yes, I’m for real with that statement.)

They’re an addictive snack and great garnish for salads, soups and pretty much anything else you can think of that might want a little extra awesome.

ALSO! I came across this Bon Appetit list that got me all fired up about going through another putting-Sriracha-on-everything-phase.

Get involved!

Sriracha Roasted Chickpeas
– 2 cans or 3 cups cooked chickpeas, drained and patted dry with a paper towel. (Make sure they’re very dry!)
– 1 tablespoon olive oil
– 2 tablespoons Sriracha
– 1/2 teaspoon of paprika
– 1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 200 C/400 F.

Spread chickpeas out on a baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes. Check on them once or twice during this time, and shake the pan a little to make sure they cook evenly.

Remove chickpeas from the oven and place them in a mixing bowl. Pour olive oil, Sriracha, paprika and salt into the bowl and mix well to combine.

Spread the chickpeas out onto the baking tray again and bake for another 10 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes and serve either warm or at room temperature.

Store in an airtight container.

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Brothy Chinese Noodles with Barramundi

I understand that, in some circles, slurping is considered rude.

But let’s be real. Hot soup, cool night, lots of broth and noodles… slurping is bound to happen.

Sometimes you’ve got to do it. The meal demands it. And hey, slurping isn’t really the rudest thing you can do, is it? …you know you want to.

This soup is easy to prepare, warming, satisfying, but light and brothy enough to eat the whole bowl.

The slurping of such a dish is non-negotiable though. Deal with it.

Brothy Chinese Noodles with Poached Barramundi  (serves 2)
Adapted from Eating Well

- 1 tablespoons sesame oil
– 1 red chili pepper, finely sliced
– 4 scallions or green onions, sliced
– 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
– 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
– 3-4 cups vegetable broth
– 2 tablespoons soy sauce
– 130 grams/4.5 ounces dried chinese noodles
– 2 cups thinly sliced bok choy, roughly chopped
– 500-600 grams/1.25 lb of barramundi or meaty white fish, but into 5 cm/2 inch chunks

In a large pot, heat sesame oil over a medium high heat. Add chili, green onions, garlic and ginger and cook for 3 minutes until everything is beginning to soften and become fragrant.

Add vegetable broth and soy sauce and bring to a boil.

Add noodles and cook for 5 minutes.

Add bok choy and stir into the broth.

Place fish on top of noodles and bok choy, half-submerged in the liquid and reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Turn the pieces of fish over and cook for another 3 minutes covered. Fish should be white throughout and easily flaked with a fork.

To Serve, place noodles in a large bowl, with fish on top and pour broth over it.

Simple Stewed Peaches

Listen, Australian peaches – we need to talk.

It’s summer. You’re supposed to be juicy and delicious. I’ve bought you from the local fruit shop, the farmer’s market and one of the big supermarkets and each time you’ve been all weird and mealy. Not to get all crass with you first thing in the morning, but WTF? For real.

What am I going to do with you? I can’t waste another piece of fruit.  I cannot deal with another un-peachy disappointment. I just can’t.

I’m this close to giving up for the season. Packing it in early. Watermelon is looking pretty good these days… but a little less travel-friendly.

Lemons to lemonade, you say?

Peaches to butter and honey and cinnamon? Yeah, that could work.

I mean, what’s the worst that could happen?

Summer stewed peaches on the easy. One more shot. Let’s do it.

Stewed Peaches
(serves 2)
You can peel your peaches, if you’re fancy like that. I didn’t, because I’m lazy like that.

2 peaches, pit removed and sliced into wedges
1/2 tablespoon of good unsalted butter
1 tablespoon of honey
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
1-2 tablespoons of water

In a large pan melt the butter and honey over a medium heat.

Add cinnamon.

When the butter and honey begins to bubble, add peach slices and stir them around in the pan to coat each slice.

Add 1 tablespoon of water, reduce heat to low and cook covered for 10 minutes. Check the peaches about half-way through, stirring gently and adding another spoonful of water if the pan looks a little dry.

The end result should be soft peaches in a small amount of thick syrup.

Perfect with a scoop of ice cream for dessert or with yogurt or oatmeal to make breakfast feel like dessert.

My New Favorite…Way to Cook Broccoli

Let’s take it niiice and easy.

