Carrot and Orange Salad

I’m excited!

This weekend some lovely friends are getting married. There will be speeches and Italian food and lots of love.

In two weeks, I get on a plane to New York where I will see some much-missed family and friends. I cannot wait to hug and laugh and eat and drink with all of my loves.

And look at these orange-y hues! So much to be spirited about.

Fresh, juicy oranges bounce off caramelized carrots and salty feta perfectly. It’s a salad to match my mood.

Carrot and Orange Salad
(serves 2)
– 4 large carrots, sliced into long pieces, 1/2 inch/1 cm wide
– 2 tablespoons olive oil
– 1/2 teaspoon cumin
– 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
– sea salt
– 1 orange, segmented
– 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice from segmented orange
– 2 tablespoons feta cheese

Preheat oven to 230 C/450 F.

Mix carrots, olive oil, cumin, paprika and salt. Roast carrots for 15-20 until browned.

Let carrots cool for 5 minutes.

Combine carrots, orange, orange juice and feta. Sprinkle with additional sea salt and serve warm or at room temperature.

Bulk it up: serve on salad greens (spinach, kale, Romain, etc.) tossed with another drizzle of olive oil and tablespoon of orange juice. Top with toasted pepitas and chickpeas. Boom.

Fresh Pistachios & Peas

Fresh pistachios. Mind blown.

My vegetable and fruit delivery service said fresh pistachios were only available for another couple of weeks and they were selling some with their boxes this week. I couldn’t resist.

At first, I was surprised at their appearance (but let’s be real, I wasn’t really sure what fresh pistachios were all about in the first place.) A speckled yellow and pink soft skin encases the recognizable hard, oval-shaped shell. The nut at the center of all this business is softer and more mild than your typical salt roasted variety.

The smell of the skins has filled our kitchen for the past week – floral and slightly musky with a vague familiarity about it. Eating them plain is pretty excellent. And shelling and roasting them with a little salt makes them taste like the packaged kind – only better, fresher.

I thought their softness was kind of cool and akin to a fresh bean, so I decided to saute some with a little garlic to see how they turned out. The result is a beautiful, muted pistachio flavor with a slight crunch. Mixed with peas and a little feta, they make a snazzy looking side dish that is irresistibly green.

Whatever you do with fresh pistachios, keep it nice and simple. Let them shine.

Peas with Fresh Pistachios
(serves 2 as a side)

- 1 cup of frozen peas, thawed
– 1/4 cup fresh pistachios, roughly chopped
– 1 tablespoon olive oil
– 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
– juice of half a lemon
– freshly ground pepper and salt
– 2 tablespoons crumbled feta

In a medium pan, heat olive oil over a medium heat. Add garlic and cook for about 30 seconds, until fragrant.

Add fresh pistachios and saute for 2 minutes until the insides are bright green and they are slightly golden and deep purple on the outside.

Add peas and cook for another minute to heat the peas through. Remove from heat.

Squeeze lemon juice over the mixture and season with a healthy amount of ground pepper and salt. Sprinkle with feta to serve.

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Warm Red Cabbage and Corn Salad

In the past 7 days I:

  • Ate a silly amount of movie theater popcorn.
  • Ditto to mini Cadbury eggs. (Not the classic Cream Eggs, the milk chocolate ones with the crispy pastel-colored shell. Love.)
  • Wore workout clothes to run errands even though I wasn’t on the way to, nor coming back from working out. Sneakers paired with sweatpants make you look like a go-getter. Sweatpants with flip-flops make you look like a lazy college student. Fact.
  • Watched The Bachelor, Bring It On and Glee. (Not all on the same day. There would be no excuse for that.)

…I should also tell you that while I was watching that episode of Glee I was hula hooping pretty much the entire time. I don’t even like musicals. And I pretend hula hooping is exercise. I don’t know…

I am not particularly proud of these things, but I just felt like I should be completely… honest. About life.

Have I done anything redeeming this week?

  • I went to a Picasso exhibit (Culcha!)
  • We tried a new restaurant in Bondi.
  • I saw The Artist. (Silent movie! More culcha!)
  • I toasted a lot of coconut flakes and found various uses for them.

I also made this salad.

A good warm salad some how makes me feel better about my other, slightly shameful indulgences.

Balance. I think that’s what it’s all about. Get a dose of terrible reality television with a side of cubism. Wear your comfy clothes out in public when you’re grocery shopping, but put on a little pretty when you head out to dinner. Be 26 and buy yourself a hula hoop.

And leave a little room for some Easter-themed chocolate after the vibrant, crunchy, paprika-spiced salad.

Warm Red Cabbage and Corn Salad
(serves 4)
– 2 ears of corn, corn removed from the cob
– 1/2 red cabbage, shredded very thin
– 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
– 1 clove of garlic thinly sliced
– 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
– salt & pepper
– 1/2 teaspoon smokey paprika
– pinch of cayenne pepper
– 2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese
– 2 tablespoons toasted pepitas
– a handful of chopped coriander

In a large pan heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over a medium high heat. Add corn kernels and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently until slightly golden, about 8 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.

Heat remaining tablespoon of olive oil over a medium high heat. Add onion and cook for 2 minutes until softened. Add garlic and cook for another minute. Stir in paprika and cayenne.

Add cabbage and salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring for about 2 minutes until the cabbage is just beginning to soften.

Combine cabbage with corn and let cool for 5 minutes.

Top with feta, pepitas and coriander and serve.

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.

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. 

Chickpea and Dill Salad

Dill is one of those herbs that I avoid buying even though I love it. When I buy it to use in a recipe I inevitably neglect the rest of the bunch until its fragile, feathery fronds wilt away in my crisper.

But last week at the market I couldn’t resist their willowy branches. I resolved to try a few dishes featuring dill in the upcoming week, in hopes that none would go to waste.

This chickpea salad with feta, celery and wheat berries was my favorite. It has the perfect amount of crunch and tang to it, while perfectly showcasing the dill in all its fragrant glory.

The wheat berries could be swapped for brown rice here, but I think their texture in this dish stands out nicely. And if you don’t like dill…well, I’m not sure why you’re still reading this post. But I think this salad would be nice with an herb like cilantro as its star, too.

Chickpea Salad
(serves 4)
– 1 1/2 cups of chickpeas
– 1/2 cup cooked wheat berries or brown rice
– 2 stalks of celery, finely chopped, including leaves
– 1/3 cup fresh dill, chopped
– 1/4 cup feta, crumbled
– 2 tablespoons olive oil
– juice of 1 lemon
– 1/4 teaspoon cumin
– 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
– salt & pepper
– toasted sesame seeds to garnish (optional)

Combine the first 5 ingredients in a medium mixing bowl.

In a small jar with a lid place the olive oil, lemon, cumin and paprika and shake vigorously until combined. Pour over the other ingredients and mix well to combine. Season with salt and pepper and top with sesame seeds and more dill, if desired.

Pumpkin and Feta Quesadillas



Who said Mexican food can’t have roasted Japanese pumpkin and Greek cheese in it? Nobody, that’s who. And hey, worse things have happened to Mexican food before.

Pumpkin quesadillas aren’t the usual gooey, cheesy affair – believe me, there’s a place in my heart for that, but today pumpkin wins out.

These are hearty yet simultaneously light and pack a little unexpected punch with the help of some cayenne pepper. The pumpkin (I chose a sweet Japanese/Kabocha) plays off many cheese choices nicely – if I didn’t have feta, I would have used a goat cheese, an aged cheddar or some parmesan.

In conclusion: be a rebel, make a multicultural quesadilla of your own. Do it.
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