If you know one thing about me, know that I love salad. Not a pile of sad looking leaves bathing in oil with one pale tomato wedge. Nope. A real salad. With lots of STUFF. A meal in a bowl. There aren’t many riveting options in the depth of winter, so I basically found everything available and jammed it all together. You know what? Not too shabby at all!
Winter Salad with Brown Rice, Orange & Yoghurt Dressing
1 cup uncooked brown rice
1 400 gram can chickpeas
1 teaspoon of honey
12 tablespoon of oil
2 loose handfuls of baby spinach
2 – 3 spring onions
Salt and pepper
Dressing: 3 tablespoons of plain unsweetened yoghurt, 2 tablespoons of mayo or ranch dressing, the zest of an orange, 12 teaspoon of paprika
Cook the rice according to packet directions (add two cups water to a medium sized pot with rice, bring to boil and simmer gently for about 20 minutes until tender). When cooked, allow the rice to come to room temperature as you prepare everything else. You can leave it in the pot and stir occasionally, or if you’re wanting to speed things up, tip the cooked rice on to a plate and spread out.
Rinse and drain the chickpeas. Wash and dry spinach. Preheat oven to 200ºC.
Peel and chop carrot into similar sized chunks. Spread on a baking tray and drizzle over oil and honey. Stir to combine and season with salt and pepper. Bake for about 20 minutes until cooked through and starting to brown. Then remove from the oven and set aside.
Make the dressing. Get as much zest as you can from the orange and combine with the yoghurt and ranch or mayo in a small bowl. Add paprika and stir well.
Peel and cut the orange into small chunks. Finely dice the spring onions.
Add the rice to a large bowl or serving dish and stir in the chickpeas, roast carrot, orange pieces, spring onions and dressing. Combine well. Fold in the spinach leaves.
Serve immediately or keep in the fridge for up to two days. This was a main for us and we had leftovers for lunch the next day. I would say that it serves four smaller sized mains or makes plenty to take along if you go to a dinner party. Or you could have it as side with some chicken. Enjoy!
Its July. (Still? Come on spring). That means that this year is seven months in. When I started this baby, I set out with a goal: to make 100 vegetarian dinners. Seven months in and I stopped counting a long time ago. Did I lose interest? Not a chance. I LOVE vegetarian. I’m still not converted but we’ve been in cahoots. Yes, me and my boyfriend who would have scoffed at this a year ago. We’ve actually talked about not cooking meat any more. I sort of have this belief that our bodies are meant to be fed meat. I have no idea where that comes from and there isn’t a great chunk of logic behind it. The closest I can get is that I was brought up eating meat, so its hard-wired into my brain.
But maybe I can be re-wired. To be clear, we have never eaten a lot of meat in our house. Maybe 4 -5 nights a week, but only a small portion. That was purely a financial decision. As the years passed (yes, I’m a hundred so I can say that) I fell more in love with food, and became aware of things I’d never paid attention to before. Like how seriously disappointing the state of meat is in New Zealand. I love this country. I love the landscape. I love the size. For the most part, I even love the people. Sadly, I feel like we let ourselves down a bit sometimes. Why does a country like this need to produce meat and fish and eggs in such a harsh way? I have no good answer for that.
Well, sorry cows and pigs, but you’re not even the leading cause of my pursuit of vegetarianism. Hello vegetarian food! Honest to blog, how come this is not plastered on billboards everywhere? Why the heck is there a book in my library about vegetarianism featuring a burger with broccoli in it? Stop doing that! No sane person puts broccoli in a BURGER and that’s hardly a way to sell this which is so GREAT. I know this because I just made some burgers that were so good, and there were no green trees in sight. None. They were burgers that have made all other burgers moot. I don’t think I’ll ever cook a beef patty again in my life. Fact.
I always thought that vegetarianism was pretty black and white. You are or you aren’t. You can’t be a little bit veg. Some people probably think that too. Vegetarians might frown at the fact that ‘we’re just talking‘ (don’t do that, you’ll get wrinkles!). The thing is it doesn’t seem so cut and dry. Its seems like its more of a process. I guess when you’ve done something a certain way your whole life its not a simple change to make. Regardless, I’m enjoying the process of discovering that there are in fact, entirely different ways to eat. And that those ways are really delicious.