Jog a little slower. Have an extra cup of coffee. Stop and take a picture of something pretty. Buy yourself a new book. Eat some extra greens. But make them taste like candy.

Green, caramelized, feta-flecked candy.

Be nice to yourself…it’s Monday.

It’s a simple concept, but roasting vegetables (as I have mentioned before) can really amp things up. Caramelizing is a powerful and delicious thing, my friends. Use it recklessly.

All you need to do is the prep, then kick back and let the oven do all the fancy work. Nice and easy.

~~~

This recipe is based on Adam Roberts’ (aka The Amateur Gourmet) The Best Broccoli of Your Life who based it on Ina Garten’s (aka the Barefoot Contessa) Parmesan-Roasted Broccoli. So you know it’s good.

I decided to use marinated feta and toasted sunflower seeds instead of Ina’s Parmesan and pine nuts – but the slightly nutty, browned broccoli is the real star here.

My Favorite Way to Cook Broccoli
– 1 head of broccoli (about 2 cups), cut into small florets and stems cut into small pieces
– 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil
– salt & pepper
– zest from half a lemon
– toasted sunflower seeds
– 2 tablespoons cup crumbled feta

Heat oven to 200 C/400 F.

Toss broccoli with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, salt & pepper (to taste, but I prefer a heavy pour with both). Add more olive oil if all of the florets aren’t coated well.

Spread broccoli out on a baking sheet. Place in the oven and cook for 15-20 minutes (tossing half-way through) until florets are beginning to brown a little.

Zest the lemon over the broccoli and let cool.

Toss with feta and sunflower seeds to serve.

Notes:
I used feta marinated in preserved lemon, olive oil and herbs. But regular feta with a squeeze of lemon juice works well too.

Polenta Pizza with Cajun-Spiced Mushrooms and Zucchini

I’ve had a bag of polenta burning a hole in my cupboard for a couple of months now. When I found a recipe for polenta pizza in the Moosewood Cookbook, I thought it sounded quirky enough to be kind of awesome.

I worked with the polenta base a little bit because I wanted it to be crispy and less like a polenta-based pie or casserole. I also adjusted it to serve 2 as an appetizer or a small meal.

AND I decided to top it with Cajun-seasoned vegetables because something about cornmeal and spicy southern flavors just feels right.

If you don’t keep a good Cajun spice blend in the house, I would highly recommend you make it a priority.  (I like Joe’s Stuff.) It brings a little bit of heat, but mostly just a fabulous punch of flavor. I love it sprinkled on roasted veggies, as a seasoning for salmon, shrimp, chicken, rice…everything. Seriously.

Polenta Pizza (Serves 2)
(adapted from the Moosewood Cookbook)

Crust
– 1/2 cup polenta
– 1/2 cup cold water
– 1 cup boiling water
– salt
– 1/4 cup Parmesan finely grated

Preheat oven to 190 C/375 F

Bring one cup of water to a boil in a medium pot. Place polenta in a bowl, pour the cold water into the polenta and mix until well combined.
When water is boiling, add the polenta/cold water mixture and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently until polenta becomes thick and comes away from the sides of the pot easily.

Remove from heat and stir in salt and Parmesan. Let cool for 5 minutes.

Spread polenta out onto well oiled baking tray.

Bake for 40 minutes until crispy around the edges. Take out and add desired toppings.

Cajun Vegetable Topping
– 1 tablespoon olive oil
– 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
– 1 zucchini, thinly sliced into half-moon shape
– 1 cup button mushrooms, thinly sliced
– 1/2 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
– salt, to taste
– cheddar cheese grated (optional)

Heat oil in a large pan over a medium high heat. Add onions and cook for 5 minutes until soft.

Add zucchini and Cajun seasoning and cook, stirring occasionally for 3 minutes. Add mushrooms and continue to cook for another 2 minutes until softened. Remove from heat and reserve until the crust is ready.

Spread vegetables over crust and sprinkle with cheese.

Bake an additional 10 minutes in the oven.

Let cool for 5 minutes before cutting and serving.

Prawn Saganaki

That just-showered post-beach feeling.
Listening to your favorite album on repeat.
A frosty glass of beer on a hot day.
Watching Marie Antoinette in bed while eating squares of dark chocolate.
Finishing a good book.
Coffee, just the right amount of milk and sugar.
