As a mainly vegetarian for many years I sometimes run out of inspiration, or get in a food rut. Often the solution to this is a good cookbook (like Plenty by Ottolenghi) but more recently my solution has been to #eattherainbow.
The scientific basis for it might be rubbish, but it is a great way to put together a plant based meal that looks great, and gets you eating new things.
For each meal I try get in some purple, red, yellow, green and white.
Instagram trawling provides some nice ideas for what this might look like. Here are some pics of random meals I’ve thrown together along these lines.
Making treats for work morning tea at my office has a few challenges: one person is no nuts, one is vegan and my kitchen has no food processor or other appliances.
Challenge cooking is my favourite though, so no problem! This time ended up making my new favourite super food treat, it’s easy & quick, not much washing up & you may even have everything for it in your cupboard and fridge.
The secret ingredient is Kapai Puku, a seed blend that is my favourite for porridge or gorgeously chunky Bircher muesli. It’s also wonderfully nutrient packed, great for marathon training season refueling. I used the original blend, but any of them would work.
This is my first time making more than breakfast with it and I am hooked. It ain’t cheap but it is jam packed full if goodies. I got mine at David Jones Food Hall, but most health food stores would stock it & you can buy online.
I considered using vegan butter but really it’s just oil with additives, so I just used oil – still got a lovely crunch to the pastry.
So here goes:
1.5 cups Kapai Puku + 1 tbs sugar
Filo pastry (half a pack – sheets cut in half to fit tin)
Brush each sheet with oil & layer half the pack of filo into the baking dish. Top with Kapai Puku then layer on remaining pastry. Cut into diamonds, or squares if you’re me & find diamonds too complicated.
Bake at 160c for 20 mins, then sprinkle on 2TBS of cold water. Bake another 15 minutes at 200c.
While it’s baking make the syrup
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
Few strips lemon and/or orange peel
Drops of rose essence
Squeeze of lemon juice
Heat up on medium till sugar is dissolved & the whole thing is thickened a bit. Add a squeeze if lemon at the end.
When pastry is done baking pull it out & pour over the syrup. Cook and eat.
I recently did my first ever cooking class – with City East Community College. It was a half day class on “Middle Eastern Vegetarian Cooking” and it was delicious.
My favourite thing we made (apart from Za’atar) was the baklava – who knew it was so easy?!
Made a batch at home the very next day. If you make a batch with half a pack of filo pastry then the other half can be spanakopita for 2-3 people, perfect amounts for me & my fella.
Smash some nuts
1 tablespoon sugar
We used about 1/2 a cup each of pistachios, blanched almonds and walnuts. I imagine you could adjust this to whatever you like. Use a food processor, or a spice grinder like I did to smash this up into coarse sand (or chunkier or smoother if you want).
Set up your pastry station
Smashed nuts (from above)
Half packet filo pastry – covered with a teatowel to keep it from drying out
100 grams or so of melted butter (or vegan alternative – a sweeter oil like macadamia maybe?)
Assemble your souramenos
Work one sheet of filo at a time and make sure the others are covered so they don’t dry out. Brush your sheet with butter – a few lines should do, sprinkle a handful of the crushed nuts then working from one of the long ends scrunch it up so you end up with a long piece of pastry and nuts – folded a bit like a fan. Then work from one end to roll it tightly into a spiral and place this into your baking tin.
Once they are all done bake at 200c for around 20 minutes or until they are starting to colour nicely. Then drizzle over a few tablespoons of water and bake for another 5 minutes – this apparently ensures that the centres are cooked.
While they are baking make the syrup.
2 cups caster sugar
2 cups water
Pieces of lemon and/or orange peel
Few drops of rosewater or orange blossom (can be overpowering so go easy!)
Combine sugar, citrus rind and the water in a pot over medium heat and stir to dissolve sugar, then reduce heat to low and simmer for about 20 minutes, should be syrupy but not caramel. Towards the end add the juice of about half a lemon and some drops of rosewater or orange blossom.
Pull your golden little pastries out of the oven, pour over the syrup and let cool. Then eat them! They are not as sweet as many of the store bought ones, and have a lovely citrus note.
My mum is an import to Australia (as am I obviously) which lead to some amusing dissonances in my childhood. We just didn’t exactly fit in, which always made me feel special.
My favourite thing when I was a kid was how when the other mothers were sipping Chardonnay and making salads, Mum was hanging around the BBQ with a beer in hand, laughing and arguing politics.
My other favourite thing was that when asked to bring a plate she invariably made these delicious roasted capsicums – not the pasta salads and the like that haunted such occasions. They were approached in the 80s as something remarkably exotic, but now are just comforting and simple and tasty!
I make the recipe with whatever coloured capsicums are available and cheap. The green ones are my least favourite though, mainly do them for colour.
You will need:
Garlic – chopped finely
Oregano – chopped finely
Capers – chopped
Anchovies – chopped (optional)
1. Set the oven up high – 250c or so is fine
2. Chop capsicums into big flat pieces, discard stem and seeds. Place skin up on baking tray (on foil if you want easier clean up).
3. Place in oven, cook till skins are charred and puff up (about 20 minutes)
4. Remove from oven and cover with tea towel or place capsicums into a plastic bag.
5. When cool peel the skin off. If it’s hard to remove then next time you might need to leave them in longer.
6. Lay them on a serving plate, scatter garlic, oregano, capers and anchovies if using, then drizzle with EVOO.
Eat as is or on crackers or bread, also good on pizza. Personally I think they are even better the next day!