I’m not sure where you stand on the scale (and wherever you do stand, it’s A-OK to stand your ground!) but I’m moving rapidly toward the vegetarian end. We now eat more vegetarian food than meaty food. And that sort of just happened. One day, a few weeks ago, I was writing a shopping list and realised that most of the meals were veg. It made me beam. 100 days of veg? I’m not signing on a dotted line yet, but my thoughts are changing quickly and 100 could soon become 200 or even 365. I’ll keep you posted but for now, go make yourself some burgers (broccoli free since always).
(Yes, I’m a food blogger, and I’m going to review a movie about vampires. Makes sense right?)
I have to dedicate this post to my good friend, colleague and possibly the only reader of my blog, Katie. Katie – I hope I’m one jot as cool as you are, when I grow up.
Katie recommended (raved about) this film when it came out last year. I turned my nose up at the idea, never having jumped on the vampire bandwagon. My initial thoughts were ‘oh no, yet another vampire movie’. Don’t ever have thoughts like that. This is not another vampire movie. This is THE vampire movie. The only one you really, really should watch. The thing is though, its not even really about vampires. Its about a couple and their relationship, with each other, and the world (and they just happen to be vampires). The story is succinct and engaging – really just a snapshot of their lives – but the beauty of the film is in the details. If you’re the type of (super cool) person who really likes a textural, visual feast of film you will be all over this. Its just stunning. Its set in Tangier and Detroit. I don’t really need to elaborate on that. Stunning. Its the kind of film I wanted to step into and roll around on the floor of and smell things and examine things and just BE IN.
This isn’t a horror movie. There is no gore. In fact, if anything, it makes the consumption of blood classy and almost (almost) inviting. This is also, hands-down, my all-time favourite version of Tilda Swinton. She plays a delightful, admirable and believe it or not, likeable character. She plays a damn good vampire. I haven’t watched a movie that gets right under your skin, in a tremendously long time. I instantly wanted to watch it again. And again, and again. Also, oddly, I really wanted to go op-shopping (thrifting) after. That’s happening tomorrow.
Bottom line: the one film you have to watch this year, if you like films that are a bit more quirky and memorable than the main drag. It’s extraordinary.
This is rather daring of me, right? I’m telling you to cook and eat cauliflower. I’m also telling you that this is a rather spiffy dish! Poor old cauliflower. Nobody loves it. The thing is though, that its one heck of a useful vegetable. Its usually cheap, always versatile and when covered in cheese can make for a stand-up dish, like this. Cauliflower cheese is not the new kid on the block, but I decided to mix things up a bit (you know me) in an attempt to ‘rebrand’ cauli. If you already have a ‘tried and true’ cheese sauce recipe up your sleeve, feel free to use it!
Roast Cauliflower Cheese with Seedy Top
1 head of cauliflower
4 – 5 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon of oil
2 heaped tablespoons of butter
2 heaped tablespoons of flour
2 cups of milk
1 cup of cheese
50 – 100 grams of salami (we use 50g, but use more if you like)
12 a cup of sunflower seeds
12 a cup of sesame seeds
12 a cup of slivered almonds
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 200ºC. While the oven is heating, cut the cauliflower into florets. Crush the garlic cloves with the side of a knife to open but don’t chop. On an oven tray combine the florets, cloves of garlic, oil, salt and freshly ground pepper. (Lots of pepper, a little salt). Bang it in the oven and cook for about 25 minutes until golden and cooked through. Remove the cauliflower and turn the oven down to 180ºC.
Meanwhile, prepare the cheese sauce. Melt the butter in a medium sized pot. Add the flour and stir to combine. Gradually add the milk. Whisk well between each addition and allow the sauce to thicken and bubble before adding more milk. When you have added all of the milk, remove from the heat. Add lots of pepper, a little salt and the cheese and allow the cheese to melt for a few minutes. Then whisk well.
Slice the salami into ribbon or cubes. Combine the nuts and seeds in a dry (no oil) frying pan on a medium high heat. Stir regularly until golden and fragrant then remove from heat (I tip the seeds into a ceramic bowl immediately so they don’t continue to brown in the hot pan).
When the cauliflower is ready, discard the garlic cloves and tip the florets into a dish. Add the salami and pour over the sauce. Mix well to combine. Scatter the seed mix over the top to cover. The seed mix makes quite a lot and you may not use all of it – add leftover seed mix to your breakfast or dessert!
Put the dish in the oven and cook for about 10 minutes until hot through and bubbling. Serve and eat! We had ours with wintery salads and garlic bread.