Fresh herbs picked off of your own balcony.

You with me here?

I’m painting a picture of contentment.

My picture, anyway.

Perfectly toasted, garlicky slabs of sour dough slathered with a simple combination of fresh summer tomatoes, salty feta, and pink prawns.

Oh yes. I would put that in my sálon.*

I’m so glad prawn saganaki came into my life. It’s the perfect balance of fresh and warming flavors and it demands to be eaten with good bread.

And good bread is the key contentment. Always.

*Andre Leon Talley, I’m stealing your catch phrase. Count it.

Prawn Saganaki (serves 2)
Recipe adapted from Chef Greg Everett’s recipe at Box Fresh

- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
– 1 medium yellow onion, diced
– 1-2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
– about 350 grams (3/4 lb.) of prawns, peeled and deveined
– 1/4 cup kalamata olives, roughly chopped
– pinch of red chili flakes
– 1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
– salt & pepper
– 2-3 tablespoons feta cheese, crumbled
– 1/4 cup combined fresh basil and parsley, roughly chopped
– good bread, sliced, toasted or grilled, and rubbed with a garlic clove, to serve

Heat oil in a medium-sized pan over a medium heat. Add onions and cook for about 5 minutes, until softened. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute.

Add prawns, olives and chili flakes and cook for another 2-3 minutes until the prawns turn pink.

Add tomatoes and cook for 3 minutes until they just start to break down. Season with a pinch of salt and a grind of fresh pepper, to taste.

Reduce heat to low. Sprinkle with feta and cover the pan with a lid. Cook for 2 minutes until feta is melted.

Transfer to a serving dish and top with fresh herbs. Serve with garlic-rubbed toasts.

Notes:
This is meant to be made in a skillet of sorts, but I just used a pan with a heat-resistant handle. If you’re using a skillet, you can pop the entire thing into a hot oven for 2 minutes to melt the feta instead of covering over a low heat. 

Salads That Travel: Roasted Sugar Snap Peas & Quinoa Salad

Not to brag or anything, but I am a total expert on bringing lunch to work. An entry-level salary in publishing and an interest in nutrition motivated me to get into the habit of brown bagging it a few years ago.

In the beginning, there was a lot of was trial and error (think soggy lettuce, disastrous salad dressing leaks, etc.) but I pushed on to become a queen of Tupperware-toting.

This skill has proved useful in more fun areas of life too – like picnicking and long-distance travel.

Grain-based salads are great to have in your byo meal arsenal. Filling, vegetable-ful, and easy to pack and assemble – they check all the boxes. They keep well for a couple of days in the fridge and go well over a big bed of greens, if you’re looking to bulk up your bowl.

This recipe roasts sugar snap peas with shallots prior to adding them to the salad. The sugar snaps caramelize making their naturally sweet flavor more complex. White beans, roasted red peppers, toasted almonds and nutty quinoa come together to balance out the sweetness of the sugar snaps and shallot.

Roasted Sugar Snap Pea Quinoa Salad
(Makes 2 serves)
– 1 cup quinoa, cooked
– 1 1/2-2 cups sugar snap peas
– 1 large shallot, thinly sliced
– 1/2 cup cooked white beans, rinsed
– 1/4 cup roasted red peppers/capsicum
– 1 tablespoon olive oil, more to taste
– salt & pepper
– pinch of red pepper flakes
– toasted almond slices

To cook quinoa: Place 1/2 cup rinsed dry quinoa in 1 cup of water in a medium saucepan, bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook covered until the liquid is adsorbed (about 10 minutes.) There should be little white tails that come out as each grain puffs. These usually indicate that the quinoa is done.

Roast your sugar snap peas (based on a recipe from Eating Well): Toss sugar snap peas and sliced shallot with 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt & pepper and chili flakes together in a bowl. Spread mixture out on a baking tray and place in a 200 C/400 F oven for approximately 12-15 minutes or until golden. Let cool.

To toast almonds: Scatter in a dry pan and cook over a medium-low heat until they become golden and fragrant (about 5 minutes.)

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix gently to combine. Add more olive oil and salt and pepper, to taste. Place in an air tight container in the fridge for up to 2 days.

Serve cold or at room temperature.